Call of the Wild (From Siri With Love)

Hello, Lovelies! Don’t you LOVE waking up to a mean old white guy reckoning???

I also love that it’s finally cold enough in the city for me to wear my va-jay-jay coat! This is actually a super soft mom-coat that I got from Uniqlo last year—on sale. I call it that because it’s literally as soft and warm and great as the inside of a vagina. It’s like wearing one around your whole person. In fact, Uniqlo, you should really just re-brand the coat as that. (Just my two yen)

I don’t know about you but every now and then, I have these Liz Lemon-style montage moments where I decide to take charge of my life! Usually, they involve deciding to eat fewer cheese curls or to stop dating guys who look like pirates or to stop putting off some irksome chore around the house.

Yesterday’s montage manifested as finally deciding to clean the bugs out of the big overhead light in the kitchen. Ordinarily, this is a two-person job since a) I am a chick with limited upper body strength and b) I really don’t like bugs at all. Anything that skitters freaks me the fuck out. I once had to stop working on a horror film because just writing the death-by-bug scenes bothered me too much. But I’m feeling pretty boss these days after finishing the book, so there I am in the kitchen, on the step ladder, whispering to myself: “I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid, I’m in charge here. It’s just a bunch of little bug corpses. I was a Girl Scout blah-dee-blah…”

And I’m easing the unwieldy light panel down from the ceiling when my sock catches on a nail on one of the ladder’s steps and I start to fall backward. As I’m falling, I peer up over the edge of the light panel and the dead bugs (one of which includes a mid-sized Manhattan cockroach) are all sliding toward my wide open mouth which is, of course, now shouting, “Fuck, fuck, fuuuuuuuuuck…!!!”

At the same time, my phone, which is plugged in on the kitchen counter, blinks to life and Siri says, “Alisa, I would NEVER speak to you that way!”

And I’m so shocked by her out-of-the-blue, on-command humanity that I do this twisting cat-like sproing off the ladder, right out of my socks and land fine while also missing the whole mouthful of bugs. (Phew!)

Thank you, Siri, for the unexpected tone check? I’ll so take scolding over critters.

The last time I got that up close and personal with wildlife was when I was dealing with a band of very brazen raccoons in Glen Ellen, California. The artsy, walkable village some fifty miles North of San Francisco in the heart of the Sonoma wine country was once home to Jack London. At the behest of some dear friends, I’d gone there to hide out after two grim reconstructive surgeries. I wanted to write about what it felt like to be monstrous. I certainly looked the part back then. Because of the nature of my accident, I’d broken a number of teeth, but I had one tooth–a pointy canine–that stuck out sideways, almost perpendicular to the others. So deeply rooted down into the bone are human canines, there was no fixing it or even extracting it until the rest of my shattered face and jaw healed. For the time being, I was White Fang, living in Jack’s town near what was once known as Wolf House.

I wanted to make some wholesale changes in my life starting with finally getting a handle on my seizures. Alone in Glen Ellen, with only my despair, a bunch of heat-seeking raccoons, and my kindled brain for company, I started to re-read To Build a Fire, London’s seminal short story. There’s a scene where the character is beating his fist against the side of his leg to get feeling back and survive. I so related to that bit—the regaining of feeling or at least feeling more human than wild. I was worried I might not. Still, I wrote and wrote right to the very edge of my fear that winter. I am profoundly grateful to the family who allowed me to be a writer-in-residence there. With the recent spate of devastating wildfires in Glen Ellen, Napa, St. Helena, and Santa Rosa I just hope everyone is refinding their footing amid flashes of unexpected humanity–though not necessarily from Siri.

Stay rad, Lovelies and have a human day – xoxo – GG

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The Gone Girl Guide to Gotham Re-Entry!

Cartoon by the amazing Allie Brosh (hyperboleandahalf.com)

So…  you’ve been gone girl… out roaming the world… making up dark, snarky zingers and plots for TV and print… pretending you’re Jack London… and that you don’t notice all the squirrel-on-squirrel action going on at the fabulously bucolic writer’s camp you’ve been at for months now. (And yes, squirrel-on-squirrel rhymes with girl-on-girl… haha… what are you… 8 in guy-years?) How do you come back to city life? I think it starts a little (or a lot) like the above… with an angry gypsy-librarian-type telling you off…  That’s what this week’s posts are about… re-entry. Still, so, SO glad to be home.

xoxo – GG

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2016: On the Orgasmic Lure of ‘The Reset’

Day 29 (or so) from Jack London-Land and it’s safe to say things are getting a tad Grey Gardens up here. Hoo boy…

I’ll be frank … 2015 really blew. (yes, hello 2016… I love you already. Mwaahhh!!)

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I know everyone’s hatin’ on Gwynie these days, but the image was just so apt.

