Freshly Pressed: Editors’ Picks for October 2012

Narrowing down all the fantastic posts featured on Freshly Pressed in a month to just ten is a challenge, but one that we relish — it reminds us of how much great content you’ve published, and of the depth and diversity of the WordPress.com community. Here are some of October’s standouts:

Silk Road Ramblings: Lost Empires, Gobi Fugitives, and The Secret Meth Habit of Marco Polo

I have conquered the Silk Road—venturing through the wild frontiers of Central Asia all the way to the dynastic heart of China, through a land of unforgiving beauty and a blood-splattered past; a land of lost empires, camel caravans, mummies, treasure-filled caves, and Imperial tombs. I am a modern-day Marco Polo, except I can’t grow impressive facial hair or call people ‘Orientals’ or ‘barbarian mongrels’

We read many great posts about travel each month and scope out tons of great photography, but Backpackology gave us a rare fusion of beautiful imagery, hilarious storytelling, and accessible history. The combination of irreverent writing and deep respect for the history and culture of China had our eyes glued to the post. We didn’t just want to travel there — we wanted to travel there with the author as our guide.

Defining Crazy

Getting away with these things is a privilege of the well behaved, sane, and normal. The moment Dr. Doctor diagnoses (or even intimates) a Condition, you lose the right to behave badly. Suddenly, those spending sprees start to look like Mania. A hot temper resembles Emotional Disregulation. Moodiness fuels suspicions of Bipolar Disorder. Every move is scrutinized by doctors, therapists, loved ones. Dealing with a mental maladaption means living under a microscope.

This piece on the imperfect process of diagnosing and treating mental illnesses struck a chord with us, and with you — the post has over 300 comments. Trying to find balance in an area of health that’s still largely trial-and-error is nearly as challenging as dealing with the underlying disorder itself, something that came through loud and clear in this searching, candid post.

Interview With a Semicolon

Gething:  You sound bitter.

Semicolon:  I am bitter. I feel angry; I feel hurt; I feel betrayed. In speech we use pauses and intonation to convey meaning. Why can’t we rely on perfectly acceptable conventions of punctuation, including the semicolon, for the printed word?

The much-maligned and oft-misused semicolon gets his (her?) fifteen minutes of fame in a witty post that immediately caught our eye. Blogger Tom Gething gave the venerable punctuation mark the opportunity to make a spirited defense of its continued usage. Hundreds of Likes, comments, and shares later, we feel confident in saying that the semicolon has more popular support that first suspected.

Oh Johnny . . . Honey. No. Just No.

His artist statement says that he “purposely does not denote a tribal affiliation to the majority of my subjects, rather, I attempt to give the paintings an authentic appearance, provoke interest, satisfy my audience’s sensibilities of the subject without the constraints of having to adhere to historical accuracy.” If that sounds like a load of wank to you, it’s because it is. Sattler’s “innate interest in the world’s indigenous cultures” amounts to nothing more than cultural appropriation to create an exotic ‘Other.’

Among the many Johnny Depp fans awaiting the release of The Lone Ranger, starring Depp as sidekick Tonto, blogger Alex offers a sharp critical perspective. Eschewing cultural criticism-speak for blunt language, she exposes and then picks apart the ways this portrayal of a Native American plays into tired stereotypes that re-victimize those communities all over again.

Going Home

Photographer Steve McCurry, best known for the iconic National Geographic cover photo of a young Afghan girl, one of the world’s most recognizable images, makes a home on WordPress.com. He organizes his stunning, saturated images by theme, interspersing them with relevant quotes and his own musings. Going Home collects images of the structures we call “home” and the people who really make them so. Hopping from Russia to Tibet to Peru to Mali, we couldn’t look away from these compelling photos.

Where we sand and stain the floor. But first try to kill each other.

I’m sure I don’t need to point out—that it is OBVIOUSLY not my fault that the actual stain was significantly different from the sample.  Right?  This is obvious to you.  To anyone, really.  Except to Paul.  To him I was the wrench in his plan.  And therefore the bane of his entire existence.  And?  When that happens?  I think: oh really?  This is the bane of your existence? You have not seen anything yet.

