4 Podcasts that are Total Game Changers

2016-06-26 Podcast Feature Edit

If you haven’t hopped on the podcast game, you gotta. Speaking as someone who’s way sick of the radio and procrastinating in updating her Spotify playlists, podcasts are a total life saver on morning commutes, or long runs, or when soaking in the rays on the beach.

Beyond giving me something different than the same old playlist to listen to, I love podcasts because:

  • They’re informative
  • They tell fascinating stories
  • They indulge in all of my favorite fandoms

Like I said, if you haven’t started tuning into podcasts, you really have to, because they’re a total total tooootal game-changer. Here are some of my favorites to get you on your way:

Anna Farris is Unqualified
Episode to download: Episode 20 and episode 21 with Olivia Munn
Why it’s so awesome: I’m going to be honest here – I do not listen to every episode of this podcast, mostly because some of the guests Anna has are super irrelevant to me (but might be fascinating to you!). But when I am into the celeb guest, this podcast is freaking lit. And the episodes with Olivia Munn? Aside from her being a top celebrity girl crush (seriously, I don’t think I could stop myself from shamelessly flirting with her if our paths crossed), she totally sold me on this line (that I’m paraphrasing): be careful of the woman who can’t be friends with other women. She’s the one who will sleep with your husband. She and Anna spent a good chunk of time completely articulating why I don’t like girls who “can’t be friends with other girls” because ~drama~, and I could not even deal with it, it was so accurate. Do I feel another blog post/rant about this in the future? I’m thinking yes.

Stuff You Missed in History Class
Episode to download: Live from FanX: Nazis, the Occult and Indiana Jones
Why it’s so awesome: Big surprise, the girl who studied history in college likes the history podcast. And even bigger surprise, the girl who specialized in WWI and WWII European history loved the episode about Nazis. My girls Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey accompany me twice a week on the way to work chatting about the coolest little nooks of history that remind me of why this subject stays alive. It’s not always about “learning from our past” or learning from our mistakes; sometimes it’s just about reveling in the magical things people used to do, or hearing a really great story. Can I please be you, Holly and Tracy? Your job is my dream.

Revisionist History
Episode to download: Episode 1, The Lady Vanishes
Why it’s so awesome: Even though there are only two episodes of this brand-spankin’-new podcast out in the airwaves, I’m totally hooked. It’s run by Malcom Gladwell, the guy who’s written some pretty unheard of books like Outliers, Tipping Point, David and Goliath, and Brink. I know he’s just *meh*, but his podcast is pretty awesome. (Also, please let my sarcasm read well on the screen! I do know that Gladwell is kind of a BOSS and his books are fantastic!) This 10-episode podcast takes a second look at various things throughout history and shows how maybe they were misconstrued or misinterpreted, and tries to take a different look. If nothing else, it serves as a good reminder that we should be doing this all the time, and understanding that most things happen from multiple different angles. I’m super about “The Lady Vanishes” because #feminism. Simple as that.

Here to Make Friends: A Bachelor Recap Show
Episode to download: ‘Bachelorette’ S12e2 With Sharleen Joynt, Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, & Carol Barbee
Why it’s so awesome: First things first, this podcast is awesome because it recaps the Bachelor and other members of the Bachelor franchise, and indulging this little fandom I have is so much fun. While that’s all fun and stuff, it’s not really the best part. This podcast does an amazing job of proving that just because someone watches the Bachelor or Bachelor adjacent shows does not mean that you’re fundamentally against feminism. It shows that you can watch the show with no irony, and still be looking at it with a critical eye. That’s why I love the episode with Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Carol Barbee, two creators from the show UnReal (another favorite of mine!). They chat about women leads and how we view #LadyBosses, and I love that we can use this, shall we say, less than intellectual TV show, and transition it to a really critical conversation about women in society.

