I don’t live in a particularly glamorous area of Los Angeles. In fact it’s not glamorous at all. It’s the kind of neighborhood with both a shut-up elementary school surrounded by chain-link fence that attracts graffiti artists, as well as a shopping mall that features stores like Ferragamo and Burberry. I’m pretty sure my neighbors aren’t buying the out-sourced products sold there and I know I’m not. At any rate, in this same middle-of-the-demographic neighborhood, exists a house. It’s a monstrosity of a place–huge and ugly and out of keeping with the one story ranch houses around it; most particularly MY house directly next door, a brown stucco number built in the 1960s with vintage electrical wiring and plumbing from the same era.
My arrival in the ‘hood occurred at the nadir of the housing crisis. If not for the decline in market values, I would never have been able to buy in this or any other neighborhood for that matter…. but that’s another story.
Note: This is not a plot in one of my novels. At least not yet. This is the true story of the house next door to mine in one corner of the city of LA.
From time to time, I’m going to share with you some of the books we Muffs have read or, as I suggested in another post, most of us have read. When you look at the selections, there’s really no theme, even though some statistician might come along and say, “Over time, the Muffia’s reading choices are 21% memoir, 40% authored by women, 63% fiction, 11% historical, 92.5% contain graphic sex, etc.” And yeah, you’re right, this adds up to way more than 100%, which shows you how much I value statistics–often they just don’t add up. I took a course called Statistical Analysis in college and the book we read was, How To Lie with Statistics, so I feel confident making the claim. But this doesn’t alter the fact that the Muffia Book Club reading list is as scattershot as the randomly choosing titles from any metropolitan library. We’re as likely to choose the new Hilary Mantel novel as we are a book about shoe fetishists.
The Muffia is a Los Angeles based, all-women’s book club. We share a love of food, clothes, sex, books and wine—well, actually we enjoy most kinds of alcohol. Generally, all of us read the books our hostess (it’s a rotating position) chooses but there are a couple of miscreants—like Lauren—who hardly ever do. They have become adjectives, so predictable are they. To be flakey and cancel at the last minute, or to not read the book is to be “Laureny.” When Lauren reads the book for a change and somebody else, like Quinn, doesn’t read the book, we say she is the “new Lauren.” The members of the Muffia, henceforward known as the “Muffs,” have complicated lives and often complicated relationships, which sometimes get us into trouble. We’ve also been known to stir up new trouble—even when it can be avoided. Usually it’s because some wrong needs to be righted, small as that wrong might be. Someone needs to take care of these things. And sometimes we get into trouble just because!
You probably know me as Anna but the truth is, I was given the name Ann Royal Nicholas at birth. It always felt like too big a name and I went by Annie until I was twenty because whenever I said Ann Nicholas, people invariably heard: Ann Ickles. When Wilhelmina signed me, she thought Anna was more fitting and I’ve been going by Anna ever since.
Who would have thought there’d be a plethora of Anna Nicholases out there–many of whom are also actresses and writers. One of them is almost hostile toward me.
So my team suggested I was now grown up enough to use my real name on my new book while eliminating future confusion and threats. But my name is still Anna. At this point, it’s become part of me and I’ve earned it. What’s in a name anyway? I’m an actress. I change my name all the time!