Death, Sex & Money

By WNYC Studios

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A Podcast Republic user
 Aug 13, 2018

 Aug 2, 2018

 Aug 2, 2018
Goes straight at topics that most of us are too timid to ask

A Podcast Republic user
 Jul 12, 2018

A Podcast Republic user
 Jul 11, 2018


Anna Sale explores the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.

Episode Date
Alzheimer's and the World's Saddest Comedy Club
<p>Comedian Chris Garcia has always incorporated stories about his Cuban-American family into his sets. But after his father died from Alzheimer's, Chris started using his comedy to process his own grief, and to memorialize his dad. He also found solace talking to other comedians who had lost their own parents.</p> <p>Now, Chris is bringing some of those conversations about death, family and comedy to a new audio project with WNYC Studios. T<span>his week, we're bringing you an early listen of what he's been working on. You'll hear Chris talk with his mother Ana, and with Karen Kilgariff, a fellow comedian and cohost of the podcast <em>My Favorite Murder</em>. </span></p> <p>This project is a work in progress—but we’re sharing it with you now because WNYC Studios wants  your feedback as we explore new shows and new ideas. So after you listen, head over to <a href=""></a> to tell us what you think. </p>
Aug 08, 2018
Hot Dates: From One Hot Dater to Another
<p>Ceci is 36 and lives in a city in California, Miracle is 25 and lives in a small town in Alabama. But when they got together to talk, they discovered there's a lot of overlap between their dating experiences. They talked about the family and social pressures they feel as young, single women, what happened when Ceci changed her race from "mixed" to "Hispanic" on her dating apps and the big changes in their dating lives since we last checked in with them. </p> <p> </p> <hr> <p> </p> <p><em>All summer, we're following a group of listeners as they date in real time around the country. We're calling this series Hot Dates—if you missed the introductory episode, <a href="">go back and listen to it first</a>. </em></p>
Aug 02, 2018
Tig Notaro Isn't a Blob Anymore
<p>Tig Notaro had big plans for the year she turned 41<span>—after spending her 20s and 30s on the road building her comedy career, she was finally going to fulfill her dream of becoming a parent. Instead, Tig's life fell apart. In the span of six months, she contracted a life-threatening infection, her mother died in an accident and Tig was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. She talked about all of it on stage at Largo, the comedy club in Los Angeles, and <a href="">the set went viral</a>.</span></p> <p><span>That terrible year changed a lot of things for Tig. She got an explosion of job offers, she got married, and six years later, she is finally a parent</span>. When we spoke, she told me that building a family has totally upended her life—in a good way. "My life before them—I was just a blob floating around the universe," she said. "I just, I don’t even understand what I was doing, I don’t understand. I don’t understand my existence."</p> <p> </p> <hr> <p><em>This week, we're also asking for your stories. <a href="">Send us a voice memo or email</a> about something you've gone through that you wish you heard more people talking about. Here are a few of our favorite listener-driven episodes, for inspiration.</em></p> <p> </p> <div data-pym-src=";title=Episodes%20From%2C%20and%20About%2C%20You&amp;blurb=A%20few%20of%20our%20favorite%20Death%2C%20Sex%20%26%20Money%20episodes%20that%20came%20from%20listeners%20reaching%20out.&amp;stories=sex-worker-next-door%2Cconversion-therapy-death-sex-money%2Csurrogacy-death-sex-money%2Cdeath-sex-money-rachel-hiroki%2Cseeking-arrangement-sugar-daddy-death-sex-money%2Cfatherhood-death-sex-money%2Cautism-death-sex-money%2Cdeath-sex-money-hot-dates-kickoff">Loading...</div> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> <p> </p>
Jul 25, 2018
Hot Dates: Open to Open Relationships
<p>The first time I talked with Jessie, a 36 year old programmer in Montana, she told me that she couldn't find single guys on her dating apps that felt like good matches. That's still true...technically. But since that first conversation, she emailed to tell me about another part of her dating life she didn't mention before. Plus, June's enjoying her summer break from college with three different partners. </p> <hr> <p> </p> <p><em>All summer, we're following a group of listeners as they date in real time around the country. We're calling this series Hot Dates—if you missed the introductory episode, <a href="">go back and listen to it first</a>. </em></p>
Jul 23, 2018
Manhood, Now: Live
<p>As we've been talking about <a href="">Manhood, Now</a> over the last month, we've heard from a lot of you that conversations about masculinity can be hard to start. So, we decided to try and have one together<span>—</span>on live radio. CNN's W. Kamau Bell joined me, and together, we took calls from all over the country about how expectations are shifting for men right now, what you learned about being men from the role models you grew up with (and what you're relearning now), and how we can all get better at having these kinds of conversations.</p> <p> </p> <hr> <p><em>What books, articles, and podcasts have changed how you think about masculinity? Find suggestions from other Death, Sex &amp; Money listeners, and contribute your own recommendations <a href="">here</a>!</em></p> <p><em>W. Kamau Bell is the host of CNN's</em> United Shades of America, <em>and the author of</em> The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell. <em>His new Netflix special is </em>Private School Negro.</p>
Jul 12, 2018
A Wife Interviews Her Husband About Manhood, Now
<p>After we put out our episode <a href="">Manhood, Now</a>, we heard from a lot of you that you're hungry for more conversations about what's changing for men right now. We've been talking about all of this in public, but we're particularly curious about how these conversations are happening in private right now<span>—</span>at work, with friends, and in romantic relationships. And today, two of our listeners are giving us all a peek into how they're talking about this together.</p> <p>Ryan and Alex are a husband and wife who live in D.C. Earlier this week, they were getting dressed and talking about masculinity, when Alex decided to take out her phone and start recording their conversation. She sent us that audio earlier this week, and now, with their permission, we're sharing it with you.</p> <hr> <p><em>This episode is part of our ongoing conversation about masculinity today. Find more about the project at <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p><em>We love getting audio from our listeners! Send us your voice memos, to</em></p>
Jul 11, 2018
Manhood Now: What You're Reading
<p>We've been thinking a lot about <a href="">what's changing for men</a>, and we wanted to know about other resources that have helped our listeners think about gender. Here's what you recommended to us:</p> <h2>BOOKS </h2> <div id="gr_grid_widget_1531239278"> <div class="gr_grid_container"> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird, #1)" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="To Kill a Mockingbird" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth about Men and Women in the 21st Century" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth about Men and Women in the 21st Century" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="Check, Please! Year One" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="Check, Please! Year One" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="Woman: An Intimate Geography" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="Woman: An Intimate Geography" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="Slaughterhouse-Five" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="Slaughterhouse-Five" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="1984" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="1984" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="How Can I Get Through to You?: Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="How Can I Get Through to You?: Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="The Last American Man" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="The Last American Man" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="Another Country" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="Another Country" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="The Art of Fielding" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="The Art of Fielding" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World" border="0"></a></div> <div class="gr_grid_book_container"><a title="Stone Butch Blues" rel="nofollow" href=""><img src="" alt="Stone Butch Blues" border="0"></a></div> <noscript><br>Share <a rel="nofollow" href="">book reviews</a> and ratings with Death,, and even join a <a rel="nofollow" href="">book club</a> on Goodreads.</noscript></div> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src=";hide_link=true&amp;hide_title=true&amp;num_books=30&amp;order=a&amp;shelf=manhood-now&amp;sort=date_added&amp;widget_id=1531239278"></script> <p> </p> <h2>ARTICLES</h2> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Understanding Patriarchy</a> <em>(bell hooks)</em></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Lessons from a Paratrooper in Combat on how to be a ‘Good Man.’</a> (<em>The Good Men Project</em>)</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">How to Raise a Feminist Son</a> (<em>NY Times</em>)</p> <header class="item-header content-width-responsive"> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Why men fight: An empirical investigation of the extremes of masculinity</a> (<em>Quartz</em>)</p> </header> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The Man Box: A Study on Being a Young Man in the US, UK, and Mexico</a> (<em>Promundo</em>)</p> <p> </p> <h2>PODCASTS</h2> <p><a href="!289afc0b6655110c93eaad9c05526b3628a1b6e5" target="_blank">The Lonely American Man</a> (<em>Hidden Brain)</em></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Pansy</a> (<em>The Heart)</em></p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank">The Art of Manliness Podcast</a></em></p> <p class="c-article-header__hed"><a href="" target="_blank">John Wayne, Donald Trump, and the American Man</a> (<em>Radio Atlantic)</em></p> <p class="c-article-header__hed"> </p> <h2 class="c-article-header__hed">BONUS: FILM</h2> <p><a href="" target="_blank">20th Century Women </a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The Mask You Live In</a></p> <p> </p> <div data-pym-src=";;headline=Got%20a%20suggestion%3F&amp;summary=Let%20us%20know.&amp;callToAction=Add%20your%20recommendation">Loading...</div> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
Jul 11, 2018
Hot Dates: "I'm Supposed to Be Certain"
<p>When I first talked with Dan, a 41-year-old widower who recently reentered the dating pool, he told me that he had been reflecting on some past behavior with regret in the wake of #MeToo. Now, he says he won't initiate physical contact without verbal consent, and he's trying to be especially aware of whether he's making the women he's dating feel safe and comfortable with him. B<span>ut he says he's confused about how to navigate consent when women tell him they want to be "submissive" in a relationship. S</span>ince we first spoke, Dan has been grappling with those questions in a new relationship that's gotten serious quickly. I called him up to talk through some listener reactions to our first interview, and dig a little deeper into the complexities of consent right now. </p> <p> </p> <p><em>All summer, we're following a group of listeners as they date in real time around the country. We're calling this series Hot Dates—if you missed the introductory episode, <a href="">go back and listen to it first</a>. </em></p>
Jul 09, 2018
How to Be a Man With Bill Withers, Revisited
<p>When I spoke with songwriting legend Bill Withers, for the very first episode of Death, Sex &amp; Money, we talked about what it is to be a man. Withers told me it might not be manly to say "I'm scared," but that being a man isn't about ignoring fear. It's about getting things done in spite of it, and knowing when to ask for help. </p> <p>This week, in honor of his 80th birthday, and our ongoing conversation about <a href="">manhood today</a>, we decided to revisit the episode, which is still one of my favorites. </p> <p>Before Withers wrote some of the most memorable hits of the 70s and 80s—songs like “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and “Lean on Me”—he was a stuttering boy, growing up in a West Virginia mining town. We talked about <span>leaving that small town, caring for his dying father, and what he likes to watch when he's choosing not to exercise in the morning.</span></p> <p>Happy birthday, Mr. Withers. </p>
Jul 04, 2018
Hot Dates: A Middle School Teacher Walks Into A Bar...
<p>When we first met Miracle, she wasn't on any dating apps<span>—because she still lives in the small city she grew up in, she was afraid she'd come across people she went to high school with. Since we first talked, she decided to try Bumble, and her fears were realized...sort of. </span>Plus, Ceci finds out who her mystery texts are coming from, and Vicki discovers that doctors make good dates. </p> <p><em>All summer, we're following a group of listeners as they date in real time around the country. We're calling this series Hot Dates—if you missed the introductory episode, <a href="">go back and listen to it first</a>. </em></p>
Jun 27, 2018
Manhood, Now
<div style="max-width: 800px; margin: 0 auto 2em;"> <div data-pym-src=";headline=Want%20more%20on%20masculinity%3F&amp;;callToAction=see%20the%20list&amp;summary=We%20asked%20our%20listeners%20to%20tell%20us%20the%20books%2C%20articles%20and%20podcasts%20that%20have%20helped%20shape%20their%20thinking%20around%20gender.">Loading...</div> </div> <p>"D<em>on’t be weak. Don’t be small. Don’t be poor. Don’t be emotional. Don’t be feminine. Don’t be aggressive. Don’t be unapproachable. Don’t be sexist. Don’t be patronizing. Don’t be entitled. Don’t be unemotional. Don’t be big. Don’t be loud.</em></p> <p><em>You might notice a lot of contradictions here."</em></p> <p>We're in a moment where what it means to be a man is shifting—and to some men, it feels like there are a lot of mixed messages floating around. As one man put it to us, "there’s a very unclear set of expectations as far as how a man should behave." But while we've heard a lot of talk <em>about</em> men in this moment, we've heard fewer conversations <em>with</em> men. So we asked you: what's the most confusing thing about being a man today?</p> <p>A recent college graduate named Alex, 23, worries about women not seeing him as masculine enough and explains why he spends time in toxic corners of “the manosphere.” A kindergarten teacher named Jack, 33, says his students embrace gender fluidity in the classroom, but as a trans man, he has found himself running up against gender norms outside school. Dre, 47, a former drug dealer who’s now a business owner, thinks back on the life-and-death stakes of being seen as masculine when he was dealing and reflects on how his values have changed since. And Luke*, 71, describes what it means for him to be an “impotent older man” after finding his identity as a young man through lots of casual sex.</p> <p>In their stories, and in those of the other men we spoke to for this episode, we heard confusion, ambivalence, resentment, and also optimism—a sense that in this moment of transition, there's more space for men to figure out what kind of men they actually want to be. Others feel unmoored without a new roadmap to follow. "I get this kind of paralysis," a listener named Duane told me, "Where you’re trying to be all these different things at the same time and unlearn past behaviors, and I know I’m not the only one that gets stuck there."</p> <div class="nypr-pull-quote__wrapper"> <blockquote class="nypr-pull-quote"> <p><span><em>There’s a very unclear set of expectations as far as how a man should behave.</em></span></p> </blockquote> </div> <p>And we also wanted to bring more of you into the conversation<span>—so we got together for an hour of live radio about manhood, now</span>. CNN's W. Kamau Bell joined me, and together, we took your calls from across the country about shifting expectations for men right now, the ways you're reevaluating the role models you've had, and how we can all get better at having these conversations together:</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" src=";share=1" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Beyond our conversations with <em>Death, Sex &amp; Money</em> listeners, we also wanted to get a sense of how men are thinking about being men right now on a broader scale. So in partnership with FiveThirtyEight and SurveyMonkey, <a href="">we surveyed over 1600 American men</a> about what they learned about being men, where they learned it from, and which lessons they’re rethinking in this moment. </p> <p>You can see the <a href="">full results of that survey data here</a>, but here are a few statistics that stood out to us:</p> <p>A majority of men said that they feel external pressure from society, and those numbers are especially high for younger men.</p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 600px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""></div> <p>On top of feeling pressure from society, men also feel their own internal stresses, especially around issues of body image and money. </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 738px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt="" width="721" height="577"></div> <p>But even as they feel those stresses, many men deal with them alone. Nearly half said they <strong>frequently or sometimes feel lonely</strong>, more than 40% say they've <strong>never or rarely ask a friend for personal advice</strong>, and more than two-thirds of men say they've <strong>never been to see a therapist</strong>. </p> <p>To read more findings from the survey, <a href="">head over to FiveThirtyEight</a>. </p> <p><em>*Name changed</em></p> <hr> <p><em> Click <a href="">here</a> to read a transcript of the episode.</em></p> <p><em>We want to hear your reactions to this episode! Share them on social using the hashtag #ManhoodNow, or email us: </em> </p> <div style="max-width: 800px; margin: 0 auto;"> <div data-pym-src=";headline=Stay%20in%20the%20conversation%20about%20manhood%E2%80%94sign%20up%20for%20our%20newsletter!&amp;mailchimpId=566f296761">Loading...</div> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
Jun 20, 2018
Hot Dates: Help from an OKCupid Guru
<p>In the third installment of our series Hot Dates, we check in with Louis, who's trying to date in D.C. and frustrated by how it's going. It's still hard<span>—so we asked Tobin Low, cohost of the WNYC Studios podcast <a href="">Nancy</a>, to weigh in with some advice from his own time on OKCupid. </span>Plus, Ceci tells us about some anonymous texts she's been getting.</p> <p><em>All summer, we're following a group of listeners as they date in real time around the country. We're calling this series Hot Dates—if you missed the introductory episode, <a href="">go back and listen to it first.</a></em></p> <p><em>And if you're looking to expand your social circle—romantic or otherwise—check out </em>Nancy's<em> friendship project: <a href="">How to Get a Gaggle.</a></em></p>
Jun 14, 2018
Hot Dates: Do As I Say, Not As I Do
<p>When we met Thomas in our first episode of Hot Dates, he was trying to avoid jumping into anything too quickly. It's June, and he's got an update on his love life.</p> <p><em>All summer, we're following a group of listeners as they date in real time around the country. We're calling this series Hot Dates<span>—i</span>f you missed the introductory episode, <a href="">go back and listen to it first</a>. </em></p>
Jun 08, 2018
John Prine Wanted to Be Normal
<p>I've loved John Prine's music a long time<em>—</em>I grew up singing his songs around campfires in West Virginia. But before he was a regular in my music collection, John was performing at open mics in Chicago, and paying his bills by delivering mail. So when he hit it big with his first album in 1971, he says that getting use to fame was a shock. "I was writing about things private to me and dear to me," he told me. "And to have people know me before they shook my hand was odd to me." And John says that in his life, he's felt odd himself. "That’s how I ended up making my living, being Mr. Oddball," he says. "I get these thoughts, and I like to make them into songs. They might sound odd at the time, but then people connect to them throughout their life. And it turns out I’m doing something that may resemble something solid."</p> <p>In the years since getting famous, John has started a family, battled cancer twice, and along the way, gotten more comfortable with being known. His new album is <em>The Tree of Forgiveness<span>—</span></em>and it's brought him the best album sales of his career<span>. To get it written, John told me, his wife and stepson sent him to a hotel room in Nashville and told him to get to work. "I would knock around during the day and go get a hot dog," he told me about his writing process. "And at nighttime, I’d start writing about three in the morning, order room service up, have a party by myself and end up with a couple songs every day." </span></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
Jun 06, 2018
Hot Dates: Romance Right Now
<p>A <em>lot</em> is changing about how we date right now, from how we meet people, to who pays, and how we talk about sex. It's complicated, but for many people, summer is the time to try. So as we head into the warmer months, we've asked a group of listeners to let us check in with them as they date. In this first episode, you'll meet:</p> <p><span>• </span>Louis, a guy in Washington D.C., who's constantly ghosted by the men he matches with on dating apps.</p> <p><span>• </span>Miracle, a woman in Alabama who's not using dating apps at all...but isn't having better luck meeting people at her church.</p> <p><span>• </span>"Thomas," a young divorcee we originally met in <a href="">our episode about breakups</a>, who's learning to keep things casual.</p> <p><span>• </span>Jessie, a software developer in Montana who's figuring out how to be comfortable earning more than most of the men she dates.</p> <p><span>• </span>Dan, a recent widower who's navigating the new rules of consent and gender dynamics. </p> <p><span>• </span>Ceci, a 36 year old woman in Sacramento who's looking for commitment, but knows not to settle to find it. </p> <p><span>• </span>Vicki, a journalist in her sixties who's enjoying casual dating and sex, and has no interest in becoming a caregiver to an older boyfriend.</p> <p><span>• </span>And June, a college Junior who uses Tinder to scope out who around her is single and looking.</p> <p>We'll be checking back in with these listeners over the course of the summer as they swipe their way to love...or at least, some good stories.</p> <div data-pym-src=";stories=death-sex-money-hot-dates-kickoff%2Chot-dates-thomas-1%2Chot-dates-louis-tobin%2Chot-dates-vicki-miracle-ceci%2Cdeath-sex-money-hot-dates-dan-update%2Chot-dates-jessie-june%2Cdeath-sex-money-hot-dates-ceci-miracle&amp;title=So...what's%20happened%20since%3F&amp;blurb=Keep%20in%20the%20loop%20with%20updates%20from%20all%20our%20summer%20daters">Loading...</div> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
May 30, 2018
Tayari Jones on Frills and Freedom
<p>Tayari Jones’ first step towards becoming a bestselling author was quitting. When she left a PhD program in literature at the University of Iowa in her early 20s, she worried about getting in trouble and disappointing her parents, who were both academics.</p> <p>Instead, two decades later, she says that decision ushered in the best times of her life. “I wanted a kind of life I had never seen before,” she told me. “I was always really attracted to women who seemed to be eccentric and kind of uncontrollable. I wanted them to teach me how they came to be so free.”</p> <p>I talk to her about pushing back against the unspoken confines of womanhood, in her writing and in her life, and about how a phone call from Oprah changed everything for her.  </p>
