Well, well, well… Look at you!

I can’t believe I got to DO this! I recently sat down with comedian Jessimae Peluso host of the infamous Sharp Tongue podcast, episode #150… A tiny caveat that shouldn’t dissuade you from listening… this podcast contains salty language, so just please make sure to put your headphones on at work. We talked about everything from epilepsy to anxiety to Greta Gerwig. I even yodeled for this woman (c’mon, who wouldn’t?) all in support of epilepsy and my silly book GOTHAM GIRL, INTERRUPTED which, to be honest, is a little Lenny Bruce Meets Epilepsy. That said, were there ever to be a TV series based on my silly book, I’d want this lady in the writers’ room because she is wicked funny.

Thanks again to Jessimae and to her sponsor Hakuna Supply. – XOXO – Gotham Girl

Girl Meets Dirt

Hello, Lovelies, How the hell are you?

Greetings from the burning world… Yes, I’m coming to you live from the charred hinterlands of Shasta, California not far from the Oregon border—a place that feels like the way-way back of the region’s old-school family station wagon. I’m here writing about the apocalyptic wildfires from which many are still recovering, where makeshift tents, trailers, and rickety shacks pepper the blackened, wool-folded mountains. Everywhere you look… there’s just SO. MUCH. DIRT. I thought New York was dirty, but I’m wrong. I’m sure we all walk around with a fine coating of fecal matter on our face’s every day but it’s nothing like this. The other eerie thing… There are no birds.

To put a cherry on top of the irony sundae that is my all-too-meta-meta-life right now… The house I am staying in also caught fire this morning. Something to do with improper dishwasher wiring. It’s fine now, but for a stretch there, my audio cortices were tortured by way too many white guys grunting and arguing about what had actually gone awry. Much like an impacted wisdom tooth, there was the surgical removal of the troublesome appliance, followed by the sharp ka-thud of its carcass in the front yard. All the while, I’m yawning at them on the deck under a yolk-yellow sun, a sliver of belly smiling out from between my shrunken yoga top and flannel pajama bottoms. I never thought (of all people) I would tire of handsome firefighters, but I’m closing in. Mostly, I just want things to stop being on fire—my brain included—I am 82 days seizure-free.

One thing I never realized is how long the smoke and fire continue after a blaze is reported as being “contained”. It’s a totally Wagnerian aria of chainsaws, chippers, and heavy machinery. The process of controlled burning, bulldozing, tree-falling, land scraping, soil testing, and hydroseeding required to rebuild even smallest structure can feel eternal—it’s like the effing Ring Cycle. People are working crazy-hard. There’s a strength in them that feels bred-in-bone.

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Another consequence of the wildfires is that with the sudden presence of all the federal, state, and local officials, a whole host of once-hidden felons and petty criminals comes out of the woodwork—primarily because there is so much actual woodwork to do. Once thick with evergreens and generations of belligerence, you come to this part of the world to get lost and stay lost. Now it’s a mostly barren wasteland. Even the few trees left feel oddly temporary. Just here for a quick visit. There’s also a distinctly Carl Hiaasen-esque Florida vibe to the place. I keep waiting for an ornery redneck to jump out from one of the remaining shrubs with a decapitated Rottweiler head attached to his arm with some sort of rural tomfoolery in mind.

In other news, I’ve been working in an old garden shed that’s quite possibly the dirtiest, most delightful place I’ve ever worked. I may build my own when I finally get back to New York. In the meantime, I will be in Los Angeles tomorrow. If any of you lovelies happen to be in the area, I will be signing books at the National Walk to End Epilepsy on Feb 2 at the Rose Bowl. Details to follow!

Stay rad & stay safe! xoxo – Gotham Girl

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Featured photo courtesy of Jeremy Bishop

 

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

 

Save the Date…

And now for something completely different…

If you’re going to be in the New York area next month, DO come out for an evening of snarky banter as I yuck it up with fellow writer Jessica Keenan Smith of Living Well With Epilepsy for the launch of our new podcast FITS N’ STARTS—recorded LIVE at EPIC. We’ll be discussing my debut collection of comedic tales GOTHAM GIRL INTERRUPTED  (or SPAZ as I like to call it).

Join us on November 15 @ 7PM. Book signing to follow. Please do RSVP to Jean Dunn at jdunn@epicli.org or call 516-739-7733, ext 155.

She’s One Spazzy Cat (who loves to A/B test)

So, I was thinking…  and yes, we’ve talked about this before, but you know how I really don’t like the title of my book that’s coming out on Nov 6th? That I wanted to call it SPAZ because, as a rule, even before I broke my whole face, I owned the forking-shirt out of awkward-nerd-girl. I was one spazzy cat according to most people. However, the chain bookseller data heavily supported us NOT calling it that so now it’s named after this blog. But I was thinking I could maybe-possibly be a little evil when it comes out.

Here’s my idea: I could sneak into bookstores with a bunch of stickers with the correct title… If I got in trouble for defacing my own book, voi-la…there’s some much-needed press and what a great story to tell my eventual grandlings?!

