LEARN TO SPOT ROOMMATES WITH MENTAL ILLNESS BEFORE MONEY CHANGES HANDS!
SPOTTING MENTALLY ILL ROOMMATES IS A MUST BEFORE YOU LET THEM MOVE IN!
SPOTTING MENTAL ILLNESS BEFORE MONEY CHANGES HANDS, WHOOPS, IT'S TOO LATE BABY!
WE DIDN'T END UP WITH A VINCENT VAN GOGH? IT WAS A MUCH WORSE DEJA VU!
Spotting potential roommates with mental illnesses such as Autism, Bipolar or ADHD is not an easy task. So I learned my lesson in my 30 plus years living in California! I have gone through tons of living situations. My very first was a very abusive mentally ill couple my childhood friend was living with when I came out for good to live. After that nightmare, I didn't think it could happen after it had bitten me in the ass the 30 plus years ago. I figured it was so late in my life, that I'd spot things right away, but was I ever wrong, as I found out early in the game of trying to find the right type of roommate that was easygoing, fun, interesting, mentally challenged free and had the right personality.
Now I can understand when I first came out ton CA that I was young and inexperienced. Many I met back then thought I came across as a hyper-crazy 'spaz' attack that repressed it in her (my own) mind! Owing that up to 'being green' in living situations, I chalked it up and moved on.
I thought at the time that he and I would make both our dreams happen. First I had to help my childhood friend James on some of his projects. I agreed to this arrangement, but had no idea he was living with a mentally ill couple when I came back out to California to live. School was out and here I was ready to start my movie career. And where is he as I write this article 30 years later? Yup, hanging out at the Playboy Mansion with Hef, married to a rich Swedish girl with 3 adorable kids, making his own movies without me in his life. It just happened that way.
But back in the beginning days of mom's money purse footing the bill for both of us, one of my first errors was not realizing James had roommates who were 'off their rockers', and I should have stayed at my stepfather's condo until things began to happen for me. James could have easily driven to the condo nestled by the Ocean on the 17th floor. My mother's new husband was 'loaded'. We could have easily worked together there, instead of moving me in so fast with him without even telling me about the strange, 'batty' couple.
I didn't find out until it was too late that James had promised the couple the same deal as he did to me. It only served to lay the groundwork for petty jealousy and arguments over getting James' attention, which he gave out like little pieces of popcorn for us to follow.
I couldn't wrap my head around just how crazy they really were, nor what I was in for. When I realized it, as I said, I should have gone straight to my stepfather's condo, where I would have been safe from them. But I went in to it with an open mind, thinking once they knew me better, they'd warm to me just like they did with James. Even he encouraged me not to go, so it didn't take me long to realize the other two were not normal. In fact, they were downright odd about themselves, their looks, their life and their food.
At first I didn't think it would be as difficult as it became to live with them, since I was with James, someone I thought was experienced and knew what he was doing. Although this article is about a recent mentally ill roommate situation, I began to merge the two incidents into one article, because it was like things were happening in the same way as they had 30 years prior. Of course I finally got away from them all, actually getting free, but armed with my first life experience and the knowledge that made me 'cock sure' it would not happen again. But it would happen again, thus the second incident spurred me into creating this article. Now on to the story.
IN THE BEGINNING WHEN I WAS A NEWBIE - LIFE EXPERIENCE CAME AFTER!
January 14th, 1986
Well, I'm baacccckkkkk! Finally, I arrived back in California to make my writing dreams a reality, or so I thought at the time. School time was over, my two summer sessions allowing an early graduation from college. I knew a big change was in air and about to happen in the next phase of my life. I could feel it churning when I briefly returned to my family's home in RI. My older brothers and younger sister were still living at home with my mother.
I had actually finished up college in 3 years with two degrees under my belt - Journalism & Social Work. With those I believed I could do anything and come out on top with it. I could feel something coming my way and whether it was going to be good or bad, remained to be seen.
The first thing I did was make sure I had a place to go to when I went back to California in January. I called a few people, but had no luck. Then I got in touch with my childhood pal James Acres, who agreed to let me live with him, and even would pick me up at the airport. My mother got on the other line and was worried about it, but James had this way of calming people down, especially if he needed something for his own agendas, which at the time I didn't see, but was there hidden in all the nuance of moving to a new exciting place in the way my friend pretended he was living.
It seemed that my California Dreamin' plans were coming together nicely. Once my mother was satisfied with the idea due to James knowing the right things to say to her about the reasoning, behind the choice, she aptly agreed, at the snap of the fingers.
"James, how did you do it?" I asked. I was over the moon. I'd finally be living with my childhood hero who was right up there with my other hero, actor David Carradine. Yes, it was my dream, but in a way, it was 'our' dream too. We'd discuss it for hours when we were kids. Then when we grew up, the chatting about it over the phone made it a closer reality.
It was when he was attending a rich boarding school in Upstate NY and had just gotten on the cover of famous slick Magazine for a story about his favorite actress, a very pretty and popular actress back then, that I started to form the idea of living with him when we both would migrate to California. After I had read the article on James and stared at his photo, already looking like the movie producer, I imagined we'd one day be working together. As I looked at the photo spread of him in his dorm room, I imagined us living together and doing some entertainment related projects one day and making it big. Boy was I wrong...
After I had been out West two times, racking up 2 summer sessions so I could fulfill my promise to my mother to finish college one year early I had easily succeeded in keeping that promise. I had achieved it, so just assumed the rest would come so easy for me. Then when I came out again to live and work, I was not thinking that it may have been a mistake on my part to rush things and cut corners with my family, just to get out there and meet my destiny.
James and I seemed to have it all planned out, and at that time, I thought nothing could stop us, not even my meddling mom, who would have rather seen me settled down closer to home, wherever that would be in the future, and I knew it would most probably be somewhere in Florida, and I wanted no part of that.
I had even predicted the future or my mom and siblings one quiet evening when we all sat in my mom's bedroom talking and joking right before I left for my first trip to CA. Mom could be a very funny woman, but she also possessed a vast gaggle of experience attached to her in so many areas due to her own 'life experience'.
I predicted first that my sister would meet a short, handsome, rich Italian man and he would give her all she ever wanted and he would be exactly what she wanted. I described him to her as she giggled in her nightgown and slippers in my mom's warm, great smelling big bed.
"You both are so silly," said my mom, as I rubbed her oddly shaped feet like a professional and she was half dozing. "Now do me, what's going to happen to your mother," she said in her usually 3rd person manner.
I shut my eyes and concentrated. "Mom, you are going to meet an older man with blond hair and blue eyes and you will marry him. You know this man, and he's very rich and has a lot of cash and will live a little dream with him at the helm," I said easily. I saw it in my mind's eye.
She opened her half closed eyes and got very interested, but maybe a bit spooked. "What else do you see?" She asked in a strange faraway tone, as if she already knew who it was.
I closed my eyes again and saw the man. "He looks a little like either George Burns or Peter Finch," I said freely. They were all leaning forward wondering, thinking about it. It sounded so real. Like it would happen.
"Wow, you really think that will happen to me?" Asked my sister, brightening up and smiling at me. Lately, she seemed to be in her own world.
"Yes, I do, so don't forget my predictions," I said. But mom suddenly seemed to get agitated with the whole conversation. "Listen kids, go and do your thing, I want to go to sleep."
I went to my room and watched tv for the rest of the evening. This would be my second trip out of CA for a summer session at a big university. I thought about my mom as 'The Hulk' with Bill Bixby played out on tv. I knew they filmed that at Universal and James had said he already sneaked into that place. I was really getting revved up about this second trip.
Speaking of my mother -- To me, my mother was bigger than life, so much so, that I was at odds with her because of it, which could have contributed to our eventual demise with each other. Then again, as I write this article, I'm wondering how my mother's own mental illness could have worked against me. Thoughts that came either too late, or fleeting and soon buried underneath better thoughts of my dream must have blocked me from seeing this.
She told me that she couldn't see me running around to all the studios begging for work. Mother found it embarrassing and demeaning. She didn't get why James Acres' mother put up with him carry on about all his dreams of stardom that may never happen. Mom never could understand all of my ways of thinking about success. In fact, she saw me as some urchin hippie girl most of the time.
Mom expected her 4 children to adhere to 'her' ways of thinking, which to her, was the best way in the end, and we'd see she was right. Did I listen? No I did not. Should I have listened? Yes, maybe I should have taken her advice, but then again, getting away from her controlling ways solidified my resolve on the issue. So in the end, she relented again and I found myself singing, "California here I come, right back where I started from..."
I have to thank my mother though. She approved my second summer this time around, as she had last summer. So there I was, flying out once again to California and this time to attend UCLA summer session, which was just the icing on the cake!
This time, I had contacted my mother's best friend, who had actually found me a place close by her own palatial home. She was a producer and dabbled in other entertainment industry related things. She's be a perfect mentor to me or so I thought at the time. Again, boy was I ever wrong.
When I arrived at the airport, Holly's husband Arnold, a familiar looking character actor, fetched me and brought me up to where I'd be staying for the next 15 weeks, which was down the street from he and his wife's home. They were my mother's dearest friends for years. They met both of them were singing and acting on Broadway during the early 1950's.
After I returned from the second CA trip, I went back to my old college in West Virginia, finished up there. Finally, I would be coming out for a 3rd time, but Arnold would not be there, nor anyone except guess who? James Acres, that's who!
My 3rd time coming back to California, James was the one picking me up, as he had two years prior when I was going to USC summer session. As soon as we were together in the baggage area, and I had grabbed my luggage, he seemed to be holding something back. "What's up James, you look a bit worried," I said, right away noticing his nervous gestures, as if he had a big secret.
"Sorry I didn't tell you the before, but I'm living with this other couple. I don't know how things are going to work with you and I, but we'll just see," he said. "I thought I'd have things worked out, but it's no big deal, I'm only with them to get in contact with a big producer, it's their Uncle Bob. He's dong a movie right now with Linda Blair," explained James. He removed his sunglasses and stared at me intently. If he'd had a hat, he'd have it in his hand and wringing it to wrinkle.
He hadn't said anything about them and they didn't know about me until I showed up at the door. of their apartment in Westwood, near UCLA. That's when I had first met them, the couple of terror -- Ken and Stefanie!
At that moment I thought about the first time I came out to CA and James asked me to write a few of his school papers that were due and piling up, including his final and midterm essays. I was thinking that was why he wanted me with him, to be his assistant and help him achieve his dream.
He saw how I wrote those papers for him when he was attending USC Film School, but I was the one writing all his stuff. He had called me while I was in my last semester at the school in West Virginia. I'd met a wonderful Freshman named Brad, and we were having the relationship college coeds dreamed of. But when James called, everything took 2nd place even if I was in the passionate embrace of a cool young college guy.
"Hey, I need you to write another paper for me," he's say blandly. "This one is about 20th Century Films that started as Broadway Plays, which I wrote and faxed to him like a spy, late at night in the Press Room at my college. In those days it cost a lot of money to fax it, which I aptly did, sending, also sending them UPS right to his dorm at USC Film School in California.
We agreed that he if he received good grades on the papers, James would do me a favor. We again spoke about it over the phone his first time living permanently in California. So it was pay back time for him. He'd passed his classes and was now trying to break into the entertainment business. I needed a place and to meet David Carradine for real, as promised by James.
James told me some of the ideas he wanted to develop and I could be his official typist/assistant when he started his production company, which he was going to call "Countach" after his favorite expensive and exclusive favorite Italian made vehicle he swore he would own one day soon -- the Lamborghini!
When I came came out to California, I would live with James, no questions asked. I had come out two times earlier since. First when I attended USC School of Journalism for a 15 week summer session. James picked me up at the airport and we found the dorms closed, so he put me up at a nice hotel across the street from USC that he paid with his own money. I had no doubt he would look after me, making sure everything went fine. I was actually flattered when he came to pick me up that year.
That flattery would soon turn sour when I realized who else had also taken a keen interest in James and willing to block my dreamy path to stardom to get his help before I did. James had not told me anything about this odd couple he lived with. So when I met Ken & Stefanie for the first time, they were as perplexed about me and why I was suddenly living there with them. I didn't know it yet, but they'd be the first to teach me the finer art of bullying and squeezing out any enthusiasm I might have harbored about the situation.
