Not So Easy Living

The Starting Line, July 2016

Originally published in the July issue of the San Diego Jewish Journal

By Natalie Jacobs

One gloomy morning in June, I woke up with Janis Joplin’s “Summertime” echoing between my eardrums.“Suuuuuuummaaaa time, time, time…and the living’s eeeeeeasy.”

In my head, her throaty blues were crisp and full of an emotion that betrayed her lyrics. There’s nothing easy-going or careless about the way Janis Joplin sings that song, no matter how many times her words offer a hat-tip to the traditional tropes of the season.

It’s possible that the song was stuck in my head because I had just watched the documentary “Janis,” about her life and unfortunate accidental death by overdose. Like many who found themselves cradled in California’s years of psychedelic love, fitting into the mainstream was always difficult for Janis. Growing up in Texas, she was pegged an ugly duckling. The documentary shows her struggle to unravel herself from that identity by instead getting wound up in alcohol and drugs and the rock star lifestyle of 1960s San Francisco. It makes sense that her song about summertime is full of pain and lethargy. Sunshine and free love aren’t really the elixir for all ailments.

The morning I woke up with “Summertime,” I had gone to sleep thinking about a lawyer named Lisa Smith. She’s an addict too, but she has 12 years of recovery on her calendar. I interviewed her for my story on pg. 43 about addiction. At one point in our interview she hinted at the fact that she felt scared to admit she had a problem with alcohol and cocaine because it went so against the image of the successful over-achiever that she’d worked hard her whole life to create. Our conversation stuck with me because she has this powerfully visual way of speaking. I hope I’ve captured that in my retelling.

I suppose it should be said that I have my own perhaps unhealthy fascination with addiction and the stories that stem from it. How surprisingly easy it is for some to fall into the deep end of one thing or another, not realizing it until the surface is too far away to believe it’s possible to swim back. Plus, the deeper you go, the stronger the pressure on your brain and the more physically dangerous it can be to even attempt to return. But people like Lisa Smith, and Scott Silverman who’s also profiled in the article, do. And they succeed, one day at a time. That too is equally fascinating. With addictions on the rise in this country, the article in our health section may not be quintessential summer reading, but it is important and if not now, when?

In keeping with the theme of an unconventional summer, July is also our food issue but instead of barbeques and bonfires, we’re taking a look at the raw vegan lifestyle. That section offers recipes and tips for trying out an uncooked meal plan. And Tori Avey offers ideas for using cauliflower in ways you would never have imagined. Is it a pizza? Is it a quiche? Turn to page 34 to find out.

Given my focus in the first half of this column, I feel it’s necessary to issue a disclaimer or trigger warning here: We do have two articles that explore wine in this issue, but more from the business side than the drinking side. Eva Beim takes a look at where to buy kosher wine, and Brie Stimson introduces us to a young entrepreneur who is stretching the limits of San Diego’s wine industry. Didn’t know we have one? Apparently, we do.

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