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.

 

 

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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.

Writing Love Letters, Because the World Needs More

Our mission is simple- make love famous.The More Love Letters movement, spearheaded by the talented Hannah Brencher, is something pretty close to my heart. You see, Hannah is a graduate from the same school as me (and pretty cool fact, she also held the same position as me on the school newspaper when she attended Assumption).

Hannah inspires the hell out of me because she’s managed to make a life out of something pretty important to me – writing. Her words are beautiful and careful and deliberate, and every time she posts something new to her blog I’m sucked in like a vacuum, like her words were something filling an empty space I didn’t really know I had.

She also inspires the hell out of me because she’s managed to do all of this on a purely optimistic platform. As someone so consumed by the news and the little bitty world of new media, I’m blown away by people who can write without cynicism or sarcasm and who choose to use their talent to build a positive space in this world.

I learned how to write by letting love letters spill out of my soul for a boy who I was never going to let read them. I let them stack up in notebooks next to my bed and a special Microsoft Word folder on my laptop. They kept me company when he’d be sleeping silently beside me and wrote themselves in my head when his antagonisms were the loudest words in the room. And even though I don’t write him letters anymore, I’m glad the More Love Letters movement exists so I can write some for someone.

more love letters

I wrote to Anistazia for MLL’s 12 Days of Letter Writing because she spoke to me. I felt her somewhere in my heart. There are so many deserving people on the 12 Days list, and someone will speak to anyone, but Anistazia’s story was brand new to me and felt familiar all at the same time.

Anistazia had a once in a lifetime romance. She was a slave in Germany during WWII and after immigrating to America she married her childhood sweetheart. They kept their vow of, “until death do us part” but when he died a part of her did as well. Since his passing she had to enter an assisted living home but she still, “chooses to find the beauty in everyday and shares that beauty with everyone she meets.” Let’s give Anistazia all the love she’s given to others over the years.

I think it’s easy during Christmas time to get wrapped up in so many different things. You’re trying to find the perfect present for your family members and loved ones, deciding which charity to donate to, trying to fit in every special featured on the 25 Days of Christmas. But I want to let you in on this: this letter took me 10 minutes to write. It cost me the price of a stamp. It took me the drive to the post office.

If you’re looking to do some good this holiday (and aren’t we all?) this is something to look into. This is something to consider. Drop by the More Love Letters site and try your hand at donating a smidgen of your time and stationary to make someone’s holiday.

July Fourth and the cruelty of heartbeats (Revisited).

“Your heartbeat is mean,” he said.

“It’s too loud,” he said.

He was trying to sleep.
The smoke from the fireworks had long cleared our skies,
so he was going to sleep.

And I was going to think.

The blue lights from the TV licked the wall behind us and I looked down at his dark,
sleeping eyes,
his shiny, shiny eyes;
it was like our sadnesses were suddenly lining up against each other like
two sides of a magnet.

When we first met he found two scars on my hands
and he’d kiss them until he couldn’t breathe.
Now he’s found the scar on my heart (inflamed; ripped open; sewn again shut)
and he kisses it just the same, and then throws it in his closet.

Kid keeps me, not skeletons, in his closet.

“But it’s yours that’s cruel,” I said.
Sometimes it’s loud, like mine. Sometimes it’s loud
like the gunshots in Lexington, like the fireworks overhead tonight.
Like the tires screeching to a halt,
scarring the road in their wake.
And just when it has kept me company and sung me to sleep, it grows quiet.
It’s like my ear is pressed against nothing, like I’m burying my face against
air. And just when I’ve found my own background noise, my own steady rhythm,
it starts to beat again.

On Dancing, Love, and Other Drugs

dance blog realOn January 12, 2015, exactly eight days ago today, I published a post entitled, “5 Teams to Watch at UDA Nationals 2015.” It was literally exactly how it sounded—a list of five teams I was super amped to watch at UDA Collegiate Nationals. Now, eight days later, I’ve gotten 679 views on that post. 679. I hadn’t even gotten that many views on this entire blog until the start of 2015. Like what? Dang.

The really cool thing about it all is that I would’ve come up with my favorite teams heading into the competition whether I’d decided to post to my blog about it or not. I freaking love to dance and have obsessed over collegiate nationals for years and years and years, so doing my thang and being able to post it to the blog was rad because I didn’t need to come up with a blog post for the week.

