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Last weekend, I had a 4 hour long coffee turned ice cream turned long walk in the sunshine date with a nice Italian man. Let’s call him M. He was a few years older than me, creative and interesting and seemingly normal. He had an impressive job he was passionate about (hard to find!), he showed up to coffee in cute yellow sunglasses and a camera slung over his shoulder, and he treated me to a chocolate croissant.

When he offered to come over and cook me a pasta dinner on Wednesday night, I felt like a movie heroine—was this real life? I said yes. Actually, I believe my exact words were, “f*ck yes.”

 

Between our coffee date on Sunday and our date at my place last night, we exchanged quite a few texts. Monday morning, while I was struggling to keep my balance on a crowded 8am F train, my phone buzzed with messages of the sexual nature. If you’re dating in this day and age, you know the ones. We all get them.

I’m not opposed to sexting. Really, I’m not. So long as both parties are informed and empowered and there’s true consent and equality in the exchange. But I’m generally not as inclined to sext with a near stranger. I said as much, and in doing so, seemingly pissed him off a bit. Or at the very least, threw him off his game. He apologized, briefly, but went on to tell me he just wanted things to be “fun.” Implying, of course, that my turning down a Monday morning sext sesh meant I wasn’t fun.

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Recently, over giant bowls of cacio e pepe, I talked to my friend Martha about the state of my dating life. Some of you may recall I wrote about being blown off by a guy I’d been seeing right before I went to Copenhagen. In telling Marth about the experience, she recommended that if I were to see him again, I try and be more upfront about my needs, or at the very least, tell him how that experience made me feel. I balked at the idea—why did I need to tell this dude I was kinda dating and sometimes sleeping with about my FEELINGS?! And then she made a good point: even if he wasn’t my person (and I don’t think he is), having that kind of “tough” conversation with him would be good practice. That is to say, telling him, “hey, you blowing me off at the last minute made me feel shitty” would prep me for telling my future person, “hey, that thing you did really upset me.”

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Cut back to Monday morning, on the F train. For the sake of setting up the story, I present to you our actual text conversation with M. My text below is in response to him asking me to just open up a bit more, tell him what I was thinking, etc. I’m sparing you from the sexual stuff that had come before it, but trust me when I say “what I was thinking” was not without innuendo.

Me: What I feel is that I had a great time yesterday, I felt chemistry, and I’d love to see you again this week.

Me: Apologies if I’m not as well-versed in the whole talking about my feelings thing. It takes me a while to feel comfortable with people. No hard feelings if you’re not interested in that. I’m not sure what you’re asking me to say.

Him: I want you to be a bit more relaxed. More playful. Just enjoy chatting a bit more, please. It isn’t an exam. It’s a fun moment.

In my head, I heard Martha. Be honest. Listen to your gut. Tell him what you need (and what you don’t).

So I tried to be clear. I’d already told him (in person!) that I was a bit shy, that it took me some time to warm up to people. I’d made it clear who I was, and given him the out if he wanted it. I said, again, that sexting wasn’t really my thing. And he seemed, for the most part, to get it. To lighten the mood, I jokingly said I’d open up a bit with a few glasses of wine in me.

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Cut to last night. He shows up on my doorstep with a bag of groceries from Whole Foods and a bottle of red, and proceeds to show me how to make carbonara from scratch. Every so often, he stops stirring to kiss me, hungrily, like he hasn’t been kissed in years, like he’s dying to tear my clothes off. Again, I wonder: am I in a movie? Are the cameras going to pop out from behind the window? 

I think back to our conversation on Monday. His energy is strong, what he wants is clear. In the back of my head, I hear my intuition—the part of me that fears that when the time comes, he’s going to want weird sexual stuff that I’m not comfortable with. I quiet it, and sip my wine.

The carbonara is complete, and we sit, at the table—like a normal, civilized couple—and eat. The wine has kicked in, my intuition has gone silent, and I feel calm, relaxed—like the fun Sarah he wants me to be. The fun Sarah I know I can be in the right situation, with the right person, when I feel comfortable. This is going to be fine, I tell myself. Beyond fine; it’s going to be fun.

And for the first few hours, it is. Our chemistry is, for the most part, as good as I predicted, and I try not to think about sucking in my stomach or whether he’s looking at my stretch marks or whether I’m as good at certain things as I think I am. I try to just close my eyes and live in the moment, and enjoy the fact that a good looking Italian man cooked me carbonara and then took me to bed.

Around midnight, we finish, and he puts his clothes back on.  It’s late, he tells me. I should let you get to bed. We head back into the living room, and start cleaning up from dinner. I’m wearing a black slip that I’ve thrown on, slightly sexy but not overly so. I’m rinsing wine glasses in the sink when he comes up behind me, and starts kissing me again.

I thought you had to get home, I say to him teasingly.

I did, he says, but then I saw you in here, in that.

