Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Out with the old...

It's moving week and it seems to fit right in with my whole spring cleaning bit.  I'm on Day Three.  This is me on a beach walk today, still alive and still finding things to smile about.  While my body goes through the mess I've created inside, I'm going through the mess I've created outside.  So we sit here together, my Self and my vessel, detoxing internally and externally.  Shit I need, shit I don't need and shit I just can't believe has survived this long without going to a thrift store.  I'm also realizing how good I'm getting at letting possessions go.  Since my affair with the universe started over a year ago, I've really started to learn about allowing things to leave in order to make room for better things to come.  I rid in order to receive.  With people... not so easy.

As my 30th birthday approaches, and the invite list for the party approaches 250, I can't help but wonder if holding on to everyone leaves any room for anybody new.  Possibly a man that might treat me with more reciprocity then the ones who have walked with me before?  I mean this in the sense of all relationships, but of course it's magnified in the romantic ones.

When Phoebe visited last week she said something that's been sitting with me ever since.  She said, "You're totally ready to be with a man that's ready to be with you.  We're all ready.  You've have this past of dating men who are just devastatingly afraid of commitment."  Devastatingly.  That was the word that stuck.  It's true.  They have been so horribly mauled by their past that by the time they get to me they are just tortured souls looking for a soft place to land and a little free therapy.  All it took was one man to set the course for the men I would choose.  Until now.  She's right, I'm totally ready.

I'm ready for a partnership not a pity party.  I'm ready for someone to take me on.  I'm ready to be loved out loud.  I've loved them all though, even at their most pitiful.  I hold gentle spots for each and every man I've ever been with.  The one exception is the one who started it all.  He created a toxic river far wider, far deeper and far stronger than I ever could imagine.  Letting go of him five years ago was the flu.  Laying on the bathroom floor knowing l'd feel better if I purged it, but not wanting to.  Holding on to the idea, even though I could see joy ahead and I could see the steps I had to take to get out from under him.  Rapid breathing and a chest so heavy I could have sworn he himself was still smothering me with the weight of his heat and flesh.  And like the flu, I could feel the sweat beading and clinging to the curve of my lower back.  I let my head drop back, swearing to the skies that if I got through this, if I made it, I would be better.

I did get better.  I let him go.  I reached that calm that comes after anger and regret: peace.  But here's the deal:  It took a monumental event for me to get it.  These flags weren't red, they were flaming.  It took a river so wide I couldn't cross it, for me to see the light.  That scared me.  I was so scared until now that I didn't have the skills to know whether someone was going to shatter me again.  That's why I chose the "devastatingly unavailable" men.  Knowing that they were never going to love me the way I deserved to be loved, in a weird way, put me in control.  I didn't have to sit there wondering if, I got to instead wonder when, they were going to let me down.

Have I learned?  I hope so.  Has it made me hang on to my lifelong tribe because God forbid I let another man in that will do the same thing?  Maybe.  But as I sit here in the middle of this spring cleaning mess, I have a thought: could the clutter being cleared away make just enough room for not something, but someone, new?  Only time will tell...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Cleaning

-Tori Amos

Feeling frumpy and grumpy, I decided I needed a detox.  The first detox I ever did was after my psychic told me I had the worst sugar addiction he'd ever "seen".  He then took twenty dollars off his fee and sent me to Powell's to purchase Sugar Busters.  It turned out to be one of the most painful, but important things I've done.

This time I've chosen the Candida Cleanse which cuts out everything yummy that I love and adore.  I'm not kidding.  Everything.  No wine, chocolate or cheese.  That's the condensed "what Sarah will wish she can have for the next month" list.  The more elaborate version of what you can and can't eat can be found here: The Candida Diet.

Very unprepared to start the cleanse, Day One turned into more of a fast when I realized the only allowable food in the house was Kombucha and quinoa.  Arriving at work I was asked where my latte, that's always glued to my hand, was.  I explained the cleanse.  An hour later, I was offered a Diet Pepsi.  Stuck to water.  Swung by my mom's after work.  Walked right into a family storm brewing with the youngest sister.  After things settled down I really wanted a glass of wine.  Really, really, really.  Headache setting in, so I went home feeling sober and... sober.