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Effortless Cupcakes for the Lazy Girl in All of Us

2016-06-21 Cupcakes Recipe Feature

When a dear friend of mine visited from New York last summer, I gave him three options for a custom dessert made with love: brownies, cupcakes, or cookies. When he answered all of the above, I was poised to be pretty annoyed, but thought better of it.

Challenge accepted.

2016-06-21 Cupcake Brownies

2016-06-21 Cupcake Brownies Icing Tip.jpg

From there, the most stupidly easy yet stupidly delicious dessert was born. These cupcakes take the best of brownies, cupcakes, and cookies to make a hybrid dessert that’s fucking lit. Seriously. If you ever need to impress someone with your kitchen skills, or really want to pamper someone with a delicious dessert but don’t want to put forth the effort actually required for an above and beyond nomnom, look no further. This dessert was made for you and your lazy-but-extravagant nature:

2016-06-21 Cupcake Brownies Ingredients

2016-06-21 Brownie Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 box brownie mix, associated ingredients + one egg
  • 1 tube of cookie dough
  • 1 can of frosting of your choosing
  • Cooking spray
  • Cupcake tins
  • Sprinkles of your choosing

*I use all boxed goods here because assembly of these goods is a tad involved, but if you want to show me up and go hundo P from scratch then do you, booboo*

tumblr_inline_nix9an4mqt1rmx7zh

Directions:

  1. Spray cupcake tins with cooking spray. I’d say don’t use cupcake wrappers because these are no-jokes desserts and wrappers might be a little frail. But hey, whatever, prove me wrong. I don’t really care.
  2. Fill each cupcake tin nook with cookie dough, ⅛-¼ of the way full. Really whatever floats your boat. I trust your judgement.
  3. Prepare brownies. I use an extra egg because that gives the brownies a more cake-like consistency. They’re still undeniably brownies, but giving them a cakey consistency truly makes these a cookie-brownie-cupcake hybrid. As with pretty much everything else, you can definitely opt not to add the extra egg, but I think this is probably the element I advocate the most.
  4. Fill the remainder of each cupcake tin nook with brownie batter. If you have extra, I suggest eating it.
  5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, but watch it like a damn hawk. You want to pull these suckers out as soon as your brownies are convincingly solid and will completely hold their shapes. The cookies shouldn’t burn, but you really don’t want to over-bake. I adjust the time I cook these by the minute, so you’re really going to need to use your brain here.
  6. Allow to cool fully.
  7. Frost them. I started off using an icing tip (as you can see from the photographs), but TBH when you dip them into the sprinkles the icing gets a little wonky. I’m probably doing it wrong.
  8. Add your sprinkles! To make them super sprinkley, I dipped them straight into the dish of sprinkles. You don’t have to do that, but sprinkles are delicious so please take this as a hard-held suggestion.

3 Products You Need for Perfect Beach Skin

2016-06-09 Summer Beach Skincare Feature Image

Beach season is upon us and my skin literally couldn’t be happier. This sounds so ridiculously vain, but I really love the way I look when I get super tan. I feel like I look more awake, I wear less makeup, my legs look longer… I’m not trying to say pale girls look gross, but I’m definitely feeling myself when I’m tan.

Which is why I’m super into a beach/summer skincare routine. This isn’t so much about a face skin care routine to keep any acne at bay, but more a routine to keep me looking glowy and feeling moisturized and healthy.

I have three Holy Grail products that I totally rely on when going to the beach, and I’m pretty sure they can rock your world, too:

2016-06-09 Skincare Essentials Summer

Side note: I totally made this graphic before writing the article, so I didn’t take very good care in putting it in a logical order… Oops?

1. Banana Boat After Sun Lotion: See what I mean about ordering these in a way that Makes. No. Sense. This is the last thing I use in my beach skincare routine, but maybe the coolest because it’s been an old reliable since I was a little thing visiting my grandpa’s beach house. This stuff smells so amazing and summery, and is so, so hydrating. And hydrating your skin? Pretty damn important when you’re wasting your days away laying in the sun. This is probably just some stupid back-of-bottle claim, but the Banana Boat After Sun Lotion says it makes your tan last longer and I kind of believe it. Keeping my tan looking fresh and dope as hell? I’ll say yes to that.

