My first Broadway musical: A Hamilton obsession timeline

September 29, 2015
Leonor emails the following to the Postbourgie listserve:

really excited to read this, Rembert!!

September 30, 2015
I reply to Leonor’s thread:

Has anyone seen it? I like musicals in theory but by the second act I’m getting restless and a little bored.

I saw something briefly about whether or not you should listen to the cast recording without seeing the musical. I listened anyway and had the songs stuck in my head.

This was all true. I’ve seen a few musicals at the Pantages in Hollywood. The most popular show was Wicked. I didn’t love it. You think being a band geek I’d love show tunes. Nope. I got a bit of my dad’s anti-musical attitude. He complains that they sing the same song for 20 minutes in The Sound of Music.

But the hype for Hamilton: An American Musical is irresistible. I blame the Postbourgie family and my Twitter feed which are not mutually exclusive.

Early October
During quiet moments at work, I listen to the Original Broadway Cast recording through NPR’s First Listen. I get around to reading the article on Grantland by Rembert Browne. I chat with our admin coordinator and a student worker who are both huge Lin-Manuel Miranda fans.

October 3
I drive students to Syracuse for a conference. One of the students was already a Hamilton fan. She had seen the show at the Public in previews or at the Richard Rodgers on Broadway earlier that summer/fall. She asks if we can play the album on the way home. I agree. She sings to many of the songs and I just follow along because I don’t have anything memorized. One other student riding with us is intrigued when we tell him the writer is Puerto Rican, just like him.

October
I become a little bit obsessed with listening to the album on Spotify, reading the notes on Genius, following Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter, etc. I play the album at home and have dance parties with Xavi.

October 21
I finally buy the Original Broadway Cast album on iTunes because I don’t have enough data on my phone to stream through Spotify all the time. I need full and constant access.

October 24


During a visit to Long Island, we take a trip in to the city. We enter the Hamilton lottery on Saturday. There’s no #ham4ham and it’s super crowded. Neither Sean nor I win, but just being there and seeing Xavi recognize the logo made me excited.

Late October
I consider dressing Xavi up as Daveed Diggs/Thomas Jefferson/Marquis de Lafayette for Halloween. I tweet about it and geek out when Daveed Diggs either likes it or retweets it. (I wish I could find the proof.)

Maybe Thomas Jefferson?

Ultimately, we don’t dress him up as Thomas Jefferson because finding a little purple coat for him proved difficult.

2016
I read more articles. I watch more televised Hamilton events like the cast performing at the White House (March) and the Tony’s (June), which shows the amazing choreography. I listen to podcasts. Another Round kills it with their interviews of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Daveed Diggs. In the summer and fall I start listening to The Room Where It’s Happening: A Hamilton Fan podcast. One of my favorite episodes features Alex Lacamoire, the music supervisor, arranger and orchestrator, discussing the nerdy and technical side of the music. It’s super informative. I admire Code Switch’s take which considers class and racial aspects of both the cast — primarily people of color — and the Broadway audience which is traditionally white and older.

I also try to tamper my jealousy when friends finally get to see the show. It’s a little like being back in graduate school and celebrating your friend’s dissertation defense. While you feel very happy, you’re also jealous and wonder when it’s going to happen for you.

February 14, 2016

April 7, 2016


I find a way to plug a Hamilton song, “That Would Be Enough” in to my pregnancy announcement on social media. Because of course I would.

April 12, 2016

Xavi the Hamiltot

The Hamiltome (or, Hamilton: A Revolution) is released and the copy Sean pre-ordered for my Mother’s Day gift arrives. I hug it. The book becomes part of our bedtime routine later in the spring and summer as Xavi loves looking at the pictures and pointing out Obama.

May 14, 2016

Sean, Xavi and I make another NYC trip. This time we are in Brooklyn for a baby shower for our good friends Derreck and Vanessa. We enter the online lottery again. No luck.  Womp womp.

July 15, 2016

In the Heights at the Hangar Theater

I get  to see a musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda! In the Heights is playing at Ithaca’s Hangar Theater. My colleague organizes a trip for our summer research students and I get to chaperone. Sean stays home with Xavi because we don’t have babysitting. Our old Ithaca babysitter graduated and moved back to NYC.

August 8, 2016
I write about that immense feeling of pride when Xavi starts singing alone to “Dear Theodosia”.

August 29, 2016
Archie is born! I know the possibility of seeing the musical is on hold for a while because priorities. Also, newborns eat ALL. THE. TIME.

August 31, 2016

NYC Hamilton

My birthday present is Hamilton-themed.

