Monthly Archives: January 2017

Hairspray and other Revolutionary Texts

Dear Friends,

How are we almost through January? It seems bizarre that 2017 exists at all. We are all excited here to celebrate my son’s 1st birthday at the end of February, so we’re trying to stay focused on that and other positive things. STAY POSITIVE Y’ALL. Protect yourself. Don’t gorge on awful news and retreat. We need you. ❤

I wish I could take my own advice–man, have I been up and down lately. I get manic bursts of energy (WE MUST RESIST!!! FIGHT THE POWER!!! CALL MY SENATOR!!! TAKE TO THE STREETS!) and then I feel awful, like the world is not safe for my son. It’s hard, y’all. I know you know it’s hard.

I take heart in the HEROES that are all around us. Like the National Park rangers who have gone rogue, tweeted climate change facts in defiance of a Presidential gag order, and inspired so many other agencies to do the same. Good job, park rangers. You are amazing and inspiring!!

I take enormous amounts of heart in all of the super lawyers who dropped everything and ran to airports to help those detained. My friends Kayleen Hartman, Cindy Heidelberg, Bill Murray, and Chas Carey were among them and they are all rockstars. I feel truly lucky to know so many awesome lawyers. We get a bad rap–but when things get rough, we are there with legal pads and big words to FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT. I think my feelings are best summed up by a meme created by my friend JR (another super lawyer):




So those people are my Heroes of the Week. I’m going to make this a regular thing–Heroes of the Week! Let me know if there’s someone who should be featured here.


Have y’all signed up for It Starts Today yet? It is a super-positive, forward-thinking effort for the Dems to take back seats in 2018. I’ve thought long and hard about it, and this seems like the thing to throw my weight behind. Removing Trump will be difficult. Pence would arguably be worse. If we can’t have the presidency back until 2020, we can at least make it harder for the president to do things while he is in office.

I’ve heard a lot of people say “but my contribution isn’t enough, it’s so little, it won’t matter.” I know the feeling! But the ACLU has raised $24 MILLION dollars since Saturday. A lot of people donating little bits can make a huge difference. The plan is simple–It Starts Today asks for just $4.68 a month (the number of seats up for grabs), which it will divide between all of the Democrats running in 2018. That’s it. Pour money into every Democrat’s campaign to stop Trump’s agenda. If you did it right now, your total contribution would be less than 100 bucks. One time in law school, a group of friends and I talked about pooling our money to buy a pirate ship that was listed on craigslist. None of us had enough on our own, but together we could do it. This is like that idea, but way better. (We did not buy the pirate ship. I regret that. But you will not regret signing up to donate for It Starts Today!!)

Y’all didn’t come here just for politics talk, I know, so let’s talk HAIRSPRAY. Since I have a small child, I didn’t get a chance to watch Hairspray, Live! until this week. And boy, have I got a lot to say! I’ll do it bullet point style, like my Harry Potter series thoughts.