Before I know it, we’ve migrated to the couch, and his clothes are off again. This is where things go south. Emboldened, perhaps, by the last few hours, he asks me if I’ll do something for him, and he can watch. At the risk of crossing the TMI line I’ve most certainly already crossed here, I’ll leave you to use your imagination at this point.

I’m suddenly acutely aware of this strange man, naked on my couch in the darkness, asking me to do something that feels more out of a porno film than the romantic scene I’ve been setting in my head all night. I shake my head, and tell him no, I’m not comfortable doing that.

Why not? He presses the issue.

That sort of thing is for me, I say, not for him. I say it defensively. My guard is up. In my head, I’m tracking backwards to Monday morning, to his sexual texts. I should have listened to my gut, I think. I knew we’d get here eventually.

He’s staring at me as though I’m some sort of sexual doll he can bend into position, and I wish I could snap my fingers and go back in time, to when he was just a cute man making carbonara and offering me pieces of parm to taste.

He asks, again, and again, I say no, more forcefully this time. And then his tone shifts. Angrily, he tells me he’d like to offer me a bit of advice for future dates. I should watch my tone, I shouldn’t be so quick to say no, it might make dating more difficult for me in the future. Reacting this way to men, he says, isn’t great. They will not like it.

I don’t know whether to smack him across the face or to cry, so I do neither. Instead, I tell him, as bravely as I can muster, that I don’t need his advice on dating, and I didn’t ask for his opinion on the topic.

And now, he gets truly angry. He begins to put on his clothes—first his socks, then his underwear, then his pants and his shirt. I’m reacting, he tells me, like a child.

No one over 14 would act like this, he says. I am entitled to my opinion, he says. It is the beauty of free speech, he says, for him to say what he wants, without being asked.

He says all of this in a thick Italian accent, the accent that just two hours ago, I thought was sexy. Now, I go silent. I just want him to leave. I want to slam the door in his face and then fling myself on my bed and sob, because OF COURSE THIS IS HOW THE MOVIE ENDS. Of course I’m not a human being he respects, but rather, a vehicle for whatever weird fantasy has struck his fancy that day.

Oddly, instead of storming out, he helps me finish putting the dishes into the dishwasher. We don’t talk, but move carefully around one another, chess pawns that don’t dare touch. I hate that I’m in a flimsy black slip, and want desperately to be fully clothed.

More than anything, though, I hate that he asked me to do something I didn’t want to do. And a tiny part of me, really and truly, hates that I didn’t want to do it. Perhaps someone more fun than myself would have given in. No, not given in, but enjoyed it. I wonder, briefly, if it means there’s something wrong with me. If it’s true that I’m no fun. Am I doomed to be no fun forever?

European to a fault, he kisses me on both cheeks before he goes.

Thank you for dinner, he says.

You made the dinner, I reply. So thank YOU.

And with that, he’s out the door, and before I can even process what’s happened I’ve locked it, tight. I stand in place for a minute, arms crossed at my chest, feeling sad and stupid and angry all at once. I wish, not for the first time, that I could skip over all the bullshit of dating and just be happily partnered up with someone who will treat me with the respect I deserve.

I want to cry, but the tears don’t come. So I load the dishwasher, and close the windows. I blow out the candles, and I tell Alexa to turn off. I brush my teeth and wash my face, patting at the beard burn on my chin. I stare at myself in the mirror, and I try to tell the girl looking back at me that she’s worth more than some weird pornographic fantasy dreamt up by a random Italian she met on a “dating” app.

My bedroom smells like bodies, like sex. I want to throw my sheets out the window. I want to burn them. I do neither of these things. It is, after all, 1am. So I spray them aggressively with linen spray, as though I can evaporate the scent of the Italian with some overpriced essential oils and distilled water. I take a deep breath, and climb into bed. Shutting off the lights, I tell myself that this too shall pass, and I shut my eyes tight. I sleep like the dead, waking only when my alarm goes off at 7:30.

And then I get up, and I go about my day. Because there’s nothing else to do, is there? We wake, we live, we sleep, and we repeat. All day today, I’ve watched my phone for a text from M. An apology, maybe, for asking me to do things I wasn’t comfortable with. A simple “I’m sorry for reacting the way I did.”

It’s 4pm, and it hasn’t come. I don’t think it ever will.

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Today, I am 33 years old. WOOF, am I right? There’s no denying it: I’m a real adult. I have four weddings this year (and that’s just the ones I know of already!). People I know are starting to have babies. I’ve been in an apartment I own for over 2 years.

In other words, shit isn’t just getting real. It is real. I always feel reflective (and if I’m being honest, a bit emotional) around my birthday. I mean, can a girl get a boyfriend and can he send flowers to her office on her birthday FOR CRYING OUT LOUD?! Just kidding. Except not. What I would give for a man to send flowers to my office.

