Roll the dice.

The other day, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was sitting at my desk, dutifully checking off items on my to-do list, staring vacantly at my computer screen, wishing I were somewhere else. I had awoken extra early to put the finishing touches on a new piece for this blog – something about the importance of focus – but as I read it and read it again, I realized I couldn’t publish it. It felt dishonest, like I was trying too hard to sound like someone else. Someone who – unlike me – had their sh*t together.

And that’s when the existential dread set in. Who am I, anyway? What could I possibly say that’s important, or that will make any difference? Who cares?

The what’s the point of it all feeling rose quickly in my chest and caught in the back of my throat, a dull nausea spinning in my stomach, and I knew I had to get out. Before I could let the to-do list stop me, I slammed my laptop shut, laced up my beat-up running shoes, grabbed my keys and left. I got in my car and drove westward, toward the coast.

I live only seven miles from the ocean, but it’s staggering how little I make time in my schedule to go and see it. Throughout my life, the sea has always had a powerful effect on me. The sense of calm and peace it instills is so profound that I know in my bones I could never live far away from a body of water. When times are toughest – when I’m sad or lost or feel like I’m about to crawl out of my skin – that’s when I crave the sea the most.



I parked my car on San Vicente. Putting my ear buds in, I trudged down the Santa Monica Stairs and then back up the incline that leads to Ocean Avenue and Palisades Park. I jogged through the park, marveling at the dense marine layer still blanketing the coast, even though just a handful of miles inland, my little stucco bungalow was already baking in the 11 a.m. summer sun. The fog shrouding the sea was so thick and white, you couldn’t tell where the horizon ended and the sea began, casting a hazy sort of magic over Palisades Park. I breathed in that fog, the sea, and almost immediately I felt soothed, better.

I let my brain race freely as I jogged along. When I got to the construction zone at the California Incline, I turned around and headed for the entrance to the steep set of stairs at the Montana Beach Overlook. I descended the sandy wooden steps toward Pacific Coast Highway, dodging beachgoers carrying bikes and surfboards. And then back up I went, the burning in my calves intensifying as I climbed faster and faster. Descend and climb. Descend and climb. I pushed myself again and again, the fatigue in my body finally allowing my tired brain to relax and settle into something that felt less like chaotic noise and more like calm, focused thoughts.

As I climbed, I thought about my Dad. Father’s Day had just passed, and his birthday was coming up. If he could see me now, what would he think? I didn’t have to wonder about it, I already knew. He’d tell me that I needed to stop complaining about my “problems” and get to work. Throughout my life, whenever I was slacking off or not doing all I could, I’d dread the inevitable grilling from Dad. He’d always unearth the truth in his lawyerly fashion: straight to the heart of the matter. “Well if you know better Sar, then why don’t you do better?”


The truth is, my recent lack of motivation isn’t rooted in laziness, or lack of ambition. It’s rooted in fear. I’ve been experiencing what you might call a crisis of confidence: blocked in my writing, hating all of my creative ideas, feeling hopelessly stuck and worried that everything I’ve been working so hard on is no good and a waste of my time.

Time. Whenever this “what’s the point of it all?” paralysis sets in, it always comes back to that question of time. What am I doing with it? Am I making the most of it? Is activity A, B, or C really worth my time? I’m ever aware of how precious it is, ever fearful of it slipping through my fingers, even as it does that very thing.

Plenty of things we invest our time in don’t work out. People die. Relationships fail. Jobs end. Does that mean they weren’t worth our time? I don’t think so. It’s all a part of life, experiences we need to have so that we can learn and grow and (hopefully) improve. I suppose that nothing about how we choose to spend our time can really be a waste unless we willfully choose to waste it.

Is that what I’ve been doing? Willfully wasting my time indulging in my own neuroses? What would Dad say? He was an “all in” kind of guy. He wouldn’t let fear or doubt stop him. And as I thought about Dad, I remembered a poem written by Charles Bukowski. It’s called “Roll the Dice” and it’s something I’ve loved for years, returning to it again and again whenever I’ve needed a swift kick in the ass. Here it is:

if you’re going to try, go all the


otherwise, don’t even start.

 if you’re going to try, go all the


this could mean losing girlfriends,

wives, relatives, jobs and

maybe your mind.

go all the way.

it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.

it could mean freezing on a

park bench.

it could mean jail,

it could mean derision,



isolation is the gift,

all the others are a test of your

endurance, of

how much you really want to

do it.

and you’ll do it

despite rejection and the worst odds

and it will be better than

anything else

you can imagine.

 if you’re going to try,

go all the way.

there is no other feeling like


you will be alone with the gods

and the nights will flame with


do it, do it, do it.

do it.

all the way

all the way.

you will ride life straight to

perfect laughter, its

the only good fight

there is.

