Cat Ferguson: A 2014 retrospective.

2014 was a crazy year for me. I graduated from grad school and moved across the country. I wrote my first listicle, published my first personal essay, went on my first reporting trip, bought my first dining room table, got my first full-time job outside of the service industry. I turned 25 and told a bunch of people at a bar I was a half-century old.

It has occurred to me that many of my opportunities came from the kindness of near-strangers, especially editors, who were perhaps unaware that I had no fucking idea what I was doing. Things seem to be working out fine, regardless.

So thank you to everyone who has helped me, encouraged me, and answered what must have added up to thousands of questions over the course of the year. You’re all delightful, true paragons of humanity.

With that in mind, here are a few articles that I’m especially proud of:

  1. Rescue Dog, The Archipelago. An essay about Ickus, my dog, who loves me as much as he hates my Roomba, and who I probably wouldn’t be here without.
  2. Valuable Antibodies at a Grisly Cost, The New Yorker DOT COM. Writing about animal abuse is emotionally grueling, especially when it doesn’t seem like the people who are in charge are doing anything to fix the problem. This was a difficult story, but I’m proud of how it turned out.
  3. Ticks and Cowboys, Modern Farmer. June on the Texas-Mexico border is the kind of hot that makes it hard to breathe. When the thermometer went above 110 degrees it was like time slowed down; walking and talking took tremendous effort. And these cowboys ride their horses around in it all day! Crazy.
  4. Cult Rush Week, Gawker. I spent the summer visiting introductory sessions of Dahn Yoga, Scientology, and Ordo Templi Orientis in order to review them, because what else do you do when it’s muggy and awful in New York?
  5. The Flight of the Ladybugs, The Awl. I hope I never cease to be amazed at how weird people can be. This one is about buying ladybugs to eat aphids in your garden, which you probably shouldn’t do, because it doesn’t work and it might be environmentally harmful. But it does have a long history and a lot of dedicated practitioners, and it was a really fun story to write.
  6. Daily posts, Retraction Watch. I started here full-time in October; not too long after, Vox called us the “Perez Hilton for researchers,” which is really all I’ve ever wanted to be. It’s a three-person operation at the moment, but we’re growing soon, thanks to a grant from the MacArthur Foundation. Please don’t spread the rumor that I’m a MacArthur Fellow; I would hate to be accused of starting it just now.