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

 

Tonight, I’m Elizabeth Taylor…

Ahoy, Lovelies. How the hell are you?

Just back from Wakanda, sporting a new brain (or what feels like one). For newcomers, this is code for… I had another tonic-clonic seizure a few weeks ago and now I’m in a Technicolor reboot of sorts where everything feels brave and new. 

The last time I woke up like this… an aging hippie was standing over me in a Muppet sweater telling me I needed some serious weed. She may not have been entirely wrong.

After being seizure-free for almost three years, here I am again… feeling just returned from an alternate universe and on even more Keppra than ever before. While I’m grateful for a drug that’s given me three extra years of life as a relatively ordinary girl,  it still has a way of turning me into Elizabeth Taylor every now and then. Something to keep an eye on…

On the flip side, the super-duper happy news is that last week Gotham Girl Interrupted made it to #1 in Amazon new releases and I’m finally able to attend the Annual American Epilepsy Society Meeting in New Orleans for the very first time! I’ll be doing a meet & greet here tomorrow for the Epilepsy Foundation at 2 pm at the Convention Center in Room #7 of the Exhibit Hall. If any of you are in the area, DO come by!

For now, stay rad, Lovelies –  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.

Sure, New York is difficult… but then again so am I

Or, I used to be. Hello, Lovelies…

Man, this news cycle’s a killer.

I think I officially ran out of spoons yesterday. I had to stay in my PJs today and comfort-binge the Hallmark Channel just to recover from the dumb patriarchy.

Don’t even get me started on the GOP-Brett Kavanaugh hypocrisy. It’s simply too maddening. Don’t people like Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell realize that if they were prospective jurors, they’d be dismissed for their prejudicial views? How do they NOT know this? But… Too many other positive, exciting things are happening!

My partners and I are shooting the teaser for a new neurodiversity-enviro thriller for Lionsgate Television. We have to move lightning fast to make our deadline, but we’ve worked on this one for a million years and so to see it actually becoming real has me holding my face and making ultra-high-pitched, joyous screaming noises that scare both the neighbors and dogs.

I’m launching a podcast with one of the coolest women on the planet… Jessica Keenan Smith from Living Well With Epilepsy. Yes, our foray into the big scary world of podcasting, (currently titled) Fits & Starts, will explore all the snarky, funny, and poignant sides of dealing with what can be a seriously humorless condition. We’ll be taping LIVE at EPIC Long Island on November 15th @ 7pm, which means there will likely be loads of bloopers. If you’re going to be in the area, come and laugh with us!

My book of ridiculous anecdotes about owning my inner electric goofball in Manhattan is coming out in six short weeks. We just had to shoot all kinds of crazy pics for publicity. I think I completely wore out my face and can no longer actually smile with my mouth.

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This is it for me…  Stay rad and safe, Lovelies – xoxo – gg

PS – Don’t you just ADORE that it’s finally lightly quilted vest weather?

 

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

Of All The Trash Compactor Rooms in the City, She Had to Walk into This One…

Okay, what’s the term for squealing and holding your face for five minutes straight after reading an email from a complete stranger who has tracked you down by way of your very tiny blog to tell you that… in a city of 8.53 million people, she and her super-thoughtful boyfriend have found a box of galleys of your very first book in the trash compactor room of their building? The stories you toiled over… That somehow had gotten lost in the mail… And suddenly your publisher doesn’t have any left. And it happens to be the first day of BookExpo? Does it qualify as an epic moment? I think it does. Whatever, it’s my truth and I’m standing in it.

You’d expect an entire girlhood spent devouring Nancy Drew would have prepared me for repeated head injuries, multiple chloroform-kidnappings, and clandestine meetings to do with lost papers… but Sarah R. actually giving a f*ck and rescuing my little book meant so much. I cannot thank her enough!

We’d arranged to rendezvous near Grand Central. It almost like felt a blind date or episode of Search Party. Who was this mystery woman? What should I wear to the drop? Should I try to look more like a writer? What does that even mean? I was so nervous! I kept checking my hair. It was a dark and stormy day out and I had yet to even hold a copy of my book…

TBC’d tomorrow! Stay rad, Lovelies – xoxo – gg