There are only two things that I devote my entire attention to on my Twitter feed, which are BTS and Hamilton.
Recently, Lin Manuel Miranda, the wonderful father of the musical about founding fathers, has released “First Burn” as part of #Hamildrop. Hamildrop basically continues the legacy of the groundbreaking musical Hamilton with the release of new Hamilton related content for every month of 2018. (I know many people are already scrolling away, annoyed at this “old” and “overhyped” musical, but it is art and I stand by it!)
“Burn” is the song in Hamilton that follows the revelation of Alexander Hamilton’s cheating with Maria Reynolds. In the song, Eliza Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s wife, sings of burning the letters that he wrote to her.
In this version that is in the final musical, Eliza is burning the letters to destroy the best version of Hamilton that could possibly redeem him to the public. But in the new Hamildrop, which is the original first draft of “Burn,” Eliza is, as Lin Manuel Miranda says, “purely reactionary.”
This Eliza is burning with n purpose except anger. However, this Hamildrop made me realize how strong of a character Eliza is. I was able to see her with new eyes and listen to her lines all over again. If you aren’t familiar with the musical, IT’S SO SO SO GOOD, PLEASE LISTEN. But if musical theater ain’t yo thang, that’s okay, too. All you have to know for this is that the character of Eliza Hamilton has an older sister named Angelica and she is the one most will point to and say, “That’s a badass woman.”
Angelica leads the song “The Schuyler Sisters” in which she sings about trying to find a man whose mind is at work. Not just a great face. While on the other end, Eliza sings “Helpless” about falling helplessly in love with Alexander. So, it’s easy to think that Eliza is weak and… well… helpless.
But, she isn’t! In fact, Eliza is strong despite the death of her son, resilient in the face of Hamilton’s adversities, is the finale of the musical and the bearer of Alexander Hamilton’s legacy. She is both a gentle love and a tough love.
I forget that being a strong woman also can mean being a gentle one as well. Even though Eliza isn’t as head strong as her sister doesn’t mean she isn’t strong. She is the moral compass of the musical, the woman who has weathered it all. She is this meme exactly:
I am a sucker for makeovers. I love movie montage makeovers and the character transformations in novels. I love seeing people in the hallways that I don’t quite know change up their look, or have a brighter smile. I love when someone flips their hair the opposite way and it changes their mood slightly. Makeovers are physical changes, but it can bring out hidden confidence and quirks by presenting deeper emotional changes.
In the saga of my life, having no hair touch my neck is a new and epic adventure. Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to do something wild with my hair. Either it would touch the ground or I’d get a mohawk. My hair has taken its time, getting shorter and shorter over the years and finally getting a pixie cut is super liberating.
But, I’ve found that there are pros and cons to this dope decision:
All artwork by Pebbles.
We’re trying a little something new this week! Please excuse the unfortunate thumbnail…
Our society’s image of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fall towards men. The Draw-A-Scientist Test shows that young elementary school children see scientists as solely men in lab coats creating monsters and explosions. As a woman in STEM, the issue of women’s underrepresentation and partition in any of these fields is disheartening. Over the weekend, I was able to attend the Scientista Symposium, which helped expand my view on women in the STEM fields.
For more information on the Scientista Foundation, click here.
I was able to attend the event thanks to the generosity and support of Professor Melanie Villatoro and Perkins Peer Advisement.
Stop by if you need any help! (I have a solid hold on statics, my fellow CMCE students, so come through!)
In Asia, when one sneezes, there is no such thing as “Bless you.”
When you sneeze, you’re either reprimanded for not covering your mouth or just left to be as you were. So, imagine my surprise as a six- or seven-year-old, freshly minted into the American school system and sneezing. What a wild experience. I sneezed a hefty sneeze and the teacher said: “Bless you.”
Me? Bless me?
As a young Catholic sapling, I naturally began questioning the merits of my humanity that required a blessing. To my knowledge at the time, I was to ask for blessings from my elders whenever I encountered them and receive it via the touch of the back if their hand to my forehead. Or we usually blessed new houses or new cars or new babies. I knew that Americans weren’t familiar with this tradition of giving blessings to the young and I couldn’t see a new house or a new car or a new baby around. So why was this lady blessing me?