May 16, 2018
Your Student Loan Updates
<p>"Being an adult and taking on adult things has definitely made me grow up a little bit," Jordan Gibbs told me when we talked recently. "It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster." </p> <p>Last spring, Jordan was just one of the many listeners who told us about their student loan debt. When we first talked, she wasn't paying hers at all. It was a secret from everyone in her life, including her parents. But as we were putting together our original batch of episodes, she made one hefty payment<span>—</span>and, as she told me recently, she's continued to stay on top of her finances. "I looked through my bank account and started x-ing things off the list," she says. "Looking at my spending at the end of the month, I was just like, wow. You can definitely afford to pay your student loans." </p> <p>In this episode, I check in with several other listeners who we met in our student loans series<span>—</span>like Josie, who decided to attend a more affordable state school because she'd have to take on less debt; Sharif, who questioned the American dream after being buried in more than $100,000 in loans; and Jessie, whose engagement was called off over differing opinions about debt and having children. </p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
May 02, 2018
When 'Daddy Dates' Pay The Bills
<p>When Lizzie* joined the website Seeking Arrangement as a college undergraduate, she thought it would be a short-term thing. The “sugar daddy” website mostly connects wealthy older men with attractive young women—“sugar babies”—who they pay for sex and dates. Two years after joining, Lizzie calls herself a professional sugar baby, although she keeps her work secret from everyone except a small circle of friends. She says she brings in $4,000 to $5,000 a month from various arrangements—far more than she makes from her job as a freelance copywriter.</p> <p>Lizzie sees the relationships as purely transactional, but she says the men often don’t treat it that way. “They think they’re getting better girls if they’re not actually escorts,” she told me. I spoke with Lizzie about why she prefers seeing men who are new to Seeking Arrangement, and how she navigates her double life. </p> <p> </p> <p>*Name changed</p> <p> </p>
Apr 18, 2018
A Son, A Mother, and Two Gun Crimes
<p>We first heard Dwayne Betts' story in <a href=""><em>Caught</em>, the new podcast series about juvenile justice from WNYC</a>. Today, Dwayne is 37, a poet, father of two and a Yale Law School graduate. He's getting his PhD in law there now. But as a 16-year-old, Dwayne carjacked someone at a mall, and was sent to prison for almost a decade. "The fact that I was a child, I should have been treated differently," Dwayne told us. "And that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have been punished, that that just means I should have been treated differently." </p> <p>Dwayne's mom, Gloria, was in the courtroom the day her son was sentenced. I wanted to talk with her and Dwayne together, about how she remembers that day and how their family got through the years of Dwayne being locked up. But Gloria told me that around the time that Dwayne was sentenced, suddenly "it just seemed like everything that happened in my life involved a gun." That was something she hid from Dwayne until years later, when he was released from prison. </p>
Apr 04, 2018
Death, Sex & Money's Starter Kit
<p><em>Death, Sex &amp; Money</em> began back in 2014, which means we have a lot of episodes for you to enjoy. But that also means there’s a lot to sift through, if you’re new to the show. So we asked our listeners about some of their must-listen <em>Death, Sex &amp; Money</em> episodes. Here are some of the episodes that they recommended as places to start. </p> <hr> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><em>Anna with Ann and Al Simpson at their home in Cody, Wyoming.</em></div> </div> </div> <p><a href="">This Senator Saved My Love Life</a> - You have to give it to some elected representatives—they really will respond to the letters you send. Or at least, Senator Alan Simpson did when host Anna Sale's boyfriend, Arthur, sent a plea for help. That’s how she wound up in the Wyoming kitchen of Alan and Ann Simpson, getting advice on maturity, commitment, and of course, sex.</p> <p><a href="">Ellen Burstyn’s Lessons in Survival</a> - When Ellen Burstyn was 18, she got on a Greyhound bus going from Detroit to Dallas. She had 50 cents in her pocket and a hunch that she could find work as a model. Now 81, the actress and director, known for her roles in<em> Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore</em>, <em>The Exorcist</em>, and<em> Requiem For a Dream</em> says she thinks of herself as a "work in progress," adding, "I know I’m a successful actress, but I don’t feel I’m necessarily a successful person."</p> <p><a href="">I Was Your Father, Until I Wasn't</a> - Tony became a father in his mid-20s, after a woman he'd had casual sex with got pregnant. He shared custody of their daughter, and said being a dad gave him new purpose in life. But when his daughter was about a year old, Tony decided to take a paternity test<span>—</span>and found out the child he'd been raising as his was not biologically related to him. </p> <p><a href="">Opportunity Costs series</a> - When have you been most aware of your class status? When we asked our listeners this question, they responded with stories about class and divorce, fertility, friendship, education, race and much more. Listen to the series and read pieces about class and money written by our partners at BuzzFeed News. </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><em>Big Freedia holding a photograph from her senior year in high school. <span>(</span><a href="">Rush Jagoe</a><span>)</span></em></div> </div> </div> <p><a href="">In New Orleans series</a> - There's no single story about Hurricane Katrina, or about how people have fared in its wake. In this series that we produced around the 10 year anniversary of the storm, we share five very different stories about five people from New Orleans—including bounce artist Big Freedia, the elected New Orleans coroner, and a woman who calls herself the Demo Diva. They all lived in the city when Hurricane Katrina hit. They all live there now. And their lives in the decade since the storm have all been shaped in some way by it and its aftermath. </p> <p><a href="">Autism Isn't What I Signed Up For</a> - Diane Gill Morris is raising two teenage sons with autism. We first met her when she left a comment on our Facebook page in response to an article about people who are considering having children. "I have sacrificed a huge part of who I am—given up my career, gone broke, accepted social isolation," she wrote. "If someone had told me this is what it would be like, I never would have had kids." Diane talked with us about trying to keep her sons safe as young black men, about how her marriage has changed since the kids' diagnosis, and about how she can both love her sons deeply and mourn the children she never met. </p> <p><a href="">Jane Fonda After Death and Divorce</a> - When actor, fitness guru and activist Jane Fonda found herself newly single at 62, she says she felt whole for the first time. Now, she says she’d disappear into a monastery before getting married again. Hear her talking with host Anna Sale about her mother's suicide when she was a girl, her father Henry Fonda's long decline, and the lessons she learned by choosing to be alone.</p> <p><a href="">Why I Steal</a> - Alice* lives in a small town, where the work dries up in the winter. So, she supplements her seasonal unemployment checks by shoplifting. "I do have rules that I follow," she explains. But she also keeps her stealing a secret from her husband and her young daughter. </p> <hr> <p><strong>Happy listening! And since you're new to our show, know that you can email your story ideas or episode responses any time to </strong></p>
Mar 26, 2018
15 Years Later, An Iraq Veteran Looks Back
<p>Ten days after the start of the war in Iraq, Staff Sergeant Thom Tran crossed the border from Kuwait with his unit. Four days later, he went out on a recon mission, and came millimeters from death when an enemy bullet grazed the back of his head in a firefight. He got relatively lucky; but still, he's spent the last 15 years thinking about how that moment<span>—and his service—have defined his life after the military.</span></p> <p>Because for Thom, coming home after his deployment ended was not easy. "<span>I had a real shit attitude because I'd been shot, my roommate had been killed...I was in a real bad mood all the time," he told me. "So I </span>did what every combat veteran does. I fell into a bottle and I sat there." I talked with him about sharing those experiences with his father, who was a POW in Vietnam, and about how comedy has helped him manage his stress in the years since.</p>
Mar 21, 2018
From Indie Rockers to Full-Time Caregivers
<p>In 2010, Johnny Solomon's band, Communist Daughter, was on the rise. But behind the scenes, Johnny was struggling<span>—he was </span>drinking heavily, and abusing meth to the tune of $600 a week. "People see it from the outside, but it's impossible to explain from the inside of what it does to your soul," he told me about his addiction. "I did really terrible things to the people I loved." When Johnny realized it was time to get help, he called one of the people he loved most<span>—his mom,</span> Nancy. She paid for him to go to rehab, which helped him get clean and diagnosed him with bipolar disorder. </p> <p>After Johnny got sober and went on medication, the band regrouped and continued touring and putting out albums. But last year, it was Nancy who needed help, as her health declined due to a degenerative nerve disease. So Johnny and his wife<span>—and bandmate—Molly packed up their life in Minnesota and moved in with Nancy and her husband in San Diego. </span></p> <p><span>It's a very different life from the one they were imagining at this point in their marriage, when they were hoping to start a family. And caring for Nancy has meant that their music careers have been put mostly on hold. But Johnny says there are aspects of the change that feel healthy, especially given the difficulties he experienced trying to stay sober in a touring musician's lifestyle. "I love routine," he told me. "I love it, because when things get out of control then I start to really lose control." I went to their shared home to talk with Johnny, Molly and Nancy about what their life together looks like now—and what's been hard about building it.</span></p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Johnny and Molly Solomon in the backyard of the house they share with Johnny's mom Nancy and her husband.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Anna Sale)</div> </div> </div> <p><span> </span></p>
Mar 14, 2018
Sharing DNA, and Nothing Else
<p>The consumer genomics industry has exploded in recent years. Websites like and 23andMe have customer databases in the millions. But for some people, like a woman we met named Amy, the at-home DNA testing craze can bring some unexpected revelations.</p> <p>In 2016, Amy spit into a tube and mailed it to's DNA testing service. She'd always been interested in genealogy, so the test seemed like the perfect way to learn more about her heritage<span>—but what she found out was that the man who raised her wasn't her biological father. "I</span>t was this moment where time stood still and things got quiet," she says about the day she found out. "And I just sort of received, read it, and then just shut it off in a way that I've never really experienced."</p> <p>After the shock wore off, Amy braced herself to talk with her mother about what she'd discovered. And as she learned more about her donor and his family, she also struggled with whether or not she wanted to be in contact with them—a decision that became even more complicated when Amy found out that her biological father is a staunch Trump supporter, while she had switched careers only months before to become a full-time Democratic campaign worker. "I<span>t's like the universe's funny joke," she says. "'Woman gives up her life to join the Democratic resistance, and finds out she's related to a Trump-Pence supporter.'"</span></p>
Feb 28, 2018
Lena Waithe Says Have a Dream... and a Sponsor
<p>Writer and actor Lena Waithe moved to Los Angeles in 2006 from Chicago, right out of college. "<span>I transferred my Blockbuster job from Chicago to LA," she told me. "I</span>t was definitely dues-paying time. I wasn’t even paying dues yet. I was just out there figuring it out."</p> <p>Lena's goal in Hollywood was to land a screenwriting gig. Growing up, she'd always loved to write—her fifth grade teacher told her she "writes the way she speaks." And she also knew that she wanted a career far outside of the corporate world that her mother worked in. "This is what hell looks like, whatever it is y'all do all day long," she remembers thinking when her mom would bring her into work as a kid. </p> <p>But those office cubicle jobs were what enabled her mom to financially support Lena during those early days in California. As Lena was making a dollar or two above minimum wage and trying to land small screenwriting gigs, her mom was helping her with her bills. "I think for her it was an investment," Lena says. "She was like, Lena’s going to be somebody. I don’t understand it, but I’ll take it." That's paid off: since landing writing and acting jobs on <em>Bones</em> and<em> Master of None</em>, and creating her new show <em>The Chi</em>, Lena says she's been sending her mom a yearly check. "She sends a text like, 'And I thank you,'" Lena laughs. "And the emoji with the money on its eyes and tongue." </p>
Feb 21, 2018
After Suicides, a Texas Veterinary Community Opens Up
<blockquote> <p><em>"Stress is in the environment. It's that fast pace.<strong> </strong>[Veterinarians] will do a euthanasia and not stop, and they'll go right to the next case. There's no processing of it."</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Suicide statistics in the veterinary profession are sobering: a 2014 CDC study found that one in six veterinarians has considered suicide, and a British study found that the suicide rate in the veterinary profession might be up to four times higher than that of the general population.</p> <p>But reading the statistics and experiencing the reality of these numbers are two very different things, as the veterinary community in Dallas learned last spring. Over the course of about a month last year, three veterinary workers there—two veterinary techs, and one veterinarian—died by suicide. We went to Dallas to talk to people in the veterinary community about the stresses of their profession, how they remember their colleagues who've died, and what they're doing to take care of each other now—and to prevent more suicides from happening in the future. </p> <hr> <p> </p> <p><em>We're proud to partner with the </em>Dallas Morning News<em> for this story. They've produced <a href="">a photo essay</a> to take you inside the veterinary clinic we visited in Dallas, as well as <a href=";">a video</a> that we've included below. Dr. Kathryn Konieska at the Center for Veterinary Specialty + Emergency Care talks about what the euthanasia process entails, including the emotional toll it can take on a vet. </em></p> <p><em>If you’re considering suicide, or are worried about someone who might be, please get help. We’ve compiled a list of resources <a href="">here</a>. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and is open 24 hours a day.</em></p> <p> </p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm1401505668374088e19a9b0-2d64-4070-8e2b-2be3de3001ad"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a870364594007793079" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <div data-pym-src="—subscribe%20to%20the%20Death%2C%20Sex%20%26%20Money%20newsletter&amp;mailchimpId=566f296761">Loading...</div> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
Feb 07, 2018
Suicide Prevention Resources
<p>Struggling with thoughts of suicide, or trying to help a loved one you're worried about can be difficult<span>—</span>and finding help can feel overwhelming, especially when you're already stressed. Here are a list of resources that you may find useful (<em>if you are in immediate danger, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255)</em>: </p> <ul> <li><a href="">The Suicide Prevention Lifeline</a> is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also provide services for specific communities such as disaster survivors, attempt survivors, Native Americans, LGBTQ+, and veterans. </li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="">The Trevor Project</a> is a national organization that focuses on young members of the LGBTQ+ community mainly between the ages of 13 and 24. </li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="">SAVE</a>, or Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, is an organization that offers education on the warning signs of suicide in hopes of preventing suicide attempts. </li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="">SAMHSA</a> (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is an agency within the US Department of Health and Human services. They provide a number of services, and have a section on <a href="">suicide prevention</a>. </li> </ul> <ul> <li>The <a href="">American Foundation for Suicide Prevention</a> is an organization that educates and holds events and fundraisers to educate about mental illness and provide support for loss survivors. </li> </ul> <p> </p> <hr> <p> </p> <p><em>If you have a resource that you think should be on this list, email us at</em></p>
Feb 07, 2018
Opportunity Costs: I Never Felt Inferior
<p>I first talked to Ernie Major a few years ago, for <a href="">our episode about living alone</a>. When we put out our call for class stories, Ernie got in touch again. "<span>I’m retired now, by myself in a single wide trailer," he wrote us, "but I still don’t feel inferior to other people of higher class. In fact, sometimes I feel kind of sorry for them, trapped their web of expectations." </span></p> <p>Ernie is 73, and over the course of his life he's been in a lot of different class brackets. He grew up "dirt poor" as a homesteader, but he had relatives who were quite well off. After serving in Vietnam, he went to college on the G.I. Bill, and worked as a photojournalist before starting a new career in his fifties at an oil refinery. And now, he's on long term disability after a motorcycle accident last year. Those experiences exposed him to a lot of class diversity, but he says as an adult, he's identified as "<span>socially lower middle class, economically a bit better than that," without aspirations to move up.</span> "I look down on people who invest a lot of time and energy into status symbols that can just go away in a second."</p> <p>Yet Ernie also recognizes that being white has allowed him a level of class fluidity--which has fueled some of that emotional detachment from where he fits in the class hierarchy. "I understood early on that [being white] gave you a a a step up even though we were dirt poor," he told me. "And I had my mom’s [upper-middle class] family, so I had a connection with people who were not definitely not the same as us." </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""></div> <p><em>Anna took this picture of Ernie after their conversation, with his new Death, Sex &amp; Money "should-less day" mug. Afterward, when we asked Ernie to send us a picture of something that represents his class status, he sent along a picture of his Royal Enfield motorcycle on a wheelchair ramp next to the trailer where he lives. He wrote, "My friends made this ramp after I crushed my foot in an accident. It's the kind of thing that people would do when I was a kid and we lived on a homestead." </em></p> <hr> <p> </p> <p><em>This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to <a href=""></a>.</em></p>
Jan 26, 2018
Opportunity Costs: More Is Not More
<p>Nishant is a junior at Berkeley. Like a lot of college students, he’s trying to figure out how he thinks about class and money as he moves towards graduation and financial independence from his parents. But Nishant’s dealing with a special set of privileges, and complications: his family is in the one percent. His dad, Vik, immigrated from India with his family as a teenager and then went to medical school. But instead of becoming a doctor, Vik founded a software company instead. It was a gamble that paid off. Within ten years, a Fortune 500 corporation had bought Vik’s company, and the family got rich.</p> <p>Learning to navigate the privileges<span>—</span>and the burdens<span>—</span>of being wealthy is something both father and son struggle with. Vik is aware that his discomfort around wealth brings out a competitive edge in him that he's not proud of. And Nishant worries that <em>his </em>friends at college would think of him as “spoiled” if they found out just how much his family has. As Nishant thinks about what he wants to do after college, he’s also dealing with social pressure to match his parents’ financial success. “There’s some American dream kind of pressure that each generation you do better than the generation that came before you,” he told me. “I would have to get very lucky to accomplish that, and that focus is not one that I want to have.”</p> <p><em>We asked the people we interviewed for this series to submit photos of things they felt represented their class status. Vik sent us this photo of his garage, and wrote, "Some really amazing choices of cars to select from to drive to the gym, but in the end, regardless of the car you drive, you still have to have the self discipline to make time and show up, and work out hard and push yourself. Once you're on the racquetball court or on the treadmill, class has no relevance."</em></p> <hr> <p> </p> <p><em>This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p><em>To hear Anna and Vik talk about the Opportunity Costs series with WNYC's Brian Lehrer, click <a href="">here</a>. </em></p>
Jan 25, 2018
Opportunity Costs: The Class Slide After Divorce
<p>A decade ago, Jaimie Seaton and her family were living overseas in Asia while her husband worked as a high-ranking executive at Citibank. "We lived in a huge house with a pool and staff and a driver," Jaimie told me. "We always traveled business class. We always stayed in 5-star hotels. We always had a lot of parties."</p> <p>"From where I sit now and how I have to economize, I just kind of shake my head at the amount of money I wasted." </p> <p>Jaimie's financial picture looks quite different today. A year after moving back to the U.S., her marriage suddenly ended. At that point, Jaimie hadn't been working much. "I never made much money during my marriage," Jaimie said. "I never needed to." She quickly got a temporary job, but says her spending habits didn't immediately change. "I think of it like a large ship," she said. "It takes a while to turn."</p> <p>Now, Jaimie brings in some money as a freelance writer, and receives monthly alimony and child support payments. But much of that will end when her children leave the house. "I’m really afraid of being old and being poverty stricken," Jaimie told me. And, she says that she and her kids feel uncomfortable now in social situations where they used to feel that they belonged. "I feel uncomfortable partly because of the money, but mostly because they’re all still married and their families are intact," Jaimie said. "It’s hard to be around it." </p> <p>Jaimie wrote a piece for BuzzFeed about her class transition after her divorce. <a href="">Read it here</a>. </p> <p> </p> <p><em>We asked the people we interviewed for this series to submit photos of things they felt represented their class status. "In this picture, I am lying on a private beach in Florida, when I was staying with a friend a few summers ago," Jaimie wrote. While she's cut out a lot of her expenses, Jaimie told us, "I still get a pedicure—my toes are always done. You get a lot of bang for your buck. It lasts a whole month and it costs $30." </em></p> <hr> <p> </p> <p><em>This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to <a href=""></a>.</em></p>
