An incomplete list of the best of 2017
When the South is everywhere and nowhere. Goodbye to Eastern Europe. Hipsters broke my gaydar. Dylann Roof is an American problem. Our part in the darkness. Ordinary Americans carried out inhumane acts for Trump. Hyphen-nation. Social justice must be complicated because oppression is never simple. "You wouldn't have known about me." America's future is Texas. The awkward politics of the Oscars. Moonlight was robbed of its moment. The man who kept thousands of people from becoming HIV+. "I am not neutral in anything I do." Gay liberation didn't cure gay loneliness. If they should come for us. When you make Jews afraid, you only prove that we are human. Today's visa restrictions will impact tomorrow's America. Anxiety for highly productive people. This is the Russia you're so afraid of? The false temptations of the Russia story, and U.S. coverage of Russia and Russian coverage of the U.S.
On disability, trans identity, and exhaustion over bathrooms. Housekeepers vs. Harvard. A Black trans woman on the problem with Adichie's comments. Irish politicians on Beyoncé. Music videos are finally showing queer girls in love. Letters from trans and enby survivors to their body parts. Hollywood's outsized credit for tiny overtures to the queer community. What my red state sees in me. Before Jenny Slate and Chris Evans were back together there was this great profile. The horror of Black hypervisibility. Rediscovering Jewish identity in the age of Trump. Why I'm an abortion doctor in the Deep South. The ungrateful refugee. The high price of leaving ultra-Orthodox life. Queer love and struggle in Jackson. We've been killing South Asians since they got to the U.S.
The dangerous exclusivity of survivor spaces. A twang or a drawl? Men have recommended David Foster Wallace to me. "Have you told your parents?" What bullets do to bodies. Reclaiming the golem as a symbol of Jewish resistance. The Chinese factory workers who write poems on their phones. Airbrushing Shittown. The physics of forbidden love. When a fat person goes to the doctor. The radium girls. How to write about authoritarians without getting arrested, Pakistani-style. Dorothy Allison on working-class lit. The painful truth about teeth. How to write Iranian-America. What the media misses about Appalachia. Australia's stolen generations. How Dallas became one of the most welcoming cities for refugees. The poisoned generation.
"I think we live in a constant funeral." Southern and queer. When sleeping in the car is the price of a doctor's visit. When the man who abuses you is also a cop. Is your Gd dead? Jay-Z's anti-Semitism. Excommunicate me from the church of social justice. The uninhabitable earth. The Big Sick, South Asian identity, and marriage. The radical potential of queer road trip novels. "I don't want to watch slavery fan fiction." An excellent Sadiq Khan profile. A shameful and cruel ban on people like me. The dangerous myth of a singular, unified, white American South. My buddy. Queering the rural. Unlearning the myth of American innocence. On being Black and brown in Trump country. White supremacy is as American as apple pie. Skin in the game. What Jewish children learned from Charlottesville. Texas the surprise. Harvey taught America about Houston.
Rhea Butcher on Edie Windsor. When you're genderqueer but your native language is gendered. Where are all the gay rural poets? Black athletes are Black people -- and Black people are dying. The power of group chats for Black and brown people. Online dating when you're in a wheelchair. Nicole Chung on engaging her white family members re Trump. When nothing has worked, perhaps consider: a binder. Everything is embarrassing. Astronomy flourished in India before the British came. Texas is complicated. The loneliness of Elizabeth Bishop. Colin Kaepernick will not be silenced. Let the flood go on forever. What the closet stole from me. Self-driven disaster relief. Sherman Alexie on Thanksgiving. The dangerous lure of writing for white readers. Justice for Ann Curry.
Who will advocate for West Virginia? In praise of the deep cold. The impossible heterosexuality of losing weight. Going it alone. This is what it's like to get your period in a sprawling refugee camp. The myth of the male bumbler.
I'm back in the States and I'm moved. December was a whirlwind for me -- the end of my masters program, two weeks in Poland and Hungary, and then back to swiftly pack, cart our things across our hilly neighborhood in the bitter cold, and leave for Brooklyn, the last of which I'm doing this afternoon, to ring in the last days of 2017 with a loved one who moved away a few months ago and left a hole in my otherwise tolerable D.C. life. Everything's gone too fast to think and I worry about that; I'm still swallowing my time abroad, which was wonderful but heavy, and all of the complicated thoughts I've had in the time since. The timing has weighed on me, too; I spent two weeks looking at the places where Jews once lived and where they died, while scrolling through Twitter, following the news out of Israel and Palestine (or however you, the reader, prefers to think of that area of land.) How does the oppressed become the oppressor? Is this what unthinkable trauma does, create monsters? It's too much to unpack with anyone apart from PIC, and so I've spent some time abusing her ears (and the power of Pakistani wifi and cross-continental reception) with my angst. What a time.
Separate from that there is moving, and the end of a year (and what a year it was), and the general progression of time and where it takes us. Only three weeks ago I was expected to routinely churn out non-journalistic writing in a setting with critical peers; now I'm free, but at what cost? To be taken two ways: 1) when and how will I creatively write now? 2) loans loans loans. Do you know how much it costs to repay both a graduate and an undergraduate degree? Per recent calculations on that one dreaded website, approximately a quarter of my monthly earnings, every month, for the next twenty years. I want to beat my head against a desk, but what good would that do and who would that hurt but me?
Then there's 2018, coming at us fast. What will change in this the *~*new year? I'll be older, hopefully a better writer and journalist and partner and citizen of spaces local and global, but who knows what will go down. My life is very tied to the fate of other people, which can be terrifying, especially in a world of borders and visas and the whims of an uncaring government. By this time next year, handfuls of people near and dear to me could no longer live in this country. That's hard and not about me but still hard. I'm thinking about all of them and about all my other loved ones with problems I can't even begin to understand. In the next year, I hope I am, if nothing else, better at being there for them.
I also hope I'm better at being there for me. That was my one, true 2017 lesson. I spend a lot of time talking about the communities I'm part of but I center other communities, other bodies, a lot of the time. That's crucial but it's not enough. I'm a Jewish person, a queer person, someone grappling with genderqueer identity and Southern identity and what it means to be mentally ill. Honoring these parts of myself will be important next year and I hope I am better at tending to and caring for those parts of myself, even if it comes at the expense of time I would have given to others. Put on your own mask first before assisting others, per the instructions of the many, many flight attendants I listened to in multiple languages across multiple countries only last week.
What else? I want to learn to drive (yes, I am the only Texan ever born who cannot drive), I want to re-engage myself with the languages I've let lapse (Urdu, Hebrew, Spanish) and ones I've waited too long to begin (Russian), I want to be greener and fitter and reading more often, traveling whenever possible. I also want to be bolder -- I'm a very scared person by nature and it's done me no favors; this year, like all years, I'm hoping for bravery and victory over fear and anxiety and all the little hindrances in life that become big somehow despite my best efforts. I hope I can cook more and create more and I hope I am better at my job and not constantly wondering if I've done enough or if I would have been better off pursuing something less tailored to bold, go-getting, competitive people who throw elbows and assert themselves.
Really, mostly though, I hope we all get through this next year, and we are all more tender and more kind with each other. And I hope everyone stays hydrated and also that there is an abundance of cake and tacos and espresso and also that this is the year I finally get a cat.