have a harto

Over the past ten years, I’ve processed a lot. I’m still processing. And there is more to be done. But I’m very proud of the person I am today. I’m proud to be gay. I’m proud to be a reckless optimist. I’m proud to keep learning and sharing what I’ve learned. I’m proud to be a work in progress.

~ Hannah Hart

This is a (spoiler-free) review of Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded, an incredible book by one of my favourite people in the world, Hannah Hart.

(Disclaimer: I wrote this review between 3 and 4:45 in the morning, after reading and watching old MyHarto videos pretty much all day and night.  So it might be rambly.)

I was going to wait to finish the book until today but I couldn’t. I was going wait to write my review until today, but I couldn’t. I had to lie on my bed and process for a while, but then I had to grab my laptop and force myself to stay up just a little longer. I didn’t want these thoughts to drift away.

We, the community surrounding the bright, shiny vitality of a personality that is Hannah Hart as she presents herself to the world, could never have imagined anything close to a backstory like this. Her belated “coming-out” video a couple of years ago was probably the closest she ever came to revealing the slightest crack in her superhero image, and that was barely a pinpoint on the tip of the iceberg of her incredibly difficult life. I don’t want to focus too too much on the actual events of Hannah’s life (Hello, that’s what the book is for. Read it.) but rather on how deeply I admire her and the incredible strength and courage it took to let it all out into daylight after thirty years of being bottled up (at least in the public view).

I would like to take this opportunity, however, to talk about what a freaking brilliant writer Hannah is.  Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded is equal parts raw, deep, heavy, heartfelt, soul-achingly real, but also wonderfully charming, light, and funny (there are puns. and emojis. and footnotes!!). And the language and detail and word choice and everything is just so precise and fitting–it’s a memoir that reads like a gut-wrenching urban fantasy novel, like Charles de Lint but more personal, more impactful because it’s real. The way she tells her life story you can see it play out like one of those indy films that leave you with tears choking up your chest and a deep sense of connection with the world. Heck, her old journal entries themselves are poetic and beautiful. Perhaps other people are not as blown away as I was because they have already read My Drunk Kitchen and know her writing style but I haven’t and I just can’t get enough so I probably will read that at some point.

Speaking of My Drunk Kitchen, Hannah of course mentions her channel and her videos, in particular the drunk cooking show that put her in the spotlight in the first place. Although I knew about her soon after I joined the YouTube audience community (very soon after she started, actually), I avoided watching her videos because I didn’t like the idea of someone making light of getting drunk on a regular basis. I think I was watching Grace Helbig first and loved Hannah in her videos, and then I subscribed to Hannah and watched a bunch of her non-Kitchen videos and fell in love with her as a human being, and then sometime in the past year and a half or so I kind of accidentally started watching My Drunk Kitchen and loving it just as much as everything else she does.

Anyway, Hannah talks about specific episodes of My Drunk Kitchen in the first half of Buffering, namely, the very first episode (which has a lovely story behind it and is so true to who Hannah is!), and the special The Burning Man; so I decided to scroll waaaay down through youtube.com/myharto and watch those two episodes to enhance the experience of reading the book. 5 hours later I had watched the first 47 episodes of MyHarto in chronological order and was struggling to decide whether to keep watching or keep reading Buffering. Spoiler alert: I watched 15 more videos, and THEN read the entire rest of Buffering. Hence the being up at 4am still writing this review. Anyway, I’m rambling, which tends to happen when I’m tired. My point is that I am glad I chose to watch all of those videos, because the book was giving me a context, a deeply complex backstory for the Hannah portrayed onscreen all those years ago, and now I am deeply invested in following her video journey all the way through to becoming the Hannah Hart I know and love today. Also, the book explains why Hannah is in a different kitchen nearly every video for the first year or two, which could otherwise be quite puzzling.

