My first novel, Party Girl, which chronicles the life of Amelia Stone, a self-obsessed and self-destructive drug-addicted celebrity journalist based on no one I know -- or so my parents tell themselves -- despite the fact that I'm a drug addict now in recovery who experienced much of what Amelia does, was released on June 1st by HarperCollins. At this point in the story, Amelia has been fired from her job at Absolutely Fabulous magazine, upped her cocaine use by roughly 100 percent and just landed a job as a part-time personal assistant to a film executive. State of mind: complete denial about the fact that her life has derailed and utterly convinced that she's well on her way to landing a screenwriting deal through this executive.
Landing the job right then and there wasn't something I'd bargained for and being given keys to Holly's house, her grocery list for the week and the name of her dry cleaners without ever meeting the woman herself was likewise something I hadn't quite anticipated. But I'm so high off of the ego boost of getting the first job I interviewed for - a job off the UTA job list, no less - that I decide not to let any of this bother me.
I chain smoke as I drive to Holly's house in Carthay Circle but when I get to the address I've written down on Imagine letterhead, I think I must be in the wrong place. It's this barf-colored track home, not exactly the kind of place I'd think a producer for Imagine would live. Inside, the floor-to-floor carpeting and low ceilings are, in fact, so reminiscent of the first apartment I had after college that it actually makes me feel like where I live isn't all that bad. But she probably owns this so it's a good investment, I tell myself as I try to ingratiate myself with her growling, unpleasant dog.
I grew up with golden retrievers and like dogs in general but Doberman pinschers, I realize as I nervously let Tiger out of his cage, sure are big, mean, stern-looking things. When Karen had asked me if I knew how to walk and "take care of" a dog, I'd nodded vigorously because I figured only an idiot didn't know how to deal with dogs and besides, I'd grown up with dogs my entire life. But the dogs we'd had just ran freely around the neighborhood, where people didn't seem to use words like "leashes" and "pooper scoopers." All too late - by the time I'd already gotten to her house - I realized this chick was expecting me to pick up the dog's shit. Artists have to make compensations along the way, I tell myself as I slide a leash on Tiger and lead him outside. Brad Pitt, I seem to recall hearing, dressed up in a chicken suit and handed out El Polo Loco flyers when he first moved to town.
So I take Tiger around the block, marveling over the fact that walking a dog isn't as much fun as it sometimes looks like it is when I pass people doing it in Runyon Canyon. Of course, the depressing, utterly unpopulated streets of Carthay Circle don't exactly make for impressive scenery. And Tiger isn't, of course, a very furry, warm or even especially cute animal. It feels, actually, more like walking a sort of surly, serious old man than walking a dog, and I'm utterly convinced that I'm somehow doing it wrong. Does it hurt them if you pull on their leashes? Tugging Tiger along, I imagine accidentally snapping his neck and having to explain to a tearful Holly that I just didn't know you were supposed to let dogs lead.
When I put Tiger back in his cage in the kitchen - is it normal to keep dogs in cages? How come we never did that with our dogs at home? - I realize that my enthusiasm for my new life is flagging. I need to treat myself to a little of my stash, I think, as I glance at the vial I'd remembered to put in my purse before I left for the interview.
Even though I'm obviously the only one there, I slip into Holly's bathroom to lay some coke on my hand and snort it up. I know this is the wrong way to start working for you, I silently tell Holly as I snort. But making me pick up shit and keeping your dog in a cage is wrong, too.
Feeling inspired again, I decide to do a little more, then bid Tiger goodbye, lock up and realize that I'm not up for doing Holly's grocery shopping or picking up her dry cleaning just now. Karen had, in fact, told me I simply had to do it "later," and she hadn't specified whether "later" meant later today or simply later in the week. With the coke now flowing fully through my veins, I decide that I need to do something for me, and that painting the closet would really be a way to embrace this new turn my life was taking.
So I start driving toward the paint store on Beverly. I'd never really fancied myself someone who was capable of doing things like painting. But now, I was beginning to see, anything was possible. I was, after all, on my way to becoming a screenwriter with a deal at Imagine. I needed to prove to the universe that getting fired and landing this new personal assistant job was a good thing, and if I painted, I'd prove that I was now more productive than ever. Tomorrow, I decided, I'd start working on my script.
As I park, I realize that I'm incredibly exhausted and jittery. But the thought of giving in now - going home, getting in bed, and sleeping this whole thing off - doesn't seem within the realm of possibilities so instead I go inside and tell a guy who works there that I want gray paint.
He starts bringing out little paint cards with all those different shades on them, asking me if maybe I want a silver-gray or even a greenish gray, and I want to snap his neck. Doesn't he understand that the exact nuances of color don't matter, that people only debate between mauve and taupe and baby blue because they don't have anything better to do?
"I just want gray," I say, with barely simmering rage. He eyes me nervously, then says he'll go and mix the paint for me. As I wait for him, my nose starts running and I reach into my purse for one of the wads of Kleenex that I thankfully stashed in there this morning. I wonder if the guy knows I'm high and isn't in fact "mixing color" - what the hell does he need to mix if I've just picked a solid grey color anyway? - but calling to report me somewhere for something. I pick at my cuticles and then file them down with a nail buffer I keep in my purse for this very purpose until he returns - it could be 20 minutes later or it could be two hours -- with a can of the paint.
"Do you have paintbrushes?" he asks, and I feel certain this is a test. I shake my head and he picks a paintbrush off of the shelf behind him and places it next to the can of paint on the counter. He rings everything up and I pay him with as businesslike a demeanor as I can muster. I dare you, I think as he hands me my change, to think I'm crazy or weird or on drugs. But he just smiles and tells me to have a nice day.
An interview with Rachel Kramer Bussel and Anna David can be found here.