This Guy…

Hello, Lovelies,

Oy, I meant to post this yesterday. Meet John Oliver… or John Deer Oliver—named after a tractor and a national treasure of a comedian. Yes, it’s Day 17 of my writer’s retreat. I was on my way to the compost heap when I ran into this guy. He’s a very amiable, chill young buck. Visits every day around 4 pm and seems to like NPR.

But oh, nature… nature doesn’t feel terribly funny compared to the city’s characters. I confess I am totally homesick for this feisty little old lady who hangs out protesting the Starbuck’s on the corner every weekend. She’s the absolute spit of Elaine Stritch and she always has an old school “We-are-pleased-to-serve-you” actual paper cup of coffee with the actual New York Times spread across at least three tables. No one seems to mind. I hope she’s still alive when I get back. When I left, it was like this because of all the wacky weather.
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The other morning I came outside up here and said, “Hello, everyone…” to the animals. Thankfully, no one said hello back. It’s a crowd consisting of John Deer, a completely pleasant beaver I’ve named “Gary” along with a baby squirrel since dubbed “Janice” and some wickedly indecisive geese who can’t figure out which way to fly. This is Gary… He’s eating a yam.

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Ok, I am stalling on a Wednesday deadline, but I miss you all. Stay rad… xoxo – GG

Call of the Wild (From Siri With Love)

Hello, Lovelies! Don’t you LOVE waking up to a mean old white guy reckoning???

I also love that it’s finally cold enough in the city for me to wear my va-jay-jay coat! This is actually a super soft mom-coat that I got from Uniqlo last year—on sale. I call it that because it’s literally as soft and warm and great as the inside of a vagina. It’s like wearing one around your whole person. In fact, Uniqlo, you should really just re-brand the coat as that. (Just my two yen)

I don’t know about you but every now and then, I have these Liz Lemon-style montage moments where I decide to take charge of my life! Usually, they involve deciding to eat fewer cheese curls or to stop dating guys who look like pirates or to stop putting off some irksome chore around the house.

Yesterday’s montage manifested as finally deciding to clean the bugs out of the big overhead light in the kitchen. Ordinarily, this is a two-person job since a) I am a chick with limited upper body strength and b) I really don’t like bugs at all. Anything that skitters freaks me the fuck out. I once had to stop working on a horror film because just writing the death-by-bug scenes bothered me too much. But I’m feeling pretty boss these days after finishing the book, so there I am in the kitchen, on the step ladder, whispering to myself: “I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid, I’m in charge here. It’s just a bunch of little bug corpses. I was a Girl Scout blah-dee-blah…”

And I’m easing the unwieldy light panel down from the ceiling when my sock catches on a nail on one of the ladder’s steps and I start to fall backward. As I’m falling, I peer up over the edge of the light panel and the dead bugs (one of which includes a mid-sized Manhattan cockroach) are all sliding toward my wide open mouth which is, of course, now shouting, “Fuck, fuck, fuuuuuuuuuck…!!!”

At the same time, my phone, which is plugged in on the kitchen counter, blinks to life and Siri says, “Alisa, I would NEVER speak to you that way!”

And I’m so shocked by her out-of-the-blue, on-command humanity that I do this twisting cat-like sproing off the ladder, right out of my socks and land fine while also missing the whole mouthful of bugs. (Phew!)

Thank you, Siri, for the unexpected tone check? I’ll so take scolding over critters.

The last time I got that up close and personal with wildlife was when I was dealing with a band of very brazen raccoons in Glen Ellen, California. The artsy, walkable village some fifty miles North of San Francisco in the heart of the Sonoma wine country was once home to Jack London. At the behest of some dear friends, I’d gone there to hide out after two grim reconstructive surgeries. I wanted to write about what it felt like to be monstrous. I certainly looked the part back then. Because of the nature of my accident, I’d broken a number of teeth, but I had one tooth–a pointy canine–that stuck out sideways, almost perpendicular to the others. So deeply rooted down into the bone are human canines, there was no fixing it or even extracting it until the rest of my shattered face and jaw healed. For the time being, I was White Fang, living in Jack’s town near what was once known as Wolf House.

I wanted to make some wholesale changes in my life starting with finally getting a handle on my seizures. Alone in Glen Ellen, with only my despair, a bunch of heat-seeking raccoons, and my kindled brain for company, I started to re-read To Build a Fire, London’s seminal short story. There’s a scene where the character is beating his fist against the side of his leg to get feeling back and survive. I so related to that bit—the regaining of feeling or at least feeling more human than wild. I was worried I might not. Still, I wrote and wrote right to the very edge of my fear that winter. I am profoundly grateful to the family who allowed me to be a writer-in-residence there. With the recent spate of devastating wildfires in Glen Ellen, Napa, St. Helena, and Santa Rosa I just hope everyone is refinding their footing amid flashes of unexpected humanity–though not necessarily from Siri.

Stay rad, Lovelies and have a human day – xoxo – GG

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You Know You’ve Made It When…

You suddenly find yourself on the Darkweb. Indeed, if people in North-South-Western Siberia are pirating your hard-won, pithy zingers, at least you know your work is probably never going away.

Someone at your reading asks how you’re dealing with becoming more well known… right after the security guard just told you the event was sold out and you wouldn’t be allowed in.

