Sorry robbers!! Of needful things, restlessness… and the marriage of keys

Between the heat… and healing, I am RESTLESS.

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My entire being itches with a NEED to travel. Always changing and changeless, at least the city offers some consolation… some relief from having to stay put and learn how to say the word: “M’waaaaaaah!”

Stupid speech therapy.

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I feel like I have hives… I have always been this way. Even as a paperclip of a kid… growing up in northern California, I’d rub my shoulder against the chafed earlobe of routine (like that scamp in the awesome film Life is a Long Quiet River)


… I’d tell my second grade teacher (who had an epic hipster ‘stache) that I simply couldn’t do last night’s spelling words… owing to the fact that our family was going on holiday to Brazil (a big fat lie)… and what with Portuguese having over 7000 irregular verbs (a big fat truth)… well, that was the real priority at this juncture… When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d tell them Indiana Jones with a typewriter… So much for that, M’waaaaaah!

Of course, I realized the other day that if I am actually going to go anywhere this summer… I’d need to fix my front door. It hasn’t locked from the outside for over a year now. Don’t tell anyone. My neighbor had the same problem. It wasn’t hard to fix. I just dipped the key in olive oil and decided not to be in a hurry one morning. So, sorry robbers… You missed out on a really ancient iPad (seriously, the Commodore 64 has more juice) and some killer coffee stained Eugene Atget photography books!

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To be honest, every apartment I have ever lived in here has involved a strange marriage of lock and key–some very specific, singular, long-term relationship of scraping metals… one borne of years of repetitive wear… of clicking and clacking, inning and outing, poking and prying. I really didn’t think much of it,  but now it’s fixed.

Entering one’s 4th decade forces a unique brand of practicality on a person… By now, you have figured out how to fix most household things like locks and fuses and garbage disposals… You finally learn your real bra (cock) size… 34 D??? Holy crap!!! That’s HUGE!

And suddenly, tiny house design seems awesome…

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(I am obsessed with living small)

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You’ve also figured out that your standard daily uniform is short pants, tall shoes and messy hair…

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and with that… you come to covet very practical, tangible things… each very specific… the big, floppy straw hat with the 10 inch brim to ward off cancer-ish stuff… that the sugar cube is actually just the right amount of sugar for your coffee… amazing tinted sunscreens by Laura Mercier … that red Chanel lipstick is the only lipstick you truly need…  and  unexpected things…. like my friend Deb has these fabulous one-of-a-kind, handmade harem pants with elephants on them that I am so going to totally steal someday.

Maybe you even finally stop ass-shaming yourself… and realize things are pretty fine and dandy ass-is??

You may even develop some unlikely heroes…  like Isabel Marant. I love that her solution to getting a tan is drinking more carrot juice… completely charming.

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I really do covet her life. Oh… this new book isn’t going to write itself… Pray for cooling rain dear Gotham-ites! Do a rain dance… in secret… if you must.

xx- gg

Mother of Dragons…

I love them. I hate them. I love them… ghyaaaaagh!!!… I’m home from the hospital and my neighbors across the yard are barbecuing this:

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It’s summer in the city and total Rear Window olfactory torture… I have not had solid food since April 10th… How many days is that? I did, however, wake up on the table after 11 hours and write this:

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I can feel my face! And despite being mute and meatless, I’m not wasting away in total squalor–as several of you have suggested… The ladies made me decorate. We went with girly library meets Wes Anderson:

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with some serene mixed in…

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Also, I decided it’s time for a role model changing of the guard. Over the years, I’ve had everyone from Nora Ephron… to La Femme Nikita… to Nora Charles (The Thin Man), but after a truly horrific NYC hospital stay, followed by a nightmare call from the head of school that one daughter just set the new science lab ablaze trying to convert her iPhone to a dark matter detector… I think I may need to step up the level of bad ass required to get through the days ahead.

Marvin, my queen from Queens, insists there is nothing more dangerous (and therefore more bad ass) than a single mother… He cites examples to an imaginary jury in my living room…  Sarah Connor, Erin Brockovich… Medea (wrong) but I say there is… A single mother of dragons:

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This is what I need right now.

