Big Country Blues Trailer

Big Country Blues Trailer
Sarah e Jacobs recognized as OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES at LA Webfest! And nominated for BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA at ITVFest! Click to watch the trailer!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fear of Falling

My roommate’s night out and her exhibiting the beginnings of a cold were the perfect storm that woke me abruptly at 3:30. Unable to slow the drip of thoughts that kept REM cycle just a dream, luckily it’s been one of those mornings where I felt I wanted to sit with myself rather than get lost in sleep, anyhow. My brain took off for morning before the light could catch up.

So. Here I am. 5:30. New York Muffins. Double Almond Milk Latte… (forgive me for any overly sentimental or lyrical words, there’s some irrational sense of protection that comes with the darkness of very early and very late that makes a person a bit more sensitive.)

I love Brooklyn at this time. It has a quiet darkness that the city never has. And, here, the people up before the sun are a different breed. Not groggy and crusty eyed, but bright. Emitting energy that I’m pretty sure must power the sun.

My favorite town. My favorite season.
And I love this time of year. It always gets me thinking. My body feels a very visceral change from Summer to Fall, an ease as my limbs relax into cozy fabrics and my morning coffee is hot and perfect. It’s no surprise that I like being warmed from the inside out, rather than Summer’s tendency for the other way around.

I’ve long tried to explain my love of Fall. It could be said that it’s because I was born then (I turned an impossible 31 last week). But it goes far beyond that, I think. Fall is an in-between. An odd mash up of boots and bare arms. Light layers. It’s a bridge that links two extremes, finding some cozy and comfortable balance between the two. Call me trite and all-too-literally a Libra, but I like the balance. That somewhere in-between.

Birthday party.
We may be old, but we are no less ridiculous.
I think that’s why I don’t miss my 20’s and seem to be settling into my 30’s quite nicely. I used to feel like I was waiting for my life to start. But now I know: this is it. No light at the end of the tunnel, the whole damn thing’s illuminated. Every second important because it’s the collective. And while I still think it’s completely bizarre, this whole getting older thing, I respect the changes and I’m grateful for the ability to step outside and see aging as a sort of experiment.

A while ago, I was on a date and in the middle of my talking about something (can’t remember what), The Charmer looked at me like I was a science fair project. In a condescending tone, as if I had made a mistake and was using the wrong words, he said, “You seem to think a lot of things are ‘interesting’ and ‘amazing.'” He formed his mouth around the two words like they tasted bad. …My response came after a moment of silence and some serious thought. I sifted through my rolodex of vocab words, wondering if he was right, but soon answered, “Yup. I do. …And, I won’t apologize.”

Rach and Me giving a workshop,
making Gut Bacteria fun at a downtown office.
That being said, while I am in awe and I do feel more balanced, the older I get the more risky the decisions I have to make. “Failure” has a harsher connotation. I’ve never been one to throw caution to the wind, but I am a firm believer in calculated risks and vast leaps of faith. Starting The Wellness Project is a jump that’s proving fairly hard to get my feet off the ground, and I mean that in many senses. It’s not for lack of trying, or passion, or motivation. But starting a business is difficult. Every day is an intense roller coaster of emails and phone calls. Ideas and opportunities. And I find myself uneasy. A lot. But we are moving, and I do so believe in our passion-powered ability. We’ve got some seriously exciting things going down. So it might be at a speed requiring patience, but we do seem to be getting somewhere.

"Sarah Jacobs: Playwright," as listed in a program.
...writing's been my outlet, recently.
And then there’s my creative life. I’m currently feeling the need to Act maybe more than ever before. The fire in my chest when I think about jumping into a script is so hot that I swear you could feel it if you put your hand to my heart. And while I do continue to audition a fair amount for commercial gigs, I have to trust that I will get back to the Art of it sometime very soon. And in the meantime, I pour my creative self into my projects at hand. And continue to work on some that I have going on behind the scenes.

And then… there’s my personal life. A person I previously solidified as a fairly intense memory came back to my material present, and the leaps are made daily. Allowing all of the stuff that I buried over a year ago to surface and re-appear raw is not an easy task. Trusting and letting go, while knowing all too well the consequences that could come takes a lot. But with release of my own ego, I choose not to dwell in the past. And I made the adult decision that I’d way rather risk a possible unfavorable future than miss the reward of right now.

 …So while I don’t throw caution to that ever present wind, there is a certain amount of sway. After all, the ubiquitous “they” always say that the leaps you don’t take are the ones that hurt the most.

She's got TWO nuggets in there!!
So I’m just staying open. Trusting in transitions. Not glued to any one outcome (Lord knows I never expected to be doing half the things I’m doing now). And, whether I’m ready or not, looks like life is headed this way - my best friend just moved out of NYC. I get texts with pictures of positive pregnancy sticks (and we’re happy about it). Friends’ parents are passing away. People ask to see my neck when they hear my age. My brother is about to have twins. And I’m finding it harder and harder to dress myself fashionably. …It comes…

And, the truth is that I am kind of scared shitless. But worry never changed an outcome. And while fear is a main character in life (as is failure), it informed the plot much more when I was young and it made decisions for me. Like when I was 15 and learning to drive - I only made right turns, because left meant leaving the safety of the neighborhood.

Things do change.

So, it seems even this season’s name itself shares a connotation with some of my intrinsic traits. Fall. Be pulled by the rules of nature. Gravity the leader. Submitting to the whim of things inescapable. Between events. Between moments. Between people. Somewhere along the way I learned that left turns were inevitable. And while I usually make sure to look in both directions first, here I zig zag. Thinking it’s all ‘interesting’ and ‘amazing,’ raising my hands and laughing while I lose my stomach on the ride.







Friday, August 29, 2014

The Picture of Health

“You need to call me.”

