~Thursday, July 21, 2016


One of the first Christmases my sister-in-law attended, she scoffed at us.

"Christmas is so much different at my house."

"How?" My mother asked.

"It's joyous."

She probably had a point. My mother's grandparents were farmers during the Great Depression, and they would save every penny and buy more land. There was some story about how a Pizza Inn was built in town, and her grandmother never got to go because they were always saving for land. As a result, gifts given from my mother are always modest and practical in nature. My brother and I would take turns opening our towels and smile and say thank you. You don't really jump up and down like you would if you got the newest gaming system.

So maybe it's because my great-grandmother never got to go to Pizza Inn. Maybe it goes deeper with our German roots. Maybe it's as simple as the terrible divorce my mother went through when we were kids, but we are not a joyous family. I used to write about that a lot.

I remember when we signed the wedding venue. All I wanted was to have the wedding in one of those antebellum homes. Inject a little bit of me into what would be a Jewish ceremony. And we found the perfect house. It was painted white and had 2-story columns on the front porch, and the flooring was so old that it creaked when you walked in the house. The curtains were green velvet in the front parlor, just like Scarlet O'Hara's Tara. And the bar had been refinished in glorious mahogany wood. It was magnificent. It was perfect. And that's where I had my wedding.

My dad and mom and I sat around a 10-person table. My parents were writing checks for the deposit. "Smile!" my dad ordered.

I did. I think he wanted the reaction when you get a new gaming system on Christmas day. He was writing a large check; he wanted me to jump up and down and kiss his neck with appreciation. I must have given him the towel smile.

"That's Sarah," my father said to no one in particular. "Sarah isn't a happy person."

I was happy! I was also nervous!

My mother freely admits that we are a reserved people. She also thinks I had my thyroid disease for much longer than anyone had realized and that it kind of shaped my personality. Always moving at a tone softer than everyone else. There are a thousand more explanations I could come up with if I sat here long enough.

So when I peed on the stick and the pregnancy test turned positive, I shrugged.

That's Sarah, my father's words had echoed. She's not a happy person.

I smiled the towel smile.

~Friday, June 10, 2016

Tales of a Technical Write Part 1

  1. Doctor mentions a specific drug that cannot be taken while taking the main drug. 
  2. Google the drug. Never heard of the drug. 
  3. Flip through entire protocol while looking for drug name. 
  4. Flip through protocol again while looking for generic drug name. 
  5. Scratch head.
  6. Google the drug again. 
  7. Four sites down, read a blurb of meaningless words that describes the drug's mechanism of action.
  8. Reread protocol looking for gibberish words.
  9. Find one said meaningless word.
  10. Realize the doctor made things a whole lot more complicated than needed. 
  11. Insert generic language. 
  12. Done. 

~Tuesday, March 29, 2016


His name was Johnson, although Johnson wasn't his real name. The rumor throughout high school was that he acquired the name Johnson because he masturbated too much.

I realize now that this probably isn't true.

But the rumor was that he couldn't stop touching his johnson. He bragged about the mark on his car windshield where one time he came so hard that he couldn't clean his semen off the glass.

I realize now that this probably isn't true either.

Johnson was older than me, but we were in the same social circle. The details are fuzzy now, but I think we were in the same math class. Either he had failed or I was in advanced math, but he was a senior in my class. We were also in the same after-school club.

I was always a little intimidated by Johnson. I considered him more popular than me and infinitely cooler than me. Despite these terribly awkward rumors about Johnson, people liked him. Teachers even liked him. I was shy, friendly, but mostly unconfident in myself. I never really talked to Johnson because what could we ever have in common?


One afternoon after school, I hefted my book bag on my shoulder and began my daily walk to my job. It was a short walk. The movie theatre was probably three-fourths of a mile down the road, on the other side of the park. Two traffic lights away.

Johnson pulled his car up next to me on the sidewalk.

"You need a ride?"

"Oh! No thanks! I'm just going to the theatre."

"I know. Just hop in and I'll take you there."

I looked at Johnson's beater car. "It's really not that far," I hesitated.

"I'm going that direction anyway."

I got in Johnson's car, bewildered. We've never been alone together. I'm not even sure we've spoken directly to each other, despite spending a lot of time in each other's presence.

Johnson pointed to the milky spot on his windshield. "That's the stain," he said.

"Really? Um, that is a far distance from your lap," I managed.

"Yeah, I really blew my load that time."

I looked out the window uncomfortably. I wish I didn't get in this car. I don't know how to talk like this. I've never had a boyfriend. I've never been French kissed with the exception of Spin the Bottle in eight grade. I'm pretty sure I didn't do it right then anyway. No boy has ever wanted to kiss me.

Johnson stopped at the first red light. I turned and looked at him.