Oof… my mouth hurts… At least, there’s that… Hooray for that 🙂

xoxo – gg

Funny Face… notes on a last kiss

New York, New York… a place so great they named it twice… is a city of reaction, a city of critics, columnists, and pontificators… Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Woody Allen, Nora Ephron, Jon Stewart… Everybody… down to the very last chica at the optometrist’s office who tightens the screws on my glasses… has an opinion… a clear and pronounced reaction to everything and anything.

Everyone here reacts. Except me. I’ve got nothing. Mostly.

by the amazing Allie Brosh!

by the amazing Allie Brosh!

I still can’t feel most of my face, but I’ve done a lot of What’s New Pussycats and at Day 30… I can smile:

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Granted, it’s slightly demonic, but it’s genuine… and voluntary. And speech is happening. At first, every word was like water… a formless puddle of vowels… then, when frustrated… like scalpels… singular, slicing cuts of consonants. But now I’m told I sound like a combination of French, deaf and Scooby-Doo… a lost, unconnected brogue.

I think it came out best the other day at the oral surgeon’s… I’m sitting there and Walter (the illustrious doctor) is poking my chin with what looks like a lobster fork. (sigh… man, I so miss lobster… and beef… I swear, when this is all over… I am going to eat a whole cow. Poor Bessie.)

Anyway… I’m there making Walter laugh… I’ve been listening to him scolding the guy in the next room… a Latin American construction worker who fell 3 stories onto his face… so gnarly… I’d seen him in the waiting room with his brother and thought he must have been the most beautiful man before… wide Mayan cheekbones… the kind that make a face truly cinematic… like a film screen, perfect for conveying a subtle stream of emotion… Apparently, he isn’t brushing enough.

Walter is telling him in no uncertain terms that if he gets an infection, he could lose his entire jaw… and the guy is muttering, “It’s just the pain… it hurts…” and I’m sitting there just freaking out… writhing so much in my chair I practically need a seatbelt… because for those of you who know me… I am a crazy-compulsive brusher/flosser… I want to shout at the guy, “Hey Amigo! Amigo!!! You’ve got to suck it up and BRUSH… or you’ll end up like Roger Ebert!! Trust me, you don’t want the little curtain! The curtain BLOWS!” But at that point, I’m still wired shut, and even if this is NYC, it might come off as a tad intrusive to shout at other patients through walls. Plus, he could do worse than end up like the brave and brilliant Roger Ebert… and Roger had Chaz…

But now, Walter is not laughing… he alternates between poking me with the fork and squinting at a single, foggy x-ray. Then, his face collapses inward on itself, sad, “You realize, the break was right at the nerve… ”

I scowl (on the inside) and ask, in my best French Scooby accent… “But zee nooves can we-jenna-wate?”

No answer. He just looks at me… sorry, He pokes my lips again, and I want to tell him I DO feel something, but I’d be lying. He puts a hand over my eyes, continuing… and that’s when I wonder… pretty much out of nowhere… what if my last kiss was my last kiss?

I think back and a fever dream hits.. Kissing is better than ice cream, the perfect degree of hot … like branches wrestling in a storm… it’s that I-cannot-get-you-close-enough feeling of yearning and satisfaction… like salt and chocolate… of holding someone’s face in your hands… the wild rush of being consumed and consuming… If I were Maria in The Sound of Music… I would definitely have to re-write the My Favorite Things number to include it. If I were Oprah, I would bottle it and put it under audience members’ chairs. Screw the whole giving everyone a car thing. Instead, give them that indescribable, amazing kiss feeling. I remember my face, tiny, in his hands, Like the iconic theme song to the epic 1990’s rom-com, She’s All That

Never let that bit go… is my loud and unequivocal New York opinion. Keep it close and ever closer… in case you don’t get to feel it again. Make certain your last kiss was your best kiss. Never take it for granted. Catch the deluge in both hands and linger over it. There is nothing like a kiss.

Walter uncovers my eyes and tells me plainly… with nary a hint of drama… that we need to go back in again. This time, from the other side, by my left ear. I go into the hospital on Wednesday.