ANYWAY, my point is this: every year when my birthday rolls around, I start thinking about where I am in life. And inevitably, it’s not exactly where I want to be, or, perhaps more accurately, “where I thought I’d be.” Because it never is, is it? We hold ourselves to these crazy standards: This is the year I’ll fall in love! This is the year I’ll get married! This is the year I’ll get a new job! This is the year I’ll…

But what if this year, I tried to think differently? What if this year, my goal was simple: to live, and love, well. To stop waiting around to do the things I want to do, or say the things I want to say. To take the trips, and write the stories, and let the people I love know that I really love them.

Maybe, if I start there, I might just end up where I want to be.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll get through my birthday without some healthy reflection. So, let’s do it, shall we? Here are 32 things I learned in my 32nd year (alternate title: 32 things I know to be true at the dawn of 33).

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  1. Life is short. Over the past few months and weeks, I’ve watched multiple friends grapple with the worst of things: illness. Death. I’ve watched them rise, strong and mighty, vulnerable but powerful, to the occasion again and again. And I’ve thought to myself, nothing is forever. No day is guaranteed. Is it a cliché? Yes. But it’s also true: life is short. And it deserves to be lived. With gusto.

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my mamas paying a visit to the grand apartment

  1. Your parents will not live forever. I’ve officially hit the age where it’s not unusual to lose a parent. God, I hate typing that sentence. I wish my parents would live forever, I really do. I hate that there are all these milestones I’ve yet to check off (see: wedding, kids) that they may not live to see. My mommy experienced some health issues this year and it threw me for a loop. Every time she called, my paranoia kicked in: was it cancer? Was she dying? I compulsively say “I love you” every time I get off the phone with my moms, just in case it’s the last time we speak. It’s insane, I know. But I know they won’t live forever, and so in addition to spending all the time I can with them, I want to be sure they know: they’re the best damn moms in the world.

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my work team (a bunch of badass ladies)

  1. You cannot do it all (even though you want to). This past December, I hit rock bottom at work. Not to toot my own horn, but it takes quite a bit for me to hit that point. I am nothing if not insanely efficient. But between juggling multiple direct reports, a workload better fit for 3 people than one (yours truly), and a difficult coworker I just couldn’t seem to click with, I broke. And it wasn’t pretty. I cried not just at my desk, but in front of a very senior boss. I started to dread coming to work—a feeling that affected me more than the workload did. My boss saw it happening, and in the New Year, she intervened. She took me off one of my three accounts, a move that I’m at once thankful for, and one that makes me feel like a failure. Who am I if I can’t do it all? Um, a regular person, Sarah. Because NO ONE CAN DO IT ALL. Okay, I guess I’m still learning this one.

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  1. There’s nothing wrong with a rest day. When I first got into working out a few years ago, I wondered: what was up with those crazy people who did 2 a days and who got up at the crack of dawn to run along the East River? And then, glory be, I became one of those people. You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but for the last few years, I’ve consistently worked out 6-7 times a week, sometimes doubling up on my workouts in a single day. For a while, I got on a schedule where I’d go weeks without a single rest day. I convinced myself that sleeping in and missing a workout was tantamount to undoing all the progress of the last 7 or so years. I mean, that’s ridiculous. After my two week trip in Europe this summer, I came back to New York and my classes and thought, oh my god, I’m going to have to start all over. But guess what? I didn’t! My body bounced back. It wasn’t 0-100, but it was pretty close to it. And I realized that maybe I could take a break every now and then. That I could release my grip just a bit. Now, I take a rest day on Friday or Saturday. And if I’m tired, I don’t beat myself up for sleeping in. I listen not to my crazy brain, but to my body. And so far, so good.

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me, after nearly two weeks in europe

  1. A 2-week vacation is the best kind of vacation. I know: a 2-week trip (any trip, really!) is a luxury. But man, was my 2-week trip to Europe this summer magical. Sure, I was in a beautiful place eating beautiful food. Sure, I was with beautiful people (my friends). But more than that, I was away for long enough that my body, my brain, and my heart truly let go. Week 1 was fun, but I still felt myself caught up on the hamster wheel of the go go go mentality. It wasn’t until week 2 rolled around that I felt myself exhale. My smiles got bigger. My breathing got deeper. My mind rolled around in its cage for a bit, and then it settled. By the time I got back to New York, I felt something I haven’t felt in years: really, truly rested.

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sipping coffee in mexico city

  1. The world is so much bigger than you can even imagine. I think I learn this more and more each year, and more and more each trip. Every time I travel, I seek out the smaller hotels. I look for the local haunts. I find the coffee shops and the hole in the wall restaurants, I jog along the water and shop in the local markets. It’s so easy, especially in New York City, to settle inside my bubble and never leave. But each time I do, I feel it: I feel my world expand. Sights, sounds, feelings, moments. The world is big, and I am but a speck atop it.

