Call of the Wild (From Siri With Love)

Hello, Lovelies! Don’t you LOVE waking up to a mean old white guy reckoning???

I also love that it’s finally cold enough in the city for me to wear my va-jay-jay coat! This is actually a super soft mom-coat that I got from Uniqlo last year—on sale. I call it that because it’s literally as soft and warm and great as the inside of a vagina. It’s like wearing one around your whole person. In fact, Uniqlo, you should really just re-brand the coat as that. (Just my two yen)

I don’t know about you but every now and then, I have these Liz Lemon-style montage moments where I decide to take charge of my life! Usually, they involve deciding to eat fewer cheese curls or to stop dating guys who look like pirates or to stop putting off some irksome chore around the house.

Yesterday’s montage manifested as finally deciding to clean the bugs out of the big overhead light in the kitchen. Ordinarily, this is a two-person job since a) I am a chick with limited upper body strength and b) I really don’t like bugs at all. Anything that skitters freaks me the fuck out. I once had to stop working on a horror film because just writing the death-by-bug scenes bothered me too much. But I’m feeling pretty boss these days after finishing the book, so there I am in the kitchen, on the step ladder, whispering to myself: “I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid, I’m in charge here. It’s just a bunch of little bug corpses. I was a Girl Scout blah-dee-blah…”

And I’m easing the unwieldy light panel down from the ceiling when my sock catches on a nail on one of the ladder’s steps and I start to fall backward. As I’m falling, I peer up over the edge of the light panel and the dead bugs (one of which includes a mid-sized Manhattan cockroach) are all sliding toward my wide open mouth which is, of course, now shouting “Fuck, fuck, fuuuuuuuuuck…!!!”

At the same time, my phone, which is plugged in on the kitchen counter, blinks to life and Siri shouts “Alisa, I would NEVER speak to you that way!”

And I’m so shocked by her out-of-the-blue, on-command humanity that I do this twisting cat-like sproing off the ladder, right out of my socks and land fine while also missing the whole mouthful of bugs. (Phew!)

Thank you, Siri, for the unexpected tone check? I’ll so take scolding over critters.

The last time I got that up close and personal with wildlife was when I was dealing with a band of very brazen raccoons in Glen Ellen, California. The artsy, walkable village some fifty miles North of San Francisco in the heart of the Sonoma wine country was once home to Jack London. At the behest of some dear friends, I’d gone there to hide out after two grim reconstructive surgeries. I wanted to write about what it felt like to be monstrous. I certainly looked the part back then. Because of the nature of my accident, I’d broken a number of teeth, but I had one tooth–a pointy canine–that stuck out sideways, almost perpendicular to the others. So deeply rooted down into the bone are human canines, there was no fixing it or even extracting it until the rest of my shattered face and jaw healed. For the time being, I was White Fang, living in Jack’s town near what was once known as Wolf House.

I wanted to make some wholesale changes in my life starting with finally getting a handle on my seizures. Alone in Glen Ellen, with only my despair, a bunch of heat-seeking raccoons, and my kindled brain for company, I started to re-read To Build a Fire, London’s seminal short story. There’s a scene where the character is beating his fist against the side of his leg to get feeling back and survive. I so related to that bit—the regaining of feeling or at least feeling more human than wild. I was worried I might not. Still, I wrote and wrote right to the very edge of my fear that winter. I am profoundly grateful to the family who allowed me to be a writer-in-residence there. With the recent spate of devastating wildfires in Glen Ellen, Napa, St. Helena, and Santa Rosa I just hope everyone is refinding their footing amid flashes of unexpected humanity–though not necessarily from Siri.

Stay rad, Lovelies and have a human day – xoxo – GG

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Little Fires Everywhere

 

Hello, Lovelies… How the hell are you?

Yet another rollicking couple of weeks for self-described narcissism expert, grief counselor-in-training, and aspiring diminutive hand model… DJT. But I can’t think about that ridiculous yahoo right now. Are you done with those college essays?

It’s been a wild few days here. Halloween was unspeakable tragedy followed quite literally by plucky resiliency. Witness this guy below dressed as a chicken telling a reporter he’s not scared.

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You have to love a town where “none of your business” means, of course, it’s everyone’s business, which somehow makes you less afraid. Everyone’s right there, so what could possibly go wrong? But then it does, which is why we have to look out for each other. If you roll an ankle in a pothole, a New Yorker will surely catch you.

I woke up and it was blustery as all get out with serious Mary Poppins antics downstairs. I had an email from my editor asking about changing the title of my book on motherhood, comedy, and neurology to appeal to a broader audience of women positioning it as Gilmore Girls-meets-neurology…which I admit, I’m kind of grooving on but need to see the cover before I fully commit. I’m still such a visual nerd.

Then, my neurologist (who lives downstairs because, of course, it’s New York and everyone’s right here) phoned up to say, “Holy cats, lady! From this latest scan, even on all the drugs, your brain is still wicked electric.”

“Aw man, does this mean all my sobriety and juicing is for nothing?”

