Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shape-ups? Go ahead and ship out.

I just saw a commercial for Shape-ups, the ugly shoes that apparently give you a leg and butt workout. The spokesperson, Brooke Burke, wants you to know that "the gift that keeps giving" is the perfect Christmas present.

No, no, no! If you want to make it through the holidays alive, DO NOT even think about it. Using Christmas morning as the time to not-so-subtly suggest that someone needs to work out is completely inappropriate.

Here is what you can do. You can get them sexy and adorable athletic wear that easily goes from Downward Dog to Sunday coffee. I'm a HUGE fan of lululemon athletica:

The Pacific Hoodie. Thick fleece to get you through the winter. I like it almost as much as I like the guy wearing it. I'd like him to get me through the winter.

Super thick, super cozy and super cute Scuba Hoodie with some sparkle for the holiday season. 

Lululemon makes the BEST yoga pants on the planet. Women love them because they make their asses look amazing. Men love them because they make women's asses look amazing. Now in an organic version. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

No need to wait for summer. Ray Bans are a year-round favorite. I love my bubble-wraps in gold/champagne; less teardrop than the original aviator.
A quirky Holiday USB Drive loaded songs and pictures that remind you of that special little elf on your list.

It's that time of year: time to fight the doldrums. Keep their spirits up with Vitamin D drops (I add it to my water bottle every morning).

I think everyone loves good breath. These Altoid Smalls are adorable and effective. 

I'm a huge fan of Rosebud Salve. I use it on my lips, nails and even my elbows. It usually comes in a metal tin, which can get messy, but they just released a tube version of the cult favorite. 

I know the iPhone 4 is going to lots of good boys and girls this year. Why not throw them off? Stuff the stocking with the big ticket item and skip the wrapping.
It's a toothbrush made out of yogurt cups! Sign up the little ones for the Jr. Toothbrush Subscription. They'll receive a new toothbrush (that features a different endangered species) every three months and then they can send their old one in to be recycled. They also make products for the big kids.
I'm not saying I'll throw out my hoops, but Diamond Earrings have an amazing way of making everyday wear seem anything but. Every woman deserves some timeless jewelry in her collection. These are from Twist and I love the refreshing take on the traditional prong setting.
Socks are always the last thing I want to buy for myself, but a pair of Happy Socks for someone else? Absolutely.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Week of the Gentleman, Part Three.

I often forget the rules of male etiquette. I forget the ritual. Sorry, guys, but a lot of you have allowed your chivalrous sides to fade, if it was ever even there to begin with. It's not your fault. We've beaten it out of you. We perch on our soapboxes, legs crossed, wearing three-inch heels, waving our hands and barking at you that we don't need a man. We can open our own doors, thank you very much.

It's true, I might not need a man. I just want one. A gentleman. A couple of weeks ago I silently went out and about with my own little social experiment. I paid attention to how men treated me when I let them be men instead of sabotaging every kind gesture that came my way, via a nice fellow, with my classic female antics. The results were refreshing. They also reminded me how nice it is to be a lady on ocassion.

What happened to me once, twice, even several times, by many different men, while I was paying attention?

·      The door was opened for me.
·      His coat was wrapped around my shoulders.
·      I had help with my coat.
·      My seat was pulled out for me.
·      He found out what I was having and ordered for both of us.
·      He kept my glass full.
·      He offered me an arm while we wandered down city sidewalks.
·      He walked on the outside of the sidewalk.
·      He asked if he could get me anything.
·      Then he fought the crowds to get it.
·      He was on time.
·      He let me take a break from making the decisions.
·      He paid. Discreetly and without fanfare.
·      He led up the stairs as well as down.
·      He listened, made eye contact and asked questions.

I might draw some criticism, but I don't care. Being taken care of was astonishingly pleasant. Like huge-smile-long-after-the-night-was-over pleasant. To bear witness to tiny testimonies from the men that care about me was luxurious.

Let me be clear. Manners are important not just for men, but for women and the little humans we're raising, as well.  It's a part of our language. It's how we tell people who we are and how we were raised. Guess what? You can open the door for me anytime. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

...right down Santa Claus Lane

Food is so hot right now. From maple bars with bacon at Voodoo Doughnut in Portland to Wagyu Tenderloin (served with caramelized onion puree, oyster mushrooms and foie gras butter) at Canlis in Seattle, boring is out and edgy eating is in. We all like to feel like we know what we are talking about, or at least what we are ordering, when we go out. Being a server forever (Seriously. For. Ev. Er.), I'll fill you in on our not so dirty little secret: Food Lover's Companion. Every server station has one and so should you. 

Does your special someone know what the five "mother sauces" are? They will now. This is the perfect present for the burgeoning foodie on your Christmas list. Even better? Now there's an app for that... How fun is that!? You'll never feel like an idiot at Clyde Common again, I promise.


The Week of the Gentleman, Part Two.

Dear Joaquin,

The day I met you was one of the best days of my life. I remember when your mom told me she was pregnant. It was May 15th, the day before my seventeenth birthday. We were at Double Bluff Beach, knee-deep in the salty waters of Useless Bay, when my big sister told me she was having a baby. A baby? Awe overwhelmed me. A baby!

Next we went to Village Pizzeria where she filled in some of her closest friends. Joy was sweeping through this village! Phoebe told me she was going to tell Grandpa Gary that night and that Arwen and I were going, too. Period. I think she was a little nervous. She brought blackberry pie (his favorite) and served it with a side of, "I'm having a baby!" I stared wide-eyed at the whole thing. I couldn't imagine telling dad about a boy, let alone telling him he was going to be a grandpa, but he was thrilled. On that rare warm spring night, he hugged her and we all ate pie. 

Days turned into months. Your mom took a lot of naps and we wondered out loud if the crescent moon tattoo on her belly would ever wane back to normal. I'd go over after school and watch movies while your dad worked at a local restaurant. We'd eat ice cream and whatever else she was craving. I forgot that I wasn't pregnant and started eating for two. Your due date creeped closer and soon it was Pompa's 50th birthday. It was Friday the 13th. We had a big surprise party at Bayview Corner. When he walked in, everyone was holding up masks of his face that had been glued onto popsicle sticks. It was creepy. Phoebe wore a note around her neck that said, "Yes. Dec. 25th. A boy. We're not telling." It was a pretty funny way to answer all the questions all at once.