I sink as I think of it now… the gnawing morphine itch, of the incalculable vulnerability of backless nighties… oof. At least, I’ll be prepared this time… Bananagrams to play with the one cool nurse… better undies for the doctors… sour apple Jolly Ranchers. I pause and wonder if I will run into Mr. Hairy-no-pants again… or Vikram, the uber-Christian Uber driver who prayed for me. I’ll tell you about him next time.

This is some heavy shit… I need to stay funny right now.

xx – gg

On Desire: 3 Things All New Yorkers Want…

This week, I am getting my life together.

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Cartoon by the amazing Aliie Brosh

Above is my “I’m feeling really good about myself” stance. I do it all over my apartment. (especially after laundry) The stance is making realize all kinds of things…

For starters, it is completely important that I finally learn how to ride a bike in a dress and heels.

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As an automatic mood stabilizer more powerful than Prozac, I am convinced that by doing this at least once a week, I will become a better person to be around. Even people who can’t stand me will find a new level of tolerance for my ridiculousness.

But more importantly, this exercise in responsibility has wrought a certain clarity… I’ve realized that there are 3 universal truths out there about what people everywhere want most in life. I used to think it was all just existential chaos, but New Yorkers (coupled with doing my laundry) have made me see the light.

1) A sandwich.

As Liz Lemon, my all-time favorite fictional writer, once attested… all of humankind just wants to sit and have a sandwich.

From the towering Rubens of Katz’s Deli to the impromptu doughiness of the Ethiopian hoagie, every culture wants a sandwich. No place on earth exemplifies this desire more than New York City.

My favorite sandwich, the combination falafel-lamb gyro with extra white sauce, is sold at carts everywhere here by The Halal Guys. I love The Halal Guys not only because they are the best street meat on this glorious island, but also because they have the best (and simplest) slogans ever:

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Many are exuberant run-on sentences:

“Yes we serve the masses Oh yes, we serve masses! They love our food You can too just come on down.” and “You can’t make up your mind between chicken and Gyro you don’t have to, have chicken and Gyro combo.”

My personal Halal Guy is the opposite of the soup Nazi. He’s like a sexy Forrest Gump. It’s never an issue of denial. He thinks I do not eat enough. Every time I find myself at the window, he says, “You must to eat more falafel! Deep Fry, my skinny friend. New York requires!” (Marvin would disagree with this sentiment, but no drag queen trainer from Queens will ever stand in the way of me and my street meat)

The other great is that The Halal Guys are only one $ on Yelp, which means I can still pay my student loans (which I will probably have until my next life kicks in, but I’ve come to terms with it SallieMae. You should too)

2) A T-shirt.

A t-shirt, worn without a light sweater or jacket, is a universal sign that the weather is perfect. Since, I am pigment impaired, I tend to like mine with sleeves. I also prefer uber honest messaging, so I’ve started designing my own:

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(I was so terrible to my ex-husband)

Also, this one’s a keeper…

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You could wear these all over the city and people would wish they had one too.

3) A neighbor.

Cranky or caring, every New Yorker needs to know at least one neighbor–even if they are like this:

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Manhattan is a place of intrinsic conflict. Everyone is always in your face. The consequence of this conflict is a certain brand of intimacy that allows you to say whatever the hell you want. This is why it’s always wise to keep a little bit of a buffer with one’s neighbors. To this is end, signs like the above are completely appropriate. Why? You’re not yelling at anyone, you’re simply expressing facts and desires.

So, there you have it… I am finally owning my Manhattan truth because, in the enduring words of The Halal Guys, “You can too… New York requires.”

Deep fry my friends…

xoxo-gg

Spaz… and the City

I can’t write. I have a whole legal pad of ideas, but here’s what my brain is saying to me right now:

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it’s just trying to be helpful.

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And so it keeps talking…

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cartoons by the amazing Allie Brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

I decided to talk to my dry cleaner about it. I tell him the latest goings on in my life (all mostly happy with a bit of upheaval last week). As I recount the highs and then a big low, he scowls and interrupts, “Has it ever occurred to you that you might be avoiding your destiny? That you might be having these things because you’re not writing about them?”

