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

 

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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