It’s amazing how you can read into your Mother’s text messages. It wasn’t necessarily the curt nature of it, that’s fairly standard in texts from my parents - it’s a generational thing. It was the period at the end. The word “need.” The directive – you.

As I walked back over the Williamsburg Bridge from my Sunday night yoga class, I hit Mom Cell from my phone’s favorites list. Her voice was deeper. And very authoritative. …Shit. She was in Mom-Mode.

“He’s okay…” she started.

“What.” I spat out. Knowing that “okay” is a spectrum state of being and not sure yet who “he” was, immediately my arms sprouted goose bumps. My body braced for the worst.

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure how the rest of that particular conversation went. I heard “Dad,” “Hospital,” and “Heart,” in the same sentence and it was like no other words existed in the English language. It’s amazing how the whole world disintegrates in moments like that. As I walked home, the city backdrop chipped away and my universe solely consisted of the thin air that surrounded my body and the voice on the other end of phone.

The next few days were a series of text messages and calls - Good news, bad news, good news, bad news… It was a terribly shitty week.

Grill Masters while on vacation in June.
But now, after the fact, I can happily say that, at the end of it all, my family really lucked out with this one. After a few procedures and a lot of stress, my Dad really is pretty far right on the Spectrum of Okay. But, it could have been bad. I don’t even want to think about it, but if they hadn’t gone to the hospital, that initial phone call with my Mom would have started with very different words…

I get asked ask all the time why I’m so into health and wellness. And I’ve touched on it before, but I’ve been reluctant to tell you all my own health’s story. Mostly that’s because of fear and self-consciousness - scared of taking the personal, too personal. But after my family’s recent scare, I feel that it’s more important to be transparent about it than ever. So…

View from an evening run.
If you look at my Instagram feed, you see swingsets, blues skies, and cityscapes. I’m smiley. I’m young(ish). I take pictures of broccoli and document my love for odd and challenging workouts. When you meet me, I’ve been told my energy is “up front,” and “intense,” and my hands have been known to knock over a wine glass or two in fervent explanation of something I’m passionate about. …You’d never know it, but the truth is, that I haven’t always been this annoyingly energetic.

My own health’s decline was steady. Looking back I can see the writing on the wall - It started slowly, years ago, with random illness after random illness. Frequent digestive issues and odd internal temperature fluctuations. Eventually, my stomach began waging war on every bite I put in my mouth. A long time vegetarian, I was known in my circles for being an incredibly “healthy” eater, but by June of 2012, every meal invoked a battle in my intestines. Somehow, even salad became the enemy. I loathed every time I had to eat.

And I was tired. Holy hell I was so tired. My body felt heavy. Usually agile and very adept at physical challenges, my limbs became like lead on even a single-mile run. It was unbelievable. I was 28 and couldn’t get up my 3 story walkup without sitting on a stair to take a break.

I sat in lobby after lobby of Doctors offices and Specialists. Outwardly I looked fine, and every one of them said the same stupid thing – “Look at you! You’re healthy!” I would come in and face the Doctor with a list of possible ailments (Candida, Fructose Malabsorption, Lupus, Celiac…), and, very literally, I got laughed at. It was infuriating. After a basic blood work-up would come back normal, they’d tell me it was in my head and try to put me on antidepressants. Upon my refusal to take prescription drugs without a diagnosis, time after time, I was shown to the door.

At the urging of a nutritionist, I went on the FODMAP diet eliminating lactose and gluten and my mainstays like garlic, onions, apples, stone fruits, artichokes… most vegetables, really. My friends became reluctant to ask me out to eat because they would feel awful as I sat there foodless while they enjoyed their meals.

My mystery illness soon took over my life. My days were shortened. I would go into the city for one audition or a meeting and would drag my body home to lock myself away and recover from the outing.

I knew something was wrong. My body felt like someone else’s, but over and over, I heard the same thing - “Sorry. Don’t know what to tell you. You’re fine.”

I was so deep in different diets trying to figure out my problems on my own. Eliminating food groups systematically, wondering if I was allergic to eggs, or tomatoes, or maybe it was something less apparent like black mold in my apartment, or toxins in old paint. I looked into so many possibilities and was left confused and completely disheartened.

Believe it or not, the turning point in my health came at the unlikely location of the hair salon. My usual Guy, Xavier, shampooed my hair and I sat down in front of the mirror. Gave him the same directions I always gave, “Whatever you wanna do, I just can’t look too different because of headshots.”

He started chatting, combing my hair, joking that one day I’d let him really do what he wants and chop it all off into a pixie cut. …and then he stopped dead. “Hmm.” He said delicately. “Sarah, hun, I don’t remember this being here…”

“What??” I said, so confused.

“Don’t freak out. Ok, hun?”

I remember thinking, uh-oh. He used “hun” twice… He handed me a mirror and spun me around. Lifted my wet hair…

Immediately, I started crying. My body, which had been a confusing puzzle for months was trying to tell me something, and I could not figure it out. I was scared and I was so frustrated. But a part of me felt oddly relieved –  finally, I had proof.

…or so I thought. The next few weeks were a series of incredibly painful cortisone shots and more Doctors. Even with a body that was shutting down and a perfectly round bald spot that popped up on the back of my head - “you’re healthy,” was still the common reaction. I was in shock. Everyone tried to tell me the various symptoms plaguing me were unrelated and there was nothing to be done.

And then I got pissed. “Fuck that,” I thought (…and actually may have said to a few particularly pompous medical practitioners... Whatever, they deserved it.)

I Dr. Housed my symptoms every night, googling until early morning hours. Finally, late one night, deep in a google-click-fest, I stumbled upon a Holistic Dermatologist that, while unconventional, seemed to know his shit. I sent an email – a very direct and somewhat desperate one. It was past midnight, but he sent a reply within minutes.

