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:

EXxAwohXgAAEjKP

 

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 am loving seeing out in the world is how the different platforms for performance are adapting, like this ZOOM-based play What Do We Need to Talk About? from Richard Nelson and The Public Theater… it’s completely poignant and subtle. Nevermind that it’s on bloody ZOOM, the writing is decidedly alive, and the actors 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… we can still work. That somehow, we’ll still work.

 

Work as simple and GREAT as this 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:

new zoom.jpg

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 🙂

GothamGirlInterrupted.png

In the meantime, like what you’re reading? Please forward it to your darling friends who’ve run out content (LOL). You can find my copywriting work 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

International Women’s Day 2020

Ahoy, lovelies! How goes the quarantine?

With the adaptation of my book for stage and screen, I’ve already been living like a shut-in while we figure out showrunners, but just some fun news from the west coast… My little memoir in essays (and swear words) has been featured alongside so many amazing, prolific writers like Candice Fox, Lee Koffman, and Kirsten Alexander for International Women’s Day 2020 by Words & Nerds!!! You can listen to my goofball interview with the delightful Dani Vee right here!

So honored to be at the table with these incredible women. Thanks again, Dani. In the meantime, stay safe out there, people. – xoxo -gg

ps…  here’s a sneak peek of my next book all about women, mischief and lousy impulse control…

Rascal_Cover.jpeg

 

Doing Crazy Rhino Laughs with Bill Hader and Women Inspired’s Dr. April Seifert

Darling Ruffians…  Behold! Your every-once-in-a-while missive from the land of snarky solipsism periodically masquerading as art… How the hell are you? Isn’t the world just horrendous right now? Everything is awful. Most days I have to watch a boatload of BBC America just to get through the day. Hold fast, dear ones.

In the meantime, I have some wickedly fun news I can finally utter out loud and in pixels… My tiny book, Gotham Girl, Interrupted, a comedy about neurodiversity (and other clinically awful things) is being developed by Emmy award-winning executive producer, Cary Brokaw, of Angels in AmericaWTF, you say? I know!

AIA.jpg

We’re doing a half-hour show called SPAZ in the vein of Fleabag and Better Things. Of course, I’m beyond thrilled. Cary’s instincts about story are so wildly uncontrived, they nudge me way the hell out of my comfort zone. Plus, getting paid to be as charmingly weird as you naturally are is kind of a fabulous vacation. (For newcomers here… I’d made this promise ages ago to always do work that completely terrifies my dad, and now it’s totally working out! Who knew?)

But this is why I’m still in Los Angeles at Saint Jacqueline’s Home for Wayward  Writers…  and why I’ve been trying to stick to Colson Whitehead’s highly unsexy book advice: “Stay at home and write. Don’t go out.” I have to admit some days… it makes me batshit antsy AF, and so recently I had to go outside to meet Bill Hader. Can I just tell you… sitting mere feet away from this national treasure of a guy, listening to him totally indulge his yowling, horny-rhinoceros-laughter, has the CRAZY effect of making you less afraid of your own horny-rhinoceros-laugh? Which is also why I’m a bit less shy about sharing my latest interview with April Seifert, host of the groundbreaking podcast Women Inspired!

WomenInspired.png

For those of you who know me, I apply the rules of improv comedy to manage a life with epilepsy. What I loved about my conversation with April is that she got me thinking again about how my prior professional background in Design Thinking could be applied to ongoing healing, self-care, and life design to thrive with any chronic condition. To my mind, April is exactly the kind of badass psychologist and data scientist the End Epilepsy campaign needs to design a world more inclusive of all our differently wired brains and bodies. I’m so grateful to her for having me on Inspired Women. Give it a listen and spare some starry love when you have a chance.

For now, I’m going back to a series bible. Stay rad, lovelies, Until next time – xoxo – GG

Mischief Managed… Barely

Behold! Your weekly-ish missive from the land of gentle narcissism and amazing tacos…

It’s hot as BALLS here today, but after having been on the road for Gotham Girl Interrupted for what feels like forever, I’m super excited to finally tape the Books on the Subway podcast: Read. Ride. Discuss. Such an honor!!! And yes, that people are quite possibly going to snort-laugh in between swearing at The MTA because my silly book will actually be hidden in and around various stations is, as my kids would say, totally clutch. I have other amazing news that I’m not allowed to share just yet. Hopefully, Wednesday. Can you tell I’m a terrible secret keeper? I have been like this since Friday (barely able to contain my glee):

mischief

Before I go, one more thing… I was so heartened by this post Girl on the Train from writer Erynn Brook about riding home with a woman having seizures. This is how we all should be. With everything that’s bad right now, it was one good thing.

