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:

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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 🙂

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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

Apocalypse Now-ish?

Hi there, Lovelies. How the hell are you?

Soaringly anxious? Justifiably outraged? Feeling like we’re living in a Cormac McCarthy novel and in much need of levity? Maybe you feel like shouting, “NICE try, Coronavirus… I was already crazy and out of shape before you came along.” Perhaps you’re experiencing an inaugural epic WFH fail… and accidentally texted a colleague your entire household grocery list and told him to make sure to get tampons.

Alas, there are still some good things in the world…

Give author Sara Benincasa’s new Apple podcast, Well, This Isn’t Normal a listen.  Her book Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom is also a riotous, relatable gem for this new era we’ve entered.

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Speaking of eras, Dan Chiasson’s thoughtful meditation on our shifting sense of time during the Coronavirus gave this girl comfort as well.

You might also like Dr. Kathleen Smith’s fab newsletter The Anxious Overachiever… it’s crazy-practical and actionable. She’s my favorite stressed-out therapist these days.

If you need some funny… Dave Pell’s piece on McSweeney’s FAMOUS LINES OF POETRY REVISED FOR THE AGE OF CORONAVIRUS is such a chuckle.

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If you’re one of those folks who has to keep moving to stay sane but are now quietly panicking in the linen closet, this is a wonder of an online community: My Peak Challenge with a new Daily Social Distancing Workout.

Lastly, if you’re feeling a bit randy, check out this thoughtful piece by Elyse Martin on How a Book of Medieval Sex Tales Can Help us Through the Pandemic…

Ok, that’s what I got… Stay safe and stay home, Lovelies – xoxo – gg

Fires, Dream Logic, and Weeding with Parker Posey…

Hi there, Lovelies,

How the hell are you? Here’s a photo from the fires (taken by the exquisite Claire Kimple). Such a powerful, quiet reminder of the ‘tude very much needed right now.

I’m sure it’s all the scorched earth… but I keep having these wildly visceral time travel dreams where I’m plunked down throughout life at my different old homes. The last one was in Vermont at a house I’d really hesitated buying. In the dream, I’m there in full-body-sensory-Technicolor-smell-o-vision. When I land, it’s always very Dr. Who and hapless as I’m typically in the yard one or two houses over. It’s usually snowing and I have to clomp back over to our house in my jams where I’m suddenly having this very David Mamet-style conversation with the new residents about having lived there eons ago. I hesitated over buying this particular house because our kids were still dinky and it was too close to the road for my anxious-mom taste. In the dream, the new people have redone the kitchen all wrong—excoriating the very heart of the house—the butler’s pantry and the dumbwaiter. And I’m there shaking my head my head at the tremendous loss when all at once, I’m physically ripped out of the dream muscle by muscle only to wake up back in NYC with my whole body clenched and sweaty. Somehow, it all feels very much like Kelly Link dream logic + Quilt Theory. (You know, from physics and the multiverse?)

Things I’ve loved this week…

  • It’s college drop off time, which comes with all manner of anticipation, grief and feeling just plain lucky. I happened upon this hilarious podcast adventure, and thought maybe this next act is The Parker Posey Phase of My Life?
  • When I want to remember how much I love writing by hand, Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel reminds me.
  • When I need solid fashion advice I check in with Grace at The Stripe.
  • When I’m at work and want to stop feeling like Ingrid Bergman from Gaslight.
  • When I want to repeat myself (like the broken record that I am) about how women in STEM can be such a kickass setting for a riveting psychological thriller, I think of only of Megan Abbott’s Give Me Your Hand.
  • When I need to recall that the word “Hobo” comes from the phrase “homeward bound” and that they had their own mythologized code.
  • Why New Yorkers (and many other humans of the world) hate slow walkers.
  • RIP Neil Simon, because whenever I need a lift from our overwhelming world I always watch Seems Like Old Times.