It didn't even take me 2 weeks to discover that this oddly strange couple were definitely mentally twisted, the both of them. But Ken was worse, as I would soon find out. At first, I was 'clueless' about them and just fell into pace with them, followed right along. But as my excitement wore off, and it was much clearer. I could see it full scope, but it was too late, I was in the mix.
At that time I had no other place and became at their mercy, as they began peppering James with questions about my own sanity! By the first month, I had endured a lot bullying and drama from the Ken and his girlfriend. I swore to myself that if I got out of the situation, I wouldn't get stuck ever with living together with people like these 3 again.I
I knew deep inside myself that it was my time. I had the right credentials. I was educated. My attitude was positive.When I had to go to a cheap used car lot to buy my car I met the dealer and he used to work at NBC and got me an interview with HR over there, but I was so green and unkempt for the job that when I look back on it, I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. .
My major in college was Social Work, then I switched to Journalism when my professor took me aside and said, "You should go into writing or journalism." Still, it seemed the right time for me to start to make my mark in writing anyway, so it made sense at the time when he said it. That professor, with one sentence had changed my destiny! Who knows what could have been if he'd said nothing and I had gone on with the Social Work only.
I asked him "Why?" .We had just finished some intensive one on one exercises to teach us (or so i thought at the time) about how to deal with a depressed client.
The professor turned red, little dots appearing on his neck. "Because you play the client better than you play the social worker," he stammered, then looking down at this feet.
Was this a joke? Was he serious? Back then the professor we all called "Wayne" looked, at the his watch and the clock on the wall, like he wanted this meeting to end, and have me out of the class that he said I disrupted in some way for him. Later, I found out (too late again) that he was nothing more than a 'text book' Social Work professor with no real experience except what he read about. No one told me at that time.
I'd been out to California 2 times to attend college during their summer sessions, so I had experience dealing with roommates. I thought I was ready to live with my childhood friend James Acres and help him with his budding movie projects and scripts. James promised I could live with him in January of 1986, and that together we could build a company!
My life experience and energy would keep me going, until I found out many years later that to be a good social worker you had to have "life experience". I would have probably been a pretty good one even though the very next day I changed my major to Journalism and kept the other as a minor degree, which was not the right thing to do. I shouldn't have given that professor a second thought. I should have continued with my social work degree, but I didn't.
For lack of a better name, I call it the beginning of learning "life experiences." How strange I couldn't see the future, or be able to totally recognize abnormality in humans before it's too and I found myself living with living with them just as my life was opening up. Why is it so clear 30 years later? I may never find out.
What could I do? How could I have known? How does a person like myself deal with it? How can you make it go away? How can I get away from them? Some very hard questions for a 'newbie' like myself to answer when someone takes over your household and messes with you mentally, or disrespects you in every way a roommate can muster. It happened many times.
I realized that analogy seemed to go with spotting a roommate's mental illness. You really have to be a sharp social worker. I just haven't gotten the hang of it. I don't think I ever will. And I thought I knew it all back then and how to recognize it after my 3 plus years going to college, even out here in California, Well, I was wrong when I decided to move in with James, Ken and his girlfriend Stefanie. Bad move, and bad start with the 'wrong people' as I would find would be the circle over and over with me.
It did not take me long to see that they all had some pretty kooky aspirations. Ken wanted to be a famous guitar player and had the tools and the rock look. Stefanie was going to be a successful model for Seventeen Magazine and Vogue, she had it planned out. Oh, and James had his sights on being a movie producer. And As for me, I had many ideas, but became mixed up in their dreams as I continued living with them. The first thing I realized was that Ken wanted to crush my dreams like a squashing a flea between his thumb and finger.
It's not like I had never experienced Ken's brazen ego before. In fact, I had, and all too many times had the same clashes with James, so I wondered why he was letting it happen to me and didn't stand up to Ken. I mean, he was my childhood pal. He knew I had been out here twice before to attend summer school at USC and UCLA the following summer. Was I seeing the real James Acres?
My thoughts flew back to my very first summer out here. I had been attending a private college in West Virginia in the Winter, Spring and Fall, but spending my summers out in California at two of the biggest Universities in the world.
I attended this little Hippie college in the mountains. But with the grace of God, I somehow talked my mom and family lawyer watching our million dollar trust fund my dad left after he died, into letting me come back out here to California two summers in a row.
The first time was to attend USC, which would allow me to graduate early, so I told them. The second summer I said pretty much the same, but it would be much cheaper than last summer at USC, if I attended UCLA this second summer, my room and board would be a room in a house in Laurel Canyon.
Our lawyer liked the idea and said he'd been at Woodstock and also was a bit of a hippie himself, but looking at him behind that big desk, smoking his biggest Cuban Cigar, short haired and goofy looking Donald Schreck, I could not see him grooving at Woodstock at all. I played along though, trying to look really focused into to every word he said about himself.
So he agreed to my list (I had an actually laundry list in front of me, it must have impressed him) of needs for the summer, approving it in his own way ... Nodding his head back and forth with a boyish smile on his thing pink lips. I had won him over again. He must have payed off the other school loans he must have been taking out, so he'd still have the trust fund intact and flowing into his own back pocket..
This plan to attend UCLA was easier for me to implement. It was not only that I was going to save them money by living in someone's home, but I had heard that my mother wanted all her kids away that summer so she could do some fancy traveling, which she did. I came out West, my brothers went to their old camp in Maine, and my sister spent that summer also at her summer camp in Vermont. This freed up mom and Mr. Trustee nicely.
During that same time I was planning my second trip to California, my mother had scored big by scanning the New York Times Obituaries. She'd been doing this old trick since my dad had passed 3 years earlier, probably sensing his death, and doing it even sooner. She spotted someone she knew, who knew her and had even lived in the same posh apartment building as we did in New York City. It was exactly what I had predicted would happen to her two years before when we all sat in on her bed laughing for probably one of the last times.
She had already met and hooked up with Sol, a wealthy precious metals dealer whose companies made airplane excursions, while I was at college in West Virginia. After attending my mother and sol's fancy reception in Boca Raton Florida, at her best friend's (the guy who owned Converse Sneakers) large mansion, which also served as a chapel for her and Sam.
I headed back to West Virginia and spent my last few weeks there and John Denver was right ... Almost Heaven, West Virginia..I was having the most wonderful first love romance with a guy just coming in as a Freshman, and I in my last semester and would soon be leaving, graduating, and heading out West. I knew deep down inside my beating heart, that my college lover Brad would never follow me out West. I just knew.After leaving West Virginia, I flew to my brother's house in Rhode Island. I met Brad a few times until I flew out West again.
The timing was perfect for me, or so it seemed at the time. My mom didn't care as much when I had made my decision to bypass coming down to Florida to see her and my younger sister who also was living there. Mom had met a very rich man, who had fallen in love with her. I remember my second summer in California she went with him to Israel and even brought family lawyer Donald along with her. Who knows what happened in the darkness of The King David Hotel as I received chatty postcards from my mom spouting 'how much I would love it there, and how much she had been thinking about me since she arrived.' It would short lived.
When I attempted to breach the subject with mom and Donald, I said that this summer I'd be saving them money. Instead of spending triple the cash staying at the dorms at UCLA, I had found a place though my mother's best friend's postman, Eddie, whom I'd met the summer before at my the Holly's house in Laurel Canyon. It was at one of her wonderful dinner parties. In those days, she and her Arnold loved me like a daughter. That too would be short lived.
I made the second trip so attractively cheaper, and picked UCLA because classes were much more reasonable, that it was approved by both my mom and Donald. I was excited. And this time I had a feeling I'd get closer to meeting my favorite movie star David Carradine, who wasn't doing much that summer, so this summer there may be an opening at last.
The summer before, all I had found was where the supposedly 'washed up' actor lived. My buddy James helped me with that, and all I did that summer was knock on the door, and see inside for myself that it was indeed David Carradine's home, but he was not home when I arrived, his biggest fan ever (I was sure of it).
I remembered a strange bald headed man answering the door, as I babbled about being lost. But I had the rap down pat. "I'm attending Pepperdine University (Don Lawyer said a big fat "NO" when I first chose that school) and got lost. I saw this house from PCH, so I took a chance," I said, my tanned face looking even redder. "May I use your phone if I may?" I said it calm and cool.
The next thing I realize is being invited in. Suddenly all my fantasies and dreams of walking into the real David Carradine's house was coming true right before my eyes. I knew it as soon as I walked into the cool richly decorated living room. I pretended not to look at all the photos of David on the walls. I averted my sparkling eyes when I spotted a big poster of him standing on a hill playing his flute during his Kung Fu TV series days during the early 1970s.
Once inside the David's house, I pretended to use the phone and dialed the operator. In those days, the the operator gave you the number you were calling from, no questions asked. And if they asked, you made up a story about changing your number (which I'm sure they did at this home quite frequently) and not remembering the new one. So you'd dial "0" and they'd give you the number, which they gave me when I called right from David Carradine's kitchen.
That's how I got Carradine's private number back then. After that I used a bathroom in the home and left, thanking them, and headed up the road. "Hey, who are you really?" The guy yelled at me as I turned smiling.
"I told you, I was lost, and I called a friend to pick me up," I lied. James was already on his way to get me, I could hear his car.
"Can you come back here, Lady, I want to talk to you right now," said the bald headed young man. A woman came over his shoulder, looking unfriendly and curious.
"I said I have a friend who is meeting me, here he comes now," I said pointing to James racing up the hill. He opened the automatic door and I hopped in. "Bye, thanks," I said, feeling like I was in the movie Bonnie and Clyde. James hit the engine hard and screeched down the driveway as the couple came running out after us trying to get the license number.
"So was it his house?" Asked James, staring at me and steering his car down the freeway toward Magu Point.
"Oh, James, it was, it was! I really was in there. The vibe, the smell, Oh," I whispered, as if I was drunk on some fine wine. What happened? Why couldn't we continue on this positive road. I could have set an interview with Carradine with James' looks and charm... But NOOOOO, it was not to be as I thought.
"Okay, enough of that, get real, how can we use this? He wasn't even home, was he?"
"No, he wasn't, but his soul was there, I could smell it! I used the bathroom and got the private number and stood in his kitchen," I said dreamily. "Oh, James, thanks so much. It was so worth it!"
"Big deal, we didn't make a dime. You wrote my school papers, but now how can we use this incident with him to make money?" Said James mostly to himself as we raced down the freeway. "He wasn't home, I think we have to scrap this idea and move to one of mine," he said, dismissing my encounter with the sweep of his perfectly shaped hand. ... Right, my old pal James.
James and I had been childhood friends since we were 6 years old. I'd come to his apartment in NYC and see some action adventure movie then we'd come back and act it out for our families. It was a lot of fun, and my first real attempt at acting. It felt real at times, because of the way James would make it. He went all out with his acting, which made me go the route with him. It was my favorite thing about this guy.
Otherwise he was usually crabby, bored or just not interested in me, but rather wanted to see my brother's replica model gun collection rather than role playing our favorite game "Roman soldier Vs. Gladiator", a game we'd play with relish.
But later on, when Ken and Stefanie started bullying me, I didn't expect James to be so calculating toward me, or turn so cold and call me weird and stupid. I thought he wanted me out here because I could be of great help to him due to my fast typing and quick thinking skills. I really thought I was on the ball. Unfortunately, I would find out later what James really had on his mind, his real agenda with me, and it was staring me in the face so long, I just pretended it wasn't there.
We had finally set up an interview with David Carradine when I came out to live with James. And my hero "Mr. Kung Fu" actually showed up at my stepdad's penthouse condo in Santa Monica, right on the Pacific Ocean, where I should have been living all along. But as I always imagined, my meeting with Carradine was magical. James had actually pulled it off, and with my help, we sealed the deal and talked his manager into the interview that would take place on February 14, 1983.
It went off without any trouble whatsoever. My questions intrigued David and his manager, who was his wife by that time. David had also come with his mother Gail McCool, and James took all the photos. Stefanie pretended to be my assistant and we'd bought all of David's favorite foods and drink and had everything set up in the middle of the living room like on a movie set.
David walked in and was also impressed with 'our' condo/office'. After we did shots of David's favorite tequila, it was the beginning of my long sought after dream coming true, or so I thought at the time. James had helped me set that whole thing up with Carradine. it went off without a hitch and to this day i will never understand why he didn't just listen to me.
After the wonderful interview that I taped on cassettes, and after David sang, then I sang a song I'd written about him, they all left really positive and up. The last thing David said to me, was the last line in the my song about him, "...well, we've got to 'get to the other side' now," he joked, his voice coming through on the tape so clear and like it was a big dose of un-reality turning into a true reality. The whole interview was great.