November 11, 2016
New tracks are released from the Hamilton Mixtape. Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) makes me feel slightly less dejected in light of the election results. Kelly Clarkson’s version of “It’s Quiet Uptown” is there for me as I’m sad about Papa Chepe passing away.

December 14, 2016

A new mom friends get Archie his very own Hamilton gear in our mom group Secret Santa.

2017

I’m still in to Hamilton but I listen less often. I’ve put aside that I’ll be able to see the show any time soon. The cost, babysitting and needing to consider a baby who needs to eat every few hours are all part of it. Despite being close during our many visits to Long Island, we mainly stay out of Manhattan.

May
The possibility looms that we may be moving not locally. Read: out of New York and somewhere that would require a flight or really long road trip to make it back to NYC. But I have to wait to get news and that looms over all of May and in to early June. As we’re unsure of the future, Sean suggests I finally go see Hamilton.

June
We have weddings on back-to-back weddings in the NJ/NYC area. Sean suggests I go on my own on the day after Jon and Andrea’s wedding, which is on a Friday evening. We won’t have babysitting for Saturday, so it can only be one of us. I check out tickets on StubHub. It’s expensive, but since it’s just me, I’m not that shocked at the sticker price.

Still, it feels selfish and I can’t commit. I’d be going to see a musical Sean also likes during Father’s Day weekend.

June 16
On our way to the wedding we spot the billboards for Hamilton just ahead of the Midtown Tunnel.

Sean brings up the topics again. “Are you going to go see it tomorrow?”

“I don’t know.”

“You should.”

I look up tickets on StubHub again. The prices are similar to what I had seen and soon I’m purchasing one ticket for the rear mezzanine section, right, for Saturday’s matinee. I knew I probably wouldn’t be seeing the current lead, Javier Muñoz in the title role, but that was okay.

We have an amazing time at the wedding and tell our friends we can’t go to the post-wedding brunch because I have important plans.

On the way home after the wedding, we stop by a 24-hour FedEx Kinko’s to print out my electronic ticket. I print two copies just because.

June 17
We make plans in the morning. I’ll take the train shortly after 12 pm and that will allow enough time to get to the Richard Rodgers Theater for the 2:00 pm curtain time.

Shortly after 12, I say goodbye to Xavi and my brother-in-law, Kenton. Archie is fast asleep. Sean drives to the Hicksville Long Island Railroad Station five minutes away. I’ve taken the LIRR to/from Manhattan once. It was the first time I met Sean’s parents about seven years earlier. I ride the LIRR to Penn Station. I check my bag about fifty times to make sure I have the tickets.

At Penn Station I transfer to the A train and wait way too long. I get nervous, but know I gave myself plenty of time. The train is slow arriving, and I probably would’ve made it to Times Square faster if I walked. I make my way through Times Square towards 46th street. Despite the rain I still need to weave around slower tourists. The block or so around the theater is crowded like it was that first time we were there in October 2015. This time it’s easier to get through the crowds since I don’t have Xavi in a stroller. I stop outside the theater and quickly eat the snack I brought along, an apple before going in.

I hold my breath as I wait in line to enter. What if my ticket doesn’t work?

My worries were for naught, it’s all good. I wasn’t swindled. Inside, the lobby is abuzz with theatergoers trying to go to the bathroom or get a snack before the 2:00 pm curtain. I get to my seat about 10 minutes before the 2:00 pm curtain time and had enough time to flip through my Playbill and post the requisite photo to social media. I don’t quote “The Room Where It’s Happening. Cece Peniston’s “Finally” is more fitting.

Hamilton, finally!

As I wait, I look around. The mezzanine is full of people of all ages. Besides me a man sits with his tween-aged daughter.

A few minutes after two the house lights are turned down and the show starts.

It’s absolutely incredible. For the next two and a half hours I laugh, cry (man, do I cry), tap my hands, try not to sing along and just enjoy the most amazing show. I try to catch it all, but there’s so much going on in every corner of the set.

Here’s the thing about Hamilton, I thought I knew the show. But I was all wrong. The cast album has almost every word spoken in the show, but there’s moments that are left out that hit me. Somehow, I hadn’t been spoiled despite all the articles and podcasts. Then there’s the choreography, the lighting, the really cool rotating stage, and excellent use of a sparse stage and props. Seeing new actors in roles that felt familiar was interesting too. Donald Webber, Jr. plays Hamilton. He’s excellent, but I’m thrown off that he doesn’t look like Lin-Manuel or Javier. James Monroe Iglehart plays Lafayette/Jefferson. He’s a bigger guy than Daveed Diggs and he’s bald. But he still has the same swagger. Both Webber and Iglehart are excellent actors and singers and do an amazing job.