And then all at once, it was December 16th. There was a very big wind storm that day. My big final project for Contemporary World Problems was due that day. The power was out and I was sitting in Chemistry with Brooke. We were waiting for the word that we all got to go home. The phone rang and Mr.Westling told me to go to the office. It was happening. The baby was coming!

I hauled ass (sorry, I mean butt) to Arwen's house in Langley and we took off for the midwife's birthing house in Greenbank. Arwen realized that she had forgotten the Christmas cards that she was working on. She turned around. The baby was coming and she was turning around! I freaked out. Who do you think won? We paced and sat and paced some more. Well, I did. Arwen addressed envelopes. Grandpa Gary and Grandma Shannon were there, too. And then... "She wants her sisters." I freaked out again, pulled it together and walked in behind Arwen. 

Honna and Bryan were on either side of her. Your dad's glasses were fogged in all the commotion and he was struggling to see. You arrived seconds after we walked in. I lost my legs and fell to my knees. A baby! When they handed you to me, my life changed. I suddenly knew what unconditional love meant. I would stand in front of a train for you. I would walk to the ends of the earth for you. I would do anything for this little human.

I immediately sensed your brilliance. I knew that this world had better watch out and I was right. You are an amazing young man. Surrounded by a funny family and a gaggle of wacky women has given you so many facets to work with. You embrace everyone with compassion and respect. You, mister, are such a gentleman. You have wisdom far beyond your thirteen years and I have no doubt that you will be wildly successful at whatever you attempt. You already are. You're a great big brother to Ian, an awesome son, a fantastic student and from what I hear, a pretty amazing violinist. You also rock at being a nephew. I am an "Auntie" to dozens and I wear the title proudly, but I never forget who was first.  

Happy birthday, Joaquin. May your every wish come true!

Love, Auntie Sarah

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here comes Santa Claus...

I'm an idea girl. An 'aggressive problem solver' as one friend put it. It's a nurturing thing. I want you and yours to be forever warm, fed and happy. Sometimes that means telling yours what to buy for you. With the frantic holiday texts and emails rolling in, begging for help in the shopping department, I thought I would share some of my picks for the holidays (and the whole year, really) with you over the week. I haven't forgotten it's also The Week of the Gentleman. I've got some stuff for the gentleman to give and get, as well.

If you're a PNW native, you know what I'm talking about. One of the best radio stations in Seattle, 103.7 The Mountain, puts out a compilation CD every year of artists who perform in the station's intimate studio. It rocks and rolls and is always very sexy. All the proceeds go to the Wilderness Society. A great gift for everyone (especially me, if I'm on your list). One of the songs featured this year is my absolute favorite, "You Are The Best Thing" by Ray LaMontagne (watch and listen below).

The Week of the Gentleman, Part One

It's The Week of the Gentleman! What is that, might you ask? It is all about the men. Not just any men. I'm talking about the men who take the time and effort to be real men (with really good manners).

My step dad's birthday is today, so I thought we'd start out with a shout out to Dennis, a true-blue gentlemen. The story goes that he owned a bakery and looked good in a leather vest. The rest is history (sort of). Now that I am in my 30's it's hard to imagine what it must have been like to sign up for a woman with three girls. Not just any daughters; my two older sisters can be extremely high-maintenance. Mom made it clear that she was a package deal; kids, animals and an opinion on just about everything. Maybe he didn't hear her over her wide smile, big green eyes and fluffy perm (circa 1984).

I was young, so my memories are packed with all the really important things like the little white MG convertible he drove, the time he taught me how to hold my breath underwater and the purple LL Bean bag I got for Christmas that he had monogrammed with my initials. Memories rolled into decades and here we are. A few weeks ago I was stranded with neglected tires in the first storm of the season. Dennis picked me up, got new tires on my car, took me out to lunch and put up with me for three days while I hunkered down by their fireplace and watched the snow fall. 

Staring out at the weather reminds me of the long road trips to Bend for Christmas. It always took awhile to get on the road. I'm not sure why. My mom only had to pack the Suburban with ski equipment, all the Christmas presents, her sewing machine, a VCR, four kids, two dogs and the parakeet. Yes, Jimmy came with us on vacation. By the time we hit Mt. Hood it was always dark. If we hadn't killed each other or been sentenced to silence after the last tantrum, we'd sing. As the midnight hour approached and the young ones faded, just Mom and Dennis would sing. Through heavy eyelids I watched their silhouettes, the long stretch of high desert highway ahead of them. With my head plastered to the shoulder of whichever sister was closest, I would drift off listening to them sing "Christmas in Prison" by John Prine.

Oh, there has been ups and downs. Dennis and I are very different. For example, he thinks before he speaks. I won't lie. I've been on his team for family charades and thought I might have an aneurysm if he didn't just spit out an answer. Spit out an answer! That man is nothing if not methodical. However, it's also one of my favorite things about him. The room (family) will erupt in drama and chaos and right when we've just about run out of estrogen-fueled steam, Dennis will pipe in and win the Profound Statement of the Night award.

I am so grateful for Dennis and the love and strength that he has provided. He has supported me endlessly. My respect for him only grows as my understanding of what that must be like to make the choice to step up and become a step parent. He has walked the line between father figure and friend with dignity and calm certainty. Did I mention there are four girls? Bravo, Dennis. Bravo.

I wish the happiest of birthdays to one of the finest gentlemen around.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Holiday cards by Moo

I love Moo Printing and not just because I am a Taurus. Good company, great product. Check it out: www.moo.com

Friday, November 26, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new and old (with a side of older man?)

I have a group of oh, I don't know, twenty girlfriends. A few of us met for coffee this morning in a post holiday roundup. I came in late and spotted the group immediately. They all sat at one table and a pile of ErgosPetunia Pickle BottomsHooter Hiders and Sophies were at another. The women I call my besties now come with one or all of the following: diamond rings, babies and men. They didn't see me see them so I quickly jumped in line for a latte before I made my way over.

My girlfriends are some of most stunning women you will ever lay eyes on. I'm not kidding. They are smart, funny, compassionate, hip and compelling. They also happen to be gorgeous in a very unconventional way. Each brings something to the table. And when the whole table is together? Watch out. They're powerhouses.

