Dead Like Me…

Hello, Lovelies, How the hell are you?

Day 985,622-ish of lockdown and it feels like we’ve reached the beet dyeing stage of things, no? Grim colonial settlers slogging away at candle and butter making?

Perhaps you’re tired of having to sound like an enlightened Montessori teacher around your kids? All that breathy perkiness. Or you’ve started referring to your excessively cheery virtual yoga class as “fucking yoga”? Maybe you’re more inventive and your household is now responding to each other entirely in Hamilton lyrics?

I told you all about having my social hacked last month… well, it gets even better! This past week I received a notice from the government.  According to their records, I’m both deceased and incarcerated. Not one or the other, but BOTH and would I mind please checking the boxes on the forms to indicate either yes or no if this is correct? Pray tell, from whence would I be doing said box-checking?

I guffawed so loudly in the yard, the neighbors must have thought I was having a stroke. I couldn’t help thinking of the line from Crip Camp: “When you’re disabled, somebody always wants you dead.” This sentiment has never felt more true than with COVID-19. Why should we save a person who spends half her life on the ground having seizures when we might possibly save someone more functional? Someone who adds more value, as the corporate suity-types often put it? It’s some scary ICUgenics to be sure. The whole thing made me want to immediately design a “Say No to Ayn Rand!” t-shirt.

The best alternative I could find was this little gem from The Second Shelf in London:

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It turns out it’s terribly hard to prove you’re alive during a pandemic. There’s really no one you can call. Everything is shut—from county clerks’ offices to notaries to banks with actual humans in them. When I tell people what’s happened, this slight glitch in the matrix, they’re absolutely enchanted and envious at my newfound status. “Ooh, you could completely disappear!” they say. Then they start naming countries we can no longer go to and joking about never again having to pay taxes.

The thing is… I’ve actually fought very hard to be here and alive these past ten years. Not because death is such a bummer or because I fear it, but more because being alive is well… entertaining? I’m constantly amazed by the absurdity of it all, and I’m quite keen to be included… to work, pay taxes, follow the ridiculous rules, and love people. Funny how abled people still make this hard for us. (Sighs resignedly).

When I was first writing my book about coming out about my condition, I was asking myself, “Who will I be now… with epilepsy? How will I be?” Well, I’m definitely going to be funny was the first answer. And certainly not broken was the second.  (Though I do have one super-judgy friend who’s constantly insisting I’m broken, even though he himself has loads of temper tantrums, extramarital affairs, and also undertakes all kinds of ethically dubious adventures. At a certain point, you just have to put people like this in the “not for me” pile as life’s simply too short.) In any case, I find a great deal of power in disability… and zero power in the kind of erasure others around me would seem to enjoy.

I suppose I could skulk around as a bureaucratically dead girl doing mildly subversive things… upending people’s assumptions about what a person with epilepsy can actually do, but life is so much more interesting when you’re not masking for other people’s benefit, i.e., “Oh, here, darling… come let me make you feel better about my overly-electric little brain that’s not in any way my fault… Oh? Wait, I’m supposed to be ashamed of it? Ahh…” Yeah, I don’t think so.

* * *

A friend of mine has five books coming out next year. It seems insane to me, but now looking at my own crazy board of projects, most shut down as I work to remap the next two years of life, I think I will attempt the same. Some projects will need to switch continents or be rejiggered as more “international” in order to get made. Others can exist happily as books if I just double down and commit. I try to work from 8am to 2pm daily. I shut myself away to ignore everyone and everything, but man… the world is merciless in its ability to distract.

What I loved seeing out in the world this past month is how the different platforms for performance are adapting, like the ZOOM-based play What Do We Need to Talk About? from Richard Nelson and The Public Theater… it’s no longer up, but was completely poignant and subtle. Nevermind that it’s on bloody ZOOM, the writing was decidedly alive, and the actors were ever more connected than if we were all crammed into a smelly little black box theater… it’s pieces like this that let me know… somehow we will all still work. Work as simple and GREAT as Nelson’s is reason enough to check the damn box on the dumb form that YES, in fact… you are still very much alive.

Stay rad and stay safe, lovelies.  xoxo – gg

The OA, Crazy Dream Logic, Bad Wigs?

Hello, Lovelies… How the hell are you?

