Leaving Los Angeles For Good

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When I was a kid, the first thing I wanted to do after graduating high school was leave my small town and move to a big city. Los Angeles was the closest city to me so it seemed only natural that I would end up there. In 2009, I moved to the L.A. area and settled in for a few years, two jobs, and a college graduation later. This past December I started to really question whether I wanted to stay in L.A. or not. I loved so much of the city but the one thing I couldn’t get past were the people. It seemed so hard to meet really good people who were warm and caring. I’d met a few of them but they were so far away from me that even though we still considered ourselves living in L.A., it was an hour plus drive to see each other. I think the warm, caring types stay hidden from the rest of the city and as a result I met mostly self-centered, fake people who had a really hard time being honest about themselves and life. L.A. wasn’t where I found a good confidant. It was where I discovered the city was cutthroat and you had to hide your secrets from people who would use them against you.

Being a small-town girl, this wasn’t entirely foreign to me. I dealt with the Mean Girls of my high school and junior high while growing up. I didn’t confide in everyone. But after I moved away and joined a cult, I returned for college and reconnected with some really great friends. Friends I could tell anything to and friends who were supportive of me. When I moved to L.A., I did so to start my career as a professional writer. I didn’t realize I would miss my friends so much, but every year I was gone, the ache of not having them to talk to and share life experiences with really hurt.

I saw some of those friends this weekend and on the drive home with one of them last night, my heart felt like it wasn’t dead anymore.

 Leaving Los Angeles For Good

In my time in L.A., I’d forgotten just how awesome it was to have friends you can be honest with and can tell things to. Friends who see the best in you and support you no matter what. I’m crying a little just thinking about my talk last night and what it felt like to have my good friends back in my life.

It’s a great feeling.

It’s nice to know that I don’t have to worry about them using me or pushing me down to get ahead. When I have issues with falling in love with men who aren’t good for me, they don’t judge me and tell me I’m stupid. They don’t tell me to get over it. They listen and if they can’t say anything else, they say “I’m sorry, friend.”

Links I Love: Read Whatever The Fuck You Want

Okay, if you’re like me, you’ve probably read nine dozen sleep articles on the internet. For years, I was convinced I had sleep apnea or something interrupting my sleep, causing my fatigue. Pro-tip, it was actually depression–not interrupting my sleep so much as it was causing me to sleep more and feel fatigued during the day. I’m linking this article on how to get better sleep not because I sleep poorly, but because of one simple reason: Olive. Yes, my dog. She woke me up at 4:30 am today and then again at 6:30. (Unrelated, if you ever get a small dog, also get a doggy door and also make sure you have a fence to keep her in and make sure you don’t live where there are coyotes. Otherwise, you are the doggy potty-time babysitter. It’s an awful job.) Sleep experts do recommend you shut out all pets to your bedroom while you sleep and with animals like mine, I’m pretty sure they’re right. Also, from this article I learned that sex hormone production happens in the morning. Which makes total sense if you’ve ever known a man.

This year I’ve been freelancing a lot. I moved away from the corporate world and I’ve been writing, editing, blogging and exploring my options. I’ve gone on interviews at some really great places, but what’s really been on my mind (for about 2+ years) is started a legitimate business, complete with actual employees, or at the very least a business plan and some business cards. I do baby steps. This year I did some of that (definitely wrote out a business plan) but I also considered myself just a freelancer, meaning if I needed to work a day job, I could. If I needed to expand, I could, but I didn’t rely on that. Anyway, there’s nothing holding me back from expanding and from starting a company, other than myself, just like with starting this blog. Before I dive in to something so large as starting my own company, I always, always do research and over think everything. Sometimes it helps to have some practical advice on what to do as you’re researching and over thinking and how to actually get the ball rolling from idea/dream to living reality. I stumbled upon this article about how to actually do the stuff you say you want to do and found it immensely helpful. YAbookcovers Links I Love: Read Whatever The Fuck You Want Several weeks ago there was a really tedious article about why adults should be embarrassed to read Young Adult fiction. It infuriated me, because as an English major, I feel people should be encouraging everyone to read whatever the fuck they want. What matters is that someone is reading; it’s not our job to judge. I think the drivel was posted on Slate. Slate posts all the shitty opinions these days and I’ll admit their strategy is a good one: Post the most absurd post about a topic that people will be infuriated about for weeks and watch your traffic drive straight through the roof. Or as other people call it, link baiting. (It worked. The article was shared over 80,000 times.) Or the other alternative is the Huffington Post strategy of “side boob.” In plain terms, Huffington Post will publish photos of celebrities with so much of the side of their boobs showing, it drives people to click, hoping they’ll see…well, full on nipple. Works every time. Anyway, the Slate nonsense infuriated a bunch of people, but I really liked BuzzFeed’s reaction piece, which didn’t focus on why Slate’s piece sucked and mostly focused on why reading is so goddamned fun and why you should read like a teen again if you want to. After all, most of us started enjoying books as children and young adults. Why not revisit the absolute best types of books that made us happy? Or, read whatever the fuck you want. In protest of Slate, I’m going to start working my way through Anne of Green Gables and other books I loved as a kid. Want to join me? Use the hashtag #TheGirlsWhoRead.