Some other thoughts I shared with Leonor who asked me the questions below (I’ve edited to remove “spoilers”):

1. Who was your favorite before and did that change after seeing it?
Lafayette was my favorite before. Brian d’Arcy James as King George was the actor/role I loved so much more after seeing it.

2. Same question, but re: songs?
I love “Satisfied” and was so ready to be amazed by the staging and choreography which I’d heard was incredible. I don’t know if it wasn’t everything, if the woman who played Angelica was no Renee or if I was distracted because an usher was showing a woman to her seat during that song (and the seat was next to me!) or if I just expected something different.

“Dear Theodosia” surprised me and made me love it more. Same with “It’s Quiet Uptown.” It really hits at that point. I had all the tears.

3. Was there anything you were surprised by?
Yes! I was surprised to see more of King George. The comic value and the role as a whole comes through way more than on the cast album. I also didn’t expect for so much to be going on on stage the whole time. I liked the choreography at the end of “Right Hand Man” too.

Hamilton, finally!

It’s a month later and I still feel incredibly lucky and like I need to see it again. Maybe then I’ll be satisfied.

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Adjusting two years later

May and June were a trip. Literally. Early in May, we went to NYC for Eric and Sandrine’s wedding. Sean and Eric grew up together and have been friends since first grade. Naturally, the wedding was full of old friends and tons of fun. A few weeks later we were back in New Jersey for Charlotte and Andy’s wedding. Again, we reunited with many good friends Sean met through and old job and on a football team in NYC.


Finally, on June 16th we attended Andrea and Jon’s wedding in Battery Park Gardens. There were great views of the Statue of Liberty and ferries. And again, more great friends we hadn’t seen in a while. Sean is a popular guy with lots of friends in NYC.

The weddings were all a ton of fun whether we had the boys with us or not, but a few things kept coming up:

a) There were a few friends who didn’t know we no longer lived in LA. This wouldn’t have happened if Sean and I hadn’t taken a hiatus from blogging. Right?

b) We kept having to try and answer the question “So, how do you like Ithaca?” without whining about missing friends and family.

I can deal with snow in April, humidity and rainstorms in the summer and a paucity of decent Mexico food. The distance from family and still not having many friends here makes it hard to say, “We love Ithaca!”

I miss out on a ton in LA. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I have un chingo of tías, tíos and primos. We are close too and in LA there was always something to celebrate (birthdays, anniversaries, baptisms, graduations, etc). Also, I’ve been missing out on the current baby boom despite adding my own 2016 baby. I’ve only met two babies from the 2016-17 crop. There are three I haven’t met. One (my niece!!!) is due in August.

I know I’m not the only one who misses California. Just a few days ago we surprised Xavi with a trip to the Sciencenter. On our way there he kept wanting to know if the surprise place was California where he’d see tía Lori, grandma Luz, grandpa Charlie and some friends. He loves the Sciencenter but I still felt guilty that we can’t take him to California more often. At least Archie is too tiny to unintentionally guilt trip me. I do enough of that when I think of how he hasn’t had the same interaction with grandparents, tías and tíos that Xavi had as a baby.


And then there’s just feeling bummed about our social life. In February, Sean got me the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. He knows me well. I was impressed and happy until I realized that in order to play Selena Lotería I’d need to go to a social activity or have friends over for a game night. And bright red MAC lipstick? I had no occasions at time for getting all fancy. Ni modo.

See?! I told you I was whiny.

But there are perks. We are driving distance to NYC and Long Island. This means that we were able to attend all three weddings for longtime friends. If we lived in LA we wouldn’t have been able to afford the back-to-back trips. Xavi and Archie do have a grandparent and a loving uncle nearby.


There’s a bittersweet silver lining. My father-in-law, Kenton, passed away in January after battling cancer for several years. When we lived in California he was well enough to travel, but that changed in recent years. Being a 5-6 hour road trip away meant we got to see him about once a month and thus he got to spend more time with Xavi and got to meet Archie.

So, I can’t whine but be thankful for the way things work out.

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Why I haven’t given up blogging

Almost all of the runners

A few weeks ago I received an email from a longtime reader. She asked if I was done with blogging.

It was a fair question. I hadn’t updated in over six months. I had slowed down a lot in recent years but never just stopped for that long. Like La Profe Chicana, I had a few reasons for my hiatus. And like her, I’d married a blog reader (hi, Sean!) and now had two children.

Enter one of the reasons for the hiatus. Blogging is work, takes time, can be a technical headache (go away hackers!) and is much less easy to do one-handed while nursing a baby than scrolling through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I’ve also struggled with how to write about my new-ish identity as a mother while also respecting my children’s privacy.

