Features, Essays, & Radio Stories
It's Not Just Britney - The Cut - July 2021
In the wake of Britney Spears speaking out against her conservatorship, an essay on the reduced civil rights faced by some deemed 'mentally ill' — and the broader implications of our coercive psychiatric paradigm
Where Do We Go From Here? – 99% Invisible – Sept. 2020
A reported audio feature on the history of segregated bathrooms, featuring queero Susan Stryker and a crew of rad architects/activists who together are designing the gender-inclusive bathrooms of the future.
On the Gratitude I Feel to My Chosen Family – them. – Apr. 2020
Reflecting on the support I felt from my queer community during the beginning of the pandemic
How Yoga Helped Me Learn to Love My Body — and Myself – them. – Feb. 2020
A Between the Binary column reflecting upon how my self-loathing has shifted, both since getting top surgery, and since learning to not hate yoga
Dear Brands: Consider Selling Me Stuff – them. – Dec. 2019
With the holiday shopping season upon us, I wondered: Where are nonbinary people supposed to buy products like socks, razors or hiking boots? (Between the Binary #3)
A Farewell to Boobs – them. – Oct. 2019
Navigating uncertainty and doubt about getting top surgery (Between the Binary #2)
The Kirkbride Plan – 99% Invisible – Oct. 2019
A big audio story on the forgotten history of America's robust 19th century mental health care infrastructure — a story with huge present day implications. Featuring a coda about Gould Farm, in western Massachusetts
Out of the Maze – Guernica – Oct. 2019
An essay on searching for meaning about madness at a London museum
My Gmail Won't Stop Deadnaming Me – them. – Sept. 2019
The first of my "Between the Binary" column for them., in which I complained about tech companies like Spotify and Google making it damn near impossible to change your name
'That's So Crazy': The way we talk about mental health matters – Gay Magazine – July 2019
Media Errors in Covering 'Mental Health' – Mad in America – Apr. 2019
A lengthy essay reflecting upon my own coverage of 'mental health' to date, for better and for worse. Intended as advice and warning to fellow media professionals seeking to comment in this space
How Marie Kondo Helped Me Sort Out My Gender – them. – Mar. 2019
Her book, ostensibly about cleaning, ended up sparking a much deeper kind of joy
The Challenge of Book-Tour Travel as a Non-Binary Author – Lit Hub – Feb. 2019
An essay about coming out as my first book came out
My Friendsgiving Isn't a Trend. It's a Lifeline. – Bon Appétit's Healthyish – Nov. 2018
A reflection on the power of sharing food and community, especially for those of us who must make our own families
I Run to Silence My Demons – Bon Appétit's Healthyish – July 2018
A personal essay about how a simple exercise, repeated, nudged me from the abyss
How Pie Keeps Me Steady - BuzzFeed Books - Feb. 2018
An essay that reflects on my lifelong love of pie baking, but also about what writing a book about schizophrenia has taught me about how to live in my own head.
This toxic lie about gun violence hurts society's most vulnerable - CNN Opinion - Feb. 2018
In the wake of the Parkland shooting, I wrote an Op-Ed about the GOP and NRA's long and reprehensible effort to scapegoat gun violence on those who've been psychiatrically diagnosed.
The Madness Shelf - Powell's Blog - Jan. 2018
A brief essay reflecting upon all the books I still haven't read "about schizophrenia."
Hearing Voices - Pop-Up Magazine - May/June 2017
A live reported piece about one person's life before and after finding a Hearing Voices Network support group. Performed eight times in five cities during Pop-Up Magazine's Spring 2017 tour.
How Simple Is That?: At Home with Ina Garten - BuzzFeed News - Nov. 2016
An unprecedentedly intimate profile of"The Barefoot Contessa" star and cookbook mogul.
"I Haven't Read Most Books" - BuzzFeed Books - Aug. 2015
A brief essay about all the books I haven't read generally.
"I Was the Best Fake Attorney in America" - BuzzFeed News - Aug. 2015
In 2005, I won the High School Mock Trial National Championships, a victory that was both huge and, to most people, meaningless. Ten years later, I returned to nationals to try to make sense of what that victory meant — and what this competitive celebration of our legal system even is.
"The Trials of Teresa Sheehan" - BuzzFeed News - July 2015
In 2008, San Francisco police were called to transport a woman diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder to a hospital. Instead, they shot her seven times. This is the story of how police became our nation's mental health care workers, and how Teresa Sheehan's family fought for her before the shooting — and since.
