About

Over the years I’ve collected a bachelor’s degree in American studies, a master’s degree in history and folklore, and an extensive collection of black aprons.  My first book, Downwind: A People’s History of the Nuclear West was published by University of Nebraska Press in November of 2014.

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Downwind: A People’s History of the Nuclear West sheds new light on the hidden costs of the Cold War as it played out in the landscapes and communities of the American West. Based on eight years of oral history fieldwork and extensive research into declassified federal documents, archival records, journalistic coverage, and epidemiological studies, the book is a compelling argument for the legitimacy of ordinary people’s stories as historical evidence. Downwind explores the process via which citizens become aware of environmental contamination in their communities and learn to navigate the industry, media, and federal rhetoric which often accompanies that contamination. “With particular details and personal anguish, downwinder and uranium-affected storytellers have for five decades testified to the ravages of the Cold War, bringing home the truth that all wars—no matter how conceptual they may seem—occur in actual places, where actual people live, grow food, and raise children. They remind us that national security is more costly and complicated than we have been led to believe. No matter their politics, many of those who encounter these stories find their understanding of American history unalterably changed.”

I also have volumes of scribbled-in-notebooks, and dozens of essay and poetry ideas that end up on orderpad notes. Some of them make it onto this blog.

I live with my husband Ryan, our son Callum, and our dogs Assata and Annie in a dear eighty-year old house a few hills away from the Salish Sea, on the shoulder of Cascadia (Seattle).  I am cobble together a living writing, editing, and doing oral history work, while waitressing at a restaurant that shall remain nameless. I’ve been slinging food on and off since I was 18, because it pays the bills, gives me time to research and write and take care of my family, and doesn’t ask too much of my mind. Someday I would like to put away my aprons.

Ryan is a radical constructivist who teaches third grade at the school near our home. He is brilliant at what he does, and his students are already starting small beautiful revolutions.  I’ve been in love with him for nine years and counting, and I learn from him all the time. He is passionate, eloquent, spontaneous, intentional, and wholeheartedly dedicated to living fully in the moment and working for a kinder and more just world.

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Callum is four. His vocabulary is surpassing both of ours, he’s already kind of a kickass soccer player, and he can read for hours without getting bored. He can beat me in an argument any day of the week. He loves his friends, vegetables, books, trains, birds, beautiful rocks, excavators, the beach, and his dog sisters, he gives incredible hugs, he is smart as a whip, and he swears in context.

photo by Andrea Fuentes Diaz

photo by Andrea Fuentes Diaz

Assata is a Bernese Mountain Dog we picked up ten miles south of Kansas six years ago. Annie is a rescued Great Pyrenees mix who joined our family the summer Callum was born.  They are both sweet, clumsy, and full of love.

We eat out of our garden pretty much every day, go thru sixty pounds of dogfood a month, and take extravagant joy in cooking, baking, and eating. We own too many books and exactly enough records, most of which are sitting in boxes in the garage.  We are perfectly at home living out of backpacks. We believe in social justice, equity, and wind power. Our friends and family are as spectacular as they come.

We get by: the most important work doesn’t pay well, but we have more than enough of all the things that matter.

Times are strange in America, as always, and while the future cannot be anticipated, I am glad to say that these are the most satisfying days of my life.

Summer 2010. photo by Andrea Fuentes-Diaz

13 responses to “About

  1. Oh that more had your view of what makes a good life. You are a lucky child. Pearl

  2. Allo. excellent outlook, this is how all should look at life. I am finding your blog very interesting, easy to read and thought provoking. Thank you. Rest assured I will be a regular visitor. Dave

  3. Eli

    A master’s degree in folklore? I submit that you are not overeducated for your profession.

  4. David Vail

    Nice to see the update. Rosanna and I miss you and would love to meet your little one. All is well along the Flint Hills–PrairyErth is peaceful. My work is coming along and I will be on the job market next year. Your latest blog is close to my heart. I know the difficulties of finding jobs in academe, but I remain hopeful. I love what I am currently doing and am eager to continue on my adventure. I plan on defending next fall or spring and then apply for jobs with a hope of returning to the great northwest. I miss you a lot sarah, thank you for your friendship.
    Dissertating day by day,
    David

  5. James K.

    Sarah,
    ‘Twas indeed such a pleasure to meet you while you were exquisitely performing your ‘overeducated waitress’ role – I was visiting my brother in W. Seattle and we went to the street fair this past Sunday, choosing a patio table for lunch with ample sunshine (mandatory: I’m a San Diegan) and superb peoplewatching. You were quite cordial and I was quite impressed with your friendly and attentive service (esp. on such a packed day) as my bro & I had lunch and sampled a vast array of ales, porters, IPAs, lambics, and of course mixtures thereof.
    I’m eager to explore your blog, but I thought I’d drop you a quick note and say “mahalo nui loa” (thank you very much in Hawaiian). All the best to you, young Callum and your hubby.
    Aloha, James

  6. The three of you are fantastic humans. I am grateful to now know you. And hope to know you forevermore!
    Many hugs and lots of gratitude for great food and car rides,
    Anna
    (Fritz)
    (Rachael’s friend)

  7. Wow, that’s a WONDERFUL “about”! Makes me feel like I just made some new friends – and really, isn’t that a feeling a lot of us hope our readers take away from our words? 🙂

    Anyway, I wanted to stop by and thank you for “liking” my writer’s page. (Looks like we have a mutual friend in Sean!) I’m glad to meet you out here, and look forward to reading more of your words. Be well.

    • sarahalisabethfox

      I got completely lost in your blog for about an hour today, lady. Sean introduced me to it about a year ago, and its been awhile since I visited… I LOVE where you’re going with it. And I’m gung ho that you’re thinkin book. I just logged on to wordpress to add your blog to my list of favorite writers when i saw your comment. Serendipitous. Lets keep in touch.

  8. Larry Steele

    Sarah:
    Tom Gaylord, my meditation instructor at the Seattle Shambhala Center, tipped me off that I’d like your SusSpace blog about meditation and waitressing. I did. And it led me here.
    Tom sent me, because, I’ve written a piece about meditation and auto-immune disease. I’m wondering if you gained any insights about posting at SunSpace, or submitting to Shambhala Sun, or the Shambhala Times, or wherever? I’m only marginally electronic-publishing-literate. What do you think is the…best?…most fun?…most creative?…most generous?…way to publish these days?
    I’ll introduce myself if I see you at the center!
    -Hmmm.
    Larry Steele
    lhsteele@seattleschools.org

  9. Pingback: Signing Off, with an Invitation - Hooked | Hooked

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