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my new insta friends turned IRL friends, tiina (left) and bev (right)

  1. Strangers on the internet can actually be quite nice. This was the year I made friends on Instgram—and met a few of them in real life. I know you’re nothing ‘til you have a few haters, but I’m thrilled (and perhaps flattered) to say that the tiny community I’ve built on Instagram over the past year or so has been nothing short of wonderful. I feel like I’ve found my people, and it feels really good. PS: If that’s you, thank you. I’m so glad you’re here.

 

  1. It’s okay to feel like you’re behind everyone else. Because the truth is, you’re on no one’s timeline but your own. Earlier this year, I had my AMH levels tested (one of the indicators of fertility). Rounding the corner to my mid-thirties, I know the facts: after 35, your chances of having a baby naturally drop drastically. In other words, TICK TOCK. But as it turns out, my AMH levels are pretty darn high. Which means that even though the stats show time is a wastin’, I might just have a shot—even though I’m eons behind everyone else. This knowledge meant more to me than you’ll know (and I wrote more about it here, if you’re curious).

 

  1. You have no need for energy vampires. Last year, I read a passage about energy vampires: people who suck the energy out of you when you’re around them. We all have those friends, right? Who leave you feeling glass half empty, rather than half full? I know a few of those people, and in my 32nd year, I vowed to stay away from them. Life is too short to spend with people who make you feel like shit. Full stop.
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a slow morning at home

  1. If you’re sick, it’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Without fail, every single time I drank too much/worked too hard/stayed out too late/got too little sleep this year, my body threw up the middle finger. I learned to keep the colds at bay with natural remedies like elderberry syrup and oil of oregano, but those babies can only do much. The lesson? Don’t overdo it. And when your body says no, LISTEN.

 

  1. You don’t like running, and that’s okay. I tried, for years, to “learn how to be a runner.” I’d gone from an overweight couch potato to a still overweight (but very active!) fitness freak, and running was the one mountain I hadn’t conquered. For the last few years, I tried, in vain, to find that runner’s high everyone talks about. Spoiler alert: I never found it. And in my 32nd year, I let that shit go. Not everyone is meant to be a runner. And by that I mean: I think I am not meant to be a runner. It’s fine, though, because I’ve got SoulCycle.

 

  1. A good book is almost as good as a good friend. 8-year-old Sarah could have told me this—books were often better friends to her than actual humans were (especially because books didn’t get confused when you talked about feelings)—but books do something that sometimes, not even your very best friend can do. They lift you up, transporting you out of your body, into another story entirely. And then when you’re ready, they bring you back home again. And that’s quite a magical thing.

Side note: if books were friends, I’d be so goddamn popular.

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my weekend MO: baking and a podcast

  1. Same with a good podcast. Living alone in a funny thing. I quite like it most of the time, and then there are those stretches where I don’t see or talk to another human being for a few days (unless you count the barista who makes my coffee or the people who check me into my workout class) and I start to feel like I’m floating in the ether. Like maybe I’m a total loner who has no friends and who might never talk to another soul again. When I don’t have someone to call, and I’m tired of talking to Penny, I turn on my favorite podcasts. And suddenly, it’s as though I’m surrounded by friends; their voices of choir around me, assuring me it’ll all be okay.

 

  1. It’s okay to cry at work. Okay, in all honesty, I’m still working on this one. But it’s a big goal of mine: to feel my feelings (within reason, of course) and NOT beat myself up about it. I cried at work twice this year. Okay, three times. And each time, that tiny little voice in my head was shout-whispering, “DON’T CRY. DON’T DO IT. DO NOT CRY. NOT HERE! NOT NOW!” And each time, I CRIED. Because crying is a NATURAL HUMAN REACTION to feeling things, and as you’ve all probably gathered by now, I feel ALL THE THINGS almost all the time. Goal for 33: keep crying, and don’t hate myself when it happens.

 

  1. Your greatest hurt can become your superpower. A decade ago, I went through something that turned my life upside down. Something that threw me into a deep depression. Something that made me question my sanity, my worth, my life. And in my 32nd year, all these years later, I started to feel like I had things under control. Like maybe all of that pain had been worth something. That maybe, just maybe, life had torn me down and built me back up again for a reason: so that I could be someone better, someone stronger. I’ll carry that little piece of hurt in my soul for the rest of my days—but I’m starting to think that same hurt might just be what makes my heart so big.

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i didn’t get married, but i did do this. 

  1. Things won’t be the way you thought they’d be. I’ve officially reached the age where most of my friends are married, and a few are even starting to have kids. And it’s obvious: I’m in my early thirties and I am not where I thought I’d be. In my 32nd year, I worked hard to make peace with that fact: to let go of the expectations of what should be, in hopes that it’ll open doors to what could be.
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hannah, my partner at work, and a damn good friend

  1. New friends can be found in the darkest of places. If you’re a regular reader around these parts, you’re well aware that the last few months at my job were, in not so many words, ROUGH. But out of the darkness, I found a spark of light—in a woman named Hannah. Hannah was hired as my art partner, but over the past few months of late nights and weekend work, has become so much more than that: we’ve become great friends. It’s one thing to be drinking wine in a dark conference room at 8pm on a Monday. It’s a whole other thing to be drinking wine in a dark conference room whilst cry-laughing about the ridiculousness of your situation, and knowing you’re not in it alone.