Hannah is one of my favourite people in the world. She is one of those strong and humble and honest souls who survive a traumatic past to become a force for good in this world. She is still struggling and learning and processing and growing, and she acknowledges that. I don’t know why I was shocked that some of the most terrifying trials outlined in Buffering Hannah was dealing with within this past year (2016)–perhaps because I have been following her online presence closely in that time and she is oh-so-good at putting on a cheery face and cracking jokes for the camera. It is hard, apparently, to remember that entertainers aren’t just that.

Buffering is another reminder that everyone has their demons, or as I like to put it everyone has their bitterness, and it is often difficult to see from the outside, especially when they are someone you admire. It takes a lot of trust for them to show it to you. And it is amazingly gratifying when they do. Of course as an internet celebrity who is recognized as a positive force in this world, Hannah has a lot of support outside of family and friends, she has this community she can count on to take this gift she has given us and love her 1000 times more for it. But that doesn’t mean that opening her heart and soul to us and the world could have been anything less than terrifying. So thank you, Hannah, for baring your soul and sharing your story with us.

I am a very lucky person who has led a very blessed life. I know nothing really helpful comes of comparing your life to another’s, but reading Hannah’s story, especially with regard to her mom, has made me that much more grateful for what I had and have. I lost my mom but I had her, whole and complete, for long enough to have had a healthy, fulfilling childhood. As much as I am feeling the power of this story, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for people reading this book who can relate to Hannah’s story directly. I hope that this book serves to educate those who are ignorant and lift up those who are fighting to survive or close to giving up. A reminder to hope, because…

You never know what might be coming in the future.
There is so much music you’ve yet to hear.


Practice reckless optimism.

idhren glîr odo: autumn I

Here’s a little bit of stream-of-consciousness poetry that just happened.  It makes no sense and is probably very pretentious and silly.  The line breaks are especially silly but I was playing with rhythm, so… Also, here’s a lovely photo that doesn’t really go along with the poem but does go along with the slightly existential feeling I have coming out of that brief writing spell.


this photo comes from this gorgeous tumblr blog that I just discovered


a stiff breeze
shuffles the leaves
(dry, frail, papery, thin)
against my

from my mug
the glass
to frost.

pen on thin
coming to terms.

of the cat
from his perch
on the arm

tick tock.
tick tock
tick tock quiet tick tock
breathe out.

on motivation (part 1)

If I don’t write this right now, perhaps I won’t write again, ever.

It’s been three months since I posted anything (and that was just a poem that I wrote earlier in the year so does it even count?) and it’s not that I haven’t had ideas or the desire to write them down–I have.  But every time I wanted to write about something in particular in the past… since the winter really… I said great, I’ll do that tomorrow.  And then never did it.  Obviously.

I was going to make a post on the last day of school in April, about the feeling of ending after five years of being in that place where I grew so much.  I was going to make a post a couple of weeks later about my insecurities and fears about becoming a teacher.  I was going to make a post in June about graduating.

I was going to make a post about Mom near her birthday–I actually wrote a lot in my journal that day and was considering just typing that up for a post.  But then time flew by, and I didn’t.  I was going to make a travel post about my trip to Halifax with my cousins and how I fell in love with Nova Scotia, but I didn’t do that either (maybe a poem, later? we’ll see).

I’ve been trying to write a post about motivation for over a month.  I’ll do a proper, full post just about that… perhaps in a few days.  Ha!

This is what I wanted to write about last weekend:
I was thinking about things Mom has missed out on (like Buffy Sainte Marie at Summerfolk in 2014), and things she would have been surprised and proud to see me doing if she were still alive today, and I thought wow, Mom would have loved the fact that I decided to join a slo pitch team this year, since she used to play in the annual slo pitch tournament back in Walters Falls when we were little.  I was at an end-of-the-year party for my team when I was thinking about this, sitting by the fire, and one of my team mates reminded me of my mom in some funny ways, and I know Mom would have gotten along well with a lot of the ladies on my team, and would have enjoyed that party immensely.  And then I realized, if Mom was still alive (and well), she wouldn’t have just been happy that I joined a team, she would have wanted to play slo pitch again too!  She could have joined with me.  That could have been something that we did together.