My dry cleaner is talking about my seizures. (the “upheaval” I was referring to a few sentences ago) I had a big one last week–a grand mal–alone in my apartment. It sucked.

“Helloo… What if I don’t want this as my destiny?” I quip, defiantly.

“Hellooo… You don’t get a choice. That’s why it’s destiny, dummy.”

He has a point. It’s an obvious one, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it, and it certainly doesn’t mean I have to write about it here.

You see, I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t write about my epilepsy on this blog as it can be kind of grim–the whole rolling around on the ground thing with bystanders… all standing by and freaking out and calling 911 (even though it’s not usually necessary for me). Then, there’s me… waking up with no memory of myself, or anyone else, even my closest friends… who are you people? No really, people have said I look at them, like I’m Jamie Lee Curtis looking at Michael in Halloween (but with better hair). And sometimes, I wake up looking like a prize fighter–i.e., black eye, concussed and slurring my words like a super drunk Muhammad Ali. (again, with better hair)

It can be a real buzzkill… But it’s actually one of the main reasons why I now live in NYC… There’s no driving required. Taxi guys love me. There’s delivery of pretty much everything you could ever want or need (including a really rad wig that once helped me escape my ex-husband’s attorneys) and if anything happens while you’re out and about, there are plenty of people around you who will most likely care enough to stop and help. New Yorkers are nicer than people give them credit for.

Still, it took me a while to come out to my dry cleaner. It’s the litmus test for all true friends. Anyone who would reject you out of hand for something so random as a seizure is an automatic turd in my book.

My dry cleaner commiserates, shaking his head, “What’d that neurologist on Youtube say?”

“All the electrical impulses in your brain align and synchronize. It’s like a perfect storm, but in your brain and without George Clooney.” I know this line by heart.

I haven’t had a  seizure in over a year. The day after it happens, I tend to mope around the house and watch youtube videos of other people having seizures, so that I can wallow in self-pity. I’m also just wicked curious as to what I look like. It’s a little cocktail of anthropology and vanity that always passes within a day. This time, however, the malaise has lingered.

“You need to cheer up blondie.” My dry cleaner pulls a ziplock freezer bag out from under the counter. Inside it are lots of other smaller ziplock bags with different types of pills in them. It’s like a tangled yarn ball of prescription drugs.

My dry cleaner, my dealer…. He presses a little yellow pill into my hand.

“What’s this?” I feel my brow furrow in suspicion.

“Klonapin … Helps ya think straight.”

“What else do you have there?”

He rattles off a dozen names that aren’t really names. Suddenly, he is a pharmacy–a veritable CVS without the line, the ‘tude or the overwrought suicide music they always play:

(Btw, Joe Pizzulo, you are so bangin’!)

“Look here girly, if you’d fallen the other direction last week, you’d be the fucking English Patient. You need to relax.”

“When did you read that book? I thought you were into the whole trashy, Neo-Noir thing?”

“I am,” he confesses, “but every now and then even I have to step it up from a literary standpoint.”

He’s right. Being the English Patient would suck. All that oozing… the lack of a nose. Even if I’ve never been that fond of my anglo ski jump of a profile, I’d take it over looking like a mummified Ralph Fiennes.

“We have to find you a nice Jewish boy who can help danger-proof your house and keep an eye on you. New York’s full of them.”

“I liked the last guy,” I protest. “He was funny… and he brought me toast and coffee and didn’t mind if I got crumbs in the bed.”

“Feh…” My dry cleaner waves the very idea of toast guy away as if he were a gnat. “Take a Klonapin and embrace your destiny as a spaz, baby, I guarantee… you’ll be able to write again.”

I haven’t taken the Klonapin, but words are once more starting to happen…

xoxo – gg

The last time I was warm…

Ugh… 5 degrees yesterday… All the dogs were like this:

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Cartoon by the amazing Allie Brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

I think the last time I was actually warm was when I was like this… fatty, fat, fat and happy… looking all Nat Geo and whatnot…

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But it’s no easy feat… making a little person in our fair city.