I remember asking if I was going to have
any left inside my body...
After a FULL health history and major blood work-up, he devised a plan for me. To say that his practices were unconventional is putting it lightly. But, the truth is, that after a year of working with him and systematically treating my situation using only diet and lifestyle change, and supplementation, the improvement is mind-blowing. And you simply can’t argue with what works. (His name is Alan Dattner, btw, and aside from his healing properties, he's also seriously Good People. Feel free to contact me for his info.)

People think I grew up with green juice in my sippy-cup and kale chips alongside my chicken fingers. But it’s just not so. It’s been a long-time learning experience for me, too. I came to realize that I needed to stop fighting my body, and start listening – a lesson that I carry into many aspects of my life.

Many times, now, people don’t even believe me when I mention I was sick. And, really, I guess I’ve done a pretty good job at keeping it personal. Most of my close friends don't even know what I went through. And you certainly won't see most of these pics on my Instagram...

When I say I’m a Holistic Nutritionist, many expect me to go on a rant about GMO’s or tout Veganism as the be-all-end-all. What they don’t expect is a fervent flow on the importance of an individual’s microbiome, the power of neuroplasticity, and how to spot subclinical thyroid issues. When I talk about gut bacteria, and gluten, and meditation, it’s not about a fad diet or a bikini body - I’m talking about preventing another person from being that girl that was curled up in pain, and I’m talking about preventing another person from hearing the numbing sound of Mom-Mode on the other end of the phone.

The body is an incredible machine. I have such a respect for the mechanisms that keep us alive and how intricate and interconnected our systems are. I know what it feels like when it works, and I know what it feels like when it quits.

Today, my hair has grown back and I have more energy than I’ve had in my whole life. Every day is different, and it’s a constant learning experience, but I’m doing very well. And I am so grateful to my unfortunate situation – all of it. The fear, the frustration, the mess of probable causes and attempted cures. The whole experience provided me with passion and knowledge that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And it has put me in a position to help others.

With the launch of The Wellness Project, I get to talk frequently about other people’s health. I get asked random questions all the time about Juicing, and the Paleo Diet, and food allergies. And (aside from talking Acting and character development) the fastest way to get me excited is to bring up probiotics or the American food supply. I truly love talking about all of it – because, at the crux, is my own experience and my passion for sharing that with others.

So, of course, if you have any questions for me, I’m always available to answer. But, I will say, that the answer isn’t always what you want to hear. I spent two years on very strict eating plans and a long list of daily supplements. It was definitely not easy. I even cooked myself sugar-free, grain-free Thanksgiving dinner alongside my family’s meal of stuffing and pumpkin pie when I was healing. In today’s world Health is not the simplest choice. Trust me, though, the work is definitely worth it. And popping a pill is very very rarely the answer.



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Universal Language

I sat on the makeshift bleachers in the middle of the trendy Soho office. An office I’ve been in multiple times over the years from my days as a promo model, hired by the Events company that inhabits the colorful space. In the past, I would be there to get briefed on the upcoming event I would be working. Usually it entailed standing on a street corner for long hours in all weather patterns selling or explaining someone else’s product that started as someone else’s dream.

From the event.
But this time was different. This time my Business Partner and I were invited as young, creative entrepreneurs and Co-Founders of The Wellness Project. We were invited to add to a wine-abetted conversation about what it means to Protect Your Magic, a movement started by another young, creative entrepreneur. I sat there, conversation swirling about the room, teeming with passion and purpose, and ethereal intelligence, and I couldn’t help but have a slightly less grandiose version of Oprah’s “full circle moment.”
How in the hell did I get here?
I don’t write much about The Wellness Project, but my life right now is consumed with my building this business. And there’s something that people don’t really tell you when they’re in the thick of building something new. It usually comes out later, and they say it with some nostalgic look on their face, as if it wasn’t really affecting, it was just something that happened and was left in the past. But here goes – starting your own thing is fairly terrifying.
Rachel and Me. Boots on the ground in SoHo.
And, I’m not a stranger to anxious energy. I’ve made a life of feeling terrified as I stand, costumed, in the wings. The light spilling from the stage to just before my waiting toes. It’s a discomfort that, over the years, I grew to find comfort in. But recently, the discomfort comes in waves unfamiliar to me. I’m trying to find my legs in a foreign sea of KPI’s, google documents, and PowerPoint “decks.” And aside from the general challenges of starting a business, I’m finding that I’m having to explain myself to certain people now more than ever…
Him: “So, what do you do?”
Me: “I’m an Actor and Nutritionist. Currently starting a business - a Corporate Wellness Program.”
Him: “Oh. Really? …That’s …so cute.”
Cute?
Or after giving an overview of TWP’s program, I've gotten, “look at you sounding like you know what you’re talking about…”
Sounding?
Ugh. I wish I were kidding.
With certain men (it’s just fact that no woman has ever responded like this) it’s like clockwork. He crosses his arms and the air around us becomes dense. His voice deepens, resonating in the space between us. Macho bullshit taking precedence over substance and progress. Without even knowing our business model, all sentences start, “you know what you should do…” or “let me tell you what you need…” And the questions come in swiftly and in numbers, the language getting more convoluted and ridiculous. I’m no longer participating in a conversation, I’m in front of a firing squad.
I am tired of my curves and long hair informing obnoxious assumptions. Sick of my face’s symmetry being confused for unintelligence. My conversational, friendly demeanor being mistaken for na├»ve exuberance. And my open and sentimental heart being seen as weak. It seems I have to lash my sharp tongue in order to get people to pay attention for the right reasons, and even then, I’m regarded as sassy or bossy – because it seems people have a hard time saying “smart” and “assertive” when it comes to describing women.
What upsets me even more than the feral condescension and immediate doubt is how it sometimes affects me. Frequently, I can very effectively shut down any joker that meets me with haughty resistance. But other times I seem to fall back, windless sails, and allow for such bullshit to commence before my eyes. My knees buckle, Nancy Kerrigan style, beneath my unsuspecting body.

