The Year I Set Myself on Fire

Greetings from The Overlook where I have been in a mad dash to finish my second book, a psych thriller code-named Project G. It’s sweltering out—like Do The Right Thing hot.

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July is the hardest month to stay in love with Manhattan. It’s like year nine of marriage when you really wish he’d just effing clean out the garage (for once) so that you can shoehorn the car in a hair from all of his unfinished manuscripts before it’s the depths of the Arctic winter again. But anytime you so much as even hint at this frog of a task, he starts yelling like Jerry Stiller from Seinfeld. July is usually a time of blatant abjection where all of the city’s humanity shows itself in its boldest, most disturbing hues. Especially on the subway, which is no great shakes right now as I’m sure you’ve all seen. A carnivalesque, pheromone-based mating ritual to be sure!

That said, the city does try its best (above ground) to make things fabulous with arts and culture. Opera practically comes to your stoop with F’Rosé popsicles. Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is the tailgate of the century.

I barely look at my phone, email or social media these days, but then suddenly, out of nowhere, I’ll get a crazy text from Ed saying, “Holy Crapdazzle! Turn on the telly… The world’s a shit-fire!” And so I do, and I’ll see something horrid like a nuclear Cheeto wrestling a logo, which will somehow remind me of the time I set myself on fire 20-odd years ago in grad school. It was the worst. I was living down in the East Village in this tiny 4th-floor walk-up apartment where it used to actually rain through the ceiling whenever my upstairs neighbor took a shower–making so that I actually had to take a brolly in the shower to take my own proper (clean) shower. I was under the most intense deadlines and What. An. Idiot. I was making both tea and coffee at the same time. For some reason, I needed both, and I leaned over the lit burner to grab the sugar (or something) in my highly flammable Wal-mart flannel shirt. “Hmmm, that’s an odd color flame: purple and green” I observed. “Then, holy shit! That’s me on fire!” Pat, pat, pat. Tries to blow it out (big mistake). Forgets the whole “Stop, drop and roll” exercise from 2nd grades and run screaming from your apartment into the grubby hallway, your cheap shirt now almost fully engulfed in flames, only to rip it off like The Hulk and inadvertently show off your latest, most experimental bra choice to all of your scary neighbors.

That’s the world right now. If only Chris Christie could have done like French and worn dark socks with sandals to sunbathe. Then while you could never excuse him, at least you could laugh at him. Come on Christie… you f*ckwad, either DO the right thing… or be the girl on the right.

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Hold on tight, Lovelies.  And don’t lean over any open flames. xoxo – GG

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Oh, Kafka. You just get me…

Can you be my boyfriend? Together we’ll thrash, thrash, thrash around on the page and in life, then tidy, tidy, tidy until finally a palimpsest. Complete standstill, then you begin again.

At least it’s cool out today and we can all walk to work. I don’t know a single city dweller who wants to venture underground after yesterday’s derailment. Oy. New Yorkers tend to make a religion out of their neighborhoods. Would that we could make a religion out of the subway, the way the French have with the metro and Brits have with the underground…

New York has all these Neverwheres that we should make use of somehow.

Cocktail Party Syndrome: NYC and Pathological Friendliness

Hello, Lovelies! Happy Monday… Are you awake yet?

This, just in. After all these years, I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong (or right) with me. I have Williams syndrome, AKA “Cocktail Party Syndrome”. No, this is not about my losing all my girly hormones and slowly morphing into a duplicitous Brian Williams evening news anchor-type, but rather it is about the wickedly interesting book I am reading by Jennifer Latson: The Boy Who Loved Too Much. Don’t be put off if you think the title sounds like a Lifetime movie of the week, it’s SO NOT the vibe.

The reason I like this book is not solely because I saw so much of myself and my daughters in it, it’s because I also saw so many New Yorkers in it—especially in the summer when all the diehard weirdos and eccentrics come out. People think New Yorkers aren’t friendly and it’s so not the case. Ours is a city where there’s so much day-to-day forced intimacy, we’re just trying to give each other a little space. I try to observe this custom, but it wasn’t always the case.

Once upon a time… when I was a little 4-year-old twerp back in the 1970s, my clueless hippie-billy parents would take us to the most racist restaurant in all of America. (I’ll tell you more about that later) So there I would be… totally ready, hyperactively bouncing from right foot to left foot and back to right, while a pastel-clad middle-aged hostess named Ruth scanned the floor for an open table. But Ruth had nothing on me.

As I would see strangers getting up from their mostly-finished meals, I would zip past my parents and the befuddled Ruth with her laminated menus and her toilet brush hair, and RACE toward the unwitting, grown-up patrons. Extending a hand like a friendly politician at a church social, I’d grin genuinely amazed up at their perplexed faces and exclaim, “How on earth did you know?!”