You realize you don’t want a robot vacuum cleaner that auto-maps your now slightly larger apartment only to hock said map to creepy Black Mirror-style advertisers who then want to help furnish your spartan living room via sponsored content that you yourself are paid to write.

You end up on a literary panel with a group of transracial pharmaceutical fracking advocates and are left to wonder if that means they dig for Prozac while being of indeterminate ethnic heritage, but you don’t want to trigger anyone by asking, so you end up being the quietest girl at the conference.

You now have an assistant who does things like re-label the microwave buttons after that unfortunate salmon incident:

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I’ll be back in two weeks after I’ve finished final edits on my next book. This one’s not so much a tell-all as it is a thank you note. In the meantime, in the midst of the ongoing onslaught of existential tragedy, maybe we should all re-read Anne Lamott’s three essential prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow. Seems to say it all these days.  xoxo – GG

PS for locals – This is never the way to jump a turnstile:

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In the City That Never Sleeps, You Will Send Notes Like This…

… at least once during your tenure living here.

It will no doubt be to a couple you actually really like or wanted to like (before their make-up nookie scared you off.) And as much as you will pen the note out of neighborly courtesy, you will also send it as a means of procrastinating because errrmagerrd… Writing a book is crazy hard. No wonder folks hightail it to the country in a sweaty attempt to channel the ghost of E.B. White in his boathouse. No man (or woman) ever looked more at ease in what he/she is doing.

No person ever looked more at ease with what he/she was doing.

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Wishing you all a happy Monday… no matter what boathouse you find yourself in.

XOXO – GG

The Gone Girl Guide to Gotham Re-Entry!

Cartoon by the amazing Allie Brosh (hyperboleandahalf.com)

So…  you’ve been gone girl… out roaming the world… making up dark, snarky zingers and plots for TV and print… pretending you’re Jack London… and that you don’t notice all the squirrel-on-squirrel action going on at the fabulously bucolic writer’s camp you’ve been at for months now. (And yes, squirrel-on-squirrel rhymes with girl-on-girl… haha… what are you… 8 in guy-years?) How do you come back to city life? I think it starts a little (or a lot) like the above… with an angry gypsy-librarian-type telling you off…  That’s what this week’s posts are about… re-entry. Still, so, SO glad to be home.

xoxo – GG

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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 writer, the thief, his lover and her stand-in

I’m done.

I’ve just finished a TV script. 57 pages of banter and creepy plot twists–set partly in NYC.

To echo another writer I admire…It was really, really, really hard. And way less glam than I thought it would be. But it’s done.

The net effect of this, however, is that after spending whole swaths of my day for 3 months in an abstract world of imaginary David Lynch types, I find I really, really appreciate the smaller, more concrete things:

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cartoon by the amazing allie brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

It’s also turned me into a complete chatterbox–across all media platforms.

For those of you who know me, I’m a little distractible. If there’s a TV on or something streaming in the nearby vicinity… I’m all, “Ooooh, what’s that????” I’ll write about 3 lines.

If left to my own devices without people or TV or other fun things, I can write the whole Oxford English Dictionary without even blinking. It’s not that I’m Proust and need some silly cork-lined room in which to work, it’s that New York City, for me, is like a GIANT TV with loads of dramas, comedies and annoying commercials. So, invariably, when I have to write, I end up telling people things like…

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cartoon by the amazing allie brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

But, now that I’m done, I’m a total chatty Cathy. I missed people. I feel like a gnat though. Really annoying… zinging and buzzing incessantly around my friends’ heads, unswat-able and tickling. And I’ve finally caught up with my inbox, I’ve set the world texting record for mindless quips, and my linkedin profile is on the verge of reflecting the epic saga that is my professional life.

I’ve also realized that I’ve let a few things go and am starting to resemble Ted Kazcynski (AKA the Unabomber) –but with serious Sasquatch eyebrows.

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So, a little glamifiction is in order to regain my humanity. Just a note: this has become substantially harder since I turned 40… I used to have a nice freckly goldeny look a la Sienna Miller, whom I ran into in Cannes a million years ago… Those moments always go like this…

“Wow, you look like me!”

“No, you look like me!”

“Yes, but everybody in the world knows me… so you look like me.”

“True. So weird…We’re doppelgangsters…”

“Except you have more of a forehead, which I like…”

“See… I like your forehead better…”

Gone are the days. Still, it is nice and convenient when you are feeling like Ted Kaczynski (pasty, malnourished, everything gone slack and too much hair everywhere) to have someone lovely who can play your stand-in.

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cartoon by the amazing allie brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

The bread cleanse has helped somewhat.

Thank god New York makes it easy to do these kinds of repairs. Most “girl” things (hair stylist, brow lady, yoga, etc.) exist within a few blocks of wherever you live. Tonight, some girlfriends are treating me to this beautiful cheapo spa that also doubles as a Korean Karaoke bar.

Another concept alive and well in Gotham (that also aids in these repairs) is the notion of “Girl Fridge” This is the phenomenon whereby a single girl’s refrigerator is stocked with only the following: yogurts, baby carrots, as much champs as you want (Veuve Clicquot) and those chillable eye masks. That’s it. This is a great thing in that it forces a writer like myself to get out to see her friends, but then instills a little the discipline, keeping you from snacking on Funions all day when home alone…

Ah girl fridge… but now I just realized I want tacos so bad… These things always come full circle, don’t they?

XOXO – gg