From Hollywood to Nuggettown

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

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Posted March 22, 2012 in Arts & Culture

Blair Witch actress Heather Donahue found greener pastures

Nothing ever happens the way you think it will.

Once upon a time, for instance, you had your future mapped out. You knew where you were going, you had an image of yourself in mind, and maybe you’d even gained a toe-hold on making that image a reality.

Then it happened that others had a different image for you, which made it easy to lose sight of who you really were. That’s when life got a whole lot disjointed. In the new memoir Growgirl, the opposite happened to Heather Donahue. In her case, life became definitely . . .  jointed.

Heather Donahue was an actress—or, at least that’s why she moved to Hollywood.

She knew that she could have done anything with her life, but no other option “sound[ed] as much fun as being an actress.” Eventually, Donahue became “that girl on The Blair Witch Project,” and appeared in a few other bit parts.

But the fun didn’t last and neither did the calls for work—which was okay, since Donahue “wanted [her] story back.” Heavy-hearted, she purged herself of everything to do with her former Hollywood career and escaped to a meditation retreat, where she met a man.

His name was Judah and he fell for Donahue right away. He lived in a place called Nuggettown, a little burg on top of a huge vein of gold, though the only gold that Judah had was of the smoke-able kind. That appealed to Donahue in a freshly-independent, sassy-woman kind of way.

She agreed to apprentice with Judah. She learned how to grow, tend and nurture barely-legal medical marijuana plants but, by the time her apprenticeship was done, Donahue and Judah had parted ways.

By then, though, Donahue was determined to be a country girl. She signed a one-year lease a house in the woods, got a dog and some chickens, and reluctantly accepted help from The Community to start her own growhouse.

But “the girls,” as Donahue thought of her plants, required a lot of tending. Their needs were specific or they wouldn’t flourish. It was imperative to know that “when a bud is ripe, it’s time to harvest, trim up, move on.”

Which was good advice for a growgirl, too.

Oh, my, there’s plenty of unconventionality inside Growgirl—so much so, that I didn’t like this book at first. Author Heather Donahue’s wry sense of humor and sarcastic bluntness takes some getting used to, but her wide-eyed blundering into farming (even farming of the weed-encouraging kind) is genuine, appealing and keeps readers wondering what could possibly happen next.

After awhile, though I started to think that the babe-in-the-woods, carefree, semi-slacker personae is what really makes this book so much fun. The anticipation (will she get caught?) and the sweet conclusion make it even more addicting.

In the end, I think that if you’re looking for a quirky, uncommon memoir, you shouldn’t waste time going through the shelves of some book joint. No, I think you should just grab Growgirl because, for you, it’s a good read.

Growgirl by Heather Donahue, Gotham Books, 286 pages. List price $26.


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