2. Jergens Natural Glow: And this is the first thing I use in my skincare sequence! Why I’m listing it second, I do not know. Womp womp.

Before I can haul my ass to the beach, I’m all about the Jergens and have been for years. This gives me a slight summery glow so that I’m not a hundo P blinding when I first step foot on the sand. But I’m obvi not reinventing the wheel by using Jergens for going to the beach or making your legs look d0pe for skirt season.

I also love using Jergens for, yup, you guessed it… dance. (Oh, you didn’t guess that? That’s pretty awkward for you.) Spring and summer is recital and competition season, and having a nice healthy glow makes you look pretty fuckin’ amazing on stage. It keeps the lights from washing you out, and definitely makes you look way more toned.

3. Coppertone Clearly Sheer: And last but not least, the sun screen. Guys, I’m so about this stuff right now. It’s like putting normal lotion on, but instead of just getting the kind of soft skin everyone wants to rub and put their hands all over, you also decrease your risk of skin cancer. I’m not hating that. I usually go with 30 SPF, or maybe even 50 SPF (especially at the beginning of the summer), because when you get a lobster burn honestly you look (and feel) like an idiot.

The best part? This stuff doesn’t really taste like sun screen. Not saying I’m a sun screen eater, but sometimes this son-of-a-bitch gets in your mouth and you literally cannot escape that taste. Once again, I’m not hating that…

What are you all into when you go to the beach? Is there a sunscreen I’m totally missing? Should I be trying to get beachy blond highlights with a kind of Sun In that won’t make my brunette hair look like brass wire? Am I a total asshole for how much I love being tan? Let me know in the comments! Except for the asshole part. Ignorance is bliss.

The Ish with the Skinny Jean/Dress Code Debate

2016-5-25 Skinny Jeans

Today I read an article from the Washington Post about a school system in North Carolina that’s toying with implementing a new dress code that would bar anyone from wearing leggings or skinny jeans unless they’re wearing a top that covers their entire tooshie.

…to which I was like, blah blah blah how many more of the same article are digital journalists going to write until their fingers start bleeding out of protest? (I seriously don’t mean to diminish this argument. Of course I agree that telling girls to dress modestly is a huge way to control them/sexualize them/victim blame. But I’ve seen only those three arguments for like, two years now, and maybe school boards aren’t listening because the media isn’t telling them anything new.)

But this particular instance caught my eye.

WaPo tells us that according to Jeanette Nichols, vice chairwoman of the school board in New Hanover County, N.C. (the district in question, obvs), they’re thinking of this dress code because kids were bullying other kids for being too pudgy to wear skinny jeans and leggings.

“She was a bit overweight and she was being bullied and teased,” Nichols told the Wilmington StarNews.

Interesting…

Also interesting? New Hanover County actually opened the debate up to students and parents via Twitter, which is like, such a faux pas because doesn’t New Hanover County know that Twitter is where all trolls and harrassers live? But anyways.

Kids predictably jumped on the, “blah blah blah I can wear what I want/ I’m a feminist/ tell people not to objectify me,” bandwagon, which is like, whatever. Most of them look like they behaved with decorum, which is more than can be said for 99 percent of Twitter users.

One parent took the bullying bait, and astutely asked why the hell the school isn’t working on making the kids stop being such little assholes.

That was my first reaction, too. It’s kind of along the same vein of teaching people not to rape, as opposed to teaching them how to avoid being raped.

It’s a good argument, and an important one to point out to the school board. A ton of what sending kids to school is supposed to accomplish is teaching them how to function as acceptable human beings, right? Don’t make students wear baggy pants; baggy pants are tacky and I hate them. Tell kids to just cut the bullying shit, instead.