Did Americans simply throw blessings around willy nilly for any occasion?
I didn’t want to ask, so I let it be, opting to investigate the situation in silence. Weeks went by and I couldn’t seem to decipher the “Bless you.” The teacher would say it once in a while and sometimes students too… But why? WHY?
Finally, I broke. During recess, I turned to a girl in my class who seemed friendly enough and asked, “Why does everyone keep saying ‘bless you?’”
She looked at me strangely and in a tone that was equivalent to that of a man-splainer, replied, “Because that’s what you say when someone sneezes..?”
It took me a moment to process.
“Bu.. But, why?”
Baffled by my questioning of modern American tradition, the little girl gave me a sigh, shrugged and left, leaving me feel more confused. Why would the excretion of bacteria require a blessing? Did Americans revere sneezes as ungodly or in need of holy intervention and thus requiring a “Bless you?”
I decided not to question further. But now, equipped with the knowledge of the “bless you,” I found myself hyper aware of every single sneeze in my vicinity. My scientific mind began keeping tabs on the “bless you” to sneeze ratio: The popular outgoing kids and the teacher got all the “bless you’s,” but the lowly and moderate class of students went by the wayside with little to no “bless you’s.” Suddenly, my eyes were opened to my social standing.
My “bless you” to sneeze ratio was low. Little to none per sneeze!
I began observing my social interactions and found that I was still a stranger, the New Kid. I needed to step my game up. I had to increase interactions by 500% to raise my “bless you” to sneeze ratio. Painfully, I began asking my fellow students to borrow pencils or asking what 3+7 equaled. Despite my self-imposed rule of no non-lunchtime bathroom breaks, I raised my hands and asked to go to the bathroom at least once a week.
My “bless you” to sneeze ratio climbed. I was on the map! I was no longer a stranger, I was Denise, the kid from the Philippines. Not super cool, but alright. I was sustainably blessed for every sneeze.
Now, it was time to give back. I would be the “bless you” queen.
Everyone deserves a “bless you.”
A couple of weeks ago, my older sister was watching Binibining Pilipinas 2018, a national beauty pageant that selects women to represent the Philippines in major international pageants such as Miss Universe. I happened to walk by when Contestant 15, Juliana Kapeundl, was answering her question.
The question she was asked was as follows:
“Misogyny, or bias against women, has been very prevalent lately. How should this be addressed?”
In response, Ms. Kapeundl replied:
“I think this should be addressed by empowering women. We… women have to think, ‘We are not just women.’ We don’t need labels as mother, daughter, sister. We have our own individuality and we have to use it into [sic] our own advantage and let our strengths shine. So, as women, we have to empower our co-women to achieve an equality with men in the future.”
Beauty pageants have never been my favorite thing and I am quite wary of them. However, there are gems in the glitter and glam such as truly inspiring feminists and hard working women with exceptional minds, bodies and hearts. However, when I heard Ms. Kapeundl’s answer– midway through climbing the kitchen cupboard for some Nutella– I had to stop and think. Women come in all shapes and sizes and mindsets.
So, what was so wrong about women willingly choosing the role of “mother,” “daughter,” or “sister?” There is so much dignity in being a woman and the roles that these titles entail. I can see where Ms. Kapeundl is coming from, though. Women have always been the underdogs, the ones that society looks down upon as the “weaker sex.” But just because we are assumed to be this way, does not mean we are!
I, for one, do not want to empower myself by saying, “ I am not just a woman” because this implies being a woman is bad. Ms. Kapeundl’s statement also implies that motherhood, daughtership and sisterhood are something that is lesser. But, no!
I am a woman, I am a sister, I am a daughter and I can very much be a mother (when the weather is fair and my career is set).
Daughters are taught early that the world is hard and to brace themselves. Young girls and teens alike know the weight of their role as the daughters of the world. We learn to mature ourselves and find our own place in the tricky puzzles in the world.