Jan 24, 2018
Opportunity Costs: An Education or Nothing
<p>When Ramal Johnson imagined his life as a PhD student at Howard University, he didn't picture waking up at 4 A.M. to work double retail shifts in addition to his coursework. But last semester, when he was struggling to keep up with rent and student loan payments, that's what his days looked like. Even with his jobs at Best Buy and Express, he wasn't always making enough to cover the cost of living in the D.C. area. "I kind of felt like a failure," he says. "I was just depressed, I was sad, and I was angry, but at nobody in particular. I guess I was just angry at the situation."</p> <p>But, he says, the tradeoffs feel worth it. Like a lot of students, Ramal sees education as a way up the class ladder. "There’s a pretty good chance I’ll be making six figures in the future," he told me. Right now, Ramal says he's straddling the middle and working class—he grew up on a military base, and now, he says, he’s kept a "middle class mentality" while he tries to keep up with the financial reality of his almost $200,000 in student loan debt. But, he told me, it's a burden that he says felt necessary to take on. "Especially as an African American male, people don’t take me seriously in the first place," he said. "With a PhD I’ll have more of a chance."</p> <p><em>If you're curious about whether you're considered in the middle class based on your location and the number of people in your household, check out <a href="">this class calculator</a> from the Pew Research Center.</em></p> <p><em>We asked the people we interviewed for this series to submit photos of things they felt represented their class status. Ramal sent us this photo of Howard University, where he is getting his doctoral degree in communications. </em></p> <hr> <p> </p> <p><em>This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to <a href=""></a>.</em></p>
Jan 23, 2018
Opportunity Costs: Friendship and Fertility
<p>We heard from more than 400 of you when we asked you for your stories about when you've felt your class status the most. Our listener Cat in Chicago told us it's a question she's been waiting "literally 20 years for someone to ask."</p> <p>Cat wrote to us about her best friend, Christine. They met in college, and have stayed really close in the years since. But when they both struggled to get pregnant, Cat had a lot more options. She describes herself as upper-middle class—she and her husband own their own home, and bring in more than six figures per year. Christine comes from a working class background, and the incomes she and her husband make in the theater industry barely cover their bills. So as Cat was able to afford the expenses of adopting a child, Christine was told by her doctors to keep trying to get pregnant naturally. It didn't happen. </p> <p>"I feel this sort of guilt about kids," Cat told us. "I know that she knows about that. We've we've talked about that before." </p> <p>I talked with Cat and Christine together about how their class differences have impacted their friendship and the families they've been able to build. "Over the years I have just kind of let go of a lot of things let go of of trying to compare or keep up," Christine says. "You want your best friend to have this awesome life. Of course you do." </p> <p><br><em>We asked the people we interviewed for this series to submit photos of things they felt represented their class status. Cat sent us this photo of her living room. She wrote, "It is a super over-the-top room, but it was the first thing we saw when we walked into the house with the realtor and I just love it. Rumor is that the house was built by a mob attorney (as if you could get more Chicago than that); evidence in this room is that there's actually a wall safe hidden behind one of the panels."</em></p> <hr> <p> </p> <p><em>This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to <a href=""></a>.</em></p>
Jan 22, 2018
Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America
<p>In partnership with </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="100"></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Death, Sex &amp; Money is partnering with <a href="">BuzzFeed News</a> to share conversations and essays about class and money—and the ways they manifest in our day to day lives and in our relationships with each other. </strong></p> <p><strong>Read BuzzFeed's reported pieces and essays about money and class<span>—</span>including one from Anna!<span>—</span><a href="">here</a>.  </strong></p> <p> </p> <h3>Episode 5: I Never Felt Inferior </h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="130" scrolling="no" src=";share=1" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Ernie Major self-identifies as "socially lower middle class, economically a bit better than that." But he also says status has never been something he paid much attention to. </p> <p> </p> <h3>Episode 4: More is Not More </h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="130" scrolling="no" src=";share=1" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>For a father and son whose family is in the 1%, having resources that "exceed their wants" brings its own set of challenges.  </p> <p> </p> <h3>Episode 3: The Class Slide After Divorce </h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="130" scrolling="no" src=";share=1" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Jaimie Seaton got used to an upper class lifestyle while married to her banker husband and living overseas. Then she got divorced, and her financial picture totally changed.</p> <p>Read Jaimie's BuzzFeed piece <a href="">about class changes after divorce here</a>.  </p> <p> </p> <h3>Episode 2: An Education, or Nothing</h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="130" scrolling="no" src=";share=1" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Ramal Johnson has a "middle class mentality," a working class paycheck, and upper class aspirations. </p> <p>Looking for the Pew Research Center class calculator? <a href="">Find it here.</a> </p> <p> </p> <h3> <strong>Episode 1: Friendship and Fertility</strong> </h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="130" scrolling="no" src=";share=1" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Best friends Cat and Christine met in college and have stayed close since. But their class differences became very clear—and uncomfortable—when they both struggled to get pregnant.</p> <p> </p> <hr> <p> </p> <p>For several months, we've been asking for your stories about when you've felt your class status the most. <strong>Now, we're sharing five conversations about class </strong>and the ways it intersects with different parts of our lives. Two best friends talk about how being on the opposite ends of the middle class have impacted their ability to start families. A first-generation college student deep in debt bemoans how hard it is to climb up the class ladder—and how easy it is to fall down it. A mother of two teenagers talks about how her life looks different after her financial situation changed post-divorce. A son talks with his father about how their family became part of the 1%—and why it's not all it's cracked up to be. And a 73-year-old Vietnam vet who never got comfortable in the professional world reflects on how being white allowed him a level of fluidity in class status not afforded some of his non-white colleagues and friends.</p> <p> </p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="130" scrolling="no" src=";share=1" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p> </p> <hr> <p> </p> <div data-pym-src=";summary=Tell%20us%20about%20your%20class%20pride%20and%20shame%E2%80%94and%20a%20song%20that%20represents%20your%20class%20status.&amp;callToAction=Take%20Our%20Survey&amp;;mailchimpId=566f296761">Loading...</div> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> <p> </p> <p>"Class is complicated. So, so complicated," a listener named Jessica wrote to us when we asked for your stories about class.</p> <p>While it pops up in many ways in our lives, class is a term that can be hard to pin down, and isn't just about money. "My class is defined by my home and my education," one listener wrote. "Class is your ability to rebound from inevitable setbacks," another said. "Class does not define our worth or ability as humans," wrote another listener. And a listener from the UK wrote about class, "We embrace it as who we are, not what we want to become."</p> <p>One of our favorite class definitions came from Elizabeth in El Paso, Texas, who wrote, "I feel like class is a level of pride or shame." <strong>So we want to hear from you: what embarrasses you about your current class status, and what makes you feel pride? </strong>To read through what your fellow listeners have told us already, <a href="">click here</a>. </p> <p><strong>Plus, we ask you to tell us a song that sums up where you fit, class-wise.</strong> Check out the Spotify playlist we built from your suggestions <a href="">here</a>. </p> <p> </p> <hr> <p> </p> <p>Stay in touch with us! Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you up to date about what's happening behind the scenes at Death, Sex &amp; Money. Plus, we'll send you audio recommendations, letters from our inbox and a note from Anna. Join the Death, Sex &amp; Money community and subscribe today.</p> <p> </p> <div data-pym-src=";headline=Subscribe%20to%20the%20Death%2C%20Sex%20%26%20Money%20newsletter">Loading...</div> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
Jan 17, 2018
Preview: Opportunity Costs
<p>For the past few months, we've been asking you for stories about class. We heard from more than 400 of you about moving up, moving down, and struggling to define where you stand in the first place. One thing that was clear for everyone, though, is that class is something we talk around, but rarely address head on.</p> <p><strong>So next week (January 22-26), in partnership with BuzzFeed News, we're bringing you five in-depth conversations about class</strong>—and the ways it manifests in your day-to-day lives and in your relationships with each other. Two best friends talk about how being on the opposite ends of the middle class have impacted their ability to start families. A first-generation college student deep in debt bemoans how hard it is to climb up the class ladder—and how easy it is to fall down it. A mother of two teenagers talks about how her family's social life looks different after her financial situation changed post-divorce. A son talks with his father about how their family became part of the 1%—and why it's not all it's cracked up to be. And a 73-year-old Vietnam vet who never got comfortable in the professional world reflects on how being white allowed him a level of fluidity in class status not afforded some of his non-white colleagues and friends.</p> <p>We're calling this project "<a href="">Opportunity Costs</a>," because there are tradeoffs and choices when it comes to money and status—and and a whole lot of chance, too. Look for a new episode in your feed every morning next week. In the meantime, take our class pride and shame <a href="">survey</a>—and tell us a song that sums up your class status!</p>
Jan 17, 2018
If You're Being Harassed At Work
<p>If you've been harassed or bullied on the job and are wondering what you can do about it, knowing where to start can be hard. Here are some resources you might find useful:</p> <ul> <li>The <a href="">Time's Up Legal Defense Fund</a> is a new initiative that offers subsidized legal aid to men and women who have experienced harassment or bullying on the job.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>From the <em>New York Times, </em><a href="">a roundup of advice from lawyers</a> about what concrete steps you can take right now to document and report harassment or bullying you've experienced as it's happening<span>—and what you can do next.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li>The National Women's Law Center has a <a href="">state-by-state breakdown</a> of laws and policies designed to help protect women in each state, as well as <a href="">resources for workplace discrimination</a> of all sorts, including sexual harassment and wage gaps.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>On, there's <a href="">a state-by-state directory of hotlines</a> you can call to deal with emergency situations, as well as contact information for local organizations and agencies who can help closer to home.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination at work and your employer has been unresponsive to your complaints, you can <a href="">file a charge of employment discrimination</a> with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). </li> </ul> <ul> <li>And outside of work, if you need to talk to someone but are on a limited budget, <a href="">Open Path Collective</a> is a network of mental health professionals who offer their services at a sharply reduced rate to people in need. </li> </ul> <p>If you have a resource that you think should be on this list, email us at</p>
Jan 03, 2018
All Your Workplace Rage
<p><em>"Phew, that felt good."</em></p> <p><em>"Wow, 30 seconds goes by real fast."</em></p> <p><em>"I actually really needed this."</em><em>               </em></p> <p>A few weeks ago, <a href="">we asked you to send us 30-second voice memos</a> with your anger about harassment and bullying you've experienced at work<span>—</span>and the advice you'd give your younger self about what you don't have to put up with. And you all were ready to vent! You sent us stories about sexism and racism, physical harassment and psychological abuse, from bosses and co-workers male and female alike. Some of you were thinking back on things that happened to you decades ago; some of you are right in the middle of figuring out how to deal with a bad situation.</p> <p>One thing was clear<span>—lots of you feel like you haven't been able to talk about this before</span>. So this week, we're bringing you a supercut of your stories, and your anger. Let's rage.</p> <p><br><em>If you're currently dealing with harassment or bullying at work, click <a href="">here</a> for a list of resources you might find helpful.</em></p> <p><em>And for even more rage, check out today's new episode of the podcast <a href="">For A Bad Time Call</a>—it's a special episode devoted specifically to workplace anger.</em></p> <p><em>Special thanks to SassyBlack for composing original music for this episode. You can find more of her work <a href="">here</a>. </em></p> <p> </p>
Jan 03, 2018
Pull Quote: Plunging In
<p>Happy new year! We've got a special treat for you today.</p> <p>You may have heard that we've been working on an experiment, a new mini-podcast series called Pull Quote. The episodes are short audio gems that we've dug up from our archives and from elsewhere.</p> <p>This week, we're sending our first batch of episodes to those of you who've donated to support the show. But as we start the this new year together, we thought we'd share the first Pull Quote with all of you: some words of wisdom about beginnings from writer Jamaica Kincaid. </p> <p>We’ve had a lot of fun making these, and it's not too late to sign up to hear them all. If you want to hear the other Pull Quote episodes we’ve made, <a href="">chip in $30 or more right now</a>. We’ll email you a special link every morning for a week where you can listen in. Plus, you'll get to tell us what you think about this Pull Quote series and whether we should make more.</p> <p>Thanks so much to those of you who've given money and supported our show. We really appreciate it. Look out for a new episode from us later this week.</p> <p>—</p> <p><em>Special thanks to composer and sound designer Hannis Brown for his scoring work on our Pull Quote series. </em></p> <p> </p>
Jan 01, 2018
I Felt Like The Story Had To Change: Life After Heroin
<p>When my friend Danielle was in high school, she was hanging out in her hometown of Merrick, Long Island, going to punk shows and fighting with her mom—like a lot of teenagers. But when she was 19, her mom died, and Danielle's experimentation with drugs and alcohol really accelerated. By the time she was 25, she was using heroin daily. She says that in some ways, her mom's death gave her a justification for using. "It sounds horrible to say, but I remember when my mom passed me kind of feeling a sense of relief," she told me. "I was like, oh, I finally have my thing. I have my baggage that I've been looking for."  </p> <p>I met Danielle when we were both in our late 20s. At that point, Danielle was about a year sober. We're close, but in the years since we became friends, I'd never talked in detail with her about that earlier time in her life. So I asked her if I could interview her about her heroin addiction and the process of getting sober. I also wanted to know how she thinks about it now—especially as she's preparing to become a first-time parent and go through childbirth with a medical history that makes things more complicated. "On the first visit with the midwives I told them I don't want them to prescribe me anything addictive or any opiates, if we can get around it," she told me. "If I do get prescribed something then I won't hold that bottle. I'll have my husband give me the pill."</p> <p>Looking back, Danielle says she's acutely aware of how differently her story could have gone. Following another year of record overdose deaths in the U.S., Danielle says that she reads the stories of people who die from addiction, and it's an uncomfortable experience. "I see myself in them," she told me. "I'm not better than any of those people. I don't have a stronger constitution. I'm not more moral. I'm not smarter. I'm not anything. I just happened to hear a message, and was able to follow up and take steps and do some work and make this change." </p> <p><em>Click <a href="">here</a> to listen to my conversation about addiction from the other side, with an EMT supervisor who's on the front lines of the opioid crisis in my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia. </em></p>
Dec 20, 2017
I Can't Fix It: A First Responder and Heroin
<p>Mark Strickland knew he wanted to be a first responder when he was five years old. "It was a way to help people," he told me. "You're giving everything you've got to help people in distress, no matter what it may be." </p> <p>When he first started working as an EMT in my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia back in the 1990s, Mark says that his job rarely involved reviving people after drug overdoses. But in recent years, as heroin and other opioids have ravaged the Charleston community, he says that's changed. Overdose calls are a near-daily occurrence for Mark and his colleagues—in fact, he got was called away to one while we talked.</p> <p>While the national opioid overdose death rate has been steadily climbing over the last several years, nowhere is the situation more dire than in West Virginia. In 2015, the state had the highest drug overdose death rate in the country, at 41.5 per 100,000 deaths. Mark and his colleagues see the people behind those statistics. And when they see the same patients overdosing time after time, it can feel like fighting an uphill battle. He says that he's still figuring out a vocabulary for work-related stress that feels appropriate. "By and large, most first responders will shun away from the P.T.S.D. phrase," he says. "That's what guys get from coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq because they've earned that. You're in a foreign country, taking hostile fire [...] I'm still in America. I'm good, brother. I can go to the store get a six pack."</p> <p>In the midst of finding ways to deal with his own stress, Mark is also raising three boys, and thinking about how he wants to prepare them to make good choices. He's honest with his kids about what he's seen drugs do to people—and he gives them an out if anyone tries to convince them to try any. "Tell 'em no, my Dad makes me pee in a cup," he told me. And Mark also said that he doesn't want his sons to follow in his footsteps as a first responder. "<span>I guess the parent in me wants to shield my kids from bad things."</span></p>
Dec 13, 2017
Your Workplace Rage, And Mine
<p>This past weekend, <em>New York Magazine</em> <a href="">published a story</a> detailing a pattern of alleged sexual misconduct and bullying by John Hockenberry, the former host of WNYC's show <em>The Takeaway</em>. The story includes allegations of forcible kissing, excerpts of inappropriate online messages Hockenberry sent to staff and guests, and descriptions of a pervasive culture of intimidation on the show that was most publicly directed against three of Hockenberry's cohosts<span>—</span>all women of color<span>—</span>who left <em>The Takeaway</em> one after the other, while he stayed. </p> <p>This story is part of a much larger conversation we're having about sexual harassment, and about misconduct of all kinds in the workplace—but this one hits close to home. I worked on <em>The Takeaway</em> from 2009-2010, and I remember this culture vividly. And since this story broke, I've been mad. And I've been wanting to talk about it with someone. So I called up my friend and former colleague at <em>The Takeaway</em>, Noel King, to talk about what we put up with during our time at the show, what we shouldn't have<span>—and how we're rethinking that time in our careers now.</span></p> <p><span>And we want to hear from <em>you </em>about how you're processing this moment in our cultural confrontation of sexism, racism and other inappropriate behavior in the workplace. </span>Inspired by one of our favorite new podcasts, <em><a href="">For A Bad Time Call...</a></em>, we want to hear your rage. Send us a 30 second voice memo of what you would tell your younger self about office culture, or share with us the advice you would give yourself to deal with harassment, bullying, or worse. You can send those voice memos to—we'll put them together and share them with you soon. </p> <p><em>Click <a href="">here</a> to read Suki Kim's original reporting in New York Magazine about the allegations against Hockenberry. WNYC's own reporting on the story can be found <a href="">here</a>. And you can find statements from Hockenberry and WNYC <a href="">here</a>. </em></p>
Dec 06, 2017
Gabrielle Union Is Fed Up
