pam you are the greatest and i love you so much

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Lin-Manuel Miranda is the shit tho… read on:

“I begin with an apology.

I am the writer of Hamilton: An American Musical. Every word in the show—and there are over 22,000 words in the show—were chosen and put in a really specific order by me. So I am painfully aware that neither Philly nor the great state of Pennsylvania is mentioned in Hamilton, with the exception of ONE couplet in the song Hurricane, where Hamilton sings:

“I WROTE MY WAY OUT OF HELL

I WROTE MY WAY TO REVOLUTION,

I WAS LOUDER THAN THE CRACK IN THE BELL.”

That’s it! One blink and you miss it Liberty Bell reference!

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I am also painfully aware that this commencement address is being livestreamed and disseminated all over the world instantly. In fact, “painfully aware” is pretty much my default state. “Oh yeah, that’s Lin, he’s…PAINfully aware.”

So, with the eyes of the world and history on us all, I’d like to correct the record and point out that a few parts in Hamilton: An American the Musical actually took place in Pennsylvania.

The Battle of Monmouth, wherein General Charles Lee, in our show, “S’ed the Bed” and retreated against Washington’s orders. According to Lafayette, this was the only time he ever heard George Washington curse out loud. That’s right, the father of our country dropped his choicest profanity and F-bombs in Pennsylvania.

The Constitutional Convention, wherein Alexander Hamilton spoke extemporaneously for 6 hours in what is surely the most un-Tweet-able freestyle of all time, happened right here in Philly.

In fact, Alexander Hamilton lived at 79 South 3rd Street when he began his extramarital affair with Mariah Reynolds, creating the time-honored precedent of political sex scandals and mea culpas.

You guys, The Good Wife wouldn’t even EXIST if Hamilton hadn’t gotten the ball rolling on this dubious American tradition, right on South 3rd street, right near the Cosí.
Finally, I need to apologize on behalf of the historical Alexander Hamilton, because if he hadn’t sat down to dinner with James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, desperate for support for his financial plan, Philadelphia might well still be the U.S. Capitol.

Hamilton traded Philly away in the most significant backroom deal in American history. As the guy who plays Hamilton every night, let me get into character for a moment and say, “My bad, Philadelphia.” Thank you.

But take the long view, Motown Phillly. Who really won that deal in the end? Look at D.C: it’s synonymous with institutional dysfunction, partisan infighting and political gridlock. YOU are known as the birthplace of Louisa May Alcott, Rocky Balboa, Boyz II Men, Betsy Ross, Will Smith, Isaac Asimov, Tina Fey, Cheesesteaks, and you can have SCRAPPLE, SOFT PRETZELS, and Wawa HOAGIES WHENEVER YOU WANT.

YOU WIN, PHILLY. YOU WIN EVERY TIME. WATER ICE.

The simple truth is this: Every story you choose to tell, by necessity, omits others from the larger narrative. One could write five totally different musicals from Hamilton’s eventful, singular American life, without ever overlapping incidents. For every detail I chose to dramatize, there are ten I left out. I include King George at the expense of Ben Franklin. I dramatize Angelica Schuyler’s intelligence and heart at the expense of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal. James Madison and Hamilton were friends and political allies, but their personal and political fallout occurs right on our act break, during intermission. My goal is to give you as much as an evening as musical entertainment can provide, and have you on your way at home slightly before Les Mis lets out next door.

This act of choosing—the stories we tell versus the stories we leave out—will reverberate across the rest of your life. Don’t believe me? Think about how you celebrated this senior week, and contrast that with the version you shared with the parents and grandparents sitting behind you.

Penn, don’t front. You’re a Playboy Magazine ranked Party school—you KNOW you did things this week that you’re never mentioning again. I know what you did this summer!
I’m going to tell you a story from my twenties today—a story I’ve never told in public before. I’ll tell you two stories actually. It’s my hope that it’ll be of use to you as you stare down the quarter life marker.

I am 20 years old, finishing my sophomore year at Wesleyan, and my girlfriend of four and a half years is home from her semester abroad. I cannot wait to see her again—she is my first love. I dread seeing her again—I’ve grown into my life without her. In her absence, with time and angst to spare, I have developed the first draft of my first full-length musical, an 80-minute one-act called In The Heights. I have also developed a blinding pain in my right shoulder, which I can’t seem to stop cracking. My girlfriend comes home. I am so happy to see her, even as my shoulder worsens. My mother takes me to a back specialist, ranked in New York Magazine, so you know he’s good.

