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

 

 

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

 

It’s 2018. Where’s My Sandwich?

Hello, Lovelies… How the hell are you?

I just read that Eartha Kitt had a threesome with Paul Newman and James Dean. (It was the old girl’s birthday this past week) Of the nookie, she remarked, “That time back in my dance studio ranks as one of the most celestial experiences of my life. Those two beauties transported me to heaven. I never knew lovemaking could be so beautiful.”

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“Good God,” I texted a friend, “I need to completely rethink my life choices.”

“Can I please have my cause of death be listed as ‘sandwiched between James Dean and Paul Newman’?” came her swift reply.

Hells to the yeah! They can put it right there on my tombstone. I won’t even blush. Why should I? It’s 2018. Where’s my sandwich? We have a president who likes to be spanked with his daughter’s face.

And, would that there were a way to extract that monstrous ego of his, dry it like a root vegetable, grind it into a fine powder and snort it… if only to get through the rest of what’s coming.

Isn’t it convenient when crippling anxiety doubles as your daily cardio? I don’t know about you but I have to get all my news from McSweeney’s just to keep from having a goddamn seizure on the Q train these days. In the meantime, I am conjuring up a call sheet for Project G to shoot this summer. The cover reveal for Gotham Girl, Interrupted should be any day now… and when not marching I actually managed to fly through the below tome over the weekend:

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With clean, fluid prose you’ll devour, this stunner had descriptions of agoraphobia so vivid, I wondered if Finn had personal experience with the condition. (Anyone?) Add to this… all the references to badass ladies of suspense classics like Vertigo and Rear Window and it’s the perfect escape from our ongoing Black Mirror existential hellscape. I heartily recommend…

Okay, New York is noisy tonight and I must away to toil but stay rad, stay sane, and above all stay safe… XOXO – GG

Laura Dern is Really Good at Being a Shark

Hello, Lovelies,

How the hell are you? It’s been a rollicking few weeks, dear readers! That bigoted sack of Bisquick is still airing his balls in the Whitehouse instead of the Big House, Hurricane Jose is en route to NYC and I turned in a book… the one about going from being a mostly-dead girl… voi-la…

 

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photo: Holly Mckeown

to a mostly-alive girl…

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I still feel like some parts of the book are missing. I keep having these epic middle school dreams where I have a line in some awful 6th-grade pageant but no pants on, which is distracting in the best of cases. Yes, the pants are the pages.

About midway through, I wrote this lazy quip “No more Laura Dern-style meltdowns for me,” and I got this big note back in black Sharpie that simply said, “Is she even known for this?” and I thought holy cats, I am so fucked! My silly book had been bought by smart, literary people who don’t watch television, which I completely, totally get. We should all be reading more, but we’re talking Laura Dern here, people!

George Saunders may have said it best: “A book is like a shark. A shark hasn’t evolved in 40,000 years because it’s still really good at just being a shark. A book is the same.” So is the human brain. It’s still the most efficient storytelling device on the planet, sending all variety of messages from brain-to-face-to-body.

This is where Laura Dern is an especially good shark. I wanted to tweet my editor all these pictures of LD melting down throughout pop culture history. Etsy even makes buttons of them…

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The other funny thing about breaking your face and having your lower jaw torn off like an act-one Stephen King character is that all your surgeons and speech therapists want you to be during recovery is Laura-fucking-Dern because those splendid facial gymnastics she’s famous for actually help you to get better.

Another note I got on the book… was “more emotion” which made me do a full-on spit-take (and I wasn’t even drinking anything). I walk around thinking I’m chocked full of emotion, but with most of the nerves on the right side of my face severed it’s no longer so wildly apparent. My mug is a little inscrutable these days and it’s not only changing my interactions with people, it’s changing my written words as well. I believe that when you stand alone on the precipice of big change, you can either fill the gaping chasm with dread, devastation or drollery. It’s not to say that you’re not afraid, not sad, not homesick for the “dear ordinary” that you knew before, the one all the therapists have you reenacting each day, but you can choose other ways to fill the abyss. I chose drollery.

There was a point in my epileptic life where I probably liked my seizures a little more than I despised them. I know it’s not supposed to work that way. In the current zeitgeist of the differently-abled, you are supposed to stand up, resistdefy, and even hate your chronic condition or illness whatever it may be. But there’s something about my particular brand of seizures that scratches this deep ontological itch I have. There’s an odd satisfaction to them I still can’t name. Why are we the only species that seems to yearn for oblivion?