2016-5-25 You're Tacky and I Hate You

But I think it’s also important to quickly touch on one thing that really, really bothered me about this whole ordeal. Let’s break down the chain of events into simple steps:

  1. Person wears skinny jeans
  2. Other person makes fun of them for being chubby
  3. Teacher sees, tells school board
  4. School board says, “well, she shouldn’t be wearing skinny jeans, so we’ll make a rule to stop her from that”

Isn’t that horrible? Is the school board not saying that the bully is right? That because someone is a certain body type, they shouldn’t wear certain clothes? Like, okay, out with any sort of body positivity at this school, I guess.

Am I (and that mom on Twitter) the only one who’s disgusted that an entire school board is about to be super complicit in a bunch of bullying?

4 YouTube Videos That Will Change Your Life

2016-5-9 YouTube Videos Feature

For most of my “internet career” (by which I mean, the days I would just sit in front of my computer and fall down the rabbit hole), I’ve had the incredible ability to sit in front of YouTube and not move for hours.

It started with dancing videos. Then it moved onto beauty videos. I’ve devoured TED talks and seen some amazing spoken word poetry. And as lame as it sounds, some of these videos have really changed my life. From teaching me pretty important skills, to making me laugh and building inside inside jokes with my friends, to changing the way I look at the world, YouTube has had the ability to make me a whole new person over and over again. Here are some of the top YouTube videos that have changed my life, and will change yours, too:

Westmoore Pom’s 2009 Nationals Routine

Okay, so this isn’t a YouTube video, but that’s because this is old AF and has been taken down because of copyright issues (oops). This dance is what started my obsession with watching dance videos, which was not only an integral part of my adolescence, but as my development as an artist. Westmoore’s coach, Emily Shock, has been a huge inspiration to me as a dancer, writer, thinker, person. And this routine (which I originally saw as a rehearsal in their studio) was my first one. Nothing would ever be the same after this.

Kayley Melissa Halo Curls 

Not every YouTube video I’ve watched has been about inspiration – a lot of them have actually been about practicality! While I’ve poured over countless beauty videos and review/hauls (which have, in fairness, led to the purchase of some holy grail items), no video has enhanced my life more than Kayley Melissa’s Halo Curls video. I literally do this every time I wash my hair now. This method gives me the prettiest curls ever without having to use heat or spend a crazy amount of time. What. A. Life-changer.

Love Letters

It’s been nine years and this video still makes me cry-laugh every single time. Love Letters (a man’s love affair with carbs) is my go-to funny YouTube video, and I have shown it to all of my friends who need a laugh. While most viral videos have by now gotten pretty old and stale, this one is still priceless. It’s permeated all of my life, spicing up my friendships with some fantastically quotable moments.

Sarah Kay’s TED Talk, “If I Should Have A Daughter”

I’m definitely not the only person to obsess over this video. Sarah Kaye is absolutely mesmerizing and has you captivated from the get-go. Her message about having a daughter is beautiful. But what really gets me is just the skill with which she writes her poetry. As someone who really tapped into her love for writing by using poetry as a coping mechanism, that is ultimately what I’m going to take note of. Sarah Kay’s poetry has influenced me so much as an artist, and this is kind of the most well-known that she has on YouTube.

 

 

The State of Things: Germany, 1942

On January 20, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich presented to Hitler “the final solution to the Jewish problem.”
As his plan of forced ghettoization of hundreds
of
thousands—
millions—
of Jews
crumbled into a heap of dysentery and disease and depleted resources,
he led the charge in developing mass killings
watching as they modeled it after carbon monoxide poisoning in cars,
silent
and dutiful soldiers turning the keys.

On January 20, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich presented to Hitler “the final solution to the Jewish problem,”
and opened the first Nazi death camp at Chelmno
(Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek, Auschwitz-Birkenau)
packing his animals onto trains like cattle
and into chambers like sardines
and then cooking them.