Day Two has been fine.  I have a headache for sure.  The good news is I found some butterflies over the weekend and so the tummy flutter has kept my mind off the brain throb.  I'm definitely moving a little slower than usual.  What's usual?  A hummingbird.  A bumble bee.  A leap frog.  Usual for me is on the move or as a friend called it, "energy management".

Part of the detox includes a sea salt, mineral bath.  Here's the truth: I'm not much of a soaker.  I love being in the water, but baths just don't do it for me.  I start seeing the surfaces that need to be cleaned, I start thinking I should shave my legs while I'm just laying here, I get squirmy.  I'm an Earth sign, but I sucked it up and did my 20-30 minutes.  The package then said, "After leaving the bath, sit quietly while skin is still damp to cool down as the sea water's trace minerals continue to treat the skin's surface."  You're fucking kidding me, right?  You want me to sit dripping wet, naked and silent while the dead sea salts work their magic?  If I have to sit here, can I least have my iPhone?

Now there are naked people and not-so naked people.  I fall into the latter.  I like pajamas.  When I'm at a clothing-optional beach, I opt for some coverage.  I would way rather curl up, dry and with a book, then sit naked on my bathroom floor waiting to dry off.  It's not that I don't get naked.  I do.  When it matters, I most definitely do.

I want to get near-naked for Bikram Yoga.  Bikram is a hot-as-hell yoga class where you sweat buckets and kind of wish you could just curl up and die.  It's supposed to be fabulous.  Shockingly, no one teaches it in this little artistic village of mine.  This just baffles me since all I see around me are Suburus and Sigg bottles.  The other day, I got a raw cookie practically shoved down my throat.  She pulled it out of a clearly reused zip-loc and handed it to me saying, "It's raw and alive."  I like raw food.  Blossoming Lotus in Portland rocks.  But I trust them.  This was some 21 year-old flake wearing a bindi and looking for any chance to tell a man she "likes it raw".  And the cookie which I ate out of politeness?  Pretty nasty.  I wanted to tell her that I was on to her, that I knew the lululemon yoga pants she was wearing cost a hundred dollars, maybe tell her about the sheep that died to make her UGGS.  I wanted to tell her that the only time I wanted to hear "raw" and "cookie" in the same sentence again is if it also included "Nestle" and "dough".  And what I really, really want to tell her is if she is going to walk around flaunting that she can bend her body in ways that will bend our minds, she should make herself useful.  She should open a Bikram Studio and help me get through this fucking detox.

See?  I'm no fun when I'm detoxing.  I'm usually so much more pleasant.  It's on Day Three that I want to physically harm those around me.  And then come the tears.  So we have that to look forward to.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Ian moon and Mira like to set a few minutes aside each day for birthday party planning. I wonder if they get that from their mom's? Or, could it be from their Auntie Sarah? Mira is going to have a "sheepdog" themed party (who knew?), and Ian Moon wants a "sweet foods" themed party. Awesome. "Whatever you want, kids. We're here to cater to you."

This song is super old, but I was all pregnant and lost in the jungle when it came out, and I like it, so...........

love, Phoebe

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dear Sarah,

The following questions were emailed to me by a man in his 20s.  There seems to be some confusion since my close friends keep asking who I went on a date with. I didn't go on the date, just provided the advice.

I am going on a date Friday.  What are some good places to go?

If you want to win a heart, take note:

- Somewhere you can hear.  First dates are about getting to know each other, not getting to know the chorus of the latest top 40 hit.

-Good lighting.  Costco lighting does nothing for no one.  Ever.  I prefer sunset, candlelight or a combo of both.  If you can't get those, find a dimmer switch fast.  

-Your own corner of the world.  Don't go somewhere that has you panicked about which fork to use first.  Look at a review site like Urban Spoon and find a place that is as hip and happening as you.  Something with a twist always helps breed good conversation.  And a place that serves small plates is fun so you can pick and choose together (and lean in as you share the tasty fare).  