And then, I would slide like a batter into home plate right into their empty vinyl booth and start eating and drinking the leftover food on their plates. Yep.

“Pancakes and…” Sipping from the random stranger’s straw, “Vanilla Coke for breakfast! This is EXACTLY what I wanted!”

Of course, my horrified tiny bird of a mother would chase me down, flying past Ruth, my dad, and the bemused diners, chirping something like, “Holy sh*t, she’s acting just like a Starling!” and/or “You have to have better boundaries, little one!”

Starlings, I was always taught were the most charming but also the most troublesome birds in the ecosystem. They nest in all the wrong places. They occasionally cause planes to crash. Over the years, this lack of neurogenetic coding, my Starling coding as I called it, would make me vulnerable to a HEAP of issues and opportunities, but I have to say I just love Eli (the boy Latson shadowed) and I just love this book… probably too much. I write about NYC being the neurodiversity capital of the world. It’s cocktail party syndrome and everything in between. It’s books like Latson’s that we need more of these days, and kids like Eli we need to make sure can make their entrance.

“How on earth did you know?”

Thank you for writing this, lady! Stay rad – xoxo – GG

 

Last week, when it was hot as balls in NYC…

Ahoy lovelies, just a quickie… Last week when it was hot as balls out, I stumbled upon Bridget & Eamon on Amazon Prime and binge-watched the entire thing through the bloody heat wave:

Maybe it’s that I’m old now, or that I’m a narcissistic, oversharing loudmouth, but B&E is without a doubt the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. It’s like they improv the show from room-to-room and just shoot on the fly. I think my favorite episode is when the sun finally comes out in Ireland in mid-season 2.  In any case, if you need a break from the heat or the grim headlines involving our Dorito-hued dildo of a leader, this romp is most certainly the ticket.

Enjoy… xoxo – GG

 

The Longest Day: Time to Bust Out Those Flower Crowns and Druid Dresses!

Happy Solstice Lovelies,

How the hell are you? I just realized we’re going to need a whole lot of Pagan rituals if this cruel, Illuminati, Skull & Bones healthcare bill passes. In the meantime, if you’re around Times Square today, keep your eyes peeled for thousands of people with their bums in the air in down dog for the Mind Over Madness solstice party. Yes, I’ll admit to finding something momentarily erotic about it all until I realized we’re going to need to start making special electrolyte water out of reconstituted boob sweat to keep the planet going. Oy. I can help with that.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one who was disappointed in Pope Francis’s condemnation of yoga. What gives Pope? What happened to all are welcome? Every culture celebrates the solstice in its own way. What happened to the whole acceptance vibe? Cranky.

I also realized if I’m to survive the rest of this year, I need to stop shuffling around the apartment with Warren Ellis hair (my hero) and get to work on the next thing. I have something fermenting. I’m just haunted by a crapload of “Should I haves” and “Is it too lates?” with SPAZ.

Should I have talked more about how when Marlene moved in next door I had to buy sniper earmuffs? She looked at me like I was Dexter with a kill box when I opened the door wearing them. They were only $14 (on Amazon, of course) and I was desperate to quell the sound of her explosively yappy dog, not to mention the boom-boom of the 70-inch flatscreen she mounted on the other side of my bedroom wall? Oh, Marlene…

Should I have recounted the Nancy Drew-style Search Party investigation my BFF Ed and I conducted to get to the bottom of the Marlene mystery? How it ended with me actually meeting someone from the show?

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Is it too late to talk about why epilepsy belongs in the neurodiversity NeuroTribes category along with Autism Spectrum and ADHD, Anxiety, and all the other ways in which we are wired as people?

Is it too late to do work that scares my dad? That’s been my goal all along, but he might be too old by now. I wanted to write a comedic book about having a totally unapologetic relationship with my damaged brain and now I’m having big separation anxiety about it. Does this happen with all first books? I think I need other neurotics to weigh in. David Sedaris? You up? Or is there a Pagan rite or ceremony I can perform today that doesn’t involve so much boob sweat?

Meanwhile, happy solstice everyone and stay cool, you exhausted futurists, you!

xoxo – GG

Sick-Lit is Giving Me the Vapors

Greetings Lovelies,

How the hell are you?

Can you believe the world today? I feel like we’re all living in an episode of Dr. Who. (No wonder my apartment feels bigger!) Every day is like having a new case of the damn vapors…

Nervous, sweaty well wishes from The Overlook where I just finished the book. The big, long, messy book.

