Big news

July 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm (future, M, On dating and mating)

In a turn that is both entirely incongruous with our cautious personalities and totally aligned with the certainty and unflinching belief we’ve found in each other, M and I are moving in together later this month.

It may seem sudden and I keep worrying that some in my life have whiplash from the quick turnaround between The Man and M*, but I am certain. When I joked that my “We’ve moved!” email is going to prompt a series of “Who’s M?” replies, he suggested a postscript:

P.S. This is M —-> [photo]

For me, this means leaving the city for a quiet hill across from a massive park with old growth trees and a view of the Bay. For him, it means (finally) getting out of the apartment he has hated since he took occupancy of it years ago. It means a dishwasher, disposal, in-unit washer/dryer, and a second bedroom to use as an office. It means going to sleep with him, waking up with him, and having a partner in the choices I make, the challenges I take on, and the incredible joy of the everyday. It means that his collection of literature, history, and philosophy texts will mingle with my contemporary fiction and glossy art history publications. It means arguments over the placement of the sofa (the explanation behind choosing aesthetics over the surround sound sweet spot falls on deaf ears) and finally being able to host the friends who introduced us. It means discussions of budgets as ours and checking-in before inviting anyone to stay. It means an emotional as well as a physical shift. (If I sound like I’m anticipating a life of wine, roses, puppies, and rainbows, rest assured I’m not, but I’m moving in with a man I love who happens to love me back, so please forgive a touch of giddy optimism and I’ll get back to you after The Great Sofa Debate, Round 2.)

It also means you should prepare yourself for a whole lot of posts about decorating.

*For the record, there was absolutely zero romantic overlap, but I had known M for months before The Man and I broke up.

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June 9, 2011 at 11:52 am (future, On dating and mating)

I have high hopes of being a DINK. At least for a bit. I’d say three or four years of DINKage would do the trick.

I want to have time with my partner, travel with him, be wild and irresponsible, spend our money on ourselves. Then, once there is no chance that we would ever feel bitter about the sacrifices we’ve made for them, we’d have a kid or two. (No more than two. NEVER any more than two; I am not a Duggard.) But in terms of having healthy children and healthy pregnancies, that’s not exactly the best idea. I’m 31; I would have to start now. Like right now…but I’d rather not. I’d like to have a normal, leisurely romance before my DINKage. Time to enjoy living in sin. Time to enjoy being engaged. Time to relish the word “husband” and all of the team-y, partner-ness, “I will prioritize us” permanence it implies. In what may go down as the most useless rage possible, I am pissed at biology. I feel like I’ve just become who I wanted to be. How I could have successfully raised kids before age 30* is impossible to fathom. And yet they tell us that we’re supposed to pop a few out before 35 or face scary statistics. It seems like the sand in my babymaking hourglass is piling up and yet I would still rather see the new Woody Allen film, split a bottle of wine, and spend Sunday in bed with my man. Unfair doesn’t begin to cover it.

*Personal statement, meaning about me, personally. I’m not saying having kids before 30 won’t/doesn’t/hasn’t worked for others.

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It’s been kind of a big week

April 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm (future, in my head, It's all about me, On dating and mating)

There are days weeks months when life throws things at you–sharp things, mean things, exciting things, wonderful things–and expects you to grow seven hands to catch it all…or at least shield your soft parts. During those thing-slinging hours, I retreat into busyness. I take on more work, sign up for a class, go to the gym, and watch TV while surfing the net while reading a book while texting a few friends. It’s a frenzy of sorts, my manic avoidance. It’s exhausting and inevitable. Until, in a moment of strength, I let the quiet catch me. Quickly, before it’s gone, I ask “why?” Why is this relationship failing? Why am I unsatisfied at work? Why do I feel inferior/scared/confused? And then from somewhere deep inside, a quiet voice develops an answer. The answer doesn’t have to be new or even brilliant, as long as there is one. If I understand why, I can move on and let go.

Introspective has always been my style, so it comes as no surprise that over the last few months, while applying to grad school, I’ve been thinking even more than usual. There were the info sessions, the pre-requisite classes, the studying, the standardized test taking, the essay writing, the applying, and the interviewing. And then there was the waiting. To sum up the waiting, it sucked. I am not patient. In fact, when they asked for my biggest weakness, I said, “impatience.” Really, I did. But I learned through my waiting, through this whole process really. I learned about myself, mostly, but also a few key life lessons. I learned enough to realize that The Man and I were not to be. So, yes, this is an upbeat post about ending a relationship and getting into graduate school within the span of four days. Like I said, life throws things. She’s petulant that way.

What I Learned

1) I am an emotional non-eater and non-shopper. On the other hand, all I want to do when something grand happens is go out for a lovely meal and buy entire departments at Nordstrom.

