On Being the Mother Who Always Gets Caught: Epic Mom-Fails, Saves, and Bonus Moms

I don’t know about you. You’re probably better than I am.

I am the mother who always gets caught. It’s practically a law of physics. If I go off-script even a little, say I break the rules, trying to stand up for my kids to mean teachers (who later turned out to be shady) or go the extra mile to be “the fun/cool mom”—it’s an utter catastrophe.

Even the times when I finally buckle and say,  “Sure thing, kiddo! Let’s stay all four days of the school campout” when other parents just stay one, and although I try to stick to the script—singing merrily ’round the campfire, chopping organic veggies with all the other proper, chipper married parents—something always happens.

Suddenly, a terrified shriek disturbs the cathedral hush of the woods… and my perfect, beautiful child is standing before us all now with a broken tooth. Her wrist has its own new elbow. She has just gone head-over-heels-over-razor-scooter and is bleeding profusely about the mouth. Of course, we are in the wilderness where you can actually see the stars in an overhead blanket of velvety indigo. Fortunately,  in our motley crew of parents, there are two dentists and a doctor who all swoop in to pronounce that the front tooth can be saved and that her wrist isn’t broken. Ice packs and Ibuprofen are quickly administered.

We pass a sleepless night in our $40 tent from Target. At dawn, we race back to town to the pediatric ER where it turns out her wrist is broken. (In all fairness to Louis, the parent/ doctor, he’s a pulmonologist, not an ortho.) The on-call dentist saves the tooth, after which my darling girl rests a day and then we go back up to the campout to get her cast graffiti-ed. I never want either of my kids to suffer. It kills me. I’m sick of platitudes about how it builds character. Shut up about that already. The girls already have a surplus of character—they are both wickedly charming and resourceful.

***

My worst epic mom-fail happened when I decided, as a single mother who hadn’t had sex in over a year, to try to pull off a quick shag between basketball practice and dinner. (I know we all think mothers don’t or shouldn’t do it, but I was dying.) I raced home from work, the person I’d been flirting with for several months was waiting on my doorstep like a perfectly wrapped man-present. No commitments, no needs, he was just right there. I was WAY off-script and DTF. (People think I don’t know that acronym, but I do) We swiftly took to the sheets.

Little did I know that this week, the basketball coach decided to end practice early to let the girls rest up before the big game, which is how my poor, long-suffering daughter ended up bounding into my big game. But that’s not the worst of it…

As she bounded in… I screamed, “Noooooooooooo!!!”

At that moment, the guy on top of me leaped out of bed and headed, naked, for the window (Where was he planning on going? We lived on a high floor, was he jumping? That’s not okay.) He was so frantic, he accidentally tripped on the drapes, pulling the curtains, rods, and everything down and out of the plaster. So not only, was he in the buff in front of my horrified teenage daughter. Our neighbors and the entire city got a look-see of this wildly cringe-worthy moment.

Never trying that again.

***

My one win in all the years… I was on a conference call and after years of biblical wrath from me about mom-having-to-do-conference-calls-from-home-so-you-must-be-seriously-on-death’s-door-if-you-plan-to-interrupt-and-so-on, I’m listening to the creative team making their very best effort to sell a great, but impossible idea, when my youngest scampers in, eyes like meatballs, clutching her throat with a yellow post-it that said, “TIDDLYWINK!” She was choking on an effing Tiddlywink game chip! Why was it in her mouth to begin with? She was thirteen. That’s not how you tiddle.

I hung up the phone, whipped my daughter around and gave her the Heimlich maneuver. The chip went down instead of flying out, but she could breathe. And so again, we were off to the pediatric ER with our very calm neighbor Dean (because I was not so calm) where the Tiddly-chip was deemed non-toxic and you can probably guess the rest. Just one good moment. Phew…

***

Last thing, a hearty thanks and a happiest Mother’s Day to all the bonus moms who helped this hapless mom along the way—Joy, Claire, Maia, Jacqueline, Helene, Diana, Susan, Kirston, Teodora, Camille, Holly, Alisa, Mo, Serena, Adam Z and Charles, I’m not worthy… clearly.

