Dead Like Me…

Hello, Lovelies, How the hell are you?

Day 985,622-ish of lockdown and it feels like we’ve reached the beet dyeing stage of things, no? Grim colonial settlers slogging away at candle and butter making?

Perhaps you’re tired of having to sound like an enlightened Montessori teacher around your kids? All that breathy perkiness. Or you’ve started referring to your excessively cheery virtual yoga class as “fucking yoga”? Maybe you’re more inventive and your household is now responding to each other entirely in Hamilton lyrics?

I told you all about having my social hacked last month… well, it gets even better! This past week I received a notice from the government.  According to their records, I’m both deceased and incarcerated. Not one or the other, but BOTH and would I mind please checking the boxes on the forms to indicate either yes or no if this is correct? Pray tell, from whence would I be doing said box-checking?

I guffawed so loudly in the yard, the neighbors must have thought I was having a stroke. I couldn’t help thinking of the line from Crip Camp: “When you’re disabled, somebody always wants you dead.” This sentiment has never felt more true than with COVID-19. Why should we save a person who spends half her life on the ground having seizures when we might possibly save someone more functional? Someone who adds more value, as the corporate suity-types often put it? It’s some scary ICUgenics to be sure. The whole thing made me want to immediately design a “Say No to Ayn Rand!” t-shirt.

The best alternative I could find was this little gem from The Second Shelf in London:

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It turns out it’s terribly hard to prove you’re alive during a pandemic. There’s really no one you can call. Everything is shut—from county clerks’ offices to notaries to banks with actual humans in them. When I tell people what’s happened, this slight glitch in the matrix, they’re absolutely enchanted and envious at my newfound status. “Ooh, you could completely disappear!” they say. Then they start naming countries we can no longer go to and joking about never again having to pay taxes.

The thing is… I’ve actually fought very hard to be here and alive these past ten years. Not because death is such a bummer or because I fear it, but more because being alive is well… entertaining? I’m constantly amazed by the absurdity of it all, and I’m quite keen to be included… to work, pay taxes, follow the ridiculous rules, and love people. Funny how abled people still make this hard for us. (Sighs resignedly).

When I was first writing my book about coming out about my condition, I was asking myself, “Who will I be now… with epilepsy? How will I be?” Well, I’m definitely going to be funny was the first answer. And certainly not broken was the second.  (Though I do have one super-judgy friend who’s constantly insisting I’m broken, even though he himself has loads of temper tantrums, extramarital affairs, and also undertakes all kinds of ethically dubious adventures. At a certain point, you just have to put people like this in the “not for me” pile as life’s simply too short.) In any case, I find a great deal of power in disability… and zero power in the kind of erasure others around me would seem to enjoy.

I suppose I could skulk around as a bureaucratically dead girl doing mildly subversive things… upending people’s assumptions about what a person with epilepsy can actually do, but life is so much more interesting when you’re not masking for other people’s benefit, i.e., “Oh, here, darling… come let me make you feel better about my overly-electric little brain that’s not in any way my fault… Oh? Wait, I’m supposed to be ashamed of it? Ahh…” Yeah, I don’t think so.

* * *

A friend of mine has five books coming out next year. It seems insane to me, but now looking at my own crazy board of projects, most shut down as I work to remap the next two years of life, I think I will attempt the same. Some projects will need to switch continents or be rejiggered as more “international” in order to get made. Others can exist happily as books if I just double down and commit. I try to work from 8am to 2pm daily. I shut myself away to ignore everyone and everything, but man… the world is merciless in its ability to distract.

What I loved seeing out in the world this past month is how the different platforms for performance are adapting, like the ZOOM-based play What Do We Need to Talk About? from Richard Nelson and The Public Theater… it’s no longer up, but was completely poignant and subtle. Nevermind that it’s on bloody ZOOM, the writing was decidedly alive, and the actors were ever more connected than if we were all crammed into a smelly little black box theater… it’s pieces like this that let me know… somehow we will all still work. Work as simple and GREAT as Nelson’s is reason enough to check the damn box on the dumb form that YES, in fact… you are still very much alive.

Stay rad and stay safe, lovelies.  xoxo – gg

My Life as a Villainess…

Hiiii, Lovelies,

Day 906,348-ish of quarantine… How the hell are you?

Are you done with subsisting on internet-delivered raspberries in between strange dreams where you’re quarantining with Oprah, and she menacingly tells you that you’ve overstayed your welcome? (SO scary). And only then does it occur to you… it’s actually an O-pocalypse?

Maybe you’ve realized holding a glass of wine in EACH hand is an excellent way to keep from accidentally touching your face? (Thanks, Larry Mirisch) Or you’re worried that your new ZOOM background looks a little too much like this:

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Maybe you’re feeling a tad cramped and so just informed your housemate that you’ll be in the microwave for the next foreseeable future? Meanwhile, some of our nearest and dearest are fighting for, or have lost, their lives. This disease is a trickster if there ever was one…

In the middle of it all, during what should be a time of global virtual solidarity… my social media was hacked. It’s not the only time it’s happened. And while I’m the first to admit to having a completely salty tongue, the hacker’s targeted and, dare I say, voluminous use of the c-word shocked even me. It was like watching an evil tennis match and having no power to call a time-out. It felt like a complete violation and left me with crazy anxiety. Most of all, it left me with a profound sense of loneliness. Honestly, how do full-time trolls manage? Also, I’d like to think that my sharp tongue has softened over the years from a tone of defiant, seething lady-rage to one that’s more along the lines of a gently grumpy hedgehog who snarfs around saying, “Seriously, man?” when she doesn’t agree with something.

