Maya Angelou wrote incredible poetry. But here are 9 things you might not know she did.

In a 2009 interview with Maya Angelou, Guardian writer Gary Younge summed up the American poet's incredible biography in a perfect way:

"To know her life story is to simultaneously wonder what on earth you have been doing with your own life and feel glad that you didn't have to go through half the things she has. Before she hit 40 she had been a professional dancer, prostitute, madam, lecturer, activist, singer, and editor. She had lived in Ghana and Egypt, toured Europe with a dance troupe and settled in pretty much every region of the United States."

Pretty impressive—but that's just the Cliff's Notes version.


Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images.

The more I learn about Angelou, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 86, the more blown away I am by her intellect, strength, and sense of humor. I also totally get why the media doesn't always tell her whole story: It took Angelou seven full-length autobiographies to get through the whole yarn.

Here are nine facts about the poet that are often cut from media and teaching materials in the interest of saving time — but that prove what a phenomenal human being she really was:

1. She became the first black female streetcar driver in San Francisco...

...when she was 14 years old.

2. She created a 10-part documentary about the influence of African-American culture on the broader American cultural landscape.

She did this while mourning the death of her friend Martin Luther King Jr. (who was assassinated on her birthday), all without having any formal training as a filmmaker.

3. She threw really epic parties.

Even into her 80s, Angelou threw some rocking get-togethers. As she told the New York Times, not even her health problems could get in the way of her life-of-the-party attitude.

Angelou threw a garden party at her home for her 82nd birthday in 2010. Photo by Steve Exum/Getty Images.

"One of my lungs is half gone and the other half, because I smoked for years, has a lesion. So I can’t swim anymore and had the swimming pool covered over. Now it’s what I call the dance pavilion, and so I and my friends sit out and put music on and watch people dance."

4. While living in Egypt, she was one of two African-Americans working at any news publication in the Middle East.

The other was W.E.B. Du Bois’ stepson, David Du Bois, who fought hard to persuade The Arab Observer to hire Angelou. He succeeded, and she became the only woman in the publication's newsroom. What's more, Du Bois allegedly used to tell her, "Girl, you realize, you and I are the only black Americans working in the news media in the Middle East?"

5. She definitely knew what was important in life.

Angelou made sure to separate her work from her personal life. Writing was very important to her, but it was, above all, just a job — so she made sure not to do it at home. As Gary Younge wrote in 2009, "When I ask what she does to relax, it sounds as though she mostly naps, only to wake and receive awards."

6. She spoke five different languages, aside from English: French, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, and Fanti, a Ghanaian language.

Photo via Burns Library, Flickr. Used with permission from HistoryBuff.

7. She was totally up front about what she wanted.

Whenever she agreed to be interviewed, she provided the interviewer with a fabulously straightforward list of rules. The rules included:

A meeting dialogue: "Dr. Angelou will often pause prior to speaking or when completing her thought. Please hold your thought until she is finishing speaking."

Room temperature: "Dr. Angelou requires warm rooms. You may choose to remove your jacket or loosen your tie if you find the room too warm."

8. After being sexually abused as a child, Angelou stopped speaking for six years.

That's not awesome at all, obviously, but the way she kept her mind sharp during those years of silence is awesome: She memorized the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe.

9. Her music is crazy good.

Here's proof:

Sometimes we forget that famous people like Angelou were also very real human beings who made the world a better place one day at a time.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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