Anyone who’s ever attempted any kind of home renovation project (or even just disagreed with a partner about what color to paint a wall) will find themselves somewhere in this post, which follows the author from outrage to madness to surrender. In a classic example of how the blogosphere encourages schadenfreude, her exploits had us laughing all the way through . . . and swearing to never take on another home-improvement project.

My Dark Secret

At that time I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. I was severely sick in the past, and my doctor was telling me the ‘worst case scenario’ that I would be on bed rest the entire last half of the pregnancy.  I ran it through my mind, prayed, became numb, even put off the first appointment.  But I didn’t want it to draw out, I did what I thought I had to do: went to the clinic. I had an abortion.

We have nothing but admiration for bloggers who put themselves on the line in the name of healing and supporting others. We can only imagine the courage it took to publish this post about the decision to have an abortion and how it continues to haunt, knowing what a divisive subject it is. It was an emotional post to read, and it’s wonderful to see the outpouring of support and fascinating (and civil) conversation it sparked.

It’s Debatable

Democrats? Republicans? They’re just two parents in the middle of a nasty divorce, and you have to decide who you’re going to live with for the next four years. They’re so busy hating each other and trying to take the biggest piece of pie that they have forgotten that they love you at all. And you’re not sure you like them, either.

Here in the US, it’s hard to go thirty seconds without seeing, reading, or hearing something about the presidential election. While we read a lot of interesting political analysis on WordPress.com over the past month, this simple post comparing the acrimony of the campaigns to a squabbling family resonated with us.

Getting Old: The Side Effects of Aging

Getting older often means allowing novelty to be slowly superseded by nostalgia. You start talking about “the good old days” which was a time when music was better and people had their priorities in line. It was also a time that never existed.

A topic we can all relate to — check. Cartoons — check. Biting wit — check. Good advice — check. This post had us laughing at ourselves, which is a uniquely satisfying (and educational!) kind of laughter. This look at the lessons learned from aging also skewered some of the preconceptions we all hold about what getting older means. We cracked up while also resolving to buck the trends toward dogma, technological illiteracy, and high-waisted pants.

Ode to the Blogosphere

We were charmed by this poem extolling the joys of being part of the blogosphere, and so were you.

Social media?
Yes,
but not like Facebook
and not like Twitter.

Blogging is people
taking the time
to write
or photograph
or paint
their lives,
their loves,
their passions.

She nailed exactly why we love being a part of this world: finding others who share our passions, learning about lives drastically different from own own, sharing our stories, making connections. Reading through the poem and all your comments gave us the warm fuzzies, both as bloggers and as people who make blogging possible for others.

What were your favorite October reads? Sound off!

Want more? Read the latest Freshly Pressed picks; check out our writing challengesphoto challenges, and other blogging tips and inspiration at The Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the reader.

For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.


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Michelle W.

49 Comments

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  1. Le Clown

    WordPress,
    These are great picks… You’ll have to work harder if you want Le Clown to start disagreeing with you again…
    Le Clown is biased when it comes to Funny Posky, Cathy from Large Self, and that magnificent™, insightful and beautiful writer from Laments and Lullabies who graciously accepted to write a piece on my serious blog, Black Box Warnings.
    Thank you, WordPress…
    Le Clown

  2. saradraws

    Reblogged this on Laments and Lullabies and commented:
    “Defining Crazy” got some …um…crazy attention. I’m an editor’s pick! Much thanks and humble gratitude to Michelle for believing in my writing and my message.

  3. ethics3rdyear

    Really like this poem on social media! I really do think that blogging is much more interesting than spending hours and hours looking at people’s life on Facebook.

  4. saradraws

    I find myself in very fine company. Kind of like attending a party with lots of rich and/or famous people and I desperately try to play cool and not act weird and stumble over my words when I try to join a conversation. You know, the usual. Thanks for this Michelle.

  5. Kami Tilby

    Enjoyed seeing some of these posts again. Reminds me why I love reading and writing so much. So glad Freshly Pressed highlights the stellar creativity going on in WordPress.