Stay rad and have a meaningful day – xoxo – gg

 

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A Stroppy Harridan…

A toast, a toast… it was finally snowing-ish. Or it was yesterday morning in Central Park. (Pic courtesy of Alex Di Stasi)

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Yes, Decima… promised to be a stroppy harridan of a storm…

I bet you’re wondering what that is because I certainly was when my BFF and criminal service animal, Ed, proclaimed me nothing but one at a recent birthday lunch. A fine how-do-you-do…

I’ll confess, my first guess was stroppy harridan: a variant of some hipster-nonsense Christmas cocktail, one that involves artisanal singing… Wassail, wassail… and whatnot. (Thinking about it now, all cocktails should involve singing. We should make it a rule, like diplomatic protocol. Singing keeps drunk people in Mary Poppins mode and prevents them from morphing into a sea of Archie Bunkers, amIright? And we’ve had more than enough Archie this past year. Electors, how about a write-in on Monday…Vote Julie Andrews!)

Breaking it down… “stroppy”… I quite liked. It means irascible and/or easily annoyed. That’s definitely me when lacking actual REM sleep. You know, the kind of deep slumber you get in the early, early mornings, the kind that is fevered and awash in vivid, storied dreams that play out like a Daphne du Maurier novel–complete with Mrs. Danvers lurking. The Victorians referred to it as the “second sleep” and apparently it went away with the invention of the electric light bulb… Damn you, Edison. For me, it’s always SUCH a fortifying sleep that… upon waking, I immediately race into the kitchen with a new musical or book idea, which I then frantically, nonsensically attempt to explain to the dog as I fumble with the coffee-making while he listens politely, trying ever so earnestly not to pee…

“Harridan” seems like a fancy version of a religious ne’er-do-well or someone with an implausible haircut, like Boris Johnson. In fact, it’s a grumpy old woman from the French for old horse. Charming.

I’m not sure what merited this whimsical moniker. Honestly, I don’t think Ed knew what it was either, and for the record, I was super cheery and decidedly un-horse-like given it was my birthday. But right as I left the restaurant, I ran smack into one of those very serious New York City joggers, you know… the kind who runs even when it’s rul cold out. He was wrapped in tinfoil like a baked potato with a ski mask. We were flirting distance apart, trying to avoid each other so naturally, “See-something-say-something” took hold, and I called him a stroppy harridan… to which he replied, “You bet your sweet ass I am!”

And what can I say… it was the quintessential Manhattan moment: a term nobody knows, uttered in an instance of grouchy, unanticipated physical disruption that could have resulted in conflict, but instead resulted in Seinfeldian intimacy. It’s what makes this place, this place.

So, a toast, a toast… To the stroppy harridans, the difficult-sweet people, and storms…

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Keep singing and enjoy the holiday mayhem… I have a book to finish, but lovelies you are my favorite procrastination. Have a day that means something 🙂

xoxo – gg

P.S. If you need to avoid your family for hours upon hours of wrapping or just general brooding… I highly recommend Netflix’s new thriller The OA

In the City That Never Sleeps, You Will Send Notes Like This…

… at least once during your tenure living here.

It will no doubt be to a couple you actually really like or wanted to like (before their make-up nookie scared you off.) And as much as you will pen the note out of neighborly courtesy, you will also send it as a means of procrastinating because errrmagerrd… Writing a book is crazy hard. No wonder folks hightail it to the country in a sweaty attempt to channel the ghost of E.B. White in his boathouse. No man (or woman) ever looked more at ease in what he/she is doing.

No person ever looked more at ease with what he/she was doing.

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Wishing you all a happy Monday… no matter what boathouse you find yourself in.