  • WHY IS BLAINE HERE IF HE’S NOT SINGING?? That is a serious miscarriage of justice. Darren Criss, aka Blaine from Glee, would have made a great Link (or even Corny Collins), and instead he’s the emcee. Boo.
  • Tracy has a winning smile. She’s totally out of breath and can’t keep up with the opening number, but she seems so darn happy that I give in. She can stay.
  • Harvey Fierstein has been doing this role for over a decade and he seems just pleased as punch to be doing it still. Way to not phone it in, Harvey! You are lovely.
  • I’m happy to see Andrea Martin, as always, but she’s wasted as Mrs. Pingleton.
  • I don’t really like Ariana Grande because I generally distrust very tiny talented people, but she’s doing well. I don’t love her, but she’s not a disgrace to the role (cough, cough, Julianne Hough in Grease Live, cough cough.)
  • IT’S SPONSORED BY OREOS AND REDDI WHIP? That seems a bit on the nose.
  • I don’t like Derek Hough and I don’t think he’s cute and I was totally confused as to why he got cast, but my husband walked through the room during “Nicest Kids in Town” and said “oh, that guy’s good,” apropos of nothing, so I guess he holds some appeal. I think he and his sister are like matching Barbie and Ken dolls–perfectly made and plastic and hollow.
  • I think Velma Von Tussle may be the role Kristen Chenoweth was born to play. She’s not quite mean enough, but man does she nail the crazy. And she looks absolutely perfect. I could watch her all day.
  • Amber is super mean! I buy her as a villain. She seems to really relish being a total bitch. Good acting there, dear.
  • Hoo boy, Link Larkin. I love this kid (he’s in Teen Beach Movie, an unironic love of mine) but Matthew Morrison, he is not. Cute face, great dancer, but not quite up to snuff vocally.
  • I’ll admit it–Welcome to the 60s made me cry. I think it’s such a throwaway number usually, but Harvey and little Tracy sold it. The joy of feeling like finally, you’ve found somewhere you belong was totally captured in their performance. They looked so beautiful in their fancy clothes after all their drab outfits. I wish that for everyone. I want every person I know to have a moment where they feel like they are wanted, they are important, and they look absolutely amazing.
  • This show felt uncomfortably political right now. I know I’m hyper-sensitive, but the racial tensions in the show seemed extra tight. There are racists out there who don’t want to see black people on TV. They don’t want to see blacks and whites dancing together. It’s not history. It’s right now. When I first saw this show in 2002, I felt relief that we had come so far with racism, and now we just had to battle homophobia. What a privileged and naive girl I was! I know so much more now about how much hate is in the world, and I’m sad about that.
  • I’m also really angry, come to think about it, about all of the people who voted for Trump and then enjoyed this show. I want to tell them that they don’t deserve this, that this entertainment is not for them because they are against its message. I know it’s not fair to stereotype and that hate only breeds more hate, but while watching the scenes in Motormouth Mabel’s record store, I was filled with nasty thoughts. I hate that so much art is full of love, love, love, and peace and that people who do not believe in those concepts still feel like they get to enjoy that art. It just makes me really sad.
  • Jennifer Hudson is fantastic. Although, I was sad to hear her sing “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful,” as she is not big at all. She spent so much time trying to whittle herself down to a little slip of nothing, and it really struck a discordant note in this musical all about acceptance to see someone who’s struggled so publicly with her weight. I’m not saying people shouldn’t lose weight! I’m just saying during this number, I was sorry that she felt she had to. She was gorgeous before, and is still gorgeous now.
  • “You’re Timeless to Me” is one of my favorite love songs in musical theater. It always makes me smile. Here are these old ugly, fat people who nevertheless have the audacity to love each other. And out of their love, they have raised a brilliant and loving girl who makes the whole world better. It’s a sweet statement that always brings happy tears to my eyes.
  • I didn’t miss “Welcome to the big Dollhouse,” it turns out.
  • “I Know Where I’ve Been” made me absolutely sob. I noticed much of the cast crying, too. It seemed extra poignant and powerful, and of course Jennifer Hudson’s voice is like an angel. This song is the reason why I went to law school. I felt, the first time that I heard it, that I was being called to fight for LGBT rights so that one day there could be a musical where we sang about how absurd it was that once, gays could not marry. Well, now they can, and black people are still fighting for so much (as is the LGBT population, don’t get me wrong.) The world is much more complicated then it  seemed to me in 2002, but I’m still fighting for what’s right. I’m not doing it the way I thought I would be then, but I have never stopped fighting. I allowed myself a tiny moment of pride as I reflected on my journey, then gratitude for everyone who helped me get there and all of the privilege I have. It was a lot to process during the course of the song, but fortunately it’s a long song 🙂
  • The end is just a big love fest. If you’re not smiling during “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” you don’t have a pulse. I just loved it all so much.

It wasn’t perfect. It didn’t really bring anything new to the show. But it made me cry and it made me smile during a time I really needed both. So bravo, cast of Hairspray Live! Thanks for making art.


I’ve prattled on for far too long. Thanks for reading! Take care of each other. Take care of yourselves. Check next week–should have the book tour finalized by then!






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New Year, New Plans!

Hello Everyone!!

It’s time to dust off the cobwebs and get back to work! Lots of stuff happening around here (part of the reason I’ve been blog-less for so long)–here are some highlights:

  1. Pirate Women is coming to a city near you! I will be going on a book tour this spring. Stay tuned to this site for details–I’ll add dates as I confirm them.
  2. I am hard at work on a new book! Or two! My wacky goal (supported by my wonderful agent) is to use the gaps in time in the nonfiction writing process (and there are many) to work on a fiction book! I am dying to get into MG fiction, and I have an excellent story cooked up. My non-fiction is going to be about the Victorian era. Again, more details as they become available, but you will be (hopefully) seeing much more of me on a bookshelf near you.
  3.  Books Banish Bullying received 175 books during the Christmas drive! And is officially incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is the first step to becoming a 501(c)3. So, BBB is still alive and well also! (I said there was a lot going on, didn’t I?)