<p>When she was a teenager, all Gabrielle Union wanted was to be chosen. Growing up, she felt conspicuous as one of the only black girls in the mostly-white California city of Pleasanton, and she distinctly remembers how badly she wanted to fit in—but more often than not, she says, she felt like an outsider. "My parents thought moving us to Pleasanton was giving us all of the opportunity. You have great schools, safe neighborhoods, you're going to be around the right kind of people," she told me when I spoke to her live on stage at The Commonwealth Club, "and all it did was isolate us." But it turned out that Pleasanton wasn't as safe as her parents had hoped—a lesson Gabrielle learned in a horrific way. When she was 19, she was raped at gunpoint in the Payless ShoeSource where she was working. In addition to the trauma she had to work through in the aftermath, Gabrielle says that being labeled as the victim of an assault made her feel even more socially isolated. "You become <em>that</em> black girl," she told me. "And for someone so fully committed to assimilation, that was by far the most traumatizing part."</p> <p>Twenty-five years later, Gabrielle's talking about these experiences in a new collection of essays, called <em>We're Going To Need More Wine. </em>It's not the first time she's gone public with her most private moments; last year, <a href="">an op-ed she published in the <em>L.A. Times</em></a> reflecting on the rape allegations against her <em>Birth of a Nation </em>director and costar Nate Parker went viral. But being open with fans hasn't always been easy for her. She told me that for years after she was assaulted, she had difficulty figuring out how to set boundaries and protect her personal space<span>—especially as she was becoming recognizable from her roles in movies like <em>Bring It On.</em> "Not saying no means there’s no boundaries," she told me about her early experiences with fans. "So self-care goes out the window. You've got to be everything to everybody at all times, which is impossible." </span></p> <p><span>In the years since, she's learned to balance her fame with self-care. </span>She's now married to NBA star Dwyane Wade, and together, they're raising his nephew and two sons from a previous marriage. And she says that ironically, their relationship works because they know they don't have to be in it. "<span>There is no 'you-complete-me' shit," Gabrielle explains. "It's, 'I'm making a conscious choice to be with you every single day because we both have a lot of options. So I'm choosing you every day.'"</span></p> <p><em>Thanks to <a href="">Inforum at the Commonwealth Club</a> for hosting this event. You can watch a video of our entire conversation with Gabrielle <a href=";theater">here</a>. </em></p> <p> </p>
Nov 29, 2017
Finding Love, And A Kidney, On Tinder
<p>In 2015, Lori Interlicchio and Alana Duran swiped right on each other's Tinder profiles. They were both in their early 20s, and not looking for anything too serious. But on their first date, Alana told Lori that she has lupus—an autoimmune disease that, in Alana's case, has taken a major toll on her body.</p> <p>At that point, Alana had been on dialysis for four years. Her kidneys were failing. And after just three dates, Lori was thinking about offering to see if she could be a potential kidney donor match. "I called one of my former roommates and I started asking like, 'Is this absolutely insane or is this like, fine?'" Lori told me. "If a another person needs something that you don't need and aren't going to miss, then whatever, right? Why not give it to them?" </p> <p>Lori was a match. And starting their relationship with an organ donation has led to questions they've both had to address. When Lori got into law school just months after the surgery, she worried about leaving Alana behind. "I know that right now Alana is doing really well health-wise," Lori told me, "but I also know that that could change at any time." And Alana has had to grapple with what would happen if she decided to end their relationship. "Someone gave me a literal piece of them," Alana says. "I can't repay them for that. In my mind I was thinking that would come up, like, 'Oh, I can't break up with Lori because she gave me a kidney. That'd be terrible, people would be really really mad at me.'" </p> <hr> <p> <em>Lori and Alana's story is documented in the new film </em>Bean<em>. <a href="">Find out more about screening times here.</a> </em></p>
Nov 22, 2017
What Lisa Ling Regrets
<p>In her late 20s, Lisa Ling was co-hosting <em>The View </em>and enjoying single life in New York. "When I think back on it I see myself, you know, dancing on tables sometimes," she laughs. But her decision to leave her previous life in Los Angeles behind had long-lasting consequences. "As soon as I got to New York, this whole world opened up to me and I was invited to every party. And given where I grew up in this kind of middle, lower-middle class home and community, it was it was exciting for me," she recalled. But, Lisa says, her long-distance relationship with a serious boyfriend back home suffered, and ultimately ended, as a result. "In retrospect now, it was really sad because he really, really loved me," she says. "I kind of—you know, I in many ways sort of abandoned the relationship." </p> <p>At the same time, she was having difficulty with talking about her personal life at her very public job. Even though Lisa had been working as a reporter for teen shows like <a href="">Scratch</a> and <a href="">Channel One</a> since she was 16, <em>The View </em>required something different of her. "T<span>he expectation of me was to be totally open about every aspect of my life," she says. "And I really struggled with that in the beginning because I was so out of my element." But it was a skill she was later grateful for—in her marriage. Lisa got married in 2007, and she says communication between her and her husband, Paul, hasn't always been easy. But she says they've found a language that works. "Our mutual therapist once said to us, if you were in a business, you would do everything in your power to make sure that that partnership worked," she told me. "And you need to apply that same work ethic to your marriage. And that really kind of resonated with us."</span></p> <p><em>You can watch Lisa's new web series for CNN, </em><em>called </em>This Is Sex,<em> <a href="">here</a>. </em></p>
Nov 08, 2017
A Bitcoin Mogul Goes Broke
<p>When Charlie Shrem was growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, he learned a lesson about money the hard way. "<span>I got a credit card in the mail [...] the </span><span>day I turned 18. I had a $6000 credit limit. And I was taking people to Vegas," he told me. It was a lifestyle that got him in ten thousand dollars worth of debt. </span>He repaid that debt in full, and then started looking for a way towards financial independence. </p> <p>He landed on Bitcoin. Charlie was an early adopter of the cryptocurrency, and his gamble paid off. By the time he was 22, he had co-founded a company called BitInstant, which helped its users convert dollars into Bitcoin. It made Charlie rich, but it also landed him in legal trouble. One of Charlie's customers was making a profit reselling Bitcoin purchased on BitInstant on Silk Road, an underground marketplace known for illegal transactions. Charlie knew about it, and ended up being arrested for it. He plead guilty to a reduced charge, and served a year in federal prison. "When you're in prison, it's not like TV where everyone's like, oh, I'm innocent," Charlie told me. "Everyone tells you they're guilty. I'm guilty. Because to say you're innocent minimizes all that hard work you're doing to get out." </p> <p>I talked with Charlie about money, prison, and ultimately leaving his Orthodox community live onstage at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. Our conversation took place in conjunction with an exhibit there called <em>Generation Wealth</em>. It's a series of photographs by Lauren Greenfield about money, status, and the ways we show them<span>—</span>you can learn more about that exhibit and see some of the photographs <a href="">here</a>. </p> <hr> <p><em>Watch Anna and Charlie Shrem in conversation at the Annenberg Space for Photography. </em></p> <p><em><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm1399913323084961c4d922a-f856-46b4-ac41-582354f905a7"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-4470972033175817052" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </em></p>
Nov 01, 2017
Why She Steals: Your Reactions
<p>Last month, <a href="">we spoke to a woman named Alice*</a> about her shoplifting habit, how she justifies it, and her reluctance to go on food stamps. And a <em>lot </em>of you responded to her story. Here's just a sample of some of the comments we got:</p> <blockquote> <p><em> I grew up poor, but stealing was never the answer for my family. And I don't think it's the answer here either.</em></p> <p><em>My moral core was grossed out.</em></p> <p><em><span data-ft='{"tn":"K"}'>This episode made me enraged. That's all.</span></em></p> </blockquote> <p>It seemed like there was more to talk about here. So this week, we dug into your reactions with a couple of listeners who wrote to us after we released the episode. Alyssa, a listener from Atlanta, told us that she felt "betrayed" by the show. "<span>This interview was so empty for me," she initially wrote us. "Alice was so openly selfish, I couldn't really believe you were giving her a voice bigger than she apparently already has on Tumblr. A platform to speak about her ridiculous lifestyle like it was something fascinating, something to be proud of. I couldn't tell why you had chosen her." Another listener in Brooklyn, Trevor, commented on a point Alice made about how her whiteness would help protect her from legal repercussions if s</span><span>he got caught. </span>"Be<span>cause of people like her," he wrote, "I am the one followed around the store." </span></p> <p>I called Alyssa and Trevor to talk to them more about their reactions<span>—a</span>nd then, I called Alice. </p> <p><em>*Name changed</em></p>
Oct 18, 2017
Life in Our 20s: Advice from Niecy Nash, Alia Shawkat & Terri Coleman
<p>Your 20s can be hard<span>—</span>but getting advice from people who've been there can make things a little easier. And that's exactly what we're doing this week, in a live show we recently recorded at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. </p> <p>With the help of guests Alia Shawkat (<em>Search Party, Arrested Development, <em>Transparent</em>), </em>Niecy Nash<em> (<em>Claws, </em><em>Reno 911</em>, <em>Getting On)</em></em>, and Terri Coleman <a href="">(from our series</a><em><a href=""> "In New Orleans"</a></em><a href="">)</a>, we take on life advice questions from listeners in their 20s, and talk about the most challenging and exciting parts of young adulthood.</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"></div> <div class="image-credit">(Mindy Tucker)</div> </div> </div> <p>One listener named Sumaya asks how to handle tough conversations about money with friends who, all of a sudden, are making more than she is. Mia wants to know about how to make friends in a new city, without the help of a social life centered around school. And a listener who wants to be known as "Rebecca" asks about how to figure out exactly what she and her partner like in the bedroom.  </p> <p>We also talk with Alia Shawkat and Niecy Nash about their 20s. Niecy was married with three kids by the time her 20s were over. Alia's still in her 20s, and talks about what it was like to get famous young on <em>Arrested Development</em>, and how her view of relationships and money has shifted during this decade of her life. Plus, Terri Coleman tells a story, accompanied by drummer Bianca Richardson, about an important lesson she learned in her 20s from an unlikely mentor<span>—</span>Jose Cuervo.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src=";show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;"></iframe></p>
Oct 11, 2017
Ellen Burstyn's Lessons on Survival
<p>I talked with Ellen Burstyn three years ago, sitting on wicker furniture in her New York apartment. She told me about getting on a Greyhound bus to Dallas at 18 with 50 cents in her pocket, and about surviving an illegal abortion. And she described adopting her son, leaving an abusive marriage, and starring as a newly single mom in <em>Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore</em>. The role was based in part on her own life, and it won her an Oscar. "I know I’m a successful actress," she told me. "But I don’t feel I’m necessarily a successful person."</p> <p>Ellen also told us about her "should-less days"<span>—</span>days she sets aside "where there’s nothing I should do." As she explained to me, "I have wiring in my brain that calls me lazy, if I’m not doing something. I haven’t been able to get rid of it. But what I can do is I can put in another wiring, I can put in should-less days, so when that voice goes off and says you’re being lazy, I turn to the other wiring in my brain that says, no, this is a should-less day, and I’m doing what I want."</p> <p>This month, we're celebrating Ellen Burstyn and should-less days with our new Death, Sex &amp; Money should-less day mug. Support our work by becoming a sustaining member at $8/month, and we'll send you one! Just go to <a href=""></a> or text "DSM" to 70101. </p> <p><em>Listen back to Ellen Burstyn's conversation with Gloria Steinem on Death, Sex &amp; Money last year <a href="">here</a>. </em></p>
Oct 04, 2017
Why I Steal
<p>Alice* lives in a small town, where the work dries up in the winter. She and her husband have jobs at a seasonal restaurant, where she says they each make about $500 a week. When it gets cold, they go on unemployment to support themselves and their young daughter. Alice supplements that income by shoplifting. "I do have rules that I follow," she explained. "I don't ever lift from small mom-and-pop kinds of stores. When you lift from somewhere like Walmart they already have it built into their insurance...I would say it feels more like maybe a paper cut, as opposed to stabbing someone."</p> <p>We first learned about Alice last year through Tumblr, where there's an active community of people who say they shoplift. They post pictures of their "hauls," as well as tips for other lifters. For Alice, finding that community was huge. "It felt like I had people that I could talk to about it," she told me. "Because it is such a huge part of my life, and to have people that I could talk about it with like it was normal, that felt great. It just sort of opened up a whole new world of possibilities." </p> <p>Alice told us she keeps her shoplifting a secret from her husband. And while she used to steal while her daughter was with her, stuffing groceries and makeup into her diaper bag, she says she stopped once her daughter was old enough to understand what was happening. "I don't want her doing something that's obviously dangerous," Alice told us. "I don't ever see her like being a tag team. I don't really want that for her."</p> <p>Thanks to Tasbeeh Herwees for her help with this story. You can find Tasbeeh's article for <em>GOOD Magazine</em> about the shoplifting community on Tumblr <a href="">here</a>. </p> <p><em>*Name changed</em></p>
Sep 27, 2017
Our Student Loan Questions Live: Part Two
<blockquote> <p><em>"Is it totally crazy to go to grad school before paying off my undergrad loans?"</em></p> <p><em>"Is it best to pay the smallest [loan] first and reduce your number of loans? Or is it best to reduce your highest interest loans first?"</em></p> <p><em>"Lately I've been thinking about refinancing my student loans, but I worry about moving from fed loans to a private company [...] does it make sense to do this?"</em></p> <p><em>"Do you think it's likely that in this lifetime, student loan victims unionize and agree to collectively default?"</em></p> </blockquote> <p>You've sent us a lot of questions about your student loan debt. And in this episode, we're trying to get some answers. In the second night of our live call-in shows about student loans, we're joined by Miranda Marquit, a finance expert and senior writer at the website Student Loan Hero. Together, we're taking your calls to talk about ways to tackle your debt proactively and efficiently. </p> <p>If you missed night one of this call-in special, you can go back and find our conversation with other experts and listeners <a href="">here</a>. And if you missed our original two-episode podcast on student loan debt from this past summer, or if you want to explore the hundreds of stories we received from listeners feeling burdened by debt, check out our student loan project <a href="">here</a>.</p> <hr> <p><em>Here are some of the websites mentioned during tonight's show: </em></p> <p><em><a href="">XY Planning Network</a> - Recommended by Miranda as a way to find fee-only financial planners who specialize in working with Gen X and Gen Y clients.</em></p> <p><em><a href="">Let's Make a Plan</a> - Recommended by Miranda as another resource for finding a financial planner, run by the Certified Financial Planner Board.</em></p> <p><em><a href="">National Student Loan Data System</a> - Recommended by financial aid counselor Danny as a way to find out exactly how much debt you've taken out, and how to contact your loan servicer(s). </em></p> <p><em><a href="">The American Time Use Survey</a> - A look at what Americans spend their time on—Miranda points to it as an example of how much time we spend watching TV and doing other activities during time that could be spent bringing in additional income to help pay down student loans.</em></p>
Sep 14, 2017
Our Student Loan Questions Live: Part One
<p>After we released our <a href="">two-part series</a> on student loan debt earlier this summer, we got a lot of emails from you. In addition to your stories, you also had questions about your loans: about what concrete steps you can take to pay them off smartly, and if you're not in school yet, about whether it's worth it to go into debt for college in the first place. One listener wrote in about his shared debt with his wife: "W<span>e are continually putting off having children because we realize we really can't afford it. We are concerned about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program still existing by the time we can have our loans forgiven. We found ourselves unable to be approved for a loan to buy a home because of our extreme debt. The situation is so overwhelming to us."</span></p> <p>So this week, we're gathering several student debt experts to take your calls live, and help you sort through some of the big questions that you have about loans. In this first of two live call-in shows, we're joined by <span>Rohit Chopra, a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Federation of America; Tressie McMillan Cottom, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author of <em>Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy; </em>and Anya Kamenetz, lead education blogger at NPR and the author of <em>Generation Debt.</em> And </span>we talk about the changing face of student loans under the Trump administration, about the communities hardest hit by the student loan crisis, and about how to decide if going into debt is the right choice for parents and kids. </p> <p>After listening to this episode, listen to <a href="">part two of our student loan call-in series</a>. </p> <hr> <p><em>Looking for the website that Rohit Chopra mentioned about help with public service loan forgiveness? It's here: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</em></p> <p> </p>
Sep 13, 2017
Tracy Clayton's 2017 So Far: Therapy, Forts and Auto Bill Pay
<p>Back in January, I interviewed Tracy Clayton, who writes for Buzzfeed and is the co-host of the podcast Another Round. We talked about the long thread of New Year's resolutions she’d tweeted out for everyone to see<span>—</span>everything from getting her taxes done by a professional to <a href="">meeting a chicken</a>. </p> <p>"You know at the top of the year you’ve got, like, hope and energy," Tracy told me when we recently caught up. "It’s like the slate’s being wiped clean, and now you can do anything. New year, new you." More than halfway through 2017, Tracy says she's in "a much different place today" than she was at the top of the year. </p> <p>So far this year, Tracy says she's made financial strides by signing up for automatic bill pay and having conversations with her dad about his finances after he's gone. She also "bought some real fucking grown up furniture" for her living room<span>—</span>one of her goals we talked about at the beginning of the year. "It should not have cost as much as it did," Tracy laughed. "But, this was also a really good exercise in investing in me." </p> <p>Tracy also tweeted about going back to therapy in June, after not going for several years. "It's hard and it's been kicking my ass," she said. "The things that I'm dealing with are catching up with a lot of the really, really, really big changes that have occurred in the last two years or so that I haven't really thought about or dealt with." She added, "At the top of the year, that wasn't something that I even realized. I do think it's accurate to say that I'm working on accepting things that I can't change, which I've never been good at."</p> <hr> <p><em>Tracy accomplished her goal of meeting a chicken! Check out her interview with Melissa Harris-Perry's chickens here: </em></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src=";show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;"></iframe></p>
Sep 06, 2017
As Harvey Hits, Looking Back at New Orleans
<p>We changed our plans for Death, Sex &amp; Money this week as we watched the storm known as Harvey pummel the Gulf Coast. It's made us think about the conversations we had in New Orleans two years ago, for a series about life there around the tenth anniversary of Katrina.</p> <p>In those episodes, we profiled five people and heard in detail about how their lives were forever changed by a few days of rain, wind, and catastrophic floods. We also heard about their collective trauma of having the home they knew suddenly under water, and about the very long process of rebuilding. <a href="">You can find that entire series here.</a></p> <p>One of the people we interviewed, Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, is heading to Texas this week to volunteer with a medical team. When Katrina hit New Orleans, she didn’t evacuate. Instead she stayed inside New Orleans’ Charity Hospital, where she worked for six days, caring for 18 patients on the 5th floor. There was no power, and it seemed like no one was coming to rescue them. Before they were finally evacuated, Kiersta—who was part of the last group of people to leave—helped clean up the space for when her staff returned. "We didn't want it to look messy," she remembers. "We were naive." </p> <p>Charity Hospital never re-opened after they left, but Kiersta returned to New Orleans after being evacuated. After a long rebuilding process, she still lives there today, and is raising her family there. "We just got too weird for any place else other than New Orleans," she laughs. </p> <p><em>We compiled a list of organizations that need your help after Harvey. Find it here: <a href=";content_type_id=26&amp;object_id=792172&amp;_=e903d687">How to Help After Harvey</a></em></p>
Aug 30, 2017
How to Help After Harvey
<p>Want to help? Give money, not stuff, to aid disaster relief and long-term rebuilding in communities affected by Harvey. Here are some places to start:</p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href="" href="">All Hands Volunteers</a></p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group</a></p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County</a> </p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Feeding Texas</a></p> <p><a href="">Food Bank of Corpus Christi</a></p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Global Giving Harvey Relief Fund</a></p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Greater Houston Community Foundation: Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund</a></p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href=";jsessionid=00000000.app303b?df_id=9314&amp;9314.donation=form1&amp;mfc_pref=T&amp;s_src=HB&amp;s_subsrc=harvey&amp;src=lb&amp;NONCE_TOKEN=2C081BE054278AB11A24B205282FD15C" href=";jsessionid=00000000.app303b?df_id=9314&amp;9314.donation=form1&amp;mfc_pref=T&amp;s_src=HB&amp;s_subsrc=harvey&amp;src=lb&amp;NONCE_TOKEN=2C081BE054278AB11A24B205282FD15C">Houston Food Bank</a></p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Houston Humane Society</a></p> <p><a href="">Houston Public Library</a></p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Texas Diaper Bank</a></p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href="" href="">United Way of Greater Houston</a></p> <p><strong>If you live in a community affected by Harvey,</strong> the State Bar of Texas has a hotline (1-800-504-7030) to answer basic questions and to connect you with resources. If you or a loved one is in emotional distress, call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.</p> <p>If you know of a local recovery effort that needs support, please add it in the comments. </p>
Aug 29, 2017
Katie Couric on Death and Dishonesty
