Calabasas, California Area
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Henderson, Nevada Area
Hollister, California Area
I don’t know where to start this one. But, here goes. When I met Paul I was still in party mode in Los Angeles but slowing it down. Most of my nights out involved the fashion scene in one way or another. I still had a few crazy nights out here and there, but I was beginning to crave a different lifestyle. I had a jewelry studio space in the Taft building on Hollywood and Vine. Probably, easily, one of the most iconic Hollywood buildings to exist. Clark Gable had had an office there and it was rumored that he used to play cards in the basement during his lunch hour. My little office space faced the Hollywood sign and the Capital Records building. I was on the third floor with windows that opened up all the way and sometimes I would just lean out of the window, look across to the Pantages Theatre (where the Oscars were held back in the 20’s) and really take in Hollywood. As I walked out of my building everyday I walked on all the stars with the names of the people who made Hollywood what it is.
I was running a successful business, not making millions, but I had employees, my jewelry was being placed in every fashion magazine, stylists came in daily to pull my latest designs for their next shoot, I had won the prestigious fashion award “Fresh Face in Fashion” given by GenArt every year, things were good.
It was fashion week when I met Paul. I was dressed to the nine when we met and he was shooting pool in a Venice Bar. We started off rather quickly and before I knew it, he had moved in. I never lived with guys, the only man before Paul that I lived with, other than platonic roommates, was my husband in San Francisco. But as quickly as they had moved forward, they came to an abrupt halt when I found nude pictures that he was sending to some girl from his cell phone. It was during this break up that I discovered I was pregnant. He was moving to Hawaii to surf the big surf in the winter (even though it was summer, it takes months to prepare yourself to surf those waves). I met up with him before he left and we decided to give it another try, so he moved in for the the couple of weeks before he left. He had planned to come back in time for the birth of the baby, but after just a few weeks in Hawaii, he did the right thing and came back home to help me during the pregnancy. He was there to hear the heart beat for the first time and we moved from our apartment building in Hancock Park to a home with a pool in Lake Balboa (The Valley).
I was so grateful to have him during the pregnancy becuase he really was a great help. When I got put on bedrest for the last couple of months of my pregnancy I could not have gotten through it without his help and Greg, my bench jeweler that I had spent the past year or more training), and Kim, my assistant who ran the office. I had a short cervix and apparantly she could just drop out at any moment. They hospitilized me, and were going to keep me there for the duration of the pregnancy, but I begged them to let me go home assuring them that I had plenty of help. And I did. I can honestly say my daughter owes her life to Greg, Kim and Paul, and me staying horizontal for 2 months, NOT easy!
But, alas, pregnancy, and having a newborn are very stressful times and I didn’t understand a lot about addiction. I really didn’t know very many sober people. Everyone I knew partyied, but were “functional partyiers”, if that makes sense. We all had jobs, lives, and yes, we were hung over often, but it didn’t stop our lives. When Paul told me he was sober for five years my thought was, “Great, a desegnated driver!” Somewhere in all of this he started using again. It took me a couple of weeks to notice something was off, because, as I learned later, he is a true professional. I kicked him out and he was sleeping in his car and called me around the holidays begging me to help him detox, he was done. Boy did I EVER not know what that involved. But, it was the holidays, I loved him, so of course, come home. It was hell. I had a friend, Marina, staying with me for about a week to help out with Brianne because the holidays I am literally working 18 hour days. It’s my money making time. So now I have a 9 month old baby and a 51 year old man detoxing from Heroin in my bedroom. His cries of help got so bad that he (and Marina) actually convinced me that he needed to go downtown to score just to ween off (we tried a morphine clilnic, but they were not open), a hospital was out of the question because they would admit him, for some crazy reason I found myself driving him to downtown LA and for the first time in my life, I watched someone shoot Heroin. I was speechless, truly, my stomach was sick, I felt dirty. This did get him through the weekend and on monday we got him to the Morphine clinic. I thought that was it, it was over. I even book tickets for the three of us to go to New York in January. What a mistake. Appartantly, morhpine is worse than Heroin. So as we were on our way to New York, Paul was getting very uncomfortable. He told me the second day in that he wanted to go to a meeting, but, you know, one where there were “like” people. So he asked me where an area like Venice beach, or the Haight in SF was in New York to which I responded with “St. Marks”. We took a taxi togehter and I gave him some money for a taxi back to the hotel, a coffee and money to put in the cup. He called hours later saying he didn’t have taxi money to get back home and I knew. I told him he would have to find his own way back and that I didn’t care if he came back at all. He eventually did saying that he called Craig Stecyk and he had given him money. Craig wrote later somewhere that when he met up with Paul that night, he knew it was the last time he would ever see him. When he made his way back I made him sleep on the couch. We really didn’t talk much of the way back to California and as soon as we were back I told him he had to go into a facility. He went into Clare Foundation and a month later I thought it was all behind us.
Things had gotten pretty good for a while. Paul was a loving, doting father. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a father look at his daughter the way Paul did. He was gentle, kind, patient. She was daddy’s girl. We took weekend trips as a family, went to the beach almost every weekend. He was already talking about how to start teaching her to surf and was pulling her around in our pool on a surfboard. He had her on a skateboard in diapers. She was definately the second generation of the Dogtown Zboys.
I think it was about six or so months later when things got bad again and he was stealing money from my account, borrowing money from neighbors, even taking money from Briannes piggy bank. It was when he got my car towed and put in jail because he was pulled over and a needle and other paraphenelia were found on him. I didn’t get my car back for a week. This time, I made him go in for 6 months. It was so hard having a baby, running a business. running a household so when he said he been kicked out a month early for fighting, I was almost relieved. He came back home just in time for Briannes 2nd birthday party. But he had stipulations this time. Things he had to do. When two months went by and he hadn’t done them and we were starting to fight again I told him he had to go into sober living. As soon as he did, he got a job.
I think he was there for about a month or so and he was able to come home once in a while. I took him out to a very nice fathers day dinner, but we decided about that time to be separated until I was sure he was clean and sober. I knew, in my heart, that we were going to end up together again, I loved him. But then the signs starting happening again. I tried not to believe it for a week, but in my heart, I just knew. He had my car on a monday and ran into the house to give me the keys, barely saying hi to Brianne as she is crying out “dada dada dada”. I sayed, as he was running out the door, “aren’t you going to say hi to your daughter?”, to which he quickly ran over, picked her up, kissed her and darted off. Not normal. That was the last time I ever saw Paul Cullen. By tuesday night he said he lost his charger and couldn’t afford another, so we couldn’t talke for a couple of days. By thursday I told him I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. He sent out a text that sounded like a suicide note and I responded frantically in tears to please not do anything, his daughter needed him, I loved him. The next day he text back saying, “all is well, no drugs at all, love you very much”.
I went shopping in the mall in Topanga on saturday with Brianne, alone as usual, very sad and ignored his calls all morning, which I never did. I got home to an empty house and missed him so much it was excruciating. I had sort of been seeing an old flame long distance for the past few weeks and had told Paul about it. But it was Paul that I loved. I wanted him to get well, I wanted us to be a family. I finally broke down around three that afternoon and called him. He didn’t answer. I knew why. By this time he was high. I finally started to get angry later that night when I still hadn’t heard back from him. I mean, really? You’ve been trying to call me all day and now you’re ignoring me? He text back something mean, I text something mean. Finally I called him and left a message. Simply put I told him I couldn’t do this anymore and that he was to leave me and Brianne alone forever. Within two or three hours of that call, he was dead.