Things I Read That I Love #25: Everybody Worships

HELLO and welcome to the 25th 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 Whitney Houston and how I feel about turning thirty!

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.

A Letter to My Thirties (April 2012), by Sarah Menkedick for Vela Magazine – Just this, this, this, a thousand times this.

Attitude (June 1983), by Margaret Atwood for The University of Toronto Commencement “What you are being ejected into today is a world that is both half empty and half full. On the one hand, the biosphere is rotting away. The raindrops that keep falling on your head are also killing the fish, the trees, the animals, and, if they keep being as acid as they are now, they’ll eventually do away with things a lot closer to home, such as crops, front lawns and your digestive tract. Nature is no longer what surrounds us, we surround it, and the switch has not been for the better. On the other hand, unlike the ancient Egyptians, we as a civilization know what mistakes we are making and we also have the technology to stop making them; all that is lacking is the will.”

No Romeo (January 2011), by Caleb Hannan for The Seattle Weekly – This guy lied to all these women and one of them basically lost everything. Another story I liked because I’m obsessed with how easily manipulated we are and how the manipulators always use similar tactics to entrap their subjects.

Nadir and Me (June 2012), by Joseph Heath for The Walrus MagazineThis opens with the author’s declaration that he had “a Canadian moment” when acknowledging that in America, he’d never be in the same doctor’s waiting room as the CEO of Rogers, because in America, rich people and not-rich people see different doctors, and how “forced solidarity” benefits society.

David Foster Wallace on Life as Work (May 2005), by David Foster Wallace, reprinted at The Wall Street Journal “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”

How to Bully Children (March 2012), by Sarah Miller for The Awl – “Efrain looked at Linda and Linda looked at Efrain. They looked puzzled and sad. I really hoped they weren’t going to ask me to leave. We had five more minutes to wait for the kids to get back from recess, and I’m not sure quite how I did this, but I managed to steer the conversation to the Tibetan Book of the Dead. They were both so pleased that I was interested in death, and Tibet, and I successfully resisted the urge to admit that a. I had never actually read this book and b. That I was really only interested in death.”

The Killing Trail (February 1995), by Buzz Bissinger for Vanity Fair – A horrifying look at a string gay men raped/beaten/robbed/murdered throughout Texas in the early 90s, and the lightly-sentenced killers who’d been bred to hate homosexuals with sociopathic fever.

Scent of a Woman’s Ink (June 1998), by Francine Prose for Harper’s “Meanwhile, every writer knows that the desire for stronger sales has little to do with a craving for luxe apartments or racy cars: what writers buy with money is time — that is, time to write, time that would otherwise be spent in activities (teaching, waitressing) required for economic survival. To ask what effect critical neglect has on the careers of women writers is rather like inquiring into the health of the female population in cultures that place girl children at the bottom of the food chain.”

The Devils in the Diva (June 2012), by Mark Seal for Vanity Fair – I was compelled by a force larger than any of us to read this entire article about Whitney Houston.

Preying on the Poor (May 2012) – by Barbara Ehrenreich for Guernica – This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, after giving 35% of my income to the IRS. You know, just like, how the system is fixed. Etc.

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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 3200 articles for us.


  1. I think that the person who invented Instagram did it specifically for Autostraddle readers.

  2. OMG that David Foster Wallace speech is THE BEST. It made me cry; I can’t imagine what it would have done to me if I had been there hearing him say it. Just wow. That is practically everything I’ve been thinking/trying to say for a long time now (only he said it 1000000 times better than I ever could).

    On a less serious note, it made me think of Zaphod Beeblebrox.

    • Also, while we’re on the topic of being self-centered, let me share something about myself. Haha.

      What happens to me every time I get road-ragey is I speed up to like, I don’t know, give the “offender” a dirty look or flip them off or something. Then once I reach their line of sight and I’m ready to do business, I look over and all I see is another human being living and breathing and driving just like me, and then I just get really sad. Of course this stops me from ever acting out on my aggression, and starts me drilling myself as to why I would react like that in the first place (what does it all mean?!), which starts this entire cycle of self-analysis and thinking how what if that person’s mom just died or they just broke up with their significant other. Then I’m home. It’s a really effective way to pass the time, like playing the ABC road sign game.

      Or, you know, you can just constantly remind yourself “I’m not stuck in traffic, I’m creating it.”