You walk all prego into a deli and say, “Can I have a large caesar salad, turkey on rye with Russian dressing, a large Pellegrino and a coffee regular?” And the deli guy says, “Who you buying for, the Rangers?” People chuckle. Then, he leans over the counter, assesses your curvature and pronounces: “Whaddayaknow, it’s a girl!” He will then tell a completely tedious story about his grandmother and a legendary gender-predicting turnip. All the while… behind you… people waiting in line are starting to sigh and make zero population growth comments. At this point, Dr. Deli starts to argue with you about the coffee you’ve just ordered because he thinks it’s not good for the baby. He’ll also tell you that he does not believe in amniocentesis. To the ladies he knows who are going to have an amnio, he tells them, “What? I already know it’s a girl.” At first, you protest, but eventually you give up and he tells you lovingly, “Don’t forget the napkins lady! Your stomach is like a shelf–it catches all the dressing. You don’t want greasy shirts.”

The New York women are very different from the deli guys…  One evening during rush hour in my eighth month, I was waiting for the train at West 4th. The loudspeaker was bleating unintelligibly like that teacher from the Peanuts cartoons, and there were as many people on the platform as there are living in Mumbai.

Suddenly, I had this surreal feeling that I was being surrounded. “Well, this is just super… exhausted pregnant lady gets mugged on subway,” And this being New York, they’ll probably insist on taking the baby as well. But as I looked around I saw that I was being surrounded by four women, 3 armed with really great bags–Celine, Louis Vuitton, a trusty Longchamp. “Yeah, you need us” one said, and being New Yorkers, they ignored the fact that they did not know one another and joined forces to form a kind of phalanx around me, not unlike those that offensive linemen build around a quarterback.

When the train arrived and the doors opened, the women moved forward, with purpose, and I was swept inside, not the least bit tussled. ”Looks like a girl,” one woman said with a grin, and as the train began to move we all made grabs for the pole and turned back to our lives.

How did I get on this again? Oh right, it’s arctic out… enough to give Santa an aneurysm.

So, what’a girl (or boy) to do? Stuck inside… having already watched every “meh” Netflix movie there is…Feeling like you’re coming down with Scurvy. And if family is around, they’re all fighting like drag queens at a wig sale… You need to act fast, my friend. You need to stay warm and not go completely bananas.

The solution is to nest like hell.

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Unpack everything, go through all your stuff and make sure it’s spread out everywhere for maximum warmth and sorting.

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Sophie sorting.

You can hang up things (yes, art has insulating qualities). You can bust out your patterned duct tape and wallpaper your bedroom with old posters, you can borrow power tools from your equally housebound neighbors–just to chat them up. You can rearrange the furniture… You might even paint the bathroom and get high off the fumes… Ultimately, you will feel so awesome because you’ll have been totally productive, organized your space and stayed warm… all without having to gain 30 pounds, all without being harangued by deli people.

So take that … stupid winter…

xoxo – gg

Super Powers Activate! Form of… a Nectarine (yeah, you heard me right)

Ok, I’m going to need to get some super powers this week.

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@weirdscience99

I don’t actually need flight. As of tomorrow, NYC’s going to be waaaaaay too cold for that. Invisibility and mind reading are both a bust. Hearing all the mean or dismissive things people are saying about me would just confirm that my trust issues are, in fact, “truth” issues. No, I need more of an Obewankinobe capability–an “I AM the droid you’re looking for…” kind of thing. I need the power of profound persuasion…both at work and at home.

But in order for that to happen… first, I need to fix my hair. (Warning: below is a tad girly)

I look like a fucking nectarine… a Puerto Rican nectarine. (not that there’s anything empirically wrong with that) The color just clashes with my whole being.

One of the worst things that can happen to a woman in this city is for her colorist to die. Mine, Jacques, kicked it last week. Apparently, he was right in the middle of some poor woman’s highlights. Can you imagine the trauma? I’d be a complete brunette if someone fell face first into my foils.

Acceptable mourning periods aside, I had bad roots. Once you hit 40, the risk of wiry gray hairs (Cher-hair as I like to call it) is much too much to take. (at least it’s not in my ears like with dudes). But I had to fix things. I had to. Recently, I dated a guy who I think may have been ashamed of me… possibly because of my Cher hair or it could have been my general level of goofiness… I suspect the former. In any case, I wasn’t going to delay things any further, so I decided to take a risk and “Groupon” on a hair deal.