Yes, I still wake up from each fit thinking “Ugh, not again…” because the crawl back to normalcy is usually such a doozy, but my seizures are also terribly gorgeous, like being caught in a tornado of stars. It’s an instance of overpowering joy that I get a snatch at, which holds almost as much allure as a drug. In this way, I feel like a traitor against the cause to cure the condition. I don’t hate it as much as I’m curious about it and long for another glimpse.

In this way, the grief I feel around epilepsy is strangely deferred, less about me, and more directly related to the fear I’ve caused the people around me. You don’t feel bad for you, so much as you feel bad for how frightened, vulnerable and Laura Dern-like you may have made the people around you feel in the moments when they were watching you thrash and flail around on the ground. It’s their meltdowns you tend to, once you are back and awake.

Maybe that’s the whole point, we’re all Laura D, we’re all really good at being sharks at one time or another, which is how we persist. I’m not sure yet. I think I need to read and stew more.

This week I have fallen head-first into Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, which is one of those books that just calls out to you at the end of the day as you come in the door. “Read me,” it beckons with its siren’s song.

 

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Ng’s prose flows like water and her witty, wry conversations between siblings are so exactly how whole generations grew up speaking to each other. I highly recommend it for this week’s weather. Or in any kind of weather.

For now, stay rad and hold tight in those crazy winds outside. XOXO – GG

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

by the amazing Kate Curtis

Hello Lovelies,

How the hell are you? I’m trying to stay chipper in the home stretch of the edit and am employing all means necessary to stay focused. Meanwhile, I look like the Unabomber and have been asked for cover art examples… Yay, cover art! I think I want something equal parts cartoonishly self-deprecating and slightly evil for this collection since it’s mostly about falling on my face. I sent my editor this cover from Andrew Sean Greer’s LESS (a charmer of a book) but then also Samantha Irby’s wickedly funny We are Never Meeting in Real Life. Am open to suggestions…

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In the mean time, can you believe that shit-for-brains, megalomaniacal hairball is telling people in Texas to have a great time all while making it clear he hasn’t a clue how pickup trucks actually work? I swear that guy is going to have a serious class warfare reckoning when people invade his hotels like the army of the dead, flooding in with their Whitewalker toenails demanding hot showers and pedicures.

On another track, RIP Walter Becker…  I’ve always had a Grand Canyon-sized soft spot for Steely Dan (when I wasn’t freestyling to Kenny).

We’re having a sneak peek of autumn here… it’s the best. I just saw a woman in a quilted jacket, which means fashion week is nearly upon us. Yay, statement coats!

Okay, back to work… and many thanks to Craig Stacey for his totally poignant thoughts on loss and Dostoyevsky. SO exactly what I needed for structuring that troublesome chapter. What a gift.

Stay rad lovelies –  XOXO – GG

 

Girls Gone Mild

Morning Lovelies,

Remember back when the above was considered bad?

Oh, for those gentler days when you could take a silent drag alongside your repressed, simmering 1960s ice queen of a mother and know that somehow… things were going to be okay… that all the consequences of female appetite, desire, angst, ambition, anxiety, and murky existential despair could be held at bay for 3-5 minutes and then slowly dissipate, wafting away on an ethereal ribbon of smoke. Oh, for a cigarette.

If the alt-reality of the current world… with people hurling trash cans at each other in the streets while our ridiculous supreme leader proves himself to be messier than a woo-woo girl after bottomless mimosas at brunch. Then, there’s endlessly charming douche-bro Elon Musk waxing poetic about his damn Hyperloop… Seriously, does the man not realize? We can’t even get the subway to work in New York City! We’re not building a 29-minute train from here to DC. We just want to get to Brooklyn… If all of this makes you want to shelter in place and stream Yacht Rock, rest assured you are not alone.

[Sidebar: Holy Proustian flashbacks! I finally figured out where my guy “type” comes from… it’s not from pirates after all! It’s from Yacht Rock! When I was 7, apparently I told my mom I was going to marry Kenny Loggins, live on a farm and be his muse. I think I thought I was Stevie Nix??? So much for that plan.]