I've known them all since way before I knew better, and once I did get my wits about me, I thanked my lucky stars daily for their friendship. I still do. I have no idea why they keep my around. A pushy little girl, I'm sure I squirmed my way in and didn't give them much of a choice when we were young. Once the dust of pre-pubescence settled, we were in it together. We wanted the same things: Good grades, boyfriends, cars, college, etc. I never considered that with that many strong minded women, our priorities as individuals would change. 

Sitting down for coffee with them, I realize how different I've become.  I'm loving watching the way the light bounces off Jordan's engagement ring as she talks about her upcoming wedding and trip to Belize with Ron. Emi and her new husband, Bob, are deep in the throws of fixing up their Langley bungalow. They're going to look at countertops and cabinets later. Emily is back in her pre-baby Seven For All Mankind's, looking hot as ever while her one year old, Lucia, shoves both hands down her shirt in a desperate plea for milk. Brooke and Justin have started a wine label and Justin darts off to make deliveries to the local stores. Ashlea and her little one, Zoe, are headed home to pack for Skykomish, where her and her husband have a ski cabin.

You might think I'd be jealous. Even I think I'd be jealous. Looking around at my beautiful girls, the truth is I'm scared. While they're nesting, I'm simplifying. I went to Laguna Beach with a very distinct feeling: that is would turn me toward a relationship or it would turn me toward my other passion, work. Since that trip did not introduce me to my future husband, since I don't have the baby/man/ring scenario, it's time for some upward mobility. This is the window to be a career girl. I've been waking up every morning thinking, more drive, Sarah. Dig deep and find just a little more drive. I sound like a freaking fracking inspirational poster in a career counselor's office and it scares me silly.  Can I trust myself? Is it okay to be okay with not having domestic bliss right now?

The group breaks and Emily invites me to sit in her car while she lulls Lu into a nap. I spontaneously take this time to burst into tears while simultaneously ducking eye contact with familiar faces passing by.

"What if I stop fitting in? What do I do if this isn't my group anymore?" I blubber.

Emily soothes my worries and reminds me that our friendships aren't built on superficial commonalities. She gives me the usual pep talk and I wonder what it's like to have a nut for a best friend. I leave feeling better, but still worried that even if my friends don't disown me, I'll always be the odd duck waddling to her own quirky tune.

For instance, I kind of like the idea of dating an older man. He doesn't have to be too much older, just old enough to confident when he walks into a room. Mature enough to be steady and stable and ready to deal with a handful like me and a circus like my family. I've even considered the idea of dating a man who has a child (or children). It's not that I'm lazy and want to skip childbirth (and the years of sleepless nights) it's just that I think my auntie skills could cross over into some pretty kick-ass stepmom moments. Growing up with step-parents, both of whom I love, leaves you with a really good idea on what you would do and what you would do differently.

Then there is the fucked up part: I can also picture myself telling a story to my friends with a sparkly ring on one hand, a baby on my hip and a husband at my side. It's so confusing! So, what do I do? I get rid of everything. If it's replaceable, it's gone. Why? I don't really know. I guess it sounded like a good idea at the time. A blank slate. Out with the old. Clearing bulky shit out of the way so I can clear a mental path to the future I want. If only I knew what that future looked like.  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Laguna Beach

For those of you keeping score or just trying to keep up...

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Laguna Beach: Part Four

"Have you ever seen the Green Flash?"

The sun was taking its time, slowly slinking toward the horizon. Catalina Island was to the right; the man asking the question to the left. "I'm not sure. I think I've pretended to see it because everybody else said they saw it, but I don't think I've ever really experienced it," I answered without moving my eyes away from the glow. I was worried I would miss it.

I've spent most of my life worried I would miss it.  Life as a late bloomer always made me feel like I was scrambling to catch up. I did what most misguided girls do: I spent all of my time with boys who would never make me a better woman. I thought I could squeeze a little love out of them. All it did was perpetuate the vicious little voice that kept whispering, "It's never going to happen for you. This is all you are worth."

I took the path of least resistance, also known as the path of least romance. I slowly released the idea that there was a man out there that would hold my hand as we walked down the street.  I settled for dark heat that radiated from the dip in my collarbone to the rounds of my thighs. Looking for love in the depths of lust started to bleed. It was taking its toll being the girl who didn't deserve more. I wasn't sure my little body could take the gut-wrenching agony for one more moment.

In the middle of my 28th year I awoke. Crashing so hard against rock bottom was a core shaker I couldn't sleep through. Just like a nap that's gone on a little too long, I woke up disoriented and not sure where to begin. My sky had been black for so long I almost didn't notice when life started to crawl back into me. The big moment was when I was finally able to fall in love with the idea of falling in love again. Not because the fairy tales told me to, but because I told me to. 

That's why this trip to Laguna Beach was so important. I had met a man and I liked him. He made me smile. It seemed like an easy decision to go see him and see if he could make me do more than smile. Before my trip, I had an appointment with my therapist.  She warned me, "Every time you find yourself focused on sexual or physical attraction, I want you to pay very close attention to how he is treating you. How does he make you feel?"

As a recovering lust addict, this would be a challenge. When I found myself wondering if he wanted to grab me in a red-hot pull of passion, and more importantly if I wanted him to, I would catch my breath. Stay focused focused focused. How is he treating you?  I would repeat to myself. I understood what my therapist was getting at, but seriously? Was I really supposed to put sex to the side and base this portion of the competition on congeniality alone? I couldn't help but think we should just make out and see what happened. I'm no boy scout, but I'm pretty sure there is no chance for a spark if the flint and steel never touch.

While his fingertips weren't touching me, his mind and heart still were.  He was a complete gentleman. The fog of welcoming kindness was stalling my senses. It was hard to figure out if he was acting the part of a future boyfriend or a simply a gracious host. It all felt very... vanilla. The whole house was a shade of grain. Basmati walls and quinoa carpeting. It was a calm and quiet space where everything had a place. Everything except me.  I was pretty sure that if I stood in one place too long it would burst into color. He insisted he was happy I was there, but it couldn't be denied: I was a Taurus bull in a tidy little beige china shop. Compared to the stable life he had so meticulously created, my mess was spilling out in front of him, a chaotic cacophony.

