If a French-Mexican fusion restaurant sounds weird, that’s only because it is. The thing is, the eclectic, dark but innocuous Santos Anne is weirdly charming. What really makes this place stand out to people who live in Williamsburg is its solid backyard. The value of an asset like that cannot be stressed enough. And regular Anna Sale gets that all too well. The 34-year-old journalist used to live in the neighborhood, and when she did, she’d find solace from the city in a small corner in the backyard lit by a living room lamp. Charming, eclectic, see?
Over a plate of juicy merguez and duck tacos, Anna re-hashed her Santos Anne days, before she moved to Park Slope where she lives now. If you don’t recognize her name, you better soon because Anna Sale hosts the incisively brilliant WNYC podcast Death, Sex & Money. In the vein of extremely high-caliber public radio shows like This American Life, Sale tackles these huge life themes – that we usually avoid – with moving in-depth personal interviews. She has this comforting voice and manner that makes you just want to confess your deepest fears and unleash your brightest heart.
The West Virginia native moved to New York in 2009 after working in public radio in Connecticut. Amazingly, her podcast was birthed from an office contest while she worked at WNYC. They wanted show ideas, and Anna won. From the get-go, she even turned the mic on herself and examined her own struggling relationship. (Spoiler Alert: She’s now happily engaged.) At Santos Anne, the tables were turned and Anna talked death, sex, and money in her own life. She also delved into what she calls “The Summer of Anna,” when her first marriage ended and she bravely decided to go all-out to chase whatever dreams she had.
I used to live around the corner. I moved a little over a year ago. I love this place because it always feels like an oasis. The backyard is like a treehouse.
I like that it’s totally weird. You can’t nail down what it is. You get tacos, but they put a radish on your plate. There’s a Mexican flag and a French flag, and they’re playing Otis Redding. It’s kooky.
As a woman, if I hadn’t been tasked an assignment to write down my show idea [for Death, Sex & Money], I never would have started a show on my own. I thought, “This is an assignment. I can do this.” Whereas for men, they are likely to put themselves forward saying, “I want to do this thing.”
When someone feels listened to, they’ll keep talking.
I think it’s fair to say that I have angst about death, sex, and money, as do most people. Death is about the big questions on purpose and meaning. Sex is about relationships and love. Money is about our status and survival.
On Death: I feel incredibly satisfied professionally. It’s really nice that I have this harebrained idea and that people are hearing things they feel they needed to hear. I’m in a place where I feel, of course I can always add more good to the world, there’s always more room for that, but I feel good.
On Sex: I also feel incredibly satisfied in my personal life right now. I’m continually thinking about being a better partner and building a family with someone. When you have satisfaction at work and satisfaction in personal life, you feel better with both of those.
On Money: Moving to New York for me was extremely a drama, in terms of survival. I was terrified that I couldn’t support myself here. At the moment, I feel that I can survive. This place is expensive and cluttered with super talented people. That’s scary. That’s what I was most freaked out about when I moved to the city: “How am I going to support myself?”
“The Summer of Anna” was the end of a marriage. It was very sad. It’s very sad for a long period of time. You come to the realization that your marriage is not going to survive. “The Summer of Anna” was after that decision was made between the two of us and we made the decision to separate and divorce. So I made a list of stuff I wanted to do. The rule was if it was intriguing I said yes to it.
I got this ring at Thanksgiving. It’s very simple. It’s this $11 ring I got visiting my sister in New Mexico. It’s some green stone. Just a circle shape. Just green. Green is my favorite color. It looked like a GO symbol to me, a traffic signal, a GO light. I bought it. I put it on my ring finger, the one that used to have my wedding ring. Since I bought it when I was newly single I said, “Okay, just go for it. Just do it.” Now Arthur and I are engaged. We discussed it. I’m excited about a wedding band when we get married. But I don’t need a diamond or any of that stuff. I looked at this ring when I came over here and said I don’t want to stop wearing it. That’s when I got engaged to myself.
Life doesn’t always go the way you think it’s going to go. If you start from a place where it’s okay and you just share stories about that, then we learn from each other.