Who should pay?  

As a woman, I want him to pay on the first date. Sorry, that's just me.  I'm old school that way.  It's a glimmer of hope that wooing is in my future (or better yet, my present).
If it is a same-sex date, I say it should be whoever initiated the date.  And no matter what, always "offer" to pay. Never assume your first date is on the same page as you.  It may turn out they aren't even reading the same book.

How do I keep the passion from going to my head, and not going too far on the first date? 

Passion is fun.  It's hot and spicy and the inspiration for the best music, books and movies out there.  Remember that every time you want to dive in and give in to your, um, "passion".  The longer you draw it out, the longer you get to swim in the lovely waters of lust.  Think of it as a very classy form of foreplay.  

Trust me, when the relationship gets comfortable and you can barely find the energy to take off your socks before you climb into bed, you'll be wishing you were back on that first date making him/her wait a little.  Everyone loves butterflies.

My secret for not going too far too fast is to skip shaving my legs that day.  For men, it's hard to say what would keep them from going too far.  I'm not sure there is anything.  And I know from experience, not even unshaved legs will stop them. 

How do you tell someone about yourself without going overboard?

Sarah McLachlan said it best, "building the mystery."  If you tell someone everything there is to know about you, what more is left?  And furthermore, if you're telling them everything about you, have they gotten a word in edgewise?  

I love the little discoveries along the way.  I don't care how you take your coffee at 9pm on a first date when we're ordering wine.  I care about how you take your coffee when we are at a cafe over brunch and discover we both love nonfat lattes.  I care how you take your coffee when you're telling me over those lattes that you traveled through South America visiting coffee plantations fighting for the rights of farmers.  That's how life likes to unroll; on a need-to-know basis.  It's a story, so don't rush it.

Good luck on your date!  Above all else, be authentic.  The love of your life won't be able to resist it, even if the music is loud and the lighting is shit.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dirty Laundry

I was having a hard time today.  There is a situation I have to confront, but I'm not sure how to do it.

"Should I go off on him in an email or with my voice?"  I asked my mom.

She was in the middle of making a gorgeous custom shower curtain for her new bathroom upstairs.  The fabric begs you to touch it; black with big paisley swirls of ivory.  She didn't answer in time.

"I'll just blog about it."  I say, firmly decided.

This got her attention.

"I don't know if you should do that.  It's kind of airing your dirty laundry." She warned, scissors silent, her eyes peering above her glasses.

"Isn't everything I post on my blog dirty laundry?"

That's the thing.  My mom loves me, loves my writing, loves that I blog.  So do a lot of people.  But I know that this isn't how everyone operates.  I know that my mom's style is one with a little more poise and a little less prose.  I think she worries sometimes that someday my thin skin will burst at the seams and all my insides, all my emotions, all my thoughts will come tumbling out like these words.  What she doesn't realize is it's too late.  They already are.  They always have been.

Not everyone wears their story on their sleeve like I do.  I can't help it.  My story sits next to my heart, which rests next to my guts.  It's all out there.  Take it or leave it.

I've been told I have a "borderline obsession with intimate relationships and the details that go along with them" from someone who, in my opinion, is borderline obsessed with trying to figure me out (good luck, by the way).  Okay, sure.  But may I also add that while human interaction fascinates me, so do books.  And the tides, for that matter.  I can't look up at the stars without feeling that whoosh! of uncertainty.  I'm easily entertained I guess.

Somehow along the way I decided that maybe you all would enjoy seeing what I see.  Feeling what I feel.  Bearing witness as I stumble along.  Yeah, I am borderline a lot of things.  But, that's the fun part.  My gut and my heart (and my story) keep telling me I'm on the right track.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Need advice?

In order to have a Dear Sarah segment, I'll need some questions.  Ask away.  You can ask me personal questions about my family members if you want.  Don't be shy.  Not sure what to wear on your first date?  I can totally handle that.  And I'll treat it like I do everything else.  If I don't have the answer, I'll find someone who does.

Your questions will be 100% confidential and my answers will be 100% confident.  Ha.  Maybe not, but I like the way that sounds.