In any case, if cigarettes and Kenny are not your jam, DO try Plum Sykes’s recent gem Party Girls Die in Pearls, which I devoured it in 2 sweltering days. Lordy, this girl gives good Beach:

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Without blathering on too much… It’s Whit Stillman meets Miss Marple meets Gossip Girl and they all venture to Oxford to solve addressable problems in late 80s couture. Sykes’s intrepid sleuth, Ursula, gives us curiosity without consequences. Initially, some of the Dickensian character names threw the cynic in me, but it’s pure laugh-out-loud escapism where you also learn a little Latin and are equally comforted by both Plain Granny and Vain Granny. Most of all, I just wanted to meet these Girls-Gone-Mild characters again… if only to learn more of their quirks, charms, faults, and traditions. There’s an innocence here that’s so needed in New York right now. It’s also exactly what you want in a crime series, so am looking forward to the next one.

Just a belated antidote for a mess of a week. For now, I leave you with this snap of Sean Spicer fleeing the Whitehouse—most certainly on his way to shacking up with Kenny.

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Stay rad, Lovelies – xoxo – GG

P.S. If you are seeing doubled-up paragraphs in these posts, sincerest apologies. I think it’s something to do with WordPress, so trying to find a web pixie to sort it out.

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

 

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

Not to brag, but I’m getting SO much writing done!

Image above stolen from the desk of the amazing Austin Kleon.

HA!  Hello lovelies,

Greetings from The Overlook where I am in a white-heat manic frenzy and positively useless as a human. It’s not hyperbole. Friends came to visit from France, and I’ll admit it; I was the worst hostess ever. Domestic badasses like Martha Stewart, Ina and Snoop would excommunicate me tout de suite. I used to really, really  be able to cook, but all I can think about right now is the book, which is due molto pronto. I can’t do drugs because of my spazzy brain, but damn if I don’t start twitching like a meth mom every time I think about all the egregious typos in my manuscript. I’ve even started to resemble Karl Ove Knausgaard. Seriously,  I am his less-cute doppelgängster:

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Plus, my skin is scaling away like that old corpse broad from The Shining. I’ll spare you the graphic bathroom visual from Kubrick’s stunning masterpiece. Suffice it to say, I’m trying to hydrate more.

Maybe it’s just aging, but I feel like my whole body is at war with itself. Where it’s like, “Yo’ lady! I need to see some ID!” and there’s me having left my driver’s license in my other purse. It’s almost a case of self not recognizing self, but I can’t figure out if it qualifies as an existential crisis or an auto-immune disorder? I think both are still covered under the #ACA.

On the bright side, the book is making me heaps skinnier. It’s a kind of terror-burp dyspepsia that gives you zero appetite as you are literally eating your own words. To cope, I’ve started harboring lush escapist fantasies and conducting wildly aggressive real estate searches for places like these:

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It’s a farmhouse in Gers, France where there is health care and people still take naps. I also love this particular region because everywhere you look, there’s food like this:

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Quack, quack went the duck. I have so much to tell you, from the different women’s marches to old AF parades to all-new New York weirdos, I just have to write like a mothertrucker this week.

Who was it who said, besides sex and wine… you are my favorite procrastination?

Stay rad – xoxo – gg

 

Delicate Flowers…

Here in Gotham, we’ve had our first real snow day… complete with people tiptoeing around the city on sidewalks made of eggshells. As I was padding home from the library yesterday, I could hear piano notes floating from a modest brownstone on 81st, carried out over wafting snowflakes… the only sound in the street, the sound of someone practicing her or his art. And it reminded me of why I’m also here.

I’ve been going through a grim patch lately… a romantic, political and societal malaise. Clearly, I need some Gemma Correll… and to read Roxane Gay’s new book… Difficult Women

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Yes, I’m still taking the election personally… With the threatened repeal of Obamacare and nothing to replace it? So many people I know rely on it. And just the very idea that America would choose a sexist, racist, bigoted, lying, non-tax paying, nuclear Cheeto over a competent, experienced woman… it still smarts. Do they not like us that much? I want to see difficult women win. Lord knows, I am one. Doesn’t take a Gallup poll to figure that one out. My issues have issues. Epilepsy, anxiety, a fear of juice. A mugger once tried to take my purse and I argued that it didn’t go with his outfit. I wanted us to win for once. I wanted to keep that damn purse.

When my daughters and I were younger, and we were sad post-le-divorce, we’d play OGT in the car… One Good Thing… Roxane’s book is today’s. We have to stay Difficult Women. Stay rad and resist.

xoxo – gg