The smell, they say, was other worldly
and crept each day and each night into the households of the German people.
The clouds of smoke, they say, rose high into the heavens,
(but only if you believe in that kind of thing.)
And everywhere you could see, they said, there was the evidence:
The teeth, the bones, the lampshades of skin and the cushion stuffings of hair.

But all anyone could really talk about in Germany, 1942,
was how damn quiet it was.

How I Sleep Like a Baby Every Night

how-to-get-better-sleep

Whenever people are like, “oh jeeze, all day long I’m so, so tired and then at night I can’t fall asleep,” I have no idea what in the fuck they’re talking about. I sleep long and good every night – always have, and probably always will.

But I get that falling asleep isn’t as easy for everyone else. Some people lay awake all night, some people have a weird clock because they nap all the time, and some people are able to take a snooze but just don’t get a restful sleep. That sounds like a really rough life, so I wanted to help.

Here’s how I sleep like a damn baby every night:

I get worries out of my mind before sleeping.

I read this article on Time saying that successful people always write big, weighty things down before going to bed. Between daily worries, to-do lists, and all the things we should be grateful for, there are a lot of things that can be bouncing around in our heads once they hit the pillow. Getting them out there tangibly in a journal or something like it gets them out of our heads.

After reading that article, I adopted the practice. You all know I rock a journal just for writing, but there are also pages in there strictly meant for lists. My trick is making sure all of these lists are in the same place. The point is making sure you have one central location to reference reminders instead of having to keep track of them all over the place – that way, your brain doesn’t have to think to manage it all. If I ever struggled to sleep before, I certainly don’t after adopting this practice.

I stay active during the day.

2016-4-12 sport-sneakers-active

While going for a three-mile jog right before bed is going to get you too wired to sleep, maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the day will help you conk out faster and better by the time you go to bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, being active obviously tires your body out, which gets you poised for a restful night.

I usually leave a buffer of an hour to and hour and half before going to sleep after a workout. During that time, I take a relaxing shower, have a low-sugar snack or some Kombucha tea, and relax by watching some TV or reading a book. This wind down time is good for calming down your brain and your muscles.

I barely spend time in my bedroom.

This beats down another psychological barrier between you and your sleep. Taken from another Time article, I’ve learned that your brain takes certain cues to tell your body it’s time to sleep. Things like the amount of light in your room are huge, but so is making a space your body only associates with sleep.

My hardest year of sleep was my freshman year of college, and not because of parties. It was tough because my bedroom was also my hangout room and also my homework room and also my party room. When I finally got an apartment at school and was able to watch TV and do other things in different locations, my body knew that my bedroom was specifically for sleep, and sleep only. It took the cue to let me snooze.

I unplug.

This one is super obvious and has been praised all across the internet. But here’s the dirty little secret: you only need to unplug at the level you feel most comfortable.

Like I said above, I like to watch some TV before heading to bed. That works for me, probably because I’m farther away from the TV screen so my eyes aren’t being stimulated. I do, however, cut out computer and phone as a way to give my eyes and my brain some rest. It’s also important to note that the nights I fall asleep the fastest are the ones where I read before bed.

I get my body clean and ready.

 2016-4-12 SweetSpot Wipes

I’m a religious night showerer, mostly because I need my bed to be 100 percent pristine. In college when I would party too late/too hard to get in a shower before bed, I would sleep on top of the covers to make sure my sheets didn’t get dirty.

Beyond showering, I have to make sure my face is completely clean. Nothing gives me the heebie jeebies like knowing dirt and makeup are chillaxing in my pores. Lately I’ve been super into these SweetSpot Labs makeup remover wipes. I’m usually pretty skeptical of wipes because I tend to need to rub really hard for them to remove my makeup in comparison to an oil, but these were actually pretty amazing. Bonus points: they smell so heavenly. You can pick up your own from Target, they usually retail for about $10.