<p>Katie Couric has lived in the public eye since 1991, when she began co-hosting the Today Show on NBC. While she's built a career on her unflappable on-screen presence, she says that same journalistic rationality served her poorly when crisis hit closer to home. In 1998, her husband, John Paul "Jay" Monahan, died of colon cancer at 42. Katie says her reluctance to accept the inevitable conclusion of his diagnosis is something she regrets. "I really tried to not fall apart in front of Jay, and looking back on it, there's probably a lot of dishonesty about the whole thing," she says. "I think that sort of cockeyed optimism prevented me from ever really saying goodbye."</p> <p>After Jay's death, Katie parented their daughters alone until 2014, when she married her second husband, John Paul Molner. While her two husbands share a name, Katie says there’s a lot that differentiates the two marriages. "I'm in a different phase of my life," she told me. "The horizon isn't quite as far as it was when I married Jay."</p> <p>Katie turned 60 years old this year, and says it was more emotionally difficult than she expected. "Half my life is over. It's been a little a little depressing for me," she said. But, she admitted, you’d never know it from looking at her Instagram feed. "You can give people the impression that you're a fairly one-dimensional happy person," she says, "when the truth of the matter is it's much much more complicated than that."</p>
Aug 23, 2017
When Grief Looks Like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
<p>In 2013, podcast producer Rachel Ward's husband, Steve, died unexpectedly. She was 32, and he was 35. Being widowed is painful under any circumstances, but Rachel says that she went through an unusual kind of grief and confusion after losing her husband at such a young age. "I felt like I re-experienced adolescence after Steve died," she says. "But I also feel old because I am an aging person. I'm 36 years old. And that's older than a lot of my peers who on paper have an equivalent life position. You know, like just moved to New York City and are single, except they're 26 and I'm 36."</p> <p>The first time I spoke to Rachel was in 2015, after she wrote a viral Medium post called "<a href="">I'm Sorry I Didn't Respond to Your Email, My Husband Coughed to Death Two Years Ago</a>." Humor got Rachel through the early days of her grief, and her post was an attempt to put the social awkwardness that comes with widowhood behind her. "I guess I’m kind of hoping this is also sort of a juncture in my life and like a transition point,” Rachel told me. So we held on to the recording of our interview, and checked back in with her this summer to see what happened next.</p> <p>A lot did happen in Rachel's life in the two years between when we spoke. Rachel changed jobs and moved cities. She says that four years into widowhood, she tries not to think about the grieving process in stages. "I have to remind myself all the time that grief is not linear," she says. But she also says she feels stuck in ways, <span>especially when it comes to dating. "It feels like I have to be like cooked to a certain level and I'm just, like, not," she told me. "But I've also lately been having some really nice realizations about how it's kind of great to be single and not have to like not have to the kind of draggy parts of relationships." </span></p>
Aug 16, 2017
The Cookie That Ended Jeff Garlin's Sobriety
<p>For over thirty years, Jeff Garlin has been a film and TV mainstay—writing, producing and starring in comedies like <em>Curb Your Enthusiasm</em> (coming back for its ninth season this fall) and <em>The Goldbergs</em>. He's also had a long career in standup comedy. He's so comfortable on stage that he says he often doesn't prepare at all for his sets. But that doesn't mean that Jeff takes his job lightly.</p> <p>"It's a real important thing, comedy, to make us human and help deal with pain," he says. "Life throws a lot of pain at people. My job is to ease people's pain."</p> <p>Comedy has helped Jeff deal with his own pain. He had a stroke at 37 and has struggled with his weight for years. He views food as an addiction. After seven years of sobriety<span>—which for Jeff means staying away from sugar and processed foods—</span>Jeff fell off the wagon when he indulged in a celebratory cookie. The occasion? One of his sons was guest starring on The Goldbergs. "Anything with a feeling brings about wanting to eat," Jeff told me. "I always say I eat Pop-Tarts raw because I don't have time to toast them. I need to shove down my feelings." </p> <p>I also talked to Jeff about dealing with attention deficit disorder as an adult, slowly losing a parent, having sex in his 50s, and maintaining a fulfilling marriage. Jeff says the key to it all is being present, and tries to stay focused on whatever is in front of him. "When I sit in quiet moments and just stare at the stars, nothing pops in my head of looking back on my life," he says. "I don't like overthinking."</p> <hr> <p><em>Want to suggest a podcast episode for our Welcome to Adulthood playlist? Go here: <a href=""></a>. </em></p>
Aug 02, 2017
Bonus! Anna Talks Interviewing with Jesse Thorn
<p>"One of the really important traits of an interviewer is to communicate to the person you’re asking questions of that you are sincerely curious," Death, Sex &amp; Money host Anna Sale recently told Jesse Thorn on his new show, <a href="">The Turnaround</a>. "Because your interview is only going to be as good as the person’s willingness to participate."</p> <p>This summer, Jesse (who also hosts the radio show/podcast <a href="">Bullseye</a>) is turning the tables on interviewers and interviewing <em>them</em> about their craft. He's talked with people like Jerry Springer, Errol Morris, Audie Cornish, Marc Maron, and Anna<span>—</span>who joined Jesse from her maternity leave last summer to talk about preparing for interviews, asking hard questions, and learning from interviewer heroes. </p>
Jul 26, 2017
My Husband Killed Someone. Now He Might Get Out.
<p>Ronnine Bartley dated her now-husband Lawrence when they were in middle school. "Even when we were like together at 13 and 14 years old when we had no business being together, we always talked about being married," Ronnine told me. <a href="">But when Lawrence was 17, he was arrested and convicted of murder.</a> They weren't dating at the time, but they stayed in touch and eventually got back together while he was in prison. And in 2006, they got married. </p> <p>But married life hasn't exactly been how Ronnine once imagined it would be. She and Lawrence have never spent more than 72 hours together as a couple. Their two boys were conceived during conjugal visits inside prison walls. And she's had to be the breadwinner and the decision-maker in their family. "Do I consult with [Lawrence]? Absolutely," she told me. "You know, that makes the relationship work. That makes him feel involved, but I'm the boss. Like in my head, I'm the boss!" </p> <p>Life for their family will look very different if Lawrence gets paroled. After 27 years in prison, he's going before the parole board for the first time next month. "I try not to talk about it too much," Ronnine says. "I'm not really prepared for if he doesn't get released." But, Ronnine says, even if Lawrence gets out, there are still plenty of challenges that they'll face as Lawrence adjusts to life on the outside and they adjust to life together as a couple. "I guess we're gonna have to go to counseling," she told me. "You know, that's a lot. It's deep." </p>
Jul 19, 2017
I Killed Someone. Now I Have Three Kids: Updated
<p>I first met Lawrence Bartley three years ago, inside Sing Sing Correctional Facility. He'd been behind bars for 24 years, after shooting his gun inside a crowded movie theater on Christmas night in 1990 and killing a 15-year-old bystander named Tremain Hall. Lawrence was 17 at the time. </p> <p>Lawrence was sentenced to 27 to 30 years to life in prison for his crime, with the possibility of parole. This August, Lawrence will face the parole board for the first time. So we're sharing his story again and a few updates, including a conversation with Tremain Hall's older brother, Chad Hall. </p> <p>Next week, look out for my conversation with Lawrence's wife, Ronnine. She and Lawrence got married more than a decade ago, and have two sons together. We hear from her about how she's thinking about the possibility of Lawrence coming home<span>—</span>and what she wants for their future together. </p> <hr> <p><em>Several years ago, Lawrence participated in a documentary project called Voices from Within. In it, inmates at Sing Sing talk about their crimes and their regrets. Watch for Lawrence around the 7:30 mark.</em></p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140150566303616762c5359-9e67-4d26-930d-bca9571bd7a1"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-4420116418531360026" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </p>
Jul 12, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets, Part 2
<p>Nathan realized he couldn't pay his rent and his monthly student loan payments. Beth* collapsed in tears while doing yoga because she couldn't stop worrying about money. Jordan set a calendar reminder to force herself to finally make her first payment. </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Hundreds of you have shared your stories about student debt with us,</a> especially the mix of frustration and shame you feel about it. But we also heard stories of turning points<span>—</span>when something changed that redefined your relationship with your student loans. </p> <p>For Beth, that meant radically changing her spending and allotting close to half of her taxable income toward student loan payments. Nathan converted a van into a mobile apartment to save on rent while he chips away at his $200,000 debt. And Jordan, <a href="" target="_blank">after first telling me how she's dodged her student loans for two years,</a> finally set up regular monthly payments. </p> <p>"It started becoming something that was consequential but inconsequential at the same time. Something that can be controlled and doesn't control me," a listener named Krista said about finally getting help managing her student debt. "That was a huge revelation."</p> <p><em>Go to <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link"></a> for more stories and to see how your debt compares to national statistics and to other Death, Sex &amp; Money listeners.</em></p>
Jun 29, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets, Part 1
<p><em>I have blatantly lied to my friends about student loans.</em></p> <p><em>I feel fooled and bamboozled about the American dream.</em></p> <p><em>It’s a stupid system. No one talked about this.</em></p> <p>When we asked you to tell us your stories about how student loans are affecting other parts of your life, we were overwhelmed by your responses. <a href="">You've shared more than a thousand stories in all, and they keep coming.</a> We heard about years of incremental payments and the thrill of getting to a zero balance, but also about delayed weddings, tensions with your parents over your shared debt, and fading hopes of ever buying a home or saving for retirement. </p> <p>It makes sense that you have a lot to say about student debt. <a href="" target="_blank">More Americans are taking out more in student loans and taking a longer time to pay it off.</a> And it's fundamentally reshaping how you think about the value of education and the milestones of adulthood.</p> <p>"You sort of feel lost and like you totally screwed up somehow because you just couldn't figure it out," a listener named Dena said about struggling to make loan payments ten years after college. "And the rest of the world is making money and paying their bills and there's this subculture of individuals who are book smart and world stupid." </p> <p>"I don't know how else to put it except that I almost made it," a listener named Sharif said. He put himself through school with loans to became a chemical engineer, but feels embarrassed by his six-figure debt and never talks about it. "<span>I felt like a total, complete idiot that I put myself in this position." </span></p> <p>For some of you, that embarrassment has become denial. "I just didn’t pay," Jordan Gibbs told me about receiving her first student loan statement. "Like, I just felt like, how can you expect me to start paying you $700 a month? Which is just a crazy number. I can’t even afford to pay rent." </p> <p>In part one of this series, hear how our decisions about how to pay for education are having unexpected effects, long after graduation. </p> <p><em>Go to <a href=""></a> for more stories and to see how your debt compares to national statistics and to other Death, Sex &amp; Money listeners. And look out for <a href="">part two of this series</a> for stories about how some of you stopped feeling stuck and started taking control of your student loans. </em></p>
Jun 28, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Resources
<p>Struggling with your student loan debt? It can be hard to find answers. We've compiled some free resources that can help you manage your debt, whether you're a recent grad, a parent of a student, or someone who's had loans for awhile.</p> <p>Got other suggestions? Put them in the comments below!</p> <hr> <p><strong>Consumer Financial Protection Bureau</strong></p> <p>The CFPB’s <a href="">Repay Student Debt</a> resource guides borrowers through a series of questions to help you determine the best option to pay down your debt. CFPB also has <a href="">answers</a> to frequently asked questions about student loans. </p> <p><strong>Forgive My Student Debt</strong></p> <p>Recommended by student loan expert Rohit Chopra, <a href="">this site</a> helps you figure out if you are eligible for public service loan forgiveness.</p> <p><strong>NerdWallet’s Student Loan Calculator</strong></p> <p>A <a href="">personalized tool</a> that helps you determine what you owe and a timeline for paying it off. </p> <p><strong>Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program</strong></p> <p>If you work for the government (local, state or federal) or for a 501(c)(3) non-profit and have Direct Loans, you’re likely eligible for the federal <a href="">Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program</a>, which forgives the remaining balance on Direct Loans after a certain number of payments. </p> <p><strong>SALT</strong></p> <p>A resource from <a href="">American Student Assistance</a>, <a href="">SALT</a> has personalized tools, videos and other services to help with payment plans, postponements, dealing with defaults and more. <strong>*Requires sign up*</strong></p> <p><strong>Student Loan Borrowers Assistance</strong></p> <p>A website from the <a href="">National Consumer Law Center</a> that guides you through a series of questions to determine the type of loan you have and suggests <a href="">possible solutions</a> to potential difficulties (deferment, new repayment plans). It also has guides to dealing with <a href="">repayment</a>, <a href="">bankruptcy</a>, <a href="">collections</a> and <a href="">possible cancellation</a>, along with an <a href="">advocacy guide</a>.</p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p>After you sign up, <a href="">this website</a> links your bank accounts, credit card accounts, retirement accounts, loan accounts and more so you can keep track of your finances in one place. It also has apps to help with budgeting and financial goals. <strong>*Requires sign up*</strong></p> <p><strong>Ready For Zero Blog</strong></p> <p>For recent grads, this <a href="">blog post</a> from Ready For Zero has tips for your first summer with student loans, and there’s <a href="">this one</a> for when your grace period ends a few months from now.</p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Molly's Story
<p>At 34, Molly has $40,000 in debt. Her student loans have affected the way she thinks about her future. She says, "I always thought that if I really applied myself, and I got really good grades and worked hard and was a nice person, that I would have a home someday and that I would have a family." She added, "I can barely pay my own bills." </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Jason's Story
<p>Jason has more than $200,000 in student loan debt from law school. Recently, he decided to move away from New York City to save money and pay down his loans. "After 37 years on the island of Manhattan, I'm going to leave," he told us. "It just seems so strange that what might kill me financially is wanting to have a higher education."</p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Graham's Story
<p>Graham avoided student loan debt by not going to college. Instead, he pursued a career as an artist, specializing in woodworking and metal casting. But 12 years after leaving high school, he says the stigma of not having a degree has limited his career opportunities—and he's now heading back to college. "This world will not accept you as a valid member of the workforce without a degree," he says. "I haven't played the game." </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Diane's Story
<p>"I'm not sure my daughter understands the scale of the Parent PLUS loans we took on to put her through college," Diane told us. Although she says she's glad that she and her husband were able to help their daughter pay her her education, Diane says the debt is equivalent to buying another home or taking several European vacations—which they now aren't able to do in their retirement. </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Rose's Story
<p>Rose is $100,000 in student loan debt. She avoided paying her student loans for years, but says she can't run from her loan servicer any longer. To pay back her loans, she's taken a higher-paying job with more responsibility, which makes it harder for her to pursue her true passion: singing. </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Nathan's Story
<p>Nathan, a physical therapist, has about $200,000 in student loans. He found a creative way to pay down his debt: instead of paying rent, he lives in his van with his girlfriend and their three dogs. "I couldn't imagine paying back my loans in any reasonable period of time if I had to pay rent," he told us. </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Chris's Story
<p>Chris is an engineer in his 30s. He left college with two degrees, no debt, and enough money to buy a car. He says his friends never talked much about their loans, and he only recently realized how different his experience was from most. "Should I feel guilty?" he asked. "The only thing I can think about is that I was just incredibly, incredibly lucky." </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Brandy's Story
<p>At the age of 32, Brandy has $168,000 in student loan debt and pays $1,000 a month on her loans. She says feels fooled by the American dream. "My biggest dream now is just paying off debt," she says, "though the thought of that makes me want to cry." </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Emily's Story
<p>Emily has more than $80,000 in debt. She's 36 and says she doesn't use the degree that saddled her with student loans. She believes that her early financial decision-making changed the course of her and her husband's lives. "I was told that I need a college education in order to have any kind of acceptable or reasonable life in this society," she says. "And I just wish I would've just made some different choices."</p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Elliot's Story
<p>Elliot's in her 20s, and decided to go to law school soon after getting her bachelor's degree<span>—</span>in part to delay her undergraduate student loan payments. "It's definitely counterintuitive to take out more debt because you can't handle the debt you already have, but it was the only way for me," she told us. She now works full-time and goes to law school in the evenings. And she says if she and her boyfriend get married, they'll have $400,000 in combined student loan debt. </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Liz's Story
<p>While growing up in Mississippi, Liz often dreamed of moving somewhere new as an adult. Now in her 20s, Liz's $70,000 in student loan debt is keeping her in her home state. She says she regrets going to a private college rather than taking advantage of scholarships at state schools. She told us, "Whenever I'm spending any money, whether that's just going out to eat or having a glass of wine or shopping, I'm constantly in the back of my head thinking how can I save to pay off these student loans?" </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Patrick's Story
<p>Patrick is 56 and lives in New York City. When he graduated from physical therapy school in 1999 with $60,000 in student loan debt, he says he thought he "was going to be able to pay all this off in a snap." But he quickly realized that the interest rates on his loans were high<span>—</span>and says a new relationship fizzled because of his anxiety about money. </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Dana's Story
<p>Dana’s 29 and recently finished paying off her $40,000 in student loan debt. As she neared the end of her repayment, she moved in with her boyfriend and they started saving up for a wedding and a house. "The student loan is its own phase now," she told us. "Once you pay that off, then you go into the engagement and wedding phase." </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Audrey's Story
<p>Audrey's in her 20s and recently received a graduate degree. She has more than $40,000 in debt, and says she constantly worries about her finances and the opportunities she's missing out on because of her student loans. "I just want this obligation to be done with and over as soon as possible," she told us. "Maybe even at the expense of enjoying my mid to late 20s."</p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Teri's Story
<p>Teri is 43 years old and has $40,000 in student loan debt. She's raising two kids and put off paying down her debt for years, but she hopes to start budgeting for it soon. "There was always something else to pay for that was more important, or that came first, so this wasn't a priority," she says.</p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Callie's Story
<p>Callie went into $150,000 of student loan debt to pay for her master's degree, and then decided to pursue her Ph.D. She was recently diagnosed with cancer and now worries her loans will plague her, and her husband, in the future. She says, "Student debt is the number one stress in my life<span>—</span>second only to cancer."</p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Your Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Our Student Loan Secrets: Maureen's Story
<p>Maureen decided to stay at home with her kids after she received her master's degree because her husband's career took him overseas. Now, at the age of 45, she owes much more in student loans than she did when she got her degree. "My payment is currently $700 a month, and I think I'm going to be paying this until I'm 65 years old," she says. </p> <hr> <p><em>More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex &amp; Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project <a href="">Our Student Loan Secrets</a> to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. </em></p>
Jun 21, 2017
Coming Soon: Our Student Loan Secrets
<p>More Americans are taking on more debt than ever before to pay for higher education: 44 million Americans have $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. But when we asked you to tell us how you feel about your debt, hundreds and hundreds of you told us about the guilt, shame and isolation that surrounds your loans. </p> <p>Next week, we'll share your stories about how student loan debt has affected your relationships, careers, families and more. For now, visit <a href=""></a> to join the community there: find out where you fit into the student loan landscape, explore other stories about student loan debt, and share your story if you haven't already. </p>
Jun 21, 2017
Who's Driving Your Uber?
