BUT YOU CAN PAY FOR A PREVIEW.
When her promised stardom fails to materialize, struggling actress Sarah Lassez finds solace in psychics who predict the coming of the man of her dreams. She's sure she's found him in Wilhelm, a suave hotel sous-chef from Germany. But mayhem ensues when she takes the words of the psychics over the words of her actual boyfriend and is convinced he's about to propose when in reality he's planning to leave the country . . . without her.
Sarah's world dissolves into a haze of credit card debt, loneliness, and a raging addiction to psychics that threatens to destroy her finances, her relationships, and her sanity. She knows she needs help. But getting it will mean confronting the fact that life is not to be controlled or predicted, and though dealing with reality isn't always easy, at least it doesn't cost $4.99 a minute.
Psychic Junkie is a true story of life and love in Los Angeles, narrated by an endearing protagonist whose search for answers will resonate with everyone who has ever tried to make sense of career, relationships, and adulthood.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Psychic JunkieA Memoir
By Sarah Lassez
Simon Spotlight EntertainmentCopyright © 2006 Sarah Lassez
All right reserved.
For Entertainment Purposes Only
I've just been told my relationship is celery.
For two weeks I've been hiding in my room, which looks as though it has suffered a raid from a very disrespectful FBI team. I'm flat broke, unemployed, and rarely showered. And now I'm dating produce. Or was dating produce. Or am produce? I'm trying to figure that out -- are you what your relationship is, and hence I'm celery? -- when I realize I'm paying for silence. The word "celery" has thrown me. In the past, psychics have called Wilhelm many things (my favorite to this point being a hippopotamus; a deceivingly sedate plant eater one would, it turns out, be wise to fear), and I'd always rebounded quickly. But celery? Celery takes the man I love, aching green eyes and high German cheekbones, and replaces him with something that is, let's face it, tasteless unless dipped in ranch.
I press the phone closer to my ear. I have to say something. "Celery?" I say. Brilliant, Sarah. Great response. Well worth the long expensive pause.
"Yes.Celery." The psychic now sounds irritated, as if everyone should be aware there's a good chance their relationship is celery. Clearly I'm a troublemaker. "Celery that's been snapped in two. You know those stringy things at the end? That's what's holding you together. Those stringy things. So you're not completely separated, because the two pieces, you and him, are being held together by those stringy things, which are essentially -- "
"Yeah, okay," I say, interrupting her monologue on the workings and philosophical implications of celery. "I get it. So, do you see us getting back together?"
She takes a long, deep, punishing breath. I'm not kidding that it's punishing -- at $7.99 a minute, I think I just paid $1.30 for her to inhale and exhale.
"Yes," she says eventually. "I do. But it's gonna take a while. He's a turtle right now. Moving verr-rry slowwww-ly. Picture a turtle -- "
Great. I can't afford groceries, but I just paid a bitchy psychic to tell me my relationship is celery and the man I love is a turtle. I hang up. At least Wilhelm and I are getting back together. On to the next one. Redial.
"Welcome to Psychicdom. Please hold while we connect you with your adviser."
"Hello, this is Glenda."
Now, Glenda has one of those sultry voices that sounds slick with brandy and primed for a smoke, as if she spends her afternoons reclining languidly in ivory silk, wrist bent just so, exotic eyes lending an impression of eternal boredom that causes men to trip and stutter. Though this is what she sounds like, if I had to put money on it, I'd say she's actually wearing sweatpants, is stuffing her face with bonbons, and has just put her game of video poker on pause. I cross my fingers. Make me happy, Glenda. "HithisisSarahandIwannaknowwhat'sgonnahappenwithWilhelm."
If you spread out those words, maybe slowed down while speaking so they are each on their own (as, technically, words should be), they would look like this: "Hi, this is Sarah and I want to know what's going to happen with Wilhelm." At one point they did look like that, but as my addiction to psychics advanced (and my credit card debt increased), I developed an issue with paying to hear my own voice, and those words sped up, eventually taking permanent residence at the tip of my tongue, a tightly banded cluster ready to hurl itself out at whoever might be within earshot. So trained is my mouth to form these words that I've actually verged on answering the phone this way. "Hello?" is traditional and expected, but answering with "HithisisSarahandIwannaknowwhat'sgonnahappenwithWilhelm" would be much more true to who I am and what's on my mind. Sadly, anyone who knows me well enough to be calling would not be thrown by this.
