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!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

One on One

We sat on the Upper East Side rooftop. I hated the words coming out of my mouth. I hated the way his eyes looked. They were so wide. And with the lights reflecting from the skyline backdrop, it was like the whole city fit inside them.

“I just...I don’t see us going much further.”

The scenario affected me more than I expected. It’s been a while since I’ve so tangibly hurt someone’s heart. And with my very visceral knowledge of the feeling he was experiencing, it was horrible. For us, both.

Dating is hard. It’s a convoluted game with many players and few rules where hardly anyone wins. We’re all walking around loaded weapons. The battlefield, tables and bar stools in dark bars, candle light softening our hardened features like an Instagram filter on real life. Sharing bits and pieces of ourselves, guarding where we feel we have to. Fighting wars with ghosts of people past, falling into the middle of civil war conflicts that go far back in a person’s personal history. And finding ourselves caught in the crossfire of shrapnel insecurities and scars left over from wars we never started, paying reparations for predecessors we never knew.

You get to a point where if it really matters, it’s rare that dating leads to both parties walking away unscathed. But I guess that’s just the thing of it — within the experimentation of the science of “Us” and “We,” if no one is getting hurt, then it’s just two people killing time in a space of uninspired breathing and mediocre feeling.

Recently, while meeting for lunch, an old friend who was going through a very tough break-up paused, then asked, “How do you spend so much time alone?” I was mid-chew. Almond crusted chicken and kale, a perfect bite at a very imperfect time. Suddenly she was fighting back tears, and I realized — this question was why she asked to see me. Specifically. Me.

 I’ve been single for six years as of this month. I know exactly, because my life fell apart and I found myself packing up its broken pieces and moving them to Brooklyn on October 31, Halloween, 2009. Six years ago.

As a woman in my early 30’s, I frequently get people asking why I’m still single. They seem to think it’s as easy and arbitrary as picking a ripe avocado at the supermarket. I often get commentary from acquaintances on the years my eggs are most viable. Condolences rather than congratulations when my best friends are getting married. And, it’s also fairly usual that people assume that I’m resentful of my friends with growing families. ...And, it sucks, because even if I try to disagree, everyone looks at me with pity, assuming that I’m just trying to convince myself out of unpleasant feelings. But, I can honestly say that my uterus is relieved when I hand back over my nephews, and some of the happiest times I’ve ever known are from the past few years, celebrating my friends’ marriages.

I’m not saying that I don’t eventually want those things, and I’m certainly not saying that I never get lonely — my most recent attack was one night while trying desperately to open a particularly tight Kombucha bottle cap. It’s amazing how something as banal as a trendy bottle of probiotics can provide such a poignant commentary on life... But people talk about loneliness like it’s leprosy. Everyone’s afraid to be left alone with their inner voice for fear of what one might hear.

When my friend asked me that very direct and affecting question, after some thought and fully chewing my paleo chicken finger, I came to the conclusion that I actually feel very lucky that I’ve found comfort in being able to sit with myself. I’ve had the time to ask myself questions, prove and disprove my own answers. Being alone has been so useful. Now, no matter how much distraction comes into my world, I know that my own voice will always be the loudest in the room.

In these six years of dating, I have been through a lot. I’ve been raw and exposed. I’ve been blunt sometimes, and I’ve been shady occasionally, too. I’ve been lied to and taken advantage of. I’ve been grabbed at, belittled, and disrespected. Forced into things I didn’t want to do. I’ve been out with guys with OCD, and Tourette’s, and fetishes. I’ve heard about ex-wives, recently-ex-girlfriends, and children left in other cities. I, myself, have cried, fairly uncontrollably, in a stranger’s kitchen. I’ve made good decisions, and plenty of bad ones. And I’ve been mortally embarrassed on more than one occasion...

I’ve swiped and matched and charmed and winked. I’ve been misrepresented by a fake profile as a lesbian on a popular dating app. I’ve watched as a guy talked to his alarm clock... and she talked back. I’ve conversed over more meals and cocktails than I care to think about, and sent more texts than some people probably do in a lifetime. I’ve said incredibly tough things at incredibly tough times — even gotten the nerve to share a few famous choice words with someone after years of tucking them far away, only to find out that he couldn’t say them back. I’ve also been doted on, and loved hard, and pursued intensely. I’ve wounded more than a few hearts, unfortunately, too.