Stay rad, Lovelies –  xoxo – gotham girl

The OA, Crazy Dream Logic, Bad Wigs?

Hello, Lovelies… How the hell are you?

I’ve been wickedly excited about the return of The OA and GoT—especially after writing a Christmas movie about pie. That said, I do hope I don’t end up dying in an airplane bathroom in a Draco Malfoy wig. (I probably will) Yes, the tour took its toll but was ridiculous fun and I have many stories…

Meanwhile, is AOC  not the new political Daenerys? I know I sound like a broken record here, but we need guys everywhere to bend the knee, show us the report, and make room for lady writers, politicians, activists, comedians, bartenders, and engineers to do their best work to save the planet and vanquish the white walkers with their horrendous toenails, etc. It’s time to lead with fairy hair and dragons…

What else is happening… RIP Agnes Varda. You broke ground, you powerful sprite. Speaking of angels, Part 2 of The OA is super fun. They weave storylines so gracefully across all manner of “bearing witness” platforms and contexts—it’s almost balletic. I won’t spoil it for you.

I think because I’m coming up on my own personal epilepsy survival day of April 11th…  I just had the most beautiful-frightening dream ever.  I’m in New York on the way home from dinner with my ex and his hilarious friend Will, and because it’s crazy dream-logic, we all go to yoga in this converted church that somehow looks like a Restoration Hardware ad??? Think soothing, hipster masculinity, everything swathed in grays, taupes, distressed leathers, and wood tones. And I fall asleep during Savasana like I always do. When I wake up, I’m in a different place in the studio, searching the crowd for my ex and his buddy. They would never just up and leave me… Oh, and did I mention I’m also naked… and phone-less.

So, I wrap myself up in a yoga mat (like a taco) and I’m asking staffers where my clothes might have gotten to, but they’re all in this post-vinyasa fugue state that’s probably a function of working there. I can’t remember my ex’s number or Will’s to call them from these white courtesy phones that keep appearing out of nowhere. I finally make it to the door, and out of the church-yoga-Restoration Hardware. It’s just a few blocks to my house, I think. Yes, I’m only wearing a yoga mat, but I can make it if I run really fast. Hell, it’s NYC… There are plenty of people wearing much worse.

Just then, a man approaches me. He’s a pale, gaunt Jeff Daniels type, and he whispers, “I’m going to have one…” And I KNOW exactly what he means. All at once, he morphs into this roiling, swirling, skinless body of sand, light, and air that I cannot quite catch or keep safe… it’s like trying to hold fire. He is having a seizure, and then I SIT STRAIGHT UP in my bed here in LA, with both arms outstretched and empty—still trying to catch him. It was haunting.

Ok, I need coffee… Enjoy Spring, you crazy rad lovers – XOXO – GG

PS… For what to actually do during a seizure, watch this.

PPS… Apologies if you see weird paragraphs in this one… Something is up with WP.

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good…

Hello, Lovelies… Greetings from LA… Cozy den of narcissism that it is.

My eyes are about to fall out of my head from waaaaaay too much screen time. I have been working feverishly on a Christmas movie about what else… Pie. Hey, a girl’s gotta eat!

With the book tour for Gotham Girl Interrupted winding down, I have to confess, I did something slightly evil… I found out my nemesis was dissing me to booksellers all over the country… So, in every city that I went to, in every airport bookstore, in every chain, in every indie… wherever that guy was taking up lady shelf-space with his complainy, whiney, white-boy misery memoir…  I slipped a bookmark into his book redirecting readers to my book. TBH, I feel he perpetuates wildly negative stereotypes whereas I still believe humor opens the door for greater empathy which leads to broader mainstream understanding… above and beyond the grim woebot narrative. This pie is for that guy. My favorite part of the tour is still my interview with Jessimae Peluso from Sharp Tongue – Episode #150. If you haven’t had a chance to listen, let this help you snort-laugh on your way home today. 

For now, stay rad, stay warm, and stay safe. xoxo – gotham girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

firemen

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

cover.png

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…

IMG_4060

…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