My 10 Favorite Stories Of 2016

Photo: Can Turkylimaz

As is tradition — well, at least as of 2015— it’s that time of the year when writers of all stripes take a look back on the work that they’ve done in the past 11.3 months. The best-of list onslaught has already begun, which means there’s no better time than the present to share my own greatest hits of 2016.

My job changed dramatically over the past year. From 2013 until the end of 2015, I was a full-time freelance writer with no obligations other than my deadlines. I could sleep late, write when I wanted to, and chase whatever stories struck my interest.

But then in November of 2015, I got the best news ever: I’d been hired as Editor of Eater Dallas, and a few months later took on the same role at Eater Houston. It’s a full-time job that is totally bonkers, but it truly is the best of both worlds.

As such, my freelance writing slowed down a lot. Working 40 hours a week will do that to you. Still, I had a chance to file some stories that I am endlessly proud of, both with my amazing team at Eater and at some of my dream publications.

Without further ado, here’s my 10 favorite collections of sentences from the past year. Happy (early) New Year, bitches!

  1. There could be no other story at the top of this list than my collaboration with Jason Hernandez to tell his incredible life story for Texas Monthly. Hernandez, pictured above, is now an activist for at-risk youth and people service life sentences for non-violent drug offenses, but was once set to spend the rest of his own life behind bars. His story, which culminates with being pardoned by none other than President Barack Obama, is nothing short of amazing. It also doesn’t hurt that endlessly talented Dallas photographer Can Turkyilmaz shot some beautiful photos to accompany Jason’s story.
  2. Thanks in large part to Jason, I also had the privilege of speaking with Larissa Martinez, a Yale-bound graduate of McKinney’s Boyd High School who announced her status as an undocumented immigrant in her valedictory address at graduation. Young women like Larissa give me hope for the future.
  3. Working for Eater means getting to report the coolest food stories in the world, like digging into the history of the Slurpee, writing about the fascinating rise of Hare Krishna restaurants around the world, and exploring the rise of sustainability in St. Croix, USVI.
Sunset in St. Croix, USVI

4. Once again at Texas Monthly, I dug into the history behind the Dixie Chicks’ erasure from country music and their imminent, long-awaited comeback. It was probably the story that’s been inside my soul since I was a 14 year old girl.

5. For IMPOSE Magazine, I penned a love letter to Sheer Mag’s Tina Halladay, Jill Scott, Beth Ditto, and Missy Elliott on the transformative power of badass fat women on stage. I cried, a lot.

6. I didn’t review as many shows as I did in 2015, but I still had the pleasure of seeing Sturgill Simpson, Beyoncé, Willie Nelson, and the Dixie Chicks, among plenty of other great artists.

7. I fulfilled all of my high school, 90s-obsessed dreams in interviewing Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins, who talked about feminism and sex and rock n’ roll with me. It was pretty damn dreamy.

8. Also for, I had the honor of telling the stories of countless volunteers who left their homes in the United States, Europe, Asia and trekked to the Greek Isles to provide nutritious food to Syrian refugees escaping violence in their country. Their courage, selflessness, and dedication is the definition of inspirational.

9. For my day job as Editor of Eater Houston, I talked to the legendary Trill OG Bun B to find out his favorite places to eat in Clutch City. The man’s got killer taste.

10. I picked a fight with Wheeler Walker Jr., a “comedian” who recorded a filthy (and misogynist) country album, and it maybe escalated a little bit. Then, we made up. Sort of. Then he blocked me on Twitter.