And because of all the creatures I’ve known, conversations had, texts deciphered, and kombucha bottles I couldn’t open... I have learned. Now, I read people less like a novel, and more like a children’s book. Pictures more important, actions telling truths that words try to cover. I’ve developed an immense sense of compassion and resilience, and incredible skills for communication — I can see now that six years ago when my relationship disintegrated in a midtown living room that my ex and I were trying to form sentences out of a language we didn’t know yet. Like tourists, we were reduced to translating through hand gestures and shoulder shrugs, trying to make clarity out of confusing and overwhelming feelings.

I’ve also had time to observe. Take myself out of the context of another and just watch. I see how we’re all so enthralled with the excitement of beginnings. We get blinded by the start, then sort of muddle through the mess of the rest. Everyone thinks single equals lonely, but it seems to me that coupledom and the solo-sentiment aren’t exactly mutually exclusive. I see people every day take their “significant others” for granted. I listen as they speak to each other as if they are anything but significant. Touch each other like they’ve forgotten that there’s a person inside that familiar skin. Fall into a rhythm that removes all magic from something that I know is anything but ordinary. But as someone that, for a long time, has only known perpetual beginnings, I wonder if I’m being na├»ve to think that there’s magic, too, in the work in the middle.

I guess I won’t know until I know.

But what I do know, now, is that a relationship doesn’t automatically equal happiness. I won’t let fear dictate decision - not be too scared of change that I’m not open, and not too scared of being alone that I’m okay with just okay. The immediate goal is just to minimize the casualties along the way. And until I meet the work in the middle, I’m appreciating all of the varied reasons why people are so enthralled with the beauty of beginnings.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Life's Lesson

It was this weird rush. Like everything that I wasn't was suddenly brought to my eyes all at one time. There I stood in the store, looking for a gift for a close friend. I wanted to buy her everything - she would look so cute in that and that and that... I wanted to buy something for myself. Replace my jeans from six years ago that I recently had to retire because holes now made wearing them an illicit act. The store became a sad metaphor for my current feelings about my life. Bringing to light a host of things I want and need, but can't quite seem to get...

I left the store feeling like these shortcomings had a solid grip on my ribcage. Thumb and forefinger of "nope" and "not yet" wrapped tightly around my torso. I stepped out into the sun. In stark contrast to my ripped denim, the midtown rush of expensive suits and uncomfortable heels was on hyper speed around me. Midtown was not my usual spot, but I had been running around from thing to thing. Entrepreneur/actor/girl-just-trying-to-make-it-work... I had been them all that day.

I sat down on a step at the side entrance to Radio City, and just watched Manhattan unfold in successful mechanism. The people passing each other like the teeth of well-oiled gears. I felt like a glitch in the machine. A mistake in the assembly line of city-life.

Recently I've been tired. Literally and figuratively. My legs are definitely moving, but gaining traction is (and, for a long time, has been) tricky -- both professionally and personally. Part of my anxiety is time. Somehow it's September. I feel like months have been stolen. They say that time heals, but there's a lot of hurt that can come from the pressure brought on by the tug of a ticking clock. It morphs things, too. Time swallows history and digests it into bits of memory and broken down truth. Half real life, half opinion. A bit of imagination peppered in at the end just for flavor.

There's a very specific feeling in my bones around this time of year. The onset of the fall brings out left over vibration that's stuck in my DNA from when I was young. An odd, and no longer applicable, mix of back-to-school excitement and nervous energy. I can't help but feel like the walls of pencils and Trapper Keepers at the drugstore are still somehow meant for me. It's time to pick out which design I might want on my 1st period folder...

The same day as that fateful midtown shopping trip, I ran into a girl I hadn't seen in a very long time. Well, not in person anyway. Apparently our social media upkeep was quite on point. After a hug and some pleasantries, she said excitedly, "So, you're doing amazing! You're killing it!"
I was very confused. I knew where her information was coming from, but I've always tried to remain so authentic online. Not falling into the trap of social media's tendency to create false gods. With a smile, cheeks ruddy from embarrassment, I said, "Ohhh. (*awkward laugh*) No, not really." Then, like a living resume, she proceeded to list off my various accomplishments from recent months - a few commercials, published writing, assistant directing my first film, running a business, taking up spoken word poetry... I mean, her list was all true, but she didn't seem to understand that none of these things are making for a wild success. Definitely all parts of my life. But, the same life that earlier brought me down in the middle of a buzzing town with feelings of inadequacy.

A few days after the girl listed my activities in scarily accurate succession, I opened up Facebook to a few new messages. They were all pretty random. People that I hadn't heard from in years that had somehow found my posts. After some words on their connection to what I had written, they all ended their messages imploring me to keep writing. Some were direct, "Please. Don't stop writing."