2) It takes time to remember that you’re single. No more blatant elevator eyes for the tech dudes on the train with the excuse that if they look back you’re taken.

3) Yup, still have a thing for redheads.

4) It is not possible to tell someone too often that you appreciate him/her. The support and confidence of family and friends (and The Man, still) has been invaluable through this process and will mean even more as I face the prospect of working full-time AND going to school.

5) Lists will save you. So, on occasion, will cheese, music, Josh Lyman, or whatever makes you unreasonably happy. Indulge. And then get your ass back to that desk because those data sufficiency problems aren’t going to solve themselves.

6) “One’s ability to succeed is always proportional to one’s willingness to fail.”

What have you learned lately?

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Cohabitation and compromise

August 18, 2010 at 2:36 pm (future, It's all about me, On dating and mating, plays well with others)

When you consider cohabitating with someone, you think about the big things–What does this mean? Am I ready to take this step? How will we divide up the household responsibilities?–but you rarely think about the things you’ve always taken for granted as The Way Things Are Done. Jess covered this the other day, but in a slightly different way. What, you may ask, is The Way Things Are Done according to Sara?

#1. Lock the doors to the house.
Every time I arrive home, I lock the door after myself. Including the dead bolt. Since the most threatening thing to ever show up on my childhood doorstep were prosthelytizing missionaries of some Christian denomination, this locking thing likely came from my mother’s childhood in urban New Jersey. Nonetheless, it is what we always did and what I continue to do.

#2. Do the dishes the night dinner was made.
I hate crusty dishes. Always have. And waking up to crusty dishes staring me in the face while I make myself breakfast is one of my least favorite ways to wake up. So unless there was a party that went into the wee hours and you know you’ll spend Sunday (or Saturday) morning recovering from a tawdry evening with Mr. Vodka, you do the dishes the same night you cook.

#3. Do not leave food out, ever.
This largely comes from my fear of bugs. And my mother’s fear of bugs. And my father’s distaste for being awakened at 6 am by screaming about bugs. Even though the San Francisco climate (and a generally clean house) makes bugs rare and unlikely, I still can’t stand leaving food out for more than an hour. And especially not overnight.

#4. Keep the cat inside.
I understand that cats like to chase things (and bring gruesome presents home) and that litter boxes smell and that cat hair gets on stuff, but letting the cats out leads to badness. Like $600 stays at the emergency vet’s. And visits from raccoons in search of cat food. And encounters with skunks. And dirty cats. And the cone of shame.

#5. Shoes get left in the entryway.
I’m not a fan of the decorating challenge this presents, but I do firmly believe that a shoe-free house is a cleaner, more sanitary living space. Particularly for those of us who walk around barefoot as often as possible (and maybe do a few pirouettes in the kitchen when you’re not around).

#6. Flat sheets are on the bed for a reason.
Duvet covers shouldn’t need to be washed every time the sheets are changed. Perhaps this comes from many years spent in living arrangements without an in-unit washer/dryer, but flat sheets provide a germ barrier between the sleeper’s body and the duvet. Flat sheets are good. Flat sheets are necessary.

The Man has changed my mind on several things, including keeping a gun in the house* (unloaded and there are no children), putting dishes in the dishwasher without rinsing them, and the infinite value of a memory foam mattress, so I am hopeful that he will budge on some of the above.

*And by that I mean that I am no longer terrified by it, not that I would be an advocate for it, even though every person living in the house has been trained in proper usage and safety.

What is The Way Things Are Done according to you? And have you had to compromise some of them for a significant other or roommate?

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June 18, 2010 at 12:05 pm (future, in my head, It's all about me, On dating and mating)

I’m getting cold feet.

Before you all start buying me wedding presents or worry that my absence has been due to some wild elopement, know that I’m not talking about marriage. I’m getting cold feet about leaving the City. Not the Bay Area (because really, I love this place more than Jesse James loves inked-up strippers), but San Francisco. The move is not imminent…or even planned, but it’s coming. I can feel it.

I’m starting to settle in to things like dishwashers and garbage disposals and yards and laundry. I’m deeply in love with coming home to meat and vegetables already on the grill. The dog-wanting is pathological. The Man has me sort of sold on Marin.

But I’m not quite ready yet. And so, I’ve begun to look at all things urban the way you look at a brownie sundae the day before starting a diet. WANT. And want now. And want more of it than I should have.

I cleaned my entire apartment last night (in preparation for a visit from Mom today) and loved every sound coming from the noisy street below. I put a sign on an oversized SUV this morning and enjoyed a full 5 minutes of a cheeky, self-satisfied smile. I’d like to try a new restaurant every night, have cocktails while wearing impossibly high heels*, and sit in coffee shops writing stories in my head about other patrons. It’s like one last fling. Even if it may last a couple of years.