All I can say is, “Never, ever, ever again.”

By the way, I did try to explain to the Groupon woman that I thought I needed some toner, but this lady was from the Bronx, (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but she took offense, and so I figured I’d best seek a solution elsewhere.

Today, after my barre class, which Marvin says will firm and lengthen things without making me look so much like a praying mantis, I am set to cure my tangerine tresses at a back alley place the ladies here all swear by. It’s called “Sam and Chris”. It’s like a speakeasy–except it’s for hair.

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According to my girlfriend Leia, these guys are my only hope. More news as it breaks.

XOXO – gg

Still dirty, still perplexed…

Going outside kind of sucks right now. It’s total icy badness in the streets.

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cartoon by the amazing Allie Brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

This was me the other day. Right as I was falling, I started laughing and everyone around me turned to help, but then they started laughing too and boom!… Epic banana peel.

When you have crappy-ish little NYC moments like these, it’s important to reach back and remember why you love this city. I have always been obsessed with movies about people who are just arriving in NYC and trying to make their way. There are heaps of them: When Harry Met Sally, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Devil Wears Prada-ish, Coming to America and The Out of Towners, to name a few (although the woman in Out of Towners is so crazy-shrill, she makes me want to gouge both my ears out with a white hot fire poker…that’s how much I can’t stand her).

My newest favorite moving-to-NYC movie is a little known flick called: Casse-tete chinois (Chinese Puzzle) about a writer-guy in Paris whose girlfriend up and leaves him for New York (with their children). Needless to say… he sublets his amazing Rue Du Bac apartment and hightails it to the apple.

I love this movie for a wild and wide variety of reasons…

1) the guy’s a really good dad–not cliche good– but good for reals.

2) he ends up living in an uber-shitty apartment in Chinatown with no furniture, and it doesn’t bother him one bit. He knows why he’s there. (the chitlins!)

3) he is obsessed with how complicated everything seems, which only makes for more mayhem.

4) he has imaginary conversations with Schopenhauer and Hegel, and he actually understands them. This totally blows my skirt up.

5) the last thing I love… is Audrey Tautou’s character. She only sees things as simple. Even when people are wetting their pants to tell her that things are not, she shrugs them off and makes one of those little Frenchy faces that says, “Beh, oui…but what can you do?” I identify with that girl… I’ve spent decades, since the time that I was a neurotic 7 year old, thinking everything was a mess. Now, I too shrug 🙂

So, if you need a quality flick to distract yourself while you are stuck inside because you no longer trust your gross motor skills when it comes to ice, Casse-tete chinois is a charming diversion.

I also think that when you are housebound… like when we all were when dealing with Junot (the sassy pregnant teenager of storms)… what better time to cook something completely fancy and impossible?

My latest idea came from Central Park. It’s squab stuffed with foie Gras and wrapped in prosciutto. I know… I know what you’re thinking, “Wait, squab? Isn’t that pigeon?” Yes, it is and it’s delicious. Besides pigeons are so damn dumb, Darwin would agree, they pretty much deserve to be eaten.

I’ll spare you the encyclopedic recipe. Suffice it to say, there is something gratifying about standing around your kitchen doing silly chopping tasks while doing your best impersonation of Julia Child and sipping a lovely glass of red, that just makes things right with the world. You may be asking… how the heck do you find squab, foie gras and prosciutto during a storm? Hellooo, it’s New York…the fine people at Zabars will gladly deliver these items fresh to your door. Only last week, my girlfriend Alisa and I actually bought prosciutto at Duane Reade in Soho, during a blizzard at 2am–they are open 24 hours and you never know when you are about to have a pork crisis.

Last, but not least… if you have watched every “meh” movie on Netflix and it’s still too slippery to brave the great outdoors, try getting your blood boiling with this wise little tome, What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justifies the Meanness.