I used to allow my low self-worth to swallow my quirky traits and spit them out as one more reason men never 'stuck' to me. I would beg the night heavens to wake up someday as a girl next door, a demure little wall flower worth marrying. But now? Now I've learned to embrace the shit show that is me. The real me is loud and blinding and leaves a trail. And you know what? So is my love.

Have I ever seen the green flash? I can't be sure. All I know is that I am going to stop pretending I have. I'm going to stop insisting there is a spark when really it's just another pretty view. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Laguna Beach: Part Three

One thing that slipped my mind when I set out on this journey was not where I was, but where I was going. Laguna Beach. The beach! As we parked at Trestles, a famous surf spot on the west coast, it hit me. I planned a trip to visit one surfer and had completely forgotten about all the other surfers.

They were everywhere. They were short and tall, young and old. I didn't see one girl. I'm all for equality, but on this day I was just liking my odds. As my flip-flops smacked against the worn out pavement, we passed them one by one. Some rode bikes; one arm wrapped around their board, the other on the handlebar. Some were on skateboards, some on foot. All of them eye candy.

On most days I'm  a shade of white draped in shades of grey. More Wednesday Addams than Gidget, it might be a surprise, but one place I'm always at home is on the beach. I did grow up on an island after all. I'm a water baby. Just being on the edge of the water makes my heart bubble up to the surface. And I have to admit it, I love surfers. They do everything I'm scared of and they look so freaking good doing it. When I was 14, I went to see a movie at The Clyde Theater. My mom told me we were going to see a remake of a 1960s movie. Boring. The only thing that interested me was popcorn and Whoppers. Little did I know. Endless Summer 2 was like pre-teen porn for a girl growing up in the cold and blustery Pacific Northwest.  Men like them just didn't exist in my world. It was as if I was watching a movie about unicorns. I ended up seeing the movie a dozen times. I subscribed to Surfing Magazine and plastered my bedroom wall with waves and the men who rode them. They followed the summer and I followed them.  Christian Slater was out and Kelly Slater was in. 

It wasn't all about the boys. My new fascination made me want to learn how to surf. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to go on adventures and connect with people on every continent. To be that athletic girl who looked adorable in a bikini and could also keep up with a surfer of her very own. My 14 year-old self wasn't sure how to get there, but I was bound and determined. I couldn't keep my eyes off them. The way these men danced on the surface of the sparkling ocean was magic. They always seemed to be laughing and going with the flow. That was the kind of man I wanted when I grew up.

And now here they were. Right in front of me. I set up camp on a beach towel, wiggled my sits bones into the sand and stared out at the waves. I wasn't as nervous as I had been earlier in the day, but I still felt a little flushed and unsure of myself. I couldn't get a read on him, but I knew if anything would make him happy, the water would. "Have you ever watched a really good surfer?" He was in the middle of explaining some of the basics. I went backward in my mind. "In real life? No. Not really." I guessed that he probably wouldn't be interested in my childhood fantasies. He was getting ready. His wetsuit was folded down to his waist and he was squatting, a surfboard balanced on his knees. His forearms and shoulders flexed as he waxed his board in a swift, circular motion. This week would certainly be a test in trying not to gawk (or melt). Like I said, men like this just didn't exist in my world.

Well, all except one.  I was at my mom's house sitting outside on the deck when I met him. I was 15, so my "surf stoke" was in full swing by this point. He walked up and I was a goner. A real surfer standing in front of me. Me with my braces and my fringe bangs. Who was this cute boy and why was he here? He was a friend of Phoebe's and was fresh off a plane from Costa Rica. An island boy who never let his roots hold him down.  I swooned and was instantly a clumsy fool for him. 5'7" of stocky surfer perfection. We'd see him in between trips and I would gaze at him adoringly as he described a polluted river mouth that was suspected to have given Hepatitis A to surfers. He could have had any local girl he wanted (hep or no hep), but he was shy and mellow and didn't seem interested in romance. I was shy and dorky and was not about to admit that he was my rock star.

I still get teased for the hormonally raging crush I had on him.  Lucky for us, when the crush faded a friendship flourished. We're still close, sharing a tight knit crew. On a very, very late night a couple of years ago, I found myself seated next to him at a strip club in Portland (don't ask).  "I have to tell you something," I yelled over the music to him, "You were the first man ever to leave me speechless." He looked back at me for a second and grinned. "You? Speechless? That's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me." He threw his arm around my shoulder and we went back to watching naked women. I smiled. I could move on now, 15 years later. It felt good to tell the truth to an old friend.

Back in Laguna, my new friend headed out into the sinking sun.  I tried to keep my eyes on his back as he paddled out. This is where he belonged. In the hours and hours (and hours) of talking, I knew the ocean was where his soul lived. As the weeks passed, I started to be able tell, from two states away, if he'd been surfing or not. There was just something in his mood that was different if he hadn't surfed. It wasn't that he was grumpy, he just wasn't... complete. That's why I wanted to come to the beach on my first day here. I wanted both of us to get real, get into our comfort zones: him in the water, me on the beach. I thought this would be a way to connect. Then I lost him. I couldn't tell him apart from all the other bobbing black dots. They looked like seals. Great whites really can't be blamed it turned out. Since I couldn't tell one from the other, I closed my eyes and took a deep, salty breath. My body was cooling off, but I could still feel the heat on my eyelids. It felt so good to be exactly where I was, even though I had no clue where I, or this, was going.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Laguna Beach: Part Two

We landed early. This was a blessing that gave me a few minutes to pull it together while I waited for him* to pick me up at John Wayne Airport. I shoved my pink and brown plaid suitcase against an empty wall in Baggage Claim and plopped down. I called Brooke, pinning my phone between my shoulder and my sweaty cheek as I swapped Jack Purcells for flip-flops. Just as I had feared, my socks had left marks around my ankles. I retain water. My ankles are the first to feel the affects. I'm not alone. I had tea with my grandma last month and saw my destiny: swollen ankles and a steel-trap memory (even at 87) that lends itself to hours of storytelling. Flying doesn't help my cause.  Luckily, I had heeded the advice from my mom (and Amelia) to hide my "winter legs" under jeans. I didn't even wait for her to say hello.