My next mis-step made James turn a bit cold toward me in a short amount of time. The article itself came into play with him. I don't understand why, but again, my path turned into a big NOOOOOOOO! Why?
He kept asking, "When will you write it? When are you going to finish and get it published in Rolling Stone Magazine?" He rode me like a bull for slaughter, and I resented it. I had other ideas, and I had the foresight to know if we could get more of the taped interviews, we could do more than just one. And instead of writing it, I wanted to sell it to radio stations, but James knew nothing about all that stuff. Media advertising? Nah, he wanted to be a movie producer...
I had no idea about any of that but I could have 'winged it' if James had gone with it and said, "hey we could try at the same time I'm doing my thing, good idea!" Honestly, all I care about at that time was I finally met my favorite movie star and I was ready to go on to the next interview using the same scheme to snag other entertainment people out there, then just keep them on cassette and license them for the radio, especially if David was making his comeback.
I even thought that instead of wrting the article right away, we could find other old movie stars, tv stars and the like to interview and maybe make a company based on that, but again it was a big barrier with a sign held up by James that read: NOOOOOOOO!
But James got upset over the fact that I'd not even started writing it, and two weeks had gone by quickly. What was the rush? We could have done others in that frame of time. I'm sure David's manager had other people who were just as famous, if not as famous as David was, or how far he'd go to get back up on top.
Something deep inside my mind told me it was not the right time to write the interview, that David had not caught up with what he told me, but he would. His manager was reviving his career and doing a great job. She'd fallen for the interview with us, so that meant she was trying to do anything she could to make him a household name again. We should have extended his interview, or interview others closer to him, like his mother.
One evening a few weeks after the David Carradine interview. Ken came home in a horrible mood. I could tell by the look on his face when he drove into the two car garage in his Corvette, with the top up this time. That was a sign. James was home that night as well, wanting to watch a movie and relax after coming back from New York to visit his mother who had the same apartment as when we were younger and dreaming of coming out to CA.
It made the whole cool stilt house seem gloomy, he was a gloomy fellow with a tinge of talent, but too mean and ego driven to be very nice for very long. A face like Billy the Kid, who knows if his real name was Ken, or her name was really Stephanie. I just could not believe my childhood pal James Acres, a guy I trusted and dreamed would help me realize my own dreams of music, songwriter, art, acting and writing, he said he could and would when he could. Well, right guy, wrong timing, and wrong people to be around... Jealousy arose like an angry bull in a china shop, although there was not much in the house at that time. There should have been, but ti's complicated.
The last time I'd had any contact with the Acres family was when Mrs. Acres allowed my sister and I to take the train to New York City and stay at the Acres' apartment in Midtown Manhattan, and it was cool apartment and fun, and retro, and Mrs. Acres wouldn't be there. I flashed back to that time, when my sister's negative attitude started with she and I as sisters. She blew me off that year. But so was James, he would blow me off, and leave me soon. But getting into a slight "sidebar" here, my sister did fit into the puzzle, but I didn't see it at the time.
In fact, during the holidays of 1980, his mom let my sister and I stay at the apartment. It would seem that she was going away and her two kids - James and Victoria - were also not around. So she said we could stay from Thanksgiving until New Years.
My sister would be the catalyst that caused the breakdown I had with the Acres family. She left the apartment so early, and I stayed alone there. But she left the first week we had arrived for one month of down time together. She left me me alone, which was not that bad. I ended up contacting all my old friends from Sixth Grade, even calling my old Sixth Grade teacher, who was one of the teachers to push me into knowing I had talent and to use it. "I can't see you Dear," she said cryptically. "I have to meet my daughter and I'm leaving town." Why didn't I believe her?
After my sister left the cool NY apartment of Mrs. Acres, we were not ever really close again. When I came home for a few days before my trip back to my same West Virginia college, my sister had become friendly with the popular kids at school, so when I came home the next holiday, she had changed so drastically that I barely recognized her when I did see her.
When she was around, sis was wasted, drunk or had taken something like Demerol. To this day we are not close at all anymore. Each year that passed seemed to get worse, and then when my mother joined my sister's ranks and they moved to Florida sort of together. That spelled the end of my loving sisterly relationship forever.
Years later it would be a disease. It would also spread to my whole family, including relatives, close family ties, and even James and his family, but that's another sad story that should not be confused with this one.
Just to clear the air about my sister's breakdown with me, it was after my mother was divorced by Sam. He gave her a condo and lots of cash. Mom sold that condo Outright, then squandered the money and had to go on Social Security after that. Then she moved to a studio apartment more inland and that's when my sister joined her in Florida.
Sis and I had drifted so far apart that when she had a baby with her Italian club owner she met at a big night club he was managing, I was not included, because little did I realize just how much that trip to James' mom's apartment had effected her in regards to me.
When I did come to Florida to visit her, she was cold, mean, crabby and didn't care what I had to say or show her. Then on the very last night I'd be there, she'd warm up to me and stay up all night talking about when we were little or about our family. But even that faded away as we aged.
I realize this story is not about her and I. It's not about the rejection my mom, brothers and sister piled on me, it is about coming out to California to meet and marry my dream to be involved in writing or acting, anything that would let me use my gifts to my best ability. It saddens me to start up the story again.
One more footnote, I also got my own guitar thanks to our trustee's partner Marco Vierra, who overheard my request to Donald for an acoustic guitar. He said he'd think about it. I left the office. Then as soon as I drove into the ritzy driveway of a Colonial Home where my mom moved us to after my dad died, there was a message to return to Donald's office, which I did. A guitar case sat on his desk with a note for me. I took the guitar back to our nice 4 bedroom home in the same town we'd moved too before from the beginning of my dad's demise.
Being a New York City transplant gave me a false confidence, as soon as my plane touched down and I spotted James waiting for me at the gate. I knew he was not an easy person to deal with due to a big ego and a easy life of wealth and opportunities most didn't get. He looked like the true movie mogul and as we made our way to the parking garage after picking up my two huge bags, I saw a black guy walking over to the baggage claim area.
"Wow, I think that's a friend from my school in West Virginia," I said excitedly to James, who struggled to get my bags on one of the carts.
"What are you talking about, we've got to go," he said to me as I drifted over to the short black guy with the Rasta haircut I never missed in the crowd. He was one of the few black guys who went to my school and I wanted to see if it was him. "Don't do it, we don't have time, it's not anyone you know," said James in a way that seemed like he didn't think much of my feelings. I had never wondered and could not imagine him not caring about my feelings and intuitions.
I ignored him and walked faster over to the black guy walking to the gate. "I have to see for myself, James, just a second," I yelled back to him. The look on his handsome well heeled looking face registered anger, but I still didn't understand or care.
If it was indeed the last person I sat with in my dorm room before I went to bed and then left the school for good the next morning, it would be very prolific. His nickname was 'Tee' and It sure looked like him as I got closer to the man by the luggage machine.
Now I heard James carrying on about it behind me. Suddenly, the guy turned around and his eyes registered instant recognition. But it WAS Tee. "I knew it was you," I screamed. Tee smiled at me and had just gotten his bag and was heading in the opposite direction.
"Wow, I just saw you in your room at college," he joked, looking me up and down. "Man, you look great. Where you headed?" He asked.
"To my stepfather's condo in Santa Monica, and you?"
He smiled brightly, "Back to West Virginia," he said. He was walking fast and I followed along side him until I realized James was about to walk away in to the crowd. "Tell everyone you saw me and I wish you the best Tee!" I marveled at the fact I had bumped into him. "I got to go," I said almost sadly. I saw James waving me over, but it looked like he was very angrily swearing about it.
At that time I moved in with James by the time I was through going to school out in California, the false bravado was starting to thin out with the constant drama and problems started by Ken & Stefanie. My Social Work part of the mind thought I'd been through everything and could handle things or people who were out of line.
Boy, was I wrong again, and always seemed to get tangled up in it like it was the first time again. Just wanted to give the reader a better idea of how things started for me here in Dream Land, where a smart person with a lot going for them, but lacking so much more, could have messed things up from the first day the plane landed.
My decision to come out to California was concocted in one evening while I was alone in my dorm room in at the small, safe, easygoing college in the mountains of West Virginia. I started thinking of what I wanted to do for the summer break, and this time I didn't want to go to some horrid summer camp and watch a bunch of brats that had no interest in camping and starting a fire, or living like an Indian, or even like a pioneer.
I had to start chasing my own dreams, and stop with the fantasy of living the dreams at night before I went to bed. It actually kept me up sometimes thinking of myself coming out to Celebrity Land and making my dreams come true. "But how?" I asked myself one quiet evening, as my friends left, the smell of incense and candle wax staining the little dorm room on the 5th floor, far from the crazy life that lay ahead for me across the country. I could almost taste it, I could almost pretend I was already there in that dream.
I tried to the best of my ability to make it out here by planning what to say to my suspicious mother and family lawyer. In fact, the first time I came out in 1981, I told our family lawyer Donald Schreck whatever I could to get him to approve this necessary trip. I knew my own mother respected education. I also sensed Donald could part with a little of the trust fund monies to pay back some school loan for only 15 weeks. I also sensed back then that this lawyer had a connection with USC and got me in for a deal. I never questioned when Donald would give his thumbs up.
Just one catch. "If you go, you have to stay there, and not go back to your school in West Virginia," he bartered. I'd agree to anything at that time and just said okay, okay, no worries.
"Sure, anything you want, I'll stay at USC, I will," I lied. I knew I would not want to stay at USC. I just really wanted to meet my favorite actor at the time David Carradine (Kung Fu, Kill Bill) and hang out with my old pal who said he could get us into the studios, which he did do my first summer there. I would have agreed to anything at that time, was ready to sell my soul to the Power of the Attorney to get out to California.
Once he did agree, things happened fast. There wasn't much time, maybe about two weeks before I had to get on the plane and go to school out West, which my mom and lawyer thought was my real dream. But it wasn't really. It was my vehicle, my tool to getting out to Movie Land. That first summer at USC almost didn't happen. A week before the trip, my mother got a very bad intestinal infection and had to be operated on. They ended up removing a lot of her upper bowel and large intestine. She was recovering in the hospital when she and Donald decided that maybe I shouldn't go to California after all, and should stay home to take care of her.
I began to carry on like a little girl going into a tantrum, something I'd not done since 3rd grade when we lived at a posh apartment building and everyone got to go get ice cream but me, because I had done something bad that kids do. I started to cry and go into a scream fest, then when they could not ignore it anymore, they'd 'cave' and take me along after all.
I sort of used the same trick, and if worked, because my mom called from her sick bed, saying I could go after all. I stopped crying, stopped calling Donald every 10 minutes and settled down to packing. Maybe I should have stayed home, but then again, maybe it was not meant for me to be home in the summer. It was one thing when I had a summer job, but it was a whole different ball of wax when it came to actually spending money on something I wanted. But in the end, it sounded probable. I would guess that my mother and Donald talked about it, discussed a way to get the monies back, moved some things around, and sent me on my way.
Because Donald didn't give me enough money for myself, I had to drop two classes as soon as I got to the school. Unknown to mom and Donald, the money came back to me in cash from the cashier, since the money was in my name even if Donald got a loan for the school. I was also given back any monies placed in there for text books when I lied and said my new roommates have the text books and were lending me them. I would deal with it when I came back home, and I would also be returning to my old school in West Virginia. I would make sure of that. I know an idea would come to me. I was learning how to manipulate them, especially Donald.
I must have said all the right things, because that first summer I found myself out here going to USC close to Downtown Los Angeles. What I think convinced the lawyer to let me come out to school was the fact that at that time, he must have taken a school loan in my name, then pocketed the real monies he would have put into my hands.
Here, and I had done it twice, telling my mother and suspicious family lawyer, thinking I'd end up alone living in some hovel somewhere like my father used to tease me about. Well, he should talk. I'm still alive. He committed suicide when he was 50. From that point my life experience began.
Coming out of California did have its drawbacks. It slowly dawns on you that, yes, you are, in your own way, living a dream many think is a non reality. I remember first coming out here in 1980 with dreams of stardom.
One person from my past was already living here when I arrived. I was just another fresh faced woman just out of college with two degrees clutched tightly in my hands, so I didn't realize at the time that he was living with strange people -- Ken & Stefanie, another couple my old pal had been with for 6 months. They were never mentioned in our many conversations before my arrival.