On that note, Judy Blume says read whatever the fuck you want. GODDAMMIT. Okay, she didn’t add the last word (or the f-word), but I did because it shows I’m emphatic. Exclamation point! Exclamation point! Exclamation point! It provides emphasis. I’m SERIOUS, motherfucker. Yes, yes. I hated the Slate article that much that I’m driven to lower myself to profanity. Except that women who curse kickass, in my opinion. Enough about me, let’s hear the lovely Blume in her own words:

A lot of people worry much too much about what their children are reading [...] A lot of people will want to control everything in their children’s lives, or everything in other people’s children’s lives. If a child picks up a book and reads something she has a question about, if she can go to her parents, great. Or else they will read right over it. It won’t mean a thing. They are very good, I think, at monitoring what makes them feel uncomfortable. If something makes them feel uncomfortable they will put it down…I say go and read. Read what you like to read.

Translation: Read whatever the FUCK you want.

A few years ago I started collecting links I love to share with my readers and Facebook fans. It’s fun for me to do and it also gives you something to browse through during your Monday. Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!

 Photo source.

A Foodies Dream: I Owe It All To Spaghetti

Sophia Loren greatly said: “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” 

Did Sophia mean her thighs or her boobs? Either way, this week we’re following in Sophia’s footsteps by visiting the good old fashioned spaghetti plate that we all know and love. There’s nothing more comforting than a hot plate of spaghetti. It reminds me of childhood–when I could slurp my noodles and blow bubbles in my milk without getting funny looks from people.

Oh wait, I always got funny looks for that.

Before we get into the recipe you guys are here for, I have to tell you about one of the best Italian restaurants in Los Angeles. It’s called Palermo and it’s located in the Los Feliz neighborhood of L.A.

palermo A Foodies Dream: I Owe It All To Spaghetti

Palermo is one of the most understated restaurants in the neighborhood but you have to go. Try their pizza rossa (pictured below) and then email me to tell me thank you for sending you to the most delightful place on the planet. I also devour their lasagna, but order a small serving. Their portions ain’t no joke. Their spaghetti is also divine.

pizza rosa A Foodies Dream: I Owe It All To Spaghetti

Photo by Kelly Bone

I’m hungry for some pizza rossa now. Thanks a lot. (I realize this has nothing to do with spaghetti.)

I first went to Palermo with my friend Lydia. She said the first time she went, she saw Vince Vaughn. And it’s no surprise. The walls in the foyer of the restaurant are lined with autographed photos of actors and important people who’ve eaten there. And besides that, Lydia is also an actress who has been in films like The Holiday and met Tom Hanks in The Terminal. When we walked into Palermo the first time, the owner of the place (it’s a family owned establishment), Tony, came by to say hi to Lydia. Next thing we knew, we had an order of fried mushrooms delivered on the house. They were good.

                                       

I decided I love Ree Drummond, partly because she’s so adorable and partly because she was a blogger before she was a Food Network Personality. So today’s recipe hails from her kitchen. Or her website. Or both.