Disclaimer: The awesome folks at Influenster and SweetSpot Labs sent me some samples of the makeup remover wipes to try out for the purposes of this post. They also sent me some Kombucha tea. As per usual, all of my opinions are my own.

5 Jazz Teams To Watch At NDA Collegiate Nationals 2016

2016-3-20 NDA OPEN TEAMS GRAPHIC

Following up some crazy traffic on my 5 Teams Performance Teams to Watch at NDA Collegiate Nationals 2016 post with one about the jazz division (formerly open division).

I feel like it’s kind of redundant to chat about how much I love NDA collegiate nationals in this post, too, especially because I really want you to click on that little link above where I already talk about it once.

Instead, I’ll just say this – it’s nearly impossible to decide the jazz teams I’m most excited to see. There is seriously so much talent at NDA, and a treat in every single division. I think it’s really important for you all to know how damn hard it is to narrow this all down, but here’s my best shot:

Stephen F. Austin State University

These stunnas were in Challenge Cup last year and I remember being just so confused. They were flawless; what were they doing in Challenge Cup? Then I quickly realized they got a safety deduction (I’m guessing because they held flowers in their hands during a team side aerial? Someone can fill me in on that), which made perfect sense because, like I said, they did a damn team side aerial.

Anyways, they ended up in third against two very, very, very talented teams. Even though I think SFADT definitely deserved their third place finish, no routine made me cry like theirs, and moving an audience is the real win here. Huge tip of the hat to them.

West Virginia University

I feel like WVU is kind of the soul sister to Assumption because they, too, have had some struggles at NDA. Of course they totally ran the show in 2010 and 2011 when they brought home titles, and even killed it in 2012 and 2013. But they did go through some coaching changeovers that were tough (just like Assumption), and didn’t have the most spectacular finish in 2014 (and Assumption didn’t even get to go that year). I’m probably just drawing the parallels because I really wish I was a WVU dancer.

But anyways, in 2015? Shit. That routine was beautiful. I hope they pull something even better off this year because to me, WVU will always be that 2011 team that killed me when they put that damn scarf in their mouths.

Grand Valley State University

Competing against the best is fun, which is one of the main reasons why I love Grand Valley. With Assumption, I’ve had the honor of going toe-to-toe with this team (and let’s be real, it was only a real competition back in 2013 when Assumption was still am actual NDA force) and seeing what they can deliver has always been humbling.

I’m going to be 100 percent honest, I think I wanted Grand Valley to get its win last year on principle alone, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t completely deserve it. Their routine was stunning. They are hard workers. They are humble. I hope they keep all of that up this year to deliver another amazing and honorable performance next week.

James Madison University & Utah Valley University

I remember sitting in the Ocean Center during finals last year and pretty much everyone on Assumption was like, “yup, it really doesn’t matter whether JMU or Utah Valley wins. They were both flawless.” Because I was totally torn on which I thought should win more last year, I’m still torn about who I’m more excited to see this year (remember up top where I said narrowing this down to five teams is hard?)

Brigham Young University

Because duuuuuuuuuuh. It’s probably so dance team basic of me to fawn over BYU so much, but I feel like if you’re not obsessed with them you’re just being bitter or denying a killer team of the respect they deserve.

If I’m going to boil down the thing I’m most excited for, though, it’s that damn team side aerial. A few years ago this team blew our minds apart by throwing a casual one in there. Then a bunch of other teams started doing it like, oh, like it’s hard or something? So BYU responded by doing the most beautiful aerial sequence in cannon, showing off skill and artistry all at the same time. What are they going to do this year to up the ante? I know I’m chomping at the bit to see.

A little PS note: Thanks so much for the support everyone’s shown this ‘lil blog the past few days. Every view, like, comment, share, and tweet has made my jaw hit the ground. Nothing makes you feel luckier than seeing things unfold doing the very thing you love. I hope you all have as much fun with this as I do, because seriously, these dance team national lists are my favorite blog posts all year.

