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a hamiltonian history

Last April, I made a small but fateful decision in a grocery store line: I bought a copy of the Hamilton soundtrack.

For the first time ever, history came alive to me. It came so alive, I decided to read the biography that inspired the musical, Ron Chernow’s Hamilton.

“Oh, Deefy. You take such silly pictures.” — my husband, today

What I read fairly well stunned me. Sold, somehow, on the notion that history was a linear progression toward the betterment of humankind, I discovered instead that Americans today are having the same fights that our forebears did two hundred years ago. That those fights were extensions of fights that had been held elsewhere for decades to centuries prior.

While the state of technology has progressed, I saw that the state of the States … hadn’t, in fundamental ways.

I’d been a lifelong Democrat when I picked up that musical in the grocery store line. Democratic officials cared for the little guy, I thought, while Republican officials cared about the little fraction of the population that could fund grotesque, human-crushing legislation. That was pretty much my entire understanding of politics before I heard and then read Hamilton. Read more…

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my island

Last weekend,
I wrote about how much
(and why) I love
the movie
Moana

Yesterday,
I bought
the soundtrack
for commute
brightening
purposes,
but:

The best
part of yesterday,
easily, was the Moana
bedtime dance party
I had with my three-year-old

On a 4×6 rug,
we went
away, away,
laughing and
twirling
together;

on our own little
rug-island
in space and time;

Like Moana and her
(granted, fictional) villagers,
having been there once,
I will now, always
be able to find
my way
back
(home)

Categories: Movies, Music, Parenting Tags: , , ,

A heart cracked open

“It’s not about money. It is about compassion,” said a local city council member at a meeting earlier this week. He spoke with such poise and kindness, I  deeply felt the broader truth behind his statement on a local measure.

Over and over since, I’ve come back to his words: It is about compassion. 

Each time I roll them over on my lips and in my heart, I understand better how much everything is about compassion.

Seeing how little is presented around me these days, I’m trying to find ways to show it more in my own life. I feel it often, to be sure, but quiet, held-in compassion does little for someone who yearns to be overtly recognized as human.

This morning, I heard something so overflowing with powerful compassion that I began sobbing. How rare it is to hear something so raw so boldly presented! How wondrous to hear a world in a shaking voice and to understand how compassion connects and strengthens us!

If you’d like your heart to be cracked right open and hear the goodness in compassion (and pain, and solidarity) expressed, please go here. Scroll to 52:40 in “Orange is the New Anti-Black” and listen to the minute of preface explaining why Jeremy Scahill included Kimya Dawson’s “At the Seams” in today’s podcast.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” — Leonard Cohen

Categories: Music, Reflections Tags: ,

Music, the opposite of noise

I’ve recently learned the difference between noise and music.

“Noise” is something I experience almost every waking moment of every day. While some of it is auditory, my other senses are constantly bombarded as well: by motion and color, by fragrances sweet or repugnant, by the shuffle of objects and children around me.

Once upon a time, my ancestors knew primarily those noises native to their environments and clans. Their senses got glorious breaks I can barely even fathom today, in a world where I am reachable at all hours by text message, phone call, email, and snail mail … before I’ve even reached my office, with its own messaging, phone, email, and snail mail beacons.

I know noise intimately these days, but I only recently became acquainted with its opposite: music.

 

The day I bought a copy of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, I also bought a book about Aaron Burr. I read a few pages at home. I was taken aback by the book’s aggressive tone, and so set it aside in favor of reading Alexander Hamilton.

"Oh, Deefy. You take such silly pictures." -- my husband, today

Read more…

Categories: Books, history, Music Tags: , , , ,

what song tomorrow

Prescribing Joy

I’ve listened to the Hamilton soundtrack almost non-stop for the last month and a half.

As each workday has neared its end, I’ve noticed the time and found myself excited about my long commute. Instead of thinking a string of expletives about my drive, I’ve thought, “It’s almost Hamilton time!”

The recording translated a cost to a benefit.

It invigorated me.

image

I met my new doctor early last month.

A couple of weeks after we met, he provided patient instructions incuding the following: “make sure you take time for yourself every day – personal time – to relax/do your favorite activity – even if only for a short period.”

I rejoiced his compassionate instruction, but I was also perplexed: What do I even enjoy anymore?

It had been so long since the question even seemed relevant.

It took me a couple of weeks to realize my heart already recognized the answer my head did not: I enjoy the hell out of Hamilton.

I didn’t bother long with wondering why. In light of my doctor’s prescription, the joy was far more important than its rationale.

For months, I’ve wanted to host another guest post series, but I couldn’t find a topic. That, I found on the freeway about a week ago. Read more…

Wait for It

Same as every other Sunday, my family began our weekly shopping early.

Unlike most Sundays, we first stopped by the bookstore so I could buy a hard copy of Ready Player One (upon multiple recommendations).

On our way to the cash register, my husband, Anthony, pointed out one particular display to me: “Hey, it’s the book that inspired Hamilton.”

If you’d asked me three months ago whether I’d read a book on Alexander Hamilton for fun, I’d have said no, but only after laughing. A lot.

Then, two months ago, one of the bloggers I follow posted links to a couple of songs from a show called Hamilton. I can’t even remember which one I listened to or who posted it (so sorry!/thank you!), but I clicked through to one of the songs and listened. Anthony quickly joined me at my computer and we listened together.

“How have I not heard of this?” I asked him, as if I’ve watched more than a single musical (Wicked) live. Anthony’s the musical lover in this house. Read more…

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