His pants were open, and he had his penis out, stroking it.

It was the first time I had ever seen a penis.

"I have to go!" I screamed as I got out of the car. "Thanks for the ride!"

I ran from the car into the park. I would walk through the trees where the car couldn't reach me. I cried without being able to articulate why. I felt violated even though he never touched me.

Later that night I saw Johnson's beater car pull up to the curb in front of me. I was working the box office, so I was alone on the street surrounded by glass. I was exposed. I had no choice but to see him.

Johnson walked up to the glass. His face was full of remorse and I could tell he felt like shit. I wondered if I was the first girl he pulled this stunt with, or if I was just the first girl to react badly.

"I'm sorry," he stammered. "I'm... I'm so sorry. Please forgive me," he croaked.

"It's okay," I whispered through the glass, unable to use the microphone.

Except I didn't feel okay.


I never spoke to Johnson after that night. We avoided each other until he graduated and went off to college. I worked my senior year at the box office in peace.

Johnson reappeared 18 years later as a Facebook friend request. The next week a prank he pulled went viral on the Internet. He's married now, with a son.

He added my email to his work contacts and now sends me business newsletters. He also added me to his charity fundraising page. He runs for kids with cancer.

Fuck you, Johnson. It's not okay.

~Friday, March 18, 2016

The Thirtiest


I've been using that word lately as an adjective. As in, "This is the thirtiest I have ever felt." Life has become so different from my twenties that it makes my head spin if I stop too long to think about it.

"When did we become adults?" my coworker asked while we were taking an afternoon walk through the parking lot. "Like, if something bad happens, I'm prepared to handle it. I have money in the bank."

"I know! I was feeling spendy this morning, so I donated to a few charities because there was nothing I needed to buy."

This conversation is pretty thirty.

The first time I felt thirty was when I was out to dinner with my girlfriends. We were at a nice steak house in Buckhead and I had just been served my second glass of pinot noir.

"Our rescue dog has been showing signs of separation anxiety, so I enrolled us in doggy yoga," I told them.

The waiter's eyebrows shot up ten miles high so I stopped for a moment to think about what I had just said. I just said "dog" and "yoga" in the same sentence as a activity to do as if it were perfectly normal.*

That was the thirtiest I had felt for a long time.

Then my friend planned an adult coloring party. I packed up my books and my markers in my Thirty-One tote. As I was walking down the wooden steps to her house, one step was deeper than the others and I rolled my ankle pretty hard when I hit the step unexpectedly.

I was crying before I knew I was still alive. I knew I hurt myself pretty badly falling down the last couple of stairs.** Crying, I laid sprawled on the ground and called Abe, who had just dropped me off.

"My markers!" I wailed. I feebly picked them out of the grass as Abe returned.

"I'm so sorry. I should have waited to make sure you got inside okay," he said. As he was evaluating my foot, my friend approached. They helped me pick up everything I had dropped.

She held up the hummus container, which was flattened like a penny on one side, and said, "Well, I know where you landed."

And then for the foreseeable future I had to tell people that I hurt myself on my way to a coloring party when I fell down the stairs and landed on my hummus.

That, my friends, is the thirtiest I have ever felt.

*No but seriously, doggy yoga was great. They had aromatherapy and played some sort of calming-dog CD and the room was dark and I taught her downward-facing dog. She really enjoyed it.

*Y'all, I broke my tailbone and was on crutches for over a month. The doctor said I did the most amount of damage that I could have possibly done without breaking anything. It still hurts. I have to lay around like a Roman.

~Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Heart

My dog died.

The Femme Fatale was always a supporting character on my blog, rarely making appearances because she was an ever-present constant in my life. I've had her since I was 19; I was never an adult without her.

She got cancer. The things that we thought were not cancer turned out to be cancer. Last November she had an operation on her elbow to remove a soft-tissue tumor. Then in January, she had another operation to remove a growing fatty tumor on her hind leg. It turned out that the elbow cancer was more dangerous that the hind-leg cancer, but it was the latter that killed her.

I tried to take care of her. When she had elbow surgery, she had to be in a leg cast that prevented her from going up and down stairs for a month. I took time off work while she recovered. We live in a second floor walk-up, so we carried her up and down those stairs until she eventually figured out that she could use her cast as a launching pad.

Six weeks later we were back at the surgeon's office. Her hind leg kept growing and growing. She had surgery in 2009 to remove a fatty mass, and I thought this was the same thing. Cut out the mass and we'll be good to go. But the pathology came back stage 1 cancer, and it was impossible to get clean margins on the tumor without disfiguring her hip. I did not want to disfigure my senior dog. She was 14 and beyond her life expectancy. We hoped and prayed that the fatty tumor would take its time to grow back.