A few days after that, a homeless-looking man stopped me mid-run on my way back from yoga. It was early, and while usually I would have just waved politely and kept going, for some reason, his motioning hands slowed my feet. I de-earbudded and the music faded. He sat on a bench, his bare feet covered with a cloth. He had a thick, old school Italian accent and claimed to be a famous painter. After some talk about art and history, he cordially invited me to his birthday party on September 26. I smiled, thanked him for the invite and said I'd do my best to make it. He cocked his head, looked at me weird, like he knew me from some distant past. "Hm." He said. " Don't worry. You're... going to do okay." It was random. My eyes narrowed. "See you at my birthday." He concluded nonchalantly as he leaned back on the bench. "It's going to be a damn fun party." He started to hum letting me know the conversation was over. I said goodbye and walked away completely confused. But also completely covered in an odd sense of calm.

A few days later I was venting to my mother on the phone. Explaining my continued frustration with my life's choices and the power that persistence was holding over me. In the middle, she came out with, "You can't quit." Definitive. The words sounded unfamiliar. Like a curse word she should have been scolded for. I have a pretty decent vocabulary, but this was one word I didn't recognize. And I didn't even realize it, but it was that exact one whose definition had been knocking around in my head for the first time in my life. The Q-word: "Q*it."

I had actually been thinking about quitting. About what would happen if I stopped building this wellness business I've worked so hard on. Stopped acting and performing. Stopped writing these posts. Stopped being so open about my inner-most things. What if it all just went away?...

But... between the above interactions and a few other similar ones, it seems that the world is talking. And who am I to challenge the world? With my thoughts thick with self-doubt and frustration, and the loud noise of inner voice clamoring inside my head, the world is telling me that it's time to shut the hell up. To listen. Like coded information, find the right station, dial in so that the words come in clear. The season's change is here, and the Pollack of freckles on my skin is fading like memories of this summer's events. It's a good time to change perspective. See problem as opportunity. Dig in my heels.
2015-09-22-1442948327-7406151-work.PNGThe starting point for everything is where you are. The past, I guess, should be used like plans found in a dusty attic that speak to potential, but are not a blueprint for the future. The work is the point -- in both the professional and the personal. The words typed, the dates with boys (even the ones that "aren't"), the meetings with potential clients... Life is moments - the perpetual in-between. I need to reinstate faith that if I focus on that, all these points of pixilation will somehow come together to bleed into a recognizable picture.

I guess that back to school feeling never leaves us for a reason -- life is the lesson. We're all still just scared kids sitting in the back of the classroom, sure that everyone else is smarter, afraid that if we're called on, our lack of answers will prove it.

When it comes down to it, I may not know the answer, but I still absolutely do have a response. And maybe it's not really about that anyway. Instead it's about the work, about keeping my eyes on my own paper, and persisting in raising my hand and asking more and more questions.

Monday, July 13, 2015

When Things Don't Just Suck, They Bite

It's that feeling that the world is vicious. Like in a scary movie, trees and cityscapes come to life with grimaces and cackling laughter. Life suddenly loses its sense of humor and just spilling your morning coffee is an act of God against you. I was feeling like I was bleeding energy. Giving it out at random and leaking it from my pores. I needed to stop. Keep some things to myself for a while.

Recently, every time I sit to write, I get angry at my fingertips. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I don't want to relive the story I have to tell. Writing means not only going there, but sinking my feet in, steeping and assessing the position of my toes.

It's hard to publically admit, but the truth is that life has kind of sucked recently. 2015 will not go down in history as my year. And I know that I'm the girl that finds an upside in the murky haze of shitty days, and I'm supposed to be the girl that has it all together. But what happens when I'm not? When I'm hyperventilating on the phone with my mother, and the world gets mean, and I feel like my hands are too small to deal with the hugeness of it all? What happens when my puzzle changes shape and all of my jagged pieces no longer fit all that "together."

So, I could go into detail explaining to you about starting the year heartbroken and deceived, and maybe more upset than I've been in a long time. I could drone on about feeling heavy from that, when I suddenly learned that I had to move from the safety of my apartment. I could write about having less than a month to sift through a ridiculous amount of stuff that belonged to ghosts of roommates past. And I could ramble about the incredible task of packing up my life and moving, all on my own.

I could pour over how I finally wanted to get settled in my new place and about how I hoped for a fresh start and new energy, only to have rats move into my walls and keep me from sleep night after night. And, trust me, I could GO ON about the subsequent horrific infestation of mites that then descended on my pristine new bedroom when aforementioned rodents died in the sheetrock beside my bed. And I could explain how I tried to keep my sense of humor through it all. How I tried my best to laugh through tears while dealing with my uncaring new management company. And how, for my own sanity, I tried to crack the hint of a smile from a socially impaired exterminator, a Hasidic entomological savant (he was a tough crowd...).

