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

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

… is the name of Wil Wheaton’s new book and dammit all if I’m not squirming with an acute case of title envy… I can’t wait to read it and am going to implore him to send me an advance copy.

But hello there, Lovelies. How the heck are you?

The above was my whole being on Friday during a conference call about a streaming series that I wrote a while back and am now just finishing up as a book… it’s netting out to about 65,000 words. I used to be afraid of the sheer number of letters, but after Gotham Girl Interrupted, I’m not… It was a Herculean task getting that book out the door. The edit was wicked painful. Every day… just fighting to keep any morsel of levity in what could have been a very bleak sick girl narrative, took every ounce of what’s left of my gray matter. But it worked. The book works.

So, when I’m sitting there on the phone Friday hearing these guys in LA expecting me to give away years of life spent on this other book/series, a neuro-thriller based on my daughter, I just said, “No… I get paid to do the bricks and mortar work of writing and I’m not doing it for free… ever again.” I’d rather be a dishwasher. Well, they told me I was “fucking arrogant.” And then, came text after text of bullying… All for asking for a livable wage and credit. It shook me… Didn’t we just have #TimesUp? What happened to “Topple the Patriarchy”? Where is Jill Soloway when I need her? What happened to #FemaleFilmmakerFriday?

I’m used to being low-balled as a writer, but this was no-balled.

And then, of course, I balled right there in the car… because all I ever wanted was everything. I showed the texts to my girlfriend and manager who both said, “Hey, look at you! Finally standing up for yourself!”

But I don’t like it. I’m not built for it. It’s the same as leaving New York… I just get all:

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At least, the sun came out for a bit today. I think I’ll read some Sedaris to cheer up…  I am fixed on finishing this draft… There’s a term from Norse mythology called Doom Eager and it means to be sick with an artistic idea… There’s a caughtness to existence. I think that’s where I’m at today.

Hold fast and know that in my downtrodden state, I’m still cheering for you. xoxo – gg

 

 

Day 21 of the Writer’s Retreat. Change Status to…

Phew!!!…  Okay, yesterday was a close one… the thought of having spent years on a book only to have it ruined with a seven-word subtitle—made this girl pretty squirrelly. I just feel like anybody curious enough to pick up my book in a store or online should feel like a welcome guest… They need snacks and like-minded company. They should never say to themselves, “Holy cats!!! I am SO in the wrong place!” Thank God funny, pithy sanity is prevailing (for the moment). I never imagined there could be such a tussle over things like subtitles…

I also want readers to feel like they could be me. On any given day, at any moment, their comfy brains could suddenly just decide to rebel for whatever reason—genetics, hormones, immunological things, stress, etc. As a single mom with epilepsy, struggling to make ends meet, I used to look around at the privileged, married moms in the private school where my daughter went and think, any one of you could suddenly be me. Any day. Strangely, it helped me to accept them (and our situation) a little more… and then, of course, I also just loved these other moms. Even the judgy ones whose daughters I could see were on the cusp of morphing into mean girls. But blerg… it’s so freakin’ complicated and intersectional and there’s no one right way to do things.

In the meantime, it’s beautiful as hell here and Gary (the beaver) was just looking over at me like, “Why aren’t you writing faster?” He’s finishing a late brunch… that guy’s a day drinker if there ever was one…

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In the meantime, I am being a good citizen and filling out all of my book marketing forms with frequent flyer numbers to Kenny Loggins and a whole marathon Yacht Rock playlist. Stay rad, Lovelies…  xoxo – GG

 

Big Little Sighs

Photo illustration by Cristiana Couceiro. Source photograph: Igor Ustynskyy

Hello, Lovelies… How the hell are you?

Behold, Spring. Mother nature’s way of saying, “Let’s get down!”

Amid the four nor’easters we’ve had here, I’ve found it necessary to shelter inside an emotional support meatloaf… Vegetarians, look away. This one’s a mashup of Ina Garten’s recipe tempered with the dark arts of Lipton onion soup mix. (Thereby sparing everyone the weepy misery of chopping three yellow onions in favor of a little packet of MSG nirvana.)

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It’s a blend of high and low culture that satisfies every time—much like champagne and potato chips. Oh, but gone are those days. A cheat day now and then is the best I can muster. And I’ve been cooking at the end of a long, snowy road, on hiatus from the city while I freight train through two TV scripts.

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One, dealing with neurodiversity, I’ve started and stopped at least twenty times with my writing partner… I’ll say cranky things like, “No, no, no… That’ll never work, that’s been done…”  just as he manages to pry the barnacles off and we come up with something nifty and almost weird enough to work. The other script is a single-camera half-hour rom-com series built around epilepsy, anxiety, and depression. My heart/brain still skips a beat/synapse that anyone’s actually interested, but there it is.

For reading during this latest storm/news cycle… I’d originally planned something intellectually rigorous like Diane Ackerman’s gorgeous A Natural History of the Senses. (Imma comin’ Diane!)

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Instead, I found myself retreating to the comforts of David Rakoff’s hilarious essay collection Fraud (since imposter syndrome is the central theme of my life).