At that time, I did not realize the great contacts my mother had and never told me, so I missed the boat again. She knew producers, agents, actors, people who I could have met instead of following James down the road to nowhere. It's sad when i think that my mom could have made it so easy for me. One phone call, or letter would have done it. She wasn't buying it and never did until her dying day. I found out long after she was dead about just how many movie people she could have put me in touch with. It sickened me.
I would quickly learn that James, no matter how appealing, handsome and how much knowledge he seemed to possess, wasn't the best for me. I didn't see a lot of his personal agendas as to why he chose to be with certain people. Yes, I found out too late, but not soon enough as to why he was actually living with them and then with me too.
And Ken and Stephanie were a weird, ugly, overly vain (Autistic smelling) couple that when I think back, they had no business being there. How could I know? Ken looked downright mean, a bully for sure, I saw in his dark eyes as he showed off about being a producer's nephew, which he probably was, but by 'marriage', not blood, which changed the family game a bit.
After a few days, it was coming clear that he had to be a 'cast-off' from a rich and famous or well known family who knew Ken would amount to nothing but a troublemaker, it was easy to see his crazy ego and obsessive-narcissistic side that most probably led his worried family to start pawning him off to some another family bad seed relative by marriage out in California. Turns out the uncle by marriage took a liking to Ken's hard, streetwise side, and hired him as an associate producer on a few new films he was doing with actress Linda Blair and Stella Stevens.
Dealing with Ken became instantly down right scary, so the reasons came clean that his relatives back in tawny Lakeshore Drive in Chicago had gotten him away from family members he may had been clashing with. It could have also been similar with Stefanie, whose wealthy grandparents from Palm Beach, Florida raised her, or so she told me. Maybe to calm her, they would say something like this: "You are a special girl, your;re very pretty, you should be a model Dear," they'd lie outright.
AND I CARRIED ON EVEN THOUGH....?
The meeting was totally secret, they never mentioned it to me. But what they didn't know was the night they had that meeting, I was just pretending to sleep soundly on a pile of old pillows in the living room. James said it was only temporary until they figured out what to do.
"Where'd she come from?" Asked Ken, a sneering whisper forming on his thin dry lips as he stared at me sleeping under a ratty looking blanket Stefanie had given me.
"Just deal with it," countered my good pal, almost to me sounding just as mean as Ken.
"Who is she?" Asked Stefanie, as if I was some homeless urchin taken plucked from the streets of Downtown Skid Row. It took all my will to remain motionless, even as sweat began to form and drip off me. I had to hear what was being said. They couldn't shut that door, so I just laid there pretending that I was being held prisoner for a big ransom.
"Never mind who she is, her stepdad is loaded, we may be able to get some money out of her," explained my pal as if they were going on a picnic and I was to pack the lunch items. All 3 were sitting in my pal's loaded room of videos, players, stereo equipment, gadgets, even one of the first mobile telephone that he carried around in a little James Bond suitcase. "Her mother just married this old guy, and this he's loaded. That's why I'm telling you two to try and put up with her, please," he said as he took out his stylish pot pipe and loaded it with the best weed money could buy.
"Don't tell her about that weed, she may swipe it," said Ken, taking a huge hit on off the pipe and passing it back to my pal.
"I agree, said Stefanie. "I've been watching her like a hawk. You just don't know what someone will do when they find out we have money. From what she says, her mom and lawyer aren't giving her much, and her stepdad hardly knows her," she revealed, while combing her thin, fake looking hair and looking at herself in a little compact mirror she carried everywhere.
So are you interested in her, or what?" Asked Ken. "She's got nice tits," he added, again staring intently at my form under the blanket. "And I'll bet she's up and listening to every word we say too." He got up and walked over to my makeshift bed. "Your up, you faker," he said, while nudging me with his foot.
"Ken, leave her alone," said James weakly. "She's asleep. I know her so well. Don't wake her up or she'll start to cry. That's what her sister said she'd do when anyone woke her up, who needs that?"
"Oh, really?" Ken poked with his toe a bit harder. No response. I was not giving them the satisfaction of knowing I knew their plans. Ken walked away and sat back down, but this time he slammed the bedroom door as they watched the movie.
I could still hear my pal explaining the plan to them for having me there. "Now listen you guys, your Uncle Bob said if we could find investment capital, he'd let us start pre-production on our movie here," said my James. I could hear him do a line of Coke. Stefanie laughed lightly. James held up a script. "I have a few other scripts like these, so maybe when I meet him, he'll like how I don't just have one, I have a whole pile!
"Do you think you can talk him into giving you the cash?" Asked Stephanie as she picked up one of the thick scripts. Each had its own title and color. Most were written by other students paid by to to bought cheaply in piles of 5, sometimes 10 at a time. James was hoping Sol would buy them from him and put his name on it. There wasn't true proof, but from what I learned on my own, I think that it was just a legal ploy to look like you had a lot of money or a few good script properties, as well as many clients with good contacts, when in reality, it was bull.
Ken started to laugh then said, "If he married her mother, he can't be that bright, if you get my drift." They all laughed together and watched a black market video at that time of, my pal's favorite flick, which he'd seen many times, "The Thomas Crown Affair". Somehow my pal got the latest one on VHS.
"So who is this stepfather of her's?" Ken again took a hefty hit of the pipe, then lightly played one of his many electric guitars. It was no secret that he could have been the second coming of the famous guitarist Randy Rhoads waken from the grave.
Fact is, Ken was a dead ringer for the musician Randy Rhodes, who played for Ozzy Osborne and Quiet Riot respectfully, then was killed in a horrible plane crash. What a waste to a fantastic career. No guitar player in either band, no matter how famous they became, ever close to Randy's playing. One thing about Ken is he could play and had said he played in many bands in the Chicago area. He could have really done something, but his mind seemed twisted up, tight as a drum.
Actually Ken could have made a lot of money being a Randy Rhodes impersonator at that time. I was sure even his uncle would like the idea and even help him. Who knows, maybe even my mom's stepdad would have loved that idea. Somehow, as I lay in the dark under my blanket, I knew he would not like either my pal or Ken, even Stefanie.
But maybe James and I had written a simple proposal, gotten a VHS of Randy Rhodes, and had Ken there to play that double neck guitar and my stepfather started to listen to him really play that electric guitar full on gusto, who knows what would have happened. But all Ken did was play a few wild licks from different bands and then he'd suddenly stop and put the guitar away.
Ahhh, never mind, Ken wouldn't listen to me, and wouldn't entertain and of my ideas. I felt he didn't really give a crap about his guitar and music, but fashioned himself in his own weird mind as a big producer like his uncle seemed to be.
With Ken there was something missing, an important ingredient, a creative flair that guy just didn't possess. Little did i know at that moment, but soon I'd meet someone that would put Ken to shame, another guitar player that had not come into my life yet, but would soon.
This guy would take that double neck electric guitar from Ken's hands a play the most fancy "Jimi Hendrix" style music, and didn't stop there. When that day came, Ken was the one who offered it to a new friend I met on Venice Beach. This man was listening to Ken quietly. He was also black, but spoke well and seemed to know his place and business.
Ken made a weird crooked smile after my new friend demonstrated his talents for the guitar, but I could not see either musician working together, especially since my friend was not white. In those days, the early 1980's, the only blacks doing music were Michael Jackson and Prince, or some Motown group, never a mixed band either, not yet.
So Ken did what he always did to maintain control, he just put it away entirely if you out did or made him mad by sounding better than him, which is what happened, but now I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. This is an article on what it is like living with a roommate with a mental illness.
"Just never mind, she's my responsibility, let me handle her," said James, like I was a safe ready to crack.
It seemed as if they had taken a vote about keeping me or sending me away. It wasn't a bad condo, off some West Los Angeles street, which was so him.
Finally, the couple left my pal's room and went to their own upstairs. The place got very quiet as I lay under the blanket, tears rolling down my sunburned cheeks. I tried to be quiet and didn't want them to hear me. Now I knew the plan. I would go along with them and try and distance myself from them. As I drifted into a restless sleep, I wondered where my pal got all the info negative info about me.
After that little meeting, things went from weird, to bad to worse when Ken and James were competing for my time and energy. I could type 100 words per minute and even play electric bass and guitar. I always felt pulled by both of the men. Talk about being on the 'rack'.
Ken and my handsome childhood friend were pretty sharp around that time. But I felt my new rising instinct saying, "... things were ready to blow wide open between those two!
Both guys were from wealthy families, Ken's in Chicago, and I'm sure "Smith" wasn't his real last name. Stefanie, on the other hand, was a real whacked out chick. But her family's money originated in Palm Beach, Florida. Only 18 at the time, and totally obsessed with her looks, which were very odd looking.
Supposedly, she had Scarlet Fever as a baby, and so all her hair burned off, and she was wearing a permanent wig for sure. I could tell. She was the opposite of confidence. Ken too. I'd been bullied by the best of the bullies and I knew the dark haired, hard looking Ken was at the top of the heap for that game.
My first night there, I could hear them making love in their room upstairs. As I laid on the lumpy pillows, I listened to them, it didn't sound very fun.
"Oh Stef, say you love me," groaned Ken, who sounded like he was crying.
"I love you, Ken," answered Stefanie right on cue, but sounding like she was knitting in the background..
Then I'd hear him ask again. "Stef, say you love me, do you?"
"I love you Ken, why do you always ask me?" Asked Stefanie, sounding frustrated and wanting to have sex and be done with it.
Ken could be really sexually rough. He started out softly, always asking if she loved him. Did she? Nah, she just was with him because he invited her out here, but love? No way, how can any woman love Ken Smith, unless he met a woman just like him, HA HA, they'd kill each other.
Stefanie laughed to herself as Ken started climbing on top of her, breathing so un-sexy, sounding like an asthmatic with bronchitis. She sometimes wondered if it was worth being with him. He kept talking about being famous, so she hung on.
Now, what about this girl James brought in. Who was she? Why hadn't James told them about her. And what's she going to do for us?
In the end, before I get to the middle, I want to cap this part of my life, so we can get to the real stuff. I stayed with James, Ken & Stefanie for a few months. After James got me a real interview with the actor David Carradine, which was what It thought was a great start to my writing career.
I thought back to when I did the interview with Carradine. I really thought back then "Okay, this is going to be okay. He at least did that, and it all worked so well! Carradine actually came to my stepfather's condo with his wife and mother! Stephanie took photos, so did James," I marveled. We had all of David's favorite food and drink. I had been into the actor since his Kung Fu days as Kwai Chang Caine.
But everything began to fall apart a few days after I met David, and the excitement faded, Sol called and said he and my mom were coming straight to the condo so have it clean and nice. He didn't sound very fatherly or nice. But I said I'd have it all done.
Of course there wasn't much to do, so I played along with him. "Ok, Sol, I will, bye bye!" I called James and told him Sol was going to be here late this afternoon, so be over here, but don't bring Ken or Stefanie.
"Ken is on the set of Uncle Bob's new film," said James. "Relax, and don't mess this up," he said.
"What movie is Bob doing now?" I asked calmly.
"Chained Heat II with Sybil Danning and Linda Blair," he said, sounding bored. Ken asked me to go with him on the set, but I gave it up to meet your stepdad. Stefanie went with him. So this better be good. Did you set me up nice?"
"Of course I did," I lied outright. "Hey, you okay, James?"
"Yes, I'm okay, just counting on this with your stepdad, he could really do a lot for us," he said, then added, "I'm bored!" He Kent over and stretched and yawned boyishly.
That would be his most prolific two words that would cue me into knowing he was getting tired of me. I didn't know it then, but I hoped Sol would like James and help us with our movie making. Something way deep in my mind said, "no way", but I pushed it aside and continued to make Sam's condo more like a movie production house. I had a horrible intuition as I saw James put his own scripts in a place Sol would be sure to see them, in the bathroom.
"I'm not so sure of this," I said, halfhearted.
"Oh, chickening out now? So soon? I knew it," griped James.
"No, it's not that, I'm not chickening out, I just know how Sol is. This is not him," I said, pointing to all the posters of Uncle Bob's worst movies -- Chained Heat, Penitentiary I & II, Concrete Jungle 1 & 2, The Alchemist & then the scripts scattered on the $10,000 marble table. It actually looked comical when I looked at the Israeli paintings of families eating butterflies, and then my eye caught Mr. T.'s mug staring at me from one of the movie posters.