"I need the world's fastest pep talk."
"You're amazing. You're funny, smart, beautiful and you're one of my favorite people on the planet. If he doesn't get it then he doesn't get to have you."
"You're just saying that because you have to! I think I am going to throw up. Or shit my pants. Or both. Whose idea was this?! I can't do this, Brooke. I want out."
"I wondered when it would hit you. You were way too calm about this last week. Breathe. You're Sarah Fosmo, and right now, that's all you have to be. Have you thought about the fact that you might not want him?"
"I have thought about that, but not wanting what I thought I wanted is not nerve-racking, it's predictable. You're right. I'll be fine. No expectations. Just exploring the idea. But you and I both know I'm a handful. I wouldn't blame him if he left me at the airport."
"Stop it. And by the way, it would be awesome if you wanted to accidentally pocket dial me and leave the phone on."
"Dream on. Oh, man, this is going to either be the best idea I've had or the absolute fucking worst idea ever.  Who does this? Flying to another state for a first date? No one does that! What if he doesn't show up?"
"He'll show up."

Always outsmarting me, that best friend of mine. He did show up and I didn't even throw up on him. Three months after catching each other's eyes, here we were. Three months after he touched me with his mind, here I was wanting to touch him just to make sure he was next to me.

Right as he was completing an act of chivalry by loading my bag into his Volvo, Brooke texted me: you are sarah fucking fosmo, best friend, super daughter, great sister. I laughed. It reminded me that there would always be something to laugh at.

"You probably want lunch. What do you feel like?" He said.

What did I feel like? I felt like a horse tranquilizer and a gallon of wine. "A salad, maybe?" I answered tentatively with all the volume I could muster.

He brought me to Zinc Cafe and Market in Corona Del Mar. A darling vegetarian cafe with an equally adorable little market attached to it. The place was calm and normal. Every door was open and the breeze passed by easily. It was more than I could say for myself. What I thought had been the noise from jet engines in between my ears was really the roar of nerves vibrating through me.

"Anything to drink?" The perfectly pleasant young woman behind the counter asked.
"I'll just have water, thanks." He answered.
"Oh um, water too, please." I smiled, hiding my disappointment. Where is Jesus when you need him?

He seemed a little guarded, but what I did I know? It was everything I could do to feel my legs beneath me. Checking in with my gut just didn't seem like a viable option in this moment. He spoke quickly and quietly, pushing and pulling me in closer to hear his words. Sitting across from him, I was reminded how handsome he was.  His skin was smooth, but weathered. Strong cheekbones rested intentionally on either side of an equally deliberate nose and jawline. Without his careful blond hair and golden tan, I would have thought he could be the great great grandson of a native american chief. He'd taken off his grey hoodie leaving me to witness the way that his defined face organically sloped down to sculpted muscles that clung to a clean, white v-neck t-shirt. Evidence of long distance paddling and endless hours of surfing.  Without getting caught staring, I tried to study the deep creases that formed around his eyes. I knew the etchings had surfaced after decades of playing in the Pacific Ocean, but I secretly hoped some of the lines were from laughing. I had always wanted a man that could not only be a partner, not only be a lover, but also a playmate. Someone to laugh at the nonsense with me. For months, I had felt butterflies at the thought of him, but what I hadn't felt was the placid energy that was radiating out past his vegetarian nicoise salad. I couldn't decide if his mellowness made me feel better or worse, like more or less of a shitshow. I picked at my salad. Would his stormy blue eyes be able see the green in mine? Could he see the real me or just the me that sometimes showed up in the form of a slightly abrasive broad when I was feeling vulnerable?

My usual coping skills include sticking with a pattern, finding comfort in routine. I was in a strange city and my bearings were nowhere to be found. I was acting like a nervous wreck around the only person I knew in the zipcode. It all made me feel so... new. Time to push through this.  I had six more days to go.  If I couldn't sink into my routine, I'd sink into his. "Let's go to the beach."

*In order to respect privacy, there will be no naming names here. Don't ask. I'm not telling. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Guest Blogopolitan by Amelia Purser

We will get back to the Laguna Beach story, but for now, please enjoy the guest blog written by Amelia Purser. Happy Election Day, everyone!

I didn’t go to finishing school. I prefer hoodies and flip-flops to twinsets and pearls. The only reason I know what fork to use is because I’ve seen Pretty Woman one too many times. Should the Queen suddenly appear in front of me, I'd have no idea how to greet Her Majesty. I do, however, have a list of ‘rules’ that I adhere to in order to respect myself and those around me. One such rule: Don’t speak about politics unless you’re ready to deal with the consequences.

I grew up with hippie parents. I was raised by not only them, but the hippie parents of my friends as well. We were taught to love everyone. Taught that differences didn’t make us better or worse, they simply made us different. We were taught to learn from those who didn’t share our opinions. I try.

For me it's simple. If two people love each other I want them to be able to marry, I want women to make their own decisions about their own bodies and I don’t want anyone to try to ‘convert’ me to their way of thinking. 

Problem: I’d love it if everyone else would just convert to my way of thinking. That makes me a hypocrite and I hate hypocrites. I know that when my parents were raising me and teaching me to love and accept others, they had no idea how much I would need those words of wisdom as an adult. 

Five years ago, I fell in love with a Republican. Gasp! His issues of The Economist and The Wall Street Journal sit comfortably next to my issues of US Weekly and Eating Well on the coffee table. His vintage inspired “Reagan/Bush ‘84” and my well worn “01.20.09 (Bush’s last day)” tees often end up in the washing machine together. 

I don’t know when I came up with my code of silence in regards to politics, but I think it was around the same time that I stopped paying attention to all political issues and focused on a small few that will literally make me cry or start screaming if I talk about them with someone who doesn’t agree with me (sorry, Mom and Dad). I know it was a reckless way to handle my right to vote, the same right that women in the early 1900s fought tooth and nail for. I never skipped out on an election, but for most of my adult life, I’d been underwhelmed by politics (and politicians) and as a result I wound up under-informed. I’m getting better, I’ve started paying attention again (you have to be informed in this household). 

Blair, on the other hand, has always loved politics. He once told me, "I've loved Colin Powell since I was ten." His first job interview out of college was at the Pentagon a few weeks after 9/11. He ended up happily working for the Department of Labor during the Bush administration for a year or so before packing up and moving back to the West Coast. 