2015-07-13-1436803176-8778748-exterminator.JPGI could paint the picture quite nicely of my entire body bleeding, and being peppered in mite bites, and feeling like sandpaper had been taken to my limbs, stomach, neck. I could elaborate on the PTSD associated with having tiny bugs crawling all over my skin. I could tell you about sleeping on the couch for two weeks and living out of a plastic bag, and about having a team chemically bomb my new apartment. About having to wash everything I own in piping hot water, which inevitably ruined a fair amount of my wardrobe. About stressing over of the cost of it all, and trying to keep up with work and life... and I could write pages and pages about how the weight of it all on my lungs made it impossible to take in enough air. And about finally, finally reaching the point where it all fell apart. Where I fell apart...

I could talk about all of those things. Because they're all true.

But I think you get the point. And beyond that, really, what's the point? The pragmatist in me assesses the "why me" mentality and I see nothing but a dead end, with a winding road to get there. And while recently, I swear, I've felt like an unwelcome visitor in my own life, I'm pretty determined not to stay in that uncomfortable space for long. They say healing is an art, and no one has ever accused me of not being creative.

But the funny thing is that up until now, I've thought that fighting and feigning strength was the way to do it. I've overextended myself with challenges, expecting things from my mind and body that I would never ask of other people, unwilling to accept this cosmic call for rest. And as it turns out, it seems that never wanting to be the girl that breaks is a recipe for shattering.

I think back to when I was sitting on a stoop a few doors down from my Driggs Avenue apartment just before moving day. Coffee hot in my hands, my eyes were sleepy in a way that sleep couldn't fix. And, I remember watching as strangers picked up things from the box I set in front of my door, a sign slapped to it that read: "Free shit. Mom doesn't want me anymore." It was my subtle nod to the potential new owners that the belongings came from somewhere warm -- someone.

A vase. A pot. A picture frame...I watched as the passersby would roll the items around in their hands. Assess their value. Look for defects. Tuck the chosen ones away under their arms with a satisfying raise of the eyebrows, or set them back in the box, unimpressed. It was an odd exercise watching strangers appraise my belongings. Out in the open. On a corner I'd called home for a number of years. It was terribly unsettling. But I knew it was a necessary step in the conscious uncoupling of me from my usual.

And I wonder -- maybe I should quit fighting. Holding onto things so tightly and just allow them to run their course. Maybe I need to let it be hard. Get overwhelmed. Listen. Accept the lesson. Remember that sometimes tears are the only thing that can clean the slate.

So while I have wanted to keep my internal things internal, writing this admission to you was step one. I needed to get my fingers moving again, so that maybe my feet can follow.

During my move, I shed so much material stuff. And now it's time to look at those things less tangible. Thoughts, habits, people... roll those around in my hands for a while like those strangers on the street. Assess things with fresh eyes. Rodent mites aside, what else in my life can I let go of that's eating me alive.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Keeping the Faith

She walked up to me. I hadn’t seen her in so long. I’m sure that if it weren’t for social media, she wouldn’t have even remembered who I was. Her hands wrapped around my upper arms. One of those intimate moves between almost-strangers that somehow is perfectly okay. Then, in the most generous and warm words, she explained how inspired she was by my writing. …I think I probably laughed awkwardly. I’m not sure, I blacked out for a second. Completely blown away by how raw and just plainly nice her words were.

I’m always so amazed that anyone other than my Mother reads anything I have to type, and when I’m reminded that these words go out into the ether and reach real lives being lived, it’s a phenomenon that I will never fully understand. But I will surely never, ever take it for granted.

Her words came at an interesting time. I was feeling buried. Far, far less than inspirational, I was feeling overwhelmed. And very, very small.

My mental state recently has followed the chill and energy of this crowded town during the winter season - where the streets are lonely with hurried boots and there’s no time for eye contact. Stinging eyes and frozen fingertips top priority. My inner self taking cues from layers upon layers of wool and down, covering and hiding. Curling up to just endure.

I haven’t written in quite some time. There are times when it’s best not to publish biographical materials as they’re unfolding. It’s better to wait until you gain perspective. When you’re in the middle of it all, you catch shards of truth and emotion as they come whizzing by, but it’s not until after the dust settles and you step outside that you can really see. And, it’s not that you aren’t still completely covered in debris, but at least at that point you can look back at the scene and see the place in which your body once stood.

