Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Easy project for my knitting readers

knitted booties for a friend
(Or call this Exhibit A from a spinster’s life, if you don’t knit.) Details on how to make the booties are in the photo’s flickr caption. More knitting project photos here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Radiant post: ‘I See, I See, I See, Thus I Believe’

It turns out I can’t simul-post what I write for The Pulse, but if you’re curious how what I learned from the movies about wearing shoes relates to John Cusack, my recent TV segment on parental sex talks and a college class on courtship and marriage, read on. Post theme: how exactly do we learn what sex looks like? Comments always welcome, either here or there.

I hope, by the way, that The Pulse won’t be the only context for the sort of essays I launched this blog with, but I’m certainly in a transition at present. Having a charter to write what I think about “art, film, literature and music” (as has been given me with this chance to write for The Pulse) feels vastly more inspiring, lately, than coming back with some variation on the same old “still sexless” posts I've been doing for ... um ... about four years — especially since all this book craziness leaves little time to even check my eHarmony account, much less squeeze in a date. That said, I do have a couple ideas I hope to find time to write in the next week or so. Which reminds me ...

A writing assignment for readers
Whether you bought your copy of Sexless at a neighborhood store or from an online vendor like or Amazon, don’t forget that you can support the book by writing a brief review at one of the aforementioned websites [insert big, persuasive, toothy grin here]. Thanks!!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Anna on TV: Tips on having ‘the talk’

Quite a lot going on for me, lately, so unfortunately I haven’t had time to do more than short posts like this. That said, if you missed yesterday's segment on View from the Bay, you can watch the whole thing online.

If you already saw it, or don’t like watching videos online, here are my main tips for moms on talking about sex with your kids (read them before you tease, please!).
  1. Don’t let fear keep you from having a conversation. If your discomfort with the subject matter keeps you from answering your kids’ questions, they'll just get answers somewhere else — and you’ve lost that opportunity to help them create realistic expectations about sex and relationships.
  2. Schedule a monthly date night with your child, so that you’re not just giving them attention around activities such as soccer practice, or the conflicts that spring up. This not only builds your relationship (and their self-worth in the process), it also provides a safe space for talking through issues they may be struggling with.
  3. Practice critical thinking when you watch TV shows/movies with your children, by taking the time to talk through what you just watched or heard is “teaching” about sex and relationships. Remember that most of us probably learn what sex “looks” like from the media, which can lead to lots of misconceptions and unrealistic expectations.
  4. Model the sexual ethos and respect for self you want your kids to have in their own lives as adults. For all the things you could say or discourage, your example is one of the most powerful ways you teach them.
  5. When getting into sensitive topics with your kids, don’t assume the worst; ask open-ended questions that draw out what they’re actually thinking (which may not be as bad you think), or why they asked a question.
  6. Provide a safe space for your kids to honestly share their thoughts (half-baked as they may be or seem to be). You might be surprised by their answers. Teens can get caught between the experimentation of their friends and the cautiousness of their parents, and find that their views satisfy no one. By giving them room to talk about what they’re thinking and feeling, you provide a safe space for them to think through issues, role play situations, and figure out what their standards are.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sexless in stores today!

I'll be picking the winner of the contest after a good night’s sleep to recover from doing my taxes, so if you haven’t blogged yet, you can take advantage of the extended submission deadline. Entries accepted until I first check email tomorrow morning.

Already entered? Then take a look around the book’s brand-new website,

In other news, I discovered during a.m. resucitation attempts today that Starbucks has launched another free music promotion (woohoo!). This time they’re giving away a new free song every Tuesday; today’s is one by Counting Crows.

Finally, if you’re a blogger who wants to post your email address online more securely, my friend and fabulous web designer, Joe, tipped me off to this email-encoding resource. (Not that I’ve started using it, mind you, but it’s nice to know about.)

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Anna on the Jay Thomas show

And quite a rollicking interview it was. Not sure you can find clips anywhere online, but the show website says the program’s rebroadcast at midnight Pacific/3 a.m. Eastern, if you get Sirius satellite radio. It’s on Channel 102.

The Sexless soundtrack
If you happened to hear the Jay Thomas clip and/or have followed my recent blog-about-Sexless contest, you’ve probably heard me mention a soundtrack to the book. There is one, thanks to the kindness of artists like David Wilcox, Barenaked Ladies, Jonatha Brooke, Aimee Mann, Tal Bachman and Beck, all of whom let me quote a portion of their lyrics in the book.

To hear the songs quoted, and more tunes (including Etta James’ classic torch song, “I Just Want to Make Love to You”), buy the soundtrack on iTunes. You can also get all the CDs these songs were taken from, in a special Amazon store for the book.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Radiant post: ‘Readings, Writing and a Wedding Parallel’

Still haven’t gotten word whether I can simul-post entries or not, so if you want to hear my take on a recent Mary Roach reading (complete with signs for certain sex-ed-class words and anatomical cakes), have a read. Besides, you wouldn’t think any of that would have some connection to a 17th-century poem and a recent chick-flick with that Knocked Up star, now would you? But it does ...

And don’t forget, you have until Tuesday to enter to win one of five signed copies of Sexless in the City! New details added on how you can do so even without a blog.