Ok, back to school everyone… xoxo – gg

PS – Best shot from Seems Like Old Times

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How New York Breaks Your Heart…

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And face (in sixteen places)… could be another title for my tiny-little-potato-of-a-book. Yes, I buried the lede in my last post. It’s coming out this fall and I actually have a sneak peek available here!

An official playlist and silly trailer are in the offing. In the meantime, if you’re in the mood for a snarky, sweary, hilarious rant from The New Yorker‘s own Kimberly Harrington, give yourself, your mother, and all the other mothers you know Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words

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If you’re in the mood for something visually stunning and uber-New-Yorky, try Bill Hayes’s photography collection: How New York Breaks Your Heart. I can never look away from what he manages to always see.

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One day, all our kids will run off to New York. Back to panhandling words. Have a meaningful day, Lovelies – xoxo – gg

 

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

by the amazing Kate Curtis

Hello Lovelies,

How the hell are you? I’m trying to stay chipper in the home stretch of the edit and am employing all means necessary to stay focused. Meanwhile, I look like the Unabomber and have been asked for cover art examples… Yay, cover art! I think I want something equal parts cartoonishly self-deprecating and slightly evil for this collection since it’s mostly about falling on my face. I sent my editor this cover from Andrew Sean Greer’s LESS (a charmer of a book) but then also Samantha Irby’s wickedly funny We are Never Meeting in Real Life. Am open to suggestions…

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In the mean time, can you believe that shit-for-brains, megalomaniacal hairball is telling people in Texas to have a great time all while making it clear he hasn’t a clue how pickup trucks actually work? I swear that guy is going to have a serious class warfare reckoning when people invade his hotels like the army of the dead, flooding in with their Whitewalker toenails demanding hot showers and pedicures.

On another track, RIP Walter Becker…  I’ve always had a Grand Canyon-sized soft spot for Steely Dan (when I wasn’t freestyling to Kenny).

We’re having a sneak peek of autumn here… it’s the best. I just saw a woman in a quilted jacket, which means fashion week is nearly upon us. Yay, statement coats!

Okay, back to work… and many thanks to Craig Stacey for his totally poignant thoughts on loss and Dostoyevsky. SO exactly what I needed for structuring that troublesome chapter. What a gift.

Stay rad lovelies –  XOXO – GG

 

Homesick For Another World?

Hello Lovelies,

Here we are again… weathering still another week of not-so-subtle brutalities of the world. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to bleach the image of Steve Bannon as some kind of auto erotic yogi from my mind’s eye.

Since last we spoke, the nation has no doubt unclenched its universal anus over the scary healthcare repeal, the Mooch has come and gone faster than New York Fashion Week and with a far less pleasant finale. Who in his right mind blow-dials The New Yorker? The whole script strains credulity and possesses all the trappings of a melanin-deprived telenovela.

Of course, telenovelas and soaps are governed by the three T’s: trauma, talk, and tears. Something big happens to a character. She or he texts/calls a frienemy to recount it. The two make a rendezvous to review the particulars again upon which tears ensue. Then, the director shouts “Cut! Everybody safely back to one,” and they go again. The one rule of the telenovela writer is to TELL, don’t bother to show, primarily because telling is fast (and cheap) to crank out on a daily basis. And yet, the above bottle does not seem quite big enough for even the fate-and-fury writers of the current Whitehouse.

Yes, all the telling and retelling inoculates us from trauma, which gives some solace, because no one in a telenovela is ever permitted to be content for more than oh say… 3-5 minutes. If you meet your soulmate in a soap script, he’ll be in a serious accident and not recognize you the very next day. As soon as he recovers his memory and haltingly utters your name from the hospital bed, his identical long-lost cousin will arrive on the scene to set him up as the Patsy in a hideous crime, only to have another guy who has secretly adored you for forever but whom you’ve kept in the friend zone, selflessly sleuths his way into getting your amnesiac soul mate exonerated, just as you then instantly become the target of Russian oligarch money launderers.