"Apocalypse Noir: How Climate Change Will End Wine as We Know It" - BuzzFeed News - Nov. 2014
Hotter and less predictable temperatures mean that much of the world’s premium wine regions are now under threat and new ones are emerging. How the wine industry is — and isn't — reacting says a lot about the future of agriculture.
Notable Selection Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015
Anthologized in Emerging Contemporary Readings for Writers 3rd ed., published by MacMillan
"Why I Still Love RENT" - BuzzFeed News - Dec. 2014
The 1996 musical about AIDS-afflicted artists scandalized and inspired my romantic teenage self. Figuring out what Rent got totally wrong about adult life — and right.
"The Treehouse Song" - Wag's Revue - Dec. 2014
An essay about unrequited love and nearly losing an eyeball.
"I Went on a One-Week First Date to Costa Rica" - BuzzFeed News - Oct. 2014
When I was 21, I flew to Central America to be with a man I'd only met once before. I wanted to live a very romantic story.
I read and discussed this piece on the podcast Why Oh Why?
"Running into My 12-Year-Old Self Online" - BuzzFeed News - July 2014
We forget how nobody is looking at most of the internet.
"My Giantess: The Sad, Strange, True Story of Sandy Allen, the Tallest Woman in the World" - BuzzFeed News - July 2014
After realizing I shared a name with the former tallest woman alive, I sought to tell her story.
Notable Selection Best American Essays 2015
"Why Would a Gay Teenager Commit Hate Crimes Against Herself?" - BuzzFeed News - May 2014
Ten years ago, the liberal San Francisco suburb where I went to high school school was traumatized by a rash of hate crimes against a 17-year-old lesbian. But when it was revealed that the victim herself had staged the attacks, the entire community turned on her and she never spoke about the incidents publicly. Until she agreed to tell me her story in this reported feature.
"I Was Drugged by a Stranger" - BuzzFeed News - Nov. 2013
One night at a music festival, someone put something in my drink. What happened next was humiliating and taught me how common these incidents are, and how easy, and wrong, it is to blame the victim.
"Tig Notaro And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Yet Somehow Completely Amazing Year" – BuzzFeed News – Aug. 2013
A profile of the comedian one year after her career-changing "I have cancer" set at the Largo.
"Is Yelp a Bully or Just Misunderstood?" – BuzzFeed News – June 2013
The online reviewing behemoth is regularly accused of Mafia-style extortion by disgruntled business owners and the media. In this feature, I tried to figure out whether that was true.
In Patagonia In Patagonia – Paris Review Daily – May 2013
An essay about reading Bruce Chatwin while traveling through the real place he mythologized
Cunning Old Fox - The Magazine - May 2013
Reporting from a professional wine competition in Ames, Iowa, I tell the story of the birth and death and rebirth of wine in not-Californian America.
Published under a pen name in Wag's first issue, an essay about working in the service industry
Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed Books
How to Write Your First Book - BuzzFeed Books
I interviewed 21 authors — including George Saunders, Alexander Chee, Kiese Laymon, T.C. Boyle, Rachel Kushner, Roxane Gay, Chuck Klosterman, Chang Rae-Lee, and Heidi Julavits — about how they wrote their first books. I then spliced it into a big mega-interview. I did this 5ish years into my own 8ish year first book process, for reasons!
For Wag's Revue, I interviewed:
"9 Hopeful Books about Schizophrenia" - Electric Lit - Jan. 2018
I put together a list of the books I recommend to those interested in learning more about schizophrenia, mental illness generally, and the history and present of psychiatric treatments and those given psychiatric labels.
Book Notes for A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise - Largehearted Boy - Jan. 2018
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Sunday Content was my Medium-based newsletter, which I published pretty regularly for a while there. Each edition included a brief essay and then some recommended content — usually stuff I thought was smart or that made me LOL. The last one was about what it was like initially getting Bob's story "out there." Some of my favorites were: "How I Learned that I Am Evil," "On Straight White Men," "On Art that Ages Poorly," "Talking about White Supremacy," "On Believing Women," "On Misogynists who Aren't Men," and "On Using Words like 'Insane' or 'Crazy'" I've written about being an essayist, being a teacher, being a waiter, why I love cooking, why I love features, why I love essays, and what Bowie taught us. You can read the full archive here.
These days I write a very occasional Substack called Whats Helping Today.