XOXO – GG

2016: On the Orgasmic Lure of ‘The Reset’

Day 29 (or so) from Jack London-Land and it’s safe to say things are getting a tad Grey Gardens up here. Hoo boy…

I’ll be frank … 2015 really blew. (yes, hello 2016… I love you already. Mwaahhh!!)

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I know everyone’s hatin’ on Gwynie these days, but the image was just so apt.

In giving this past year the sidelong glance it deserves… almost every bad thing that could happen… did happen… just like that scene in The Revenant. After reaching the high point of my professional life… I slid down the corporate ladder faster than a stripper down a greased pole. I’ll spare you the litany of bad breaks and missteps, but life was quickly turning into an Aimee Mann song … you know that one from Magnolia… I LOVE Aimee… she is my serious girl crush, but I do not want her as my life’s theme music anymore… Sorry Aimee. (You’re still hot)

3 days before Christmas I had a mini seizure… not a full rolling-on-the-ground grand mal… more like a petit. I was writing when it happened… finishing a true crime freelance gig that was just sooooooooo mind-like-a-dial-tone. Here’s exact moment when it happened… see how my typing goes all crazy?

seized.pngit was like swallowing a bolt of lightning and then… staring out across a great black chasm of solid darkness… at what I have always imagined a parsec to be… (a parsec is equal to about 3.26 light-years or 19 trillion miles). Casting around for a mooring in the BIG deep dark, it seemed I was the big deep dark. Pure absence.

I don’t know how I managed it, but I texted a panicked “help”… because I am out in the wilderness here. Quick-thinking friends sent some lovely locals to check on me… They reminded me of hipster versions of Mr and Mrs. Santa Claus… jolly and sweet… Good Samaritans unafraid of a spaz in distress. “We’ve seen the dog have seizures!” they told me.

And then, I slept and slept… like the deadest of the dead… with flashes of hip Mrs. Claus checking on me.

When I finally awoke, this time was different… But how to describe it without sounding like a damn sissy… My friend Camille says that after I have a seizure… I always look like I’ve just had sex. That’s kind of how this was… it was a true form of being awake… not in any airy-fairy-Zen-way (sorry Buddhists)… but a concrete… flint-cracking awake with this singular spark of joy, like that amazing feeling you have right after a big, ginormous sneeze, or on that first, luxurious morning inhale of coffee…  I have not had this feeling in so long… since the big, bad accident–last year. I’ve heard it called “the beginners mind.” And it was as if suddenly… I might actually get my life back… like George Bailey in a It’s a Wonderful Life realizing he’s not a goner… he may be a total loon, but he’s really, super-duper alive.

And it came with a kind of creative euphoria… a constant, vivd flow of ideas, words, images, undertones and moods all rushing at me like a gorgeous river of stars in my mind’s eye. It was like a completely amazing software upgrade. Something I never want to let go of… like my children or my city.

While we’ve all been bemoaning the oh-so-tiresome Resolution these past weeks… I have been reminded of something a very dear friend once taught me (and keeps teaching me again and again). She is a doctor, but not just any doctor… she is one who specializes in the absolute, from-the-ground-up-things-are-decimated-rebuild of a person… she is meticulous, an artist, at times she is pure, crazy-making OCD, but she has schooled me in the ways and means of the reset… the profound, methodical comfort of putting things back, the satisfaction of knowing exactly where things go, of knowing precisely what instruments and materials are needed next, and having them perfectly at hand… that the very act and aftermath of the reset can be just the thing… just the rush… one needs… especially for 2016. For this lesson and my little seizure, I’m grateful.

I wish this feeling for all of us this year. Especially Gotham.

XOXO – gg

 

Last, Lazy Days… And an Awesome Ashley Opportunity!

The air was SO CRISP this morning, it reminded me that our 2 days of actual New York City autumn will soon be upon us!