5 Team Performances To Watch At NDA Collegiate Nationals 2016

2016-3-20 NDA TEAM TEAMS PREDICTIONS

This year, the NDA Collegiate National Championships in Daytona are super bittersweet, because for the first time in a long time I’m not going to be taking the floor in the Ocean Center dancing my heart out for a national championship.

But! At least I’ve already got my Varsity TV subscription set up for the live stream and I have the time to make a top teams to watch list. You win some, you lose some?

I’m going to be counting down teams I’m excited to see between Team Dance and Open Dance because it would simply be impossible to narrow it down to five between the two divisions. Who knows? Maybe I’ll throw a hip hop in there, too.

Here are my top Team Dance teams:

  1. University of Louisville/Penn State Lionettes

This anticipation is pretty similar to how I was feeling during 2016 UDA Collegiate Nationals when Minnesota was taking on Tennessee after last year’s upset. I’ve been a pretty diehard Louisville fan for a while (note my unbelievable reverence for Coach Todd Sharp), but for a while Penn State has been taking the title (until they didn’t last year). Penn State’s social media activity has shown that they are really out for blood this year and I don’t really blame them considering both Louisville and a super random team beat them last year. So this should be interesting.

  1. Iowa State University

Remember that super random team I mentioned who beat Penn State? This is them. I really hope that they bring it again this year. I was at the Band Shell the morning of IA finals and there was nothing like seeing their faces when they came in second, seeing them really surprise themselves and feel proud of what they managed to do through humble hard work. It was really pretty beautiful.

  1. Ramapo College

This is where my bias comes in. Assumption and Ramapo have a decent history of strongly supporting each other, and I have to give these ladies a shoutout. That said, they totally deserve this. Ramapo was back to back champs in 2012 and 2013, and came in second last year in DIII Team Performance. Practicing with them is like being on another planet… They have the most unreal energy, are constantly talking to each other throughout the routine, and push each other more than you could ever know. Having the chance to practice with them was so inspiring and it showed me and my team how much harder we could we working. Naturally, I’m rooting for them to bring out the big W this year.

  1. Towson University

I’d be pretty remiss if I didn’t mention Towson. In the entire dance team community, nobody defines dynasty the way Towson does. I think they’re like, ten? (eleven? twelve?) time national champions. They have one year where they aren’t Team Performance champs and that’s the year they decided to shake things up in Open Performance and win that instead. While I sometimes think another team could topple Towson, hearing from team alumni about how difficult it is to be on that team, I can’t do anything but respect them and get amped to see what they bring out every year.

  1. Boston University

Sucks to B U! Just kidding. More like want to B U. These ladies are fierce. Remember what I said about Ramapo? Same kind of goes for them. Last year I feel like they really concentrated hard on their hip hop (and it paid off), but they still somehow whipped out a fourth place finish for Team Performance, too. It is unreal how excited I am to see in which areas they’ve improved for this year.

Things I Was Doing When I Was Supposed To Be Blogging

girl-writing-on-bed

I really hate when people take a blogging hiatus and are like, “OMG I’m so sorry I haven’t blogged in long time. Like so sorry. Sorry I wasn’t there to write things down for you. Sorry.” Like it’s okay? We survived without you? We didn’t even notice?

Which is why I’m kind of rebranding this post as a “First Quarter of the Year” favorites because let’s be real – I haven’t been posting because I’ve had better things to do than talk about myself on the Internet. Here’s a sampling of things I’ve been doing that I’ve been obsessed with for the past few months:

Writing for Spire&Co.

spire-and-co-header
The design stylings of Hannah Ziegler, Spire’s creative director.

Spire&Co is a pretty fucking awesome website that I’m the living editor for (like the editor for the living section. Not the editor that is living compared to all the ones that are dead. Don’t be so morbid, guys!).

Mostly I just write and pitch a ton of article every month and watch every other contributor slay at their craft, too. At first glance, Spire&Co (formerly The Smart Girls Group) kind of looks like the child of Her Campus, and sure, they’re kind of similar (colorful, target demo of 18-24 females), but this site has a lot of its own unique stuff to offer.