Things repeat until you hit a critical mass of tens of millions of viewers all mesmerized by a narrative wrap-up that somehow satisfies their deep collective longing all while morphing into a new set of miseries. Sometimes the tears get extra-physical and you even have Joan Collins and Linda Evans fight-clubbing it out in a lily pond… that was something to put the kids down early for.

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But doesn’t all of it make you homesick for another world? (not the soap opera itself) but an actual other world? Hello, Brian Greene? Where is string theory when we need it?

I’ve been trying ever so hard to see the world through book-colored glasses since I am unable to run away to France with its nation of cheese geniuses and handsome statesmen who appreciate older blonde ladies. With this in mind, I’ve been reading Ottessa Moshfegh’s collection of stories with the same marvelous title.

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These existential vignettes are like going to that dirty old dive bar out on the far edge of town, the one you never stopped loving. Maybe you found your name scrawled in a bathroom stall there with some pithy, nasty hyperbole that did you proud. Maybe it’s the kind that serves up a sweet-bitter cocktail with just enough orange oil in between laugh-out-loud rants. Moshfegh’s voice is a dark, funny razor cutting away at oh-so-human foibles. The characters are pimply, brash, wildly sullen and then whisper-sweet-tender. It’s uncomfortable at times, but there’s also a quietude in this book that runs completely counter the current melodramas of our world. You’ll fly through reading it and you’ll remember how you are all the good and all the bad rolled up in one. You virtuous, tasty taco, you.

As I write this, something else crazy is probably happening. I can’t look without another round of George Benson. Some of you have written to ask if I have forgiven McCain for his voting acrobatics and the short answer is: I haven’t. I don’t want any one white guy having that much power over our healthcare… not now, not ever.

Stay rad, Lovelies – xoxo – GG

P.S. Is this not the best business card ever? These were the real mavericks of last week.

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On a scale from one… to Marlee Matlin. Plus, the way of the doofus warrior….

Feeling and speaking keep coming back and damn if it isn’t ouchie as all hell. Still… on a scale from one… to Marlee Matlin, I feel like I’m skewing pretty Marlee, and so count myself lucky… Indeed, she is lovely and a role model to be sure. She doesn’t let anything stop her… ever. I used to be that way… probably to a fault. Sorry kids.
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What’s new here… hmm… lemme think…  our dog has morphed into that kind of bad boyfriend you involuntarily roll your eyes at and should break up with, but you don’t even though he…
  • is über needy
  • possesses a limited vocabulary with only tenuous subject/verb agreement
  • eats everything in the house, including that stack of New Yorkers you were saving (to catch up on… because you will catch up!!! Repeat. You will catch up!)
  • insists on watching really bad Canadian television like Bitten, which might as well be the stripper channel with low rent CGI wolves sprinkled in. Painful….Unknown-1
  • has crazy nasty breath–and NOT just in the morning
  • not-so-secretly longs to hump everything in sight, all the time, even when there’s subzero interest in nookie
  • takes enormous, stinky dumps and forgets to flush
  • gets all aggro when I ask for time to myself….
I SO want to break up with my dog right now… But New Yorkers ADORE their dogs, And 20-something women literally have orgasms in the street over my dumb dog… it goes entirely against the code of all good personhood to be… meh… about your pooch. But there it is. I am.
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A belated, but most sincere RIP for the gifted neuro… Oliver Sacks… Such a mensch. You always remind me of a way smarter, more rockin’ version of Santa.
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Thank you for teaching us that the brain is human, that to be odd is perfectly all right, if not a delightful bonus… I remember my mom shoving her coffee-ring-stained copy of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat at me, declaring bluntly with a grin… oh, this one’s required, A… I think I was 16 at the time, and I reveled in its curious quirk. This was my introduction to neuro-diversity–something that would prove so critical later in life when trying to understand my daughter’s autism… and then after that, my own epilepsy…  NeuroTribes are what’s needed… for certain. Thank you also for reminding us that the joy of love can come at any time of life, even when we think it’s long past.
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I’m researching a short story about lycanthropy set in NYC during the heyday of the New Yorker mag–Dorothy Park, Benchley, etc. I always find werewolf stories to be subpar, don’t you? I think it’s the lack of consistency in the lore… Seizures are the closest equivalent I have for the emotional piece of it all. The pure, sticky dread of it all. When I wake up from a seizure, I usually don’t have my clothes on either and… I never know what horrible thing I’ve done — or maybe said. I only remember being filled to the brim…. with stars. My field of vision, my whole person–pure current.
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So, I’ll sit for hours these days, kneading the wolf idea like bread dough in my head… I think it’s starting to bleed into my very bones and being… I finally became so ravenous today that I buckled and slurked to the corner Starbucks for a cheapo egg, cheese and sausage sandwich…it’s really just an egg MacMuffin putting on airs…  pretending to be intellectually-driven… Typically, over the years, when I have been in starving artist mode… I would have only coffee in the AM and then dinner at night. Nothing during the day… because the day was about survival, adrenalin and being “on”… But today…. I felt so hollow after I re-read Sacks’s obit…. that I thought I would fall asleep and surely die—so quietly as if in the snow. I had to eat salty, ambiguous meat products. I was wolfish when I walked into the shop. I could have swallowed the little fanboy afro-barrista in one swipe of my chops…but Joan Didion (or her doppelgängster) was there…. working away at a tiny table in the corner, and so I behaved… for a moment.

