Words: a Love Story.

I’ve been writing my whole life, but until recently I never really considered myself a writer. Not like that. Writing was just something that I did. Whether they were high school essays, papers for a college journalism class, or the plays and short films I wrote when I first started acting, writing was always just something that came naturally and was fun to do, but nothing I ever took too seriously.

That all started to shift about three years ago. I’d been writing Extra Dry Martini for just a couple of months – something I started doing for fun – when my entire life fell apart. I’ve written in great detail about loss on this blog and I don’t feel the need to rehash it, but suffice it to say that the spring of 2012 through the spring of 2013 was a very difficult year for me. A very difficult year, the ramifications of which are still reverberating throughout my now very different life. When I finally came up for air and felt brave enough to write about it, I published a piece on this blog about my experiences entitled The Lost Year. And from there on out, my writing was different.

So it was that writing became less of a hobby and more of a lifeline. In the last year and a half, writing has been not only my most reliable creative outlet, but it has been my therapy. I would no sooner give it up than I would give up breathing, and in fact, I’ve often wondered if I were to give it up, if I would still be able to go on breathing.

When I feel lost or adrift, getting all those thoughts and feelings down on the page is sometimes the only thing that brings any relief. And while I don’t really believe that you can “get it all out,” there is something liberating about being able to wrap my mind around a moment, around pain or sorrow, around joy, around love, and to articulate it in such a way that it’s no longer a swirl of chaos in my brain, but something more ordered and easier to understand. Once on the page, with the words and thoughts at a slightly safer distance, I can read them with a measure of objectivity and think, maybe this thing has a little less power to hurt me than it used to.

I write out of a burning desire to transform the sad, empty spaces within me into art and in doing so, transcend the parts of me that still feel broken. And while I cherish the time I’ve spent absorbed in thought putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, I sometimes wonder if all the hours I’ve invested in crafting pretty sentences have left me less able than before to say the things that need to be said when it comes to face to face interaction with real, live people.

At this moment, I find myself juggling two projects that will soon bridge that gap: a gap between the solitude I’ve been spending in my own little creative laboratory and the big, bad outside world. The first project is a play. In July, I’m going to stand on a stage and talk about some of the very personal, very vulnerable things I’ve been writing about on this blog as part of a solo performance workshop called (appropriately) Barenaked Angels. For the first time, I’m going to say some of the things I’ve been writing down out loud, in front of an audience. Yikes.

The second project is my screenplay, a project and process I’ve detailed in earlier posts like Putting off tomorrow and Little steps. Big steps. First steps. As I continue to work through the second draft and push toward a looming deadline to hand over scripts to actors for the first table read, I am discovering more and more that the parts of the story that aren’t yet working are the parts where I haven’t delved deeply enough into the main character’s hopes, dreams, and flaws. In other words, it’s an autobiographical story without quite enough autobiography in it.

Words are seductive. There is something exquisitely satisfying about capturing a moment on paper and thinking, yes, that’s exactly what happened, how I felt about it, and why it mattered. Words have an incredible capacity to illuminate a life. But in the end, words are not life, and one cannot live by words alone. I’m so grateful for what writing has given me – for the way it has sheltered me through pain and has allowed me to connect with the hearts and minds of other writers through this blog. I will always, always be writing. But the writer’s life is also about finding balance. A writer needs to experience the world in order to write about it, and I haven’t been doing nearly enough of that lately. So now it’s time for me to take the next step: to take the lessons I’ve learned and not just write better, but live better too.

Until next time, friends.


It’s an early evening in late April in Los Angeles. I’ve been running in La Cienega Park, around and around that dusty dirt track, spurred on by pop music pulsating through my ear buds and the excitement of a little league baseball game nearby. The sounds that echo through the spring evening – the crack of the bat smacking the baseball and launching it into the outfield, children’s voices cheering, parents clapping – give me an extra spark of energy to keep going, to keep running, to keep pushing my body forward.


I finish my last lap and leave the track. Tired and sweaty, I run across Olympic Boulevard and turn down Alfred Street, slowing to a jog and then to a fast walk as I enter one of my favorite enclaves in this historic South Carthay neighborhood. iTunes skips to the next song – The Lady is a Tramp – and suddenly everything slows down. As Sinatra croons into my ear buds, I take in the soft blue watercolor sky melting into pale yellow, the amber rays of the waning sun casting their golden glow across the tiled rooftops of stately Spanish style homes, the statuesque palms, the immaculate gardens carefully landscaped with delicately blooming roses and cactus flowers. I feel my steps getting easier, almost as though I’m gliding down the sidewalk, and the air rises in my chest and catches somewhere near the back of my throat in a sharp tingle. Water springs to my eyes and though I don’t cry, I am overwhelmed with emotion as I realize that everything in this moment is perfect. It’s as though I’ve been transported back to a Los Angeles of 60 or 70 years ago, frozen in time, nestled away on this perfect street, at the perfect time of day, with the perfect song creating my soundtrack.

I want to hold on to this moment – and how I feel in it – forever, but even as I’m aware of it, I know it’s almost gone. I think about my Dad. There’s a word he would have used to describe this type of evening: halcyon. It means peaceful, tranquil, carefree. In this one moment, I am all of those things. And I’m also grateful: grateful for the memory of a word that comes to me like magic at a moment when time seems to stand still.


And just like that, traffic starts buzzing down the street, the sky grows darker as early evening inches toward night, and the moment is gone. And I head home.

For most of my life, I’ve been moving too fast to notice moments like these. Always in a hurry to get to the next big thing. Ever looking forward to the next exciting date on my calendar, the next time I’d get on a plane to travel somewhere new, the next creative project on the horizon, the next vacation or holiday. Ever looking forward as I skipped over all the “boring” day-to-day moments in the process.

And then when my life started to unravel and people I loved started getting sick and dying, all I wanted was to be on the other side of it. I wanted so badly for things to be the way they used to be, to feel “normal” again, that I threw myself at life as hard as I could. I pushed myself to “get through it” by working hard and setting ambitious goals. My intentions were good – realizing how short and precious life was, I was driven by an internal fire to make the most of it – but my efforts were futile. I learned the hard way that life unfolds as it will, despite my stubborn refusal to accept what it had in store for me, and despite all of my best laid plans.


I’m a control freak by nature, and learning to let go has been difficult for me. But little by little, I’m getting there. I’ve started paying closer attention to the here and now, and I’ve become more comfortable living there. And I’ve started realizing the truth in these words from Julia Cameron’s beautiful book “The Artist’s Way:”

It may be different for others, but pain is what it took to teach me to pay attention. In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me. Each moment, taken alone, was always bearable. In the exact now, we are all, always, all right.

I am no longer in a place where the future is too terrifying to contemplate, and the past, while painful, is getting easier for me to remember. Yet it is still the present moment, most of the time, where I feel most OK. There’s a freedom that comes from not trying so hard, from not pushing so desperately to make my life conform to some idea of what I thought it was supposed to be, and instead, to let it be what it is. I still crave adventure and travel to far-flung locales. I still aim my arrow toward the challenge of tackling the loftiest goals. I still want the big moments in life, with all of their excitement and (sometimes) heartbreak. But in between all of those things, there are many, many smaller things: the small moments that make up a day, and that make up a life. Moments like catching the perfect sunset at the perfect time of day in the perfect place to witness it.

Those little moments are worth holding on to. Those little moments – for the moment – are where my happiness resides.

Until next time, friends.



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