You’d think I’d be jubilant. Instead, I’m pretty much an exhausted husk of a human. A strange, feral being who looks like Sasquatch fathered a lovechild with the-Unabomber. My hair is Origami. And when did I decide to stop wearing a bra?

In my head, where there used to be a book festering, now there’s only an empty windowless room. It’s like I finally moved all my stuff out of that grad school storage locker on the Westside highway. You can still make out the corrosive staining of my melted MacBook on the dusty cement floor that is my brain. For years now, people have been coyly asking, “How’s the book coming along? Done yet?” which is like asking a chronically ill person, “So, how’s the death coming? Dead yet?” Lordy… words are hard.

I know a decent number of writers at this point in my mid-life, and only two warned me about how completely terrible I would feel after I hit send to my editor. Amy Poehler, who said you just get “gray” as it comes down to the wire, and another writer who just turned in his debut novel, and who is now attempting to morph into the marketing machine his publisher needs him to be, except he suddenly found himself entirely without words. Nothing left to say. He’s a husk. This rarely ever happens to me, but my brain parts are wicked tired; I’m late with book reviews, guest posts and multiple other projects I’ve been stalling on for months. But of course, instead of doing any of those things, I hit send in my Outlook and immediately raced out to lunch with the girls.

Where did I go for lunch, you ask? To the 1990’s rom-com queen of all New York restaurants, the quintessential Meg Ryan of eateries: The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park, which used to have totally “meh” food and way too many people from Texas, all wearing shorts and comfortable shoes, and sporting golden rape whistles. It still has a few of those, except the mac and cheese there is now fantastically awesome! It’s like a huge flaming Baked Alaska of carbs and salt and butter fat. So restorative! And the company was fine indeed. I power-walked all the way there listening to Michael Buble to get in the mood, sweaty hair stuck to my neck, but it was SO what the doctor ordered. Lordy…

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It probably doesn’t help that my book, SPAZ: Adventures in Life, Love, and Electricity, tends to fall into the “sick-lit” category. It touches on epilepsy, the fun of breaking my face last year during a seizure and being a mute girl in here the city which is a curious business if you’ve never tried it. When you can’t talk, suddenly 8 million people tell you EVERYTHING. No wonder I’m fried!

Sick-lit is not new. In the Victorian Era, it focused primarily on heroines with tuberculosis. As a popular genre in the 1980’s, it predominantly featured young, sickly white girls who found waify redemption through handsome love interests and who wore makeup so that they could maintain the illusion of wellness until they were either healed or passed away tragically. Narratives of the 1980s also focused on a protagonist’s transformation from nerdy misfit to socially adept girl.

What makes sick-lit so complicated to write is the idea that if one depicts an illness in the wrong way, it might romanticize the condition and this can make things harder for the people actually dealing with the real thing. For my part, by normalizing something like epilepsy, I just didn’t want to diminish it or the surrounding struggles, which can be enormous. I also wanted a better narrative outcome. The electric girl should find agency, love and some degree of funny sanity amid all the thrashing about and ER visits.

In recent years, the voice given to chronic illness is borne out of personal experience and there are a lot of survivor narratives out there. Now, I love Gloria Gaynor as much as the next guy, but I didn’t want to write a survivor narrative because I just longed for some agency for the reader (and for me). I didn’t want a Lifetime Movie of the Week. (No offense to Lifetime, it’s just not my jam.) For me, the story was as much about what went comedically right as what went neurologically wrong. Add to that, my totally inadequate reckoning with both pieces of the pie, and that was what I was going for. I won’t know if it worked for a few years.

In any case, now that I’ve had my Baked Alaska of mac and cheese, it’s time to get to back to fiction, which is always easier for me since, having worked in Advertising for so long, telling big lies feels pretty on-brand.

Also, some big changes coming to GG: a new neurodiversity in NYC series, a store with snarky merch, a book club, a GG events calendar, embarrassing video from the SPAZ tour and some podcast-ish things. It’s all crazy exciting and suddenly making me a tad woozy… My stars, perhaps it’s… the vapors.

Stay rad lovelies, drink rosé and have a meaningful day – xoxo – gg

Emotional Support Waffles

PHOTO: Shared by the lovely and talented  food writer Rebecca Firsker

Hello lovelies,

Just some therapy carbs for you (and your adrenal glands) on this gray Friday morning…

I am in a mad work crunch, but strangely enjoying it, so cake batter waffles just seemed completely appropriate. They force you to stop and simply notice everything for just a sliver of a moment. And who doesn’t love the crispy airiness of a chocolate Devil’s Food cake mix waffle? Fling in some rainbow funfetti or chocolate sprinkles and voi-la… party in your mouth-soul.

Meanwhile…

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Photo: the amazing Austin Kleon

stay rad! xoxo – gg