I’d love to say that my skin is impenetrable, a force field of self-acceptance and confidence. But honesty is my goal here, not perfection. And, while I’ve clearly always accepted my sentimentality (this blog can attest), my sensitivity is something I’ve been fighting my whole life. I grew up with people constantly saying, “Sarah, you’re too sensitive.” And the pugilist in me always said, “Psh. Whatever. You don’t know me.” But #truth - they know me. And the honest fact is that despite what my face reads and my demeanor implies - I feel it more. Genuinely and quite viscerally, my body translates it to sparks just under the surface of my skin.
And I’ve been “feeling it” a lot lately. (Not to mention having made myself vulnerable in my personal life recently. More so than I have in years. …it didn’t fare well, but that’s a story for another day…) Anyhow, on top of the stress responses like wanting to eat cake for breakfast, this can be a bigger detriment if I allow it. But, I’m learning it can also be an incredible asset.
My authentic handwriting.
...like that of a 7 year old.
Back in the cool, SoHo office, in passionate discussion about "Protecting Your Magic," I fervently explained with conviction how I must protect my Authenticity, my chosen Magic. And I do this by investing in myself, saying yes and saying no, and by knowing when to fold.
The Devil’s Advocate came in the form of an Interior Designer sitting to my right. He kept arguing, “Why Protect? Why walk away? Why not share with everyone, spread your magic without boundaries?” The room joined in the bandying of ideas and thus the conversation got oxygenated life. I had already started writing this post, so my position in that room was timely. And my passionate disagreement with the Interior Designer (whom I hugged it out with immediately afterwards and we're now Facebook friends, btw) got me thinking. Am I being too protective?…
But after some thought, it’s not about not sharing. It’s about not giving it all away. It’s coming to the table with openness and complete vulnerability, but knowing that I will get up from the table with the same energy as when I sat down. That I will be as authentically me and as willing to put myself out there moving forward. And sometimes, that means being the one to push my chair back first.
Staying open is a daily practice, one in which sometimes I fail horribly. On occasion, reactionary, I do curl up, knees to chest and make myself as small as possible. And this goes for in my personal life, too.
But, I’m learning to use the porous nature of my skin to my advantage. Inspired by a common theme at SHEsummit, a conference I attended recently - succeed not in spite of my gender, but because of it - turn all of this energy I’m collecting, and make the decision to use it for fuel. Kindling that gathers at the base of my sternum. And when I do find myself in vulnerability hangovers, I work to pry my legs away from my chest and unfurl my ego from the fetal position. The key is to remain resilient – give credence not to the curling up, but to what happens afterwards.
So, I do need to protect certain parts of myself, like my Authenticity. That's contributed to how I got here. And it’s how I’ll get to wherever it is I’m going, while maintaining that same sense of who I was when standing on that street corner selling someone else’s dream.
On a run, lost somewhere in South Brooklyn, my mind was gripping onto various conversations I’ve had with naysayers, and I was missing relationships I’ve recently let go of. I turned an unfamiliar corner, hoping my brain would take cues from my body’s pivot. And on the next block, I was met with this –
I laughed. Out loud.

Then, about 10 or so blocks after that, I came upon a swingset and settled in. I faced the opposite direction of the little girls on the other end, opting for the view with more trees. On the backswing, between the links of a high fence, my eyes settled on the top of a distant building. And in bright pink letters, there it was again:
 
Ha! There are no accidents. Coincidence is merely listening when the Universe decides to talk.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Work in Progress

Vignette [vin-yet]
Noun

1. a drawing, photograph, or portrait that is shaded off gradually at the edges so as to leave no definite line at the border.

2. any small, pleasing picture or view.

3. a small, graceful literary sketch.

I would love to come to you with some bit of brilliance. Some lovely post that weaves story with feeling. The center some moral. A lesson learned, a truth revealed. But, recently, my brain has left me with ink blot ideas - amorphous and unrelated. Administration duties dulling my creative brain and the stressors and responsibilities piling high on my to-do list, clouding my usually colorful vision. Ordinarily, there are moments when words play and form neat sentences, clever conclusions, and clean lines.

But, life right now is a jumble of too many things to make sense in one linear composition. I have the usual scribbles. Pages of sentences and poetry and schmaltzy combinations of words that leak emotion and thought onto paper. Some stark and bare, and others too sentimental for words (so to speak)… And, so…

----

1.
The crowded coffee shop had attention in my direction. Our words in volley. No progress being made, just contention. Loud and potent.

My body cornered the thief. Blocked his exit. I was certain this man took my phone off of the table where my friend had been sitting as I went to the restroom. Certain. And I was certain he was not getting away with it.

He started turning his pockets inside out, blow pops of all flavors flying in various directions. He handed me his bag to search through, “I didn’t take your phone, girl!” He spat sternly. In an attempt to keep him put, I pulled out his belongings on the floor.

The tension in the air was taut. Electricity. Molecules on edge. The effect of a room full of raised arm hairs and goose bumps.

He started to push past me. Forcefully. I backed up a bit. He started pleading, “Please, girl. Don’t call the cops. I got a warrant. I got kids!” He whispered loudly. His eyes wide like a child, tugging at my female heartstrings… my girly sensibilities resisted. I’ve been in this city too long, my phone-stealing-friend…

“Should have thought of that before you stole my shit!” I said - emphasis on the “shit”. I decided to follow his lead, take to reasoning, “Look, I need that phone. I can’t afford another one.” I looked him directly in the eyes. “Please. Just give it back and this is over.”