So that’s the good news. Now, let’s address the orange elephant in the room. Man oh man, are things bad out there! As a relentless optimist, I had been of the opinion that he couldn’t possibly be able to enforce most of the things he said, that he won’t be as bad as he said he’d be. (Not that I doubted his badness, I just hoped that it wasn’t as bad as I feared.) It seems like it is, in fact, as bad as we all feared. I don’t want or need to dwell on just how bad it is. If you’re reading this, you probably know. So let’s accept that this nightmare is real, and then link arms and move forward. Fear not! It’s time for action!!

I read an article that said something like “everyone go run for office. It’s now demonstrably true that you need no qualifications in order to do so.” So, let’s seize this upside down world and do some good. *

The internet has been positively flooded with lists of things that you can do. That is a good thing! I’ve also seen comments like “there’s too many choices where do I start I’m too afraid and paralyzed by indecision,” which is not good. So I offer two options that I am doing, to help you dip your toe in if you’re not sure what to do. This is just my opinion–you do you.

  1. Donate to It Starts Today. My super-smart friend started this–it’s a PAC that will divide money equally between all the Dem seats up in 2018. There are 468 races, so monthly donations are in multiples of $4.68. Just click to auto-donate monthly and Jon will do the rest. Guys, this is the easiest thing ever. And it will work! You won’t get spammed with emails, you don’t have to call anyone or do anything, just click a few times and donate. There are 21 months til the midterms, so if you start now, you will donate less than 100 bucks by the end. That’s not much! That’s a fancy dinner for two downtown without any drinks! This is a super minimal commitment and it will make a big difference. What if every person of the 3 million who took to the streets this weekend donated? Think of all that moolah! And that money will be used to make sure that the House and Senate go blue in 2018. That’s less than two years from now. Think of how much less Trump could get done without Congress rubber-stamping his every wish. We saw how tough a GOP Congress made things for Obama–we owe Trump the same courtesy. So what are you waiting for? Go now! Do it! Thanks.

2. Calling my reps. It’s a pain. I get it. You wonder if it works. I know. I feel the same way. You’re talking to someone who orders pizza online because I hate talking to strangers on the phone. But I’ve set aside Thursdays during Teddy’s nap to make calls. When I see something gross during the week, I add it to a list on my phone. Then I call Sen. Kaine, Sen. Warner, and Rep. Goodlatte and tell them what’s on my list. I keep it short, clear, and tell them how I expect them to vote. Like, “Vote No on Devos. She doesn’t care about public education and is harmful to America’s children. Vote no.” It’s therapeutic, listing my grievances to someone who has to listen. It takes four minutes, tops. And it will work.

As my brilliant best friend said, “if a kid is home alone and knows that his parents will not be checking in on him, what motivation does he have to follow the rules?” We need to let Congress know, in no uncertain terms, that we are checking in. And we expect them to behave. I think that this is the most effective tool we have in our arsenal–annoy them with telephone calls. Make them hear you. If you want to do this but are scared, email me! I will talk you through what to expect. I will text you encouragement and then send you high-five emoji afterward. If you need help, ask me. You can do this. I know you can.


That’s what I’m doing once a week. You don’t have to do what I’m doing! It’s important to do SOMETHING, anything at all. Just fight back. Don’t stop fighting back. There are so many ways to get discouraged, to give up, to give in. I’ve felt a lot of them these past two weeks. People will always say you’re not doing enough, you’re not doing it the right way, you are doing it too late, and you’re just plain wrong. For the most part, ignore them. Don’t be thoughtless, but trust yourself. Just don’t give up. We can fight back. The Women’s March was a revelation. It gave me (and so many) hope. Let’s use that hope and stay plugged in, keep slogging through the shit. Victories will be slow, small, and thankless. But the alternative–just lying back and taking it–is unthinkable. You are not alone in this fight. We can do this for four years.


Tune in next week for a much lighter subject–book and movie reviews! I read a really great book that I want to share with everyone and I’ve gotten some requests for my long-overdue thoughts on Hairspray, Live! So be good to yourself and each other, friends, until next week.



*I totally get that many are still in the mourning stage. My personal brand of LET’S GET TO WORK Y’ALL is obviously not for everyone! And burnout is a real thing. So take care of yourself. Make sure to allot plenty of time for YOU. But when and if you are ready, and you feel able to join the fight, we will be waiting for you!


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