Without going into too much detail, after nearly six months of instilling trust in someone, I was faced with some harsh realities. I had taken a leap, allowing myself to feel things that I wasn’t even sure I was capable of. But finally, late at night, with tangled limbs, and conversation rife with disappointment and hard decisions, it came to an end. I was hurt. And very tired.

Add that to the roller coaster of my precarious living situation – I’m left scrambling to find a roommate or risk getting kicked out of my apartment (which is an inevitability in the coming months anyway). Not to mention, there’s nothing like fretting over a three bedroom Brooklyn apartment at the age of 31 to make you reevaluate your life choices…

Every listicle on the internet wants to reduce life to numbered bullet points and linear moves. Make you believe that you can find love in 5 easy steps. Simplify happiness to 8 mantras. …How patronizing. No one seems to be breaking down 3 simple steps to kicking a crack habit or little known tricks to birthing a baby. Not that I have experience in either, but I’m guessing that that’s because those seem to be fairly hard and complicated things to do. And as someone who lives a real, and sometimes hard and complicated life, I know that there are decisions, and choices, and acts of extreme bravery that no listicle can lay out.

Life is … a lot. Every so often, I feel like the last kid to be picked at recess thrown into an Olympic level dodgeball game. And despite my best efforts, sometimes doubt infiltrates - accomplishments aren’t big enough, relationships aren’t anything enough, work not successful enough, life not…”enough” enough. Thoughts linger longer than necessary or helpful. And I worry. While the common idiom is not to “dwell in the past,” I think the real trick is to plan for the future, but not to dwell there either.

One cold and very early morning recently, completely taken by these insecurities, I came upon my Grandmother’s journal. I’m not sure what led me to pull the binder out for a read. Just one of those things. I remembered seeing it – the photographic memory of the black binding on my shelf. I didn’t read the whole thing, her handwriting was curvy and scrolling in a way that makes my eyes cross. A headache to ensue.

It was found in her room right after she passed. Tucked away. No one knew she had been keeping it. She was a religious woman – Catholic to be precise. Irish Catholic to be precise-er. And while I’m not the Churchiest of girls, I do believe the Universe must have known I needed the read.

She wrote word after word, explaining her unexplainable faith in things she can’t see. Her acceptance and strength in knowing that something else knew better. That there was a plan. And while I’ve never really believed in a plan, I do believe in the power of choice and in finding opportunity everywhere and in everything. Even in discouragement, and even in a hurting heart.

Unlike my Grandmother, I’ve never been a religious person. Chalk it up to my love of science, or my Jewish father, whatever the case, the only reaction church elicits is hives and irrational anxiety. But my faith, it seems, does appear to be just as strong as hers. A place of quiet knowledge inside that comes with practice and with intent. So, for lack of a more graceful mixed metaphor that she would approve of – it seems that when the shit hits the fan, there’s really no better time to stop and smell the roses. Take inner stock and be grateful. I guess it means we’re really awake. How nice it is that we feel so much. How lucky we are to have things that matter.

In the middle of working on this post, I went to Yoga hoping I could sweat and Namaste my way out of a hectic, buzzing mind. Afterwards, I walked up Broadway, yoga mat strapped to my back, snow boots making my gait a bit clumsier than usual. As I came upon the corner of Union Square, suddenly, like lightning strike, I was slammed in the head. Hard. I stumbled. Almost hit the ground but caught my footing just in time. My eyes saw starry fuzz. I was in shock. I held my hand to my head, still burning from the impact. It was wet and cold. I felt the drip of melting snow roll down my face.

I looked around for someone to commiserate with. But there was no one. No one stopped. Nothing changed. The world kept going, like absolutely nothing had happened... Upset and confused, I yelled, “What the fuck!” It was out of character, for sure, like I had temporary Tourette’s, but somehow it came so naturally. And, sure enough, a handful of people stopped dead, mid hurry, to stare. They looked at me like I was let loose from an asylum. I started laughing (which didn’t help my case), but I was taken by the fact that a random avalanche in the middle of Manhattan is apparently less conspicuous than a 5 foot 2 yoga nerd screaming the F word on 13th and Broadway.

I bowed my head. Smiled to myself. I guess it’s true what they say - It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react that really matters. It seems inspiration doesn’t come from being unaffected. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It comes from being honest about all of that damn debris.

There are no quick fixes. No steps simple enough. No listicle long enough. I’m just keeping an eye out for falling debris, and trying my best to keep the faith. After all even Hail Mary’s are thrown with a background of experience and wholehearted hope.