He examines me, looks me dead in the eyes, and says, “There’s nothing wrong with your back. There will be if you keep cracking it, but what you have a nervous tic. Is there anything in your life that is causing you stress?” I burst into tears, in his office. He looks at me for a long time, as I’m crying, and get this—you’ll appreciate this Renee—he tells me the story of Giuseppe Verdi. A 19th century Italian composer of some note, who, in the space of a few short years, lost his wife and two young children to disease. He tells me that Verdi’s greatest works—Rigoletto, La Traviata—came not before, but after this season of Job, the darkest moments of his life. He looks me in the eyes and tells me, “You’re trying to avoid going through pain, or causing pain. I’m here to tell you that you’ll have to survive it if you want to be any kind of artist.”

I break up with my girlfriend that night.

I spend the summer in therapy. I tell a lot of stories I’ve never told before.

My father asks my mother, “What the hell kind of back doctor…Verdi? Really?”

I stop cracking my shoulder.

The story I had been telling myself—happy guy in a long-distance relationship with his high school sweetheart—was being physically rejected by my body via my shoulder. I’d never broken up with anyone before—in my head, I was a “good guy,” and “good guys” don’t break up with their significant others when one of them goes off to study abroad. I was trying to fit my life into a romantic narrative that was increasingly at odds with how I really felt. In retrospect, we both were.

What about her story? Well, it’s not mine to tell, but I can share this much: she began dating one of her good friends the following year of college. Fast-forward to present day: She is happily married to that same good friend, with two beautiful kids. In her story, I am not the angsty, shoulder-cracking tortured artist. I’m the obstacle in the way of the real love story. For you Office fans: They’re Jim and Pam, and I’m Roy.

Story #2: I am out of college, I am 23 years old, and Tommy Kail and I are meeting with a veteran theater producer. To pay rent I am a professional substitute teacher: at my old high school. Tommy is Audra McDonald’s assistant. Tommy is directing In The Heights, and with his genius brain in my corner, my 80-minute one-act is now two acts. This big deal theater producer has seen a reading we put on in the basement of The Drama Book Shop in mid-Manhattan, and he is giving us his thoughts. We hang on his every word, this is a big deal theater producer, and we are kids, desperate to get our show on. We are discussing the character of Nina Rosario, home from her first year at Stanford, the first in her family to go to college.

The big deal theater producer says:

“Now I know in your version Nina’s coming home with a secret from her parents: she’s lost her scholarship. The song is great, the actress is great. What I’m bumping up against, fellas, is that this doesn’t feel high STAKES enough. Scholarship? Big deal. What if she’s pregnant? What if her boyfriend at school hit her? What if she got caught with drugs? It doesn’t have to be any of those things, you’re the writer—but do you see what I’m getting at guys, a way to ramp up the stakes of your story?”

I resist the urge to crack my shoulder.

We get through the meeting and Tommy and I, again alone, look at each other. He knows what I’m going to say before I say it.

“Pregnant—“

“I know.”

“Nina on drugs—“

“I was there.”

“But he wants to put our show up.”
Tommy looks at me.

“That’s not the story you want to tell and that’s not the show I want to direct. There are ways to raise the stakes that are not THAT. We’ll just keep working.”

If I could get in a time machine and watch any point in my life, it would be this moment. The moment where Tommy Kail looked at uncertain, frazzled me, desperate for a production and a life in this business, tempted, and said no for us. I keep subbing, he continues working for Audra, we keep working on In The Heights for five years until we find the right producers in Jill Furman and Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller. Until Philly native Quiara Hudes becomes my co-writer and reframes our show around a community instead of a love triangle. Until Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman take my songs and made them come to life through their orchestrations. It will be another five years before Heights reaches Broadway, exactly as we intended it.

And then the good part: Nina’s story that we fought to tell, keeps coming back around in my life. It comes around in letters, or in the countless young men and women who find me on the subway or on college campuses and take my hand and say, “You don’t understand. I was the first in my family to go to college, when I felt out of place like I was drowning I listened to “Breathe,” Nina’s song, and it got me through.” And I think to myself as these strangers tell me their Nina stories, “I do understand. And that sounds pretty high stakes to me.”

I know that many of you made miracles happen to get to this day. I know that parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and family behind you made miracles happen to be here. I know because my family made miracles happen for me to be standing here talking to you, telling stories.

Your stories are essential. Don’t believe me?

In a year when politicians traffic in anti-immigrant rhetoric, there is also a Broadway musical reminding us that a broke, orphan immigrant from the West Indies built our financial system. A story that reminds us that since the beginning of the great unfinished symphony that is our American experiment, time and time again, immigrants get the job done.

My dear, terrified graduates—you are about to enter the most uncertain and thrilling period of your lives.

The stories you are about to live are the ones you will be telling your children and grandchildren and therapists.

They are the temp gigs and internships before you find your passion.

They are the cities you live in before the opportunity of a lifetime pops up halfway across the world.

They are the relationships in which you hang on for dear life even as your shoulder cracks in protest.

