Every year I come across a million and one things that make my mouth drop so far open I’ve got to push it closed manually with my own fist, things that make me think and feel and understand so much more deeply. I call them my gems.
- 24 hours with the Robert Anderson survivor protestors outside Schlissel’s house by News, Photo & Video staff for The Michigan Daily
The News, Photo and Video staff at The Michigan Daily spent 24 hours with survivors of former University of Michigan athletic director, Robert Anderson, last fall. This story speaks for itself. It is deeply important and will forever be important. I am so proud of our staff for covering this so diligently and with so much care.
- What Bobby McIlvaine Left Behind by Jennifer Senior for The Atlantic
This was the very first story I ever read after buying myself a subscription to The Atlantic for my 19th birthday. I remember thinking it deserved to win a Pulitzer Prize and then it ended up winning a Pulitzer Prize. Jennifer Senior is a fantastic writer, one that understands what it means to love and live and grieve. She tells the story of how one family came undone after they lost their 26-year-old son, Bobby, during the September 11th attacks in 2001. It takes courage to understand a family in pain, and it takes even more courage to become the voice of someone who is no longer here. Bobby was kind, funny and thoughtful. He was the kind of person that wrote things like “Life Loves On” in legal pads on his desk. I often think about what Bobby McIlvaine left behind. Everyone should know who he was.
- The Mystifying Rise of Child Suicide by Andrew Solomon for The New Yorker
I will never forget this story. I will never forget Trevor Matthews, who took his own life a few months after his 12th birthday, and how we fail to see and hear and protect children like Trevor. This story is heartbreakingly painful, hard to read, yet important to understand because we so often deny children the right to pain, to anger and to their complexity in feeling. Children are far smarter, far more capable, far more able to perceive and understand the world in ways we do not give them enough credit for. Child suicide, clinically defined as suicide committed by children between 5 and 11 years of age, is often dismissed, overlooked and vastly under-researched. Solomon’s story more importantly brings to light the fact that psychologists, psychiatrists and various other mental health professionals that specialize in child and adolescent mental health are scarce, expensive to access and limited in the scope of empirical data concerning child suicide and clinical outcomes.
- How An Ivy League School Turned Against a Student by Rachel Aviv for The New Yorker
I wrote down one line from this story after reading it: “You start to think that maybe you had it wrong and that maybe it actually did happen the way that they say it did… And then you just throw away the real memory, the true one, and replace it with the one that they have fed you a million times, until that is the only thing you can remember.” The University of Pennsylvania attempted to revoke Mackenzie Fierceton’s bachelor’s degrees as well as her status as a Rhodes Scholar on the grounds of misrepresentation as a student, while simultaneously subjecting her to months of lengthy procedures and abuse. Because Fierceton was financially estranged from her mother after suffering years of abuse at the hands of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, she identified as a First-Generation, Low-Income (FGLI) student upon admittance to the university, received a full-ride scholarship and was informed by university officials that she was able to do so. Rachel Aviv does a fantastic job of defining the hopelessness, fear and lack of self that comes with being a victim of abuse and how often we punish victims that fight so hard to find the courage to speak.
- John Cusack: ‘I have not been hot for a long time’ by Tom Lamont for The Guardian
I have always loved John Cusack. I loved him in the movies “High Fidelity” and “2012” and “Being John Malkovich” and “Serendipity”. My favorite thing he’s ever said was in a 2009 interview with Elle when he was asked if he planned to get married and replied, “Society doesn’t tell me what to do.” He’s retreated from the public eye for quite a while and currently stars in direct-to-streaming films the same way Bruce Willis and Nicholas Cage do. Cusack spends most of his time on Twitter now, deeply involved in politics and hating both Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg as much as possible. Tom Lamont does such a good job of profiling Cusack and defining what it means to no longer be “hot” as a star even when you once so dearly were. Except in my world, John Cusack is always hot.
- What the mess means by Yasmine Slimani for Michigan in Color, The Michigan Daily
Yasmine is one of the best writers I have ever known. She is a wonderful person, a thoughtful editor and someone who is so dear to me. I will miss her very very very much. To choose just one of Yasmine’s pieces as one of my favorites is an incredibly difficult task. Though if you are to read one thing from her, I think it should be “What the mess means.” My favorite line is, “I tell you without really saying it, because I lack the courage, and I think the mess likes to speak for me anyway. When I say, “I’m sorry about my room,” what I mean is that I’m tired. That the days bleed into weeks and months and a task as simple as laundry would drain every iota of my energy.” I think this sentence, and her work in particular, speaks so much for itself.