  6. Marie

    Oh gosh! These all look great so far :) Must read them all

  7. Adam S

    Single Girl Blogging is hilarious — all of her stuff. Absolute personal fav of mine. She’s raunchy though, look out!… http://singlegirlblogging.com/

  8. travelgardeneat

    I missed “Ode to the Blogosphere” — glad you recap some of your favorites every month! The Ode captures so perfectly the allure of blogging. One of my favorite blog posts from October was from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man’s blog, with his post, “Looking Up Before Leaves Fall.” (http://nittygrittydirtman.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/looking-up-before-leaves-fall/) ~ Kat

  9. Austin 'BishopReview'

    Reblogged this on The Bishop Review and commented:
    I always find it interesting to see the Editor’s picks for Freshly Pressed at the end of the month. Hope you do too.

  10. zophiel778

    Reblogged this on My Blog.

  11. Cathy Ulrich

    I agree with Sara. I’m humbled and pleased to be in such great company. Thanks for this, Michelle. My experience while being Freshly Pressed just reinforces my feelings about the blogosphere and the great folks at WordPress. The Ode was a pleasure to write and I was deeply touched by the responses to it.

  12. alex.c.johnson

    Thanks so much. I’m really glad you enjoyed it. The rest of these are brilliant.

  13. abbas589

    Reblogged this on BINBAZLOADED.

  14. safeiullahsafa
  15. Jayanth Sugavasi

    Reblogged this on J a y a n t h.

  16. lweyajoe

    Reblogged this on My Wild Ventures.

  17. aj vosse

    I may well be pinching that poem to end a post I’m currently working on! The joys of WP versus social media… ;-)

  18. Cathy Ulrich

    Reblogged this on LargeSelf and commented:
    “Ode to the Blogosphere” was am Editor’s Pick for October! Thank you, Michelle and WordPress!

  19. selaleciyasar

    Reblogged this on yapayselale&peyzaj/ cerkezkoy.

  20. sohail226

    Reblogged this on sohail226.

  21. Rita Bellinger

    Reblogged this on The Wordy Photographer.

  22. toleathers

    Reblogged this on toleathers.

  23. choerin

    Reblogged this on alchoer.

  24. FRESHPLAY

    Reblogged this on FRESHPLAY.

  25. buytrendz
  26. endibaharudin84

    Reblogged this on endibaharudin84.

  27. prasoonnischal

    Reblogged this on Prasoon Nischal Speaks………. and commented:
    Here is an awesome piece of creativity I came across recently

  28. dhekhan

    Reblogged this on Boozig.

  29. lamatenzin

    waooo, pictures are completely amazing…… specially the pics from sand,,,,,,

  30. renée a. schuls-jacobson

    So great! I love when you guys do your own mashups!

  31. prolificmastermind

    Reblogged this on BELLKEEPER.

  32. Rini Madhawati Kartodimejo

    Reblogged this on mandhawai.

  33. trichawintr

    NICE PHOTOS

  34. whatsamthinks

    Reblogged this on Celebrities Worth Watching.

  35. faizkhanpakhtoon2012

    Reblogged this on faizkhanpakhtoonblog.

  36. ahmetoralz

    Reblogged this on HI.

  37. kickerkim

    Always such a fantastic collection of reads. How on earth do you guys navigate your way through the blogosphere, surely you don’t read every damn diatribe on wordpress? There’s probably a forum answering that but I’m too much of a newby to have navigated my way around this crazy place.

  38. hibbynana

    “Ode to the Blogosphere” — glad you recap some of your favorites every month! The Ode captures so perfectly the allure of blogging. One of my favorite blog posts from October was from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man’s blog, with his post, “Looking Up Before Leaves Fall.” farmer100

  39. ascof2012

    FP seems strongly biased against poetry – probably because it doesn’t subscribe to the standard of liberal political correctness that seems to dominate the selected articles. The one example you have here isn’t really a poem, it is a piece of self referential doggerel that panders to the vanity of the selection team.

  40. israelcris7

    this is increible

  41. pilyoh

    Reblogged this on Family Glimpse.

  42. omaryemen6

    Reblogged this on omaryemen6.

  43. Herman of bibledifferences.net

    Some time ago I automatically was taken to a page with the freshly pressed blogs of the day, the moment i logged out. That was wonderful, but somehow I lost this feature. Hope to have it reinstated again.

  44. maxim sense

    Great picks. Half way through. I must read all of them but before that “congratulations to all those who made it to this privileged feat”.

  45. wrappedthenovel

    Love the poem at the end. So, so very true. Interesting article.

  46. godfixministries

    Quite a variety of great blogs!

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