Then a jingling of a key sounded in the big double doors. "They're here, they're here," I said, fixing up some last things and fixing my hair and makeup.
"God, relax, will you, don't have a spaz," said James, rolling his eyes. using an old childhood word meaning ditz or idiot.
At that, the doors opened and in walked my mom and her new husband Sam Stern, a very rich man who built schools in Israel and had a bunch of airplane "extrusion" factories, very successful for a guy who dropped out of school in 8th grade and became a postman.
"Hiiiiiii darling," crooned my mom. She hugged me, smelling her best. Sam hugged me, then caught the posters and scripts. "So what's all this?" He gingerly walked over to the table and picked up a script, and threw it down like it was poison. Then he noticed the movie posters on the wall and did not seem happy. "Who put those up?"
"I did, Sam." James walked into the room looking his very movie mogul best. He made a good entrance, but Sol was not fooled one bit. "Where did all these poster come from?" Sam stared at them looking a bit dizzy.
"What's the matter Sam?" Mom had walked in with a drink for Sol, scotch on the rocks, his special drink. "Oh, Hello James," said my mom, running over and hugging him.
"They put up all those movie posters, I don't like them, take them down!"
"But Sam, I...."
Sam cut James off like a Cuban cigar knife. "I said, take them down NOW!" He turned to me. "Is this your friend?"
"Yes, we work together," I said nervously as James began pulling down the posters. He didn't look happy.
"And what about all these scripts, these yours too kid?" He asked James, who looked so read in the face, I thought maybe he got a sunburn before we came up to the condo.
"Yes, they're mine," said James. He sounded like a stranger to me.
"Why not take them too, and then there's the door, use it," said Sam with no emotion. He was a tough bird.
"Well this is my good friend James. He does movies, Sol," I said weakly, suddenly losing my own voice. I sound like Minnie Mouse.
"I can see that pretty clearly," said Saml. "I wouldn't call them movies though."
James kept giving me the evil eye. My mother gave me a few dirty looks. She never did want me out here. She was a bit miffed. "Why did you do that? Who do you both think you are? I'm so embarrassed," said my mom, on the verge of crocodile tears.
"I just thought he's like them," said James, feeling like a dummy. "I mean, they've made a ton of money," he said like he was wilting.
"Well, frankly James, I think you have your head in the clouds, both of you. Who do you think you are Robert Evans?" She walked over to the wall and pulled down the others. I can't believe you did this," she lamented.
"Sorry. Lena," said James, looking down at the powder blue rug, lamely shuffling his feet.
"You two don't know the first thing about producing a movie, much less trying to pitch my husband!" My mother played up the drama to the hilt.
It sounded so strange to my ears when she said 'husband'. The only husband I could imagine her with was my own father, but he'd killed himself 4 years ago. She seemed to get over him pretty fast. She probably married him for his money. I laughed inwardly, because in a way, i knew I was right. She was that way. A lot of her relationships were sort of becoming 'suspect'. But now she was married to this old man. Wonder how long that will last.
James finally got all the posters and scripts and put them in the hallway just as Sam walked back in. He held a drink in his hand and seemed a little upset still.
"Sam Darling, they're just kids, don't be so hard on them, they meant well, right kids?"
"Yes," said James "Sam, I'm so sorry, I just thought you'd like them," said James.
"When pigs fly," said Sam, not smiling.
James laughed lightly.
"It's not meant as a joke, Son. I think the best thing for you is to go back to school and learn how to really write screenplays." Sam suggested. "These don't look very good, I can tell. Take it from me, kid, movies are not cracked up to what they should be." He took a bunch of them and went to the kitchen and threw them ceremoniously into the trash.
"Hey, no, those aren't mine!" James ran to the garbage and started pulling them out.
"I thought you wrote them," Sam said with a hint of a crooked smile.
"Well, some of them I did, not all of them."
"Why'd you bring them here then? Oh, don't tell me, you thought I'd read one and like it enough to give you the money to make a film, hey," said Sol shrewdly.
"Ummmm, not really." Sweat broke out on James's forehead. He stood there like a dummy.
Sam turns to my mother and says, "He isn't coming to dinner with us is he?"
"Not that I know," said my mom, looking James's way, feeling a little sorry for him. She looked at her daughter and gave the 'I don't know why he's doing that' look.
Sam left the room to refill his drink. My mom saw her "in". "James, take this," she reached into her purse and pulled out a clump of crisp $100 bills.
"Oh, Lena, you don't have to do that," said James, as he put it in his pocket.
"Hey how about me?" I had my own hand out.
She gave me a strange look, but dug into her Gucci bag and gave me a $100 bill. "Now go have fun kids, see ya. I'll say goodbye to Sol for ya," she said in her Brooklyn accent she used when she was a bit unnerved. She didn't like what Sam did, but wouldn't dare say a word to him at this point.
"Where did Sam go?" I asked, wanting to say goodbye.
"He went to take a nap. Why don't you guys just go now, I'll call you later darling," she said. She leaned down and kissed me on the forehead leaving a big stain of her cherry red lipstick.
We left, heading down the long hallway of the penthouse until we reach the elevators. Then James exploded. "Many, what was that?" he asked, like it was my fault.
"What was what?" I played dumb.
"Why did Sam do that?" James began to pace as the elevator crawled up slowly.
"He didn't like those movies and what you did. I told you!"
"Oh whatever, he's an idiot, he's so out of touch!" Raged James.
"But he's got the bucks," I joked.
James didn't smile or laugh. The elevator came and we went down to the lobby, got his car and drove down Pacific Coast Highway. When James wanted to blow off steam he raced his car down the freeway at almost 100 MPH. I was a bit scared, but knew he handled the car so well. I kind of felt cool when he drove like that. "What a crock," James finally said.
"Yeah, he's sort of an old coot," I parried.
"He's a jerk! How does a guy get a movie deal these day?" Frustrated he went even faster as we passed Paradise Cove.
"Oh, don't sweat it, James, he doesn't know what he's saying. He ain't no spring chicken, that's for sure," I said, trying to cheer him up.
"He ain't anything, just some stupid old man."
We drove toward our house in Beverly Hills that Ken had secure a month before. It was one of those stilt houses and boasted a 360 degree view of L.A. and the Valley. Amazing. It looked like a huge Christmas Tree but it was spread flat across the land. It took your breath away.
When we walked in, Ken was out on the balcony playing one of his acoustics. He had 6 guitars and a bass. But no band. In fact, he thought of himself as a one man band. Once he tried to get his old band from Chicago to come and live at the house, but they turned him down. And for good reason. He was a real monster player, but a really crabby guy, always yelling and screaming for nothing. If you ever were in his band, and you made one mistake, you better duck, he'd throw a beer bottle at you.
James went to his room and began changing. "Where's he going?" Asked Ken, as James came back out. "Hot date, James?" Ken joked. "What's 'his' name?"
James just looked up at Ken and gave him the finger. "You know I'm starting not to like you very much these days Ken. What's up with you? Get a life!"
"What's wrong with him?"
"Ken's teasing him," I said, trying to cover up a laugh so James wouldn't hear me. But he did.
"Wow, you got him pissed this time Ken!" Stefanie looked out into the garage to see James packing some things in his car.
Ken, myself and Stefanie parked ourselves at this wooden table. When James came in he came over and just stared at us. "Well, you all make a nice group!"
No one spoke.
"So, you with them, or me?" James suddenly asked me.
"Huh? What do you mean?" I asked.
"You heard me. Are you with them or me?" Answer me now!" He meant it.
I still was in a bit of shock. Ken shot me a look of anger. James stared me down too. Both were angry at me now. I was speechless and didn't know what to say. James took that as an answer to his question. "Well, I see where I stand. Good bye, and fuck you, all of you," he said as he left and sped off in his car down Beverly Crest Drive.
"Wow, he's really mad," said Stefanie.
"Ah, he'll get over it," said Ken, seemingly unconcerned.
"Hmmm, I don't think so, I think this is it."
"What's it?" Asked Stefanie, looking out the window as James screeched away.
"I think he's going to be gone for good," I said, feeling a twinge of sadness again.
"He'll be back, don't worry," assured Ken.
A few hours later, we all turned in for the night. Ken and Stefanie went and closed the door to their room. James never made it home. And there I was alone with no one. I felt depressed and felt like screaming. Or maybe if I call James, Nah, I won't. Whatever.
I rearranged my pillows and blankets and crawled in to bed by 10pm. Didn't even have a TV to watch. At that moment I had a pang of college sickness, like the younger girls at sleep away camp cried missing their home, I was the opposite. I missed my cool, hippie college in West Virginia and I missed the sounds of being there.
I missed the light chatter of the dorm room, the laughter, the Sixth Floor Burnouts. Brad. When I thought of him, my heart slightly seized up a bit and tears flowed easily. I was crying very hard, but didn't want to make noise. I missed my old life at school. At least I had friends there. Not surrounded by all these idiots.
I knew I could have just stayed the full year and had a great time doing nothing in that small little town in the middle of nowhere. And my first love was still there, Brad. How sad when I thought of him. I had a feeling once I did leave, he'd either blow me off (what love?) or start seeing someone else. Or best yet, already had a girl in his home town, which I always felt was true.
We had a ball together and lots of sex, always together, he felt so right. But there was something not quite correct about it. When i had gone to Florida to see my own mom getting married to a rich man she met through the New York Times Obits and finding out his wife had died and she knew him from her days at the UN Plaza in NYC when Truman Capote called her "The Snow Queen". So many thoughts whizzed through my mind as I lay lightly and quietly crying very hard into my now grubby feeling blankets.
These people I was with made me feel a welling up sadness. And then I thought about when I went to see my mother and her new older husband, where my brothers and sister were also ensconced. One brother just starting with the Palm Beach County Jail. My younger sister worked at a high class entertainment restaurant/bar as a VIP hostess, and my older brother might have still been living with his teacher back East. My mom was in heaven. She'd landed a big fish this time, and only 3 years after my own dad took his own life and she had just about exhausted his life insurance he left.
So here I was... God, finally in California with James. We'd been talking about it since we were 5 years old, how we'd come out here, crash all the studios and make them hear our ideas. And we had a ton of them. Were any good? I was not sure. So far, I'd not even lifted my hands to type an address yet.
I did finally find out why James had been living with this weird, screwy couple. Turned out that supposedly a big "C" movie producer Uncle Bob, Ken's relative by marriage, never by blood, really did those movies I saw James putting up in Sol's condo.
And I don't think Ken really was liked by his family. He had a certain devilish look about him, and I could tell his thoughts about me were not good. The word "destroy her" kept creeping out of his brain, and I was picking it up.
It would have been so simple if my mother's new husband had just wrote me a check, I could have actually get my own apartment, maybe get a part time job. But since I was around all the wrong people, that never happened. When Sol (mom's new husband) met James, Ken & Stefanie, he was not impressed.
DARN THAT BIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY -- REMEMBERING THE DRAMA -- A SOAP OPERA! MY LIFE IS STILL A CHEAP DIME NOVEL!
I thought back to how they scattered all sorts of scripts around Sam's place, a sprawling apartment with everything all set up, except the phones still had the wrapping on them. This was a new place. I'd heard he'd got it after his wife of of 58 years died last year.
Mom must have found her obituary in the New York Times. Sister used to call me in the beginning of my stint in CA to tell me how funny it was when mom looked through the obits. She also mentioned my predictions I made years back. "You should see her when she finds someone she knows, she starts to turn all red in the face like she's about to sing her favorite opera tune from "Madame Butterfly". She managed to find a few rich guys. She called them all, knew them all and charmed them all. That woman, in her day, was something else.
Unfortunately, mom didn't see the gifts I had in music, writing and art, or she just pretended they were not there, as I would learn as the years unfolded before me. All she could see was my sister's talents, which boarded on bars and people, and jumped quickly to champagne VIP spots, then she met her future husband, the manager at the strip joint "Solid Gold", the same short, cute moving from semi to very wealthy, the same one I predicted she'd meet 3 years ago after my father committed suicide when he was 50.
It didn't take the family long to move from his trauma to enjoying the money he'd left. But the family lawyer was fickle and sometimes favored my sister, other times me, mostly whatever my mom asked for, she got from him. By the time I was at Sol's penthouse in Santa Monica with James, Ken and Stefanie.
