Isaac Fitzgerald is managing editor of The Rumpus, co-founder of Pen & Ink, and uses Twitter.

Disclaimer: I know many of the people on this list. One of the wonderful things / occupational hazards of working for a site like The Rumpus is that I’ve come to meet a lot of great writers. These stories stand on their own regardless.

I.O.U., and U., and U. (Chris Colin, The New York Times)

Chris Colin sells a $50 will call ticket to see Miranda July using Craigslist and never gets paid, spurring him to contemplate all the debts he himself owes (after some anger-fueled internet stalking, of course).

Maybe this is catching him at a hard time, I thought. But truth was, Joe seemed to be having a pretty normal time. With his ample tweeting and active Facebooking — well over 1,000 friends! — he allowed for robust stalking. There he was on a sailboat. On a golf course. With some bros. Dancing goofily. Doing his handsome face. Doing some artsy stuff. He looked like someone you’d gone to camp with. Apparently he works for some progressive-sounding start-up, the kind whose Web site speaks of community and so forth.

Eddie Is Gone (Nicole Pasulka, The Believer)

Nicole Pasulka, a former copywriter for a tourism company in Hawaii, examines the messy history of the Aloha State through the riveting life of surf legend Eddie Aikau.

That night Hōkūle‘a rode fifteen-foot swells. The boat began listing from water leakage, and eventually stopped dead in the water. The panicked crew huddled to one side of the craft in an effort to balance out the lilt of the boat with their weight. Around midnight, a rogue wave capsized the canoe, tossing the crew into the water and destroying their radio. The crew clung to the boat. Waiting to be spotted by a plane, they drifted farther from the flight patterns between the islands. Huge swells hammered the vessel. Less-seaworthy members of the crew were seasick and exhausted from exposure. Eddie eventually asked if he could paddle his surfboard nearly twenty miles to the island of Lāna‘i for help. Captain Lyman refused until, seeing no other option for rescue, he gave Eddie permission to go.

I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave (Mac McClelland, Mother Jones)

Mac McClelland jumps into the product-stacked trenches of a major online retailer’s shipping house to expose the truth behind how those little brown boxes get to your doorstep. 

[The shipping company] has estimated that we pickers speed-walk an average of 12 miles a day on cold concrete, and the twinge in my legs blurs into the heavy soreness in my feet that complements the pinch in my hips when I crouch to the floor—the pickers’ shelving runs from the floor to seven feet high or so—to retrieve an iPad protective case. iPad anti-glare protector. iPad one-hand grip-holder device. Thing that looks like a landline phone handset that plugs into your iPad so you can pretend that rather than talking via iPad you are talking on a phone. And dildos. Really, a staggering number of dildos.

How Men Fight For Their Lives (Saeed Jones, The Rumpus)

Saeed Jones recollects being gay bashed by a “straight” man in Phoenix, Arizona, and delves into what it means to put oneself at risk in the supposed name of art.

Daniel’s shift from sucking me to punching me happened so quickly, I could still feel my erection pressed against his stomach even as his arms came down from above me like lightning bolts. Trapped under a body I suddenly realized was all muscle, all I could do was watch the thunderstorm. It all felt so distant. He wasn’t beating me. He was beating the desire I had brought out in him. And this is one of the reasons why the phrase “gay bashing” feels misplaced. There, on the floor under him, when I looked up at Daniel, I didn’t see a gay basher; I saw a man who thought he was fighting for his life.

And, at the risk of turning this post into a longread itself, let me take one last moment to recommend pretty much any essay written by Roxane Gay and Emily Rapp this year.

Read more guest picks from Longreads Best of 2012.