    • I was wide awake in the middle of the night last night pondering the theory that most people are simultaneously secretly convinced that they’re destined for bigger and better things in life, yet also secretly convinced that they’re totally inadequate and undeserving of those things. And then I woke up and read this speech and it was all the thoughts and all the feelings.

  3. That “Thirties” piece is extremely relevant to my interests right now. Thank you for bringing it to my life.

  4. I found the thirties piece a bit annoying… Not because of her content but her tone. I felt it was ovelry presumptuous and self aggrandising. Anyone else feel me, or do I just need a nap and an oreo?

    • Word. It’s the whole “I’m a roving explorer gathering sexy sexy travel stories while I half-ass my English teaching job, because who cares about these kids learning English, for real. Also, look at my fancy language expertise, even though all I can do is order two types of food and say thank you.” I hate those people. They are the modern incarnation of British colonial types, and they’re fucking up my life.

  5. this was def one of my favorite TIRTILs ever. especially the Margaret Atwood and David Foster Wallace essays! I love Margaret Atwood so much – she is so gutsy and creative and wonderful. Wallace is somebody I need to get to know, for sure. :)

  6. so weird, i listened to the david foster wallace speech for the first time in a long time the other day, it (and he as a writer) have always been some of my favorites. definitely listen to it on youtube if you have only read it. he kind of reminds me of you riese! you are both so good at making really hard and abstract things sound beautiful and easy.

  7. I just read the No Romance story and am blown away by how easily all of those women were manipulated. My main thoughts after reading that are varying degrees of WTF for each victim. I don’t understand how all of them so blatantly ignored the warning bells that must have been going off in their minds while dealing with Williams. I am truly astounded.

    • Also, I apologize in advance for any vitriol my response might imply. That story brought up all of the anger I had buried about my mother and my stepfather. While he doesn’t have her running around to get drugs and such, having watched my mother seemingly lose her ability to think/make decisions for herself rather than blindly doing whatever he tells her to do is still a significant source of rage and frustration for me.

      • yeah they bring back all kinds of firsthand and secondhand memories for me, stories like that, and i think that’s why i keep reading them, it’s like i’m drawn to them in this sick way but also spend most of the time reading them wishing i could talk some sense into those women, like watching a horror movie when you know what’s gonna happen next and you start yelling at the screen

  8. Barbara posted the same article on Salon & I linked it to my fb page. The cost of living in the United States is as high as it’s ever been by way of taxes, insurance (if you can afford insurance), loan debt, gas, food, rent, licenses (I swear now you need a permit to work making a sandwich), and this when more than 40% of the workforce are in service jobs, one in eight people are on food stamps, and our make believe 8% unemployment rate’s at least double. For the state and federal governments to join in is plain dumb, how are a lot of people going to pay these trumped up $300-500 tickets? If they don’t, what happens then? MORE jails, and MORE state money to pay for them? More people with ruined lives who can’t pay taxes when they get out? How fucked do people have to be in this country before this lets up, or something changes?

  9. The Killing Trail piece was so bloody jarring.Sometimes I feel like I live in a big queer bubble, what with spending my life reading AS and living in a rainbow

  10. I haven’t read anything else yet–they’re all open in tabs, waiting for me, but I had to comment on how goddamn depressing Sarah Miller’s Awl piece was for me. I was bullied so terrifically from kindergarten pretty much unrelentingly through high school that I pretty much have PTSD and I really despair to see that anti-bullying rhetoric is still stuck on “don’t let yourself be bullied and tell a teacher.” I know all too well that neither of those options is realistic or effective.

    • It’s pretty much victim-blaming, I think, all the focus being on kids having the responsibility to protect themselves rather than addressing the actual bullying.

    • yes, this exactly.

      and what the two girls who were being bullied said, that sense of powerlessness, of inevitability

  11. Riese! Thank you for once again getting me through a long, boring Saturday at the office. I don’t know what I would do without this.

  12. The intro for this post says it’s the sixth installment, not the 25th, and I was very confused about the way that time works on the internet for a moment.

  13. i have bookmarked the killing trails piece for when my younger 19ish friends ask me why no one was out when i was in high school, i can give them this. when they ask me why it took until i was 24 to fully come out even though i knew from a much younger age, it was this. no i wasn’t very old myself at the time but the message was so clear and concise. you are gay and you mean nothing to the world, even in death. the absolute terror of being categorized into this was immobalizing. i can still feel those emotions reading this. thank you so much i love this post and what it shares.

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