Riese’s Team Pick: The Burning House Tumblr

Really I should just team pick Metafliter, I feel like that’s where I find out about everything cool. Anyhow! This blog is called “The Burning House” and this is the question it asks:

If your house was burning, what would you take with you? It’s a conflict between what’s practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question.

Then all these people photograph and list what they’d take with them. He just started it, but is accepting submissions.

Here’s one from there but you should go see all of them:

Name: Hannah Queen
Age: 20
Location: Blue Ridge, Georgia
Occupation: Photographer
Website: http://www.honeyandjam.com


+ basket of family photos, old and new

+ macbook

+ iphone

+ wallet

+ cast iron skillet

+ leather bracelet with mustard seed charm, which was my grandmothers

+ leather bracelet, a gift from my mom

+ l’occitane lavender hand cream

+ l’oreal voluminous million lashes

+ lancome teint idole ultra

+ letters & postcards from friends

+ favorite tea towel, which was a gift

+ the complete works of jane austen

+ blue ball jar, filled with river rocks. souvenirs from a perfect day.

+ minnetonka moccasins

+ favorite wooden spoon

+ two forks from old family silverware

+ twig spoon, a gift from a friend

+ not pictured, canon 5d mark ii

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, 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! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3198 articles for us.


  1. Sweet! Oddly, I was recently thinking about what I would take in case of a fire. Aaah, the overactive pre-sleep imagination. Thanks!

  2. Ya know I was a little surprised that I had to get 5 pages in before someone saved an instrument. I’ve thought about this before and my guitar is pretty much the top of my list with my laptop , my wallet, and g-d willing my cat if I could find the poor petrified thing. Everything else I could save would be gravy.

  3. I like how some people are super practical and take like, a gore-tex hat that doubles as a rain bucket and inflatable life raft and other people are like I JUST WANT MY FAVORITE PAINTBRUSHES

  4. wait wait WAIT. i love this in theory. but part of the fun / genius / agony of the ‘what would you take if your house was burning’ question is that there’s an implicit lack of time. hannah, 20, absolutely does not have time to grab the leather bracelets, the family photos, her camera AND THE CAST IRON SKILLET. hannah would be engulfed in flames before she could even think about that ball jar. girl PLEASE.

      • oh, that’s quite the leap, isn’t it? sorry it disappoint, but my parents do not, in fact, “bankroll my shit”. better luck next time!

        • I need to go live in the parallel universe where a 20-year-old photographer can afford all that schwag.

    • What about the seven dollar tube of mascara or the jar of ROCKS? Mascara is hands down the easiest thing in the world to replace. And if anything is going to survive a fire, it’s your rock collection.

    • Oh man, exactly. I think mine would probably just be a photo of my dog. “This is the only thing I would bother to grab on my way out the flipping door.”

      Maybe my computer if I wasn’t feeling particularly panicked, but really, if my house is far enough along in the burning that I feel it’s necessary to flee, I’m probably feeling pretty bloody panicked.

    • my thoughts also. but i enjoyed the tumblr riese, thank you. but also, surprised no one thought of underwear. my mom’s house burned down way back. she always taught us to “get underwear and clothes above everything else” first. guess its really practical for us to be clean under any circumstance.

  5. My jackass addict neighbors often nod off while shit is burning. If a fire started, I would grab my framing hammer so I could sink the claw end of it into their foreheads when I got outside.

  6. The cast iron skillet is a key item. You can use to cook your food once you’re homeless cause your house just burned down and you can use it protect yourself cause that thing will cause some damage if you hit someone with it.

  7. there should be one of these for a zombie invasion. slightly less probable than a house fire… slightly more entertaining?

    • tumblr that shit now because I can never feel completely ready for the zombies. AND THERE WILL BE ZOMBIES. It would be less “Oh, aww, How can I leave my favorite necklace?” And more like “hatchet for chopping arms, medipac for bandaging impromptu amputations (to stop the virus from spreading come on), can opener for looting supermarkets,” etc. SO USEFUL.

      • wait wait, I feel the same way, it’s completely inevitable. BUT actually, do you have a hatchet and medipac handy at all times?
        Maybe this is because I live in the dorms but I feel like the best I could do would be a trash can to put over their heads and maybe some heavy textbooks…

        • That’s why it’s so genius. It’s not like, “list all the things you’ll wish you had stocked up on when the Zombie apocalypse comes,”

          It’s more like “BAM there’s a zombie apocalypse, what do you grab,” and you have to do this picture shizzle so it has to be stuff you already have on hand (ie. no chainsaw, barrel of distilled water, shotgun, and balaclava, unless you own all those things in which case kudos you’ll rule the post apocalypse).