In the beginning of our relationship, politics wasn’t an issue; we didn’t talk about it aside from the usual banter: ‘right wing conservative’ versus ‘bleeding heart liberal’. Things changed in the Spring of 2009. His brother, Tim, (who also worked for the Bush administration and has an impressive resume of service to our country) decided that he would run for office in Virginia. Blair was brought on as Campaign Director. This meant a temporary move to the other side of the country for Blair. His days were filled with fundraising, door knocking, research, organizing volunteers, and event planning. My days were filled fielding questions from people about how I could handle being alone for four months, and more importantly, how I could handle dating a Republican.

It didn't take long to discover that Tim has a dangerous combination of quick wit and intelligence that I should avoid at all cost. He has the ability to verbally flatten me in less than 10 seconds. Blair operates with a less confrontational approach. He discusses politics with ‘relaxed confidence’ (the Palmer family motto). We don’t sit at the dinner table and argue the whereabouts of Obama’s birth certificate, but the conversations have become more involved. Blair calmly and gracefully explains his views and then listens attentively to the views of those around him. I ask questions about foreign policy and fiscal issues and he usually relays to me both sides of the issue. Thankfully, there are a few topics that we are in complete agreement on: gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and Sarah Palin.

Tim lost his race, but we all came away from that experience having learned a lot. Blair is now working on a congressional campaign in Washington State and his days are again consumed with politics. When he first started on this campaign I helped him stuff envelopes for a fundraiser they were having. I had convinced myself that because Blair’s candidate wasn’t running in my district, it wasn’t really a conflict of interest for me to be ‘working’ for a candidate that I wouldn’t vote for. That was the last time I contributed to the campaign. I started feeling like a bad partner because I saw how hard Blair was working and I never offered my assistance. I asked him once if he was hurt that I never volunteered or took an active role in anything relating to his job. The thought had never crossed his mind because he too would never be able to help me on a campaign for a candidate that he wouldn’t vote for.

I’m used to the jokes and the never-ending interrogation about how we make our relationship work. For me, it boils down to one simple word that most people forget when discussing politics: respect. Blair and I both know that we're not going to change each other's mind, that there are issues that we will never see eye to eye on, and that sometimes it’s better to just change the subject. In the midst of the Arizona immigration debate, Blair and I had a lengthy conversation about our respective opinions on the subject. What started as a simple discussion (spurred by Ms. Fosmo) ended up lasting 2 and a half hours. I finally announced that I was done talking about it. The conversation could have lasted for 5 hours and neither one of us would have changed our minds. We decided to agree to disagree and watch a movie. We hadn’t made it passed the opening credits when Blair thanked me for the immigration conversation and told me that he thought I had made some interesting points that he had never thought of before. If only all political debates could be so civil!

I recently took a cooking class, a night when ‘the girls’ could get together and watch someone else cook, eat fabulous food, and sip wine. Guess what came up? Politics. A pleasant evening enjoyed by friends from all walks of life was reduced to a battle of opinion. I watched friends who have gathered for birthdays, holidays, births, and deaths argue over what charities to donate to, what causes to support, and what side to agree with. Grown women raising their voices and neither ‘side’ giving the other the respect they deserve.

I learned a long time ago that I can’t expect to be respected and heard if I’m not willing to respect and listen. There’s a reason why the “Golden Rule” has been around for so long; it makes sense. 

Respect those around you and don't forget to vote today!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Laguna Beach: Part One

(ignore the cheesy slideshow and listen to the song; couldn't do better right now)

An electronic reader board blinks yellow as we round the corner to Sea-Tac: The Journey Begins here.

I boarded Alaska Air Flight 510 at 10am from gate D7. My seat assignment was 7D. I turned this into a good sign the way I always seem to. If I couldn't make sense of it, maybe the numbers could. I had one carry on, one nonfat latte and a heart that wouldn't let me forget it was scared to death. Seattle dropped out of sight beneath a sweater of soggy clouds. All that stood between me and the sky were raindrops and a window. It all gave in, the drops became rivulets, speeding past my window toward the tail of the plane. Rapid rows of moisture, streaking by in an orderly fashion, only stopping to hiccup on their way to a free fall.  It reminded me of those machines they hook people up to in the hospital. EKG monitors? Watching the water spike up and down as the earth fell below me struck me as surreal. In that moment, not a person on the planet could tell me I wasn't alive.
"You're an adventurer. You have to embrace it. What are you supposed to do? Sit in a room and write stories about things you've never experienced? No one would believe you."

Two hours later, I saw the ocean. A 30,000 foot fall and then... ocean. A splinter of truth ran through me: If this plane crashed it would be the easy way out. I had to do this. I had to get on this plane and the plane had to land. I had to see for myself.

She was right, the way my mom always is. I'm an adventurer. An emotional thrill-seeker. My stories are written from everywhere, but at the same time they're always written from the messy place where my gut and heart collide. They fly by the back of my eyes when I'm on a run. They unfold on the road and in the sky. Some nights I write from a lonely table in a lonely restaurant on a lonely evening. Too many times, I've written perched every so lightly on the edge of a broken heart.

On this morning, I wrote from a place that felt too edgy. Literally. I gave up being anxious a long time ago, but all of the sudden my nerves wouldn't allow me to hear my insides speak. It's hard to tell stories when they're not rounded out. This story has no end yet and if asked how it began, I may not give the right answer. It floats around poking and prodding it's way out of me like a human trying to give birth to a martian. So, I try and make it the fun part. The emotional skydive. When Sarah gives in, the story falls out.

But this isn't about a story falling. It's about me falling. Will I or won't I? Will we or won't we? I can't be sure. Right now, all I can do is let the plane land, even though every ounce of me is wondering if I would seem crazy if I asked the pilot to keep going. Mexico must be nice this time of year, right? No. This plane has to land and I have to find out. 

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now beginning our descent in Orange County."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I made a quick stop at a local grocery store the other day. Being in a hurry never seems to stop me from veering toward the magazine aisle. Entrepreneur was featuring an article on the founder of Ace Hotel (read it here) and I wanted to check it out. I found the issue tucked in-between Money Magazine and Forbes. All three of these publications were in what was clearly the men's magazine section. This has been under my skin for days. I could go on, but if you don't know why this would irritate a girl on the rise, I don't have the time to explain it to you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

If just for tonight, darling, let's get lost.