Blogging didn’t always feel like such a chore. It was fun when I first started in the early-mid ’00s, before I ever even read the word (web)blog. I can relate to Xoloitzquintle who blogged a lot while also writing his dissertation. For me, blogging was a nice distraction from academics. I connected with amazing people and over the years have been lucky enough to meet many of them despite being scattered across the country and abroad in some cases. I’ve danced in Tijuana, run in Carlsbad and shopped at a cute store/coffee shop in Little Village.

I got a lot of validation from blogging and the communities I developed. I think I was good at it, and that mattered to a wannabe writer and someone trying to find a foothold in academe. The topics came easier and the technical stuff wasn’t a headache. People still read and commented and that was an incentive to keep posting. Other bloggers’ posts inspired new topics and so on. The community was still there but the blogs were largely inactive, rarely updated.

Now, the community is challenging me to get back to writing at least two times a week. The trial period is July. I’ve already faltered in the first week, but that’s okay. I can make it up.

Nos vemos en los comments.

Second two photos by Oso/David.

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2015 Bookishness in Review

completed

CHALLENGE CHECK-IN

75 books overall. CHECK.

10 books from my bookshelf. I read 7/10 in this category.

24 books fulfilling the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge criteria. CHECK.

6 books meeting the What’s in a Name Challenge criteria: CHECK!

  • -ing Word: Late-Talking Children: A Symptom or a Stage? by Stephen Camarata
  • Color: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
  • Familial relation: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
  • Body of water: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
  • City: Still Water Saints by Alex Espinoza (got creative with this one as the fictional city in the book is Agua Mansa which translates to “still water”)
  • Animal: 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

5 books from NPR’s 100 Must-Reads For Kids 9-14 list: CHECK.

  • A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

52 books from Pop Sugar’s Reading Challenge. CHECK with tons of overlap.

READING STATS

Thanks to Melissa/Feminist Texican for the idea to use infogr.am to organize my reading.

LISTS

Top ten favorite novels (alpha order):
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Still Water Saints by Luis Espinoza
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henríquez
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kawn
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Young adult and middle grade novels:
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson [poetry]

Short story collection:
Night at the Fiestas by Lisa Valdez Quade
We Live in Water by Jess Walter

Non-fiction:
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle
Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar
Late-Talking Children: A Symptom or a Stage? by Stephen Camarata

Memoir or essay:
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Humor:
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Favorite new (to me) authors:
Louise Erdrich
Angela Flournoy (best debut)
Celeste Ng
Roxane Gay

Lived up to the hype:
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Most over-hyped:
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Favorite covers:
All the Light We Cannot See had a neat sheen to the cover and even though I read The Buried Giant in ebook form, I still checked it out at a bookstore and it looked pretty.

Dinnison Doerr

Ishiguro Sloan

Woodson LeeOmalley

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The 11th and 12th months

I figure before the year ends I need to at least wrap up the last few months.

November seemed to go by quickly thanks to travel in the second half. I attended the American Indian Science and Engineering Society national conference in Phoenix for work. My job includes some recruitment for graduate and undergraduate admissions and student group advising. This trip combined those aspects.

DTW is Xavi's new favorite airport.

When I got the travel schedule in the summer I immediately knew I wanted to make this an extended trip since the conference ended a few days before Thanksgiving. I worked it out so Sean and Xavi would come to Phoenix with me and we’d spend the days after the conference in LA. We got our first taste of long travel days from Ithaca to LA. Pro: Xavi loved the Detroit airport in-terminal tram (because trains). Con: including driving to/from the airports the trip from LA to Ithaca was 13 hours.

Looking for a mind at work

The conference itself was a great learning experience and I got to know some of our students better. The university sent 6 students to attend and/or present their research. Personally, it was the first time American Indians have asked me if I was a American Indian or what tribe I was from. It was weird saying “no, I’m not Indian, I’m Mexican,” because the only difference is the border as I’m indigenous to this continent too.

We arrived in Phoenix on Wednesday the 18th. My parents arrived the next morning. They couldn’t wait until we made it to LA after the conference. They did fun stuff like going to the children’s museum a few blocks away while I worked.

Xavi is now a fan of Scottsdale. Got to ride 2 trains, a carousel, go in an actual Pullman car and check out some amazing model trains and cities.