I left the beach and went home, utterly exhausted. Later, when I re-read those words by Bukowski, I thought about how my Dad spent much of his life as the living embodiment of them. I thought about how I wanted to be more like that. And I thought about how the best way I could honor my father as I approached his birthday was to stop hesitating, stop moving through my life with so much doubt and uncertainty, and simply “roll the dice.”


Easier said than done, but maybe my first step is to spend a lot more time climbing those stairs, breathing in the ocean, clearing out the noise.

Until next time, friends.

The same people with different faces.

Ever since I’ve been changing, ever since I stopped abiding by ‘the rules,’ ever since I’ve been less of whatever it was that I used to be, I keep meeting the same people with different faces, over and over and over again.

I would give anything to encounter someone who’s less predictable, less exactly-what-I-expected, less rule-bound and polite and politic. I’m exhausted by people who say the right thing and do the right thing, are nice enough and kind enough but only just enough, just enough to not really be anything.

Just enough is no longer enough. Not for me. Just enough is cold, impersonal, indifferent. Just enough feels like slowly dying.

I want to know who you are. I want to know what you believe in, what – and who – you are willing to stand behind. I want to know about the one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning, the thing that you’d be willing to risk it all for. I want to know what makes your heart beat, what stops your breath, the things you dream about when you’re awake. And yes, I even want to know your flaws, your struggles, your weakest points. Just don’t ask me to fix them.

Life is happening all around us, and I don’t have any more time for people who are not on fire for their lives. Where are the ones who greet the day with enthusiasm, bursting with passion for what’s next? Where are the ones who don’t rely on words alone – because they know that words are nothing but a false promise if not met by action?

Please be different. Please listen, please be aware, please be present. Please be willing to be wrong, to challenge what’s expected, to voice your opinion proudly, even if it means making enemies. Please embrace magic and wonder, please be engaged, be fascinated, please give a damn about something bigger than yourself. Please be alive. Be alive. Be alive.

Please don’t just tolerate me, or tell me ‘good job,’ or (the worst) ‘I’m sorry.’ Please inspire me, provoke me, even, but please, please, please make me feel something. Make me feel something, and I promise you, I’ll do the same.

Whatever you do, please just don’t be more of those same people with different faces. The ones who are everything to everyone and nothing to no one. Please be something more than that, I am begging you.

I am aching for the world to wake up.


Last Christmas, I thought that I had hit zero. A dark and depressing Christmas where – not knowing where else to turn – I said a desperate prayer to my mother while cradling a box of her ashes (an experience I documented in my blog post, Faith).

In truth, I hadn’t hit it yet. Actual ground zero was one week ago, last Monday morning, when I woke up with the heavy, oppressive realization that I had been lying to myself. That I could no longer live with one foot in my old life, one foot in my new one, trying to have it both ways. I couldn’t forge ahead into the future while still holding on to the security blanket of the past. I needed to finally give it up, all of it.

I miss my old life. I miss my old life, even though I know it’s not for me. I miss the rhythms and the routine. I miss the comfort in the familiar, even though the familiar was often discomfort itself. I miss always knowing what was coming next, even though what was coming next was often stressful, anxiety producing. And I miss the person that I used to live with, even though he made me crazy. Even though we fought. A lot. Even though I cried.

I walked away from my old life because I had to. Because in the midst of all the loss – my mom, my dad, my grandmother, my dear friend – I had also lost myself. I was drowning, and losing so many people that I loved in such tragic, jarring, devastating ways taught me that if I didn’t change, I was going to die too. In fact, I already was dying, but so slowly that I barely even noticed.

In walking away, I left my home, my marriage, my friends (some of whom, I would learn, were only ‘friends’), and a passion project that I am immensely proud of, an ongoing theater festival that I helped to create, that I worked tirelessly on, gave my whole heart to, and that involved collaboration with many people that I dearly love. Walking away from all of those things hurt like hell.

When I hit ground zero one week ago, I realized that in saying goodbye to so much that I anchored my identity to, I’m no longer sure who I am. I’m no longer sure who I am outside of a relationship that defined my twenties and that brought me both enduring joy and profound heartbreak. I’m no longer sure who I am outside of a company that I co-founded, a company that has been my creative home and my sanctuary from the soul-sucking world of Hollywood for the last five years. And I’m no longer sure who I am outside of my role as an exceptionally competent (what’s the point in false humility, it’s true) producer and caretaker-in-chief, the girl with the plan, the one who manages the to-do list, the problem solver, the go-to, the one with an answer for everything.

The girl in this new life no longer has a plan, save to keep going, to keep forging ahead, one foot in front of the other, into the great unknown. She’s a girl alone in a city where it’s easy to be lonely, a city where she’s not sure she belongs anymore. She’s an actress and a producer without a passion project, and a writer with so many projects that she doesn’t know where to focus, only that they’re all driving her crazy with their dizzying, disorienting, the truth is everywhere and it’s fucking painful, thoughts.

