The sea wants to kiss the golden shore//
The sunlight warms your skin
All the beauty that’s been lost before
Wants to find us again.*

I woke before my alarm, song lyrics in my head. I heated up a mug of hot water, squeezed a slice of lemon into it, and put my headphones in. From the weathered armchair in the corner of my living room, I watched the sun rise over New York. I watched the clouds turn pink, their color deepening before dispersing, bathing the buildings in gentle light before bidding them goodbye. I watched from my eighth-floor window as a crammed subway train made its way downtown, filled with people going to jobs I didn’t have, leading lives I didn’t live. I watched the day begin, and then, I wrote.

I’m not sure when the shift began. I think it was twelve days earlier, on the way to Montauk, when from outside the window of my eastbound train, from over a bank of snow, I first glimpsed the Atlantic Ocean. And later, on a Long Island beach, when I climbed over more snow to get to sand and stood, watching the waves crash, watching the water recede and return, breathing in cold salt air, that for the first time in a long time, I felt like myself again. There was no grand epiphany, just a quiet voice whispering, “Remember?” And I did. And then I went back inside, to work.

I came to New York to write. And though I’ve been writing every day, I haven’t enjoyed it. The process has been torturous, and slow, and has often felt – to me – without purpose. But as a friend of mine once said, “Sometimes we make the story so big, we can’t tell it.”

When I tell you that writing saved my life, I’m not exaggerating. A few years ago, when I was in the worst part of my depression, when the world felt like it was collapsing around me, writing was the only thing that gave me any relief. I’ve always harbored a secret worry (not so secret any more, I guess) that I feel more than most people. That I feel more than what is normal. So, when real tragedy struck, the emotions were so big they threatened to drown me. That was when I first started experiencing panic attacks. When I couldn’t swallow food without feeling like I was choking. When I struggled to get out of bed.

I should have asked for help. But I didn’t. I wrote. And as I wrote, I learned something. I learned that if I could find a way to articulate my emotions so that other people could feel them too, if I could turn them into real, tangible things in the form of essays or blog posts, if I could get them out of my body and into the world, then they wouldn’t swallow me. Call it sharing my pain in order to survive. I don’t know if it worked, but it sure felt like it did. And it made me feel a hell of a lot less alone.

I don’t write to survive any more, but sometimes I forget that. Sometimes, I’ll be working on an essay or a section of dialogue or a scene in a play, and something will come out that’s intense or unexpected and knock me sideways and I’ll have to stop for a while. And I’m reminded that the thing that brings me the greatest joy can still, occasionally, be dangerous.

When I went out to Montauk, the weather had already begun to turn. By the time I got back to the city, the snow had melted, the streets had cleared, and it was – dare I say – pleasant. I took the subway downtown to look at a theater space, and using Google maps as my navigator, I experienced a feeling that can only be described as relief. There was no headache, no bitter cold. Being outside, walking around, was fun. Were people on the streets actually smiling? In New York?

I guess that’s the thing about winter. The storms can be brutal. But on the other side of them? Beauty. And every so often: moments of pure, unfiltered joy.

Until next time, friends.

*Lyrics from the song “Ordinary Love,” by U2


You’re on the road

But you’ve got no destination

You’re in the mud

In the maze of her imagination

You love this town

Even if that doesn’t ring true

You’ve been all over

And it’s been all over you

It’s a beautiful day

Don’t let it get away


As an ‘80s baby who came of age in the 90’s, I’ve never known life without the music of U2. And I’m OK with that. A lifelong fan of the band – especially their magnetic front man, Bono – their songs are forever entwined with countless formative moments in my life. Whether it was the history teacher that used Sunday, Bloody Sunday to teach us about ‘the troubles,’ in Northern Ireland, the awkwardly sweet high school slow dance to With or Without You, the hostel café in Berlin where strangers from different parts of the world became friends while singing an acoustic version of Running to Stand Still, or driving around the neighborhoods of USC in my friend Ryan’s Volkswagen Jetta, belting the lyrics to Beautiful Day out of the car windows – just because we could – their songs are forever linked to my happy and hopeful past.

