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

When Moms Get Mad

 

mmaI’m tired of mommy wars and don’t participate. However. Sometimes something gets you so hard in the gut that you need to punch your way out. Here’s my response to Phyllis Schafley’s equally conservative and hypocritical niece, who is trying to basically set women back 60 years, as she’s thumbing her nose at everyone who is not a very white, very wealthy, very stay-at-home mom in the style of herself.

Vanessa McGradyWhen Moms Get Mad

We Do Not Fail

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When I used to work in offices, I had this inspirational quote hung over my desk. It reads, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I’d look at it every now and then and think about my parallel universes a lot: The one in which I lived on a farm in Vermont and made pottery. The one in which I have an Oregon bed and breakfast. Going back to acting or singing or learning to play guitar.

I did make that leap from my dank little cubicle life to full-time freelancing from home two+ years ago, and I am 1,000 times happier. I guess that was a risk I took and didn’t fail, at least not yet.

The other night, my daughter, Grace, found the plaque and asked me to read it to her. She held it up in her hands. “We don’t fail. We don’t need this,” she said, and marched it over to the trash can.

This was the precise moment when I started learning something from my child, in a solid, measurable, tangible way.

Yesterday, I was getting ready to send the three chapters of my memoir to my agent. She needs them to sell the book. This was the fourth or maybe fifth pass at this, I don’t know, I’ve lost count. I’d thought I was done at the end of February, but then my readers–the people in my life I trust most, whose opinion perhaps is even more influential than my own–came back and told me it wasn’t ready. I cried for two days solid. And then I got back to work, waking up at 6 a.m. every day to flesh out the bony parts of the manuscript, to make it better, more solid. I just let it take its own path and stopped thinking about what everyone else wanted and more about what the book should be.

I had a final reader lined up, but he was busy with a new baby and a trip to Asia, so I excused him.

I took one final pass at my words, and realized it’s just not going to get any better. I’ve done all I could.

If I send it, and if it’s not good, I don’t know what the next step is. I would no longer be in the dreamy limbo of “writing a book,” but instead, “wrote a book and it didn’t work out.”

I hovered over the email and kept finding things to do instead of sending it. Laundry, tea, dog walk. I thought of all the reasons I shouldn’t send it at all. And then, I remembered what Grace said. “We don’t fail.”

We don’t fail. I hit send.

God, you can keep the confidence of a mediocre white man and please grant me the confidence of a magical, kick-ass, gives zero f***s 4-year-old.

Vanessa McGradyWe Do Not Fail
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A Story of Microfeminsm in Five Parts

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Microbullshit Stops Here, And It Stops Now: A Story of MicroFeminism In Five Parts

A tsunami may be less than a foot (30 centimeters) in height on the surface of the open ocean, which is why they are not noticed by sailors. But the powerful shock wave of energy travels rapidly through the ocean as fast as a commercial jet.”National Geographic News

I wrote a piece in Jezebel that’s gone viral about the tiny sexist particles I’m calling “microbullshit” that add up to a major cultural norm, and how I’m trying to create a different experience of girlhood for my daughter than I had. I’ve gotten more love than I expected for it, plenty of weirdness, and of course, the haters (I was harshly accused of being vegan and gluten-free by someone in the comments. Um.) In one part of the story I called to disappear a book from the library that showed Wonder Woman pushing a child in a swing, while all the other heroes were moving buildings and saving cities. The thing I should have made more clear in this is: I made my first half of my career defending the First Amendment when I worked for a controversial publishing house. In no way do I condone massive book burnings or the squelching of ideas. Rather, I’d was hoping the librarian I mentioned would consider this particular book as she would an outdated history book, say, that had incorrect information about science, slavery, civil rights, women’s rights, etc. Not burn it out of rage, but set it aside to make room for more current reality.

Here’s the story.

Vanessa McGradyA Story of Microfeminsm in Five Parts

Better Living Through David Bowie, or, How I Became My Own Hero

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I’d checked Facebook one last time before I went to sleep, and learned the terrible news. I was flooded with an incomprehensible sadness, an orphaning of sorts. I tossed and turned, trying to explain to myself why the loss of David Bowie meant so much to me personally–I hadn’t been any kind of uberfan. My brain wouldn’t let me sleep until I’d written it all down. Read my story in BUST.

 

 

Vanessa McGradyBetter Living Through David Bowie, or, How I Became My Own Hero