…Wishful thinking. Didn’t work.


“I don’t! Got! Your phone!” He yelled. It was clear we’d reached his limit. He shoved past me. Instinctively I grabbed at his chest, clenched a fistful of his sweater. As he accelerated past, I felt the skin of my knuckles scrape against the fabric as I heard a loud rip. My friend who had been searching through our stuff in hopes to find the mistake was on me, stepped in prompted by the sudden physicality of the situation. There we were, two girls at the door of a coffee shop, desperately detaining a drugged-up thief from getting lost in the mix of 14th street with my iPhone 5.

After some time and some unsuccessful negotiations, something in the guy switched. I saw his face. He was tired, unaware when he nabbed the phone that two girls would put up such a fight. He turned around and bee-lined for the bathroom. I followed. He ducked into the door and then came out right as I turned the corner. “Here! Here’s your phone!” I grabbed it from his hand.

“Dick.” (I added that more for me than for him.)

“You left it in the bathroom!” He exclaimed. Like a kindergartner. Youthful and excited. It was a surprisingly smart tactic. Though, I knew he was now a thief and a liar.

He left quickly. (Long before the cops showed up.) In the entirety of the situation, Sam and I were left unhelped. No one came to our aid. No one interjected. No one. Finally, after the fact, I was approached by a bystander. “He definitely took your phone.” Captain obvious stated proudly.

“yeah. I know he did.” I said.

“No, I mean, I saw him.”

“You saw him?”

“Yeah, I saw him take it and put it in his underwear.” (Swell.) I was dumbfounded. Now he says something. NOW! Not worth another confrontation, I simply thanked him and accepted his business card, you know, “in case I needed help with the police…” #bullshit

A few hundred deep breaths and a couple disinfecting wipes later, I was home. My heart rate finally slowed to normal. Peacefully, via text, I recounted my experience to my Dad, my Mom, the boy I was dating, from the safety of my Brooklyn apartment. And while I had rightfully recovered my property, I had unfortunately lost a bit of faith in humanity and all around decency.

----

2.
Lorde Pandora. Background chatter. Glasses clinking. The ambiance on the porch was sun drenched and abuzz with assumed wealth and pretentious energy. The combination of diamond rings, flip flops, and Ed Hardy an odd display of money.

I was sitting outside of the W Hotel in Atlanta, the taste of day old bachelorette party in my mouth. I stuck out like steerage on the first deck – ripped denim and Target tank, eyes half open, heavy with the memory of a dimly lit club and 2am bouts of twerking with a tambourine. (seriously.) …it was not a good look.

I was waiting for my Dad to come pick me up and whisk me away to baby snuggling and family time. Ready to recharge and slide back into my place as the younger sister, the daughter, the bit of odd-ball at the dinner table.

After a day with my people, my body recalibrated to the cadence of GA life. Where the soft lilt of words seeps into the energy and makes days slower. There was time to breathe. And the air there is different. It’s greener and fresher and fuller.

I had quality “Fun Aunt Sarah” time with baby dance duets and slobber soaked kisses from the Nug. And I laughed with my people over food and wine until my stomach ached. And while there’s a lot going on with my family at the moment, I was grateful. Thankful that we not only love each other, but also quite basically, like each other.

----

3.
The discord of life in a town of millions sometimes drowns out my voice. The tempo of my thoughts fight to match the buzz of the city. The motley crowd of people usually giving me life and energy turn to annoyances. I trust no one. I turn inward.

I needed to step outside, see the city from afar and remind myself of the bigger picture. It had been quite some time, because shitty weather has been lingering- the irritating guy at the party that can’t end a conversation. I couldn’t stand it anymore. So last week, the air still a bit chilly with spring dangling over the town, an imminent gift, I went down by the water to my spot.

For the first time this season, I sat with my city. I had my first of many quiet mornings alone with my town that tries my patience, but has also come to teach me patience.

There are things about this place that I can only appreciate once I see it from the outside. Like a watch - a tangled mess of metal and gears. No one part making any sense without the others. But stand back and see that all those hard angles fit neatly into one another, and somehow make the jagged puzzle of a skyline filled with people that keep the machine ticking in some kind of offbeat rhythm.

---

So, that’s the thing of it. My creative mind has been frozen. Locked in and petrified, overrun by a volcanic output of "shoulds" and "musts". One morning recently, I had a terrifying thought - what if inspiration and creativity are finite resources? A well that can dry up, tapped out like Brooklyn Lager at a hipster barbeque…


Found a new swing set on a quest to
 let my mind wander...
Sometimes, I tread in a sea of “what," and lose the spark of the “why.” Forgetting that it’s best to look at tasks not as chores, but as conduits. Shoulds and musts are useless unless they are stacking upon each other to build something higher. And "work" has its own malleable definition. The work is sometimes the act of cultivating creativity. Inspiration takes work. It’s not to be found sitting at a table, cooked and ready for feast. It has to be hunted. Bare hand wrangled and coerced into submission. And it’s found in all sorts of ecosystems – books and movies and art and conversation. In life.

So while I’m trying to free myself of “shoulds,” I guess there’s one more “should” that I “should” keep… I should stop being so hard on myself. Love the necessary hard work, the ebb and flow of creativity and motivation. After all, I can’t expect to be anything more than human or I’m bound for the utmost of inevitable disappointments.

The fact is, sometimes I’m unfinished. Untucked and disheveled. Sloppy. Scribbles on notepads. Remnants of inspiration. My colors and corners bleeding outward, the brush too saturated. And like this town, I need to take a step back and allow the parts to become whole - big picture style. Allow those strokes to work in tandem and create something discernable. A vignette. A portrait of a person whose edges are blurred and whose lines aren’t always so clear.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Eff Word.