On a free Saturday morning I joined them on a short trip to Scottsdale and the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend visiting not only because it was affordable and not too crowded. Xavi loved it of course because he got to ride big and little trains. I also found it cool to walk through a Pullman car that had once carried U.S. presidents in the first half of the 20th century. I also was a fan of the model railroads. They reminded me of our neighbor, Mr. Dale, who had his own model town and railroad in the garage. These model trains were on a different scale though and included interactive options for kids (e.g., a drive-in theater where you’re the one on the screen). We got there in the middle of their Christmas prep which I imagine must look pretty neat all lit up.

The conference ended on Saturday night and we returned to LA on Sunday morning.

Have trains will travel. Back in the Heights!

It was 80+ degrees in LA, warmer than Phoenix, and felt so good. The first afternoon we were home was full of several immediate and extended family members coming by to visit with Papá Chepe as usual. Xavi was spoiled by plenty of time with his grandparents and aunts and uncles.

In hindsight I feel like we should’ve done more during our trip but it was nice to just relax. Highlights:

Xavi doing chores like helping to pick up the leaves and walk Daisy and VR.

Thankful for my Ulta obsessed sister who treated me to a makeover day and a goodie bag of new makeup.

Getting pampered by my sister Lori. On Wednesday she took me to her stylist and I got a much needed haircut and dye job. The next day she did my makeup and we had a mini lesson on the basics. I typically just put moisturizer on my face. I relied on Lori to do my makeup for special events. Now that I’m across the country that’s not an option so Lori bought me a bunch of new makeup and gave me a mini lesson. I definitely felt cute for Thanksgiving with my hair and makeup done.

Pre-Thanksgiving pozole

Most important meal of the day

The food! We were spoiled by amazing homemade Mexican food like enchiladas, breakfast burritos from our favorite spot and pozole. Of course we had the requisite In-n-Out trip.

Meeting baby Alexander. Some close friends, Cain and Jessica, came by the house and I got to meet their newborn son, Alexander. I tried hard not to sing his name like in Hamilton. I’m still obsessed. It was also nice to see their older kids, Becka and Jordan. Other than seeing Cain and Jessica I didn’t see other LA friends (maybe for a longer trip). Sean did visit his former coworkers.

Papá Chepe is pre-gaming with a pozole brunch.

Seeing Papá Chepe. I see him on FaceTime calls but with his speech issues communication is easier in person.

We visited my mom’s classroom. Her students have heard so much about Xavi that when they found out he’d be visiting they asked if he could come to their Thanksgiving lunch. The high school students warmly welcomed Xavi and one boy even drew him a picture of a t-rex.

Christmas card 2015

Thanksgiving! I don’t remember much now aside from being very full and seeing lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. We also took the photo we used for our holiday card.

December

This month seemed to zoom by too. After returning from a conference and vacation I had a lot of catch up to close out the semester. [I still feel weird using semester rather than quarter.] We also had several holiday parties at work. I’m used to a small gathering at my supervisor’s house. This year we had: graduate student holiday party hosted by our office (Xavi and Sean came); dean’s holiday party for staff in the college; office holiday party hosted by the professor we work with (Xavi and Sean came too); and student service staff party at a local restaurant. I thought it would feel like a lot or be a drag, but it was actually a lot of fun. Xavi also made us proud by dancing to Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison” and ATCQ’s “Bonita Applebaum.” He was just happy that there was plenty of cheese and brownies.

Xavi's first Christmas at the Campbell home

Christmas was pretty low key. I’ve never been one to decorate my own place much and since moving had cut down on the few decorations I did have. We didn’t even buy a tree. Nevertheless, Xavi still got to see lights and a tree crowded with presents at my in-laws. My mother-in-law went all out with the decorations given that this was the first time her grandson spent Christmas in NY. He was spoiled by presents and still hasn’t taken half of them out of the box. I felt spoiled by the highs in the 60-70s. I know lots of people said this didn’t feel like winter of the Christmas they were used to, but I felt quite at home and appreciative that it hasn’t been oppressively cold yet.

It's all fun and games until mom or dad steps on one of those blocks (barefoot, of course) in the middle of the night.

The big hits were Matchbox Cars, a Duplo farm set (my feet are already crying), and a set of books featuring Mickey & Friends. All the gifts and our bags barely fit in our car.

I have Christmas through New Year’s off from work, but we returned on Monday for Xavi’s speech therapy on Tuesday morning. . The drive was the longest we’ve experienced since Xavi got sick twice. He really doesn’t look sick, does he? Must remember to keep a roll of paper towels in the car.

NYE is just as quiet as it was last year. This year we have the excuse that we don’t know too many people in Ithaca and don’t have a trusted babysitter yet. It’s fine with us, I needed to catch up on some blogging anyway.

Happy New Year!

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