<p>I’ve learned a lot about the Bay Area from Uber drivers since I moved here last fall. Some of them are new arrivals, like me, but others have watched the region change dramatically over the last few years. When I'm stuck in a car with a stranger at the wheel, I've been surprised by how personal conversations can get. </p> <p>So last month, producer Katie Bishop and I took our microphones and recording gear along on a bunch of Uber rides all around the Bay Area. The company has been in the news a lot lately, but we set out to learn more about the drivers and what keeps<em> them</em> on the road. We talked about money, competition from other drivers and how they spend their long hours driving and waiting for rides. They also told us about domestic violence, grave plot sales, and the long ripples of the financial crisis. And we heard why one Pakistani driver has decided it's better to not talk to his passengers. </p>
Jun 07, 2017
Hari Kondabolu and His Mom Answer Your Life Questions
<p>When we first met comedian <strong>Hari Kondabolu</strong> and his mom, <strong>Uma</strong>, a year ago, we found out that <a href="" target="_blank">comedy runs in their family</a>. We had such a good time with them that we invited Hari and his hilarious mom to join us on stage again<span>—</span>this time, for a live advice show in The Greene Space. Uma, who immigrated from India to the U.S. as a young woman, and Hari, who was raised in Queens and is now a stand-up comic, sat down with me to answer your questions about everything from money woes to relationship hurdles to pursuing a meaningful life. </p> <p>We hear from a listener named Kevin in California, who's unsure about his career path at 30. An anonymous audience member says her parents hate her boyfriend<span>—</span>and wonders what to do. A listener named Judith asks how long parents should financially support their kids. And Katie, who lives in Boston, sent in a message about finding balance between her closeness with her family (physically and emotionally) and a potential dream job that could take her abroad. </p> <p>Uma lives far away from her family, and for her that's worked. "I left my country," Uma said. "And if my kids want to do it to fulfill their career, I think I would let them go. I think without happiness you find resentment later." However, Hari says his mom has taken that approach to the extreme. When his career was first taking off, he was traveling for weeks on end. In the middle of it, Uma had a heart attack. "She didn't want me to know," Hari said. "She didn't want there to be any regret."</p> <p>Watch video of Hari and Uma on stage at The Greene Space below. </p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm1401505656752808816004d-e23a-407c-b463-e8c1be804886"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-5142366719213346395" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </p> <p><em>We are still hard at work on our episode about student loans. We've got another assignment for you: Send us a picture of the amount that you owe on your student loans. Take a picture of your loan statement, or write out your number in a creative way. Make sure your hands are in the picture (no faces required!) and send it in to </em></p>
May 24, 2017
'Precious' Paid Off Gabourey Sidibe's Crunch Gym Debt
<p>Gabourey Sidibe was 24 and working as a phone sex operator when she was cast as the lead in the 2009 film <em>Precious</em>. It was her first acting role. "It had better change my life for the better," she remembers thinking to herself. "That’s what I prayed for." And it did: she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, and has since landed roles in big-budget movies like <em>Tower Heist</em> and television series like <em>American Horror Story</em>,<em> The Big C</em>, and <em>Empire</em>.  </p> <p>But financial success didn't come right away. As Gabourey writes in her new memoir, "This is Just My Face," she only made about $30,000 from that first role. And, she tells me, it went fast. "Not that I spent it on frivolous things," she says. "What I did with the money was I got out of credit card debt." Gabourey remembers calling a collections agency to pay off several thousand dollars from a Crunch Gym membership that had gone unpaid. "I was like, 'Lisa I'm gonna pay the whole thing off now,'" she laughs. "And she was like, 'Whaaaaat?' And I was like, 'Girl, I got a movie!'"</p> <p>These days, Gabourey says she's financially stable, and enjoys the attention that's come with her career—mostly. "Before I was an actress nobody said anything about my body," Gabourey says. "It took a while for me to learn that I was never going to out-talent the fact that I should be skinny in, you know, somebody else's eyes." Everyone from directors to fans have told her to do something about her weight—that she should lose it or, at times, that she should gain it back. "People think that I don't care that I am bigger, that I don't notice," she says. "I know. I'm worried." </p> <p>That worry fueled her decision to get weight loss surgery last year—something she kept from her family, her manager and her agents. "I had made up my mind and I didn't want space for anybody else's mind to be made up about it," she told me."I wanted my opinion and my comfort and my safety to be the only thing that mattered surrounding the surgery." </p>
May 17, 2017
Kevin Bacon Shows Us His Cash
<p>"We all have a different relationship with money," Kevin Bacon told me on stage when I recently interviewed him at The Greene Space in New York. "It's just as complex as death and sex."</p> <p>One thing I learned about Kevin Bacon's relationship with money in our recent conversation: he likes to carry around a lot of cash. No wallet. A wad—folded up in his pocket. "It's just a weird thing," he said. "I don't leave the house without it."</p> <p>I asked the actor about how he thinks about money differently after he and his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, famously lost much of their savings in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. "It leaves you with a sick kind of feeling," he said. "However, I think you have to live your life trying to avoid bitterness." At the time, Kyra also had steady TV work, which Kevin says helped them get through their rough financial patch. </p> <p>Now, Kevin also has a leading role on a TV series: <em>I Love Dick</em>, Jill Soloway's latest project. Kevin plays Dick—who is an intensely sexual character. We talked about how he approached the role and how he thinks about sex in his own life now that he's almost 60. "Honestly I feel like it's become in some ways even more important to me right now," he told me. "I almost feel like I'm trying to cram as much of it in before it's over for good." </p> <p><em>Watch the video below for my full conversation with Kevin Bacon on stage at The Greene Space. </em></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="360" scrolling="no" src=";height=360&amp;enableInfoAndActivity=true&amp;autoPlay=true&amp;mute=false" width="640" id="ls_embed_1494535491"> </iframe></p>
May 12, 2017
Two Wheelchairs and A Baby
<p>When Nikki Villavicencio and Darrell Paulsen found out they were going to have a baby, their first question was: What now? "It was a scared feeling. It’s not that this was not the right thing or the right feeling, but it was, 'What do we do next?'" Darrell told me.</p> <p>That’s how a lot of people feel when they first become parents. But for Nikki and Darrell, there were complicating factors. For one, neither Darrell nor Nikki has use of their legs. Darrell has cerebral palsy, and Nikki has a rare joint condition called arthogryposis, which means she doesn’t have much use of her arms either. Both rely on home health aides for tasks like bathing, using the toilet and making meals, and spend much of their time in wheelchairs. "I’m in my chair probably a good 18 to 20 hours a day," Darrell said. </p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm1401505757266889526fd59-80c1-4139-bd0e-9908357d637f"><iframe width="465" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a2295233831262638969" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </p> <p><em>(A video from Nikki's YouTube channel)</em></p> <p>Before Nikki got pregnant, neither of them believed it was possible for them to conceive. Their parents were told when they were young that it wasn't possible.<span> "I mean, </span>society tells us all the time that people with disabilities either can't have children or shouldn't have children," Nikki said. W<span>hen they told their family members that Nikki was expecting, some of them were worried—including Darrell's mom. But, Darrell remembers, she found hope in the fact that the couple had a cat. "</span>She used to say, 'Well if we can keep the cat alive for a year, I know you guys can be parents,'" Darrell recalls. "So we've kept the cat alive for a long time. We became parents."</p> <p>Raising their daughter hasn't been easy. Home health aides aren't supposed to help Nikki and Darrell with tasks related to parenting, whether it's laundry or schlepping a bike across the street. But as their daughter, Alley, has gotten older, she's able to do more for herself—and for her parents. "We always tell her that she doesn’t have to do anything for us...but she will be insistent," Nikki said. "She's super independent." </p> <hr> <p>Nikki and Darrell's story is a collaboration with and journalist Kathryn Joyce. <a href="">Read their piece here</a>.</p>
May 03, 2017
Newlywed and Paralyzed
<p>"I want to understand if this isolated feeling is normal." That’s what Rachel Swidenbank wrote to me just six weeks after a cycling accident left her husband, Hiroki Takeuchi, paralyzed from the waist down.</p> <p>The accident happened last summer, less than a month after Rachel and Hiroki got married. They'd also recently bought their first home. Quickly, almost everything in their lives changed. After major surgery and five weeks in the hospital, Hiroki had to learn to navigate the world in a wheelchair. He couldn’t dress himself or use the bathroom without help. Rachel shuttered her company, a tech startup, so that she could spend more time with him.</p> <p>Physical intimacy is different, too. "We're still in the stage of sort of shock, when it comes to that regard," Hiroki told me. Rachel added, "It's probably the hardest thing to deal with in the relationship." They're not sure how Hiroki's accident will affect their sex life in the long term, and how it will affect their chances at becoming parents. </p> <p>Rachel says she's gotten angry at Hiroki about the accident. But there are ways it's strengthened their bond, too. "The emotional connection that we have is so much deeper than it’s ever been before," Rachel told me. And despite all the changes in their relationship, some things have managed to stay the same. Hiroki is still learning how to manage his wheelchair one-handed, but he makes it a point to bring Rachel her morning cup of coffee every day, just as he always has, even if it means spilling a little bit of coffee on the kitchen floor. "It is very bittersweet," Hiroki said, reflecting on the accident, "both survival and loss mixed into one."</p> <hr> <p>Update: When we checked in with Rachel about a year after this episode was released, she told us that "things are still challenging"—including travel and dealing with grief when thinking about their lives pre-accident. However, both Rachel and Hiroki are now back at work full time, and Hiroki's physical strength has increased—making things like travel more possible. They also plan on starting the IVF process soon. </p> <p> </p>
Apr 26, 2017
Alec Baldwin Talks Money, Family, Fame and Cocaine
<p>"I completely forgot that this is an episode of Death, Sex &amp; Money. We're taping this for your show!"</p> <p>That's how Alec Baldwin responded after I started our on-stage conversation at the Brooklyn Academy of Music by asking him about money, and how he thinks about accumulating it. It's a topic he addresses head-on in his new memoir, <em>Nevertheless</em>, explaining that the reason he wrote the book was because he got paid for it. While Alec told me he believes "a lot in providence, financially," he says he's often made clear career choices motivated by the paycheck. It's a tactic he says he learned early on, from older actor mentors. "Embrace the commercial," Alec says, "But then when you can, you run off and do these other things for your soul." </p> <p>That willingness to say yes has led Alec into a very public existence<span>—</span>hosting Saturday Night Live a record-breaking 17 times, engaging in local politics and philanthropy, and maintaining an active social media presence. But being in the spotlight has also led to regular spats with the tabloid press, a cocaine habit in the 1980s, and his very visible custody battle in the 1990s<span>—</span>something he also covers in his book. When asked what advice he would give to a friend going through a split now, Alec said, "Find a way that you can get into therapy and get into the collaborative divorce. The dignified divorce. You're gonna regret if you don't." </p> <p>Alec remarried in 2012 and has had three more children in a little over three years. He says he's embraced the chaos that has come with having little kids back in his life. "My role is to support her," he said of his wife, Hilaria. "I kind of accept that in order to make things easy. As my dad taught me, parenthood is a contest between two people where the dad always wins the bronze medal."</p>
Apr 12, 2017
An Update From the Sex Worker Next Door
<p>I first talked with a woman we're calling Emma almost two years ago, after she sent me an email. At the time, she was supporting her family as a sex worker, and wanted to share her story about how she got into sensual massage and why she didn't feel any guilt about working with married clients. </p> <p>We recorded an interview. And then, months later, we recorded another one, because after the first time we talked Emma says the way she felt about her work started to shift. When we spoke for the second time, she'd taken a long break from her work doing sensual massage, but had just started seeing clients in her studio again because she needed the money. She said she was trying to figure out a way to go back to school and put sex work behind her, but wasn't sure how she'd pull it off. You can hear both of those conversations in the episode that we put out called <a href="">The Sex Worker Next Door</a>. </p> <p>The podcast <a href="">Snap Judgment</a> recently re-aired that episode, and I reached out to Emma to see what's happened in her life since we talked. As it turns out, a lot has changed. Listen to our conversation.</p>
Apr 12, 2017
Pleased to Meet You, Nancy
<p>I first met Kathy Tu and Tobin Low two years ago, when they had an idea for a new podcast. The two friends wanted to make a show that would feature fun, honest and edgy stories and conversations about all things gay. And today, I'm so excited to finally introduce <a href="">Nancy</a>, their podcast, to all of you!</p> <p>The story we're sharing with you is from one of their very first episodes. It's about Kathy and her mom, and coming out with the help of Google Translate. </p> <p>You can find out more about Nancy at Subscribe today!</p>
Apr 10, 2017
Why Rashema Melson Left Georgetown
<p>I met Rashema Melson in the middle of her sophomore year at Georgetown University. She'd made national headlines the year before when she graduated as valedictorian of her D.C. high school class after spending several years living in a homeless shelter. It was a feat that landed her a scholarship at Georgetown—and saddled her with a lot of pressure. "I can't fail, I mean what would I do?" Rashema said <a href="">as we talked in her dorm's common room</a>, weeks before finals. "Do I want to believe that I didn't work hard enough or there is something more that I could have done? I just—yeah, no, I can't fail." </p> <p>After our conversation, I kept tabs on Rashema through her video blog—which is how I found out that just months after we talked, she left Georgetown. She married a longtime boyfriend in the military, and transferred to a new school in Tennessee to be closer to his base—hundreds of miles away from her old life in Washington D.C. He was in the car with her when I called recently to find out how she was feeling about all of her big life changes. But our call quickly took an unexpected turn, and Rashema told me she's considering a return to Georgetown. "Why run away from what I'm destined to do just because people are showing me that they’re on my side?" she said. "When I had all these people in my corner, I didn't know how to receive that."</p>
Apr 05, 2017
A Prison Guard In Transition
<p>Mandi Hauwert was 32 and a few years into her career as a correctional officer at San Quentin State Prison when she started to wear eyeliner to work. "Just a little bit," she tells me. "Just to have some sense of feeling when I went to work that I was being secretly feminine."</p> <p>At the time, Mandi hadn't come out being transgender. She'd struggled with her secret for years—becoming depressed and suicidal as a teenager, joining the Navy to feel "a little more manly," and finally gathering the courage to open up to one of her female coworkers at the prison. "She was super accepting," Mandi told me. "And then it got me thinking, like, maybe—maybe—I could come out." But after another colleague started to ask questions about the makeup she was wearing, Mandi got called in to her supervisor's office. "I immediately told them that I was transgender," she says. "And their immediate response was that they don't allow cross-dressing."</p> <p>Mandi eventually got permission to come to work as a woman, and since July 2012, she's done just that. The health insurance she receives as a state employee also covered most of her gender reassignment surgery in 2015. Still, continuing to work as a guard hasn't been easy. Early on, inmates called her names. And while that's eased up over time, Mandi says her colleagues haven't gotten over her transition yet. "It's walking into a room full of officers and having everybody move their chairs over to one side, away from you," Mandi says. "I hate the negativity." </p> <p>Mandi's also gotten some pushback from the trans community, which she says views police officers and guards with a lot of suspicion. "To be fair, law enforcement has historically treated trans people very poorly," she says. But Mandi is holding firm to the idea that being a part of the system is what could eventually bring about change. "Who knows?" she laughs. "<span>I could be the first transgender warden."</span></p>
Mar 29, 2017
I Was Your Father, Until I Wasn't
<p>Tony* wasn't sure what to say when the woman he'd slept with told him she was pregnant. First, he says, there was a long pause. They weren't a couple, and he didn't want to say the wrong thing. "I told her that it was her choice and if she chose to keep it, then I would be a good dad," he remembers. "I was freaking out." </p> <p>At the time, Tony was in his mid-20s, working as a bartender and photographer in a college town out west. Tony started paying child support for his daughter near the end of the pregnancy, went to prenatal appointments, and took parenting classes along with the baby's mother. On the day his daughter was born, Tony cut the umbilical cord. </p> <p>And Tony was an active father. As soon as his daughter could take a bottle, he says he started sharing custody of her, sometimes watching her three or four days a week. "We were really just good buddies," he says. "<span>It felt good to have purpose, and it felt amazing to love something so much, in a completely new way." </span></p> <p>Money became a source of tension, though, between Tony and the baby's mother. So did the fact that as his daughter got older, she started looking less like him or her mother. Tony decided to get a paternity test when his daughter was about a year old. "I couldn't play it dumb forever," Tony says<span>—</span>but he also feared the results. "That's not something that you want to know, especially when you love something so much."</p> <p>Tony quickly learned the truth: he had a <em>zero</em> percent probability of being the biological father. He called the mother to tell her, and soon after that, he met Victor*, the man who is his daughter's biological father. Over beers, they talked about Tony's shock, Victor's suspicions from the sidelines, and their plan for the little girl they both considered a daughter. More than two years later, they joined me to talk about the logistics and emotions of the transition that followed, which included packing up a pickup truck with nursery furniture to move it from Tony's place to Victor's. </p> <p><em>*Last names have been withheld for privacy reasons.</em></p>
Mar 15, 2017
Live from the Internet: Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires & You
<p><a href="">We met Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires</a> three years ago to hear about their love story. They met when Jason was still struggling with sobriety, and got married about a year before we first sat down. Since then, they've continued to create new music, moved into a new house together, and had their first child—Mercy. After <a href="">our recent episode on breakups</a>, we couldn't think of a better duo to take your questions about heartache, relationships, creativity and loss. </p> <p>A caller named Rebecca in Alaska wants to know how the two strike a balance between their creativity and their love for each other. "Happiness is the most important thing," Amanda says. "You've got to make yourself happy first, and be the truest self you can, before you can even try and be happy in a relationship." Russ calls in from Adairsville, Georgia to ask Jason and Amanda if they share their works in progress—especially if they write about each other. "If it's true and honest—no rules," Amanda says. "If the piece of art is good enough, no one can argue with it," Jason adds.</p> <p>We also hear from Lori in Ukiah, California, who lost her husband to cancer. She wants to know about Jason's relationship to his faith these days. "For me, it's about not needing too many answers," he responds, adding he still relies on his faith in God for support. Muhammad from Boston shares his struggle to stay authentic as a Middle Eastern musician playing Americana music. "Americana is America," Amanda says. "Play your folk songs. It's going to kick ass."</p> <p><em>Let us know what you think of our live-call in format! If you enjoyed it, tell us what you'd like our next call-in to be about and who should be our guests by emailing us at <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Jason &amp; Amanda's Playlist</strong></p> <p>Leonard Cohen, (<em>ANY</em> Leonard Cohen song, Amanda says)</p> <p>Ray LaMontagne, <a href="">"Lesson Learned"</a></p> <p>Willie Nelson, <a href="">"You Are Always On My Mind"</a></p> <p>Willie Nelson, <a href="">"Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground"</a></p> <p>Willie Nelson, <a href="">"Remember Me"</a></p> <p>Willie Nelson, <a href="">"On the Road Again"</a></p> <p>Jason Isbell, <a href="">"Flagship"</a></p> <p>Amanda Shires, <a href="">"You Are My Home"</a></p> <p> </p>
Mar 08, 2017
Cristela Alonzo's Lower Classy Comedy
<div class="" data-block="true" data-editor="46mkc" data-offset-key="88bhu-0-0"> <div data-offset-key="88bhu-0-0" class="public-DraftStyleDefault-block public-DraftStyleDefault-ltr"> <p>Comedian Cristela Alonzo says she didn't grow up with much. Her mom raised four kids on her own in an abandoned diner with no running power or water in South Texas. Things are different for Cristela these days. "I have the kind of money where I can go into a Target and go on my own <em>Pretty Woman</em> shopping spree," she tells me.</p> <p>Cristela became the first Latina to develop, write, produce and star in her own network TV show. The self-titled sitcom, <em>Cristela</em>, premiered in 2014, but only lasted one season due to disappointing ratings. Still, for Cristela, failure isn’t enough of a reason to stop. "The worst that can happen to me is I end up being as poor as I started, and I know what it's like to live life that poor," she explains.</p> <p>Cristela spent a lot of time in front of the TV as a kid while her mom worked double shifts at restaurants to pay the bills. Cristela's mom moved the family into the abandoned diner when she discovered her husband was having an affair, leaving him behind in Mexico. "She was trying to survive and trying to get us to survive," she says of her mother. "She had no community. She had nothing, and you can tell how hard it was on her."</p> <p>In high school, Cristela struggled between obligations to her family and her own professional aspirations. She enjoyed theater and acting, which eventually drew her towards Los Angeles. After a series of fits and starts, she ended up back in Texas when she found out her mom was gravely ill. "In my family, the parents pick the kid that will take care of them when they're older, and my mom picked me," she remembers. "It's kind of winning a really resentful lottery."</p> <p>Even though her show was cancelled in 2015, Cristela's stories about family and money are still a big part of her comedy—especially in her latest comedy special, <em>Lower Classy</em>. "I like talking about where I came from to show people why I am the way I am now," she says. "The poverty I grew up with made me want to work really hard to not ever be that poor again."</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt="" width="70%"> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Cristela Alonzo's customized shoes that translate to "badass."</div> <div class="image-credit">(Katie Bishop)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> </div> </div>
Feb 22, 2017
Cut Loose: Your Breakup Stories
<p>When Nan Bauer-Maglin was 60 years old, her husband left her for his 25-year-old student. "<span>I thought about suicide. You know, there’s a great feeling of rejection especially if you’re older," she told me. "You just feel ugly and invisible and sad and quite gray." </span></p> <p>Nan wrote a book inspired by their breakup and called it <em><a href="">Cut Loose</a></em>. "First I was gonna call it 'Dumped.' But that’s so negative," she told me. "<em>Cut Loose</em> is also about freedom." </p> <p>Nan is one of hundreds of listeners who shared their breakup stories with us, after we asked for them last year. And she's not the only one who mentioned a potent mix of rejection, liberation, and confusion at the end of a relationship.</p> <p>A listener named Drew remembers when his boyfriend went on a trip, left his dog at Drew's house, and never came back. Thomas*, who got married right out of college, is 25 and unsure of what his life will look like after his impending divorce. Mia sent in a voice memo about leaving her boyfriend behind, and struggling with the decision years later. Identical twins Matthew and Peter Slutsky realized they needed to break up after years of living parallel lives: attending the same college, working the same jobs, living with their families in the same neighborhood. Creating some distance was part of growing up, but that doesn't mean it wasn't hurtful. </p> <p>In your breakup stories, you also described how hard it can be to know when it's over. Steve* knows he's not happy right now, but isn't sure if the problem is him or his long-term boyfriend. "I love him and I don’t want to hurt him," he told me. "This just seems like kind of a way to wipe the slate clean and start over." </p> <p>Sometimes, though, breaking up can also feel like a long overdue exhale. Beth, a listener in Philadelphia, recalls the day when she was riding her bike on her commute and choked out the words, "I don't want to be married!" She was divorced within a year, and looking back now, wishes she hadn't waited so long to be honest about her feelings. </p> <p><span>Whether you're in the middle of a breakup or you've been through one in the past, check out our </span><a href="">Breakup Survival Kit.</a> It's a Google doc created by all of you that's filled with your best suggestions about what to read, watch, listen to and do after a split. Plus: see what our listener Emily Theis built from your suggestions, at <a href=""></a>. </p> <p> *Name changed for privacy reasons</p>
Feb 15, 2017
The NFL Made Me Rich. Now I Watch It... Sometimes.