It came on quick, (appropriately) as if on cue - I started to cry a bit. My back pressed against the cold brick wall of a building on West 27th street. It was weird. I had just been to an audition that went extremely well. My monologue was great - connected and honest, the feedback was amazing. I should have been in a great mood after how things went in the room. But for some reason, I was overcome with emotion that I couldn’t really explain.

So, here’s the thing - I’ve been putting off writing this. I’ve been writing on short stories and poetry and films and even started a play… but I’ve put off this post like I put off dealing with my 1099s.

Recently, I’ve been feeling things that no Actor, or probably any artist-type, likes to admit. We go to great lengths to convince ourselves and others that this particular feeling isn’t in our vocabulary. But, it inadvertently rears its ugly head when we get asked things like, “How’s the acting thing going?” (ps Ugh. Never ask that question unless you want the person you're asking to immediately think you're terrible). In response, I hear actors all the time get that deep, guttural voice and start grasping for words to make it sound like they have so much going on. Like they’re just too busy for words with Pilot Season, and agent meetings, and commercial callbacks... And it’s sad. Like watching a puppy try and get out of a pool.

This feeling is frustration. We’ve all been there. And while getting my nutrition certification and starting my business is an accomplishment that does quell some of my anxiety about my life as a whole, the truth is that in regards to my Acting career, I’m feeling mega frustrated. And, yes, it is something that is hard to admit.

It’s a very conscious decision to try not to lump my work with my self-worth. Not put value on myself and my abilities based on the amount of work I get as an Actor. But, the truth is, I like movement. Preferably forward movement. And more than anything I hate feeling stuck and out of control of my progress. It’s like when I was 10 and my Brother would hold me down and tickle me to the point of pants-wetting. …okay, well, not exactly like that, but you get my point - I feel claustrophobic and debilitated.

It took me a long time to even call myself an Actor. I was acting long before I ever endowed myself with the title (same as writer, for that matter). But once I did, and even more so with each passing day, dammit, I am an Actor. And, not only that, it turns out I’m a pretty good one. I go from audition to audition, pouring myself onto the floor and turning myself inside out for strangers, as we all do. And I say this without ego or pride - it is very rare that I get negative feedback. I usually get lauded with “wow”s and “great monologue”s (and there was that one time a casting director said, “She’s so good, I’d watch her take a shit on the floor." True story). Once booked on a job, I dedicate myself to a good performance and to a professional and fun working experience. In fact, the vast majority of people I work with, I end up working with more than once.

So when I left that audition and hit the open air, life felt a lot like a broken record. I did well. I heard great feedback. And… Annnnd… now what? I follow up. I send my updated info. …blah blah blah. And I’m still here. Wings clipped. Held down on the carpet of my childhood living room trying not to pee myself.

Y’all. I’m tired. I’m tired of waiting on others. I’m tired of convincing and fighting and schmoozing. I’m sick of feeling stuck. Treadmill on perpetual incline.

I go on auditions and get asked to do silly things like, let out a “cute fart” in an elevator (also a true story), or hide under my desk like I’m uncomfortable because of a “feminine situation”… and I’m at a point where I want more. I want real, challenging parts. And it makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs, red faced and veins popping, “I’m a fucking good Actor!”

…But it’s the age old question - If an actress screams in the forest…

Now, please don’t mistake my frustration for ingratitude. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities that do come at me. But I am frustrated. And I’m writing this and confessing this because I know I’m not alone. I recognize it in the relief when people hashtag #blessed on Facebook. I hear it in the defeated voices that answer questions like, “when can I see you on the big screen?” I see it in the people pacing in the audition waiting room, obsessively smoothing the part of their hair. And I listen to it from my friends when we have candid conversations over tea about our life choices.

We deal with so much outside pressure and eventually, no matter how self assured you are, it can get to you. I frequently get asked when I’m going to be famous or be in something big. And, It’s a little infuriating. Like when people look at newly famous actors and say things like, “She came out of nowhere.” I want to laugh and say that, actually, she probably waited on your table at a restaurant on the Lower East Side, or bartended nights and weekends without ever taking a break so that she could pursue her passion. She didn’t come out of nowhere, she came out of years of effort and dedication and hope.

I’m so tired. It’s a little scary to me. I mean, I wouldn’t change my decision to be an Actor for anything. I love being part of a creative, passionate, supportive group that are so inspiring and dedicated. And I love acting so much that it physically hurts sometimes. When I’m not working I get aches and my insides itch. But I’m also just exhausted. I’m tired of changing in Starbucks bathrooms that smell like hamsters and crack cocaine. And I'm tired of saying yes to everything (even when the answer is no), and being excited like a kid on Christmas about dog food or feminine products.

For God’s sake, I just want to do good work. And I made the decision a long time ago not to sell out to this industry, sleep around to get what I want, schmooze, and gun finger, and get all LA-name-dropping-annoying. …So, here I am. Feeling stuck and out of control of my own future.

So, I figure, I could give in to the frustration - try and forget the itch, and dull the aches. But, giving up has never really been my M.O.

Instead, I get pissed. (and not like the little-girl-me on the carpet). I get effing ticked. And then, like a true Actor, I use it.

So, I have to figure some shit out. Shift my focus and energy onto things that I can control. And of course I’ll stay in the mix a bit, But I refuse to rely on others realizing what I already know: that I am capable of some really awesome work.

But it seems, story of my life, I just have to quit crying and make that work myself. And maybe 5 people will see it, but somehow, that has to be okay with me. Because I’m starting to feel that at the soul of all of this frustration, is the fact that the conventional version of acting success just may not be my cup of tea.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cardio: My Apathy

Pink. Shit. Everywhere.

