What if I told you we could go on a trip through time and space right now—riddled with sex, wine, intelligent ideas—as we wait to see if the earth will keep producing life, and to stop the horrible monsters who run around spouting ugliness and hatred? The best part: There will be no masks, no tickets, no bag checks… no airplanes and no crowds.
First stop: Greenwich Village. I’m smiling already. This is pre-COVID, so you can eat in a restaurant go to a museum, or a show.
From there, your guide will escort you to a gateway to the Pyramids of Giza closer than the nearest subway station. Your new mythological friends will find you there and tell you about Ma’at, the Goddess who decides your fate after death by weighing your heart against a feather. If you have lived well, you go on to a lovely place. If you have failed to fulfill your life’s work, your heart is eaten by Ammit, a goddess who stands watch as your Fate is determined.
Luckily, since you are not part of the small but deadly group of monstrous people in power, your adventure won’t end here.
Instead, we’ll go next to Weimar, Germany, where you can meet the women and men who lived in freedom to love and be with whom they chose… before the dark drums of fascism replaced all of the joy there for women with Kinder, Kuche, Kirche—Children, church, kitchen.
That reminds me… Have you ever tasted Vincent Van Gogh’s onion soup? I can take you to the Metropolitan Museum of Art—and from there you can jump inside Van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles, enter his kitchen through the door on the left, and trade him some sips of Absinthe for soup, beginning a great friendship.
Eventually, Van Gogh will send you to a mansion owned by a chubby Russian oligarch in Moscow to pull off an art heist—alongside Berthe Morisot, Picasso, Monet, Matisse and many more artists. Once Van Gogh finds out his paintings hang in private homes, obscuring his own act of Baring Witness to Life from the people, he will enlist you all to make the future look differently.
But don’t worry: You’ll be filled with blinis before you walk in Red Square and fall in love with St. Basil’s Cathedral.
These are just some of the places I took my protagonist, Deborah, to in The Road Not Taken, my debut novel. That book came after years of produced plays, documentaries, blogs, Funny or Die Sketches… And the journey was my way of telling Deborah, and my readers, that it’s never too late to find your Ikigai.
Ikigai is Japanese for Your Life’s Purpose, or Your Life’s Bliss. Mine is writing. (And kissing my cats ‘til they get mad.) My partner is a source of bliss to me, too—but when I need to go to the well of my soul, I turn to my words. And I felt tremendous hope as I wrote a novel illuminating the possibilities we all can reach in different ways—and had a lot of fun writing through the cosmos to do it.
Hope is a powerful remedy to monsters and hatred. Hope is a bucket of water you can pour on the Wicked Witch of the West and melt her right into the ground. And hope doesn’t come from covering our ears and eyes, escaping and never looking back. The kind of hope that keeps us going in the kind of hope that requires confronting the truth—and finding the strength to imagine the future.
Deborah doesn’t escape reality entirely in my pages, despite the jet-setting through the stars and the passage of time. She feels a lovers’ betrayal, fends off an attack by one of Egypt’s major mythological fellows, and witnesses the consequences of the rise of fascism. And she learns to survive.
When you walk The Road Not Taken, I hope you’ll become enamored by some of the scenery. I hope you’ll forget all the mundane in your life and get lost on the page. And I hope you’ll realize that the only thing better than an escape from the moment we’re in is a re-imagination of what comes next.
The summer of rage requires something better than your average beach read—something that will keep you sane and help you find hope. If you’re impatient for the feminist future, grab a copy for your beach bag and join me on The Road Not Taken.