How did this girl, how did I, know that I had finally hit zero; that it hadn’t already happened yet? Because I couldn’t stop crying. Not for three whole days. Because anything – going for a run, ordering lunch, brushing my teeth – produced instantaneous, uncontrollable, sobbing. Because I couldn’t get off the floor, not for an entire afternoon. Because in the midst of all of this, I wrote myself a ‘get well soon’ greeting card, filled it with inspirational thoughts that I didn’t really believe, trudged over to the post office, and mailed it to myself. And when the mailman delivered it the next day, I didn’t feel better, as I hoped I would. I couldn’t even bring myself to open the damn thing, I just looked at it, bawling, feeling like an insane person, for fifteen minutes straight.

If this is what letting go feels like, then I fucking hate it. It’s the worst thing you can imagine. Throughout all the loss and the sickness and the death and the crises that I’d been managing over the last two years, I have never felt anything like this. And it’s probably because I’d never stopped, or settled down long enough to allow myself to feel it. I was producing a play when my mom had her nervous breakdown, another one after my dad’s death and during my grandmother’s. And then I went on to tackle producing an ambitious, thirty-minute film noir movie. Through it all, I worked, worked, worked, not because I was (at least, not consciously) trying to avoid feeling things, but because it’s how I deal. It’s what I know how to do. I’m the competent, problem-solving caretaker, remember? The one managing the to-do list.

I’m not a negative person. I’m not a defeatist. The rational part of me knows that the only way out is through, and that I have no choice but to wade through this until I get to the other side. But it sure doesn’t make it any easier. And when you’re desperate and searching, sometimes help can be found in the oddest places. Like Pinterest. While doing some work for my social media job, I happened upon a quote by the poet Mary Oliver. I had been introduced to Mary’s writing years ago, thought occasionally about her line ‘what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?,’ but couldn’t call myself a follower by any stretch of the imagination. But when I came upon her poem The Journey, my heart nearly stopped. It is so beautifully written, so profound, that as a writer I’m incredibly jealous that I didn’t write it. And I’m also overwhelmingly grateful that she did, because it encapsulates everything I’m experiencing right now so perfectly. Here it is:

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice – – -

though the whole house 

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

‘Mend my life!’

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations – – -

though their melancholy

was terrible. It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice,

which you slowly 

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do – – – determined to save

the only life you could save.

I’m not going to lie: I wept for a long time after reading those words. I read them again and again. I’m still reading them. And here’s the thing: I know in my heart that when nothing is sure, everything is possible. I know that there are many doors open to me, and I just need to stop waffling, choose one and walk through it. After all, if I’m not sure who I am anymore, that means I can be anything, right? I could haunt sidewalk cafes in Paris, and finally write my memoir. I could steal away to a village by the sea and forge a simple life. I could pull a Cheryl Strayed and give away all of my personal belongings and go on a months-long, soul-searching, danger-filled adventure. I could become notorious, and invite other writers to write things about me.

The exhilarating and terrifying part of true reinvention is the prospect that someday – in the not too distant future – I may very well look into the mirror and barely recognize the person I’ve become. What if, in starting anew, I lose parts of myself that I really like, never to be found again? But I guess that’s where faith comes in. Faith in myself. Faith in my intuition, faith in my inner voice, a voice that I ignored for far too long while it was screaming at me and stomping its feet, a voice that had been trying to tell me something for a reason.

After crying for three days straight, after barely being able to get off the floor, I woke up last Thursday morning, suddenly, inexplicably, lighter. I felt like getting out of bed, and doing something productive with my day. And so I did. And it felt good. And since last Thursday, I’ve been feeling mostly OK. I think this pattern may continue for a while. Some days I’ll wake up, feeling fine, and some days, not so much. But the important thing is, I’ll wake up. And I’ll continue to go.

So this is it. This is true ground zero. This is where recovery – where reinvention – begins.

It sucks. I fucking hate it.

But it doesn’t appear that I have a choice in the matter. So – onward I go. Into the great unknown.

Until next time, friends.

Make Believe.

I prefer the you that I made up.

I prefer the you that was kind, with a soft sparkle in your eye, a gentle authority in your step.

I prefer the you that charmed me right from the start, that made me feel charming too.

I prefer the you that I laughed with, easily and often.

I prefer the you that made me feel at once safe and secure, held in your gaze.

I prefer the you that made time stand still.

I even prefer the you that broke my heart, because the you that broke it was someone worthy of the break.

The real you, I don’t know what to do with.

The real you is cold and disappointing, sad and shallow.

The real you is careless with my heart, careless with the hearts of others.

When I dream, we’re effortless.  We just have to be, and it’s enough. We just have to be, and it’s everything.

But the real you couldn’t care less about my dreams.

Was the you that I made up ever really you?  Or were you just a figment of my overactive imagination?

If you exist solely in the world of make believe, then I’d rather exist there, too.

Dreaming you up all over again.

Because I prefer the you that I made up.

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