I hate Valentine’s Day. And, no, it’s not because I’m single. I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day. While I’ve always been a passionate person, I’ve certainly never been a sappy one. In my younger days, it was a holiday where I realized that the boy I was dating didn’t know me at all. I remember going to Ninja themed restaurants, receiving Adam Sandler DVD’s, Sci-Fi books, and GMO corn syrup solids. It always sort of served as a reminder that my relationship wasn’t quite working.

BUT, all that said, that does not mean that I can’t have a heart on Valentine’s Day. After all, there are worse things to celebrate than Love.

And with the city’s landscape changing from speckled green and holly to a wash of pepto pink and hearts, it’s hard to escape the topic Hallmark so effectively shoves down our throats. And recently, having been challenged by someone with a fresh look on the dating scene, the idea of relationships has been on the forefront of my mind.

On a date, I was asked if I miss being in a relationship. It sort of stopped me dead in my tracks because the answer surprised even me.

 …the answer was yes. I do.

 And, now, this is a bold statement not just because it’s coming from commitment-phobe-me, but because as a single girl, you put those words out into the universe and it translates them into something entirely different. The mass market thesaurus spits out words like desperate and needy. And I can say, with certainty, that those words don’t apply.

But the honest truth is that I do miss being part of a team. Trusting, and maybe even more so, being trusted. However, not in a way that I’m willing to join any old backyard pickup league and settle for a pinch hitter.

People often feel the need to assure me that, “You’ll find someone,” or encourage with, “Don’t give up,” or state dumbfounded when I say I’m single, “But, why? You’re so pretty.” (?!?) Somehow everyone has decided that my life is lacking because I’m still cooking for one. But I think that’s just the opposite. I needed to commit to myself, make sure that I’m whole before I make any sort of commitment to someone else.

So I built a life that fuels me, with accomplishments I’m proud of. In the past 3.5 years, I’ve realized that no one else can make me happy. And they shouldn’t have to. Completing someone else is a big freakin’ job. And I don’t expect anyone to be able to fill my heart, or be my other half, or belong to me, or be the light of my life… or whatever other bullshit people are writing on Valentine’s cards these days.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a best friend, a relationship based on insane trust, a mutual respect for opinions and passions, compromise and communication, an immense openness. I do, in fact, want to create and share something awesome. And not in the unrealistic, fairytale way. But in the make-a-commitment, work-on-things way.

But this inward work had some ramifications. It seems in all my dedication to building my own life, I also may have succeeded in building up some fairly serious walls. A surrounding moat complete with sassy little, skeptical guards only really letting people get to arm’s length.

My initial instinct when faced with someone that makes me feel feelings is to fall. Fast. And hard. And I’ve done it more than once. I’ve quickly handed over my heart trusting that it will be held delicately with two hands. And the few times I have in recent past, effortlessly he’s let it slip between his fingers with an oops and a smile.

And more than I’d like to admit, it’s affected my approach. Without realizing it, I’ve actively tried to slow down my feelings. Rationalize and ruminate. Listen to my head, when my chest wants to beat and my brain resists rational thought and I talk with my hands and feel heat in my face. I learned to measure these responses and turn feelings into pragmatism.

And I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be unafraid of consequence. I used to say, “as long as I’m honest, I don’t care what happens” throwing myself into the world trusting that it was way smarter than I’ll ever be. Aware that hurt could come, but wanting all of it for the experience that it brings. Remembering that no matter what, feelings are fleeting and healing is inevitable.

After years of dating - truth shrouded in odd texts and games - I lost my selflessness in a cityscape of preservation. My love for feeling, layered under thoughts of being “smart.” I’m not sure when it happened, but it did. I told my Mom my issue, rationalizing this and overthinking that, and feeling out of sorts because it’s not the reaction that comes naturally. “Sarah,” she said to me, “stop it. That’s not who you are.”

For as open and honest as I try to be, I needed someone to hold up a mirror and show me that I’ve let my heart become a little cold. I’ve gotten pretty cynical about relationships. Dating extensively will do that to you. Trusting is hard, and my eyes are narrowed. When I see a couple fighting on the street I think, “Nope! I don’t want that!” But I completely forget that beyond the tears and raised voices is something worth fighting for.

I needed a fresh outlook that shocked my Valentine’s averse heart out of cardiac arrest. So I’m going to try to at least remain open to possibility. Just open my fists and shut my mouth. As complicated and simple as that is. Stop being so cautious and protective because of what I’ve had, instead of hopeful for what I could have.

I should trust that I’ve done the inward work and I’ll make room in my full life when the time is right. I’ve had plenty of men question if I’m able to do that because I wasn’t willing to do it for them, but I think if presented with the right opportunity, I’m not opposed to trying. And that is a nice realization to make.

So, I leave you with this: it’s Valentine’s Day. Which we all know isn’t complete without quoting an insightful cab driver and a dead poet, so…

My cab driver, Mustafa, had this bit of advice after a life assessing cab ride from Williamsburg to Park Slope, “Sarah, you’re smart. But be careful. Don’t be too smart.” A sweet man. We hugged it out on the corner before he flicked on his light and drove off into the bowels of Brooklyn.

And Rilke said this,

“A good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it…robs one party or both parties of their fullest...development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side by side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole, and before an immense sky.”

How nice to see someone and be seen as whole before an immense sky.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow White the Red Nosed Sarah. (...Or, whatever. I blame the cold medicine.)

I stood in the middle of the street. The only things audible: Some children laughing in the distance, and my own breath echoing in my ears like an astronaut in space. I existed in the wintery scene, a lone pioneer. With everything covered in white, modern distinctions and rough edges are less discernable. Present melds into the past and I tend to feel some odd connection with the NY of old - the city we see in pictures and textbooks. And I feel, in the snow, more than any other time really, like a part of this town’s history.
 
