Hi, Ghost Dad

Bring Your Dad to Work Day, 2017

I’m writing a lot about my family these days, and it’s tough to reckon all I think I know with what the actual facts are, once I dive in deep and really remember. I’ve been digging through photos and old diaries, and I also spoke with my older brother at length about what he remembers from his vantage point–growing up away from our father, in Israel, with his mother and the family she built afterward. Digging into my childhood has been hilarious and sad and lonely and brings up so much embarrassment. I can’t believe I complained to my mother about serving hamburgers for breakfast once, when that was all we had.

I sat my grimy, stinky, overcaffeienated self down and worked through the weekend because Grace was with her dad and I said no to all the fun things that kept coming my way. I got up about 100 times to make tea, to eat snacks, to convince the laziest dog in the world she needed another walk. When I got to a particularly tough point in the story, I got my dad. Not my actual dad. He died 14 years ago today. I took his late-70s author photo off the wall, slid the detritus of my desk onto my kid’s desk, and asked Dad to stay. Asked him to help. For such a wildly imperfect parent (and really, aren’t we all?), he is the person who has loved me the most in my entire life. I’m done trying to replicate that in any way. I’m trying to take love on its own merits now, and that seems to be working.

Dad wasn’t around for so many powerful moments after he died: my moving to L.A., getting pregnant and un-pregnant, marrying, my becoming a mom to Grace, divorce, work, that I got a tattoo for him, and some big news I’m about to spill but can’t yet. He would have been the first phone call for all of those.

This seems as good a time as any to say thank you, Dad. Thanks for still being here, somewhere.

Vanessa McGradyHi, Ghost Dad

Why. Is. This. Happening. Still.

I’m choking on this rape culture story today. I don’t understand the veil of protection around this sick creature who sits around in his XXL tidy whities, systemically burning our country to the ground. I don’t understand why a Hollywood mogul comes down and why the President (not my president, and really, technically, probably not anyone’s, because Russia won the election) stays in power. I guess the same reason why countless others before him — Michael Jackson comes to mind immediately, as does Woody Allen — get off free, hardly blemished. The fans and the money have spoken untruth to power. We love who we love. I mean, I get that if sexual assault to any degree hasn’t happened to you or someone you know you’re more likely to brush it off.

I don’t know how to make you have compassion and empathy around this. I don’t know how to make you want to nip this in the bud with the messages you might field around your co-workers, children, spouses, friends, strangers that somehow make it OK for a charming groper/rapist to get through the day like this.

Guys, please don’t let this fly, even if you’re not participating. Don’t encourage a rape-culture joke. It’s every time you laugh at someone’s crappy sexist thing they say. It’s every time you make your kid hug someone. It’s every time you interrupt a woman in a meeting, or see that happen. Call it out, every time. It’s called #microbullshit. Do you understand that words create culture? Belief, culture, normalization does not come in the form of a great tidal wave. It’s drop by drop, it’s particles that make waves. Rock the boat when you see it happening. Rock it hard until that other motherf***er falls out.

P.S. We keep track. We know who is with us and who is not. This is your official notice to step the hell up.

 

Vanessa McGradyWhy. Is. This. Happening. Still.

Need Some #ExtraLove? See You Sunday

Well, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to make people safer or more decent, or to dry tears or comfort strangers or give life back to the dead. The only thing I know how to do, really, is this.

The next edition of #ExtraLove will be Sunday, Oct. 8 in Griffith Park. We’ll have 300 blank wooden hearts that we’ll decorate and give out to anyone who wants one. If you want to give #ExtraLove, come join us. If you feel like you need #ExtraLove, come get a heart and take it home to remind you that you are not alone.

DATE: Sunday, Oct. 8

TIME: 11 a.m. until all the hearts or people are gone

PLACE: Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

IF YOU WANT TO HELP: Bring art supplies, stickers, stamps & ink, and anything you’d like to decorate hearts. We’ll also have a lot of stuff on hand. Also, we’d welcome extra blank hearts if you have them–they can be wood, cardboard, foam, paper, or whatever media you want.

Feel free to start your own #ExtraLove event wherever you are — just tag it on social media so we can wave hi. 