 

  1. A good mascara can be life-changing. It’s true. Mine is Glossier Lash Slick, and I may never go back to drugstore mascara again.

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  1. Sweat will ALWAYS help. Unless you’re so hungover you can’t get out of bed. Then it’s better to stay home. Because no one wants to be the one dry heaving on a spin bike.

 

  1. It’s okay to cry, period. One of my most favorite things about New York City is the way you can cry in public without anyone batting an eye. New Yorkers often get a bad rap: We’re rude. We’re pushy. We’re unfriendly. Say what you will about our attitude, but I will tell you this: a New Yorker will never ever judge you for crying on a stoop outside a Duane Reade. They may stop and offer you a tissue, or a sympathetic glance, but never ever will they look at you like it’s insane to be crying in public. I cried in public multiple times this year, and MAN IT FELT GOOD.

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my family, otherwise known as the people who keep me sane

  1. And you’re never too old to call your mom (see also: #2). I should know – I have two of them. And I try to call them a few times a week. Because as I said above, I know they won’t live forever.

 

  1. Your dream man probably isn’t on Tinder. I got screwed (and screwed over) enough this year to know: Tinder is NOT the place to meet your dream man. It’s a great place for unsolicited advice (actual message I received: “Sit-ups. Do some.”), and an even better place for unsolicited dick pics (actual photo I received: not pictured, but it was Parisian, and would have been greatly improved if it were wearing a tiny beret!). It is not a good place for actual dating, or meeting the man of your dreams. I hope 33-year-old Sarah remembers this next time she’s drunkenly swiping in an Uber at 1am.

 

  1. But he might be on Hinge. The two good dates I’ve been on this past year both came from Hinge. Granted, two isn’t much, but it’s too good against MANY bad on the Tinder front.

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my team of wonderful women

  1. It’s hard to be a good boss. But it’s worth it. Managing people, I have learned, is less about the work, and more about the people skills. I like people (I minored in sociology and psych), and I think my skills are relatively good. But sometimes, management feels like babysitting a bunch of toddlers who all want different things for dinner, and I’ve forgotten how to cook. Those are the hard days. Then there are the days when you watch the people on your team soar high above your wildest expectations, and you just want to yell, “THAT’S MY BABY! AIN’T SHE THE CUTEST/SMARTEST/MOST WONDERFUL CHILD EVER!?” On those days, all the bullshit is worth it, ten times over.

 

  1. People can only meet you where they are. Emotional intelligence is a thing, and it varies. I learned this time and time again this year, both in friendships and at the office. I cannot expect people to react the way I want them to react. I cannot expect them to react the way I would react. I can only expect them to react the way they react—to their best of their emotional capability. Asking (or hoping) for more than that is asking to be let down. We’re all just doing the best we can.

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  1. You’ll never regret a workout. It’s hard to workout early in the morning. It’s even harder once winter rolls around, and it’s pitch black outside even at 7am. Here is what I’ve learned: if you can just get yourself out of bed, and brush your teeth, you’ll make it. Turning off your alarm (and not going back to sleep) is the worst part. Master that, and the rest is gravy. And you will never, ever, regret sweating it out.

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a last minute long weekend in paris with my friend sara

  1. Or a last minute trip. My trip to Paris this year couldn’t have come at a better time. I was tearing my hair out at work, considering walking out of the office and never coming back. It was 72 hours, maybe even a little less, two 6 hour flights (plus airport delays) and not quite enough sleep. But it was also 3 days in PARIS—3 days of sightseeing and wine, of covering miles of the city with hot coffee cups in hand, of heart to hearts and catch ups and more giggles than I could count. I came home exhausted, but I came home full. When I left, my cup was empty, when I returned, it runneth over.

 

  1. Time is a powerful healer. At the beginning of last year, I was ghosted by a guy I’d put a lot of emotional effort into for the past few months. He didn’t live here, it was an entirely phone-based relationship, and still, there was a teeny tiny part of me that thought, maybe this is it. I opened a little door in my heart, and in it, I told myself a story: that maybe I’d move to England. Maybe he’d move here. Maybe fate would find a way to bring us together. Fate had other things in mind (as did he), and the romance, whatever there was of it, really and truly, fizzled. And it hurt. BAD. But each day, it hurt a little less. By spring, I’d almost entirely recovered; by May, when I met up with him in London (ahead of a two week trip I was taking with friends), I felt strong enough to spend 24 hours with him and NOT have my heart break all over again.