A dynamic sense of peace takes over the streets used to hurried movement and stark contrasts. There’s a new kind of magic in this town when it snows. When white silence lulls the city to sleep, the world seems not so harsh. Like it will cradle you if you fall.
And with some pretty heavy things going down in my family’s world, a bit of softness, even in the form of precipitation, was appreciated. With all of my grandparents on an unfortunate decline at the same time, it’s a lot to handle. I hate that I’m not much help from so far away. And while there’s a lot of stress in GA, there’s a lot going down here in BK that I have to be happy about, which creates an interesting tug. But for lack of a better saying, it is what it is.

God must have felt my guilt, because amid all the things going right in BK, I was struck with an unfortunate case of the plague. Of course I was! After a full year of health, my immune system looked like it was kicking ass and taking names. White blood cells prepped and ready for a winter of Braveheart warfare… But, no. I fell to the invaders from the Army of Yuck. And right during the same week I was opening a show, shooting a commercial gig, and having final meetings with some prospective TWP clients.
I HATE being sick. I don't take it well. No energy, no work, no gym... no bueno. Upon realization of my body’s defeat, I quickly went into health freak overdrive. Zinc, and elderberry, and apple cider vinegar, and manuka honey, and olive leaf, and turmeric, and ginger… I'm a walking experiment on the toxicity levels of holistic cold remedies. (BTW, if I do end up croaking, I want it noted that it was in the name of Holistic Medicine.)
So anyhow, how’s about some deets…

Shared Intimacy: Underground. With actor Biniam Tekola
After swearing off theater until TWP is moving along, I was met with an offer I couldn’t refuse. Over coffee, a producer that received my name from a reputable writer I’ve worked with in the past, presented me with an idea for a play unlike any I had heard before: A conversation. On a NY Subway (literally). Overheard by whomever. For an invited audience of few. The idea is that, in New York, moments that should be private are often had in public. The city bringing a sense of anonymity, and in turn, intimate conversations become public domain.
To add to the circus, the thing is written by 3 different writers in the matter of a week. Then we rehearse it for a week. Then DO IT ON THE SUBWAY. …When I said “crazy show,” clearly, I meant it. So everything is variable. The audience, the train schedule, the bystanders… EV-ERY-THING. It’s an amazing exercise in focus and trust and serious anxiety management.
For example: Show number 7. Mid scene. The train rolled to a stop. …and didn’t move. It stayed there. For 15 minutes!!… We sat there in silence. Awkward. My next lines were, “Come on. Move it.” …but we, quite simply, had nowhere to go! So we sat there. Very quietly. The scene suspended in anticipation and adrenalin soaked energy. I can now tell you, 15 minutes with an audiences eyes on you feels like an eternity. AN ETERNITY. I forced my body into a state of calm so that I gave away nothing. No tense shoulders, no darting eyes, no telltale sign that Sarah (the actor) was slightly freaking out at the silence that went from momentary to monumental. Impatience wasn’t hard to convey. …FINALLY the train creaked and began in the direction of safety. “Come on. Move it.” I said as I awkwardly kicked the foot of my scene partner to continue with the feeling left over from eons of silence as spectacle. We stood up and walked to the double doors, the audience falling in behind us. A collective sigh of relief as we spilled onto the platform at some random station in Brooklyn we had never been to before to continue the show on a street we’ve never seen before… Oy. So. Many. Variables.


With Actor Audrey Kovar

We just finished our insane run, and I have to say that I’m incredibly grateful for the experience. There’s really nothing like being that close to an audience. It’s connection that’s on a whole new level. And to be so on our toes and flexible, allowing each unplanned moment to change and dictate what comes next so fluidly - Really, I’m lucky this one came at me. And with such awesome people, too.

Chef Maria. Buon Appetito, Y'all! ;)
I also just shot a commercial gig for an Italian food brand. I was Chef Maria. Preparing plates of pasta with precision and prowess. …not to mention, trying not to eff up the Italian language too terribly. “Catanisella Lunga Pasta Number 28 with Putanesca Sauce” became the bane of my fake Italian existence. They kept switching the order of the words around - "is it 'Catanisella Lunga Pasta Number 28,' or lets try 'Catanisella Lunga Number 28 Pasta.' Wait how about 'Number 28 Catanisella Lunga Pasta...'" After a few bloopers and slips of English curse words, I pulled it together quickly and nailed the takes. And soon, Housewives across America will be cooking gluten centric grub along with me.
 

Nug's first Christmas! (wrapping paper was just as exciting as toys)
It’s been a while since my last post, and Christmas came and went, and the New Year is here! As you know, I’m big on setting intentions for my coming 365 days (make plans, not resolutions). My mantra, “Brave in 2013” did very well by me, and I look forward to continuing that badassery into the new year.  I was asked a million times why I didn’t skydive, or do some other life risking stupidity. But brave for me was writing, and dating, and vacationing, and running, and business starting... Putting myself out into the world in ways I haven’t before. And while I still struggle sometimes with a certain vulnerability in my personal life, I think that I’ve been pretty damn brave. Lack of skydiving and all.
This year I’d like to be more aware and present. Just have and enjoy the moments. Fully. And, as far as hard goals go (it’s scary to write these out, btw. Nothing like a having a blog for accountability), I have plans to produce the short film I wrote, finish writing a book I started, run a half marathon, get employees across NYC healthy, and make TWP a viable source of income.
…So, yeah. It should be a good year.

In the near future, however, I’ll be pounding vitamins like frat boys do shitty beer on game day in hopes that my illness is kicked for good. Because, as you can see, I got some shit to do. :) And I’ll be watching snow fall outside my Brooklyn window, cup of Echinacea tea in hand, thinking about and reveling in the solitude of the quiet snow. And I'll try to appreciate these white washed, nature imposed breaks from the world.
Happy New Year, y’all.


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