“No, your skin looks fabulous. But yeah, it’s like there are little fires everywhere.”

“You know, you really shouldn’t say those sorts of things to epilepsy patients. They might take you seriously. I just finished that book by the way.”

“What book?”

“Little Fires Everywhere.”

“Ooh, how was it?”

“SO riveting. Celeste Ng is such a badass. The conversations about race were like finely woven cloth and the sense of maternal longing at the end was completely palpable. It gave me chills.”

“Wow, no wonder you’re sparking. Look, I’m voting we have you go back into the hospital to the epilepsy unit so we can figure out what’s going on, film your sleep, etc.”

So back I go. It will be my gazillionth time in a skullcap… It’s a tough look to pull off. I really don’t have the head for it. At my age, what you want is volume without frizz. Wow, do I really miss having stupid problems 🙂 Still, I believe in science and I believe in figuring this out. If it means playing the part of a lab rat Chez Lenox Hill for a few days, I plan to savor every tedious, annoying second of it and make it totally funny anthropology.

November is epilepsy awareness month. The types of seizures I have are the scary kind you often see portrayed in the media. Think of Will at the end of season 2 of Stranger Things and you’ll have an idea.

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Life just gets shaken to pieces. In the eight years that I’ve dealt with this condition, my biggest learning is that you think the human brain is weird but it turns out… the human brain is weirder than you can think. With little fires everywhere, it’s our last undiscovered country, our biggest, most complicated upside down.

But here I go… Stay rad and have a meaningful day – xoxo – GG

 

And the Award for Most Likely Monster Goes to…

Harvey Weinstein… OR failed Propecia spokesmodel and great Trumpkin himself… OR the above very dedicated plainclothes New York cop?

Usually, it’s the mother who gets it in the end (see below my cat-canary get up from ages ago… har-dee-har)

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But this year… my money’s on number two, Lovelies! That guy is going down.

Happy Halloween! I’d say have a raucous one except that the world already feels a little too much that way and college essays are due tomorrow… so I’ll most likely be doing some histrionic handwringing a la our faves here… (yes, we’re looting the Trocaire box for the six-to-eight children)

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In the meantime, stay rad, stay safe and I have so much to tell you very soon!

oxox – GG

You Know You’ve Made It When…

You suddenly find yourself on the Darkweb. Indeed, if people in North-South-Western Siberia are pirating your hard-won, pithy zingers, at least you know your work is probably never going away.

Someone at your reading asks how you’re dealing with becoming more well known… right after the security guard just told you the event was sold out and you wouldn’t be allowed in.

You realize you don’t want a robot vacuum cleaner that auto-maps your now slightly larger apartment only to hock said map to creepy Black Mirror-style advertisers who then want to help furnish your spartan living room via sponsored content that you yourself are paid to write.

You end up on a literary panel with a group of transracial pharmaceutical fracking advocates and are left to wonder if that means they dig for Prozac while being of indeterminate ethnic heritage, but you don’t want to trigger anyone by asking, so you end up being the quietest girl at the conference.

You now have an assistant who does things like re-label the microwave buttons after that unfortunate salmon incident:

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I’ll be back in two weeks after I’ve finished final edits on my next book. This one’s not so much a tell-all as it is a thank you note. In the meantime, in the midst of the ongoing onslaught of existential tragedy, maybe we should all re-read Anne Lamott’s three essential prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow. Seems to say it all these days.  xoxo – GG

PS for locals – This is never the way to jump a turnstile:

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Laura Dern is Really Good at Being a Shark

Hello, Lovelies,

How the hell are you? It’s been a rollicking few weeks, dear readers! That bigoted sack of Bisquick is still airing his balls in the Whitehouse instead of the Big House, Hurricane Jose is en route to NYC and I turned in a book… the one about going from being a mostly-dead girl… voi-la…

 

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photo: Holly Mckeown

to a mostly-alive girl…

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I still feel like some parts of the book are missing. I keep having these epic middle school dreams where I have a line in some awful 6th-grade pageant but no pants on, which is distracting in the best of cases. Yes, the pants are the pages.

About midway through, I wrote this lazy quip “No more Laura Dern-style meltdowns for me,” and I got this big note back in black Sharpie that simply said, “Is she even known for this?” and I thought holy cats, I am so fucked! My silly book had been bought by smart, literary people who don’t watch television, which I completely, totally get. We should all be reading more, but we’re talking Laura Dern here, people!

George Saunders may have said it best: “A book is like a shark. A shark hasn’t evolved in 40,000 years because it’s still really good at just being a shark. A book is the same.” So is the human brain. It’s still the most efficient storytelling device on the planet, sending all variety of messages from brain-to-face-to-body.

This is where Laura Dern is an especially good shark. I wanted to tweet my editor all these pictures of LD melting down throughout pop culture history. Etsy even makes buttons of them…

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The other funny thing about breaking your face and having your lower jaw torn off like an act-one Stephen King character is that all your surgeons and speech therapists want you to be during recovery is Laura-fucking-Dern because those splendid facial gymnastics she’s famous for actually help you to get better.