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  1. Very little will make you happier than a Taylor Swift concert. And you should definitely splurge on the $200 tickets, because when she plays the side stage and she’s so close you can ACTUALLY SEE HER EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE IN A GIANT FOOTBALL STADIUM, you’ll experience a moment of bliss unlike any other.

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  1. Except maybe your cat. Nothing, and I repeat, nothing will comfort you like Penny will. There is unconditional love, and then there’s the unconditional love of an animal. There is truly nothing like it.

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  1. There’s a big difference between being alone, and being lonely. And though you might often be physically alone, you’ll come to realize you don’t mind that—in fact, you might just like it.

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me and my two oldest friends (31 years!) over the holidays

  1. And even when you feel alone, you’re not. Not really, at least. Because even though you might not have a husband, you do have your friends—a select few of which might as well be family, because you know they’d see you through just about anything (and you’d do the same for them).

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if you work a 9-5 (or, like me, a 9-7ish), you (probably) spend a lot of time at work. in fact, when you really think about it, we spend more time with our coworkers than we do most of the other people in our lives. the older i get, the more i value the people i work with just as much as (if not more than!) the work itself–and i’m happy to say that my coworkers (some of who i’ve worked with for 5 years now) are some of my favorite people in this city.

working with people you like makes the long hours and stressful days infinitely more bearable. which is why i felt it was of utmost importance to dedicate a gift guide to them. so, without further adieu, here are a few fun things for the folks you share your days with.

sparkly gel pens, $12. i am well-known at work for my colorful pens. i have a basic set from muji, but my most favorite ones are my sparkly gel pens, which bring me back to my lisa frank days and make writing to do lists WAY BETTER. buy it.

color-blocked to do list, $12. i am a HUGE rifle paper co. fan, and this color-blocked to do list is no exception. there are three things from rifle on this list (can you pick them out?!), but this one might be my fave. simplicity wins all. buy it.

all the coffee mug, $14. because mondays exist, and so does the rest of the work week. buy it.

aesop resurrection hand balm, $27. the very best hand cream. smells like you just took a trip to the spa–without leaving your desk. buy it.

i am very busy cup, $15. because sometimes your drinkware needs to tell people to leave you alone. buy it.

astrology post-it, $4.50. when logic goes out the window, you’ve got to call in the big guns. for the coworker who loves tarot and crystals and is always talking about mercury being in retrograde. buy it.

forever busy charger, $35. for the days when she’s stuck in conference rooms and can’t plug in. buy it.

pizza rolls tote bag, $25. PRIORITIES, people. i’m damn proud to say i’m surrounded by a dozen badass ladies at work that i’d happily order this baby for. buy it.

rifle paper notebooks (set of 2), $14. for those of us who still take notes the real way (who else hates the insanely loud typers during meetings?!), there are these pretty notebooks. buy it.

fucking great job post-its, $4.50. sometimes, we all need a little reminder that we are killing the game. buy it.

rifle paper floral folders, $14. project folders, made much prettier. buy it.

brooklyn candle co “escapist” candle set, $55. if you can’t get away, you can make your desk/home smell like vacation. buy it.

boobs mug, $34. because everyone should have the chance to drink their morning coffee out of a boob mug. buy it.

 

 

TGA_HolidayGG18_BFFs.jpgwell, friends, we made it! it’s holiday season! and if you’re anything like me, you’re in FULL ON GIFT MODE. i know some people find holiday shopping tedious, but i quite like it. maybe that’s because i love shopping, period – but to me, there’s nothing better than a really great gift.

i don’t think gifts need to be overly serious, or overly expensive. rather, i look at them as a chance to get someone i love the kind of little luxury item they’d never buy for themselves. and never is that more true than when i shop for my closest friends–so who better to serve as inspiration for my first gift guide?

THIS ONE GOES OUT TO THE BFFs.

you know the ones. the women who answer your crazy texts at 2am. the ones who you can call and say, “i know this is silly but…” the ones who talk you off the ledge at work. the ones who blast old school jonas brothers songs with you in the car and pause at exactly the right part. the ones who know you almost better than you know yourself. having a close girlfriend is, i think, one of the most magical things in the universe. i’m very, very thankful for mine.