That said, I’ve been thinking a great deal about my life as a villainess… Not only because I’m SO looking forward to Laura Lippman’s forthcoming essay collection with the same glorious title, but because my next book Rascal: Stories for Getting in Trouble is all about being a little bit bad, about growing up with lousy impulse control, and willingly indulging in morally dubious decisionmaking after decades of people-pleasing perfectionism…

No, to be a true villain, I feel like you must be cast as one and then lean WAY into it. Even the word’s old French roots point to a caste system and being “low-born or of rustic origin.” So much malicious intent is then layered on in less-nuanced representations of the villain… That’s not me. Being mean is too exhausting. I’m far too lazy for all that. Better to expend one’s finite energy on some joy at this point. That said, Rascal also delves into unintended consequences, of trying to do the oft misperceived “right thing” and inadvertently messing things up in a most spectacular way. Perhaps, having my tiny-potato voice so wholly hijacked this week will be yet another chapter in this vein.

In the meantime, a few things that struck me over the past few days…

The way televisual and teaching culture is changing is revealing some marvelous talents. Check out this wonderful experiment when writer and professor, Dan Chiasson, responds to a classified ad in the New York Review of Books.

Then, there’s Rebecca Solnit on the changing nature of hope and connection amid COVID_19 which somehow gave me room to breathe this week, albeit under a mask.

Fran Lebowitz on never leaving New York City… God, I love this woman. I am so happy she is our “designated” New Yorker.

If you haven’t already seen Fleabag Live benefitting COVID-19, it’s *gasp* fabulous and delightfully-darkly different from the series.

3 Fish Studios has designed this incredible “We can do hard things” tee-shirt to provide PPE and assist our most vulnerable community members.

On a more practical front… Chanel Reynolds’ book: What Matters Most: The Get Your Shit Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life’s ‘What-ifs’ draws on her incredibly personal experience of losing her husband, plus everything she learned in the process of putting life back together again. I feel like we could all use a bit of this.

And if you didn’t see it yesterday, Ingrid Ostby has done this hilarious send-up of…

And if you are in need of more levity… you can always buy my ridiculous book and support a local, independent bookstore.  If you post your receipt, I will write you a personal note thanking you and, if you’d like, include a pie recipe 🙂

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In the meantime, like what you’re reading? Please forward it to your darling friends who’ve run out content (LOL). You can find me on the web here. You can find me on Twitter here. You can find me on Instagram here. No need to find me in real life. Sadly, that’s not how this operation works anymore 😦

Stay safe, Lovelies – xoxo – gg

Apocalypse Now-ish?

Hi there, Lovelies. How the hell are you?

Soaringly anxious? Justifiably outraged? Feeling like we’re living in a Cormac McCarthy novel and in much need of levity? Maybe you feel like shouting, “NICE try, Coronavirus… I was already crazy and out of shape before you came along.” Perhaps you’re experiencing an inaugural epic WFH fail… and accidentally texted a colleague your entire household grocery list and told him to make sure to get tampons.

Alas, there are still some good things in the world…

Give author Sara Benincasa’s new Apple podcast, Well, This Isn’t Normal a listen.  Her book Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom is also a riotous, relatable gem for this new era we’ve entered.

WTIN

Speaking of eras, Dan Chiasson’s thoughtful meditation on our shifting sense of time during the Coronavirus gave this girl comfort as well.

You might also like Dr. Kathleen Smith’s fab newsletter The Anxious Overachiever… it’s crazy-practical and actionable. She’s my favorite stressed-out therapist these days.

If you need some funny… Dave Pell’s piece on McSweeney’s FAMOUS LINES OF POETRY REVISED FOR THE AGE OF CORONAVIRUS is such a chuckle.

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If you’re one of those folks who has to keep moving to stay sane but are now quietly panicking in the linen closet, this is a wonder of an online community: My Peak Challenge with a new Daily Social Distancing Workout.

Lastly, if you’re feeling a bit randy, check out this thoughtful piece by Elyse Martin on How a Book of Medieval Sex Tales Can Help us Through the Pandemic…

Ok, that’s what I got… Stay safe and stay home, Lovelies – xoxo – gg

Every Trump presser is like a Malignant Narcissists Anonymous Meeting…

Ahoy, Lovelies. How the hell are you?  Feeling cooped up AF and about to have a Parker Posey-style meltdown?

There, there… As a chronically sick girl and wayward writer, I’m a seasoned shut-in and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so SEEN. These pressers though… oof… like staring into a black hole of ego, sucking every scintilla of honor and decency into the skull-crushing void. STILL, just a few things worth loving these days:

A total gift from the Obamas and some stellar activists… CRIP CAMP: A DISABILITY REVOLUTION coming to Netflix on March 25th… please watch and support this all-too-secret history of a movement that’s made so many things possible for whole generations of us…

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This terribly clever take… To Beat COVID-19, Think Like a Fighter Pilot

The Good Book Fairy’s Laugh Your Ass Off Book List I really needed this one.

This resource list for creatives and gig workers impacted by work stoppages. With hundreds of thousands of jobs already lost, this is exactly how we need to be thinking.

And mourning what seems to be the swiftly receding age of touch…

Amid the limits of pleasantries during a pandemic: When the Answer to ‘How Are You?’ Is %*#@&%(@*

And legendary writer Warren Ellis’s pithy musings, music and images every morning from way out at the edge of the Thames river delta at Warren Ellis LTD

Lastly, if you are now doing Zoom drinks with friends, there’s a new Scotch completely worth trying: The Sassenach

For now, stay safe and maybe try to marvel at people’s inventiveness and generosity during these trying times? Slainte Mhath (Good Health), Lovelies – xoxo – gg