          And yes I have a hatchet and a big ol’ medipac, these are both because of long, yearly camping trips.

          • okay i don’t have a hatchet or medipac soooo, here is my list:
            – trash can
            – booze (to douse and light zombies, duh)
            – umbrella?
            – i can find a frying pan
            – longboard
            – wow i’m fucked…

  8. As someone who lives in the middle of a forested area, fire danger evacuation is a reality for me. I’ve had to make up an evacuation a suitcase in the past. It contained comic books and my favorite hats. I was so unpractical at the age of 12.

  9. Is it wrong that I find some of the comments of the person trolling that site HILARIOUS?

  10. Am I the only one who questions the cast iron skillet for the simple reason that it will more than likely survive the fire therefore doesn’t need to be rescued? That shit’s designed to be engulfed in flames.

  11. I live in a big apartment building where some jackass sets off the fire alarm at least every couple of months (or sometimes, twice in one week). So, from lots of experience, I shove both of my cats in a carrier, and grab my keys, phone, external hard drive, and lockbox which contains my passport, birth certificate, diploma, social security card, and emergency credit card. This all only takes a couple of seconds, getting the cats in the carrier is hardest.

    Lotion is nice and all, but if my shit burned down I’d want the tools to actually get my life back together as quickly as possible. The pictures are pretty, but I feel like I would hate most of those people!

    • i think i’d probably just die in the fire, because there are so many things people got me or made for me that i couldn’t bear losing, i don’t even know where to begin.
      + tinkerbell
+ macbook pro
+ my collected diaries [1984-2011]
+ signed copies of “stephen dunn: new & collected poems”, mary gaitskill’s “don’t cry” and lorrie moore’s “gate at the stairs”
+ those pink argyle socks caitlin got me
+ 2 t-shirts of my dad’s that i still wear
      + my dad’s journal from africa
+ my money tree
+ all my prescription medications

      • do you really have a money tree [like one of those pretty little braid-y things] or is this a joke about how you’re poor?

        • no i really have a money tree! i’m gonna go water it after i finish writing this comment.

  12. I want to know who can actually carry all the stuff in their picture while escaping a burning building. This should be a gameshow.

    • oh man totally reminds me of those ridiculous japanese game shows like silent library where people do ridiculous/terrible things, I feel like this could somehow be a real thing.

  13. I have often thought of what I would take with me I have decided I would get my guinea pig and I would put my piece of shit car in the garage and hope that it would go up in flames and my insurance would kick in

  14. When my apartment was on fire I grabbed my cat and my purse and my netbook and that was it. And getting my cat into her carrier and outside came before anything else, I did that before calling 911.

    The whole thing didn’t burn down and most of my stuff was totally fine, but I didn’t know it would turn out ok and I was not at all concerned about sentimental bracelets or jars of rocks.

    • I think I am getting irrationally annoyed at this blog because I have lots of Feelings about running out of burning buildings which I guess is maybe not the actual point of the whole project.

  15. I’m going to run out of the burning building empty-handed! I don’t have anything of sentimental value. I’m looking around my apartment and I’m all “Fudge this thing, that can burn, and I really hope the fire reaches that thing over there!”

    The only thing insurance couldn’t get me a replacement for is my cat…and I’m pretty sure she would be her usual uncooperative self and lure me to a fiery death if i tried to save her or alternatively, beat me to the nearest exit.

  16. In reality I’d probably just herd my dog out the door and grab my wallet while freaking out like mad, but I think this is more sort of metaphorical. Like out of all of the materialism in your life that you end up surrounded by, what do you actually value? what could you take from your current life and start a new life on, just carrying it in your arms.

  17. Oh gawd, I started thinking about all the things I would want to save & realized I would definitely die if my apartment catches fire. Maybe I should think about getting renters insurance so I could just grab the dogs & run.

  18. I feel like some of these people chose things that would make their pictures look more “artsy.” The use of the word “vintage” on various occasions confirms this.

    • This. You know the “what is your favorite book/music you would bring if were stuck on a island or locked alone in a cell?” type of questions are funny, instead of stating one’s true favorites they say things that might impress others, which is very telling.

      Again like what Heather says name the damn blog “look at my (impressive) cool shit.”

      I am more interested in the whole zombie doomsday situation on what would you bring, that seems like a lot of fun.

  19. The gentleman who wants to take his big knife and gun scares me. “FIRE IN THE HOUSE. THIS IS NOT FAIR. MUST KILL SOMETHING. WHERE ARE MY GLASSES?”

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