"Ah, Wilhelm," Glenda says, as if he's a new toy who's just stumbled into her boudoir. "Wilhelm. Willlllhelmmmm . . ."
I hear the shuffling of tarot cards, that all-too-familiar repetitive flutter, the flutter that stalks me in my sleep the way the jangling bells of slot machines stalk those over-oxygenated empty-pocketed souls who've spent too much time in Vegas. I also hear a lawn mower starting up next door, and for a second I'm reminded that an entire world exists outside that I am in no way a part of. Apparently people still have lawns. This upsets me. How can people care about grass when Wilhelm isn't calling me? How can grass even exist if Wilhelm doesn't love me?
Glenda begins to tsk-tsk, as if she doesn't care for the cards she's seeing, though in truth I bet she just looked back up at her game of video poker and realized she was one spade away from a flush. Meanwhile, I accidentally glimpse the unruly stack of envelopes on my nightstand, each with plastic address windows (Look away! Those are bills!), and my heart speeds up. Depending on what Glenda says about Wilhelm, I may have to ask her if I'll be rich soon. Of course, I haven't had an audition in weeks . . . but then again, I never found out what happened with that last audition, so there is a chance they haven't chosen anyone and they could still cast me. I should hang up and call my agent. I eye the phone. I really don't want to talk to my agent. She's always so rushed and annoyed, as if somehow she's perpetually boarding a plane, and often I wonder if that's because she has no clue who I am. Besides, it's not as if she'd really know what the producers thought. Much better to just ask Glenda how the audition went.
"I sense distance," Glenda says finally. "Emotional or physical or mental. But I also see sudden communication. Things will be full of hope! He's very sorry for what he's done, and you'll be back in each other's arms in three to ten days."
I shove wadded up Kleenex off my laptop, about to add her name to my "Psychics I Like and Why" document, when she continues.
"But then the cycle will repeat itself, and this time the break is permanent. Darling, he's not the one for you. And I -- "
I hang up without saying good-bye, just like they do on TV. That always used to bug me. I mean, how much extra effort does it take to say good-bye? But they don't. They hold the phone in their glossy-nailed grips and without warning place it in the cradle so they can stare off, contemplatively, at nothing. I always wanted to scream, "Say good-bye!" But now I understand. At some point in TV history there was an editor who realized that the two seconds it took to say that word were costly -- and "good-bye" was forever banished. I understand because I myself now know the cost of good-bye.
Who's next? I search the Web site, studying pictures of psychics, trying to find one who looks kind and open. I bet most of these psychics are bitter, that's the problem. Wilhelm and I aren't over; I just need to find someone who still believes in true love, that's all. My eyes scan to the bottom of the page, and I see it: the disclaimer. I've never noticed this before. I read through a snarl of legal-sounding words that ends with the proclamation that these readings are "for entertainment purposes only." I reread that phrase. I start to laugh.
This, this stupid disclaimer, is the only thing I've found to be entertaining on this site. Everything else is purely evil, creating a tormented agony similar to -- I would imagine -- that of a sugar-craving diabetic locked inside a chocolate factory. They must have been confused when they chose their words. Maybe what they really meant to say, in claiming the site was for entertainment purposes only, was this: "You, like countless others, will not take these readings lightly. You will use this site as a tool to destroy your life, and you will have no fun doing it. What you are embarking on will lead to overwhelming debt, debilitating self-doubt, and an addiction that will rule your every thought. This will not be entertaining at all. At least not to you, it won't be. To others it will be hysterical. Your silly little existence is now for entertainment purposes only. Good luck, and don't forget to leave feedback."