My mom had not been to bed with Donald in literally years. She'd married Sol in a hot heart beat. But she did take him to Israel with them, so who knows if they sneaked into each others hotel rooms. Would not put it passed my mother, Ms. Snow Queen my butt.
As they went at it, I knew what was coming already. As usual, I was in the wrong place with the wrong people. I thought it was going to be just me and James (childhood friend has to have a name). This was going to be a hard hurdle. My family lawyer gave me enough money to maybe last a few weeks, especially with Jame with me.
James had already taken me to some strange relaxation facility called "Altered States" where you pay $100 to get into a dark cold, salty tub, close the lid and float. The first 5 minutes I felt like I was in a coffin so I jumped out and just took a hot shower and waited an hour. When James came out looking so refreshed, he asked, "How'd you like it," he was smiling. His pearly whites struck me as perfection, something he wanted always, and something that constantly eluded me. "It was cool, really, very cool!"
From there we drove over to Paramount Studios. Although at that time he didn't know anyone over there yet, we drove right through the gates as if we owned the place. We parked and started to walk around.
We walked all the way to the end of the studio where they were about to film a huge Dynasty TV show scene by the pool, and there I was watching. But the blisters on my feet were hot and hurting from all the walking around there. It took awhile to out make our way around the security check points that James seemed to know like if he was blindfolded and playing "Pin the Tail on the Security Kiosk!"
Whatever he was planning, my intuition repeated over and over, "Fail safe, fail safe, fail safe!" As I said the last 'fail safe' two security guards finally approached us. "Hello, excuse me, sir?" Asked one guard. James ignored them, pretending to be watching the scene unfold like he was about to jump right in.
"Sir, what are you doing here?"
"Oh, I'm the magician and this is my assistant, but they cut us out and told us to wait right here," lied James, and very well.
The guard hesitated a few beats and then walked away, "Oh, okay."
"Wow, that was cool, James. I'll remember that," I said to him in awe.
"Look, it's so easy. You just act like you belong there. Find anything, an envelope, look in the trash, and hold it. If anyone stops you, you say, 'ummm, where's lot 8?' and most times they let you go," he said proudly.
"Yup, I know you know how that works. Too you couldn't have talked to Sol about it?"
"Sol?!?!?! Why would he care?"
"I don't know, at least it was something you could have asked if he'd ever done, rather than throw a bunch of scripts in his face," I said.
"Whatever. He wouldn't know a good movie if he fell over it," James said.
"Now you sound like my mom!"
After that, we had dinner and then went back up to the house. Ken & Stefanie were sitting around looking at the view. "Where you been?" Asked Ken, the nosy one.
"We went to Paramount and got on Dynasty," said James.
"Oh that's cool, they didn't throw you out this time, James?"
"No, they didn't. We got in and will be seen on that episode," I countered. I was starting to really dislike Ken. He really had the potential to be mean and say such mean things. I wished at that moment that Brad and I were alone at Sol's penthouse, but for some reason he kept turning down my offers to fly him out and stay. I wondered why he would not come.
All off a sudden I heard Ken and James arguing out on the balcony. They were really going at it. Ken got up and grabbed James and threw him down on the balcony. James nimbly jumped up and tried to take a swing at him but missed. Ken reached out and poked James in the eye, and that's when James ran to his room and looked the door. Stefanie ran out. "What happening, what's going on?" She ran to James' bedroom door. "Oh wow, he sounds like he's crying!"
"Ah, nothing, it's just pussy James running away from a little fist fight. I was just kidding with him, he deserved it," said Ken, getting up and going over to James's door. He banged on it. "Hey James, sorry. Don't be a wuss. Come on out. We'll get stoned, you got any stash?"
I could hear James really crying and talking to someone on the phone. I was scared and very rattled over this.
"Go away you asshole," spat James. He turned up the tv in his room really loud and continued his heated conversation.
By the the time I'd gained my first life experience, he left in the middle of the night and Ken became an unbearable bully in the household, if you'd call it that.
From Ken & Stefanie, a brash, rich couple of kids from Lakeshore Drive, and I would swear that 'Smith' was not really Ken's last name. He was brash and mean, and I think he was even Bipolar. Stefanie, on the other hand, was quieter but spent her life in the bathroom. As a child she has Scarlet Fever and I think was wear a permanent wig.
After James left in the night, just too spooked to deal with his failures and embarrassing antics with me and the couple, I realized I was a Newbie, that's not fair. One evening he pitted all of us against each other and demanded to know whose side "i" was on. I looked from the couple to him, and back again, just hesitating for a split second, then he must have had his answer. The next day i came home from work to find his room totally empty of his existence.
At the same time, I was driving to Venice Beach, CA and playing guitar, singing my original songs, which people dug, at least at the time. I ended up meeting a few black musicians who I promptly invited up to the now empty stilt home at the top of Beverly Crest Drive.
It was a two bedroom and big enough all around to house Justin, Perry, Stefan, Rodney, Kim and myself (at first). We got together the rent and continued to pay it for at least a month before trouble brewed among the ranks. I grew close to Justin, a exotic looking, soft spoken guitar player black guy who saved me when I had no one to call one night during the terror of Ken. The bully had taken my guitar and other things, and left a note that until i paid rent (which i had intended to) he was keeping the items.
I called Justin up. He was at his mom's house in South Central L.A. and told me to try and get my stuff back before I got in my brown Firebird and headed over to his mom's. I had no other choice. My mom's pal Hope was in South Africa filming a movie. My mother herself was with our family lawyer in Israel being entertained by the prime minister at the time Simone Peres. It would seem that none of Mama's pals were in or just didn't want to help. I called Tina Louise (Ginger on Gilligan's Island) a very close tie to my mother. She told me to read Corinthians I from The Bible, which I did.
It must have worked. I think found myself out of the house after some bullying an squabbling between us all, the guys let a girl from Oklahoma stay. This woman was brash, loud and wanted to mother them all. She even bought the first fridge, but unfortunately once it was plugged in, the roach nest inside became to produce cockroaches that would actually disappear when you opened the fridge.
TIME FLEW, AND HERE WE WERE AGAIN, IN ROOMMATE HELL!
Flash forward to present day 2015. Unfortunately, this time it struck out again. Just opened the door, was grateful to find someone nice standing there who didn't smell bad, or talk out of turn. Looking back now, it seemed he was going by a script, or memorized it like a character in a play. He'd done this before, but I didn't spot it. Too late!
The bottom line of this article is that it's gotten even more difficult to find the sane, normal ones with regular coping mechanisms. It's was a harsh awakening when I found out the person we chose for our new roommate and had been with us a few weeks was actually suffering from Autism. As I progressed, and started to know him, I started to see all sorts of odd behaviors I did not pick up over the phone or in our pleasant interview. He had a very deep voice, sexy voice and this guy used it to his best knowledge.
My husband also thought it a grand idea to roll the dice on Craigslist and secure an easygoing, low impact roommate. The person would be charged very little money to rent a small room we had in back. We only needed someone to be helpful, and be a clean person, friendly, like a small family, help us with the shopping, etc., the driving, small stuff, pick up a prescription perhaps... Or just be our friend... We, on the other hand, made everything easy and cheap for them to live with us. Things like free parking space, security building, quiet area, clean and professional, it's a bargain and they'd be saving money and living with nice people like us.
Now I'm mentioning our first roommate, who seemed a "7"! We spent the first 8 months with a very pretty, spunky gal who really put energy back into 'these old bones'. She would drag me around town and make me see the world. This gorgeous wild cat gave me little gifts, sewed me up a bunch of handmade pillows. When I fell down and hurt myself, this young gal rubbed my back and soothed my nerves, saving me a trip to the E.R. She was a god-send and treated me like a sister.
An Angel Sister, and very young, Ally (as her friends called her) popped into my life at the right moment. We needed the money and support after my hubby couldn't pay is part of the rent due to debt and pay day loans. She was in the right place with me, at the right time. She stood there in the kitchen with delicate hands on hips, looking at me looking like the attractive nurse on a soap opera watching over her nest of patients. But she was a nice, fun girl and truly cared for my husband and I. All seemed bright until we found out she was a drug addict and addicted to Opiates. She was also Bipolar and was moody.
And Ally looked so beautiful as she admonished to me after I banged my head on the cabinet and blood was everywhere, "Not on my time, no E.R. for you kiddo." It made me relax and I felt her fingertips on my bare back after she cleaned me up and told me to lie down on the bed she used when she stayed over night. We had needed her for that a lot, so she was becoming a bit of a fixture with us. She handed me a big white pill. "Take it," she said, handing me a glass of Ginger Ale. I did. It helped. I felt like I was floating.
"Okay, take this," she said 2 hours later when I'd fallen asleep in her wonderful bed. I felt relaxed, but I knew I was really injured and needed to go to the emergency room. I wanted to go, and knew I needed to get up, and go, but I laid there, relaxed and sated as she started asking me questions about my past, my friends, my dreams, and such things I'd discussed with schoolgirls or my best friends. It felt nice. First I pretended I was in the E.R,. and she was attending to me as a nurse, but then I became a Civil War soldier wounded and needing her help like in those romance novels and she nurses me back to life.
"Here now take this," she handed me a blue pill this time and I knew I was in good hands. I'd never taken anything but what my own doctors prescribed, but I took the pill she handed me and in about 30 minutes I was so relaxed that she and her boyfriend had to practically carry me into my own bedroom. They laid me on my plush bed and propped me up with many some of the pillows Ally had made through here many months of staying here with my husband and I. Hubby was rehearsing a play way up in the canyon somewhere, so it was just me, Ally and her young boyfriend.
It seems years ago now that I'm where I am now. When Ally left, I wasted no time in getting another roommate to come that very next day after Ally left in tears and hugs. This time I just picked the wrong person. His name was Frankie and got so strange the first 3 hours he was living with us. It spooked me. He even yelled at me saying to stop talking so much. That ended my conversations with him.
When Ally left, we placed the same exact ad again. It had been a wild 8 months of life with Ally and her experiences, like I was back in my college days in West Virginia driving on a whim to the next collage and raise some hell with my sorority sisters. It was a blast. I loved it and I was sure I'd learned from this perky, gorgeous lady that had since lived with hubs and me.
I wasn't sad to see her go, I was happy to have gained knowledge from her by learning about what she was about and why her mother seemed envious of me because her daughter was helping us and spending time with us. I wish her mother would have not pushed and made it so hard for all of us. In the end, she begged Ally to leave, and even tried to commit suicide before it drove poor Ally to have to pack up and move in with her boyfriend. And in all the time she was here, so much had happened between us. That's when I thought we'd be lucky to find another Ally. Fat chance, we ended up with Frankie Blaine, student and working for a big drug store chain.
The best thing about Ally being here didn't hit me until one month later, I'd found a whole bunch of videos and photos of us in different situations, so I began making a reality show and music videos out of the footage and that now helps me deal with my more alone life I began when Frankie showed up. Worst of all, this can be said --- Ally had been hiding a few dirty little secrets from us. We found out that she was taking all sorts of drugs, mostly painkillers. She had also become more than just a high class escort. She'd graduated to 3 nights a week at a high level. high end brothel located appropriately on Weddington Avenue.
She was gone those three days, but upon returning and showering my husband and I with gifts and candy and gourmet food. Even a few steak Doggie bags, it became a joke between us. Her wonderful personality made it seem like the role play I did when I got hit on the head and she was treating me -- almost not real, but sort of real. She was usually in a great mood. And I didn't mind when she smoked on the balcony, although we did find out she was Bipolar Manic Depression by the end of her 9 month stay.
Still, she always cared about us and for us. And Ally rarely was a "mean girl". She had strong emotions and was a bit needy herself. I felt she was trying to be loyal to her mother too. Maybe a bit more than usual. After awhile, it was normal thinking for us and didn't seem out of place or strange about her profession. The world is a weird place and technology has changed us, so we become desensitized to a lot of things going on around us. Not our fault... .
And this article began as an expose about spotting, living and getting rid of very toxic, mentally ill people who suffer many different disorders on a high level, something they all hid from me, but came full on by the first week they'd started. I noticed within the first few days. The first thing I noticed about our next roommate was that he filled up the fridge with 20 cartons of eggs. It was the beginning of his stay, so I let it go and didn't think things with him would go too far South that I was ready to commit myself to a facility! But, just as it happened 30 years ago, so would it happen again, but even worse now, due to my age and my own mental issues.
