An interview with the blogger behind Hyperbole and a Half (and a new book of the same name) on narcissism, the Internet, and coping with depression:
I haven’t always had depression. I talked to a few of my friends who knew me when I was in high school, and it was sort of this tragic/hilarious thing to explain to them. They were like, “But you were so happy,” and I’d be like, “That person’s dead, I’m sorry.”
PUBLISHED: Nov. 14, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2590 words)
A son of Chinese immigrants learns his parents' native tongue to learn more about who they are and where they came from:
Since we last met, a lot has happened for Daniel. He is taking intermediate Mandarin — not all that close to Shanghainese, but it’s available. And he spent a summer interning in China. He tells me the trip helped him feel “more Chinese” and opened communication with his mom. During a several-week stay at home after the internship, through broken conversation, he learned about her youth in a fishing village near Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. She even showed him a picture of her as a teenager, holding what Daniel understood to be Mao’s "Little Red Book."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 2, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3473 words)
A fire in Prince George's County in Maryland nearly kills two firefighters. An account of how it happened:
"With temperatures climbing past 1,000 degrees, the shield on his helmet curled, and the liner inside his protective coat melted. His protective mask was so badly damaged that an analysis later concluded that it was on the verge of 'immediate failure.'
"'Everything was hot, everything was burning,' O’Toole said. 'It got hotter and hotter and hotter until the point where you just didn’t want to breathe anymore.' Each breath he took 'felt like someone was cutting your throat.'
"Outside, Sorrell was crying for help, desperate to save his friend. 'Come on! Get that line in there!' he shrieked, a bloodcurdling sound captured on a helmet-mounted video camera worn by a Riverdale firefighter. 'My guy’s in there! Go!'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4867 words)
A former marine recalls an experience with someone he believes was a notorious serial killer 33 years ago:
At my keyboard, I recognized Randy Kraft immediately—the chin, the eyes, the eyebrows, the expressions. It would have been shocking to recognize an acquaintance as a serial killer under any circumstance, but recognizing Kraft as the guy I met on that long-ago afternoon took my breath away for days.
You blink. You look again. You look at other photos. You wonder if you’re being melodramatic, if your memory is faulty. You wonder if people will believe you, or simply think your imagination has run away with you. You wonder if there is a class of neurotic people who make up false accounts of run-ins with serial killers. You realize that to be true to your story and yourself, you can’t let what you are reading create false memories.
PUBLISHED: Sept. 23, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4301 words)
When a beloved teacher is killed, his students figure out a way to pay tribute to him by sending him into space. A story of loss, mental illness, and an inspiring educator:
"For as long as Nae’Ana Aguon could remember, she wanted Mr. Meline as a teacher. Her older brother had been in Mr. Meline’s class years earlier, and she had visited the classroom, a classroom like no other at Spanaway’s Camas Prairie Elementary: telescopes, models of NASA shuttles, Star Trek posters, a mobile of the solar system. And every year Meline’s class built a comet—rocks, dirt, dry ice—then studied the comet with the intensity of a science team in a sci-fi film who’d discovered it in some exotic location.
"Mr. Meline didn’t disappoint when Nae’Ana reported to room 33 on the first day of school in early September 2012. He handed out a word search, a jumble of letters from which the students excavated NASA-related terminology. And then the launch: not of a rocket, but of the man."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 17, 2013
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6665 words)
David Robinson grew up in Washington D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood where young men often died in street violence. He tried to escape it, but ended up dead at 19. "His killing, still unsolved, is the story of gun violence in Washington":
"'I told him, "Guns don’t make you a man!" I told him, "Guns make you a coward!" And he was like, "Unc, man, I know, I know, but these dudes out here, they’re carrying guns, talking about they’re going to do this, they’re going to do that."
"'He was like, "Unc, it ain’t safe out here."'"
PUBLISHED: Sept. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7562 words)
The life and death of Roy Sullivan, a park ranger for Shenandoah National Park who was struck by lightning seven times:
"A gentle rain fell on April 16, 1972. The Spark Ranger was in a small guardhouse atop Loft Mountain, registering carloads of visitors who were arriving at the campground. Not so much as a coo of thunder riffled the air. Then … KABOOM! Lightning annihilated a fuse box inside the guardhouse. 'The fire was bouncing around inside the station, and when my ears stopped ringing, I heard something sizzling,' Sullivan told a Washington Post reporter who contacted him a week later. 'It was my hair on fire.'"
PUBLISHED: Aug. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5142 words)