The whole prospect of it has me craving domestic order like a Labrador in heat… I want to magic eraser my entire apartment (along with select portions of my life and the dog). Dust bunnies begone! I am SO ready to alphabetize my books…

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And so it just occurred to me that quite soon (read: NOW) there is going to be a HUGE glut of very contrite displaced males… all in a metropolitan area with an EXTREME shortage of quality pre-war apartments. Lads, do I have a list of chores for you…

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Hmmm…  let’s think about requirements…

  • A strongish design aesthetic.
  • Knowledge of power tools (esp. a belt sander) and electric.
  • Good grammar essential–must know the difference between you’re and your, it’s and its, etc.
  • Moderately gainful employment, but you needn’t be a Rockefeller…
  • It would help if you looked a bit like a pirate or Collin Firth (perhaps, when he was more of a whippersnapper–none of  this latest Kingsman malarky).
  • And… if you weren’t terribly needy or fussy, that’d be fine. No vegans.
  • Must like books, jazz and annoying dogs.

There, I think that’s about it…

xoxo – gg

Sorry robbers!! Of needful things, restlessness… and the marriage of keys

Between the heat… and healing, I am RESTLESS.

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My entire being itches with a NEED to travel. Always changing and changeless, at least the city offers some consolation… some relief from having to stay put and learn how to say the word: “M’waaaaaaah!”

Stupid speech therapy.

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I feel like I have hives… I have always been this way. Even as a paperclip of a kid… growing up in northern California, I’d rub my shoulder against the chafed earlobe of routine (like that scamp in the awesome film Life is a Long Quiet River)


… I’d tell my second grade teacher (who had an epic hipster ‘stache) that I simply couldn’t do last night’s spelling words… owing to the fact that our family was going on holiday to Brazil (a big fat lie)… and what with Portuguese having over 7000 irregular verbs (a big fat truth)… well, that was the real priority at this juncture… When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d tell them Indiana Jones with a typewriter… So much for that, M’waaaaaah!

Of course, I realized the other day that if I am actually going to go anywhere this summer… I’d need to fix my front door. It hasn’t locked from the outside for over a year now. Don’t tell anyone. My neighbor had the same problem. It wasn’t hard to fix. I just dipped the key in olive oil and decided not to be in a hurry one morning. So, sorry robbers… You missed out on a really ancient iPad (seriously, the Commodore 64 has more juice) and some killer coffee stained Eugene Atget photography books!

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To be honest, every apartment I have ever lived in here has involved a strange marriage of lock and key–some very specific, singular, long-term relationship of scraping metals… one borne of years of repetitive wear… of clicking and clacking, inning and outing, poking and prying. I really didn’t think much of it,  but now it’s fixed.

Entering one’s 4th decade forces a unique brand of practicality on a person… By now, you have figured out how to fix most household things like locks and fuses and garbage disposals… You finally learn your real bra (cock) size… 34 D??? Holy crap!!! That’s HUGE!

And suddenly, tiny house design seems awesome…

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(I am obsessed with living small)

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You’ve also figured out that your standard daily uniform is short pants, tall shoes and messy hair…

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and with that… you come to covet very practical, tangible things… each very specific… the big, floppy straw hat with the 10 inch brim to ward off cancer-ish stuff… that the sugar cube is actually just the right amount of sugar for your coffee… amazing tinted sunscreens by Laura Mercier … that red Chanel lipstick is the only lipstick you truly need…  and  unexpected things…. like my friend Deb has these fabulous one-of-a-kind, handmade harem pants with elephants on them that I am so going to totally steal someday.

Maybe you even finally stop ass-shaming yourself… and realize things are pretty fine and dandy ass-is??

You may even develop some unlikely heroes…  like Isabel Marant. I love that her solution to getting a tan is drinking more carrot juice… completely charming.

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I really do covet her life. Oh… this new book isn’t going to write itself… Pray for cooling rain dear Gotham-ites! Do a rain dance… in secret… if you must.

xx- gg