They are the times you say no to the good opportunities so you can say yes to the best opportunities.

They are what Verdi survived to bring us La Traviata.

They are the stories in which you figure out who you are.

There will be moments you remember and whole years you forget.

There will be times when you are Roy and times when you are Jim and Pam.

There will be blind alleys and one-night wonders and soul-crushing jobs and wake-up calls and crises of confidence and moments of transcendence when you are walking down the street and someone will thank you for telling your story because it resonated with their own.

I feel so honored to be a detail, a minor character in the story of your graduation day.

I feel so honored to bear witness to the beginning of your next chapter.

I’m painfully aware of what’s at stake.

I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Thank you and congratulations to the Class of 2016.”

How Purity Culture Violated Me Using Only Words

I first came across the term “Vaginismus” during an effort to re-condition the unhealthy view of sex I had gained as a child of the Evangelical movement. Twenty-six and madly in love, but with the purity ring I had asked for as a teen still claiming my hand, I typed variations of “sex before marriage” and “Christian guilt over sex” into Google. I had long since broken away from the church, and though my mind had stopped believing the myth of purity years ago, my body still felt dirty… unclean… impure. I hadn’t even had sex yet, but to do so would be like stepping off some kind of pedestal. I had certainly come to worship my virginity more than I had ever worshiped God. I was untouched and unearthly because of it.

With the help of my long-time therapist, I had determined the best way to rid myself of this narcissism was to revisit the teachings of my impressionable youth through the lens of my adult, feminist self. I watched Youtube videos of abstinence-only, shame-based speakers preaching to teenagers about how sex would damage them, analyzed purity pledges and purity culture, and read oh-so-many articles, some from defenders of purity culture and others from those who had departed it. One article detailed an experience from a young bride who had waited until her wedding night to have sex, only to find out her body wouldn’t let her.

Vaginismus, she discovered, is a condition where the vagina’s PC muscle spasms involuntarily during sex, like how eyes shut during a sneeze, creating a wall-like barrier that makes penetration extremely difficult and excruciatingly painful for the female. It’s a mental disorder that manifests itself physically, found mostly in women who have endured particularly horrific childbirth, been raped, or been brainwashed into thinking they will be “spoiled goods” if they engage in sex out of wedlock. Many women can’t turn off the lifelong struggle to protect their “most precious gift,” even upon receiving “God’s blessing” with a wedding ring (I use sarcastic quotation marks).

After reading this woman’s story, I sat back and thanked my lucky stars I was going through the process of fixing my disorder ahead of time. I remember pitying her… the girl who had waited until marriage, only to spend her honeymoon in agony and despair. Then I stored the information away and moved on to the next article.

The process of re-conditioning took several months of research, journaling, and therapy. It was true, soul-searching hard work. My boyfriend did his best to understand, but not having grown up with the same stringent rules and only knowing me as a strong feminist, he wondered how I could be so in control of my life but not my body.  With each passing month, his confidence deflated and he began questioning my feelings for him. The church teaches that “worldly” men only want women for their bodies, and that it is disrespectful for a man to express his sexual desire without that all-too-important ring. Yes, there are mustache-twirling villains in the world who lie to get what they want, but a wedding ring is not any kind of defense against them. A man who would make my virginity a requirement for marriage is not a man worth my consideration. I feel the greatest respect in the world when my boyfriend gently tells me how and why he wants me — no rings attached.

The church stripped away an essential component of my humanity when they hammered into me how sex would make me less of a person. They started young, when I was around five, driving the nail deeper with every “lesson.” By nine I was “old enough” to read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and was given multiple copies by “helpful” family friends (in our church, my virginity was the business of our entire community). The journey to reclaim my wholeness was arduous, but I ultimately won. It was a speech from abstinence-only speaker, Pam Stenzel, that broke through to me. To the boys in the audience, she yelled, “If there is a girl throwing herself at you, if this girl is pressuring you for sex… this is a little girl that has bought the lie of a culture that has told her what makes her valuable is her body.”

That’s when it clicked, the knowledge in my head aligning finally with a knowing deep in my body and soul: People are so much more than a virginity status. Pam Stenzel said as much, though she would be horrified to know I corrected her words to fit my new understanding: “If there is a girl who feels sex will make her dirty, tarnished, and unmarriageable… this is a little girl who has bought the lie of a culture that has told her what makes her valuable is her body.”

Equipped with this profound and beautiful realization, I was ready to take the next step. That’s when Vaginismus became more than a funny word from some random article to me. “The next step” was the most physically painful experience of my life. Everyone knows it hurts the first time, but it was beyond that kind of pain; it was torture. I didn’t immediately connect the dots — after all, I had been smart enough to take steps to prevent that from happening. It took my therapist throwing out the word for me to realize… I had Vaginismus.

