Things I Read That I Love #18: So I Can Vote

HELLO and welcome to the 18th installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about Xanax and dystopian young adult fiction! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are. The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.

Sidenote — if you’re looking for up-to-the-minute news about the Trayvon Martin case, I highly recommend this page on Mother Jones.

A Thin Line Between Mother and Daughter (November 1997), Salon.com – By novelist Jennifer Egan (she wrote Like Me, among others) “A former anorexic ponders the family origins of eating disorders.”

A Place Where We Are Everything (March 2012), The Rumpus  – “When Trayvon Martin was killed, he was wearing a hoodie and somehow, this hoodie has become one of the focal points of the growing and necessary conversation about this young man’s death, the justice he deserves, and the racial climate in this country that makes a grown man with a gun perceive a 17 year old holding Skittles as a threat because of his skin color.”

This American Lie (March 2007), The New Republic - What’s weird about this article is that I left it feeling “dude, it’s just David Sedaris, we don’t have much invested in these stories, chill!” Like he can lie about his sister’s job, it’s not working conditions in an Apple factory in China or anything.

Fresh Hell (June 2010), The New Yorker – About dystopian fiction for young adults, its proliferation at this certain time, the difference between dystopian fiction for young people and dystopian fiction for grown-ups, and the appeal of a special new series called The Hunger Games.

The White Savior Industrial Complex (March 2012), The Atlantic – Rachel tipped me off to this one and then I saw it linked a lot over the weekend. If you’ve not yet read it, you need to fix that immediately.  – “If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.”

Listening to Xanax (March 2012), New York Magazine - “Three and a half years of chronic economic wobbliness, the ever-pinging of the new-e-mail alert, the insistent voices of prophet-pundits who cry that nuclear, environmental, political, or terrorist-generated disaster is certain have together turned a depressed nation into a perennially anxious one. The editors at the New York Times are running a weekly column on anxiety in their opinion section with this inarguable rationale: “We worry.”

Also this rang especially true: “Anti-anxiety drugs are the salvation of those for whom opting out of the to-do list isn’t an option.”

The Jimmy McNulty Gambit (March 2012), The New Inquiry“But the main thing is why, and how: the fiction comes into existence because an immovable object has been met with a force that can’t accept that it is stoppable. Within the normal course of the system, Marlo can’t be moved, because the system is not built to move him. But because McNulty can’t imagine his own failure, he imagines that failure out of existence. He tells the story he needs to be true.

Rewrite (May 2011), 5280 – Trying to start over when you were the driver in a car accident that kills four of your friends, and you survived. Starting over involves laying low and then moving to New York City.

In Which We Don’t Do Coke in the Bathroom of the Restaurant (March 2012), This Recording – Oh did this musing on waitressing EVER ring true! Especially worth mentioning how one of the most jarring/frustrating things about going from waitressing to an office is that offices have office politics. In restaurants, there’s no passive-aggression — if somebody wants something from you or is upset at you, it’s very direct. You always know where you stand, and you’re always on your feet, and they always need you.

The Killer and Mrs. Johnson (March 1998), Westword – A teenager named Jacob Ind and his friend ambush and murder the teenager’s parents in the middle of the night. It’s alleged that the parents had been physically/mentally/sexually abusing Jacob and his brother, but the case presented in court wasn’t convincing and Jacob was sentenced to life without possibility of parole.

It’s Different For Girls (March 2012), New York Magazine – A review and profile of the new HBO show Girls, described as “FUBU” = “for us by us.” As in a show about girls, written by girls. What a novel concept!!

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1762 articles for us.

14 Comments

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    I felt the same way about the David Sedaris piece! Like, no one reads a David Sedaris short story and thinks, “Man, thank goodness he transcribed these boffo witticisms as a child so that he could use them to communicate a larger truth humorously down the road!” I left it feeling like I had to defend David Sedaris, which was so weird! Was it the tone of the article? I kinda feel like it was.

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      yes i felt like the article was just trying to play “gotcha!” with David Sedaris. i feel like if someone cares that much about the veracity of a Sedaris story (enough to “make a couple phone calls” to get to the bottom of it) then the joke is actually on them. ‘cuz that’s absurd.

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    thank you, thank you, thank you for linking to the “white savior industrial complex” article. i seriously feel like the author just entered into my brain and wrote my jumbled thoughts down about this whole subject in a much more eloquent, fleshed out manner than i ever could! all these articles look great though!

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    Love the ‘White Savior Industrial Complex’ and ‘Jimmy McNulty Gambit’ articles. Gawker had a similar article to ‘This American Lie’ called ‘There Is No Such Thing As A Larger Truth’ but it tied more into the Mike Daisey situation, it did seem to be similarly outraged by David Sedaris though.

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    I thought I might see the Xanax article on this list. And ugh I have so many feelings about it and I tried to write a long comment but there was too much to say. I guess just that it’s hard to draw the line between a diagnosed/diagnosable anxiety disorder and the kind of casual unprescribed usage described in the article.

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      I know! The article also killed me with how casual it was about benzo abuse. The author’s bias made it really hard for me to embrace the article itself. A lot of their sources and insight were awesome, but any time the author would connect the story back to abusing hospice kits I could feel my blood pressure rise. In general, I think I am too close to the prescription drug abuse situation to really be able to tolerate side stories like that.

      And the fact that they even mention stealing a regulated substance that was paid for by a hospice facility to be dispensed to the dying patient only to selfishly use for their own grief is sick. And that this is mentioned so casually and boldly in a publication but they won’t get in any legal trouble at all! Ridiculous. #rant

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    Jennifer Egan (Thin Line) writes with such finesse that it takes me back to twelve years ago when I sat alone in a room so grotesquely thin that I had lost sight of who I am. She hits the nail on the head – “I WANTED to get anorexia.” It seems ridiculous but the disease has such an allure for people yearning to be in control of their own lives. I too have dealt with the feeling of regret – of wanting to have spent the years lost starving and depressed and cutting doing something productive like perfecting ballet. Interestingly enough, my anorexia was only vaguely tied to my mother; I was starving because I wanted to be in control of my life – I had realized I was gay and didn’t know what that meant. Egan makes a fine point, and I concur that I would never subject my daughter to the hell on Earth I lived through.

    Alternatively, while Miller’s Xanax article read well, she shouldn’t be skeptical of mindfulness. I practice it in my therapy (I struggle with bi-polar II, PTSD, and chronic anxiety – I’ve taken, been addicted and in turn taken off of Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, and Valium) and while it doesn’t promise tranquility as easily as a Xanax would, it does help anxiety. No one said life would be as easy as popping a pill. And I’m sorry, “The cost of the training is $600 for eight two-hour sessions”? I currently receive disability and I go to a FREE mental health program in a city where budget cuts are being made – come up with a better public health plan and have some humility Upper East Siders.

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    I quite enjoyed “Fresh Hell.” The research paper I was most excited to write back in high school was a comparison of the dystopian visions in 1984, Brave New World, and We, the social issues which inspired the authors, and whether or not those issues had been solved, gotten worse, or stagnated in the time since publication. …Also, as cool as that sounds, the vision was much better than my high-school skills execution of it. But it was still fun, because I love dystopias. I enjoy writing out contingency plans for the zombie apocalypse in my spare time. I love dystopia. So this idea that Y.A. dystopias are so different, and are actually a reflection of the adolescent, high school experience… I am intrigued.

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