pasghetti A Foodies Dream: I Owe It All To Spaghetti

Spaghetti Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 18
Ingredients
  • 5 pounds Ground Beef (I Used Ground Round)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 whole Large Yellow Onions, Diced
  • 2 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 6 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 cup White Wine (or Low Sodium Beef Broth If You Prefer)
  • 2 cans 28 Ounce Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 Oz. Size) Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 can (small, 4-ounce) Tomato Paste
  • 1 jar Good Storebought Marinara Sauce (can Use Another Jar If You Like The Sauce To Be More Saucy Than Meaty)
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Thyme
  • 4 whole Bay Leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup Finely Minced Fresh Parsley (or 3 Tablespoons Parsley Flakes), More To Taste
  • 1 whole Rind From One Wedge Parmesan (optional)
  • ½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)
  • 2 pounds Spaghetti, Cooked Al Dente And Tossed With Olive Oil
  • Extra Minced Parsley, For Serving
  • Extra Parmesan Cheese, For Serving
Instructions
  1. IMPORTANT: This recipe can be cut in half.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until browned. Remove meat from pot with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Discard any grease in pot, but do not clean the pot. Drizzle in olive oil. When it is heated, throw in the diced onion and diced bell pepper. Stir it around for 1½ minutes, then add the garlic. Stir and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Pour in the wine and allow it to bubble up and reduce for about 1½ minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and marinara sauce. Stir to combine, then add oregano, thyme, sugar, salt, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper (if using). Stir, then add cooked ground beef and stir to combine. Place the lid on the pot and allow to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add a little water or some low-sodium broth if it needs more liquid.
  5. After an hour, add the minced parsley and the rind from a wedge of Parmesan (or grated Parmesan if you prefer--or both!) Stir to combine, then put the lid back on and allow it to simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Discard bay leaves before serving.

Photo Source.

A Foodies Dream is a weekend feature, including the best food recipes I’ve found online. All of which I’m dying to try. I’m a foodie and if you’re reading this, you probably are, too. Happy eating & enjoy the foodies dream! Let me know in the comments if you try any of these recipes (or if you adapt any to your own taste). This week’s theme is Spaghetti. 

Why I Started a New Blog

It was going on two years and I was stuck. I never set out to make a name for myself as a writer by publishing about religion and politics. What learned about myself quickly was that I wasn’t as political as I thought I was and religion wasn’t the one subject I wanted to write about for the rest of my life.

Many writers are satisfied writing about one topic forever, or re-imagining one subject over and over. I was not.

My creativity was fading.

I needed to revise, as any good writer would. Revision is the single most important thing a writer can do to grow. Only this time I didn’t need to revise a sentence. I needed to revise what I was writing about.

I needed to be inspired again.

 

For the past two years I’ve been settling into a new creative space, brainstormed about new ideas and started various projects. It’s been vibrant at times. It’s been challenging at times. I’m stretching myself as a writer and artist now more than I have before.

Although I’ve switched tones and moved beyond politics and social justice for the time, I believe what I’m writing now is closer to my truest creative talent than I ever have been.

More than anything, it will give me and the creativity I thrive on L-I-F-E. This new blog is one thing: inspired and I hope it inspires you. It’s crafted around my creative life, inspiration, love and relationships.
 

It’s my life, chronicled. 

This blog is also a slice of my life, captured in words, photos and what inspires me daily. It’s a glimpse at my relationships, my creative process, and my inner world. I hope that you will stick around for years as we laugh together, and sometimes, even cry together.

The Girls Who Read Book Club July Wrap Up and Twitter Party

Today’s book chat is all about wrapping up DEAD UNTIL DARK. By now you should have finished the first book (and maybe you’ve moved on to the next one). I would love to know whether you liked the books or not because I’m hoping to continue the series for at least 2 more books, but we can always switch it up.

Week 3 The Girls Who Read Book Club July Wrap Up and Twitter Party

TODAY: LIVE TWITTER PARTY (AND ON THE BLOG)!

Using the hashtag #TheGirlsWhoRead, find us on Twitter today (July 24th) for our first official Twitter Party to talk about the book at 6 PM (PST) until 7:00 PM! See you there. (Find all our book club members on Twitter using this list and Tweet to me if you’d like to be added to the book club list on Twitter.)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (AND SPOILERS)

By now you’ve read through DEAD UNTIL DARK. And by now you’ve been introduced to the author’s style of finishing the book up with action, which is part of what I love about her writing. The following are a few questions for discussion. Feel free to answer these OR use your own commentary for discussion. (Answers can be posted here on the blog or saved for the Twitter Party.)

  1. Before reading DEAD UNTIL DARK, were you a fan of mystery? I hadn’t read much of it and to be honest, I can’t handle a lot of murder mysteries, but since this one involves so many vampires, I didn’t get too scared.
  2. How did you like the mystery in this book? I personally loved it because it felt like it was a page turner, especially toward the end.
  3. I’m a big fan of some romance in a novel, so I loved Sookie and Bill. What do you think? Is romance a necessary element for you to get into a story?
  4. Comment on anything else you noticed and loved (or hated).

LivingDeadInDallas The Girls Who Read Book Club July Wrap Up and Twitter Party

NEXT READING ASSIGNMENT

We’re wrapping up July and heading into August! For our next book, we’ll be reading LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS (Book 2). We’re going to change things up a bit and only meet once a month. Make sure you finish reading the book within one month and check back here on August 21st.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

  • Read the monthly book.
  • Leave a comment on the blog post which starts a discussion about the book each Thursday and a comment on the final discussion on July 24th.
  • Once a month we will host a  Book Club Twitter Party, be sure to follow #TheGirlsWhoRead, and @thereallisakerr on Twitter.
  • Share this with your friends.
  • If you’re blogging about the book club, you’ll have a chance to link up your post. Check below.

