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

It’s 2018. Where’s My Sandwich?

Hello, Lovelies… How the hell are you?

I just read that Eartha Kitt had a threesome with Paul Newman and James Dean. (It was the old girl’s birthday this past week) Of the nookie, she remarked, “That time back in my dance studio ranks as one of the most celestial experiences of my life. Those two beauties transported me to heaven. I never knew lovemaking could be so beautiful.”

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“Good God,” I texted a friend, “I need to completely rethink my life choices.”

“Can I please have my cause of death be listed as ‘sandwiched between James Dean and Paul Newman’?” came her swift reply.

Hells to the yeah! They can put it right there on my tombstone. I won’t even blush. Why should I? It’s 2018. Where’s my sandwich? We have a president who likes to be spanked with his daughter’s face.

And, would that there were a way to extract that monstrous ego of his, dry it like a root vegetable, grind it into a fine powder and snort it… if only to get through the rest of what’s coming.

Isn’t it convenient when crippling anxiety doubles as your daily cardio? I don’t know about you but I have to get all my news from McSweeney’s just to keep from having a goddamn seizure on the Q train these days. In the meantime, I am conjuring up a call sheet for Project G to shoot this summer. The cover reveal for Gotham Girl, Interrupted should be any day now… and when not marching I actually managed to fly through the below tome over the weekend:

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With clean, fluid prose you’ll devour, this stunner had descriptions of agoraphobia so vivid, I wondered if Finn had personal experience with the condition. (Anyone?) Add to this… all the references to badass ladies of suspense classics like Vertigo and Rear Window and it’s the perfect escape from our ongoing Black Mirror existential hellscape. I heartily recommend…

Okay, New York is noisy tonight and I must away to toil but stay rad, stay sane, and above all stay safe… 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!

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

The Path of Totality

Hello Lovelies,

How the hell are you? Are you wearing your glasses? It’s been a tough mental health week here and everywhere… Imagine if Angela Merkel were online today bemoaning the removal of Hitler busts, she’d be dragged from her house and offed more quickly than Ned Stark during an HBO hack-a-thon. For a day or two, I was doing all my final edits here. I don’t know who said it first, but finishing this book is like being pregnant with a lawnmower. It’s all large and sharp… and unwieldy… with loads of psychic paper cuts.

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With the return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, I confess… I SO wanted him to block me. It was like a Girl Scout badge (no, I never quit). I tried everything from damning passive-aggressive buddy texts to scathing Russian cartoons. In truth, these days my cruelty only comes out for a quick jaunt. Between the heat and my crazy neighbor, Marlene, I have acute snark-fatigue.

The thing of it is… even for a mouthy little spitfire who’s still making up for the fact that she was mute in Manhattan for a good long time, I was stunned back into silence this week after the presser. I got on the train all like this:

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Then, I got off the train to this… I haven’t seen such joy in free speech in a while.

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and this:

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And also this… Ah, New Yorkers are a practical lot.

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If only! But I’m with Colbert on this one, I give him until next week. I also predict loads of dancing. For now, I’ll be at Marie’s with this baby.

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Stay rad, stay loud, stay safe.  xoxo – GG

 

 

 

 

Homesick For Another World?

Hello Lovelies,

Here we are again… weathering still another week of not-so-subtle brutalities of the world. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to bleach the image of Steve Bannon as some kind of auto erotic yogi from my mind’s eye.

Since last we spoke, the nation has no doubt unclenched its universal anus over the scary healthcare repeal, the Mooch has come and gone faster than New York Fashion Week and with a far less pleasant finale. Who in his right mind blow-dials The New Yorker? The whole script strains credulity and possesses all the trappings of a melanin-deprived telenovela.

Of course, telenovelas and soaps are governed by the three T’s: trauma, talk, and tears. Something big happens to a character. She or he texts/calls a frienemy to recount it. The two make a rendezvous to review the particulars again upon which tears ensue. Then, the director shouts “Cut! Everybody safely back to one,” and they go again. The one rule of the telenovela writer is to TELL, don’t bother to show, primarily because telling is fast (and cheap) to crank out on a daily basis. And yet, the above bottle does not seem quite big enough for even the fate-and-fury writers of the current Whitehouse.

Yes, all the telling and retelling inoculates us from trauma, which gives some solace, because no one in a telenovela is ever permitted to be content for more than oh say… 3-5 minutes. If you meet your soulmate in a soap script, he’ll be in a serious accident and not recognize you the very next day. As soon as he recovers his memory and haltingly utters your name from the hospital bed, his identical long-lost cousin will arrive on the scene to set him up as the Patsy in a hideous crime, only to have another guy who has secretly adored you for forever but whom you’ve kept in the friend zone, selflessly sleuths his way into getting your amnesiac soul mate exonerated, just as you then instantly become the target of Russian oligarch money launderers.

Things repeat until you hit a critical mass of tens of millions of viewers all mesmerized by a narrative wrap-up that somehow satisfies their deep collective longing all while morphing into a new set of miseries. Sometimes the tears get extra-physical and you even have Joan Collins and Linda Evans fight-clubbing it out in a lily pond… that was something to put the kids down early for.

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But doesn’t all of it make you homesick for another world? (not the soap opera itself) but an actual other world? Hello, Brian Greene? Where is string theory when we need it?

I’ve been trying ever so hard to see the world through book-colored glasses since I am unable to run away to France with its nation of cheese geniuses and handsome statesmen who appreciate older blonde ladies. With this in mind, I’ve been reading Ottessa Moshfegh’s collection of stories with the same marvelous title.

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These existential vignettes are like going to that dirty old dive bar out on the far edge of town, the one you never stopped loving. Maybe you found your name scrawled in a bathroom stall there with some pithy, nasty hyperbole that did you proud. Maybe it’s the kind that serves up a sweet-bitter cocktail with just enough orange oil in between laugh-out-loud rants. Moshfegh’s voice is a dark, funny razor cutting away at oh-so-human foibles. The characters are pimply, brash, wildly sullen and then whisper-sweet-tender. It’s uncomfortable at times, but there’s also a quietude in this book that runs completely counter the current melodramas of our world. You’ll fly through reading it and you’ll remember how you are all the good and all the bad rolled up in one. You virtuous, tasty taco, you.

As I write this, something else crazy is probably happening. I can’t look without another round of George Benson. Some of you have written to ask if I have forgiven McCain for his voting acrobatics and the short answer is: I haven’t. I don’t want any one white guy having that much power over our healthcare… not now, not ever.

Stay rad, Lovelies – xoxo – GG

P.S. Is this not the best business card ever? These were the real mavericks of last week.

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