And that might be one of the reasons I am deeply, deeply in love with the condo The Man owns, but where he does not live. I can’t afford the rent (let alone the mortgage), but it could not be more perfect for me if I’d picked it out myself. It’s all exposed concrete beams and wall of industrial windows. All galley kitchen (with brand new stainless steel appliances) and open floor plan. All cool colors and warm wood. All walking distance to one of our favorite bars and one of my favorite coffee spots. It is the kind of place I never thought I’d be able to live in. It’s a dream, truly, I’ve never felt I could voice. It is just the kind of urban chic spot I want for my next three years. It’s somewhere I could imagine my last fling with the city, last memories of unmarried, untethered life before settling into porches and wine and slow-dancing in the kitchen. It is that impossibly hot bartender pouring tequila shots at my bachelorette party. Except that having my way with it wouldn’t ruin my relationship…which makes it that much more dangerous and enticing.

How does your current living situation fit into where you are in life? And has anyone else fallen in love with a space in this way?

*Bloomingdale’s sale + my own personal ’70s moment = I can be six feet tall if I want to.

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Thank you, Facebook

March 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm (On dating and mating, past)

The Head Injury is married.

It’s not that I ever thought things would work out between us, or that they could work out between us for that matter. It’s not even that I wondered with any real regularity where he was or what he was doing. It’s just that he was out there. I used to think of him as really something, but in retrospect, he never was. We were the people each of us needed at the time and that was all.

When I heard, I only felt…relief. Relief that the chapter is closed. Relief that he’s well and happy and healthy. Relief that I would never be tempted to wonder “what if”. Relief that I could stop looking back with rose-colored glasses and recognize that period of my life for what it was: a union as charged, charming, and fleeting as summer camp.

Have you learned that an ex is married? How did you react?

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C is for chemistry

February 19, 2010 at 3:31 pm (On dating and mating)

Funny thing, chemistry. You never know when it’ll show up or with whom, but when it hits you, it feels like if you could bottle it, you’d be able to power a small city.

And the on-papers that never really mattered anyway stop mattering. Having a drink waiting for you when you arrive at the bar, searching out the thing you said you were craving, leaning in to pay hushed compliments that make you blush–these things are lovely, these things are what you relay to your friends, but there’s nothing like that first contact. Whether it’s a whisper-light hand on the small of your back when he says, “you choose,” or your fingertips on his forearm when you get excited about a topic, or the way the two of you lean together like magnets waiting to click, it’s a force–an impossible-to-resist, thrilling force.

Some people think it can build and develop; I don’t. If it’s not there from the beginning, it’s not there. I have male friends who have always been friends. Just friends. I have male friends who could have been something more. Who could be something more. Who have been something more. And I knew it from the moment we met. It may deepen into respect and admiration and adoration, but it has always been chemistry. I can feel it in others too, like static electricity in the air. The Ex-ALM and his future wife. A friend and her fiance. My grandparents. It’s palpable. And it’s like a drug.

Do you need to have immediate chemistry with someone or do you trust the slow burn?

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All boys, all the time

February 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm (if I ruled the world, It's all about me, On dating and mating)

I am a terrible, rotten blogger lately and should be taken out and whipped with Red Vines. This one isn’t going to get any better, so if you’re expecting me to be coherent and not write in snippets, get ready for disappointment.

While waiting for a date last night (yes, he was late and no, we were not amused), a man approached me with Mardi Gras beads.

“You deserve some beads for rocking that coat,” he said, then put a strand around my neck and kissed my cheek.

Never underestimate the power of a good trench.


I have realized that whatever you’re feeling, Frank Sinatra sings it. Frank and I have been hanging out a lot lately. Mom could not be more pleased.


I’ve heard “More Than Words” on the radio four or five times in the last three days. My radio superstition tells me that this means the Head Injury* is either thinking of me or lying in a ditch somewhere. I can’t decide which to hope for.


The Valentine’s Day girls’ gathering included a little burning party. In Dancing Roommate’s backyard fire pit, we torched little paper hearts on which we’d written both the good and the bad, the baggage and the wishes, the loves and the hates…you get the idea. I’m not sure I believe that the Universe listens or rewards such offerings, but I believe in doing things with intention, so I burned the shit out of some people things. But towards the end of the writing process I was stumped. I turned to C for help. A moment later she handed me a heart:

Success with The Southerner

Keep in mind that C could well have meant a roll in the hay–I’m sure she’d define success that broadly, she’s an open minded woman–but she’s also the only one of any of my friends to have talked with him on the night we met. And she knows me, well, better than I know me. I just looked at her with a smile slowly spreading across my face.