HOW TO BUY THE BOOKS:

Book 1 (Kindle/Paperback): Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 1) The Girls Who Read Book Club July Wrap Up and Twitter Party

Book 2 (Kindle/Paperback): Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 2) The Girls Who Read Book Club July Wrap Up and Twitter Party

Book 3: Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 3) The Girls Who Read Book Club July Wrap Up and Twitter Party

Book 4: Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood) The Girls Who Read Book Club July Wrap Up and Twitter Party

This is part of a series called “The Girls Who Read” featuring entertaining and interesting books we love. I know most of you love to read. Hope you like it and email me any ideas on what we should read next! Join me for our monthly Twitter Party and book chat using the hashtag #TheGirlsWhoRead. Subscribe to our list on Twitter and Tweet to me if you’d like to be added to the book club list on Twitter. New books will be discussed every three weeks. 

BLOGGER LINK UP

I’m Scared of The Sadness

It’s been almost 3 months since I got off my anti-depressants and anxiety meds. I wanted to wean myself off of them. They were making me emotionless, hyperactive, sometimes sleepless. I felt like I was on speed. (For the record, I’m apparently the only person on the planet who doesn’t like the feeling drugs give me when I’m high.) I couldn’t write and I’d been used to writing things that were deep and emotional when I was in college. I couldn’t muster a single tear for years.

It was almost nice, except that I hadn’t learned to write without feeling things deeply. And I started to question myself as a writer: Was the reason I was creative tied to the depression? Was I able to write things that deeply move people without the sadness motivating my words?

I doubted who I was as a writer, and since writing had always defined my sense of self, it was a scary place to be in.

But not as scary as how I feel when I’m sad.

I’m scared of the sadness. I’m scared that I’ll relive that one night in college when I was dating a man named George and when I saw the terrified look in his eyes as I sobbed louder than I ever had before. I’m scared the sadness will take over me and the sadness will turn into tears and then move beyond tears to big, heaving sobs that shake my body deep within the core of who I am, that make me question why I’m even alive.

Because with Sad People, it’s not just sadness. It’s always beyond “sad.” Sometimes it’s even a comforting place. It’s what we know. It’s Home. It’s a wretched, comfortable, dark place that we best enjoy alone. Our loneliness makes us richer in sadness. So what happens when a Sad Person falls in love with someone who isn’t a Sad Person?

I’m finding that out now. I’ll report back as soon as I know.

For one thing, love is a drug and I’ve been euphoric since he and I met. Because of that, and many other reasons, I thought it would be a good time to go off the meds. Test the waters, you know? Do a little naked dance. See what’s out there without the heavy drugging of my emotions. Laugh it off, like “Hahaha! I don’t need you! I’ll just take some St. John’s Wort.” And things were great. I thought, “I can do this!” med free. I thought about how happy I was. I was vibrant. I was able to wake up early. I was full of energy. I even started this blog!

And then last week, I changed. I started over-worrying that I was pregnant simply because…well, because I worry a lot about things that are probable but terribly unlikely. I’m probably infertile, truth be told, but I don’t know that yet because I haven’t ever tried to have a family. Around me, women everywhere are getting knocked up and I’ve never had an “accident.” Something is probably wrong. Or the something that is probably wrong is my neurotic obsession with what could go wrong, or what probably will go wrong, or what will happen if I get pregnant right now (and why does that just TERRIFY me?). Woody Allen said it best.

My point is, the anxiety is back.

And then I started reading this book, THIS CHARMING MAN, assuming it was a chick-lit book. It is…until you reach around page 200 and all of a sudden the author throws in snippets of domestic violence, rape scenes (terribly troublesome for me to read since I haven’t written about what happened to me yet and I cringe every time it’s brought up), and a deeply depressed character who (SPOILER ALERT) turns out to be an alcoholic. I found myself being sucked into the book even more but stopping my reading sessions more often than not to just sit on my bed in a state of sadness.