While the Femme Fatale healed, she became a brand new dog, sprinting around my dad's backyard. She acted like she was 2, not 14 and a half. But this wonderful last hurrah only lasted for a few months. The tumor came back, and because there was a fresh blood supply from the surgery, it came back faster. She was gone in 6 months.

It was terrible and it was traumatic and it still makes me cry. I did things and I saw things that I was not prepared for as a non-medical professional. The sight of blood still feels like a gunshot to my own heart. But I did them because I loved this dog. She was my heart.

I hoped every day that I would come home from work and find her gone so that I wouldn't have to make the life-ending decision. But neither life nor death works that way. I made Abraham call the vet because I couldn't and we loaded her into the car and she stuck her head out the window on the way there.

It's not fair.

The things you love should have to be there forever; they shouldn't be allowed to leave you. I changed without her. My heart was irreparably broken. I couldn't process stessors the way I normally could. I didn't realize how much I had relied on her for my own emotional well-being. I couldn't lay on the floor and stroke her fur. I would dream about her standing by my nightstand and begging for snacks they way she had only weeks before.

The response I received from my other pet-loving friends was the only thing that helped. A friend of my mom's went to the animal shelter the same day and bought every single dog there a Frosty Paw in the Femme Fatale's name. My work sent flowers, something they didn't even do when my grandparents died. A friend made a donation to a husky rescue in the Femme Fatale's name and sent me a shadow box to display her collar. Another friend sent a card with her picture on it. Another friend had a blanket made with pictures of her. I'm very lucky to have such thoughtful people in my life.

I don't want to end this on a depressing note, so I'll speed up the timeline. Two months later we went to a Petsmart to look at the "ugly" dogs as I called them at the time. "They aren't pretty, so I know we aren't getting one," I had told Abe at the time. But the husky rescue had one girl who looked just enough like the Femme Fatale but also was just different enough. A red husky, taller and leaner, with one blue eye and one hazel eye. One eye to see heaven and one eye to see earth. She came home with us the same day.

We honored the Femme Fatale's life by saving another dog's life. The new dog was an owner surrender to a high-kill shelter in Tennessee. She was pulled by a lady who worked there until a rescue could make room for her. I'm grateful for that lady.

The hole in my heart for the Femme Fatale isn't filled. I don't think it will ever be. She is the first love of my life. I still miss her every day and think about her every day. I wonder if the two dogs would have liked each other. Probably not; the Femme Fatale was very much an only dog. But it feels good to laugh again.

~Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I don't know how it happened.

After hearing some statistic from a friend that Atlanta gets more rain per year than Seattle, I gave myself permission to buy new rain boots. I had grown tired of my wellies (they are too cumbersome to me) and wanted my old ones again. The boots I wore when I mucked out horse stalls as a teen. I did not realize that they were back in fashion and backordered until three years from now. But mine had arrived and I put them on, because it was Atlanta and it was raining.

Then I put on my leggings because anytime I wear elastic waist pants is a happier time for me.

And it was chilly. So I stopped at Starbucks, which was inside the grocery store where I was shopping. I wanted a hot black tea, mainly to hold because it was chilly, and sometimes to sip.

That's how it happened. I was grocery shopping in my LL Bean boots, leggings, and a little red Starbucks cup.

I was a basic bitch.

~Wednesday, January 7, 2015

In Love and War

At our final wedding of the year—wedding #8 for anyone who's counting—my friend Pam looked at me and said, "You know, statistically all of these marriages won't work out."

I was taken aback. Pam is the sweetest, kindest person I know. She always has a smile on her face and is always thinking of others. It was out of character for her to think so darkly. But the thought itself was also frightening. Pam was right.

"Yes, there's the statistic that half of marriages end in divorce, but it can also be broken down further. The younger you are when you marry for the first time is a factor. The divorce rate for first marriages in your thirties and forties is shockingly low."

I was referring to a TLC documentary I saw years ago called Sextistics: Your Love Life. The 51% divorce rate is true. However, if you get married in your forties, the divorce rate is 7%. Marriage in your thirties: 16%. And finally, marriage in your twenties: 77% divorce rate. I find a lot of comfort in these statistics.

Pam sipped her glass of champagne. "16%? That's still one of us."

I responded by being the mean girl. I speculated which one of us I thought it would be.


Abraham IMed me this morning when he got to work. He said he had sad news: friends of his announced that they were divorcing. Because they are Abe's friends, they are a little older than me. I like them; we just aren't super close because they don't live nearby. There's a little girl involved.

I put my head down on my desk and cried. I can't articulate why. Perhaps now that the weddings were over, the real work was starting. The love bubble had burst. Maybe it was that I knew how that little girl was going to grow up, and my heart was broken for her. It felt like the beginnings of an avalanche. This family is this the first. The first of others.