Especially since making other blogger ‘friends’, I’ve been looking at other people’s blogs and being like, “oh, okay,I need to do this, this, and this.” By “this,” I think I’ve meant outfit reviews and DIY crap and recipes. And that’s really not who I am. You want me to post an outfit of the day? Why don’t you take a gander at my collection of plain white shirts and black leggings. You want me to post about DIY crap? I’d rather just buy a set of coasters rather than modpodge photos to some. You want me to post recipes? Well guess what—I may make a lot of baked goods from scratch, but I don’t know crap about actually making up a recipe.

Let me set the record straight: There is nothing wrong with the fact that I accept a free mascara to review, or hair conditioner, or whatever. Posts like that are fun. Posts about my day seeing the Nutcracker are fun. But this blog was supposed to be about my poetry, and although I can’t crank out a sonnet the way I used to, I feel like I’ve lost the purity of my intentions.

Which is why the “5 Teams to Watch” post came at the perfect time.

I have two great loves in this world. One of them is dancing. I love having it hurt when I inhale the day following at 7-hour practice. I love working through a dance and realizing that my mind truly will give up before my body does. I love the camaraderie and the way that this art has somehow become my space, my breathing room.

The other is writing. I love threading a sentence through the eye of a needle. I love taking a totally universal feeling or emotion and articulating it in a way that nobody would’ve thought of. I love recognizing this predictability amongst the human race, recognizing that we’re all sort of just writing the same story and that’s really beautiful.

And when I wrote “5 Teams to Watch,” I was, in the most natural and serendipitous way, just putting those two worlds together. It’s like, there are parts of dancing– the dance, the feeling, the photos of teams learning of their victories– that are in themselves poems that I am not conceited enough to think that I know how to write. But I still want to try.

I started the second semester of my senior year today, which pretty much just indicates one thing—I have to figure out what the fuck I want to do with the rest of my life. And I’m starting to kind of realize that whatever I do, I have to do it with love. Do it with love, and what will follow is the success.

I really hate when people wrap their words around old clichés, making them feel really dank and heavy. This is not Oz—not everything you write is some pulling away of the curtain which hides the universe’s secrets. Sometimes it’s just about a boy in your car or the cruelty of hearts beating or of the way two people holding hands can look like Mary Magdalene—a bunch of drugs that we get addicted to and breathe in like some intoxicating potion.

So I’m sorry that this was all incredibly heavy. I’m sorry that I’ve spent this last page just throwing my heart a cliché and hoping it will stick. But I hope you all know—I did it with love.

7/3/2014

“Your heartbeat is mean,” he said.

“It’s too loud,” he said.

The blue lights from the TV licked the wall behind us and I looked down at him looking up; it was like the sadness in our eyes suddenly lined up against each other like the two sides of a magnet.

“But it’s yours that’s cruel,” I said. “Sometimes it’s loud, like mine. Sometimes it’s loud, like the gunshots at Valley Forge, like the fireworks overhead tonight. Like the tires screeching to a halt. And just when it has kept me company and sung me to sleep, it grows quiet. It’s like my ear is pressed against nothing, like I’m burying my face against air. And just when I’ve found my own background noise, my own steady rhythm, it starts beating again.”

Don’t leave don’t leave don’t leave don’t.