GIFTS FOR BFFS

olio e osso balm, $28. it’s blush! it’s lipstick! it’s eyeshadow! this multitasking colorful balm can do it all, and it smells amazing. buy it.

starry clutch, $60. i’m forever on the hunt for cute clutches/pouches. they’re packable, they’re perfect for a night one, and this one is a dreamy merlot hue with gold stars. what’s not to love? buy it.

fireplace candle, $38. i’m a huge fan of brooklyn candle co. they recently released this limited edition candle. it smells like cozy nights spent by the fire, and it’s millenial pink. yes please. buy it.

gold coffee scoop, $10. because everyone deserves to feel fancy AF when they make their morning coffee. buy it.

extra large mugs, $3.99 each. for those extra long days. buy it.

summer fridays jet lag mask, $48. this mask is pricey, but worth it. it makes you look instantly rested, whether you’ve just stepped off a 12-hour flight or you’ve barely slept a wink. buy it.

starry flannel pjs, $75. life gets exponentially better when you trade your ratty high school tee for fancy PJs. pair with face mask or slippers for the perfect “let’s stay in” gift. buy it.

swell “traveler” bottle, $35. i’m obsessed with my swell traveler. it keeps drinks hot for 12 hours and cold for 24. and i can toss it in my bag and KNOW it won’t leak. HELL YES. buy it.

cat spoon rest, $14. as a cat lady, i appreciate getting cat lady things – but much prefer when they’re of the sophisticated variety vs. the “you’re a crazy cat lady so i got you this weird knitted toy” variety. this spoon rest falls squarely in the former category. buy it.

emu mayberry slippers, $60. i bought these recently. best $60 i ever spent. i am obsessed. they are beyond comfortable, and they make me happy every time i look down at them. WIN WIN. buy it.

“grown ass lady” tote bag, $20. i own many emily mcdowell products, this tote included. i’ve bought it for many a friend, because let’s be honest: sometimes we need a reminder that WE ARE GROWN ASS LADIES AND WE DO WHAT WE WANTbuy it.

multi-colored acetate hoops, $48. sometimes, all you need is a statement earring. that is all. buy it.

heart trinket tray, $18. i collect these little trinket trays like nobody’s business. they’re where i keep earrings and other random jewelry. perfect for a dresser or bedside table, and a steal at $18. buy it.

 

 

 

ACS_0702.JPGdid you guys catch the latest on my bff’s house on instagram this weekend? i was home in massachusetts for the holiday, and went over there for dinner sunday night. joia and T are officially moved in, and while they still have lots of updates to make, the house is already starting to feel like a home.

my favorite room in the home is their bedroom (pictured above). it’s oddly shaped, and has pitched ceilings, which makes the layout a bit tough to master, but it’s got so much potential. when i first saw the house (sans furniture), i immediately pictured this room whitewashed, like this.

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or this.

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i know it’s not exactly the same, but use your imagination for a minute here. stare at the photo below, and imagine all the walls that are currently beige painted a crisp, cool white. then pictured simple, matching side tables (like these), and lighting (like these). for bedding, i’d love to see them go a little crazy with this gorgeous, ocean-themed set from rebecca atwood. joia’s dream is to have a house by the ocean, and until she gets that, this room can serve as her seaside oasis.

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like the photoshop rendering below, where i’ve faked the white walls.

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doesn’t it INSTANTLY feel lighter and brighter?! the carpet in here is new, so chance are, they’ll keep it for now (though chances are good that there are beautiful hardwoods beneath!), but joia placed an ikea sheepskin on the side of the bed, which i think is a great solve in the interim. they have lots they want to do, design-wise, to the rest of the house, and in that sense, this room is the closest to “done.” the only big update needed in here is paint (which will likely happen in the spring at this point, unless i come home for a weekend and go rogue). everything else is simple updates: nightstands, lighting, bedding, etc. all things that can wait.

Garner Master Bedroom_Design Plan_v1.jpgthoughts? comments?! can you see it?! i can.

more on the garner cape house:

the living room design plan

my best friend bought a house! (part 1)

my best friend bought a house! (part 2)

 

 

 

 

 

hi friends! happy end of august. i don’t know about you, but i am READY for summer to be over. i’m craving crisp fall days, the opportunity to leave my windows open and not invite crickets in to hang, earlier sunsets (i know, i know) and apple picking. fall has been my favorite since i was a little kid (followed closely by winter!), and i can’t wait for it to arrive. that said, i’m hoping to squeeze in a few more gloriously long days of biking, along with one more beach day before the breeze blows in.

anywhooo…with this post, i’m starting what i hope will become a monthly series where i clue you in on my life lately–whether it’s books i’ve been loving, shows i’ve been watching, trips i’ve been taking…you get the gist. i know many of my instagram followers don’t even make it to this corner of the web, but for those that do, this will serve as an easy, low-commitment way for you to get an update on what’s shakin’ (and give me a bit more room to breathe, character-count wise).

so, august! this month, i traveled to san francisco to see my BFF kim (with a bonus guest appearance from my moms, who were there for a medical conference), spent 24 hours in houston for work, and tried to soak up the dog days of summer in the city. here’s a bit about what’s been on my radar over the past few weeks.