Anyhoo, hit me up...

Dear Sarah

This little ditty will be called "Dear Sarah".  I thought about calling it "Darling Sarah", but this isn't about me.  It's about you.  For the most part, I have no idea what I'm talking about.  But also for the most part, I've found it's all in the delivery.  If I sound like I know what I'm talking about, you might just believe me.  And if y'all believe me, then soon what I'm saying becomes a truth.  Full circle.  See what I mean?

This question comes to me from a musician in his 30s:

I can't stand my buddy's girlfriend.  It's to the point where I can't spend time with him, because I hate her.  Can I tell him that she's all wrong for him?

I'm guessing we've all dealt with this.  I can't begin to tell you how many boyfriends and girlfriends of others I have despised.  The number is high.

I've come up with my own "tipping point" for whether or not to open my rather large mouth.  My rule of thumb is not to get involved unless I feel like my friend is being harmed physically or emotionally.  The moment I see the friend I care about being battered literally or figuratively, I'm stepping in.  They probably won't listen to me (I never did), but I'll know I tried.

Until then, mum's the word.  The truth is, who am I to choose who everyone else is with?  While I would love that job, and I think I'd be pretty good at it, it's not really my place to play judgy judgerson with everyone that everyone else dates.  And most likely, your friend will figure out they're dating a douche bag and you'll be there with cocktails and party hats when they do.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Bloom where you are planted.

I have some geographical challenges in my relationship. I'm an island girl who fell for a Tico. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a beauty pageant.  It's down to Oregon and Costa Rica. Oregon is smarter, but Costa Rica is prettier. You wouldn't think of either one as competitive, but in our house they are. Acting like friends, but constantly comparing their traits and virtues. 

Really though I knew, right when I fell for him, that "home" would be wherever he was. Which is better: location, location, location? or love, love, love? Today is our thirteenth anniversary, and it's still true: home is wherever the love is.

This photo was contributed by Kyla, who just happened to capture the moment we met.

This song was contributed by David. Being islanders who fell for a Swede and an Aussie, they probably know what I'm talking about.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

'Til Death Do Us Part

"A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked." Bernard Meltzer

Arwen has told me that I really throw the term "best friend" around.  It's true.  I have a lot of people in my life that I would not hesitate to call a best friend.  This isn't because I miss middle school.  It's not because I can't decide and don't want to play favorites.  I title these people who orbit me "best" because that's exactly what they are.  

I dare anyone to tell me that Reed is not the best at challenging me to rise.  Tell me that Jordan is not the best at reminding me of a little thing called reality.  That she doesn't hand me cool, calm and collected every single time.  Emily protects me, soothing me down from the ledge.  Nekoda points out beauty in the everyday things.  She stirs the artist in me.  Brooke gives me roots, she is my history.  Stuart pisses me off and makes me smile in 60 seconds flat.  Alicia takes the time to make me feel worth the time.  Amelia keeps me safe.  Sarah brings out my truth and I never feel as authentic as when I'm with her.  She never lets a question go unanswered.  Emi is my contrast, always prying my mind open.  Jaime is my mirror.  Brian includes me "just because".  The Traynors leave me laughing.  John Watson hugs me and I feel as tiny and delicate as every girl wants to feel, if only just for that moment.  Erin doesn't sugarcoat. Sommer is my innocence, she is my optimism.  The list goes on and on.

I'm sure about what they do for me.  I can't be sure what I do for them... Can't quite figure out why they keep me around.  I don't really know what I did to deserve people I could call at any hour on any day and ask any question to.  On low days I think I may not matter to them.  On high days I'm positive I'll know them for the rest of my life.  When I am on the ground, they are my flock.  They circle me, a cacophonous life force, calling me to join them in the sky.  I'm lucky that way.  I know it's weird to have friends for this long.  To have been around most of them in diapers.  Yeah, we're weird.  I'm prancing toward thirty and I have endless best friends.   

They are the best friends because every single one of them is the best at what they do for me.  They are my troupe.  They are my best-case scenario.  They are my best friends.