Lastly, after a shamefully long wait to follow through, I finally picked the winners of the chocolate-chip cookie prize for those who responded to my reader poll ... um, almost two years back. The winners are readers Elaina and Tiye (email me if you didn’t get your congratulatory email with details on how to claim your prize). And since said winner selection required the development of a highly scientific process involving Singaporean post-it notes, I am happy to report there should be no such delays in picking the winner of this contest (besides which, it’s far easier to sign books than bake a batch of cookies from scratch).

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Spread the word about Sexless and enter to win a free copy!

Updated 4.15, 2:21 p.m.

With less than a week till the book is sold in stores, I wanted to give you all a chance to get a free, signed copy. What you have to do is simple:
  1. Mention the book in a blog post* (ideally with a link to a store where folks can pre-order: Amazon and Barnes & Noble have it, for starters, with pre-order discounts till Tuesday).
  2. Email me a link to the post, and you’ll be entered to win one of five free copies!

Winners selected first thing April 16. NOTE: Entrants who also mention and link to the book soundtrack on iTunes will get an extra entry (only one prize per entrant, however). Need some inspiration? Check out how Batesline and Superfast Reader did it. (Never fear if you don’t have a personal story as they do; one reader simply entered this way.)

FINAL NOTE: Make sure I get your email! I’m trying to acknowledge all contest submissions I receive, so if you don’t hear back, you might want to confirm your email got through. I spotted at least one submission only while it was being deleted from my spam folder, alas. I think the sender’s name was Jeffrey, so if that sounds like you, leave a comment or resend your message.

Happy blogging!

*If you don’t have a blog but have a Facebook or MySpace and friends you feel comfortable letting know about the book, copy me on the email you send or provide some other proof of your post or bulletin and I’ll give you one entry for that too.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

The food of champions

The life of a writer is far from gastronomically glamorous. Saturday night, I got caught up creating the playlist for the book and had to improvise a super-late dinner out of Trader Joe’s mac-n-cheese (thank goodness I’d thought to buy some for “emergencies” like this!) and a bag of broccoli florets I meant to eat during the work-week but never got around to fixing.

Never got around to would be the theme here, if you’re looking for one; too often I never get around to taking a lunch, eating at a proper time, or just eating properly period, as this morning’s sick-day breakfast would attest: the last 5 or 6 pieces of Aplets and Cotlets left over from my Seattle trip. America’s answer to Turkish delights: most certainly the breakfast of champions.

Not that it’s always been this bad, mind you. The irony is that when I could least afford to eat well, I probably nonetheless ate a great deal better than I often do these days. Back in the day, when I was still on my $50-a-week-or-less budget for food and transit, I got by on such slim means with a mostly vegetarian diet, careful meal planning and disciplined weekly grocery trips to the aforementioned TJ’s. Ah, the Sunday night jaunt down to Union Square for a quick shop after church ... It was usually fairly quiet then: nothing close to the literally out-the-door, down-the-sidewalk lines when the store first opened its Manhattan doors.

But more importantly, because of all that planning, my fridge was usually more practically stocked, if less amply so (you can’t really afford to stock a pantry on such an income). Something about the routine of making a daily lunch at home lent itself to remembering little details like the sprouts and avocado slices that transform a simple tuna fish sandwich into a tasty midday meal. Sometimes I even had enough money for a $2-3 potato chip bag that made for a little side crunch for each sandwich that week.

Nowadays, lunch is typically eaten at work, in haste, at all the wrong hours and with almost none of that gracious if inexpensive sense of order and completeness I once enjoyed. Mostly I just nibble random bits of pistachio meats, dried apricots, the occasional chocolate almond cluster, a package or two of string cheese and maybe a serving of yogurt. The only thing that keeps me from having to eat Starbucks breakfast sandwiches every day is that there’s thankfully yet another Trader Joe’s (that would be another theme, clearly) just 8 or so minutes’ walk from my office in North Beach.

All in all, it’s a funny trade-off. On desperate days, I can now afford to walk to the Thai restaurant down the street for a quick meal, without any of the careful budget calculations that once governed whether I could splurge on a $3 latte during a coffee-shop work session, or had to stick with a $1 cup of coffee to justify sitting there and using the free WiFi. I can also occasionally try the pricey special coffee beans Peet’s sometimes roasts in only a handful of batches (though, honestly, I have yet to find a better bean than the $8 bag of organic, fair-trade Peruvian coffee they sell at the Natural Grocery down the street).

None of that expanded purchasing power enables me to brew the lattes that used to be a favorite morning ritual, though; nowadays I usually get up as close to the time my carpool arrives as I can, not always brewing coffee before I leave. All in all, I think I sometimes miss the old days, scrimping or no.

If you’ve been missing the old days of “proper” blogging like I used to do, take heart: I’m now a contributing blogger for Radiant’s blog The Pulse (an art, lit and music blog). Until I confirm if I can simul-post entries or not, I’ll post links here each time there’s a new entry up there. The first one was Friday’s, “Soundtracks to Books, Life and Other Things.”

Don’t forget you can still get a pre-order discount on the book for one more week! Get yours from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Anna on North Gate Radio

Updated 3:02 p.m. PCT

A journalist at the Cal graduate program recently spoke with me about waiting over the long haul.

Major props for their song choices to include in the piece:

Speaking of music, I promise the mention of a Sexless soundtrack is not mere tease. Details of how to hear it will be posted soon. In the meantime, have you pre-ordered your copy yet, or (if you’re local), RSVPed for the April 18 reading? If you’re chary with cash, you can also request it at your local library.

Finally, don’t forget that those first few readers who volunteer to help with the street team for the book can get a free copy! Email me for more details.