I went and saw Eclipse tonight at The Clyde.  Amelia wagered all the teenage girls would be busy scoping out boys at the Island County Fair, which would leave us a mellow viewing on a perfect summer evening.  She was right.  Only a smattering of Twi-Hards sat giggling in the front section every time the hottie hotterson native american boy walked onscreen.

I read the books.  I think the author is a hack and I can't even go into the blatant Mormon undertones that seep through in the "should we or shouldn't we?" diatribes regarding sex and marriage that run parallel with blood sucking and losing your soul.  I couldn't help but notice all the vampires fight in the epic battles except the mother of a dozen.  She must be home ironing.  Then there is the massive failure that is Bella Swan's wardrobe.  She always looks horrible.  If Edward was a real retrosexual he would rip her clothes off just to stop looking at her godawful outfits.

One of the few wins, though, is the soundtrack.  I loved this Beck and Bat For Lashes track long before I saw the movie (thanks to my sister, Phoebe).

It's appropriate for tonight because, truth be told... I have a new crush.  We've found ourselves submerged in this surreal space that is neither here (where I am) or there (where he is), but rather somewhere in-between (where honest and fun hide out).  He has me tumbling over my tongue so I have no choice but to stop talking and let the song speak.  Sweet dreams, everyone.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Part Two

I finished my last blog, "To be continued?"

Well, it's not to be continued. Not at all.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

If you can't handle the heat...

"She made for a boss, only a boss.  Anything less, she telling them to get lost." - Ne-Yo

My mom was lighting three-foot sparklers at a wedding when her thumb got burnt.  The burn quickly turned into a huge, oozing blister that she insisted on showing me as I drove her to the airport.

"Mom!  Put that away!  Gross."

"If my body is ever covered in burns, Sarah, put me out of my misery.  I'm not kidding.  There is nothing worse."

We pulled up curbside as she finally re-wrapped her wound in a band-aid.

"I'm not getting out.  This is not a public tank top. But I love you. Have a great trip."

"You are never going to see any of these people again."  She sighed, "I know you're a hopeless romantic and you think you will."

It's true.  Always on the lookout for a "meet-cute" to call my own.

One week later:

Someone is squeezing my left hand.  I'm sipping wine on the Prima patio, bundled up in the cozy blankets they hand out.  Reminds me of being on vacation in Mexico.  Warmth radiates up my arm.  Flustered, I look up to see a familiar pout paired with deep, brown eyes.  I find my voice, wobbly and possibly higher than usual.

"Hi!  What... what are you doing here?" I squeak.

"Just wanted to say hi, I didn't want to interrupt anything," He says, eyeing the guy seated across from me.  High-voltage smile and a wink before he disappears back to his table.

"Who was that?!" 

"Huh?  Oh.  Um, that's my... um, that's... he's..."

My friend is laughing now as he leans in, "You don't have to answer.  You can't even finish a sentence and you are blushing!  Ladies and gentlemen, a man who finally leaves Sarah speechless."

"I don't blush."  I say, burying my face and carving my back into the bench.  

"Then why are you the color of that wall?"  I turn to see the dusty rose wall he is referring to.

"Whatever.  It's really warm out here.  Let's just change the subject.  He's nobody." 

"If that's your nobody, I can't wait to see your somebody."

Three weeks earlier:

"Should I come up?"

"No.  But you can."

I woke up the next morning.  It was like any other morning until I saw the perfectly smooth slope of skin out of the corner of my eye. It was like any other morning until I realized I was trying to come up with a way to hold him hostage in my bed so we could finish what we started.  It was like any other morning until the memory of the night before flooded into my chest like a brush fire.

He made a gentleman's exit and I took 1/2 a Xanax.  Then it really was like any other morning.  I went to the shower, then to the mirror and then to the lip gloss. That's weird.  I had brushed my teeth but I still had wine stain on my lower lip.  To be expected with the previous night's antics.  I looked closer.  Three perfectly tiny purple crescents lined the inside of my lower lip, right where the moisture of my mouth meets the fresh air.  I'd been bitten. 

I understand the vampire hysteria now.  I can't get enough.   I want what I can't have.  I want more than lip biting and hair pulling.  He bossed me around and I liked it.  As a "miss independent" type, I don't think I'm alone in wanting a take-charge kind of man.  I take care of my business and my wellbeing all day, every day.  It's exhausting.  Sometimes I just want a man that will roll up his sleeves, or better yet take off his shirt, and push me up against a wall.  A boss, as the hip hop world calls it. 

Yes, this man is a man's man.  He loves his family with fierce loyalty.  He was raised right.  He holds his own and he certainly doesn't seem to be scared of me.  But, that's the thing with a boss.  You never know.  Sometimes they're standing in front of you and sometimes they're not.  Chances are they're standing in front of someone else.

Why do they always have to have someone else?  Every emotion is pushing up against this parchment paper I call skin.  I bruise easy and I want to take it back to where it started.  Take it back to before I found myself lusting for another unavailable man.  

Take it back to the storm.  The power was flickering when I rolled in on a Friday night wearing loungewear.  I was drinking wine alone and didn't notice him until I noticed that I didn't know him.  Right there in the middle of that blustery autumn storm, the winds of change blew in.  My meet-cute.     

I tell myself to stay away.  This sucks.  I don't want this, but I want him.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's a option.  So I smile and nod, trying not to give it away.  I tell him it's a "friendship hiccup."  He tells me it's "unfinished business."  Body temp: A million degrees.  Breath: Gone.  

I know how my mom feels.  I'm burning alive.  One look from him and my cheekbones burst into flames.  I feel it spread to my hairline and down the nape of my neck.  He locks eyes with me and I'm a goner.  I'm on fire and I can't handle it.  I want to scream for someone to put me out of my misery.  One woman can't possibly handle all this heat.  Or can they? 

To be continued? 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Jeans - By Steve Anderson

Naked and Famous Denim

I have a tendency to get really into esoteric things. I think it helps me feel knowledgeable and hip. Something about being a little bit of an expert on something slightly out of the ordinary has always done it for me. I don’t think I’m alone. This is basically the foundation on which any perception of oneself as “alternative” is based. For me, it started innocently enough with a high school obsession with the Grateful Dead. Not really that esoteric but alternative for my high school. My interests got more obscure from there. My college years were spent listening to and trying to learn an unlistenable subgenre of hip hop called Turntablism. My mid-twenties were spent searching for the emerging sound of mid-Atlantic club music. Then came sneakers. Now I’m onto jeans. Well, I should say denim because that’s what people that are into jeans say.