I’ve been wickedly excited about the return of The OA and GoT—especially after writing a Christmas movie about pie. That said, I do hope I don’t end up dying in an airplane bathroom in a Draco Malfoy wig. (I probably will) Yes, the tour took its toll but was ridiculous fun and I have many stories…

Meanwhile, is AOC  not the new political Daenerys? I know I sound like a broken record here, but we need guys everywhere to bend the knee, show us the report, and make room for lady writers, politicians, activists, comedians, bartenders, and engineers to do their best work to save the planet and vanquish the white walkers with their horrendous toenails, etc. It’s time to lead with fairy hair and dragons…

What else is happening… RIP Agnes Varda. You broke ground, you powerful sprite. Speaking of angels, Part 2 of The OA is super fun. They weave storylines so gracefully across all manner of “bearing witness” platforms and contexts—it’s almost balletic. I won’t spoil it for you.

I think because I’m coming up on my own personal epilepsy survival day of April 11th…  I just had the most beautiful-frightening dream ever.  I’m in New York on the way home from dinner with my ex and his hilarious friend Will, and because it’s crazy dream-logic, we all go to yoga in this converted church that somehow looks like a Restoration Hardware ad??? Think soothing, hipster masculinity, everything swathed in grays, taupes, distressed leathers, and wood tones. And I fall asleep during Savasana like I always do. When I wake up, I’m in a different place in the studio, searching the crowd for my ex and his buddy. They would never just up and leave me… Oh, and did I mention I’m also naked… and phone-less.

So, I wrap myself up in a yoga mat (like a taco) and I’m asking staffers where my clothes might have gotten to, but they’re all in this post-vinyasa fugue state that’s probably a function of working there. I can’t remember my ex’s number or Will’s to call them from these white courtesy phones that keep appearing out of nowhere. I finally make it to the door, and out of the church-yoga-Restoration Hardware. It’s just a few blocks to my house, I think. Yes, I’m only wearing a yoga mat, but I can make it if I run really fast. Hell, it’s NYC… There are plenty of people wearing much worse.

Just then, a man approaches me. He’s a pale, gaunt Jeff Daniels type, and he whispers, “I’m going to have one…” And I KNOW exactly what he means. All at once, he morphs into this roiling, swirling, skinless body of sand, light, and air that I cannot quite catch or keep safe… it’s like trying to hold fire. He is having a seizure, and then I SIT STRAIGHT UP in my bed here in LA, with both arms outstretched and empty—still trying to catch him. It was haunting.

Ok, I need coffee… Enjoy Spring, you crazy rad lovers – XOXO – GG

PS… For what to actually do during a seizure, watch this.

PPS… Apologies if you see weird paragraphs in this one… Something is up with WP.

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

 

The Longest Day: Time to Bust Out Those Flower Crowns and Druid Dresses!

Happy Solstice Lovelies,

How the hell are you? I just realized we’re going to need a whole lot of Pagan rituals if this cruel, Illuminati, Skull & Bones healthcare bill passes. In the meantime, if you’re around Times Square today, keep your eyes peeled for thousands of people with their bums in the air in down dog for the Mind Over Madness solstice party. Yes, I’ll admit to finding something momentarily erotic about it all until I realized we’re going to need to start making special electrolyte water out of reconstituted boob sweat to keep the planet going. Oy. I can help with that.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one who was disappointed in Pope Francis’s condemnation of yoga. What gives Pope? What happened to all are welcome? Every culture celebrates the solstice in its own way. What happened to the whole acceptance vibe? Cranky.

I also realized if I’m to survive the rest of this year, I need to stop shuffling around the apartment with Warren Ellis hair (my hero) and get to work on the next thing. I have something fermenting. I’m just haunted by a crapload of “Should I haves” and “Is it too lates?” with SPAZ.

Should I have talked more about how when Marlene moved in next door I had to buy sniper earmuffs? She looked at me like I was Dexter with a kill box when I opened the door wearing them. They were only $14 (on Amazon, of course) and I was desperate to quell the sound of her explosively yappy dog, not to mention the boom-boom of the 70-inch flatscreen she mounted on the other side of my bedroom wall? Oh, Marlene…

Should I have recounted the Nancy Drew-style Search Party investigation my BFF Ed and I conducted to get to the bottom of the Marlene mystery? How it ended with me actually meeting someone from the show?

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Is it too late to talk about why epilepsy belongs in the neurodiversity NeuroTribes category along with Autism Spectrum and ADHD, Anxiety, and all the other ways in which we are wired as people?

Is it too late to do work that scares my dad? That’s been my goal all along, but he might be too old by now. I wanted to write a comedic book about having a totally unapologetic relationship with my damaged brain and now I’m having big separation anxiety about it. Does this happen with all first books? I think I need other neurotics to weigh in. David Sedaris? You up? Or is there a Pagan rite or ceremony I can perform today that doesn’t involve so much boob sweat?

Meanwhile, happy solstice everyone and stay cool, you exhausted futurists, you!

xoxo – GG