- 164: Crime Scene, 2000 + 2018 rerun Act 3: A Criminal Returns To The Scene of The Crime by Katie Davis for This American Life
I love this show for its predictability because Ira Glass opens every show with “from WBEZ Chicago, it’s This American Life, I’m Ira Glass.” But I love this show, more than anything else, because it is so deeply humane, because they report on the most mundane places and things like rest stops and car dealerships and recreational baseball and make them so entirely real and thriving and living in a way that I have never seen anywhere else. I love this act from Katie Davis because she chronicles the life of her friend Bobby, a man with a difficult childhood, wrestling with addiction and houselessness. He returned back to the neighborhood he grew up in to coach an unruly team of kids. I love how he calls the kids “fellas” and “leprachauns” and “big heads” and I love how the kids tell Bobby “SHUT UP BOBBY YOU DON’T KNOW NOTHING” as often as they can. But the reason this act will forever stick with me is because of the way Ira Glass closes it off: “It’s been years since we first broadcasted this story over a decade ago. Bobby did go on to coach a basketball team, and they took first place at a local Boys and Girls Club. But Bobby also relapsed. He started doing heroin again. And then he would get clean, and then he would relapse again. Then he moved to a halfway house, a sober house, where a few years back, he died. He was clean. His counselor said that one of his few possessions when he died was a CD with this story on it.” And that makes Bobby’s story that much more unforgettable.
- 354: Mistakes Were Made, 2008, Act 1: You’re As Cold As Ice by Sam Shaw for This American Life
In the late 1960s, Bob Nelson was a TV repairman in California. He was also the chair of his local cryonics society. Cryonics is a concept rooted in the belief that if we act quickly enough, if we manage to freeze those who have died just in time and store them in a cryonics capsule that keeps them cold for all eternity, somehow, someday, someone might just unseal the container and resurrect them to live again. Cryonics is also rooted in desperation, in those who so badly want a second chance at living. Except, freezing those who died and keeping them frozen cost Bob thousands of dollars he did not have. So when members of the local cryonics society began to die, Bob had no other place to lay them to rest but in a double wide freezer in his garage. And soon, Bob had multiple bodies in a garage freezer and no legal right to keep them there. A woman from Detroit who had frozen her father for years in a cryonics capsule approached Bob because she could no longer pay the monthly fee that kept her father frozen. Bob agreed to maintain her father for a much cheaper price, but neglected to tell her he had intended to open the capsule and put more people in there alongside her father. Bob’s plan didn’t work, of course, and the bodies of his friends at the cryonics society, along with the Detroit woman’s father, a little 7-year-old girl named Genevieve from Montreal who had died of cancer and many many other mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers that Bob had promised to keep frozen never saw the possibility of resurrection. They had all erupted into flames when the cryonics capsule Bob had managed to somehow fit them all in malfunctioned
9. The Regina King’s Puppy: The Active Cash Visa Card from Wells Fargo commercial
I love this commercial dearly. I love Regina King and her puppy even more. I love how she says, “We hope you’ll have us over again?” after her puppy chews a leg clean off her neighbor’s dining room table. I love how light and carefree and airy and 2007 pre-recession this commercial is. I also almost opened an active cash Visa card with Wells Fargo. But only because of Regina King and her puppy.
- White friend groups by Hugo Quintana for Michigan in Color, The Michigan Daily
I loved this piece from Hugo. He is decisive, straight to the point and courageously brave in writing “White friend groups.” My favorite line is, “Over my freshman year, I started to notice how these cliques seemed to run the University. As a minority on campus, I felt inferior to these groups who had strong senses of privilege, entitlement and belonging.” “White friend groups,”’ is an incredibly necessary investigation in racial homogeneity among social circles and the inherent damage it causes students of Color. I will miss Hugo’s honesty in writing and in editing very very much.
MiC Assistant Editor Sarah Akaaboune can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.