I love you because of the way you smile when you don’t think that I’m looking and the wrinkles near your eyes. I love you when you place my hand on top of yours, palm-to-palm, and make fun of me for how much smaller mine are and I love you when you pull me by my scarf so I can be closer to you. And I love the way you know how to navigate my body without some kind of roadmap. And I know, I know it’s all these things that sound so stupid and so cliché; I never wanted to be that kind of writer, the kind who talks about a smile or a laugh or the way a heartbeat sings me songs when I’m about to fall asleep, but before it was books or words, before it was crinkled manuscripts and dreams that were bigger than I could cup my hands around, it was you. I fell in love with you first.
So I’m going to tell them about those nights in my car. Everyone else, that is. You see it’s funny because I never really saw a car as the paramount in romantic imagery; I mean sure, I’ll give it to the Titanic, Kate Winslet’s hands gripping the fogged car windows, that maybe in those parts of my mind I’ve felt the sensuality of the moment. But now when I think of love, I find you sitting in my passenger seat, summer and its warm breezes and the way sometimes we only whisper to each other and how most of those nights you were asking me to stay. I never thought I’d let love rest there in my car seat, off seeing the world, or whatever the fuck it is you’re doing anyways.
And maybe I can tell them about that morning in your house. How I’d crawled up the stairs and I was so jumpy. Maybe it was because we were young or maybe it was because you were the first boy to look at me like he was really looking at something but my heart was beating so fast and it almost felt like the end of a movie. Your grandmother was wandering about the house whenever I was sneaking back to mine and you commented on how it was okay because she didn’t speak much English, but that doesn’t make her blind. She always smiled at me anyways.
Maybe I would tell them about the way you hold my hands. You do not work with your hands but when you press your palm against mine it is like you are laboring to repent for whatever sins we have committed. But maybe it’s not that special afterall; finger-lacing is preferable to cupping for anyone who’s in love. Maybe I would tell them that in art, Mary Magdalene is recognizable in paintings of Christ’s descent from the cross because her fingers in knots are a symbol for sex, but we’re trying to be holy here.
But I think I’m going to tell them nothing. Because in the end it is your mouth I look to when the words seem to have gone from mine and it is you who these small things in my life remind me of. It is you who I count down the days until seeing and you who pushes my hair behind my ear and who knows how to smile all of my smiles for me because sometimes I need that.
So I hope that answers your question. You asked it months ago on a couch in a basement and my heart was beating fast and you and I were sober by that point. I’m sorry I was so scared then and I’m sorry I was mad or maybe it was just moody or tired, but I couldn’t keep chasing you in and out of my love poems. You know that I love you for releasing the shame from my capacity for forgiveness and I think maybe I have my answer for you now. What do I want from you? Well I want you to stay.

To Say Thanks.

To Say Thanks
2011. That first year it was all desperation, us getting caught up in our foolish ways. It was a thanksgiving with not much to be thankful for and the first time you’d ever seen me angry. Silence, I’ve come to find, is tangible—it bends and it moves, it was stretching across mile markers on unlit roads until last night. And it’s awkward. Oh, it is awkward. Don’t worry. Things get louder tomorrow. There’s a boy in my car and we’re dodging the cops and Ringo Starr is singing about his Yellow Submarine. The sunrise is bleeding into the morning dew, and his fingers are bleeding, too. Maybe that’s just me spitting words that bite again. I’m yelling, fog pressing its way up the car’s windows the way he was pressed against her. And her. Oh yeah. And her. Our sweaty little hands are grasped tight: Grace. Don’t ask me to absolve your sins.
2012. I’ve been saving room in my belly for this holiday all week, but still, I don’t think I can eat the turkey this year. It’s just that I’m too full– full of sad, full of awkward, or just too full of him, really. Resentment plagues me, jealousy has me gagged, and everyone’s pity glues my feet to the floor. When he sits down I can’t get up. When he smiles I look down—that used to be mine. I am red, having found out about her on Facebook. It was humiliating and everyone’s eyes are settled on me, trying to spot the difference. Is her hair different? New earrings? No, guys. My heart just isn’t whole anymore. Silence is drowned with the fog in my ears and the way I ration my breath when he’s around. Here I am hands shaking, not talking so he can’t hear my voice crumbling; steady now. And bitter. Always so bitter, he says. When I drive him home he’ll roll down the window, let it all burn. He is the mundane and the small talk, the elegant formalities that seem so foreign when I’m with him; deep-boned laughter those days we first met. It was the first thing I noticed about you, your laugh; how like this sadness it made me feel full. He asks me about classes next semester and coughs (laughs). “Whole lotta art and history there?”
“Yeah, it’s casual, just my major.” Listen to me when I speak.
“Oh, that’s cute.”
2013. It’s over a month until Thanksgiving, but all the same feelings are here. The feelings where we fall the Hell apart. This year I’m not silent (awkward and nervous). My breath is heaving, hot red rage, syncopated and staying in time with yours. Don’t touch me. I just don’t think I’ve ever been this angry with you. And I never thought I’d be so stupid. Did you tell her? Did you tell her about that night before you left me? Our hearts were beating so hard and you tried to kiss me and I put my hand against your chest to push you away. Does she know about that? And does she know how tight you held me? How your arms melted into mine and you counted all of my ribs just to know that I was real, to know that I was real and sparking to life in your arms? My mouth was so dry when I looped back round your house. Get out of my car. No. Here’s the part where you wanted to talk, regrets and your biggest what if, they shine like the stars through the windows. “You’re in a car with a beautiful boy… And you feel like you’ve done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you’re tired.” Richard Siken said that, and amen. Wasn’t this the greatest love story we were writing? But no. Its horror and I should’ve known to never open that door to us again.
I’m thankful for liars and for leavers because now we’re self-sufficient. I’m thankful for boys in my car, because they teach us how to drive away as fast as we can. I’m thankful for the miles, because now I don’t have to see his face for another month. And I’m thankful for that infinitesimal moment of complete clarity, because now I know that I’m way too awesome to be lied to again.