As for sister, they are the cornerstones. My older sister has been my best friend and compass since very early on in my years. My younger sister allows me to aspire to be a good example and a strong leader.
Mothers are double edged swords: gentle and nurturing yet solid as oxen. My mother is the one my siblings and I turn to for corny jokes and cooing, but she literally keeps our house running and in tact. She works daily and yet comes home and still manages to do more work on top of what she’s done already.
Being a woman is being more than the world expects. If we are aiming for equality, then we should speak, dress and live for the job we want. We can’t allow ourselves to feel lesser or weaker because we aren’t. I firmly believe that all of humanity has their purpose. No one is weaker or stronger. Rather, without one, the other is rendered lesser. We should be working as a whole and not against one another. Lift your sisters up, yes, but never believe that we are at a disadvantage.
Ain’t no power like a woman empowered.
I am an average dresser at best.
With a mix of old school event t-shirts, the same two or three pants and some semi-fancy tops, I’m more often than not wearing the same thing I wore last week. If I had the monetary means, I’m sure I’d dress in cooler clothes. But then again, I’d be too lazy to go shopping or pick them out, so maybe not.
(Materialism is a lot of work, I might as well stick to t-shirt and jeans…)
I asked my sister what I should write about in my blog today and she suggested I do one about my personal style. A recent social media trend has cropped up: #2012vs2018 and I began thinking about my own evolution and whether I’ve changed much at all. I thought about it for a little bit and I decided I should go fishing through my parents’ Facebook photos so as to provide you with a “look book” of sorts.
Below, you will find the style evolution of your dear Pebbles. We shall begin our journey somewhere in middle school, where I truly decided it was time to dress myself:
Middle school was peak awkwardness for me– Peak insecurity, too.
I tried super hard to keep up with what other girls were wearing and ultimately failed. My parents never took us to Abercrombie and Fitch or gave a moment’s thought to Uggs. I felt resentment towards not being able to dress just like everyone else and that frustrated me. Because of this, I decided I would try to emulate some other things I thought were cool. Mainly, skater boys.
If I didn’t stand out as a “girly girl,” why couldn’t I stand out as a girl wearing some sick skater shoes?
Turns out, Vans are expensive. But, Nike came through with the dupes. They looked close enough to the “coo”l stuff that it was a-okay. As for the rest of me, I wore baggy t-shirts and cut off jeans in the summer time to finish off the look. (I believed fully that I was ballooning with fat and I wanted to hide it under something.) In the colder months, I had my trusty green cargo pants. (I thought I could emulate Kim Possible, but I looked like a thrift store reject pile instead.)
This Low-Effort tomboy vibe continued on to the earlier years of high school. Though, I decided to start dabbling in more traditionally “feminine” cuts of clothing and some makeup.
In high school, I spent the first two years looking over my shoulder and still trying to incorporate the more popular items into my outfits. But, again, I couldn’t afford 80% of those things and that made me feel sometimes helpless.
At the end of my sophomore year of high school, however, I lost a few friends who had moved on to other people who were more socially advanced than myself. Instead of wallowing, though, I decided I wouldn’t mind it and decided to do well for myself, by myself.
Junior and Senior year became my era of independence and just like shoulder pads in power suits in the ’80s, my dress sense sort of began morphing to reflect my new ready-for-power attitude. My love for Men’s Wear, a love that continues, began and I started taking inspiration from the looks of the semi-casual male professionals who whizzed by me on the streets of Manhattan. A balance of masculine elements with just enough femininity to distinguish me from the cringe worthy middle school experience.
I felt comfy and put together.
I wore these jeans from Old Navy with large patches on them so often that I wore them out sooner than I would have liked. I also almost exclusively wore my faux leather dress shoes, save for gym days.
My senior year also marked the first time I had ever put on a suit and it was the dopest feeling.
