Doing Crazy Rhino Laughs with Bill Hader and Women Inspired’s Dr. April Seifert

Darling Ruffians…  Behold! Your every-once-in-a-while missive from the land of snarky solipsism periodically masquerading as art… How the hell are you? Isn’t the world just horrendous right now? Everything is awful. Most days I have to watch a boatload of BBC America just to get through the day. Hold fast, dear ones.

In the meantime, I have some wickedly fun news I can finally utter out loud and in pixels… My tiny book, Gotham Girl, Interrupted, a comedy about neurodiversity (and other clinically awful things) is being developed by Emmy award-winning executive producer, Cary Brokaw, of Angels in AmericaWTF, you say? I know!

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We’re doing a half-hour show called SPAZ in the vein of Fleabag and Better Things. Of course, I’m beyond thrilled. Cary’s instincts about story are so wildly uncontrived, they nudge me way the hell out of my comfort zone. Plus, getting paid to be as charmingly weird as you naturally are is kind of a fabulous vacation. (For newcomers here… I’d made this promise ages ago to always do work that completely terrifies my dad, and now it’s totally working out! Who knew?)

But this is why I’m still in Los Angeles at Saint Jacqueline’s Home for Wayward  Writers…  and why I’ve been trying to stick to Colson Whitehead’s highly unsexy book advice: “Stay at home and write. Don’t go out.” I have to admit some days… it makes me batshit antsy AF, and so recently I had to go outside to meet Bill Hader. Can I just tell you… sitting mere feet away from this national treasure of a guy, listening to him totally indulge his yowling, horny-rhinoceros-laughter, has the CRAZY effect of making you less afraid of your own horny-rhinoceros-laugh? Which is also why I’m a bit less shy about sharing my latest interview with April Seifert, host of the groundbreaking podcast Women Inspired!

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For those of you who know me, I apply the rules of improv comedy to manage a life with epilepsy. What I loved about my conversation with April is that she got me thinking again about how my prior professional background in Design Thinking could be applied to ongoing healing, self-care, and life design to thrive with any chronic condition. To my mind, April is exactly the kind of badass psychologist and data scientist the End Epilepsy campaign needs to design a world more inclusive of all our differently wired brains and bodies. I’m so grateful to her for having me on Inspired Women. Give it a listen and spare some starry love when you have a chance.

For now, I’m going back to a series bible. Stay rad, lovelies, Until next time – xoxo – GG

The Big Sleep…

Don’t you just love this picture of Joan Didion? She looks so vulnerable—like she just woke up from a nap.

Hi there, Lovelies. It’s 79 and gorgeous along the Hudson where I have been leaning out… way out over the last 6 weeks. Another shout from the cool, dark little corner of New York where the fan on my desk whirs away and I ponder over how to organize a new thriller tentatively titled MUSE WITCH BEAST. Again, all kudos and love to Jami Attenberg’s #1000wordsofsummer for fueling my creative sleep.

There’s a lot of connective tissue that remains to be woven across the bones of the monstrous creature but if I’ve learned anything at all from writing SPAZ (or Gotham Girl Interrupted as it’s now titled) it’s that the book you set out to write is rarely the book that gets written.

One minute you’re penning a heady little yarn about creativity, electricity, and the brain, the next you’re wading through the swampy musings of what it means to be the loudest mute lady in NYC, and now I’ve ended up with this very long thank you note to the people who’ve looked after me all these years of dealing with epilepsy. One thing I’ve noticed (and I don’t think I’m imagining it) is that as you edge closer and closer toward your release date, the more squirrelly people around you become. They’re entirely more careful about what they say in your presence. Their voices go up an octave, sharpening in this nervous, whistling-past-the-graveyard kind of way. It’s as if they are preparing to be completely horrified by some revelation, embarrassment, or cringe-worthy detail you may have included about them. Some go radio-silent altogether. It’s surreal.