If only people came with disclaimers. Mine would be written in graceful lavender-colored scroll, revealed with a flick of my bangs: "Sarah is a wonderful person who is capable of immense love and caring -- as well as psychotic and obsessive behavior. Be warned that should you not provide an engagement ring within a year, the real Sarah will crack through her marriage-isn't-all-that-important facade and you will find yourself scared and in jewelry stores. Proceed with caution." And of course Wilhelm's disclaimer would reflect his difficulties with the English language: "Thinks declaring 'I intend to marry you' to a thirty-year-old woman is just harmless conversation that would never be taken seriously. Ultimately claims no responsibility for his words, may periodically develop amnesia, and believes saying 'I meant the marriage thing at the time' is acceptable and would never cause said thirty-year-old woman to spontaneously combust."
Of course no one listens to warnings. Especially not me, and especially not about psychics. After all, I've amassed far too much debt calling these psychics, and made countless decisions based on their readings, and now I'm being told this is just for fun? Are they kidding? On to the next one!
"Welcome to Psychicdom. Please hold while we connect you with your adviser."
"Hi, you've got Andre."
I've got Andre? Is it curable? No, Sarah, don't mock the psychic, just speak. "HithisisSarahandIwannaknowwhat'sgonnahappenwithWilhelm."
"There's a vibration between the two of you," he says, jumping right in without pause, as if he'd actually been thinking of our relationship before I called and was just dying to tell someone his theories. "I see shaky streams of red and purple, these throbbing colors between you."
Fabulous. Andre's voice is light and airy as if his entire body is filled with happy helium and more than anything he longs to float away, to just float away and join seagulls and stars and nestle inside a cloud. I hate people like this -- they can talk for hours and still you have no clue what they're saying. This call settles it; I'm having a bad psychic day.
"You need to detach from him," he continues. "Reliance on him is painful. Take back your power! You need to become more like him for him to become more like you."
Oh, for the love of God, won't someone just give me a straight answer? I can't afford this! With as much dignity as a girl who's been wearing the same 1980s B.U.M. Equipment sweatshirt for two weeks can muster, I shriek, "But will we get back together? Does he love me?"
This does not throw Andre. I can only begin to imagine the things people have shrieked at him, and yet, being the professional that he is, he remains calm. "Yes, he loves you. Be patient. You should feel very confident that you'll be together again, because I do see it very clearly."
Andre is the man! I love Andre! Now I'll ask The Big Question. The Big Question is only ever asked when I feel certain the answer will be yes. "Will we get married?"
He doesn't miss a beat. "The proposal's in August. Marriage in a year and a half to two years. I see peonies in your bouquet. Just lovely."
My heart soars, my face stretches into a grin that would frighten children and threaten animals. At the moment, Wilhelm considers us over and thinks he's moving on, but clearly that's because he hasn't realized we're getting married. Poor unaware Wilhelm. Of course I've always known we'd get back together. We've gone through too much for our relationship to have just been some transitory fling. In this case especially, good-bye is not something I'm willing to say.
Beep. "One minute remaining."
"Do you see anything else?"
"Changes will be very positive for the two of you. Your relationship will be an offshoot of what it was. But I feel his fear of getting close. You need to be patient. Does he have green eyes?"
My breath catches. "Yes." Beautiful green eyes. Green eyes like lucky clovers, like a secret tropical lagoon, like grass after a rain, like . . . celery?
"I see him walking toward you holding out a -- "
No! "Holding what, holding what!"
"Holding -- "
"Hello. Sorry to interrupt your call. To continue your conversation at the rate of $4.99 a minute, you will need to add to your account. To add twenty-nine dollars, press one. To add fifty-nine dollars, press two. To add a dollar amount of your choice, press three. To end this call, press four."
No! Don't end this call! I'm pressing three, I'll enter thirty bucks! Here, take it! Float back to me, Andre! Don't nestle in a cloud! Come back!
"Don't forget to leave feedback at the end of your call."
Of course! I love Andre -- put him back on the line!
"I'm sorry, but your credit card has been declined. Please hold for an operator."
Copyright ©2006 by Sarah Lassez
Excerpted from Psychic Junkie by Sarah Lassez Copyright © 2006 by Sarah Lassez. Excerpted by permission.
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