As not to blemish her to much, I can note that she allowed me to do a few things I wanted to do.but were always blocked back then due to my popularity status, which was quite low. At the same time, I remembered what a psychic in NYC back in the late 1970's had said to me. My sister and I went to see this woman on our last ever trip together before I returned to my usual college in W.VA. I asked the lady about my life. She said I would live a full life of adventure and whatever it was I was doing already, but it would mostly be fleeting and never happening again.
Now Ally was gone and in all her flurry, it was as if she'd never been here., I began to think about something that I had read in a book from church. I was praying and asking God what was wrong with me, and why my peers were always leaving my life after some upheaval. It s written (veiled) that "...I am blessed but will never be the physician to the World." I understood that line loud and clear. I calmed myself and began reining myself in to a point where I thought I could be less outwardly anxious. So after Ally left I placed the same ad worded exactly as it had been when we found her.
It was a small ad online seeking a roommate to share in the household duties with me. A simple paragraph that I thought would reel in someone appealing as Ally had been. But, again, the cards fell wrong and I quickly learning that I'd made the biggest mistake of my 15 years living at this particular abode. Ally was the first person my hubby and I decided to allow to be a our roommate. We made the spare room so nice and she improved on it. So we were "newbies" at it. That turned out to be the downfall of our space.
We received 100 replies for the small space, but offered lots of extras no utilities, just a staight $400, free Internet, free WIFI, access, free run of the common areas, balcony, kitchen, laundry, free car spot underground and more in a security building.
I described in the ad about how our living space was like a "Post Hippie Pad" with a "family-like" atmosphere, a student would have been fine, because honestly, we just needed a simple situation and thought if we kept things easy going, we'd get someone nice. Boy were we ever wrong, off the target, brick-walled!
I began fielding hundreds of emails and taking about 50 phone calls. It was all types of people attracted by the ad, the good neighborhood and all the free amenities that went with living there. I also posted photos of the condo as well, to sweeten things up a bit. Finally, I had a list of names and was about to call them back to break them down more, to find the right one. The phone rang...
It was a deep, sexy male voice on the other end. He sounded like a dashing Robert Downey Jr. type. He spoke so well and clear, that I invited him over to look at the place. We made a time to meet here and the whole place was clean and ready.
The buzzer sounded, I buzzed him in and opened the door to direct him to our unit. He rounded the corner and was smiling. "Hello, I'm Frankie," he said nicely. As he got closer I saw that he was black. In fact, he was quite a good looking black guy. Well dressed, well spoken, friendly, even wore thick black glasses that gave him such an intelligent look.
I was not going to let my mind flash back to the days in Beverly Hills, CA with the musicians, and couldn't let myself go overboard. I didn't want to cancel him out, but he sounded white over the phone. My image of Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin faded as he came into our living room and sat down. We began to talk and that's when I first noticed that he wasn't looking directly at me. He was looking ahead. And he wore thick black "Coke bottle" looking glasses. I dismissed him not looking at me as just being shy. He did seem sort of bashful.
My mind was in turmoil, but I never judge. And because of all the police tensions with black men, and all the drama surrounding it, plus my weird history with black men, I decided not to bother with it and tried not to associate it with this guy. We hired him on the spot.
We talked and he admired my antiques sitting on shelves. My husband was in the bedroom with the door closed, so I started to give the guy a tour. He seemed to like it, also explaining about the extra bathrooms and showers in the pool house that he could use if he felt so inclined.
Suddenly, we were discussing price and when he'd start, and decided to give him a try. He seemed okay, very polite, not imposing at all, he was clean shaven, smelled good and gave me a cute wink when I agreed to have him live with us. He signed the one page contract said he'd be starting in two weeks from that day. I asked about furniture for his space.
"Oh don't worry, I don't have much and I won't be here most of the time, I go to school and work at the bookstore there," he explained easily, still not meeting my gaze.
"I can get you the futon I have out on the balcony and make a very nice bed for you, and I can give you some furniture too, the room is clean and it can be your study office if you'd like. The Internet and Wifi are both on," I bragged, trying to sweeten the deal up.
"Great, but I don't need much," he said.
I didn't realize it yet, but this was the beginning of the biggest roommate nightmare I had been bombarded with since first coming out here to CA and getting stuck with a very strange couple when I was residing in Beverly Hills CA back in 1986 with childhood pal James.
It would not take long for us to see we'd made a mistake the first 5 hours he moved in. And his color had nothing to do with it. I am NOT a racist. Or why would I have even had him come and be our roommate? I did have over 100 replies to that ad.
I talked to lots of people and met a few. Frankie was the last person I met. I was so happy to have found a decent person that I didn't realize he was putting on the act of the century, like he’d either been through it before, or he practiced his lines pretty well, probably both. So I was fooled. But read on and see why.
Two weeks later he started. Frankie wasn't kidding when he said he didn't have much. All he had was a knapsack, but it was a pretty nice sized one. I found that a little odd, but brushed it away. He then dragged in a huge television screen. I had fixed a nice couch and chairs and a table with nice male type paintings and added more to the room that was off to the kitchen. Everything was ready, clean, spiffed and quaint. It was simple, and certainly not The Beverly Hills Hotel or anything, but it was comfortable, safe and kind of cute.
As I said, the day he moved in he, was very quiet and had a black knapsack and nothing else, not even a bed or blankets, like our last roommate Ally provided. I was not going to judge, and that's why I gave him a nice futon and fixed up the room very well and gave him full access to everything.
The first night Frankie spent in there, my husband woke up early in the morning with chest pains. I called 911 and they came and took my husband to the hospital. I was alone in the living room praying, after they left. The first sign of trouble was coming around the Kend with Frankie, and that's when I knew I'd made the biggest error of judgement.
Frankie came out of his room and goes on the balcony for a cigarette. "My husband was taken to the hospital this morning," I said to him teary eyed. "I've been praying all morning. It's his heart, he needs an operation so I'm upset. Didn't you hear the firemen come in this morning?" He shook his head and said he was sorry, then continued out onto the enclosed balcony.
Take into account this man had only been here 24 hours, and I had told him that on occasion, if he wanted to share any food, we'd be happy to supply him with something he may not have. Or if I borrowed any of his food, I'd replace it in an instant.
The day before, a friend of mine stopped in and asked if I could make him some eggs and toast. I opened the fridge and saw that my new roommate had put 20 cartons of eggs (18 in each carton) on his level of the fridge. I just stared in amazement. That's all he had! So I made my friend 3 eggs out of one of his many cartons, thinking I'd tell him and replace them that afternoon, no problem. But, there was a big problem ready to explode, that would make my generalized anxiety blow sky high.
After his cigarette he came in and went into the fridge and noticed 3 of his eggs missing within seconds. "Where's my eggs?" He asked with a frown. I didn't hesitate, and told him.
"I’d be glad to replace them," I offered.
He turned away from me and began screaming and carrying on. As his anger increased over 3 eggs, he turned back to me and put his face close to mine and said with clenched teeth, "Don't you ever touch my eggs. I don't like your idea of sharing food."
I was aghast and shocked as he turned away from me abruptly and went to his room. As if he had an afterthought, he turned back to me and very sarcastic “…and please stop talking to yourself, it’s really annoying!”
It was like he forgot about my husband and that I'd said I was actually praying when he heard me, but I didn’t know he had heard me. And I had just told him my husband was in the hospital and I was so upset. He wanted none of it. "Just shut the hell up," he yelled again. He was getting down right abusive.
That’s where things just started to go badly. I was traumatized over our confrontation and the fact that he would not let me explain. He put his hands up in frustration and said he didn't want to hear another word and walked away from me, leaving me standing in the kitchen looking at the 20 cartons of eggs he had. "But if you let me just explain, I'm sure we can work this out, you seem so upset. I'm sorry," I whined. He screamed again from his bedroom "Shut the hell up already, don't you ever stop talking?"
I knew our discussion was over so I ended up in my bedroom with the door locked until I had a friend come over. Since that incident he didn’t ever talk to me again. It was just hell when he came home from school late in the evening. In the beginning of his stay, I would be in the living room watching tv with my husband.
Frankie would come in and not look at me and just say hello. He went straight to his bedroom and turned on the one video game he owned "The X Files". The first few notes of the theme song to the popular Sci Fi show floated up for hours. Then about 11:30 pm he came into the kitchen and cooked up eggs, potatoes and some very bad smelling fish, ate it and left for the evening, always using the pool house bathroom.
The whole condo smelled horrible. After he made it, he left it for me to clean, which I did. He started to come and go and pretended not to notice me. I just went to my bedroom and had a nap. The next morning, I awoke to find the whole kitchen a huge mess of grease all over the stove top, grease in the sink, and he'd thrown all his dishes (food and all) and the pan into the sink where it splattered everywhere, including on the floor. I was finding out, as I stood there frozen, that this as not any ordinary guy. Something was wrong. He was not acting normal. He was certainly not the roommate I had envisioned.
I ran down all the different mental illnesses through my mind. Finally, like a flashing neon sign, it came to me. Autistic, because his communication skills were bad, and he didn't look at us in the eyes ever. He never talked to us, never had a conversation, just came in late evening, said hi, and continued to his little space. That’s it.
One day I was curious and peeked into his little space. It was totally wrecked, but an angry wrecked like he had some kind of fit and threw everything around the room. Oh, and the kitchen was a wreck too. Frankie cooks late at night. It’s only eggs, bacon and fish. He leaves everything out and throws plates with yuck fish or eggs into the sink and grease is all over the stove, it’s a wreck and we have to clean it up! That is abuse. I took photos of his disgusting room and have started a log on it in a file. I had to do it for the next roommate after Frankie too. And that woman after Frankie was even worse than all the roommates I ever had.
There is little we could do echoed in the my brain like a ping pong ball. He had paid his last months rent in advance, but was so abusive the more days he was there. He was slowly wrecking my kitchen, his space and my wonderful balcony. After that, I rarely went out there, he smoked and put ashes all over tje tiles then put his cigs out between the cracks and went back inside, not forgetting to slam the balcony door loud at 2 in the morning before cooked his slop and went to bed.
I was so stressed over this and couldn't believe I was locked in my bedroom with my husband telling me to shut my trap over the whole affair, that there is nothing we could have done. The guy is wrecking our abode and he’s going to keep it up until he was scheduled to leave on November 17th, which came faster than I could imagine.
I’m was a prisoner. Frankie knew he had us over a barrel so he did everything he could to mentally upset me. He was doing a wonderful job at it too, I was a total crying, sleepless wreck! So that’s the story. I plan to report him to any agency I can and have started a log file on him, taken photos and video of the damage he’s done and anything pertaining to dealings with this devil man.
Hey Frankie, I hope you read this. I’d be most curious to see what you thought. Thanks and pray for us if you think about it while you serve customers behind the counters of the drug chain you work at now, it’s was really hard on me. I’m was not sleeping, I’m was not eating, and I’m I was slowly becoming a mess. He was doing a number on both me and my hubby. And he’d done this many times before, to other people because he’s so good at what he does. It’s damn scary.
But soon it was all over. He left on the day he was supposed with little fanfare. I spent time in my bedroom and called it "The Bomb Shelter" and hoped I didn't need it again. The End? Yes it did end. Very scary and I still feel something scary lingering since he left.
OH NOOOOO, ANOTHER CRAZY ROOMMATE ENTERS STAGE LEFT MORE MENTAL ILLNESS BUT SO MUCH WORSE!
So we rolled the dice again. This time another girl was scheduled to appear, and she was so convincing and gave us 6 months rent up front, a hard thing to turn down. We gave her the same deal as the others. I was getting scared all over again, and I have to blame my husband who also may be losing his mind to age and time. She showed up with tons of stuff. She was a hoarder, was very weird and ugly and her habits showed through quite quickly.
My only hope, I'm afraid to say, is to sneak off into the night and take a fast train to New Mexico and try to live out my life there. I have no other choice. This is not going to work, I'm putting myself, once again, with the wrong person! Desperation is the culprit. Who can turn down $2400 bucks? I must keep up my prayer and faith. I must keep writing and I must keep active.
BEEN THERE DONE THAT -- NOT AGAIN WITH KIM THE OWL WOMAN?
Her name was Kim. I let her move in. She fooled us too like the others. She had a mean black cat and proceeded to pepper the whole condo with little statues of owls. Owls in the bathroom, kitchen, living room, her room, everywhere. She had false teeth and had terrible living habits. She talked to herself and only watched VHS tapes of old shows from the 1970's.