<p>When Domonique Foxworth and I first talked, the former NFL player was attending Harvard Business School and looking forward to a career as a high-powered executive. "I want to get to the point where I feel comfortable saying the things I’ve achieved financially are partially because of football, but even more because of what I’ve done afterwards," Domonique told me. </p> <p>That's saying a lot. Shortly before an injury permanently sidelined his career, Domonique signed a contract with the Baltimore Ravens worth $28 million. It was the culmination of years of devotion to the sport—much of which was unpaid. As a college football player at the University of Maryland, Domonique remembers feeling pressure to prioritize the school's athletics over his own academics. "That will benefit the coach, the university, the president, the alumni, the students," he told me. "None of us had any control or leverage in order to protect ourselves."</p> <p>Years later, when his own payday finally came—in a big way—Domonique says it didn't feel quite as good as he had hoped. "We get paid well because the talents that we have are so rare," he says. "But you’re still the labor." It was around that time that Domonique tore his ACL, and decided that he was ready to leave football behind. </p> <p>Since my first conversation with Domonique, a lot has changed in his life. He's graduated from business school, had a third child, and moved to Washington, D.C. And his career sights have shifted. After landing a job as a top sports executive, he realized he wasn't happy. "I kind of made the decision to try my best to quiet those egotistical urges in me that liked having the big title and liked having the big salary," he told me when we recently caught up by phone. "So I quit with no plan to do anything else." We talk about what he's doing now, and about how his years playing football continue to have an impact on the way he lives his life today. </p> <p>Read Domonique's <a href="">reflections on the film <em>Concussion</em></a>, as well as <a href="">some of his writing for ESPN's site The Undefeated</a>.</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt="" width="500px"> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Domonique Foxworth with his family.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Courtesy of Domonique Foxworth)</div> </div> </div>
Feb 01, 2017
Mahershala Ali on Faith, Love and Success
<p><a href="">We met actor Mahershala Ali and his wife, the artist Amatus, last year in Brooklyn</a>, a few months after he filmed his scenes for Barry Jenkins' film "Moonlight." Now, ten months later, Mahershala has earned his first Academy Award nomination for his role as Juan, a Miami drug dealer who takes the movie's main character, a young boy whose mother struggles with addiction, under his wing.</p> <p>Just last month, Mahershala also announced some exciting personal news: He and Amatus are expecting their first child. </p> <p>Today, we're revisiting our conversation the the couple, which took place months before the buzz of awards season or news of their first baby. On stage in Brooklyn last March, we learned how Mahershala and Amatus first met when they were students at NYU, and how they reconnected years later after Amatus suffered a violent loss in her family. They also shared how their Muslim faith grounds them, and how it guides them through their careers today. </p> <p><a href="">Listen back to our entire live show with Mahershala and Amatus (as well as Rosie Perez, Hari Kondabolu, Lisa Fischer and more) from last March at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.</a></p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="7" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 658px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding: 8px;"> <div style="background: #F8F8F8; line-height: 0; margin-top: 40px; padding: 28.10185185185185% 0; text-align: center; width: 100%;"> <div style="background: url(data:image/png; base64,ivborw0kggoaaaansuheugaaacwaaaascamaaaapwqozaaaabgdbtueaalgpc/xhbqaaaafzukdcak7ohokaaaamuexurczmzpf399fx1+bm5mzy9amaaadisurbvdjlvzxbesmgces5/p8/t9furvcrmu73jwlzosgsiizurcjo/ad+eqjjb4hv8bft+idpqocx1wjosbfhh2xssxeiyn3uli/6mnree07uiwjev8ueowds88ly97kqytlijkktuybbruayvh5wohixmpi5we58ek028czwyuqdlkpg1bkb4nnm+veanfhqn1k4+gpt6ugqcvu2h2ovuif/gwufyy8owepdyzsa3avcqpvovvzzz2vtnn2wu8qzvjddeto90gsy9mvlqtgysy231mxry6i2ggqjrty0l8fxcxfcbbhwrsyyaaaaaelftksuqmcc); display: block; height: 44px; margin: 0 auto -44px; position: relative; top: -22px; width: 44px;"></div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" href="" target="_blank">And this... What a surprise. So much love.</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A video posted by Amatus (@amatus23) on <time style="font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px;" datetime="2016-12-07T21:02:46+00:00">Dec 7, 2016 at 1:02pm PST</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script src=""></script> <p> </p> <p>It looks like Amatus and Mahershala had a lot of fun at their baby shower last month!</p>
Jan 24, 2017
I Had Babies To Pay For My Baby
<p>Sarah Short remembers being 19 years old, staring at the bill from the hospital where she gave birth to her daughter. It added up to about $10,000. "There's the anesthesia, the hospital stay, and the doctor—and I just laughed," she tells me. "I was like, 'I can't pay this.'"</p> <p>Sarah had health insurance, but it didn't cover obstetrics. And she'd waited too long into her pregnancy to apply for Medicaid. She felt guilty about bringing so much debt into her new marriage—she married her boyfriend right before her baby was born—and when the bill went to collections, the dollar amount climbed even higher. </p> <p>"I would just get so overwhelmed and I would be like we're never going to be able to get out from under this," Sarah told me. "And it felt like it was all my fault." So, she started researching ways that she could make money to pay off her bill. She tried to sell her eggs, but says she wasn't what the clinic wanted in an egg donor. "But you're a great candidate for surrogacy," she remembers being told. Soon after Sarah filled out an application at a surrogacy agency, she met the parents she'd be working with—a lesbian couple who turned to surrogacy after years of trying to adopt.</p> <p>Sarah ended up having twins for the couple, although this pregnancy and childbirth were very different from what Sarah went through giving birth to her own children. "When my son was born I looked at him…and it was a huge profound moment in my life that I remember," Sarah says. "When the twins were born they didn't look like me, and they weren't mine. I wanted them to get to their parents."</p> <p>Even after giving birth, Sarah's work wasn't over. For several months, she pumped breast milk for the twins, which she also got paid for. Still, she's careful when she explains how much money she made from surrogacy: around $40,000. "I'm always reticent just to tell people just a flat number because it sounds so high and it sounds like I sold these babies for this amount of money," she says. "When in actuality I had a part-time job for two years."</p> <p>That part-time job helped Sarah pay off her medical bills and make a down payment on a new house. She describes her life today as "a life that I could have never pictured for myself a few years ago." But when Sarah recently tried to become a surrogate again, she realized that the process might not go as smoothly the second time. "Why is this not working? This doesn't make sense," Sarah told me. "It felt like I'd been fired, because I'd had this thought of, I have this job, I'm gonna have this income, and then I didn't." </p>
Jan 18, 2017
Tracy Clayton Is Speaking Things Into Existence
<p>Right before the new year, <em>Another Round</em> podcast host and writer Tracy Clayton tweeted:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">there are so many things i want for 2017 and i believe in speaking things into existence so im gonna use this thread to do that</p> — Tracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) <a href="">December 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script src=""></script> <p>What followed were 30 tweets about the things Tracy wants when it comes to family, relationships, work and finances. Some were funny (<a href="">"I want some real fucking grown up furniture!"</a>) and others were serious (<a href="">"I</a><span><a href=""> want to do the hard work of reconciling my past relationships so that I can prep myself for the partner and kids I'm scared to admit I want"</a>). I watched her tweets coming down my feed in real time—and thought what she was doing was really brave. </span></p> <p><span>I wanted to talk with Tracy about what inspired her goal-setting outburst, and about the things she wants for her 2017. </span>"I feel like I've been in transition for a really long time," she told me. "I don't feel like both of my feet are planted firmly on the ground." At 34, Tracy's been in New York for less than three years<span>—and</span> has had a hugely successful career rise during that time. But, she says, "I didn't feel like the rest of my life reflected that same sort of success or happiness." Tracy says she hopes that by announcing her goals to the world rather than keeping them to herself, she'll be held accountable. "I’m very used to letting myself down," she said. "I’m much more afraid of letting other people down." </p> <p>Tracy's already started knocking things off of her 2017 to-do list. She opened her first-ever savings account just a few days into the new year. She got drunk with her relatives for the first time over the holidays, "giving myself permission to be a grown-ass woman around my family." And, she's gearing herself up to take on some of the bigger challenges<span>—</span>like finding a partner. "I don’t do very well with actually tying up loose ends once those ends become loose," she told me about her past relationships. "And now I’m like, okay, Trace, if you never ever ever fix it and wade through this uncomfortable-ass box, then you know, sure, you’ll probably be fine, but what if you could be more than fine? What if you could be happy? Wouldn’t that be cool?" </p>
Jan 11, 2017
A Son and His Mom Laugh Through Darkness
<p>In 2014, after Bex Montz dropped out college, transitioned and got sober, he tried to kill himself. Before losing consciousness, he called 911. When he woke up, the first thing he saw was his mom, Katie Ryan, sitting in the corner of his hospital room. </p> <p>Bex told me his story earlier this year in our episode about <a href="">near-death experiences</a>. He's living with his mom in San Francisco, and soon after I moved to California, I asked Bex if I could catch up with him in person—and meet his mom. </p> <p>In our follow-up conversation, I learned about the depression that Bex has struggled with since he was a kid and, as his mom told me, that his extended family didn't know Bex was a suicide survivor until the podcast episode came out this spring. Bex said he couldn't believe it. "I've been mentally ill since I was like 13 years old," he said. "Jesus Christ, I hope there's a suicide attempt in there somewhere! Or else, I'm like, what have I been doing with the last couple of years, you know?"</p> <p>This prompted Bex and his mom to burst into laughter.</p> <p>This is how they talk about all they've gone through as a family, with brutal honesty and cutting humor<span>—</span>whether they're describing Bex's father's sudden death, Bex's ongoing depression, or his gender transition in his 20s. "These gender issues are, like, the smallest problems we've faced together," his mom Katie described. "They're miniscule, for me, compared to the mental health issues."</p> <p>Those issues have made parenting Bex difficult, he freely admits, both when he was a kid and now that he's an adult. "I want to try to figure out all this shit by myself," he told me. "That's my ideal." </p> <p>"I've learned I can't keep him safe," Katie added. "<span>I thought that sleeping on a mattress outside his door and taking the door off the door jam would keep him safe. It meant nothing. It meant that I was pissing him off because he didn't have a door to his bedroom and I was sleeping on the floor outside his bedroom because I couldn't trust him. And it didn't work."</span></p> <p><span>"Ugh. I'm such an asshole," Bex responded. "I haven't made things easy on anybody. And, like, that's obviously not a choice. But it also doesn't feel good, you know." </span></p> <p><span>Now, Bex is focusing on staying healthy and reapplying to college. He isn't sure whether he would ever want to be a parent, but right now, he said he's leaning against it. "T</span>here's this thing that you love desperately and you always want to be around, and progressively over the course of it's life, as it gets more interesting, you have to let it go."</p> <p>"Like, that sounds awful. That sounds horrible!" Bex exclaimed. "Both of you guys are fucking idiots!"</p> <p>After that, we all burst into laughter.   </p>
Dec 28, 2016
My Awkward Money Talk With Sallie Krawcheck
<p>Before she was a Wall Street executive or the CEO of an investment company for women, Sallie Krawcheck was a little kid, listening to her parents fight about money. </p> <p><span>"You just knew, once a month, they were gonna have a big fight and somebody was gonna storm out of the house," she told me. "</span><span>It was a really stressful and tense topic for us, because we didn't have any." </span></p> <p>That taught Sallie that she never wanted to be in that position. She says she started working in the third grade, filing papers at her dad's law office. By high school, Sallie was lending her parents money to fix the furnace when it gave out. "I wanted to make my own money. I did not want to have those fights with a spouse, or be put in a position where I would be financially vulnerable," she said. </p> <p>Sallie learned that lesson again after she began her career in finance, and she found out her first husband was having an affair. She had graduated from business school, but at the time of their divorce, she wasn't in charge of their finances. "<span>I knew vaguely how much we had, but it was an eye-opener," she says. "When you're reeling from a break to a relationship, that's a really bad time to try and figure out how to manage your money." </span></p> <p>Sallie remarried, and while she and her husband raised their two kids, Sallie's career continued to advance. She became the CEO of Smith Barney, and then, a top executive at Citigroup. She was there when the financial crisis hit in 2008, and Sallie was fired amid corporate infighting about how to handle some of the bank's major losses. "We told the kids that we were okay. You know, that mom got fired, mom got re-orged out and that we were okay as a family," she says. "I think the conversations were that straightforward." </p> <p>This year, Sallie started Ellevest, a financial planning firm specifically focused on women. When I asked whether her Wall Street past ever makes it awkward to have money conversations with women who earn much less, it got a little heated. "I have made money in my life. Isn't it interesting I had to come back and tell you that I also lost a lot of money in my life, as if I'm apologizing for it. It's funny. You've made me feel quite defensive," she told me. </p> <p>"It is interesting how awkward it is to talk about it," Sallie added, "even though I talk about it in the abstract everyday." </p>
Dec 21, 2016
Let's Talk About Porn
<p>Porn. It’s something that people use in their most intimate, private moments. It’s a way to acknowledge desire—without any of the attachments of intimacy. For some of you, that's incredibly freeing. For others, it's caused some real problems.</p> <p>This spring, we heard from a listener named James* who described himself as a recovering porn addict. He was struggling to stay away from porn while his wife was out of town. His story made us wonder about your own relationship with porn, so we asked you about it. More than 100 responses later, you told us how you first learned about porn, what drew you to it, and why some of you have had to turn away from it completely.</p> <p>Rose* was in her 30s when she first stumbled across a porn video on Tumblr. She tried to put it away, but kept coming back to it. "I was going through heartbreak at that time, and really craving affection and love and desire," she tells me. "Seeing that acted out…I found it intriguing." Another listener, Antonio*, says porn helps him stay faithful to his boyfriend by letting him live out his fantasies on his smartphone. <span>And Michael* says his porn collection is a stress reliever that he carefully tends to "like a rose garden."</span></p> <p>We also heard from listeners like Daniel*, who've had to cut porn out of their lives entirely. Daniel went cold turkey three years ago when he realized porn had become a coping mechanism for his mental illness and was hurting his relationship with his girlfriend. "It's hard because it gives me a really intense pleasurable feeling," he says. "But it’s also usually followed by a lot of shame, too."</p> <p><span>But for Jennifer*, experimenting with porn and talking about it openly can be helpful—even though it often makes the people she's dating uncomfortable. "I think it's important to just get it out of the way," she says. "You can have a better sex life when all the cards are out on the table."</span></p> <p>*<em>Names changed for privacy reasons.</em></p>
Dec 07, 2016
Other Americans
<p>Since the election, Americans on both sides of the political divide have been feeling deeply alienated and profoundly misunderstood. So we've been asking our listeners one central question: <strong>What's the thing that you wish other Americans understood about you, that they don't? </strong></p> <p>In this live call-in special, Anna speaks with listeners about their answers to this question. Among the Americans we hear from are Kelly, a black woman in Portland, Oregon, who feels frustrated by the "smugness" of the white liberals she's surrounded by and sometimes feels like she's not being seen in her community; David, a first-generation Jewish American who was inspired by a recent <a href="">white nationalist speech</a> to wear a kippah for the first time in his adult life; Katherine, a Republican who's tired of being labeled a racist and a bigot; and Jorge, who identifies as a progressive but wants other Americans to know that plenty of Latinos lean right politically. </p> <p>We also hear from Nora*, a Republican staffer on Capitol Hill who voted for Hillary Clinton and was shocked when Donald Trump won. "When I voted for Hillary...I did it completely against my own career interests," Nora says. "There are so many people [on Capitol Hill] like me....We are simultaneously terrified of the uncharted unknown but also really excited what we envision for the country." </p> <p><em>This call-in special is part of The United States of Anxiety, WNYC's election series. Find out more about the series <a href="">here</a>. </em></p> <p>*Name changed for privacy reasons</p>
Nov 23, 2016
What Money Can't Solve
<p>On November 2, 1983, Darrell Cannon was woken up by the Chicago police banging on his door. He knew the drill. As a longtime gang member, run-ins with the cops were common. He'd already served more than a decade behind bars for a murder conviction.</p> <p>But that day, something unexpected happened: Darrell says the cops tortured him while they were questioning him. During the torture, Darrell confessed to a crime that landed him back behind bars for 24 years. </p> <p>This didn't just happen to Darrell. Between the 1970s and the 1990s, more than 100 people—most of them black men—say they were tortured too. The city of Chicago has officially acknowledged that this happened. Earlier this year, the city approved a $5.5 million reparations package to 57 of the people who suffered at the hands of the police. </p> <p>Planet Money reporter Noel King interviewed Darrell shortly after he picked up his reparations check earlier this year. She shared his story as part of a larger Planet Money episode called "<a href="">Paying for the Crime</a>." And today, in collaboration with Planet Money, we're sharing more of Darrell's story with you. It's a story about money—and the things that money can't solve.</p> <p>"I hate 'em," Darrell says. "That ain’t never gonna change."</p>
Nov 17, 2016
If You're Not ____, Then Never Mind
