If Only the President Were Missing

“Do you ever feel like we’re all trapped in a political thriller that only our dads would read?” —Lucie Britsch

Hello, Lovelies… It’s only Tuesday here. It’s raining cats, dogs, and hamsters in the city, and while the whole rest of the world seems to be on fire, just a gentle reminder that beautiful things can still grow out of ashes and poo.

Also, a quick bit of exciting news as I sort through 55K fragments of the next book (thanks to Jami Attenberg’s #1000wordsofsummer) GOTHAM GIRL INTERRUPTED is now available for pre-order on Indiebound!

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Growing up along the ‘Lost Coast’ of Northern California, I would have been truly adrift without our tiny independent bookstore to anchor me, so please support yours whenever you can!

For now, hold fast and stay dry. XOXO – GG

PS – Tweet me your favorite indie bookstore @iamgothamgirl and I will follow them and do my best to make them part of the tour in November!

How New York Breaks Your Heart…

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And face (in sixteen places)… could be another title for my tiny-little-potato-of-a-book. Yes, I buried the lede in my last post. It’s coming out this fall and I actually have a sneak peek available here!

An official playlist and silly trailer are in the offing. In the meantime, if you’re in the mood for a snarky, sweary, hilarious rant from The New Yorker‘s own Kimberly Harrington, give yourself, your mother, and all the other mothers you know Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words

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If you’re in the mood for something visually stunning and uber-New-Yorky, try Bill Hayes’s photography collection: How New York Breaks Your Heart. I can never look away from what he manages to always see.

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One day, all our kids will run off to New York. Back to panhandling words. Have a meaningful day, Lovelies – xoxo – gg

 

Be the Unlikable Female Narrator You Long to See in the World…

Even if it is a cat. Seriously, Maris Kreizman uttered the above words last week and, bless her heart if they haven’t become my goddamn rallying cry.

Hi there, Lovelies. How the hell are you?

I have, quite literally, been trying to get down with my bad self… to conjure up the very worst person I could conceive of for my next book—a most rageful, strange, and despicable girl. I need her to possess just enough heartless psychopathy but without being too creepy-cool—though don’t you just LOVE Killing Eve on BBC America? I retreat often the Beeb for emotional support viewing given the rollicking media climate stateside.

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I also tend to prefer my killers a little more hapless and awkward while still fully owning their unfettered self-righteous indignation. My girl needs to stub her toe on the ottoman in the middle of a supremely venomous diatribe. She never quite makes a clean getaway. If anything, she makes a slightly gross one. I generally know that the experiment is working if I’ve frightened Ed or my dad. Fortunately, the ritual never lasts for more than a day or so…  either because I’m morphing into a nap-oriented, Frankie-type or something entirely lovely happens like this…

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I had no idea it was even going up. And of course, I still want a different subtitle…

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Mostly because I think of this book as equal parts epilepsy, anxiety, and depression… minus much of the unending despair you usually see associated with epilepsy (or all the) Sick Lit narratives. Evidently, I lost this round, but maybe it’s not the end of the world. Maybe it’s the beginning. #SickGirlFunny?

Speaking of beginnings, if you have a chance to get outside today, Manhattan is practically a fresh-washed, Technicolor™ movie musical…

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I SO want to challenge a complete stranger to Bananagrams in Bryant Park but I have to stay inside at my desk and channel pissed-off lady criminals. I am in writer jail. Think Lorelai Gilmore goes a bit Grey Gardens. Have a meaningful day, people. Hold fast and don’t get chronic dry eye from Clockwork Orange-ing the news… xoxo – gg

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How to Talk to Boys at Parties…

Hello, Lovelies… Welcome to another week rollicking, non?

Aren’t you so glad Mercury is no longer in retrograde? It’s Noah’s ark on the subway today. There’s pretty much zero point in going anywhere except perhaps the amazing Frenchy bakery on the next block (Miss Madeline). You’ll miss it if you blink, but just walking in the door there… is a full-on nose-gasm from Paris. After that, I’m seeking refuge in BBCAmerica for less political psychopaths. Killing Eve is a sparkly gem that had me wanting to test out if I too could stealthily zip myself into a Swiss Army carry-on.

Speaking of Brits, I was so excited to hear that Warren Ellis’s AI comic, Injection, sold in a massive auction and to see that Neil Himself’s story How to Talk to Girls at Parties is finally close at hand (ETA May 18 in theaters near you). I cannot wait to see it if only because the characters remind me so much of my own kids. I think the alchemy of sweet, weird, innocent defiance is what’s needed now more than ever… Hold fast, people. Today is a strange one.

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And yes, I’m trying to stop doing all my business parties (meetings) this way… just my sparkling personality always leads to trouble. xoxo – gg

 

When Your Subconscious is a Postal Worker/Mob Boss Named ‘Bruce’…

Morning, Lovelies…

Oh. My. God. What do you do when your subconscious is a postal worker/mob boss named Bruce who chases you around your own damn dreams with copies of a book you would never presume/deign to write?