Vanessa McGradyNeed Some #ExtraLove? See You Sunday

The Intersection of Money, Feminism and Parenting

Photo credit: Flickr @pagedooley

I loved being on this podcast hosted by Minki Jung. We talk about money, feminism, parenting, and why it’s critical for women to earn their own. Thank you for inviting me, Minki!

“I am grateful and because I think it all coexists. I have been the girl who was scraping the bottom of my change jar to figure out what to eat. I have been that girl who had bills piled up. I have been the girl who tried and tried and tried to get a job, and just couldn’t get anyone. I’ve been that girl, and so I do feel fortunate now. I don’t always know how it’s going to come. I don’t know from month to month. Everybody could decide maybe they don’t need me for work. That could happen tomorrow, but I am so profoundly grateful that I still get those calls, I still get those assignments. I still have people who want to work with me. I don’t take it for granted because I’m not so proud that I would never go back to waiting tables, but it would definitely make taking care of my daughter more difficult.

I found the balance for myself. I’m not saying that I could never live any other way because I feel like you always have to have a Plan B, and probably a Plan C and D as well. For now, this is what’s working and I’m very grateful that it is working for me.”

 

 

Vanessa McGradyThe Intersection of Money, Feminism and Parenting

Today The Revolution Begins

 

Good question.

Good question.

We had a few hours to kill in Salt Lake City on Monday, after skiing and before the airport. Fiddling with the radio in the tiniest rental car ever invented, a rock station cut out from its playlist for an excerpt from a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech. We parked and stopped, and just listened. Listened to words so acutely necessary as the Civil Rights movement was in full throttle. Listened to words of love and hope and strength. Listened to words that defined our humanity as Americans.

It was nearly impossible for me to comprehend that today, more than 50 years later, we still need those words to lift and protect our marginalized brothers, sisters and gender-fluid souls. In that cold Utah parking garage, in the tiniest rental car ever invented, with the most patient boyfriend holding my hand, the tears came. I sniffled and sobbed and wondered why, why, why it is taking so long to get to the Dream. At this point it is not ignorance that fuels racism, that rolls back protections for our most vulnerable populations, that disappears the work of so many on climate change. It is simply hate. And that is hard to grock.

Today, a few hours after the 45th president — not MY president — stole the oath of office, I went to see the CBS Diversity Showcase, where my great friend and soul sister Nikki had been a contributing writer. The cast was a group of talented, diverse young actors who made us roar, hard. It was necessary medicine of laughter and hope and the idea that we will pull through. We will not get what we want by knocking politely at the front door, but we will come in through the attic window, slip in through the back, creep up from the basement. And yes, we will probably end up kicking down the front door.

When you take away human rights, you awaken a giant of a million heads. This is how revolutions are born.

We are coming for you. I hope you like pink hats. I’ve got lots more material.

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Vanessa McGradyToday The Revolution Begins

#ExtraLove

Vanessa McGrady#ExtraLove

Some Days

 

September can officially go eff itself. My already pulpy, bruised heart was further pummeled with the loss of a dear friend last week. I’m thinking a lot about how I can be a better person in whatever time I have left. Fifty more years? Five more days? Who knows.

Every day, I try to be more patient, more kind, more thoughtful. A better person. Sometimes I succeed, but a lot of times I fail.

Grace has been pretty solid on kindergarten drop-offs in the six weeks since she started school, but today something snapped. We said goodbye as usual, I started walking away from the school gate, and then heard a wail behind me. I turned around to see her skinny frame running toward me, gold curls bouncing, face pink and wet from crying. She didn’t want to let me go. I hadn’t realized that a final wave had become part of our goodbye ritual, in addition to a hug, kiss, and happy thought. I didn’t wave.

We sat on the school steps for a while and held hands. I tried to talk about what a fun day she would have, and remind her that she’s getting an award tomorrow for being awesome. Her tears dried. She was a little whimpery the second time around at the gate, but she slid through right as it was closing. A kind, tall teacher held her hand and walked her to where her class had gathered in the yard. Once in class, her teacher saw that she’d been crying and gave her some water.

And then I picked her up early so she could play in the park, but mostly what she wanted to do was sit on my lap and ride on my shoulders. Fine with me.

Today I did not fail.

Vanessa McGradySome Days