And while I’ve been to numerous U2 concerts over the years – each one its own spellbinding– almost spiritual – experience, there is one U2-related event in my life that has eclipsed all the others. It was the time I worked at the Grammy Awards and met Bono – if only for a nanosecond – backstage.

During my sophomore year of college, I interned for an entertainment PR firm in Beverly Hills that shared an office building with the event company in charge of producing the Grammy Awards. The Grammy producer became friendly with my boss, and asked if any of her interns wanted to work the awards ceremony, their main job being to escort the talent through the various backstage pressrooms. Umm, yes. Yes, I did.

This was 2001 – the year that U2 was nominated for a whole slew of awards for their album All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and in particular, their single Beautiful Day. I knew there would be a ton of security around the band, I knew they’d be hard to get to, but I also knew that this was my chance. I was going to meet them, or at least, Bono, if it was the last thing I did.

The week of the Grammys came. At a volunteer orientation, I let the powers that be know what a huge fan I was. Unfortunately, a high profile band like U2 already had ‘people’ to take them through the pressrooms. But, U2 would be doing a sound check at Staples Center the day before the awards ceremony. Would I like to attend that? Oh.My.God. YES.

I’ll never forget walking into that stripped down, empty arena, press pass swinging around my neck, my roommate Kate in tow, both of our eyes wide as saucers as Bono, short in stature but big as life, took the stage and started cracking jokes with the band and the crew. No big deal, just business as usual. The band played Beautiful Day a couple times to make sure everything sounded alright. It did. I could have died right then, one of only a handful of people witnessing a private U2 concert. All in all – it probably only lasted about twenty minutes. But it. Was. Magic.


The actual Grammy ceremony and the nanosecond in which I met Bono, wished him congratulations and shook his hand when the band came backstage after winning the Record of the Year award for Beautiful Day was so impactful that I wrote a performance piece about it. It was a ten-minute monologue that I performed as part of a solo performance workshop during my senior year at USC. I called the piece Moxie, in which I recounted the night of the Grammy Awards through two dueling characters: Sarah (me) and Moxie, my braver, bolder, sassier alter ego who, rather than stammering like some idiot groupie, would have ever so coolly finagled an invite to the after party, hung out with the band, and become Bono’s bestie for life.

Thirteen years after that magical Grammy week, I still battle with the duality that I wrote about in Moxie. There’s the person that I show the world, and there’s the person that I know that I am, deep down inside. Though the disconnect between the two is shrinking as I get older and more confident, my ongoing struggle continues to be to challenge myself to be braver, to take more risks, and to live life on a larger scale. Essentially, to be more like Moxie.

Tomorrow – May 10th – is Bono’s 54th birthday (and perhaps coincidentally – or not – it is also the birthday of my friend and sound check buddy, Kate). So, in tribute to one of my musical idols and to a band that I’ve loved my whole life, I want to publicly say thank you. Thank you for the music. Thank you for providing the soundtrack that has helped shaped my life. Thank you for reminding me that even if I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, that’s OK. And thank you for the following lyric from that award-winning song; a song that’s all about keeping the faith in the face of despair, that no matter how bad things may seem, we are blessed with so much beauty all around us. A song that whenever I’m feeling a bit down, I return to:

See the world in green and blue

See China right in front of you

See the canyons broken by cloud

See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out

See the Bedouin fires at night

See the oil fields at first light

And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth

After the flood all the colors came out

It was a beautiful day

Don’t let it get away

Beautiful day

Touch me

Take me to that other place

Reach me

I know I’m not a hopeless case

What you don’t have you don’t need it now

What you don’t know you can feel it somehow

What you don’t have you don’t need it now

It was a beautiful day

Until next time, friends.


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