I didn’t, of course, write a post about that last week, while it was fresh in my mind and aching in my chest.  I did write about it in my journal, so I suppose that’s something.

Should I make a little post about Halifax now, or is it too late?  Should I pull up the things I wrote in my journal around Mom’s birthday and make that post now, two months late?  Should I go back and make that post about saying goodbye to the York University dance space, with all of the photos I took in anticipation of writing?

You know what, maybe I’ll just turn all of those things into poetry.

Then again, maybe I’ll do nothing for another three months or longer.  But we can hope.

And this, my friends, is what is known, in technical terms, as a “thought splatter”.

poetry in movement IX

Part 9 of the free-form poetry inspired by my experiences practicing Skinner Release Technique in the final term of my final year at York University.  This is the last one!

March 22, 2016

it’s easy to believe in magic in your mind
in your mind, there is no concept of weight
of gravity
(nothing is heavy in dreamland)

in your mind you can float, untethered
drifting through currents of slow-moving air
toes just brushing the tops of the dream-grass
and the dream-flowers

it’s easy to believe, until you open your eyes
and feel your real body, the weight of it
sinking into the floor.

but… suspension is not impossible
it may be hard to let go of that concept of heaviness
but if you do
if you let go
if you keep in your mind that dream space, that dream-grass
you can begin to believe in the magic again
and drift away,

poetry in movement VIII

Part 8 of the free-form poetry inspired by my experiences practicing Skinner Release Technique in the final term of my final year at York University.  This is probably the most literal of all of these reflections, so it’s not my favourite–but it’s free writing, so it is what it is!

March 15, 2016

I am a coiled spring, my hips wound tight, held
immobile with rust, and creaking.

But today is about opening, waking up
it’s not as simple as unwinding, relaxing
it’s a deep focus, a reaching thought to
eyes opening on the inside.

Change the shape:
first imagine, then build, then feel
as the rusted coil melts and lets go
the muscles breathe and float
and hips shift and jump and dance of their own accord.


That inner eye remains open, building more shapes
opening new spaces
the windows in the spine, to see outside and connect
to the cavern in the base of the skull
and the curving wind-tunnels between the ribs
and the valley spaces in the hips, unwound, open
clean, breathing, and free
free to pick up the feet, to jump and twirl
all holding forgotten
all tension lost
in abandon.

poetry in movement VII

Part 7 of the free-form poetry inspired by my experiences practicing Skinner Release Technique in the final term of my final year at York University.  This is one of the less poetic and more scattered reflections I wrote… trying to articulate the my own hesitation in dance and improv and how that is difficult to break out of.

March 8, 2016

tentativity, is that a word?
tentativity, activity
activity that’s… not passive, per se…
but not all there.

a slash, with tenderness
a party, with… sleepiness.

tentativity is not a word
it is a lesser activity, a quiet one
slow, swaying, apologetic

a jump, with silence
a shout, without breath
out of the air, lost in the surrounding

hemmed in, spaced out, tender, quiet, loud
for a while
a dwindling activity
like falling, slowly, to sleep.

poetry in movement VI

I missed posting one of these last weekend because I was busy moving home from university!  Maybe I’ll post another one tomorrow to make up for it.  Anyway, here’s Part 6 of the free-form poetry inspired by my experiences practicing Skinner Release Technique in the final term of my final year at York University.

February 23, 2016

(we gather)
we choose a place, a point, arbitrarily, independently
but still we gather in strips of sunlight
like moths to a flame

scatter and gather, scatter and gather
we are loose, we are free, we are surrounded by each other
and ourselves
so much space, within and without

little gatherings
in a bigger whole
a spacious whole, gathered in the sunlight
like so much shining, dew-spun web
flutter and scatter and float and gather
together: brushing past, leaning, lifting, learning
follow and lead, lead and follow

find the little spaces in between
where hands touch
where eyes see
where light and air and breath peek through
bending around and lighting up the points we choose
independently, arbitrarily, individually
(we gather)