I’m not keen on jail—so Imma buy the books, put the SPAZ stickers on, and then slip them back onto the shelves. It’s my very own split test and then we’ll know for sure.

XOXO – Gotham Girl

PS… Yes, I did scream into an entire bag of Cheetos this week b/c of the patriarchy, but I’m better-ish now. Thanks for asking 🙂

 

Fires, Dream Logic, and Weeding with Parker Posey…

Hi there, Lovelies,

How the hell are you? Here’s a photo from the fires (taken by the exquisite Claire Kimple). Such a powerful, quiet reminder of the ‘tude very much needed right now.

I’m sure it’s all the scorched earth… but I keep having these wildly visceral time travel dreams where I’m plunked down throughout life at my different old homes. The last one was in Vermont at a house I’d really hesitated buying. In the dream, I’m there in full-body-sensory-Technicolor-smell-o-vision. When I land, it’s always very Dr. Who and hapless as I’m typically in the yard one or two houses over. It’s usually snowing and I have to clomp back over to our house in my jams where I’m suddenly having this very David Mamet-style conversation with the new residents about having lived there eons ago. I hesitated over buying this particular house because our kids were still dinky and it was too close to the road for my anxious-mom taste. In the dream, the new people have redone the kitchen all wrong—excoriating the very heart of the house—the butler’s pantry and the dumbwaiter. And I’m there shaking my head my head at the tremendous loss when all at once, I’m physically ripped out of the dream muscle by muscle only to wake up back in NYC with my whole body clenched and sweaty. Somehow, it all feels very much like Kelly Link dream logic + Quilt Theory. (You know, from physics and the multiverse?)

Things I’ve loved this week…

  • It’s college drop off time, which comes with all manner of anticipation, grief and feeling just plain lucky. I happened upon this hilarious podcast adventure, and thought maybe this next act is The Parker Posey Phase of My Life?
  • When I want to remember how much I love writing by hand, Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel reminds me.
  • When I need solid fashion advice I check in with Grace at The Stripe.
  • When I’m at work and want to stop feeling like Ingrid Bergman from Gaslight.
  • When I want to repeat myself (like the broken record that I am) about how women in STEM can be such a kickass setting for a riveting psychological thriller, I think of only of Megan Abbott’s Give Me Your Hand.
  • When I need to recall that the word “Hobo” comes from the phrase “homeward bound” and that they had their own mythologized code.
  • Why New Yorkers (and many other humans of the world) hate slow walkers.
  • RIP Neil Simon, because whenever I need a lift from our overwhelming world I always watch Seems Like Old Times.

Ok, back to school everyone… xoxo – gg

PS – Best shot from Seems Like Old Times

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When the Thing on the Inside of Your Head is Now Suddenly on the Outside

And in your hand!!!

Hello, Lovelies, Pardon the intermission. California is still burning, but I very much want to finish this story…

To recap: it is a dark and stormy morning the opening day of BookExpo where my first book was being featured. Somehow all the galleys have gone missing, then been found in a trash compactor room on the Upper West Side by a mysterious woman who has tracked me down in a city of 8.53 million people via my daft little website, and now she’s walking up to me in the lobby of her office. She looks just like Nancy Drew—but with hot-nerd glasses. She even has Nancy’s hair-flippy-thing that I always try to do when I’m blowing out my crazy bird’s nest (except I just end up looking frizzy, like Cher from the Witches of Eastwick.)

She’s smiling as she opens a farmer’s market bag topped full of my little book. I flip to the dedication page, immediately wanting to nosedive into all the ink and paper and cry. I never thought SPAZ (the original title) would get this far. I wasn’t sure I had the… discipline. So, I’m wobbly and I don’t know how to thank this woman. It’s too early for drinking. I realize I should be Instagramming and twitscaping all the promotional moments that you’re supposed to do as a first-time author. I should be completely jumping for joy, but instead, I’m frozen as I stand there thinking, “Oh, my fucking God, what if she’s actually read the damn thing? She must know what an absolute kook-a-doo I am, what with my ridiculous bionic face, my psychedelic seizures, and yodeling for speech therapy? Holy cats! I’m going to have a seizure simply from signing my book about seizures!”

I think Alain de Botton said it best: “If we are not regularly deeply embarrassed by who we are, the journey to self-knowledge hasn’t begun.” I am suddenly deeply embarrassed and thanking this perfect stranger when out tumble the words: “Would you maybe… like one?”

She nods eagerly as I search my bag frantic for a pen. I find myself consciously having to steady my hand as I sign the galley. Am I even doing this right? I whisper to her, “This is the first book I’ve ever signed.” Her eyes widen to saucers.

Moments later, I’m schlepping past the lions of The New York Public Library toward the conference. The sky is still so dark and thunderous. Just as I reach Bryant Park, the fairy lights blink to life in the trees as if by some odd magic, and I realize right then, after all this time… I am finally a writer.

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Hold fast and stay rad, Lovelies. xoxo – gg