Things I Read That I Love #142: Like A Freaky Connie Francis With A Death Wish

HELLO and welcome to the 142nd 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 the death penalty! 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.

The Witness (September 2014), by Pamela Colloff for The Texas Monthly – The horrors of the death penalty in Texas, as told through the story of a woman who was paid to witness and report on 278 executions thoughout her career. It’s a vast and fantastic piece.

Diary of a Young American Girl in Los Angeles, by Alice Bolin for The AwlThe picture she paints of an American girl is someone ambitious, independent, rebellious, and trashy… McKee illustrates Los Angeles’ special boredom—there is nothing to do, but so much to get into. She’s not the only one who has believed the essential invocation of the American—and more specifically Californian—spirit is the bored, sexually mature suburban teenager.”

The Future of College (August 2014), by Graeme Wood for The Atlantic – Well, hm, so this is about a for-profit college called Minerva that happens online and they don’t have any lectures because lectures suck but they also don’t have a library which I think also sucks. I’m not sure how I feel about this idea, but I laughed out loud when they said government’s financial stake in higher education is the problem because isn’t a corporation’s financial stake in higher education also a problem in its own way? Also, it seems like a lot of kids these days get more out of the college environment/community than the academics specifically (I’m not one of those kids, I just waited tables and went to class, so the academics were the highlight of the experience for me), so I don’t see how this is a viable alternative to that. But it could be a viable alternative to something else.

Reedeemed: Cheryl Strayed (June 2013), by Amitava Kumar for Guernica – The interviewer hadn’t seen my favorite human Cheryl Strayed for twenty years when she got the chance to interview her at Vassar, the content of which has been transcribed for you in this convenient article. Strayed says ten thousand things you’ll want to copy-paste to your soul, but I’m sure you’re already sure of that.

The Problem With Entitlement: A Question of Respect (September 2014), by Steve Almond for Poets & Writers – “But entitlement is the enemy of artistic progress, which requires patience and gratitude and, above all, humility. You don’t grow as a writer by writing off other people’s efforts. You grow as a writer by respecting the process.”

Difficult Girl: Growing Up In Therapy (September 2014), by Lena Dunham for The New Yorker – IT’S YOUR FAVORITE PERSON LENA DUNHAM! This is Lena Dunham’s personal history of OCD and anxiety and bouncing around therapists as a child in New York City and befriending her therapists’ daughter in college and etc.

The Strange & Curious Tale of The Last True Hermit (September 2014), by Michael Finkel for GQ – “For nearly thirty years, a phantom haunted the woods of Central Maine. Unseen and unknown, he lived in secret, creeping into homes in the dead of night and surviving on what he could steal. To the spooked locals, he became a legend—or maybe a myth. They wondered how he could possibly be real. Until one day last year, the hermit came out of the forest.”

In Praise Of Younger Men (July 2014), by Chelsea G. Summers for Adult Magazine – This was a pretty cool response to a piece about the allure of older men written by a woman who prefers them. You do you, Chelsea!

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of 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 3147 articles for us.


  1. I was there! I was there when Amitava Kumar interviewed Cheryl Strayed at Vassar in 2013! It was amazing. I had no idea who she was or what Wild was about, I just thought I should go because I was in his journalism class and always giving him a hard time about not having enough women in the syllabus, and here was this woman he was bringing to campus. (sidenote that I did my semester project on Autostraddle because of this) And then suddenly here she was talking about her dead mom, and so I bought Wild and I told her about my dead mom and she signed it and I read it and cried a lot.

    And now while I travel I’m listening to Tiny Beautiful Things on tape and also crying a lot.

  2. Like Dunham, I grew up in therapy–since I was really small. And, like Dunham, I knew my therapist’s daughter in college. We weren’t really friends ’cause she was a super Christian fashion major and I was a raging feminist lesbian Psych major with a chip on her back from being raised Christian, but we were in the honors program together. It was…eye opening. She had a really shitty relationship with her mom (my therapist) and they weren’t on speaking terms and hadn’t been for awhile b/c of a divorce and the girl’s foray into Christiandom and the mom having a similar background to mine wrt to being scarred from being raised Evangelical. SO I learned a lot of things about my shrink I’d rather not have known, and it was weird. But I mean, I still liked her and stuck with her longer than anu other shrink (like, a year and a half versus my typical two to six month stints). So idk.

  3. Cheryl Strayed <3

    Also, I really love this column a lot. I just can't ever read enough things and I appreciate you giving me more things to stuff into the overflowing file cabinets inside my head. Thank you.

  4. Oh gosh. I read the interview with Cheryl Strayed, and got to the part where she talked about her mother and Michener and class, and had so many feelings that I wrote a 2000-word essay about it. Now I’m going to have to start a blog or some shit. So much for taking my dog to the beach.

    tl;dr: Cheryl Strayed. Feelings.

  5. Haha my FAVOURITE PERSON Lena Dunham! She totally isn’t but I did enjoy that piece a lot, thanks Riese.

  6. I hate how much I relate to Lena Dunham. I feel like I should really dislike her, and I do think a lot of the criticism of her work is totally justified, particularly the lack of diversity in Girls and her defensivness and insensitivity in responding to it those who caleld her out. She is definetly imperfect, but I guess being the highly anxious and neurotic middle class white girl that I am I can’t help but relate :/.

  7. I love these! I’m gonna throw it out there, I always got the impression that Lena Dunham was (as much as I despise this outdated and sexist term) Borderline Personality with other stuff mixed in. It’s a great article.

  8. i’ve gotten used to saying “that story/article I’ve just read is the best one ever,” seriously, the one about the hermit? negative 20 degree winters, living in a tent and the guy lives to tell about it!

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