I showered today (I’d waited two days too long this time, another indication) and remembered the memoir I was writing  until I fell completely apart in a way that I wasn’t sure I would be able to put myself back together. I remembered while I was showering because I wrote these lines that I thought were really great but every time I’m sad inside the bathtub, I remember when I wrote them:

I have good days and bad days. On my good days, I’m strong enough. On bad days, I walk into the bathroom, turn the shower on and dim the lights. I climb inside the tub and I cry. My moods are unpredictable and when I do cry, it’s because all I can do is feel pain and nothing else. I can’t articulate it. I can’t reason with it. I can’t move, so I lay in the fetal position while the hot water washes away the noise of my uncontrollable sobbing.

And I almost tried giving myself a pep talk about finishing writing the book. “You can do it, Lisa,” I told myself, but then I remembered I couldn’t do it. I was a miserable failure at everything, especially at writing, and then I reminded myself that this was the depression talking. Back in full swing, are you, Mister?

“I am,” he says.

I have a book of stories about novelists and their first books that I read from time to time when I get down about writing. Many novelists spent anywhere from 5-10+ years working on their first book. I know, logically, I need time and distance from the subject before I revisit the writing of my memoir. In fact, a few years ago, I emailed Joel Peckham after reading his essay “Swimming” and he told me to keep working on the book after some time apart, but to do so side-by-side with a therapist. I followed his advice, when I could, and found a wonderful therapist. Except when she and I got to talking, our sessions began to wander back to what happened to me in 2008, the night I was on a date with a really wonderful guy. Or a guy I thought was wonderful. And all this talking about what had happened that night prevented me from talking about anything else. I started hating therapy. It was so difficult. It was so full of sadness. I was scared of the sadness, then too, like I am now. I took my medicine. I went to work. I kept writing, but I worked on something entirely different.

I know I’m not a failure. Hell, even I can READ my own accolades. But depression knows no accolades. It knows no cheering up.

Next week I’ll be kind to myself. I’ll be kind to my partner. I’ll go visit my doctor and talk to him about what I’ve been feeling and he’ll give me a new prescription that will make everything better within a few weeks. I may not be able to write well again, but at least I won’t be scared of the sadness again.

Art I Found While Looking Around

art Art I Found While Looking Around I originally found this on Pinterest. It comes from an artist named Ivo van der Ent, who hails from the Netherlands and was published in a Singapore-based digital magazine named Kult.

negative space Art I Found While Looking Around

This beauty is from the Malaysian artist Tang Yau Hoong.

This poster was created by Japanese designer Shimura Norita in 2006. It’s titled “Global warming.”

Links I Love: Women, Tattoos, and George R. R. Martin Tells People to Fuck Off

A few years ago I started collecting links I love to share with my readers and Facebook fans. It’s fun for me to do and it also gives you something to browse through during your Monday. Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!

I love Mondays. I feel like I get a fresh start and I have a full week to work hard to achieve what I set out to do. Okay, Okay. I’m a total workaholic. What other kind of person would love a Monday? I’ll admit it: I work way too much, but that’s because I do what I love. I get to wake up and blog every day.

Whoever you are and regardless of your level of success, we all fail. In fact, failure teaches us more about how to succeed than success does. I’m always trying new things and as a result, I end up constantly learning from my mistakes. Here’s the simplest bit of inspiration we all need to hear when we fail.

maude 813x1024 Links I Love: Women, Tattoos, and George R. R. Martin Tells People to Fuck Off

Women have always been the coolest people on the planet. This photo is proof that women have kicked ass since 1911: 1911: A female tattoo artist named Maud Wagner. Also the secret history of women and tattoo. 

Do you love A Game of Thrones as much as I do? I am such a fan. In this interview, George R. R. Martin continues to impress with this bit of badassery: “Fuck you to those people.”  (Said to the fans speculating about his health and his death.) I love him!

Have you watched the “First Moon Party” short film? You have to. It’s absolutely hilarious.

Cheers to Monday! I hope this week is as kickass as you hoped it would be!

 

My Dog is a Social Butterfly

Olive is very social and adores people, but this social butterfly took some getting used to. She thinks the more the merrier, while I often want to have some alone time. It’s funny how much we clash, but it’s funny to see her slowly bringing me out of my shell in public. I’m extremely shy in public. I’m the kind of person who would rather avoid eye contact with you than talk to you, and my dog is the polar opposite, forcing me to talk to complete strangers all the time.
Every dog is different, and I had no idea I was adopting such a social butterfly when I got her, but now that I have her, I’m enjoying this social side of life again. When I take Olive to Petco, she has to stop and say hi to everyone who passes her. Especially children. And if we don’t stop to say hi, people stop us and ask us if they can pet her. I think it has something to do with her constantly wagging tail. (Watch out, she’ll hit you in the face with it if you’re sitting down. She just gets SO HAPPY!)
Want to know more about Olive? Find out her breed information and more here.