Published 2014 Thoreau’s Rooster

A note to say that I’m sorry.

I’ve been calling on Forgiveness to pay me a visit all weekend
things I do when my hands are shaking
and my face is red
and I am just.
So so angry with you.
Maybe Forgiveness is just afraid.
That maybe you’ll come a kickin’
and a screamin’ on back to me
a place we both know you’re not really supposed to be right now.

And I wanted to call you to tell you I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I was angry,
I’m sorry I wanted you to say you were sorry,
I’m sorry I believed every lie that you told.
But mostly, I wanted to say sorry
For the red wine I spilled on your shirt;
That messy way I get when you pour the drinks
And it has been months. Please forgive me.
What else could you have expected from a blustering web of emotions,
someone so volatile as me?

Hey Forgiveness, I saved you a place
At the table. Maybe
You were too busy looking at the leaves.
The leaves are red. And he broke up with her weeks ago.
I’m sorry I believed every lie that you told.
Hey Forgiveness, come sit with me
There’s an empty seat
And I’m afraid of him.
Hey Forgiveness, give me the words to say.

I don’t know
I’m sorry
I wish I could tell you
How to make this better.
Forgiveness, show me the stars I can make
How the fireworks are mine now.
Show him regrets
And apologies
And show him how to beg like I do. Show him how to make it the same again.
Show him how to miss and long and draw lines on maps
Or something like that.
I’m sorry
I wish I could tell you
How to make this better.

“…you’re a train and I’m a trainstation

and when I try to guess your trajectory I end up telling my own story.”—Richard Siken

You are a train. I am a trainstation. It is two AM and you lay sleeping in my sheets, and I am surprised that years ago I never predicted how formidable this trap would be once we shared state lines. You’ve held my hand loosely these days and I’ve held harder ‘till you could see the whites of my knuckles, like how my father used to have me hold one of his fingers, grasping it with shaking strength crossing speckled snow parking lots to the ski lodge. You read my diary months ago, and when I was waiting for you to be angry you pressed your lips hard against mine and I felt the wrinkled corners of your smile, reminding me of that laugh that always made me feel full. Don’t worry. I love you. It’s okay. But you cut the crusts off your sandwiches, and I wait in vain for the day that all of me will be good enough for you.

You are a train. I am a trainstation. It is two AM and you lay sleeping in my sheets, and I wonder again where your mind is, about your stops on your trip back to the north, how you were fracturing heart strings, and if you did this on purpose when you thumb tacked me straight on walls and told me to be perfect. And told me to be strong. It’s strange to think of all the ways someone can influence your life—an effort to please them, I think, is the most common. Like when you dated the girl who took pictures of wounds, how I wanted to be the one healing them. Or when you dated that blond, how I more than ever wanted to dwell inside of my books. Or all those times you were dating me. When you were dating me, and said that I was perfect, that I was good, that I always pushed you. Except for when I wasn’t good enough. Except for when you, again, were walking away. Too scared? Too bored? I never knew where you were going, but I knew where I was. I knew it because I was healing wounds, and I was writing it down in books.

You are a train. I am a trainstation. It is two AM and you lay sleeping in my sheets, and I am surprised that I let you crawl in there. But patient me and fickle you, I can’t help from waiting for my A-train, my Red Line, while you walk along rusty train tracks kicking up dirt with careless steps. I touch you and I am elbow-deep in diamonds, not quite breaking everything in my grasp, but ruining it nonetheless. I watch the sun rising yellow, pink, on my walls—“I guess it’s just that broken heart of yours,” you’d say—and see your shadows pressing in within in it, frankensteined and different each morning. You bite your lip in your dream, and I wonder how I am stuck in this nightmare again.