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I’ve also been fangirling the eff out of some of my favorite writers on women’s pain and addiction like Abby Norman (review of Ask Me About My Uterus to come!) and Leslie Jamison.  Damn… Jamison’s words in her anti-memoir The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath “More. Again. Forever…” recalled the watery longing of mothers I knew from many a wine-soaked book club, the palpable ache for a deeper connection, more than for access to any Jack London’esque “white light” of creativity.

I’ve never been one who can write on the sauce (despite loving it). And I don’t get writer’s block as much as a kind of writer’s malaise that manifests in the form of big little sighs, working alone every morning in my pajamas, until some Mary Karr-ish language tumbles out: Fuck. Shit. Fuck. Don’t. You daft girl… Who on earth ever told you that you could do this? 

But then I go on. Here’s a great huzzah to the thrumming of buds and bugs and to a few more words.

Until tomorrow, hold fast – XOXO – GG

Cocktail Party Syndrome: NYC and Pathological Friendliness

Hello, Lovelies! Happy Monday… Are you awake yet?

This, just in. After all these years, I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong (or right) with me. I have Williams syndrome, AKA “Cocktail Party Syndrome”. No, this is not about my losing all my girly hormones and slowly morphing into a duplicitous Brian Williams evening news anchor-type, but rather it is about the wickedly interesting book I am reading by Jennifer Latson: The Boy Who Loved Too Much. Don’t be put off if you think the title sounds like a Lifetime movie of the week, it’s SO NOT the vibe.

The reason I like this book is not solely because I saw so much of myself and my daughters in it, it’s because I also saw so many New Yorkers in it—especially in the summer when all the diehard weirdos and eccentrics come out. People think New Yorkers aren’t friendly and it’s so not the case. Ours is a city where there’s so much day-to-day forced intimacy, we’re just trying to give each other a little space. I try to observe this custom, but it wasn’t always the case.

Once upon a time… when I was a little 4-year-old twerp back in the 1970s, my clueless hippie-billy parents would take us to the most racist restaurant in all of America. (I’ll tell you more about that later) So there I would be… totally ready, hyperactively bouncing from right foot to left foot and back to right, while a pastel-clad middle-aged hostess named Ruth scanned the floor for an open table. But Ruth had nothing on me.

As I would see strangers getting up from their mostly-finished meals, I would zip past my parents and the befuddled Ruth with her laminated menus and her toilet brush hair, and RACE toward the unwitting, grown-up patrons. Extending a hand like a friendly politician at a church social, I’d grin genuinely amazed up at their perplexed faces and exclaim, “How on earth did you know?!”

And then, I would slide like a batter into home plate right into their empty vinyl booth and start eating and drinking the leftover food on their plates. Yep.

“Pancakes and…” Sipping from the random stranger’s straw, “Vanilla Coke for breakfast! This is EXACTLY what I wanted!”

Of course, my horrified tiny bird of a mother would chase me down, flying past Ruth, my dad, and the bemused diners, chirping something like, “Holy sh*t, she’s acting just like a Starling!” and/or “You have to have better boundaries, little one!”

Starlings, I was always taught were the most charming but also the most troublesome birds in the ecosystem. They nest in all the wrong places. They occasionally cause planes to crash. Over the years, this lack of neurogenetic coding, my Starling coding as I called it, would make me vulnerable to a HEAP of issues and opportunities, but I have to say I just love Eli (the boy Latson shadowed) and I just love this book… probably too much. I write about NYC being the neurodiversity capital of the world. It’s cocktail party syndrome and everything in between. It’s books like Latson’s that we need more of these days, and kids like Eli we need to make sure can make their entrance.

“How on earth did you know?”

Thank you for writing this, lady! Stay rad – xoxo – GG

 

First Prince, Now Hodor… What Next?

Hello Lovelies,

Is it just hot as balls out, or what? A perfect day to binge watch by the AC while doing Blogilates on the side (anything to avoid the dreaded writer’s bum)

A bunch of you have written in to ask what I thought of Prince and then Game of Thrones last week… what with Hodor saving the day in an epic, grand mal time seizure in which he is trapped in a last-moment loop before his own horrible death.

I spend a lot of time these days thinking about how to transcend the niche of epilepsy. Either through humor, the personal essay or any kind of narrative…  and I can honestly say… I don’t know what I think. I cried with the rest of Gotham last Sunday night.

On the one hand, Hodor has been portrayed to us over the years as a giant broken simpleton–without high cognitive function. A person with no there, there. (And Bran has been a little turd to him all too often)

On the other, the joy of serialized TV is that with each episode, we, the viewers, are given the opportunity to constantly correct what we thought we knew and that’s super fun. Our curious human brains love it.

Last Sunday, we corrected our knowledge of Hodor’s inner life in a big way. For me, the real tragedy was that there was a there… there all along.

I want to believe the boundary between being able and disabled is becoming increasingly porous, but my concern is that without a horribly tragic demise… the respect, the tiny openings just aren’t there. I too chuckled at all the memes that followed GoT, but as an out spaz… I don’t want to be a doorstop… just because I’m still getting all my words back and am stuck in a bit of a time seizure, myself.

Hodor talk pretty some day?

Still noodling over it… Stay rad and cool. XOXO – GG

For more on the troubling ethics of Hodor… see this completely compelling piece in The Atlantic Monthly.