My first reaction to being diagnosed was horror. I had pitied the girl from the article. I found that unbearable… Certainly, I wasn’t someone worthy of pity. Next came dejection. Though I hadn’t known the word, I had been fighting Vaginismus this entire time and already expended so much emotional energy defeating the mental component of it, only to find out I still had a long way to go. The physical treatment for Vaginismus is brutal. Using a set of plastic dilators, you slowly “expand” yourself. It’s not only incredibly painful, it’s devastating. The moment you wait for your entire life… and instead of the man you love, you’re using chunks of plastic.

Still, I overcame. It took another several months, a lot of therapy, and a toll on mine and my boyfriend’s relationship. But I overcame.

There are some who would say I was punished for engaging in sex before marriage. I would say that’s a load of horse manure. This condition affects up to 2 million women around the world, many of whom have waited until they were married. What are they being punished for? This condition was a direct result of believing in purity culture, instead of a loving God. This blog post doesn’t even touch on some of the overtly creepy things the church did to exert their control over my body, nor any of the other hundreds of side-effects women and men have experienced as a result of it. Guess what? Sex isn’t that big a deal. It’s wonderful, but it didn’t change me even the littlest bit. I am no less a person. The experience of overcoming, though… this has made me stronger.

I found this “purity pledge” in a comment on one of the articles I read during this process. It helped me heal myself immensely. I hope it can help someone else. Thank you for letting me share.

“I will deny my humanity, my natural self, pleasure, body autonomy, physiology, and the body God gave me to please mortal men who will judge me throughout my lifetime, regardless of my behavior.”

diamonds-and-brokenglass  asked:

That Dan Goor tweet is giving me legitimate anxiety. Do you have any encouraging words?

I have a whole soap box tbh which I will put under the cut for those who are interested but!! Long story short, I don’t think that his tweet means what a lot of people (myself included) immediately thought it meant. Mostly because of Dan Goor’s other two shows, The Office and Parks and Recreation, but also because that tweet doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t end up together (more on that under the cut).

Please keep in mind that what I’m about to write is entirely my opinion and is only my opinion, which in no way affects any of these couples in the long run. Also, I want to make it abundantly clear that I absolutely adore all of these shows and I rewatch them regularly.

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Happy New Year,everyone! Ellie here (to some of you I’m Amy) I meant to post this sooner but I ended up making it into a New Years FF instead. This post goes out to old friends, new friends, favorite mutuals, and favorite blogs that I’ve followed for a long time (non-mutual).

To my longest followed mutuals and old friends @demonchildspath @nanobytes @katherinebarlow @irlaquarius @gahsofluffy @asfierceaslions @floresmortales @op4l @fiedlerandmundt : You are all so amazing and I love talking to all of you. Most of you have followed me for the longest time and have given me lots of great advice or have listened to me when I needed to vent during my darkest times. I appreciate that more than you know. Love you all very much.

To new friends @ju5t4n3rd @lilgothy @nonbinarylynz @transgee @piratejenne @the-final-pam @imyourproblemnow @peppermint-bork @acebuckie @vacationadventuresociety @mizardthewizard @vengefulfrnk @frnkensteingrl :Some of you I’ve known for most of 2016 and others I only started talking to as recent as two weeks ago and yet all of you have made such lasting impressions on me that I couldn’t not include any of you here. You’re all so talented and amazing. I love you all lots!

To favorite mutuals and favorite blogs (non-mutuals) @babylynz @ilyena-rose @m-rbid @dearpercocet @softfartingaesthetic @razorstorosaries @deathrowcoffee @not-fcking-pretty-on-the-inside @leathcrmouth @cardcatchers @cyanidefrnk @rottenghoul @bookbiter @rad-rt @anqryboy @rotterrr @stillvicious @parachctes @z0mblecat @grcemeise @angxlfuck @navywaavy @melloncollic @mysticmurdertramp @lemiaw  @tastefulcrucifixparty @autumntree @qrsive @morgue-prince @revengelynz @starrylynz @divehotel @ballato @andsothewindrises @spaceboyfrnk @twinkhavok @deadcoffins @stigmatic @lynsway @gay-potato-fun @proxygen You all either reblog posts that make for the greatest blog aesthetics ever, you make the best gifs and edits ever, or you spin prose better than a spider spins a web. I love everything each of you make/post. Thank you for making my experience on this hellsite worth it everyday. 

To irl friends @suomenstrannik @siamusotima-aranea @tondra @alex-duh-lion @biscuitprince You all fuckin rock too. I haven’t talked to some of you in a long time but I hope you’re all doing well. 

I hope everyone had a good holiday season and if you didn’t, I hope this year treats you so much better than 2016 did. Happy New Year to you all!!!