The 2016 Best of Five Star Mixtape Great Blog Roundup
Hundreds of blog posts were nominated for Five Star Mixtape over the last year, and the best of those were published in its weekly roundups. This 2016 annual wrap-up highlights some of the year's best of the best covering addiction, beauty, disability, feminism, grief, mental health, sex work, gardening, pets, politics, race and ethnicity, tech, trans life, and more.
In order to narrow the list down over the last week, I read over 75 of the top posts, organized them by quality and genre, and wondered if I could just shove them all at you again, but that's what the archives are for.
Also? The reading was pretty damn compelling.
So, without further ado, this year's 2016 Best of Five Star Mixtape great blog roundup is brought to you by being a newly sober woman, giving yourself a break, disability and sexuality, a really smart escape hatch, a children's book, the vital importance of the words we use and the prejudices we maintain, grief, the intersection of mental illness and different cultures, a crappy car, walking out the door "as a fat woman of color who identifies as white”, curiosity and wonder, a dog named PeeWee, casual oppression, preparation for a better future, the experience of being black in US cities, colonization of land and bodies, lifework, the brilliance of selfies, deep connectedness online, and tracing a helix.
"Enjoli" by Kristi Coulter at Medium:
What’s a girl to do when a bunch of dudes have just told her, in front of an audience, that she’s wrong about what it’s like to be herself? I could talk to them, one by one, and tell them how it felt. I could tell the panel organizers this is why you never have just one of us up there. I could buy myself a superhero costume and devote the rest of my life to vengeance on mansplainers everywhere.
"It’s Nice to See You" by Caissie St. Onge at Medium:
…Oprah is arguably the most accomplished, admired, able person in the world. She creates magic for other people and herself on the regular. So, if Oprah can’t do permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be done. Oprah is also crazy rich. If Oprah can’t buy permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be bought. And that sucks. But it is also incredibly freeing…
"'I Sit on Her Face All Day': A Conversation on Sex and Wheelchairs" by Tovah Leibowitz at Autostraddle:
What follows, then, is a conversation meant to move beyond the erosive architecture of “do they/don’t they”; a conversation bigger than the over-rehearsed scripts about disability and sexuality that lead to predictable, shallow conclusions about oppression and embodiment. Conclusions that measure the worth of disabled people by their capacity to reinstate norms from the periphery rather than provide alternative knowledge from the center.
"A Story of a Fuck Off Fund" by Paulette Perhach at Medium's Billfold:
A few weeks later, your boss calls a one-on-one in his office, walks up behind you, and stands too close. His breath fogs your neck. His hand crawls up your new dress. You squirm away. He says, “Sorry, I thought…”
You know what to do. You’re just shocked to find you’re not doing it. You are not telling him to fuck off. You are not storming out. All you’re doing is math.
"An Open Letter to the Female Hat-Wearing Dog From 'Go Dog, Go'" by Raquel D'Apice at The Ugly Volvo:
Momentarily distracted by the humdrum parade of big dogs, little dogs, black and white dogs, I watched as you walked in, brimming with joy and confidence, and looked on as some total nobody, indistinguishable from most of the other dogs in this book, crushed you with his subtle rejection.
"Dear New York Times, My name is Lorelei Lee…" by Lorelei Lee at Medium:
I’m writing to you because the way journalists describe us matters. The way you talk about us has a direct impact on our ability to advocate for ourselves and on the tremendous stigma that we face every minute of our lives. When we are fighting for our bodily safety, this dismissal of our humanity by a journalist amplifies our daily risk of harm. It invites violence against our bodies by implying that we are not real, whole people.
"Sometimes We Break Glass" by Meg at Pigspittle Ohio:
The first time I grieved was for comedian Freddie Prinze. It was around the time of the ‘77 blizzard and outside my suburban Ohio home, the yards were brittle, frozen, white like empty expanses of winter on the Great Plains. Sidewalks and streets were buried and all I could think about was why Freddie put a gun to his head. I cried and lit a candle. I was 16 and hormonal.
No one told me what it would be like when someone I actually knew died.
"The End of Separateness" by Scherezade Siobhan at Berfrois:
Politicization of memory exists. I am a woman of colour whose access to her own recollections is determined by a social ego. Trauma as radiant as a pulled tooth. Do not ask where the pain came from. Do not chant the repetition of these identity bracelets. Do not plant your instrument in my mouth’s swollen apogee after I have gargled with my own blood. I talk myself through dental extractions by reminding my body of the times it howled through consecutive depressive cycles without any Novocain to numb the crooked nerve.
"I Drive A Piece Of Shit, And I’m The Happiest I’ve Ever Been" by Liz Henry at Liz Henry:
And my life has gone terribly wrong, but that’s not the point except it kinda is. You can, in fact, have a life that has gone so terribly wrong and in so many different ways that you’ve polished a turd and turned it into, nah, nothing. It’s still pretty shitty.
But you can, on really good days, feel like you’re living in a movie that didn’t quite make it in theaters, but has a cult following. That’s how I feel.