In giving this past year the sidelong glance it deserves… almost every bad thing that could happen… did happen… just like that scene in The Revenant. After reaching the high point of my professional life… I slid down the corporate ladder faster than a stripper down a greased pole. I’ll spare you the litany of bad breaks and missteps, but life was quickly turning into an Aimee Mann song … you know that one from Magnolia… I LOVE Aimee… she is my serious girl crush, but I do not want her as my life’s theme music anymore… Sorry Aimee. (You’re still hot)

3 days before Christmas I had a mini seizure… not a full rolling-on-the-ground grand mal… more like a petit. I was writing when it happened… finishing a true crime freelance gig that was just sooooooooo mind-like-a-dial-tone. Here’s exact moment when it happened… see how my typing goes all crazy?

seized.pngit was like swallowing a bolt of lightning and then… staring out across a great black chasm of solid darkness… at what I have always imagined a parsec to be… (a parsec is equal to about 3.26 light-years or 19 trillion miles). Casting around for a mooring in the BIG deep dark, it seemed I was the big deep dark. Pure absence.

I don’t know how I managed it, but I texted a panicked “help”… because I am out in the wilderness here. Quick-thinking friends sent some lovely locals to check on me… They reminded me of hipster versions of Mr and Mrs. Santa Claus… jolly and sweet… Good Samaritans unafraid of a spaz in distress. “We’ve seen the dog have seizures!” they told me.

And then, I slept and slept… like the deadest of the dead… with flashes of hip Mrs. Claus checking on me.

When I finally awoke, this time was different… But how to describe it without sounding like a damn sissy… My friend Camille says that after I have a seizure… I always look like I’ve just had sex. That’s kind of how this was… it was a true form of being awake… not in any airy-fairy-Zen-way (sorry Buddhists)… but a concrete… flint-cracking awake with this singular spark of joy, like that amazing feeling you have right after a big, ginormous sneeze, or on that first, luxurious morning inhale of coffee…  I have not had this feeling in so long… since the big, bad accident–last year. I’ve heard it called “the beginners mind.” And it was as if suddenly… I might actually get my life back… like George Bailey in a It’s a Wonderful Life realizing he’s not a goner… he may be a total loon, but he’s really, super-duper alive.

And it came with a kind of creative euphoria… a constant, vivd flow of ideas, words, images, undertones and moods all rushing at me like a gorgeous river of stars in my mind’s eye. It was like a completely amazing software upgrade. Something I never want to let go of… like my children or my city.

While we’ve all been bemoaning the oh-so-tiresome Resolution these past weeks… I have been reminded of something a very dear friend once taught me (and keeps teaching me again and again). She is a doctor, but not just any doctor… she is one who specializes in the absolute, from-the-ground-up-things-are-decimated-rebuild of a person… she is meticulous, an artist, at times she is pure, crazy-making OCD, but she has schooled me in the ways and means of the reset… the profound, methodical comfort of putting things back, the satisfaction of knowing exactly where things go, of knowing precisely what instruments and materials are needed next, and having them perfectly at hand… that the very act and aftermath of the reset can be just the thing… just the rush… one needs… especially for 2016. For this lesson and my little seizure, I’m grateful.

I wish this feeling for all of us this year. Especially Gotham.

XOXO – gg

 

Call of the Wild…

From the cover of Jenny Lawson’s amazing book Furiously Happy

Greetings from Jack London-land… AKA Glen Ellen, CA, population 784… where I have been given the most INCREDIBLE gift through the hospitality of some amazing people… the chance to work undisturbed by humans on my crazy book and write where HE wrote… in this perfectly wild little hamlet (see below) …

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I haven’t wanted to waste a single second of this precious time… which is why I’ve been radio-silent on the blog. Plus, it is so crazy GORGE out here… Honestly, a city girl could easily become some kind of asshole shut-in, like Thoreau, wandering around like a slack-jawed yokel in my socks, thinking my thoughts were all special and important, but no gift as rich and complete as this one comes without a surprise or two…

My surprise involves raccoons(1). You heard me right. Raccoons! Specifically, 2 females, who live here as well and who are just THE SPIT of those awesome two old broads from Grey Gardens

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my roomies!

The whole adventure recently involved a phone call right out of McSweeney’s…

Brrring…. Brrrinnnng….

Hello, you have reached the Sonoma County Wildlife Exclusion Hotline, a division of the Sonoma County Department of Fish and Game. Please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed…

[Sure… that’s what they all say, methinks.]

We are an all-volunteer organization, staffed by a team of wildlife specialists in EXCLUSION. Please note that while we are not an extermination organization, animals deemed a threat to public safety may be removed and humanely euthanized, if necessary…

[So, stop leaving us meanie-pants messages, you PETA jerk offs! You know who you are!]

At the sound of the tone, please leave a detailed message describing the nature of your wildlife situation. Please include your name, number and best time of day to reach you. Your call will be returned by a volunteer within 2 business days…

[But what if I’m dealing with a crisis? Like 2 dog-sized creatures brazenly eating an entire heating system and drinking milk straight from the carton???]

IF you are dealing with an EMERGENCY, please call our emergency cell phone line, staffed by a volunteer and leave a duplicate detailed message…

[Ok, so what qualifies as an…]

An EXAMPLE OF AN EMERGENCY would be… a raccoon falling through your ceiling that is currently running around your house… In other words, only leave us a message if it’s like a scene out of THE REVENANT…

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[Yipes… I consider my 2 ladies for a second and that’s when I realize 3 things… 1) If this is what people out here are used to… then I really am WAY out in THE WILD. 2) I’m starting to look a tad like Leo… and 3) it’s high time for a trip to the city… SF here, I come!]

XOXO – gg

(1) From the cover of Jenny Lawson’s amazing book Furiously Happy