The Lobster…

FADE IN: Open tight on a digital alarm clock blinking from 2:47 AM to 2:48. The Such-and-Such Executive Inn.

Off-screen, we hear the frantic sound of blankets rustling. A forty-something-year-old woman is yelping and batting at an unseen foe. Next, we hear the clatter of an old-school telephone handset being dropped and hastily retrieved for dialing.

“Front Desk. Good Morning, Ms. Jones,” comes the overly-chipper voice of a guy who has just surely spilled his bong water.

“There’s a lobster in the bed!” I whisper-shout.

“Ma’am, this is Sacramento, we don’t have—”

“Listen to me, there’s AN INSECT the size of a lobster crawling across my bed!”

(Audible gasp) “Yikes. Do you want me to send security?”

(More audible gasping) “Is that what you usually do?”

“And assign you a new room?”

“Good God, moving rooms at 3 AM? I’m going to need pants,” I say to no one in particular.

I’d been SO ready for pristine white sheets and SLEEP that night.

The book tour had me feeling like a greedy publicity hussy (instead of just a regular hussy). It’s a ramshackle itinerary—the kind where you airplane glue a signing together with a conference Q&A, a TV thing, and a dozen radio shows or podcasts.

After 10 hours shoehorned into the middle seat of a flight surrounded by five inconsolable newborns, and only one working loo for the entire plane, then an event where the bookseller actually put my book in the front window next to Steve Jobs’s tome (which never EVER happens), only for my iPhone to die right at the moment I was snapping the evidentiary pic, I’d gone to a super-delightful makeshift dinner where I didn’t eat enough because I hadn’t seen the person in 27 years and I was so amazed by who he had turned into as well as by who he had not. The smear of time and age had transformed him into Michael Keaton from Birdman. Then, we then ran through the pouring rain across a tiny park and ended up taking turns reciting this Buddhist poem here…

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…until we were both so drenched and freezing, we required hot chocolate. (Seriously, note to self for 2019: stop taking overly long walks in the rain while underdressed.) Then, I told him I’d used his name for a character in my next TV project because it’s such a good name—only to have him seem a little concerned. (Don’t worry, mister! Your character is super juicy!) Suffice to say, I’d racked out at the Executive Inn—the name of which we made ill-mannered jokes about in the car.

Fast forward back to 3 AM… A six-foot-five, 280-pound security guard named Benny stands terrified in the doorway with a cell phone and a fly swatter. Behind my new, soft-spoken friend, it’s still raining sheets. The lobster pokes its head out from the pillows like a Meerkat.

And this is when I realize two things: 1) There are much bigger bugs outside of Manhattan than I ever bargained for and 2) Greta Gerwig is SO completely spot-on; Sacramento really IS the midwest of California. No wonder Joan Didion comes back here to rest up after every book. Its prairie plains are topheavy with indigo sky, the people are crazy-nice, coming at you with gluten-rich baked goods (think: macaroni & cheese pie) and earnest assistance at all hours of the night. They even freak out with you—as evidenced by Benny’s attempt at some highly Yogic breathing with me after which he helped lug all my gear and books to the new room where we checked the premises for additional critters, calling out, “Hellooooo??? Anybody there?”

Honestly, I don’t know how David Sedaris manages 100-plus cities without disintegrating into a formless (yet charming) puddle of ectoplasm. (Of course, he doesn’t necessarily have a Benny.) I’ve only done eight cities and I’m practically a compost heap.

In any case, belated merry-all-the-things, Lovelies! Are you all set for 2019? Yet another year since I’ve failed at becoming a better person. Oh, New York City, I am homesick for your ever-changing ways and plainspoken sense of proportion. Please don’t morph entirely into a Sephora before I get back?

Stay rad… Here’s to subtle possession in the new year – XOXO – Gotham Girl

 

Sure, New York is difficult… but then again so am I

Or, I used to be. Hello, Lovelies…

Man, this news cycle’s a killer.