"The Armored Coconut" by Marika Malaea at The Hamazon:
The unspoken agreement to focus within and never on the outside was like terrible utopian math where we could all be the same, sort of. It was mass colorblindness for the good of the herd. The absence of color — the absence of acknowledging my color — felt safe, even though I lived in a big brown suit I actively ignored. Denying my own color, even hating it sometimes, meant acceptance and relief: nothing uncomfortable, zero conflict, absolutely nothing to see here. Look how nicely I blend in, nothing special! I’m just like you.
"No More War In the Garden" by Gayla Trail at You Grow Girl:
…this particular killing troubled me. I was ashamed of my behaviour that day and the unease it created lingered. Yes, they were devouring a few of my plants and, yes, I can get very defensive about my beloved tomatoes. What bothered me was that I jumped into a me versus the enemy mentality so quickly. Too quickly. I contained it long enough to take a few pictures, and yes, in the moment I did admire their terrifying beauty. However, I could have chose a different route, but I set aside my natural inclination towards curiosity and wonder in favour of a knee-jerk reaction.
"Kidneys of Steel" by Eden M. Kennedy at Eden M. Kennedy:
Did we love our dog more than you loved yours? I don't know. Ours was a pain in the ass. He barked at strangers, and at people he'd known for years. He produced impenetrable walls of gas from his butt. He also had the softest ears, and the biggest, brownest eyes, and when he liked you he'd sit on your feet. And he had just as much of a spark as you or me.
"How To Fight Fascism" by Mike Monteiro at Medium's Dear Design Student:
Q: I am freaking the fuck out that America just elected a fascist. I’m bouncing between wanting to fight and hiding under my bed. I’m just a designer, what can I do?
Hi. Take a deep breath. I’ve been breathing into a paper bag for three weeks myself. Let’s not white-wash (ha!) this. We are truly fucked. We’re standing at the very edge of the American experiment. I can’t blame you for not wanting to take that next step.
So let’s take stock…
"The Subtle Linguistics of Polite White Supremacy" by Yawo Brown at Medium:
Polite White Supremacy is the notion that whites should remain the ruling class while denying that they are the ruling class, politely. Affectionately, it’s called #PWS for short. It has been referred to as the Casual American Caste System, Delicate Apartheid, Gentle Oppression, or what I like to call it after a few drinks: Chad Crow, the super chill grandson of Jim Crow.
"Walking While Black: Garnette Cadogan On the Realities of Being Black In America" by Garnette Cadogan at Literary Hub:
Walking while black restricts the experience of walking, renders inaccessible the classic Romantic experience of walking alone. It forces me to be in constant relationship with others, unable to join the New York flaneurs I had read about and hoped to join. Instead of meandering aimlessly in the footsteps of Whitman, Melville, Kazin, and Vivian Gornick, more often, I felt that I was tiptoeing in Baldwin’s — the Baldwin who wrote, way back in 1960, “Rare, indeed, is the Harlem citizen, from the most circumspect church member to the most shiftless adolescent, who does not have a long tale to tell of police incompetence, injustice, or brutality. I myself have witnessed and endured it more than once.”
"My Optimism Wears Moccasins and is Loud: On Paris, Heavy Metal, and Chasing Freedom" by Erica Violet Lee at Moontime Warrior:
There is something about the intersection of patriarchy and colonialism that gazes upon us in our moments of freedom and decides it will try to steal that, too. Europe’s history of colonizing (the Indigenous lands now known as) Canada is not something of the past that has vanished. Empire requires constant maintenance.
"Lifework" by Audra Mitchell at Worldly:
Lifework is a responsibility. By virtue of being who and what I am, on this land and planet, as a being that harms other beings in my existence and actions, I have responsibilities to them. The work I do should clarify these responsibilities and help me to live up to them.
"Selfie: The revolutionary potential of your own face, in seven chapters" by Rachel Syme at Medium's Matter:
Maybe it is a big deal to finally se herself ther, standing in the same frame as the grand artistic cano. Maybe she is willfully utting herself in the context of the art, and then putting the other people who follow her feed in the context of the ar. Maybe she is adding layers of context to the world, not flattening her own experience.
Those who cannot see this, who refuse to see this, are just not yet fluent in her visual anguage. If they want to reach her, and others like her, they will have to learn.
We are writing the story of how we want to be seen.
"Death and MetaFilter" by Josh Millard at Medium:
I knew I’d be dealing with ten thousand people living their internet lives, basically, and I was prepared for that. Even on a site like MetaFilter where people tend to be a few standard deviations more decent to one another than the typical internet comments section dumpster fire, people have bad days, bad moods, bad instincts. It’s a job where you have to put up with people living through their worst moments and taking it out on you. I was ready. I knew this.
But I didn’t know I’d be dealing with people dying.
"When I Grow Up" by Miki Mappin at Miki Mappin:
As I grow older I feel less wise. A negative take is I feel bewildered. A more positive interpretation is I feel wonder. Is this a kind of wisdom? Sometimes I think life goes around in a circle, and I keep coming back to insights or fears I have had before, without progressing. But a circle is two dimensional. If you add the dimension of time, going around the circle traces a helix. From one point of view it may seem like I keep coming back to the same place, but from another, I’m moving on.
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