Now a-days, I continue to enjoy any occasion I can wear heels to. But in the day to day, I’ve learned to refine my love for jeans and a t-shirt. I do put in thought to what I wear, but I’m continuing to learn to dress for myself and not what others think of me. I don’t think I’ve ever actually CHANGED, but rather simply evolved and added new elements to a basic look I’ve been wearing all these years. It was never actually the clothes, but my relationship with those clothes because of my developing confidence…
While searching through old photos, I realized something. I was lucky to have developed a sense of self assurance earlier on. Despite never quite owning the newest and coolest thing, I’ve learned to embrace who I am and what I love. There are still those out there that never quite feel at ease in their own skin, never quite like how they look or feel…
“Confidence is hard,” a friend once told me, and it is. I wish I could go and tell others that they should love themselves always. I wish I could shoot super rays of self-love towards all the people around me, but I can’t. Loving yourself is a personal journey. You can’t force someone to love you back and the same goes for loving yourself.
All art by Pebbles!
As a young immigrant child, it was quite the disappointment to find that there were no white picket fences in Brooklyn, NY and no discernible “Give me your lunch money!” bully in my elementary school. The archetypes I had been exposed to in my time of watching movies and cartoons had not prepared me for the real-life situation of a New York City childhood.
I continue to consume American media and yet again, my time in middle school and high school produced the same result as in elementary school. Where were the mean girls? I had wondered. The douche-y jocks? The outcasts in their corner of the lunch room? Where? WHERE???
What I thought high school would be like:
How high school pretty much went:
Trashcan incidens: 0
So, upon entering college, having already been proven wrong multiple times, my mind insisted that this experience would, in fact, be just like Sydney White or The House Bunny or even Pitch Perfect.
Clearly, I wasn’t paying attention.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned while attending City Tech, it’s that you can find your place and no one will judge you for it. Everyone is too busy trying to get through class and paying tuition that there’s no time for petty judgements. I’ve found different circles to circumnavigate on campus, between my Buzz sisterhood and the family I’ve created in the CMCE department.
The ones who could easily fit the “jock” or “cool guy” stereotypes in their high school days are some of the hardest working academically and the most accessible. The “pretty girls” don’t care how good you look, just how good their GPA is. No one fits in a single over-exaggerated archetype. Instead, the people I’ve met rarely judge openly and allow themselves to be proven wrong.
Life is no movie. There is no singular category for the people I meet and I have no idea why I continue looking for them.
I am a woman of many names.
Nowadays, I often times simply respond to whosoever directs a statement towards me, regardless of the name used. In reality, my given name is Denise Claire.
(I had typed in my name for a group project and the team leader looked at me and scoffed. I’m not trying to be pretentious, my dude. Nah, that’s my given name.)
Although I am officially Denise Claire, at home my family and friends call me Pebbles. I’ve adapted this into my day-to-day life at City Tech and for the most part, my professors and fellow students haven’t had a problem with it. (Of course there are some who look at me funny. Do they think it’s a gang name or a self-appointed nickname? I’m not sure.)
My maternal grandmother has taken to turning Pebbles into Pablo—Blo for short. In middle school, I befriended one Emiliano Sanchez, who continues to refer to me as Dennis the Menace Who Plays Tennis in Venice. My best friend from high school refers to me as Denchik. A girl in my advanced painting class in high school called me Brenda. My middle school assistant principal called me Rose. My Confirmation name is Rita. And of course, the wonderfully horrendous Key and Peele skit “Substitute Teacher” that haunts me with “De-NICE! Say your name correctly!”
My father tells me that he had initially wanted to name me Abigail Xena, if memory serves me correctly. Xena after the hit Xena the Warrior Princess. I’m not sure how that kick-ass name was replaced with Denise Claire, but I think it worked out. I don’t think I seem much like an Abigail….
Which makes me think:
Is there really much to a name? Do you make your name or does your name make you?
Do I look like “a Denise” or does “Denise” look like me?
What does “a Denise” even look like?
If a cat was actually called “fish,” would it be the same? If a cat were called a “fish,” a wolf a “rabbit”… Would we even realize the difference?
Is my name a reflection of me or am I a reflection of my name?
Hi, y’all! I tried something new for the art this week. I really prefer traditional methods, but I still have to figure out how to scan it in so it looks at its best! Also, its all a learning process, so I hope you won’t be too hard on me! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you all next week!
All artwork by Pebbles.