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going. my friend krystie and i are putting the finishing touches on our upcoming (october) trip to mexico city. neither of us have been, but we’ve both heard such a amazing things about the food and design scene there, and we cannot wait! we’re only there thurs night-monday night, so it’s a quick trip–but as big foodies, we’re planning to squeeze in a whoooollle lot of eating and (a little) drinking whilst there. we’re staying at hotel carlota, a boutique hotel with a small pool (necessary!), in house restaurant, and cute, modern rooms. ps: image above found here.

reading. this week, i spent 24 hours traveling for work, which meant two 4-hour flights along with a few extra hours delayed in the airport. as a result, i read not one but two books by beatriz williams, a historical fiction author i love. williams’ books are wonderfully well-written, and always feature spunky, smart, industrious female characters. summer wives, which was my pick from the two i read this week, featured all the hallmarks of a williams’ book: smart social commentary, details that magically take you back in time, a swoonworthy love story, and (gasp!) murder. literally, what’s not to like?

watching. omg, you guys. are you watching this season of the affair? the first two episodes started out a bit slow, and i almost gave up on the show (which i’ve been watching from the beginning), but good lord, i’m glad i didn’t, because SHIT.GOT.CRAY. the most recent episode i watched was a doozy, and threw me for a loop i was 10000% not expecting. apparently, they’re doing one more season after this one, and while i’m not exactly sure where they can take the show after this season’s plot twist, i’ll be eagerly awaiting its premiere.

wearing. you all have heard me wax poetic about lou & grey many times before. the brand, which is an offshoot of LOFT (random, right?), has become one of my favorites over the past year or so. i LIVE in comfortable clothing, which just so happens to be l&g’s thing, and their new arrivals for fall are nothing short of fantastic. i tried the jumpsuit above on last weekend, and had to use literally all my self control not to bring it home to me (note to self: it’s still 95 degrees outside). jumpsuit, as soon as the temps dip below 70, you’re comin’ home with me.

if you’ve made it this far, be a dear and tell me: are you here for these monthly roundups?

IMG_1050anyone who knows me well knows that baking is my therapy. it’s what i do to decompress after a long day at work. it’s the way i show my love for friends and family. it’s my favorite thing to do on a weekend morning (especially a rainy one), when i’ve got nothing to do and nowhere to be, when i can spend hours in the kitchen, with dough on my pants and flour in my hair.

not many people know this, but when i lost my job many years ago (approximately 2013, i think?), i felt completely, entirely lost–and i contemplated opening a bakery. i pictured myself rising with the sun, rubbing sleep out of my eyelashes and stumbling, bleary-eyed, into a tiny kitchen somewhere in the east village, where i’d craft whatever goodies struck my fancy that day. some days, it would be an ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies. other times, a perfectly-frosted cupcake. i even started–and kept up for quite some time–a baking blog. i called it sarah’s sweets. that blog is deep in the archives of wordpress; a sleeping giant i don’t dare disturb, but suffice it to say, i love to bake, and i love writing about the things i bake.

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that’s why it delights me to know that a few of my readers and followers are interested in more recipe content over here (and hopefully, more baking-centric recipes, specifically). i baked these scones along with a few of you via instagram live last weekend, and a couple folks asked for the recipe. i adapted one i found from king arthur’s flour, which called for fresh peaches (the genesis of my kitchen adventure!), and a little bit of nutmeg (i’m always down with a little bit of nutmeg).

so, let’s get to it, shall we?

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what you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar (i use pure cane from whole foods)

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon (i think clove would be yummy too!)

1 tbsp baking powder

3/8 cup (6 tbsp) cold butter, cut into bite-size pieces

2 large eggs

1/3 cup sour cream (you could also sub plain greek yogurt)

1 cup diced peaches (you could swap in another fruit here)

turbinado sugar, for dusting

what you’ll do: 

preheat your oven to 375.

lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper (i use a silpat, which i HIGHLY recommend!)

in a large bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and baking powder together.

if you haven’t yet cut up your butter, do it now. once it’s in pieces, use your fingers, a fork, or a pastry cutter (i always vote fingers!) to work it into the dry ingredients. your goal is to meld the two together so that the dough resembles big crumbs, or those drippy castles you used to make with your siblings at the beach (but less watery!).

in a small bowl, beat your eggs. stir in sour cream (or yogurt, if you went that route).

pour wet ingredients into the dry crumbly butter mixture. stir until just mixed. don’t over mix!

chop up your peach, if you haven’t already. fold it into the dough, carefully, so as not to squish all your yummy peach pieces.

liberally dust flour over your countertop or a large cutting board (i prefer to do this right on my countertop).

pat the dough into a rough circle, around 1.5″ thick, and use biscuit cutters, a knife, or your plain ol’ hands to shape the dough into a bunch of baby scones. i like to use biscuit cutters, but you could go any which way. ultimately, you should end up with about 12-14 scones, depending on size.

place the scones on your prepared baking sheet. sprinkle with turbinado sugar (optional).

bake for 20-25 minutes, until scones are golden brown at the edges.

serve with butter and jam. if you’re serving them a day or two later, pop them into the toaster to heat ’em up for a bit before you dig in.

these can be stored “fresh” for a few days, or frozen for up to a month.

bon appetit!