I think I officially ran out of spoons yesterday. I had to stay in my PJs today and comfort-binge the Hallmark Channel just to recover from the dumb patriarchy.

Don’t even get me started on the GOP-Brett Kavanaugh hypocrisy. It’s simply too maddening. Don’t people like Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell realize that if they were prospective jurors, they’d be dismissed for their prejudicial views? How do they NOT know this? But… Too many other positive, exciting things are happening!

My partners and I are shooting the teaser for a new neurodiversity-enviro thriller for Lionsgate Television. We have to move lightning fast to make our deadline, but we’ve worked on this one for a million years and so to see it actually becoming real has me holding my face and making ultra-high-pitched, joyous screaming noises that scare both the neighbors and dogs.

I’m launching a podcast with one of the coolest women on the planet… Jessica Keenan Smith from Living Well With Epilepsy. Yes, our foray into the big scary world of podcasting, (currently titled) Fits & Starts, will explore all the snarky, funny, and poignant sides of dealing with what can be a seriously humorless condition. We’ll be taping LIVE at EPIC Long Island on November 15th @ 7pm, which means there will likely be loads of bloopers. If you’re going to be in the area, come and laugh with us!

My book of ridiculous anecdotes about owning my inner electric goofball in Manhattan is coming out in six short weeks. We just had to shoot all kinds of crazy pics for publicity. I think I completely wore out my face and can no longer actually smile with my mouth.

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This is it for me…  Stay rad and safe, Lovelies – xoxo – gg

PS – Don’t you just ADORE that it’s finally lightly quilted vest weather?

 

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

 

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

 

 

When You Wake Up as a Marvel Supervillain…

It’s a look I’ve seen both my daughters give me so many times. It’s the very same look I gave my own mom. Man, if mothers don’t always get it in the end.

The other day my Biffle pointed out (well before I’d had any coffee) that I was finally a Marvel supervillain on Jessica Jones… I was so ready to be completely delighted even though (in truth) I had trouble getting into Season 1 of the Netflix series mostly because I was trying to get less peeved about everything in life and the last thing I needed at the time was more bitter, bourbon-chugging role models. Alas, this is the villain my BFF sent me…

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Thanks a lot, Marvel…  As the dreaded Alisa Jones, embattled mother of Jessica, an experiment of whiteboy medical hubris, never mind a cautionary icon of female rage, you couldn’t even give me a good suit? No leather? Just some fucking Chico’s casual wear, a poorly tailored coat, and a bad wig? Couldn’t my namesake at least have some product? And why did she have to kill the only righteous sister on the show? Ruth Sunday may not have been everybody’s fave girls’ trip companion, but we needed her. And why couldn’t Tiffany Haddish play the lady trauma surgeon? As a real girl who had her face almost entirely rebuilt just three years ago, I needed me some Tiffany H right about then…

I give Janet McTeer points for trying, but the whole of Season 2 left this exiled mother asking: Okay, so is female rage here totally genetically encoded (mom genes, ha) OR is it more a matter of superpower-gifted-freak status engendering a lifetime of exclusion, estrangement, bullying, and bitter alienation? Some blend fundamental to the female experience? Is this the reason mothers pull back from their adolescent daughters? So that their darlings don’t necessarily become them? All of the above but jeez… were there ever so many brands of lady angst this season…  Between Jeri deciding to completely Armageddon her life after her diagnosis to Trish’s pathologically pathetic power vaping to her own malignant narcissist of a pageant mother… we are an irritated lot. Still, we make it work for us—until it suddenly doesn’t. In all the years that have elapsed since Alisa’s accident, why didn’t Dr. Karl think of trying some PTSD-oriented VR therapies? Com’on, Marvel. Get with the times.

I loved that all the episodes were directed by women, but oof… some of the parallels to my own rag and bone life were palpably cringe-worthy.

Still in exile writing, but happy Pagan, Passover weekends, Lovelies… 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