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This book should be required reading for anyone moving here… Even if you are not trying to hold your own in a toxic work or home environment, you’ll still laugh your guts out. For me, it was particularly helpful as I am waaaaaay too nice, and it never fails to screw me…  with work, with boys, with my editor…  I need to be more of a rascal. So, while it’s practically zero out… now is the perfect time to brush up on my ruthlessness. It’s the ideal time to practice saying things like Linda Wachner, CEO of Warnaco, would say to her VPs… “You’re eunuchs. How can your wives stand you?”  or also… “You can either eat lunch or be lunch… I’ll have you on rye with a gallon of Russian dressing…”

I know I have it in me… 🙂 XOXO – gg

A Prescription for the Winter Cray-Cray’s

Snow-mageddon starting to make you feel a little like The Shining?

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Cartoon by the amazing Allie Brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

I’m right there with you. Here’s a plan to get un-crazy during the winter of your discontent…

Speak Easy.  No, I’m not talking about slurring your words. I’m talking about the speakeasy bars of yore. Those special underground, secret places where only the trusted were allowed entry.

Nowadays, there are many in Manhattan, but my favorite is The ship.

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One thing I love about The Ship (besides the fact that you could walk by its simple black door a thousand times and never notice it’s there) is the people. By and large, they are smart, funny and perfectly imperfect. All desirable traits in a boy or a girl because at a certain age, you no longer want a sweetie with washboard abs or granite booties. Instead, you want things proportional–a sort of mutual decay you can both tolerate and rely on. The Ship has these people. Duck in (literally) after work for a Manhattan. Linger for only one–as you will soon be sailing on.

(And even if you don’t live in NYC, every town always has some place special like the above)

We’ll always have Paris.  Next stop, Balthazar, the Frenchiest of French bistros. Have the oysters, straight off a mountain of shaved ice, accompanied by a  glass of Montrachet. If Montrachet is not an option, go for a Sancerre. Then… time for a Beef Cleanse. You heard me right. Order the fabulous, mostly microbe-free Steak Tartare–sculpted uncooked hamburger with a raw egg on top. Sounds gross. SO delish. Follow this with the Steak Frites and live it up–go rare. None of this medium well garbage. Pair it all with a deep red and belt out some UB40. You know the song I’m talking about 🙂

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You Sexy Mothertrucker. At this point, you want to fall sleepily into a cab and make for Arthur’s Tavern–a dive jazz funk-ish bar on/or around Grove Street. Don’t expect Coltrane or Django. Instead, request Prince’s classic–Sexy MF. Ignore the “No Dancing”  sign and get up and grind with a stranger. Your face will ache from smiling so much. No more than one 7 and 7 though… or you will be anyone’s and this is never a good idea.

The Ultimate Hangover-Before-You-Have-a-Hangover Remedy. Celebrate the fact that any week can be National Poutine Week. Partake of this wonderful Canadian dish made up of French fries, gravy and squeaky cheese curds. For this one, Uber it to Brookyln to The Mile End Deli. You’ll thank me later…

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Next Uber it back to Gotham–either with a loved one, or trust your gut and go solo. Again, you’ll thank me.

Morning Sunshine. The next day sometime around 11 am, stumble out your door and, for a brief moment, let yourself be cold. Then go see something beautiful like this… and kiss the winter cray-cray’s goodbye.  XOXO – gg

.Central Park Winter -  Romeo and Juliet in the Snow - New York City

Last Exit to Brooklyn…

 They say New York hardens you. This week I’ve had to be like this…

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Cartoon by the amazing Allie Brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

It’s not just work… it’s also the dismal slide into winter. The pristine white snow has morphed into brown sludge puddles, and so have New Yorkers. Everywhere people grouse and growl… On the streets, in the stores… Witness a beleaguered 60 year old guy this morning as he hobbled in through the “out” door of Gristedes, his glasses frozen beneath one of those Russian fur hats…

“Yo, Vince!” a cashier calls out. “How you doin’ today?”

“Eh…” Vince sighs listlessly. “Good… but it’s still early.”