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Everyone there was talking about the migrant crisis… the little boy… and I wanted to dare Trump to build a fence… the way of the doofus warrior
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Oh, I am crazy homesick for SF… I won’t deny it… but how I can’t wait for sweaters and baked goods involving pumpkin…
xoxo – gg

Bustle was right… It was hot as balls! And we were all just hanging on by a thread…

Especially the dog… I’ve been worried that he’s just dumb as a rock, but it appears he’s figured out how to control the air conditioner with his hot, stinky chicken jerky breath… So, that’s positive. (Right?) Today is cooler… (praise Xenu) With the dog though… I keep hoping he’ll grow up to be a chill, literary pooch… one who likes jazz, wears glasses and reads the New Yorker, but right now he’s more like a slack-jawed, mouth breathing yokel… I’m going to record it… You can totally hear him from across entire apartment… amid the Rear Window symphony that summer in the city always is. He sounds like a muppet laughing… (think: Ernie from Sesame Street). It shakes the damn coffee table. And  I’m pretty sure everything I say to him sounds like this:

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by the amazing and incomparable Allie Brosh…

… though this may be because I still sound so unintelligibly French since breaking my face… (This, despite all my “What’s New Pussycat?” jam sessions) Yes, he likes to sit right next to me, his chicken jerky face poised at my ear, breathing heavily like a bedraggled tourist on the subway. Drooling on my laptop… Not so good for the writing productivity… oy… I’ve been hibernating, working on a book based on a TEDx talk I gave a few years back about creativity, electricity and the brain… It’s turning out to be so chocked full of sci-fi tropes… I almost feel like I’m right back in Scott Bukatman’s class at NYU…Yes!… Love me my NERDS 🙂 So, am writing out the heat… eating loads of muffins… and bacon and cheeseburgers pizza with brie and ice cream… At a size zero, I need some reserves… lest I disappear with this next round of surgery and being wired shut. it’s getting so old… I told the doctors at this point… I totally don’t mind being a mute, living out a quiet Amelie-like existence… talking is so overrated…  If I can just lose this damn Kirk Douglas vibe, I will be the happiest spaz in all the city 🙂 No offense, Spartacus… I jus miss being able to smile.

Stay cool ladies and gents…

xoxo – gg