Hey. I’m glad you’re here.
Hey! I’m Alexandra Cagen, but most people–or everyone, really–calls me Sasha. Sasha is a Russian nickname for Alexandra and I’ve got Ukrainian in my roots.
I grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, a suburb of Providence, just an hour from Boston. Now I am fond of Rhode Island (I once wrote an essay “Nostalgic for Big Hair,” which about sums up my high school experience). As a teenager, I was keen to escape Rhode Island. I first went to college in Western Massachusetts, which seemed like a vast place compared to postage-sized stamp Rhode Island; college took me to New York City when I transferred schools. In New York I began to find myself as a writer when I published a zine called Cupsize with a friend and wrote for the Village Voice and other magazines. I also got into AIDS activism and labor activism, supporting the striking clerical workers at Barnard, the college I graduated from.
After college my heart tugged me out to San Francisco. A short trip seduced me and San Francisco felt like a friendlier New York to me. Before Silicon Valley hit, San Francisco was still the pre-eminent bohemian, creative city and it was still affordable. In San Francisco I did PR for labor unions and then quit, went to Cuba, and came back to found my own print magazine To-Do List: A Magazine of Meaningful Minutiae. To-Do List won Best New Magazine of 2000 in Utne‘s Alternative Press Awards, and it was a great joy to publish.
In the first issue of To-Do List I published a 700-word manifesto I had spent a year crafting, and that was my essay “People Like Us: The Quirkyalones.” The quirkyalone concept developed in that original essay went viral before things went viral. The concept got such a massive response I published my first book as a result, Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. The book got a ton of press attention and for a long time I was known as that “happy-single girl” or the “quirkyalone lady” which was cool but I also always wanted a boyfriend too. Sometimes the image of quirkyalone has burden, but it was also great. There’s also the quirkytogether, the quirkyslut, etc.
My second book To-Do List was a follow-up to the magazine, a collection of 100 real handwritten lists and the stories behind them. I did a lot of research on to-do list habits and shared that research in this talk at Google and also wound up consulting with apps that focused on productivity. Everyone wants to understand the experience of crossing off a list.
Around this time I started to get worried about earning more money than seemed possible to earn as a writer (San Francisco had gotten a lot more expensive) so when my best friend’s boyfriend asked me to start a company with him, I said yes. It was a moneymaking move. I knew that he knew how to make money and I wanted to make money. We started StyleMob then sold it to Glam. StyleMob was a street fashion social network. I was the CMO. Glam was an ad network for blogs and websites. I was a product manager.
I worked at Glam as a result of the acquisition and I was miserable. Much could be said about why, part of it was the bullshit of Silicon Valley, part of it was the company. Much of it was despair in my life, and that despair was coming to a zenith point in my mid-thirties so much that I sought a radical solution–give up my regular life for life in Brazil.
In a nutshell, I thought Brazilians seemed very happy and I wanted to be happy. I thought I might find the next chapter of my life there, or at least learn how to be happy.
What wound up happening was that I spent six months living in Brazil that took me through tough moments of confronting my inner demons and then found myself through tango in Colombia instead of in Brazil, and then I moved to Buenos Aires where I live now.
In between this time I lived part-time in Oakland, California, and part-time in Buenos Aires. I trained as a coach then started a new career as a life coach serving the quirkyalone women and men who had always been attracted to my work. Primarily I work with people through one-on-one coaching and transformative travel adventures. I’ve also taught online classes.
That’s what I’m up to now. I’m also writing a memoir tentatively called Wet that’s about the real, deep story of why I made all those radical changes in my mid-thirties and the healing i found through my sensual adventures to face my deepest barrier to love and intimacy: shame. Intense? Yes. It’s an intense story but also fun. I think it’s going to be good.
Where am I living? I’m based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but Oakland, California and Providence, Rhode Island are also homes for me. i like to keep the spirit of traveling alive and enjoy that I can work from anywhere now, a lot of the time. I have my own business and time to work on books, which makes me feel like I’m doing what I was put on this earth to do, or at least, what satisfies me deeply.
Here’s an official-ish bio.
I’m the author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (2004) and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (2007). I’m most well-known for founding the quirkyalone movement, which is all about supporting women and men who prefer to be single rather than settle, with a special focus on the empowerment of women to know their worth with or without a man in their lives.
My work as a coach for women, writer, and movement-builder has been featured in more than 100 media outlets, including CNN, NPR, BBC, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. I’m also the world’s leading authority on self-marriage, appearing frequently in the media to explain why many women, single or married, are choosing to marry themselves.
My Tango Adventure lets women rediscover themselves and their sensuality through tango and travel in Buenos Aires. My one-on-one coaching helps women (and men) discover who they really are and live to the fullest with strategic support from someone who has been through reinvention many times and lived la vida quirkyalone and quirkytogether. I’ve been coaching since 2013.
To learn more visit sashacagen.com.