There’s this awful story/rumor that came across my feed during final editing about a memoirist who wrote a tell-all of her marriage. Apparently, her husband read it and immediately committed suicide. The prospect of any reader feeling driven toward such tragic action by anything I might jot down completely terrifies me. We’re all unreliable narrators (even of our own stories) and what if we inadvertently trigger someone or everyone? Should there be some kind of warning label like at the beginning of Incredibles 2? It keeps me up at night. The thing I woke up to however during the writing process is that while my own style of comedy often vacillates between ridiculous self-deference and subversive snark, the target is always just me. I think I’d always rather have everyone else coming off clever and effing hilarious.

I want to ask other comedians and writers about this… I especially want to ask Ottessa Moshfegh if people she knows recognize themselves in her books, or is it all some kind of wild fictitious channeling? I am reading her latest about a white girl with a trust fund who self-medicates to the point of a near-continuous blackout in the hopes of changing her life in her sleep. Who knew self-destruction could be so entertaining? There are many days I would like to nap my way to a better existence.

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Her voice is intoxicating—with zero fear of the grotesque. She also portrays privilege in a manner that makes it hard to look away.

Alas, no big sleep for any of us yet…  Get outside today, Lovelies – 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

 

Day 21 of the Writer’s Retreat. Change Status to…

Phew!!!…  Okay, yesterday was a close one… the thought of having spent years on a book only to have it ruined with a seven-word subtitle—made this girl pretty squirrelly. I just feel like anybody curious enough to pick up my book in a store or online should feel like a welcome guest… They need snacks and like-minded company. They should never say to themselves, “Holy cats!!! I am SO in the wrong place!” Thank God funny, pithy sanity is prevailing (for the moment). I never imagined there could be such a tussle over things like subtitles…

I also want readers to feel like they could be me. On any given day, at any moment, their comfy brains could suddenly just decide to rebel for whatever reason—genetics, hormones, immunological things, stress, etc. As a single mom with epilepsy, struggling to make ends meet, I used to look around at the privileged, married moms in the private school where my daughter went and think, any one of you could suddenly be me. Any day. Strangely, it helped me to accept them (and our situation) a little more… and then, of course, I also just loved these other moms. Even the judgy ones whose daughters I could see were on the cusp of morphing into mean girls. But blerg… it’s so freakin’ complicated and intersectional and there’s no one right way to do things.

In the meantime, it’s beautiful as hell here and Gary (the beaver) was just looking over at me like, “Why aren’t you writing faster?” He’s finishing a late brunch… that guy’s a day drinker if there ever was one…

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In the meantime, I am being a good citizen and filling out all of my book marketing forms with frequent flyer numbers to Kenny Loggins and a whole marathon Yacht Rock playlist. Stay rad, Lovelies…  xoxo – GG

 

This Guy…

Hello, Lovelies,

Oy, I meant to post this yesterday. Meet John Oliver… or John Deer Oliver—named after a tractor and a national treasure of a comedian. Yes, it’s Day 17 of my writer’s retreat. I was on my way to the compost heap when I ran into this guy. He’s a very amiable, chill young buck. Visits every day around 4 pm and seems to like NPR.

But oh, nature… nature doesn’t feel terribly funny compared to the city’s characters. I confess I am totally homesick for this feisty little old lady who hangs out protesting the Starbuck’s on the corner every weekend. She’s the absolute spit of Elaine Stritch and she always has an old school “We-are-pleased-to-serve-you” actual paper cup of coffee with the actual New York Times spread across at least three tables. No one seems to mind. I hope she’s still alive when I get back. When I left, it was like this because of all the wacky weather.
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The other morning I came outside up here and said, “Hello, everyone…” to the animals. Thankfully, no one said hello back. It’s a crowd consisting of John Deer, a completely pleasant beaver I’ve named “Gary” along with a baby squirrel since dubbed “Janice” and some wickedly indecisive geese who can’t figure out which way to fly. This is Gary… He’s eating a yam.

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Ok, I am stalling on a Wednesday deadline, but I miss you all. Stay rad… 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