In defense of getting into weird things are that aren’t entirely explained by a casual google search, the process of learning can be a lot of fun. I bought my first pair of dry selvedge denim in December of 2007. I was with my sister who is a total clothes horse and she convinced me that the price was worth it based on how they looked. The guy at the store was a big fan of them and told me that the denim itself was Japanese and of the selvedge variety. They were a blue that was so dark, it almost looked black. He said Japanese denim is the best quality. I didn’t ask what selvedge meant. He also told me they’d look great if I waited at least 6 months to wash them and that they would distress really nicely that way and not to worry about the tightness as they were unsanforized and would stretch out at least a size. Cool, my very first pair of fancy denim.

They were stiff as hell for like 4 months, and basically uncomfortable. I thought they looked cool though, and I was happy because I never really like the way jeans looked on me before. I tried to avoid wearing them in the rain because they would smell afterwards. Putting your jeans in the freezer for a while is the best way to get rid of this smell, as I learned much later. That next fall, they had stretched out and light blue whiskers had begun to fade around my crotch. I finally washed them in the fall by hand in my bathtub.

Maiden Noir Denim

It was kind of gradual, but by the next December they had kind of gone from an uncomfortable project pair of jeans to a super comfortable pair that had broken in to fit my body in particular and they looked ill. At one point it all seemed worth it. I bought my next pair the next February and I’m wearing them right now. I’ve washed them once and they have stretched out two sizes.

I realized that I was verging into a weird space when my wife walked in on me in the kitchen one day while I was shirtless, wearing wet jeans and standing on a towel. I had ordered Levi’s Shrink-to-Fit jeans and was shrinking them to fit. It seemed ordinary enough until she walked in and everything was taken out of context. It didn’t work anyways. When the Levi’s dried, one of the pant legs twisted and won’t twist back.

I will soon have to find something else to make me feel young again. In reality, this dry denim trend is full on mainstream at this point. There are entire online communities that revolve around discussions of dry selvedge denim. J Crew is also selling it at this point. That said, most people don’t understand much when it comes to denim and the following is for “you people.”

What is Dry Denim?

Unwashed (dry) jeans are made from denim that is unsanforized. Basically it hasn’t been pre-shrunk of stretched. The dyes have also not been set. Unwashed denim will bleed out over time and give the jeans a nice distressed look. Some people don’t like the distressed look so they wash this denim as soon as they get it to set the dye.

What is Selvedge?

The selvedge edge is the end of a bolt of fabric that is woven in such a manner that it won’t unravel. All fabric is woven with a selvedge edge. It used to be that a lot of jeans came with selvedge edges matched together on the outside seam of your pant leg. These were the days before sanforization. If the selvedge edges were matched, the pant legs wouldn’t twist when the jeans were first washed. Once sanforization became common, jeans makers could cut jeans with the economics of the fabric in mind as opposed to how the jeans were going wear over time. This basically translates into larger looms and mass production. You can check to see if jeans are selvedge by looking at the outside seem the leg. If it looks anything like this, it’s selvedge:


Why is Japanese Denim so Popular?

This gets at why Japanese denim tends to be superior. The U.S. wanted to help the Japanese develop their economy after World War II, so we sent them a bunch of our old manufacturing equipment. This included old denim looms. We moved on to mass production techniques before finally just off-shoring everything we consume. In the meantime the Japanese mastered the craft of producing heavy denim on short looms so that it lasts forever and dying it with natural indigo so that it fades oh so well.  A lot of Japanese denim manufacturers have purchased licenses to replicate old-school American styles. So it’s not uncommon to see jeans like Blue Bell Wranglers made in Japan.

How to Get Started.

I recommend buying yourself/ your boyfriend/ your husband a pair. The gold standard of dry denim jeans is the A.P.C. New Standard. You can find them for about $165 and they stretch out two sizes so buy them small. I think the inseam is 34 inches. There are a bunch of other brands out there. A few include: Nudie, Naked and Famous, Maiden Noir and Uniqlo. You might avoid J Crew as they are a little expensive and will still manage to make you look like kind of an idiot.  You can find lots of slightly used stuff on ebay which I probably wouldn’t buy given that you are looking for something that is unwashed.

It’s important to find out how much the jeans will stretch and size appropriately. If they are way too big or too long you can try soaking them in cold water for a few hours and they’ll shrink down a bit. After that, wear them a lot and don’t wash them. Avoid rain. Put them in the freezer for a while if they get smelly. Hand-wash them eventually.


Whether or not you want to buy a pair of raw selvedge jeans, here are my key take-aways on men’s denim in general:

-Don’t buy men’s versions of women’s designer jeans. This is taking a masculine product (jeans), making it feminine (Citizens of Humanity jeans), and then making a slightly more masculine product out of that. Do you see what I’m saying? Don’t get me wrong, you’ll catch me in tight jeans and purple Vans. But still, a guy wearing Sevens looks both lazy and corny.

-Don’t buy pre-distressed jeans. They look fixed gear and they won’t last nearly as long. If you want fades, the best thing to do is buy dry denim and wear them a lot. I could write an entire blog post about how exactly pre-distressed jeans don’t look real but I’m not sure anyone would care. Either way it looks stupid.  

-Beware of unsanforized denim that is not selvedge like Levi’s Shrink-to-Fit. You may be in for a surprise after your first wash.

-Don’t hem your jeans. You just can’t get the same hem at the tailor that the jean manufacturers can get. Nice denim usually comes in a uniform inseam that is typically 34 or 36 inches. People started flipping their hems up to avoid dragging the hem on the ground. This also shows off the selvedge edge if you’ve got it. I see guys everyday now flipping up their non-selvedge jeans that don’t have selvedge seams. I guess they think it looks cool. If I were buying those kinds of jeans, I would have just picked out a pair that fit me.

-When you wash dry denim they recommend dry cleaning for the first wash, but I’ve never done that. I turn my jeans inside out and soak them in cold water with some Woolite Dark for about two hours. Then I ring them out and hang them to dry.

-If you machine wash any pair of jeans, turn them inside out.

-Unless you are actually wearing boots, don’t buy a boot cut.