Wait for It

Part 1: And if you don't know, now you know...

I need to get this out of the way: I love Hamilton. Well, at least I love what I've heard of the soundtrack over and over and of reading Hamilton: The Revolution. Every time I encounter these songs I'm struck by their genius: the lyrics, the music, the casting of many actors in two complimentary roles, the fact this is a compelling Broadway musical based on Colonial history. When I finally see it on stage I'll probably be internally screaming or maybe externally, depending on how many drinks I had (one, it'll just take one).

One of the beautiful things about encountering something over and over is that you start to notice things you might not with just one encounter. Not too long ago I realized a pattern that often happens in musicals with me: I like the men's songs better (except for Wicked and Hairspray). It occurred to me while standing in my home alone belting out some King George lyrics ("...what was it? '85? That poor man they're going to eat him alive..."). Why do I gravitate to the men's songs more than the women's? I can't remember if it was Trey or I who came to the, now obvious, realization that all the women's songs in Hamilton are about men. Yes, "The Schuyler Sisters" has some empowered lines:

I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine
So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane
You want a revolution? I want a revelation
So listen to my declaration:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident
That all men are created equal”

And when I meet Thomas Jefferson...I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel!

Let me sum up:

"The Schuyler Sisters" - It's great to be in NYC right now. We're looking for men with good minds.
"Helpless" - Love at first sight. I've got to marry this guy.
"Satisfied" - Crap, I shouldn't have let my sister have that guy. I'm going to regret this night the rest of my life.
"That Would Be Enough" - Stay with me instead of going to war, am I not enough?
"Take a Break" - You're working too hard come hang out with my family and sister who totally has a crush on you.
"Say No To This" - Have an affair, it'll be fun!
"Burn" - You..you..you. I'm burning all the letters you ever wrote to me, I'm not publicly speaking about your affair (props, that was her own business), and you're sleeping in your office.
"Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story" - I did all of these things for you for the next 50 years of my life (This is one of my favorite songs. Where's Eliza's musical?).

I know the show is about Hamilton. Hamilton had several ladies in his life. I can't help but feel disappointment that this is the window they're viewed in. Hamilton is a big deal. While our girls do have a rapping Angelica to look up to and an Eliza that spoke out against slavery when half of the country thought the opposite, but what other messages do these songs send our ladies?

 

Part 2: Can I be real a second? 

I feel this annoying knee-jerk reaction to my thoughts expressed above, a fear I'm being "too feminist." I know, right? That's silly, but I've just been culturally trained to have that response. I'm working on not having that reaction, or at least to see the reaction and wave to it as I float away on my magical feminist parade float.

I've also noticed how I felt the need to start the post with "HEY I REALLY LOVE HAMILTON BUT..." Why do I feel like I have to protect myself? It's a mix of fearing people disagreeing with me and me internally feeling really conflicted about how much I love this musical but feel weird about its depiction of women. I'm not asking for a rewrite. If I ever meet Lin-Manuel Miranda I'll probably be speechless or incoherent. I simply see the importance in calling out these things in a popular cultural phenomenon.

If you stand for nothing...what'll you fall for?

 

(Thank you for the courage, Alison)

My Yoga Story

I had first encountered yoga years ago with Wii Fit and it was solely in the interest of doing exercise that didn't make me sweat (which is hilarious now). I took some of the poses off the game into a periodic stretching routine that I could never keep up on a regular basis. I even bought a yoga mat because I was living somewhere with hardwood floors. 

Sometime last year while walking to the public library, I noticed a yoga studio incredibly close to our apartment. A friend had mentioned going to yoga classes before and I had been intrigued but never really wanted to take it further than that. Maybe I should go to a studio and try it out? Both she and Trey were supportive of my decision so off I went.

A Monday near the end of June 2015, I got the nerve to walk over and take a beginner class. I bought a new student pass for $30 of one month of unlimited yoga and kept trying out different teachers and classes. Since then, I've gone to at least 3 classes a week and completely fallen in love with this practice and the place.

I'm now capable of doing things with my body I never though possible. I actually have some upper body strength. I can focus on my breath any time and it has a calming effect. I'm a little more capable of being kind and compassionate to myself (just a little).  I get up at 5am twice a week. For at least 4 hours of my week, I am present with whatever is going on. I try my damnedest to do it out of a yoga class, but it's something I'm working on. I've even gone to meditation fairly regularly over the past two months (and brought Trey with me!). I'm actually considering completing yoga teacher training. It's in my nature to teach, so how could I not feel drawn to teach others the power of being present with the moment and your body? I'm excited about the potential of working yoga into my role as a librarian, especially with programming in an academic library. 

Most importantly, I've recognized yoga is a practice. A practice that helps me see myself and others with more clarity and mindfulness. It's a practice; I'm not perfect at it and I might never be and it's okay.

Namaste. 

Making Kick-Ass Search Terms

As classes have started back, I've found myself more and more mentally exhausted. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I've had people knocking down the door to get instruction sessions! I just haven't felt up to writing lots of original and brilliant blog posts. 

Then I got this fabulous idea: I should just blog about what I'm teaching. 

Today's topic: Making Kick-Ass Search Terms!

Whether you are doings lots of thorough academic research or just randomly research stuff you're interested in, you could benefit from this thinking exercise. 

  1. What's your topic? Say it in as plain English as you need to. 
  2. Pick out only the most important words. If it helps to write it down, circle these precious words.
  3. Separate those precious words with "AND." Ask yourself, "If I find a resource that covers blank AND blank AND blank could that be useful to me?" If the answer is yes then we're on the right track.
  4. Next, try to think of related words or synonyms for your precious words. Wouldn't those also be relevant? Separate those words from their related ones with "OR." 
  5. Combine everything together. If you found a resource that covered all of these words, would it be just what you want? Good! 

    Ex. (video games OR games) AND (learning OR educational OR positive) 

This is helpful because you're not only thinking harder about your topic, but you're also thinking about the wording more critically. Not every resource is going to use the same words for your topic as you, but that doesn't mean it isn't relevant! 

If you look at an academic database, this separation with AND and OR is probably familiar. These words are called "Boolean Operators" and also include NOT. A good way to explain them is via venn diagram. 

AND

AND

Search for "video games" AND "education?" You'll get the overlap in the middle. AND narrows your searches. 

Search for "video games" OR "education?" You'll get EVERYTHING that has to do with both video games and education. Hello information overload!

Search for "video games" NOT "education?" You'll only get stuff back about video games that does not include education.

If this makes sense to you, you're smarter than most college freshmen. Congrats!

While sometime it's a struggle to get them to understand what I'm saying and realize it's important to their studies, that moment when they do realize it is worth the struggle.