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Hamilton -The Revolution – Lin-Manual Miranda and Jermey McCarter

26200563.jpgI am not going to review this like one of my usual reviews. I am just going to do a quick take on what I thought about it and how it helped enhance the musical. (And also made me want to see it again!)

I had no idea this book existed until my brother’s boyfriend bought it for him for his birthday. He bought it before we saw the musical and as soon as the curtain fell, I knew I had to read this. I adored the play, thought it was enthralling, new and a pure work of genius.

This book goes into how the whole thing came about and the process that was taken to create this work of art. I loved how the book dove into certain sections which then related back to a song or a handful of songs. This way of tying it all together was perfect. You felt like you were there in the process.

I have a new appreciation for some of the songs, an appreciation I didn’t have before. I now understand the thought process and time that went into each song; the lyrics, the composition and the drafting process. It amazed me how many drafts there were, how it was constantly changing up until the last minute.

I also really liked how it reflected on the history of hip-hop and how the musical has opened up a new avenue for this type of music on broadway. I am not the biggest fan of hip-hop but the way these songs tell the story and connect you to the story are fantastic. Reading about the influences and how Lin-Manual Miranda used his favorites to help build this work, was great.

I also really enjoyed the way this reflected on the life of not only Hamilton but Burr. When I saw the production I came away realizing this was not just a story about Hamilton’s life but about everyone who touched his life. This book shed even more light on Burr and his tragic story. I do not see him as a villain, just a lost man.

The notes next to the songs were great. I read through the songs I have nearly memorized and learned so much about how they were created. While I am didn’t follow all the musical talk, I still understood the impact of certain elements.

Lin’s commentary was also witty and fun. You can feel his personality shine through. I loved the jokes and there were even a few Harry Potter references which were great.

All in all this book gave me an even greater appreciation for this musical. I knew it was a tough thing to write. I knew he took years to complete it but this showed just how much time, effort and thought went into this project. It just shows that sometimes things take years to complete but if you work at it and work hard, in the end it will all be worth it.

Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly – Review

30840370I am going to stray from my normal review format for this book. I don’t think this type of book can be spoken about the same way I talk about fiction books. I think this book doesn’t deserve to be broken down into what I thought worked and what didn’t. That isn’t the type of book this is, this is about real lives and real events that unfortunately history has not shown to us.

I have been interested in the story of these women since the movie came out. I have not seen the movie yet, thought I do plan on it sooner or later. I always wanted to read the book first though. I am someone who wants the depth the book can give me over the movie.

This was a fascinating story. I know there are plenty of stories in history that we aren’t provided in school. We get the same handful of stories and the same look at events over and over again. I have always wanted to read more about those who stories have not made it into text books.

I fell into this book quite easily. I was enthralled by the lives of each of these women. Dorthy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were not only women struggling in a man’s world workplace but they were also African American at the height of Jim Crow era laws. Everything was against them yet they stood up and found a way to not only make a difference but make a serious impact on the space and aeronautical history of our country.

Their story was inspiring. They took a chance and they fought for what they deserved. They also were hard workers. They didn’t comprise their work because of the position they were placed in. They showed how smart they were. They showed the world what it meant to be a strong and hard working woman. They fought against stereotypes given to both women and African Americans.

Katherine Johnson’s story was the one that resonated with me the most. Her tenacity was inspiring. She was someone who did not back down. She knew what she deserved and she fought to be given that. No one was going to put her down and make her feel less because of her gender or race. I wish her story was one I had heard in school because she would have been someone I would have seen as a role model. Her fight and her strength are things to be admired.

I finished this book much quicker than I thought I was going to. I did get a little held back with the descriptions of the aeronautical science aspect. I am not a tech or science savvy person so those pieces made me pause at times. I would be enthralled by the women’s stories but then find myself feeling like I had started reading a foreign language. It helped to know what they were researching and helped me understand how smart these women were. I just am not a science person so that did throw me out of the book a little bit.

I am eager to watch the movie now to see how things compare. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to read inspiring story that has been sitting on the edges of history for much too long.

Have you read the book or seen the movie? What are your thoughts? Do you have any further recommendations for books about women or people that history books have forgotten?

Forward is the Only Direction- Day 17- Writing 101

A/N: Day 17 prompt was to write about a fear or something you are scared of. The twist was to write in a different style then what you are used to. I tried to write in a stream of consciousness type way as well as keeping it personal.

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2I parked the car and glanced at the clock on my dashboard. There was fifteen minutes left until the meeting was supposed to begin. I stared at the little white glowing numbers trying to get my brain to stop racing.

What would they think when I walked in that door? If I went in too early then I would have to interact with someone, maybe? Or I could end up sitting alone, waiting desperately for the meeting to start so I could stop feeling like a three-eyed alien. I bet I am the youngest one there tonight. They are all going to wonder what I am doing there. I am too young to know anything about this. Why is she even here? Does she even know what to do? What has she written that is worthwhile? She isn’t old enough to have anything worthwhile. She has nothing published, why even bother listening to her?