Yes, at the end of a “bring it” week… all you want (besides a big glass of red) are 2 things:

1) to make like Lena Dunham and take off your pants. (By the way, this resolution is really working out well for me now that the neighbors have adjusted. It appears they don’t like pants either. We have a sort of “don’t ask… don’t tell” thing going)

2) You want to disappear into your hood like a nondescript undercover agent in the tumult of a Moroccan street bazaar. You want to melt into it like butter into mac and cheese and just be.

As a rule, all New Yorkers, no matter where they live, make a religion out of their neighborhood.

After all, everything you want is right there: the dry cleaner who dispenses critical life wisdom, the bipolar Korean deli lady who changes the prices every few hours, the used bookstore where almost everything is a dollar, the coffee place that isn’t Starbucks, The street meat guy who swears like Yosemite Sam as he cooks, and the crazy neighbors (like below) who refuse to take down their Christmas lights until March…

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Everything you need is within a 3 block radius, and if you don’t feel like going out to get it, someone will bring it to you–at any hour, on any day. This, your hood, is your religion and contrary to what those old farts in REM say, you are not losing it. No way.

Still… It’s not to say that your religion can’t change over time. Before the upper west side, my religion was Brooklyn.

Yes even I, the anti-juicer, co-existed amongst rooftop gardeners, chickeneers and sustainability consultants. It was an amazing space… 2nd floor (center building), 1500 square feet, 20 foot ceilings, a working fireplace and an overgrown garden. Back then, real estate was my porn…

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Best of all, Brooklyn felt like a real escape.

But then, things changed. It started with the mothers…

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Cartoon by the amazing Aliie Brosh

All at once, they’d taken over… these judgie women with SUV-sized strollers and bad hair, who all seemed to micromanage their children like summer interns–the unpaid kind. They were bitter and had an unnatural vigilance about things like gluten, sugar and being chronically over prepared…

Just an aside, you should know that I am never prepared… I’m a mess and I like it that way. I lose everything. Last week, I lost a whole round of Camembert in my apartment. I’m completely disorganized and so my solution is to carry my whole life (and my shoes) around in a big Louis Vuitton bag–just hoping that I’ve got everything I need. I love gluten, and sugar was pretty much the best part of my childhood–along with Christmas and eating paste.

So, the mothers were rough. But then, to make matters worse… these guys showed up…

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Cartoon by the amazing Aliie Brosh

… guys dressed like 19th century farmers, who were actually affinity marketers and socially responsible day traders. Of course, none of them would ever cop to being a hipster… It was like Fight Club. The first rule of Hipster club: Never talk about Hipster club. You’d point out their skinny-ish pants, closely trimmed beards, work boots, not to mention their extensive collections of vinyl and the fact that they all rode bikes like these…

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But they weren’t saying anything. And, like the mothers, the hipster apocalypse came with its own brand of smug, self-righteousness with people saying things like,  “I bet I recycle more than you do…” or “You ate factory-raised chicken?” or “I can just tell by looking at you that my body mass index ratio is superior to yours…” Body mass what?

Suddenly, my religion that was Brooklyn had become a cult. Frantic, I looked around like a bewildered follower who has just had her big come-to-the antichrist moment. I had to get out. My excruciating fear of mothers and hipsters had become paralyzing. Disappearing into my hood after a “bring it” week was no longer possible. I needed to get back to Gotham… and I did.

Fast forward to 8 years later… and I’m at a friend’s loft in Williamsburg…

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We slip out to grab a bite … and as we’re walking down the street, I realize something’s changed and it’s not me. It’s not like all of a sudden I’ve blossomed into coolness. (Trust me when I tell you that I will be a Liz Lemon-style dork until the very end) No, it was more like, while Brooklyn had definitely become more gentrified, it had also stopped declaring itself… The cult had become a community. No one was running me down with a stroller. No one was lecturing me on the merits of wheat grass. It was as if Brooklyn were Scientology (praise Xenu) and it had taken a giant chill pill, excommunicated Tom Cruise and ditched the bulk of its own dogma. It felt simple… again 🙂

But who knew? And who knows? Maybe someday, when I’ve shacked up with some poor fellow, Brooklyn will be my last exit.

For now… Bring it f*ckers… I’ll be in Manhattan.

xoxo – gg