And then I burned that heart last.

*The association comes more from my trademark sass than anything relating to the lyrics of the song.

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January 14, 2010 at 5:51 pm (in my head, On dating and mating, plays well with others, shopping)

1) Haiti
The earthquake in Haiti (if you’re looking to give, the New York Times has a nice list of options) and other recent events has me feeling particularly patriotic* (even though I was the only one of a group of friends – besides the newly-minted American citizen – who could correctly answer any of the questions on the citizenship exam).

It also has me thinking that I live in San Francisco and really should get around to putting together my earthquake kits. And in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not terrified that The Big One will hit and my city will be flattened. Give me the possibility of an earthquake in a city used to dealing with seismic activity that has the building codes to match ANY day over snow and sleet and black ice beneath my car. Or hurricanes. Or tornadoes. I’ve been in one hurricane that raged during a rehearsal dinner and I only made it through because there was wine. I think if I ever heard a tornado warning, I’d pee myself. But earthquake? Meh.

2) Shopping
Occasionally, as when I practically wrote a multi-part novel in response to Nilsa’s post, I am reminded that I was probably a personal shopper in another life. A co-worker happened to mention that she couldn’t find pointy-toe flats. The next morning she received an email of suggestions (with links) including notes on which ones would address specific concerns and where she could find them on sale. I’ve held back so far from posting about shopping (yes, this was holding back), but no more. I’ll be sprinkling in posts on things I love and things I’m trying to find and things I’m trying desperately to replace (I’m looking at you dear, poor, ancient Isaac Mizrahi black snakeskin pumps!).

3) Anonymity
I’m thinking of revealing my face and my first name. What thinkest thee?

4) Marriage
If you missed Oprah’s show about marriage around the world, then you missed the memo that we should all move to Denmark. You also missed Elizabeth Gilbert saying that men and women want to be married, but no one wants to be the wife. And that sentiment is pretty close to one I keep coming back to: marriage has changed because women have changed. I certainly don’t mean to sound all Maureen Dowd (I have a long, wonderful list of why men are necessary and would begin with that one-handed t-shirt removal thing that is so very yummy), but it’s undeniable that shifting gender roles have affected our expectations of marriage.

In Colorado, San Francisco, Portland, and my hometown I talked with different women of different ages about the same thing. We no longer depend on men financially. We no longer depend on them for physical protection. We (generally) don’t ignore or deny our sexual selves. We don’t feel bound by society or religion to remain in marriages where we’re unhappy at best or abused at worst. In short, the only reason to marry is for love. And that is, in a way, both liberating and terrifying.

P.S. I want to recommend this book to everyone I know and can only really do it here lest I make any friend or couple think I’m singling him/her/them out.

*In this case, I’m all for US nation-building abroad.

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I went to a bar alone tonight…

January 13, 2010 at 12:16 am (in my head, On dating and mating, plays well with others, present)

and had the time of my life.

OK, well, maybe not the time of my life (that was a Friday in 2004…or a Saturday in 2000…or I’m making this shit up), and maybe it was a restaurant with a bar, and maybe it wasn’t totally my first time (though similar forays in my hometown where alone really means, “Oh, but I’ll know someone there,” don’t count), but it was a grand ol’ time and it was the first time when alone was intentional and it was the first time in my city that is truly a City. So yeah, IT. WAS. GRAND.

I walked in from work (and a Target run), dropped off my things, and turned right around before I lost my nerve. I figured that if I wanted to meet single, available, local men (who aren’t 25), then I should put myself in their way. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared. As it turned out, I should have been anything but afraid.

I met an Australian winemaker and a distributer of Australian wines. (They were not the same person.) I explored wine/art parallels while eating half a burger. (A really GOOD burger.) I chatted with two tech geeks who talked (and looked) like bartenders and waxed nostalgic about fried chicken, which I hate. I read. (A little.) I found the driest cucumber martini in town. I found my new favorite drink (said cucumber martini softened with simple syrup and lemon juice) and my go-to Tuesday night bar. I found a new winery with grapes from my favorite district. I found AMY, bartender extraordinaire, who, I swear, spent the evening reading my mind. This is what bartenders do (and why I went through a phase of crushing on/dating/making out with the boy version). Amy knew just how far to take the “21st digit” banter with the Australian winemaker. She knew how to ignore the tech geeks to make them feel at home. She knew how to read my body language when I was uncomfortable, or nervous, or in need of another drink. In short, I will be visiting her again. Soon.

In short, I will be going to a bar alone again. Soon.

When (and how) was the last time you challenged yourself?

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