“Dammit, that is enough,” I snapped at myself. I had to stop this incessant sound track that was trying to take over my mind. That damn little voice is always trying to make itself the only thing I hear. I need to stop it in its tracks or else I will never get out of this seat. If I was going to go through with this and meet my goal tonight, I had to not let my habits take over. I needed to completely ease my mind and go in there and see what happens.

It was eight minutes to seven. It was time to leave my car. I opened the door, stopping the song mid sentence. I gathered myself together. I had to stop trying to think of what could happen in this meeting. Right now even trying to think positively was dangerous, my mind would run away from me and that was not acceptable. I just need to go in there with a blank slate.

I knew that I was also battling the side of me that wanted to get into my car and turn around and go home. I could easily open that door back up and drive until I was in my parking lot. Go up to my apartment, curl up on my couch with my purring cat and just be safe. Home was safe, here was potentially dangerous. But here was also an opportunity I could not pass up. I had to show myself and what I could do other people. I can’t be successful hiding behind a closed door, it just wasn’t possible.

I walked up the street, continuously telling myself to remain calm and stop obsessing. I need to put a smile on my face and straighten my back. I have to be open to what is going to happen next; not on guard. I need try to show every who I am. Not show them that scared child that hides in the corner that keeps trying to come out. Yes, I am quiet but I do have a voice and when I use it, it echoes loud and proud.

The meeting starts quickly. I barely have time to take in everyone that surrounds me. I am asked to read first. I read with my eyes never leaving the small black letters before me. All my energy is concentrated on not stumbling over my words and making myself sound like an idiot. I want them to hear the story with the emotion that I intended for it. They need to hear the story without my nervous voice coming through. All my energy goes into reading what I wrote so they can get escape just like I did while writing it.

The critiques are few but good. They are not harsh or angry. They are helpful and are given as opinions not commands or demands. I accept them without saying much in return. I don’t know what to say, still afraid that the wrong words may leave my mouth. I don’t want to sound arrogant or upset or too nonchalant. So I don’t say much but a few “thank you’s” and “I understands.”

The spotlight leaves me and I feel myself relax. My shoulders are no longer taut and my hand has gone down to only slightly trembling. Now it is time for me to listen and add my voice in when necessary.

But as is my habit my voice remains inside me. Look we are talking about blogging, I should open my mouth. I should tell them what I know, how I blog and why I like where I post my pieces. The woman wants the advice, why can’t I give it? Why can’t I just tell them what I know? Why is my opinion not worth as much? At least in my eyes. Because they may ask too many questions and I may run out of answers. Maybe they will think I am being too haughty, or maybe I’ll say something that they will all stare at me for. Am I even blogging the right way?

“Enough!” I silently chide myself. I can’t do that. I can’t let the obsessing over what may happen keep me from finding out what will happen. I have always hid away in this tiny comfort zone, always keeping myself scrunched up in here. This spot is safe and warm and nothing can hurt me here. But also nothing can help me here either. There is nothing left inside this little circle of mine, but old words and dried up thoughts and dreams. It isn’t pleasant in here. But I live here.

I live in this zone because I am terrified. Terrified that when I venture out, putting my toe over the line, that the world will come crashing down on me. Like everyone is a dragon waiting for me to cross that boundary and they will swoop down and consume me. They will throw negative thought after negative thought at me. Or I will make a bad impression and they will never forget it. Or I won’t make an impression and I will cease to exist to them. I will remain invisible as always. That is what is outside that comfort zone, at least in my head.

I tried for years to deal on my own. I would jump over the line and then slink back in because it was all too much. My imagination would take off creating all these horrendous scenarios and I would just curl up into a ball and refuse to move. If I didn’t move then those scenarios were dead in the water. It wasn’t working.

So I made a decision, I needed to find someone to help me. My family is great but they don’t understand. I needed someone who could try to give me tips and advice and ways to work with the fear. I found a therapist to talk to and quickly realized that I knew what I was doing was absurd.
No, people weren’t going to attack me as soon as I opened my mouth. And if they did, I didn’t need them. Yes, this introduction or that interaction might go wrong but I can walk away. I can walk away and my life is not over. The chances of that one person having a hugely detrimental effect on my life from this point onwards because of one dumb thing I said is very very small. I know all this, I know I am being too hard on myself. I know I am obsessing and I need to stop. Now I am learning how to do just that.

This was a big step for me. Not only did I actually walk into this meeting but I shared apart of myself with them. Did they get the best impression of me? No, they saw the quiet woman who is still living mostly in shadows but the important thing is they saw me. I let them see me and next time I will let them see a bit more.

I will never be the one who can go around a room and chat with everyone that is there. I will never be the one to jump at the chance to talk to a stranger. But I am slowly learning to not fear those unknowns. Yes, it can go bad and Yes, it can go well. But I will never know until I actually try.
Next time I will offer my opinion on a subject, even just a few words. It will be one more step forward. And for now on, forward is the only direction I am going to bother trying to go in

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