Another note I got on the book… was “more emotion” which made me do a full-on spit-take (and I wasn’t even drinking anything). I walk around thinking I’m chocked full of emotion, but with most of the nerves on the right side of my face severed it’s no longer so wildly apparent. My mug is a little inscrutable these days and it’s not only changing my interactions with people, it’s changing my written words as well. I believe that when you stand alone on the precipice of big change, you can either fill the gaping chasm with dread, devastation or drollery. It’s not to say that you’re not afraid, not sad, not homesick for the “dear ordinary” that you knew before, the one all the therapists have you reenacting each day, but you can choose other ways to fill the abyss. I chose drollery.

There was a point in my epileptic life where I probably liked my seizures a little more than I despised them. I know it’s not supposed to work that way. In the current zeitgeist of the differently-abled, you are supposed to stand up, resistdefy, and even hate your chronic condition or illness whatever it may be. But there’s something about my particular brand of seizures that scratches this deep ontological itch I have. There’s an odd satisfaction to them I still can’t name. Why are we the only species that seems to yearn for oblivion?

Yes, I still wake up from each fit thinking “Ugh, not again…” because the crawl back to normalcy is usually such a doozy, but my seizures are also terribly gorgeous, like being caught in a tornado of stars. It’s an instance of overpowering joy that I get a snatch at, which holds almost as much allure as a drug. In this way, I feel like a traitor against the cause to cure the condition. I don’t hate it as much as I’m curious about it and long for another glimpse.

In this way, the grief I feel around epilepsy is strangely deferred, less about me, and more directly related to the fear I’ve caused the people around me. You don’t feel bad for you, so much as you feel bad for how frightened, vulnerable and Laura Dern-like you may have made the people around you feel in the moments when they were watching you thrash and flail around on the ground. It’s their meltdowns you tend to, once you are back and awake.

Maybe that’s the whole point, we’re all Laura D, we’re all really good at being sharks at one time or another, which is how we persist. I’m not sure yet. I think I need to read and stew more.

This week I have fallen head-first into Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, which is one of those books that just calls out to you at the end of the day as you come in the door. “Read me,” it beckons with its siren’s song.

 

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Ng’s prose flows like water and her witty, wry conversations between siblings are so exactly how whole generations grew up speaking to each other. I highly recommend it for this week’s weather. Or in any kind of weather.

For now, stay rad and hold tight in those crazy winds outside. XOXO – GG

Dear God, Please Spare Mar-a-Lago…

Please have Irma, Jose or Katia (praise DACA) AVOID exactly these coordinates (whatever they may be) and SKIP harming anything (like a sand trap or a certain Cheeto-hued ladies’ golf enthusiast) therein…

Seriously, all thoughts to people in the middle of climate chaos. Oy vey… Be safe.

Hello, Lovelies!

Lordy, what a frightful week and it’s only Wednesday! Since God usually does the OPPOSITE of what I want, I thought I’d offer up a Rosary to the forces of the universe. I am swamped with the widows and orphans of my latest mess, but thought I would still forward something hilarious before people on the East coast fall prey to day drinking:

 

To my dear editor, I promise not to argue anymore about the title. I was just trying to keep the book from sounding like a Lifetime movie of the week and getting shelved in the medical oddities section of the store. I take your point and I consider myself lucky!

I’ll send up a smoke signal when I’m circling the runway.

For now… XOXO – GG

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PS – And to all you festive Wiccans out there… I think the candles and whatnot might be working 🙂

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

by the amazing Kate Curtis

Hello Lovelies,

How the hell are you? I’m trying to stay chipper in the home stretch of the edit and am employing all means necessary to stay focused. Meanwhile, I look like the Unabomber and have been asked for cover art examples… Yay, cover art! I think I want something equal parts cartoonishly self-deprecating and slightly evil for this collection since it’s mostly about falling on my face. I sent my editor this cover from Andrew Sean Greer’s LESS (a charmer of a book) but then also Samantha Irby’s wickedly funny We are Never Meeting in Real Life. Am open to suggestions…

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In the mean time, can you believe that shit-for-brains, megalomaniacal hairball is telling people in Texas to have a great time all while making it clear he hasn’t a clue how pickup trucks actually work? I swear that guy is going to have a serious class warfare reckoning when people invade his hotels like the army of the dead, flooding in with their Whitewalker toenails demanding hot showers and pedicures.

On another track, RIP Walter Becker…  I’ve always had a Grand Canyon-sized soft spot for Steely Dan (when I wasn’t freestyling to Kenny).

We’re having a sneak peek of autumn here… it’s the best. I just saw a woman in a quilted jacket, which means fashion week is nearly upon us. Yay, statement coats!

Okay, back to work… and many thanks to Craig Stacey for his totally poignant thoughts on loss and Dostoyevsky. SO exactly what I needed for structuring that troublesome chapter. What a gift.

Stay rad lovelies –  XOXO – GG