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 me on the web 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

Granny Panties, Bitch Slap Coffee and a Hundred New Yorkers…

Imma come right out and say it… er repeat it… I just want girls to have ALL the things! It has been a good week for women’s hineys here in Gotham.

~ Mayan Toledano

Photo by the amazing Mayan Toledano of itsemeandyou.com

Between the return of the granny panty and the full-bush Brazilian wax… I’m feeling pretty righteous. No doubt, everyone has read the NY Times piece on the granny panty’s stunning comeback… Ladies, set your crotch free and cry hallelujah! I have been voting for this one since I first put on my real granny’s panties… What? I was 4, it was laundry day and funny…and fun. (They were so big they came up to my chin!)

The cherry on top of that literal cherry is that NYC has entered the era of the full-bush Brazilian wax… To be clear, this is when the butt strip (a technical term… and I’m down with it) and bikini line are waxed, but the technician leaves a full bush on the outer labia–rendering the process ever so much more bearable. (You don’t even need to drink!) This is bigger than mere Boho nostalgia people… this is about self-determination and forgiveness… your hoozie is already awesome, it always has been, so wax like nobody’s watching! (or not at all… straightjackets of acceptable womanhood be damned)

New Yorkers know about forgiveness… you see it thousands of times a day in the streets… Subway deodorant fails, opera-singing neighbors, people who missed the Obama PSA and manage to sneeze directly into your mouth, dog poo skid marks on the sidewalk… the trace evidence of some poor sucker simultaneously cursing and forgiving his way down the street. Pseudo intellectual TV shows like True Detective make the case that there’s no such thing as forgiveness–only short memories and forgetting–time is a flat circle, blah, blah, blah…

Forgiveness is intentional. You have to mean it and express it for it to be a thing. (You don’t necessarily have to deserve it) The universal sign of it is the smile. They say New Yorkers don’t smile… that there’s the whole rule of not-looking, of minding your own business. Not so. The lady who knocks into you at Zabar’s sheepishly flashes one, you return it–a momentary connection, a split second of reciprocity and all is forgiven. Yes, in Grand Central, at rush hour, it’s more of a tacit thing, but it’s this ability not just just to roll with things, but to forgive the sins of the city and its people, moment-by-moment that seems a prerequisite for living here… We even have the Dad Mayor… who forgives constantly. Some say too much. I bet he wears granny panties. (People are actually irritated that he’s so reasonable, but that’s for another post…)

I notice it more than ever now that I can’t smile. It’s 3 weeks since the surgery, and while I feel pretty decent… i.e., everyday, I wake up at 7, ply myself with coffee and go to the gym where Marvin has me lifting weights and things. He says, now that I no longer have “Mom-bod” it’s the perfect time. And it’s true, I am pretty little as of late. I’m sure the “straw” diet has helped, but he also says months and months of no booze beforehand will do that to a person too… I don’t know what happened. It was like when I was pregnant… I was just going along when suddenly, one day… wine tasted like complete ass. Now, for a girl who spent her early kid-hood in Sonoma, playing tag in the vineyards, whose family still makes wine, it would seem a bit of a sacrilege, but go figure… So, I feel good, but I still can’t smile or talk much. I have about an hour’s worth of words in me… daily. And while I can totally deal with a mostly-silent, Amelie existence, the not-smiling-part suuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.

Why? Because it means I can no longer take part in those critical moments of street forgiveness/redemption. I can’t smile back. I recently read an essay somewhere that women who smile are less successful business, that more than anything, a woman needs to bring an inscrutable game face. I hate this idea. It’s worse than a thong. I can’t stay like Kirk Douglas… Not for all the money in the world. Walter (my oral surgeon whose real name is Dr. Ira Sturman, the Oliver Sacks of maxillofacial stuff) and his nurse will do anything to make me laugh, smile and/or open my mouth at this point. Yesterday, they presented me with this:

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Today, I’ll go out to do errands in a bit (in my granny panties, yes) and I just hope a hundred New Yorkers bump into me, step on my toes and steal my cab… I hope that somehow the city can bitch slap a smile back onto my face. But before I do that, a bunch of you have written in wanting to know actual, useful things about the city… I’m not very good at that, but friends of mine are… so am posting next…. I swear.

xx – gg