All night long… Bruce kept showing up with bound galleys of Gotham Girl, Interrupted that had these horrifying Tony Robbins-esque subtitles. Everywhere I looked words like, “success” and “empowerment” were jumping off the cover. It was the worst. And I kept handing the book back to him, trying to explain, “This is not me, Bruce! I’m not qualified to talk about that stuff. I’m not a self-help writer. If anything, I’m a self-destruct one.”

But he wouldn’t listen… this guy is torturing me. Well, I am gonna shut it down, Bruce. I’m making a new rule: I/you can only think/dream about my/your next book—a novel called Muse.Witch.Beast. Repeat after me, mister… Muse.Witch.Beast, Muse.Witch.Beast, and so on.

Happy book birthday to Meaghan O’Connell… So excited to read this one because the ordinary still has so much to teach us all.

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Have a meaningful day, people… xoxo – gg

 

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

… is the name of Wil Wheaton’s new book and dammit all if I’m not squirming with an acute case of title envy… I can’t wait to read it and am going to implore him to send me an advance copy.

But hello there, Lovelies. How the heck are you?

The above was my whole being on Friday during a conference call about a streaming series that I wrote a while back and am now just finishing up as a book… it’s netting out to about 65,000 words. I used to be afraid of the sheer number of letters, but after Gotham Girl Interrupted, I’m not… It was a Herculean task getting that book out the door. The edit was wicked painful. Every day… just fighting to keep any morsel of levity in what could have been a very bleak sick girl narrative, took every ounce of what’s left of my gray matter. But it worked. The book works.

So, when I’m sitting there on the phone Friday hearing these guys in LA expecting me to give away years of life spent on this other book/series, a neuro-thriller based on my daughter, I just said, “No… I get paid to do the bricks and mortar work of writing and I’m not doing it for free… ever again.” I’d rather be a dishwasher. Well, they told me I was “fucking arrogant.” And then, came text after text of bullying… All for asking for a livable wage and credit. It shook me… Didn’t we just have #TimesUp? What happened to “Topple the Patriarchy”? Where is Jill Soloway when I need her? What happened to #FemaleFilmmakerFriday?

I’m used to being low-balled as a writer, but this was no-balled.

And then, of course, I balled right there in the car… because all I ever wanted was everything. I showed the texts to my girlfriend and manager who both said, “Hey, look at you! Finally standing up for yourself!”

But I don’t like it. I’m not built for it. It’s the same as leaving New York… I just get all:

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At least, the sun came out for a bit today. I think I’ll read some Sedaris to cheer up…  I am fixed on finishing this draft… There’s a term from Norse mythology called Doom Eager and it means to be sick with an artistic idea… There’s a caughtness to existence. I think that’s where I’m at today.

Hold fast and know that in my downtrodden state, I’m still cheering for you. xoxo – gg

 

 

Big Little Sighs

Photo illustration by Cristiana Couceiro. Source photograph: Igor Ustynskyy

Hello, Lovelies… How the hell are you?

Behold, Spring. Mother nature’s way of saying, “Let’s get down!”

Amid the four nor’easters we’ve had here, I’ve found it necessary to shelter inside an emotional support meatloaf… Vegetarians, look away. This one’s a mashup of Ina Garten’s recipe tempered with the dark arts of Lipton onion soup mix. (Thereby sparing everyone the weepy misery of chopping three yellow onions in favor of a little packet of MSG nirvana.)

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It’s a blend of high and low culture that satisfies every time—much like champagne and potato chips. Oh, but gone are those days. A cheat day now and then is the best I can muster. And I’ve been cooking at the end of a long, snowy road, on hiatus from the city while I freight train through two TV scripts.

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One, dealing with neurodiversity, I’ve started and stopped at least twenty times with my writing partner… I’ll say cranky things like, “No, no, no… That’ll never work, that’s been done…”  just as he manages to pry the barnacles off and we come up with something nifty and almost weird enough to work. The other script is a single-camera half-hour rom-com series built around epilepsy, anxiety, and depression. My heart/brain still skips a beat/synapse that anyone’s actually interested, but there it is.

For reading during this latest storm/news cycle… I’d originally planned something intellectually rigorous like Diane Ackerman’s gorgeous A Natural History of the Senses. (Imma comin’ Diane!)

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Instead, I found myself retreating to the comforts of David Rakoff’s hilarious essay collection Fraud (since imposter syndrome is the central theme of my life).

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I’ve also been fangirling the eff out of some of my favorite writers on women’s pain and addiction like Abby Norman (review of Ask Me About My Uterus to come!) and Leslie Jamison.  Damn… Jamison’s words in her anti-memoir The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath “More. Again. Forever…” recalled the watery longing of mothers I knew from many a wine-soaked book club, the palpable ache for a deeper connection, more than for access to any Jack London’esque “white light” of creativity.

I’ve never been one who can write on the sauce (despite loving it). And I don’t get writer’s block as much as a kind of writer’s malaise that manifests in the form of big little sighs, working alone every morning in my pajamas, until some Mary Karr-ish language tumbles out: Fuck. Shit. Fuck. Don’t. You daft girl… Who on earth ever told you that you could do this? 

But then I go on. Here’s a great huzzah to the thrumming of buds and bugs and to a few more words.

Until tomorrow, hold fast – XOXO – GG

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

 

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