I began to clean up after her. Unlike Frankie, she was always there. She was dirty, she was disgusting, I came in contact with all her body fluids. She proceeded to ream me a new asshole. She became combative and mean. She was just horrible. I could never imagine that she'd effect me as she did.
Kim was a real nightmare. Let me run it down for you... She was bringing garbage in from the outside and hoarding it. She was hoarding food and letting it rot on the shelves. This crazy, ugly, scarred woman managed to take over the whole condo. I wore platform shoes in the shower because of her unclean ways. She would rinse her false teeth in the shower and leave blood spots attached to her gum flesh. Kim was a real taskmaster and began to leave calling cards for me, among all the owl figurines. Many times I would hear her go to the bathroom, and the door would squeak loudly, driving me mad as I began to retreat to my bedroom bomb shelter.
I would have to clean up in triplets after she moved in. Her personal habits, kitchen habits and living habits were so bad I was rushing around cleaning up. Coming in contact with her bodily fluids was bad enough, but having to clean the toilet 4 times a day was ruthless on my mental and physical state. I began to scrub the floor in the bathroom and contracted skin infections that no doctor would treat unless I'd sneak in under the guise of wanting to get checked for skin cancer. I became sick both mentally and physically... so bad that I saw my shrink 3 times in one month. The only doctor that would even consider seeing me was my arthritis doctor who was a gem to help me. But my medical records were becoming frantic and this girl was with us for 6 months.
She slowly took over the whole condo. I didn't go anywhere but my bedroom which I turned into a bomb shelter. That room was my den, my living room, my kitchen, my bathroom and my hole in the wall as I saw my body cringing under her mess. She claimed to be a church going gal, but she fooled me. I think she really went to a devil church. It was as if she had done this before many times to many others and this was my turn. I'm only touching on her reign in our condo. But the neighbors were getting suspicious and standoffish because the whole time she was there, I stopped seeing my neighbors of 15 years. I felt I could hear their ears listening to it all.
The horror of Kim was so bad that I became paranoid and loud. Every word I said seemed to bounce out into the echoing alley for all to hear. And Kim talked to herself and to her mean cat. The whole place started to smell like an old woman's vagina. Kim would prance around so that her keys would jiggle and seem to love the idea of being my jailer. She pushed me back into my hole and I never ventured out unless I had to. My husband started to get Stockholm Syndrome where the captor identifies with his kidnapper.
The worst was making a makeshift bathroom in the closet of my room. I did it nicely, but there I was peeing in a cup and shitting in a bag and putting it in a makeshift latrine. I kept the room nice, it was my only place of solace. I started doing drugs, not good ones, not prescribed ones. I think you get the point here. My skin was a mess, my mental state was horrible and I was ready to put myself in a psyche ward.
How could she have gotten in and fooled me after Frankie, Ally, Ken and Stephanie? She did. I was being run through the ringer. The worst was the garbage that accumulated around her and in her little greasy room. When the bugs started to show up, I was cringing but had no help. My husband acted like it was nothing and came and went as he usually did, although he had a mini stroke the first day this girl moved in.
For the first time in my living situation, in that 15 years of living at that condo, I started to see roaches, bugs, fleas and even "BED BUGS".... I was being bitten up like a punching bag. I had bruises from head to toe. I was sick. I needed help. I had to use special expensive creams specifically for SCABIES, which I contracted due to her dirty ways. What could I do but keep trying to clean up after this girl.
To look at her brought up mental images of monsters and criminals. Specifically from the TV series Batman. She looked like the criminal on that show they called "False Face" who wore a plastic mask. Her eyes were so beady that you couldn't even tell they were blue. She wore crooked old glasses and her face was pitted and scarred. She had a great body and nice hair and boobs, but her habits were crushing me and there was nothing I could do.
I decided to log all of it in a file. I took photos, made diary entries, called Adult Protection Services, called the L.A. Dept. of Mental Health, all to no avail. When the social worker first came to our condo, he wanted to call the cops right away and have her taken out, but something tugged at me about that being the wrong thing to do. He didn't understand all the details. She'd paid us 6 months rent up front. So he suggested we make a contract to make sure she would be out by the end of the 6 months. He visited us a few times, then seemed to drift over to her side. She had a strange bewitching power to fool people and I think she fooled him over to her side. Same with the couple from the Mental Health Dept. Nothing happened, she was still owning the condo and messing it up.
I went to my shrink and showed her all the evidence, but the kindly doctor could not do a thing. She felt badly and tried to help by giving me my anxiety medicine early. By the 3rd month of Kim being there, I was a wreck, full of sores and bruises and could see the fleas and bed bugs biting me in real time.
Like Frankie, she messed up the kitchen and made the most horrible smelling food. One meal a day of eggs, bacon and bread washed down with milk. Maybe it was her fake teeth that prevented her from eating normally. She never ate in front of us, and whatever she did make, she kept in the fridge for months at a time until the whole condo was smelling like crap. She had sores all over her lips and constantly used Blistex like lipstick.
And then the big storms came... no one had seen anything like it in 60 years. The rains came and came and came. We were stuck in one room while she owned the rest of our condo. It was ruthless, she was ruthless, her cat was ruthless. During the second day of the storms I was laying on my bed picking off bed bugs and crying about my situation when her cat came to my door and hissed at me. I threw a key at it and it ran hissing all the way. I started doing that every time the cat and I crossed paths. Kim stopped getting litter and just let her cat pee and shit in an empty litter box. The smell would waft under the door of my bedroom bomb shelter every time the wind blew hard during those storms. And the smell was horrendously disgusting and turned my stomach. My husband and Kim didn't seem to get one bug bite. Just me, I was the only one. I asked her to clean up and she spat at me, "Do it yourself if you don't like it!"
The whole condo got dark and clammy. It was dirty inside out. Everyone knew about this strange ugly woman. She roamed around the building saying who knows what about me to others. They installed security cameras and I would think they were gathering evidence against us for having a roommate like her as a sub tenant which was against HOA rules.
In the beginning I noticed the toilet bled and the water was dripping onto the tiles in the bathroom. I emailed the HOA, they never even answered. I emailed the owner of the condo, a friend of ours for 15 years, never causing any problems until now. He must have been in on trying to gather evidence against us, because no one answered until the bed bugs came.
My emails to them were very hyper focused. I tried to pass her off as a live in companion due to my husband's ailments. I don't think it flew with them. Kim was just too in their faces, and I'm sure they heard every word we said. She also would talk to her cat loudly in her room. Then when she went out, she'd return screaming as she was walking down the hall and into the condo with those keys swishing at her waist. Even my hubby became a sort of jailer since he began to suffer Stockholm Syndrome.
There seems no way out. Kim kept up her barrage of hoarding and bringing in garbage and pillows that held bugs and fleas. She just didn't give up until I was about to blow up, which I did quite frequently... directing it at her. I'm sure the whole condo complex heard it and were gathering all the info they could, including all my candid emails to the HOA and the owner of the condo, a good pal of my husband's.
Then the exterminators showed up. They began to spray for bed bugs and other pests. But there I was breathing it in and farting the smell out, tasting it in my mouth, burping the smell out. If there were any bed bugs in my body, they were for sure dead. Those exterminators had seen nothing like what they saw in our condo. There must have been thousands and thousands of bugs and fleas. They came 5 times to spray and little by little I had to throw out everything I loved... my memories, my photos, my albums, my clothes, hubby's clothes and photos and whatever these little critters clung to. By the 3rd time the bug killers came, Kim had enough and vacated within 2 hours and was gone! Her destruction of me and our place was evident. I was a shambles, the place was a shambles and I noticed the rugs were black and dirty, totally gross. It took me days to get the place in some order but by that time the bed bugs had taken over and I was getting bitten so I came into the living room and slept in a chair with a thick towel as my blanket. Signs went up in the building about the situation and we were being shunned by the other tenants and my husband's theater friends who knew the owner of the condo. All of them must have been mortified.
My husband kept up the Stockholm Syndrome attitude even after this girl left. She left with all her crap, her owls, her cat, never to be seen again. But the damage was totally done. There was no going back, I knew the landlord was going to evict us and he did. We had 90 days to get out. In that 90 days I was a wreck and had to throw out all our things we had accumulated. I slept in that horrid chair while the neighbors across from me put up shades and blocked me out. I knew they were doing it. And the bug killers kept finding their way into our unit and were spraying under it, above it and through cable holes, that's how bad the bugs were.
We had to go. But where? Then a ray of hope thorough Craigslist came though. A woman and her husband from New Mexico answered my frantic ad and were going to let us move in there.... We had to move out to New Mexico. Just when the deal was going to be sealed, the lady called frantically saying someone wrote on the ad "do not rent to these people, they have bed bugs and are dirty!" That was Kim still trying to get to us. She had moved in to a friend's office and settled in. But her treachery was still clinging to me. I begged the woman not to believe the message, that is was from a crazy girl I let move into our condo. She believed me and we prepared to leave our abode of 15 years.
We began the task of getting out. By the next month I had the place in as good as order as I could muster under the circumstances. The bugs just lingered even with the spraying. The HOA was ruthless with us. The owner was horrid to us. They wanted us out so badly I felt like a shotgun wedding bride. How could this have happened? I wasn't a dumb woman and just wanted a little help with rent until hubby got on his feet and we could handle it. It was pure horror and I'm leaving out so much. I think people get the idea. Maybe my part II will bring more to light, but for now I am ending this nightmare safely tucked away in a beautiful 10 bedroom villa at the top of Albuquerque living with a nice older couple. The place is spic and span! The couple were adoring and we all get along. I sometimes cringe about bugs coming back to bite me but the bruises left my body after being here for 1 month. I started to feel calmer. I found new doctors and our life changed. We are thriving here and Kim's bad assed ways didn't totally destroy me. The couple loves us and are glad they didn't listen to Kim's message.
I've emailed this horrid girl to tell her we had found refuge and all her mess didn't crunch us to death. I'm sure she is living exactly how she always did. I placed, as an experiment, an ad for a house in North Hollywood really cheap and tailored the ad to reel Kim in. It worked, she answered it and said her name was Carrie McLeod, the same name she gave me in the beginning. Then she must have caught on because the next thing I know the ad was flagged as fake, which it was. But I know she knows we survived. I'm sure of it. So much more I want to say about Kim's reign in my old condo, but now life is better, non stress, maybe too non stress. I'm sure as time passes her face and memories will fade slowly. For now I am in a brand new place at peace now. So is hubby, although there's not much to do here yet, due to money and location being so high up and far from the crowds. But I can tell you there are no bugs thank God!
There is always life experience moments though. It's not all for nothing. I could have gone home, ran and begged one of my mother's producer friends or socialite pals to save me from Kim. And seriously ... all I wanted was to make rent and live in peace, do my writing and music and be with my husband. I started to play my guitar again and do my writing. It took many months of being here in New Mexico to erase the horror of what these people did to me and how I failed in my dreams and career.
They always loved to hear my latest song, or have me play a favorite. But it always was original with all of us. Justin quieting and calm, dark and mysterious as he stared at me from across the balcony with those dark, dark, dark brown eyes.
So here we are back to the beginning of why I even wrote this expose. It's 33 years later after James, Ken and Stephanie. I've not seen James in 10 years. And as for Ken & Stefanie, triple that time, even longer. So now that in recent years, my life has slowed to a crawl mostly due to my own husband of 15 years who is much older than me.
Due to my husband, whom wasn't even figured into my puzzle. I'd been with many mean, some very old, and one very young. I had been head over heels in love with my college sweetheart, if you'd call it that. It became hard to really feel for most of the men I was with during that time when my entertainment life should have been fruitful.
I always thought for many years that being some sort of Anxiety Counselor might be the thing for me. It wasn't. I sometimes wonder how I would have handled the roommate situations if I'd kept at the Social Work rather than change during my second year at college. Would I have ever come out to California in the first place? And if i did, would I have dealt with things better? Would I have quickly moved in with those certain roommates that seemed to change the course of my destiny.
Finally, the nightmare ended and I'm left with haunting memories of this horrid girl named Kim. I was in the clutches of a most horrid woman who passed herself off as a good roommate, but had turned out to be a totally scary, dirty clamor. Couldn't write when I was living in her horror!
Stay Tuned "HOW TO TURN YOUR BEDROOM INTO A BOMB SHELTER" AKA "KIM THE TERRIBLE "WHAT IS THAT ON MY ARMS and LEGS?"