Spire&Co is was founded by Queen Emily Raleigh after she wrote a rad book for her sister to help guide her through high school. Since then she’s worked hard on this company that seeks to help every girl use her own awesomeness to conquer all of her goals.

Whether she wants to run a marathon or run for President, we want to help her get there through content, community, and collaboration (the three Co’s “Spire & Co”).

Dancing with DanceWorks Boston.

It’s never been a secret that dance is my one true love. What made me feel better graduating college was knowing that this wasn’t the end of dance and I, not by a longshot. After school ended and I moved past Assumption College Dance Team, I joined DanceWorks Boston, this huge company run for professional working peeps who are still looking to dance at a high caliber.

My co-captain from ACDT does it with me, as do four other girls who used to dance on the team. Besides them, DWB has given me an amazing little dance family, and a dance-filled escape twice a week.

Finding something like DWB, a place where you can continue your passion with other like-minded adults, is the key to entering grown-up society. It gets me up and moving in my desk job living, has introduced me to fellow grown-ups, and given me a way to keep doing something that I love and that makes me feel young (lol… I’m 23). #DWBLove

dance-works-boston-cast
Matt Ziegler photo. No relation to Hannah, I don’t think. Funny, huh?

Watching Gilmore Girls. 

Awk that I’d never watched this before.

A ton of the Spire girls are super into this show, and I was really feeling like I’d missed out on some fundamental part of being a millennial, so I popped it onto my Netflix about a month ago and haven’t stopped watching.

Writing in a journal.

I posted at the start of the new year that I wanted to figure myself out as a writer, so I decided to keep a journal to work out my style a little more. Thoughts and feelings and (probably) unpopular opinions are kept in that thing, and it’s been the best thing for me. I haven’t just been honing my craft, but been reflecting on what I want to do with my life and what kind of vibe I want to put out in the universe.

Something that’s been making me sad lately is the surge of websites that thrive off of personal essays. Some of these essays are super important – this one written by an actual person who lives in Flint right now is a great example of that. But unfortunately, a vast majority of these personal essay websites are just housing trash.

I’m not here to call out a specific website or a specific author or a specific article, but I do want to touch on this really quickly before I end this post. If you write for a website that takes your personal essays (especially if they’re not paying you), please be careful of what you’re writing. Please don’t just think, oh this is controversial so the editors will like it because it will generate outrage/traffic.

Your editors will like it, but they won’t care about how you’re selling yourself in the long-term, and they certainly will not share their spoils with you. You need to think about that. Is it worth it? I’ve decided that no, it’s not.

In fact, I’ve even been scared to apply for jobs because some of my trashy stuff is still so high up in my portfolio; I’m still working on curating enough quality reporting to try and hide some of my dumber stuff.

It’s tricky, because these kinds of websites are such a new thing, and really look like a great get famous quick plan for writers. I know I thought that. Sometimes I still think that.

And I know that it seems like putting on your resume that you generated thousands of page views on your ~*controversial*~ post will get you hired, but when a hiring manager sees that you wrote something racist/sexist/not PC/really not well thought out, they’re going to think twice. They’re going to think, oh wow do I really want to hire this person who blatantly sold him/herself out just to get page views rather than take the time to do good reporting?

Because good, non-trashy op-eds do exist. Just look at the op-ed section of the New York Times or Washington Post or Wall Street Journal. I read good, responsible personal/opinion pieces every single day.

I’m not trying to insult anyone, or craft some take-down piece. I’m just saying that we need to remember that what we put on the Internet is there forever. I can’t go back to old publications and ask them to pull some of my stuff; the industry simply doesn’t work that way. I just wish I had treated my writing the way I treated my other social media. Those pieces should’ve gone the way of keg stand and tequila shot pics – not surfacing on the web at all. Maybe you should consider this, too.