<p>Actor Amy Landecker got divorced in 2011. "It was the worst time of my whole life," Amy says. "People told me it was going to get better and I didn't believe them." Amy and her ex-husband share custody of their daughter, and Amy struggled with being away from her for days at a time. "I would watch <em>Louie</em>, there was this one episode in particular where, when his kids would leave he would eat doughnuts, get high and want to kill himself," Amy remembers. "I was just so comforted. Because I was like, 'That's how I feel.'" </p> <p>Amy's 47 now, and says the pain of her divorce has eased as time has passed. In the past few years, she's found breakout success in her role as Sarah, the oldest sister on the series <em>Transparent</em>. That's also how she met her boyfriend, actor Bradley Whitford. "My daughter was worried that I was gonna be alone and...she was like, let's just make a list of the qualities that we're looking for," Amy laughs. "So she takes out this piece of paper and she titles it, 'If You're Not This, Then Never Mind.'" Soon after that, Amy met Bradley—who met a lot of their requirements. "I wanted him to like cats and dogs," Amy says. "Bradley has both, which is very rare." </p> <p>For the past two decades, Amy has also been sober—a decision she made at 24, after years of hard partying and some sexual close calls.<span> Plus, drinking was getting in the way of her career. "The final drink of my life was before an audition," Amy remembers. </span>"I was absolutely terrible and I was like, 'I'm not going to be able to do what I want to do for a living if I continue down this path.'" </p> <p> </p> <p>Before being cast on <em>Transparent</em>, Amy worked as a voiceover actor—and voice double. Don't know what that is? Watch this video from <em>New York</em> magazine. Get ready to be amazed. </p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="480" src=";pbid=60b6bf3054a74417a56d08b5889f5116&amp;pcode=N0cmYyOrSYkNVK6-lYgHDAEJiUFl" width="640"></iframe></p>
Nov 04, 2016
Death, Sex & Money Live at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre | November 14, 2016
<p>Death, Sex &amp; Money is live from Chicago’s Music Box Theatre in partnership with WBEZ on Monday, Nov. 14! Anna sits down with writer and actor Mara Wilson (<em>Matilda</em>, <em>BoJack Horseman</em>) to talk about sex, death and life after child stardom.</p> <p>Stay after the interview for a screening of one of Mara’s favorite films—<em>Clueless</em>—as part of the Music Box Theatre’s “My Favorite Flick” series.</p> <p><a href="">Get your tickets to the show today</a>, or get a <a href="">Podcast Passport from our friends at WBEZ</a>.</p>
Oct 26, 2016
I Was More Angry At God
<p>Two years ago, Jane Chung was living in New York, working at a startup and having the time of her life. The business she co-founded, called Klooff—a sort of "Instagram for pets"—was growing by leaps and bounds. "Everything seemed to align," Jane says. "And I would call my dad every day and I will tell him all the news." Jane, who was 30 at the time, hoped that after her startup got big, she could sell it and help her dad leave behind the dollar store business he owned in California. </p> <p>And then, on October 31, 2014, Jane got a phone call from her mother. "Her voice was really weird," Jane remembers. "There was like the feeling that you just kind of know that something awful happened." Jane's father had been shot and killed in a robbery.</p> <p>That phone call rerouted the course of Jane's life—leading her to pack up her things in New York, sell her business and completely start over in California. Jane moved in with her mom, and struggled to accept that the God she had trusted to take care of her family had let something so terrible happen. "Most people were angry at the murderer," Jane says. "I think I was more angry at God."</p> <p>In the past two years, Jane's been adjusting to her new life on the West Coast, and figuring out where to draw boundaries between herself and her mother. And she's trying to see God in a new way—and accept that she won't always be able to predict what's coming next. "You collect things in life, you gather pieces, you don't know what you're gonna do with those pieces but somehow it maps to something in your future," Jane says. "It can become a bigger piece of work. I think that's what God does."</p> <p><em>Jane made a video that was played in court at her father's killer's sentencing. Watch it below.</em></p> <p><em><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140150564977248359fee5e-fbc2-45ce-b571-facb3bbf7b2d"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-3434483376049193531" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </em></p>
Oct 26, 2016
Andy Cohen and Anna Sale: Taboo Topics | November 30, 2016
<p>Join Anna as she sits down with Andy Cohen—the author, executive producer behind Bravo’s <em>Real Housewives</em> franchise and host of <em>Watch What Happens: Live</em>. Catch up with them both on Nov. 30 at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre.  </p> <p><span>Buy your tickets today! <a href="">Use this link to get a special "DSMinSF" 20% off discount</a>. </span></p>
Oct 25, 2016
Ellen Burstyn & Gloria Steinem
<p>Before the women's movement came around in the 1960s, Gloria Steinem thought her options for the future were limited. "I was being a freelance writer and not having any money to save, and assuming that I would be a bag lady," she tells guest host Ellen Burstyn. "I was supposed to get married and have a man to support me. But that seemed to be a kind of hard bargain."</p> <p>Gloria was raised by a father who traveled across the country selling jewelry and antiques, and a writer mother who suffered from severe depression. They separated when Gloria was 10 years old, and Gloria soon became her mother's primary caregiver. The journalist and feminist icon says the circumstances she grew up in gave her the confidence to step into the world on her own—like when she traveled to India as a young woman, leaving her then-fiancé behind in the States. "I realized in later life that...I felt not so safe at home because I was a small person looking after a big one," Gloria says. "So I felt the world outside the home was safer."</p> <p>Gloria broke off that early engagement—but married entrepreneur David Bale when she was 66. "By that time the women's movement had worked for 30 years to equalize the marriage laws," Gloria says. "So no longer would I lose my name and my credit rating and my legal domicile and all my civil rights, as I would have had I got married when I was supposed to. So I thought, 'Well, you know, why not? I mean I'm not going to lose.'" David died three years after they got married, after being diagnosed with brain lymphoma. Gloria says taking care of him at the end of his life forced her to live fully in the present. "He let me do over what I couldn't really do for my mother," she added. "It gave me a chance to do that over."</p> <p>Gloria is 82 now. And she says she isn't yet very comfortable with the idea of death. "I'm torn because I love it here...I'm very attached," she admits. "I'm still trying to hang in there 'til I'm 100. Because just to meet my deadlines I have to do that."</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt="" width="495" height="660"> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Feb. 1975 cover of Ms. Magazine featuring Ellen Burstyn, Eleanor Perry and Shirley MacLaine.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Courtesy of Ellen Burstyn.)</div> </div> </div>
Oct 05, 2016
Diane Gill Morris & Officer Robert Zink
<p>Diane Gill Morris <a href="">first joined us last year</a> to talk about raising her two boys, Kenny and Theo. Both of her children are autistic, and Diane told us about the challenges that have come with their diagnoses and the overwhelming responsibility she feels to protect and nurture them, particularly as they become adults. </p> <p>Diane said she was particularly worried about her older son, Kenny, who was then 16. "I am still trying to figure out how I make sure that he is safe in the world," Diane said, "when I can’t explain to him all the intricacies involved in what it means to be young and black in America."</p> <p>There have been several recent stories about police interactions with autistic people of color—and their caregivers—that have ended violently, in places like <a href="">Miami</a>, <a href="">New York</a>, and <a href="">St. Paul, Minnesota</a>. Today, as a guest host on Death, Sex &amp; Money, Diane talks with police officer <strong>Robert Zink</strong>, who founded the St. Paul CARE (Cops Autism Response Education) Project and has two autistic boys of his own. "Officers may not read the cues of what the person is presenting," Officer Zink says. "Officers may view them as cues of, is it drug interaction? Is it a mental health issue? And read those cues wrong....And we go down one path and it gets worse and worse." He adds, "I never want to see something like that happen to my sons just because something they did was misinterpreted." </p> <p>Diane also talks with Officer Zink about her worry that officers might make incorrect assumptions about her sons because they're black. "In the media most of the people that we see with autism are white. I don't think a lot of people are aware that there's a really large population of minority children and adults with autism," Diane says. "My fear is always that an officer sees a black man and they will immediately go to the idea of this being a person on drugs versus this being a person with disability." </p> <p>Diane also talks with <strong>Maria Caldwell</strong>, whose son, Marcus Abrams, <a href="">was injured during an confrontation with Metro Transit officers</a> in St. Paul last year. Marcus is black and autistic, and was 17 at the time of the incident. Maria talks with Diane about how Officer Zink reached out to her family after Marcus landed in the hospital—and Officer Zink and Maria talk together about working to rebuild trust after it's been lost. "There's no expectation that trust is going to be gained in six weeks, six months, six years, or sixty years," Officer Zink says. "Even though you may not have it back right away, you still have to work to get that trust back." </p>
Sep 28, 2016
Chris Gethard & Tim Dillon
<p>Comedian Tim Dillon has lived a lot of life in his 31 years. "I was a child actor," he tells guest host Chris Gethard. "I started doing coke at 12. My mother's a schizophrenic. I was a closeted homosexual. I'm politically all over the map, though I lean conservative. I was in the mortgage industry. I idolize hucksters, thieves, cons and cheats. My dream is to be a traveling salesman through America. And if comedy works, that's nice too."</p> <p>Around the time that Tim says he began experimenting with drugs, he also began to notice that his mother was starting to talk about being followed. She was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, and had a mental breakdown when Tim was twenty years old. She's been in and out of psychiatric hospitals since then. As an adult, Tim says he feels a growing responsibility to care for his mother, but he's also come to terms with the fact that no amount of money will "fix" her. "That's <span>the amazing thing about mental illness," he says. "If I had a million dollars, and I had a home, and I could move her in and pay all her bills, she wouldn't be better."</span></p> <p>Tim did in fact once own a home, in his early 20s. He started his career selling mortgages<span>—</span>including those of the subprime variety. "I didn't know how bad it was going to get," he says. "I took one myself." He bought a $570,000 house that, as it turned out, he couldn't afford after the subprime mortgage crisis hit and he lost his job. The bank foreclosed on his home, and Tim says his credit is still suffering today.</p> <p>But the economic downturn did push him to make a dramatic career change. Tim started doing stand-up comedy about six years ago. And that same year, he decided to come out to his family. "There was no like, 'We love you,'" Tim says. "There was none of that. They're funny, acerbic people." Tim isn't dating much, though. Right now, he says he's focused on building his career as a comic, doing two to three shows a night. But, he says, he might slow down "if I fell deeply in love with somebody...I'm not saying that that even would slow me down, I'm just saying that could." </p>
Sep 21, 2016
Sonia Manzano & Justice Sonia Sotomayor
<p>"Through and through I'm a lawyer and a judge," says U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. "But my life experiences do permit me to see things that others may not."</p> <p>Before the Justice became a lawyer and a judge, she was a young woman growing up in the Nuyorican community in the South Bronx—just a few years behind <a href="">Death, Sex &amp; Money guest host Sonia Manzano</a>, who also grew up there. The two didn't meet until a few years ago, but their childhoods had some similarities: Money was tight, their parents' relationships were troubled, and both of their fathers struggled with alcoholism. But unlike Sonia Manzano's father, who lived well into his 80s, the Justice's father died when she was nine years old. "I’ve often wondered if the outcome of my life would have been the same if my father had remained alive," the Justice says. "I think the absence of that constant battle made a big difference in my self-perceptions."</p> <p>Sonia asks the Justice about facing and overcoming insecurities throughout her life—including on her first day as a Supreme Court Justice. "Anyone presented with a new challenge has to always have that moment of insecurity, of not knowing whether they can do it," the Justice says. "I live with that. I've lived with it my entire life....The first day that I was on the bench was for the now quite famed case, <a href="">Citizens United</a>. And my knees were knocking even then. But what got me over that moment...was to become totally engaged in what was happening before me, and the knocking finally stopped without my realizing it." </p> <p>Sonia and the Justice also talk about some of the opinions that the Justice has written for the Supreme Court, including those about <a href="">race and prejudice</a>. "I know that for people to hear me, I have to be able to explain it in terms that people can sit in the shoes of the other person," the Justice says. "I suspect that there are many people...who never thought about what the impact is of snickering at a person of a different race when they walked by or of asking someone, 'Where are you really from?' when that kid has been born and raised here." They also talk about the Justice's <a href="">recent words about police searches</a> and parents of color giving their children "the talk" about interacting with the police. "It is inescapable for any child in this society who is of color of any kind, or who comes from a different background where language becomes noticeable, that they will experience that difference," the Justice says. "And they will have to cope with it. We have not become colorblind yet."</p>
Sep 14, 2016
The Great Guest Takeover
<p>A few months ago, we mentioned that we were working on a couple of special episodes during Anna's maternity leave. </p> <p>What we didn’t mention was that we were working on these special episodes with some familiar voices. We invited four of our favorite former guests to switch seats...and become the interviewer.</p> <p>Over the next several weeks, you'll hear from longtime Sesame Street actor <strong><a href="">Sonia Manzano</a></strong>, comedian <strong><a href="">Chris Gethard</a></strong>, and actor (and "shouldless day" enthusiast) <strong><a href="">Ellen Burstyn</a></strong>. You'll also hear from<strong> <a href="">Diane Gill Morris</a></strong>, who we met when she shared what raising two sons with autism has been like for her.</p> <p>Each of them talked with someone they were curious about, and wanted to get to know better. You'll hear Sonia Manzano interviewing <strong>U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor</strong>—who also hails from the South Bronx. </p> <p>Chris Gethard sits down with up-and-coming comedian <strong>Tim Dillon</strong>, someone who Chris describes as "either the smartest maniac or craziest genius I know in the comedy world." </p> <p>Diane Gill Morris told us last year that she worried about her older son, Kenny, being safe in the world "when I can’t explain to him all the intricacies involved in what it means to be young and black in America." She talks with a woman named <strong>Maria Caldwell</strong>—she's the mother of an autistic teenager of color who had a violent interaction with Metro Transit police in St. Paul, Minn., last year—as well as <strong>Robert Zink</strong>, a St. Paul police officer who has two autistic sons and trains officers how to interact with autistic people. </p> <p>And, to wrap things up, Ellen Burstyn talks with the one and only <strong>Gloria Steinem</strong>. The activist and author talks with Ellen about growing old with her chosen family, the source of her confidence, and how she's learned to deal with her regrets over the years. </p> <p>Look out for all of these episodes in the coming weeks! <a href="">Subscribe to Death, Sex &amp; Money on iTunes</a> or wherever you get your podcasts to make sure you stay up to date. </p>
Sep 07, 2016
Life Is a Mystery
<p>There are some interviews that just stay with you. My conversation with Elizabeth Caplice is one of those.</p> <p>I spoke with Elizabeth back in March for our episode about near death experiences called "<a href="">When I Almost Died</a>." A listener had suggested that we reach out to Elizabeth, who lived in Australia and had chronicled her almost two years of colorectal cancer treatment on her blog, <a href="">Sky Between Branches</a>.</p> <p>But hours before we talked, Elizabeth had been told by her doctors that her time was running out. They thought she had between three and 12 months left. She was still processing the news. </p> <p>"I mean, there’s intellectual acceptance," she said. "And then there’s the really solid, 'No, now I know my life is ending.’ This has sort of shifted it into a new gear."</p> <p>Elizabeth wrote her last blog post in June. She let her readers know that she was ceasing her cancer treatment and moving into a hospice facility. On July 12, Elizabeth died, surrounded by loved ones. Her partner, Alex, wrote on her blog that Elizabeth's death was "not a life coming to its was cut short."</p>
Aug 24, 2016
Your Death, Sex & Money Short Stories – Live!
<p>Last year, we asked listeners to share their favorite short stories about death, sex and money. After receiving more than 140 suggestions (<a href=";mc_eid=dd0bc694f1&amp;mc_cid=9b43e55d0e&amp;mc_eid=dd0bc694f1#gid=0">you can find them all here</a>), we picked five of our favorites<span>—</span>and partnered with the public radio show <a href="">Selected Shorts</a> to present them during <a href="">a live show here in New York</a>. Actors Becky Ann Baker (<em>Girls</em>), Sam Underwood (<em>The Following</em>), Kathleen Chalfant (<em>Wit, The Affair</em>) David Costabile (<em>Breaking Bad</em>) and Amir Arison (<em>The Blacklist</em>) joined us on stage to bring these stories to life. </p> <p>Today, we're sharing two of those readings with you. You'll hear actor Sam Underwood performing "Road Trips" by David Sedaris, a story about a youthful hitchhiking experience gone awry. And you'll hear Kathleen Chalfant read "Until the Girl Died," a story by the Irish writer Anne Enright about a wife who is equal parts furious and patient with her philandering husband.</p> <p>Want to hear more episodes of Selected Shorts? <a href="">Subscribe here</a>. </p>
Aug 17, 2016
Anna Chlumsky Catches the Worm
<p>At 10 years old, Anna Chlumsky delivered an iconic performance alongside Macaulay Culkin in the classic '90s movie <em>My Girl</em>. She became a child star, but the attention and job offers were fleeting. By the time she was a teenager, she'd stopped getting acting roles. "It just makes you feel like shit as an adolescent," she says. "Most rejections as an adolescent for anybody in any walk of life...make you feel like shit over and over."</p> <p>Even so, Anna couldn’t escape the public memory of her famous role—even in college. At least, until she met Shaun So. "He didn’t care," she says. "By then I could tell who cared and who didn’t. You kind of feel safe with the people who don’t care." The two started dating and stayed together even after Anna graduated and moved to New York City. Then, Shaun told her that he was enlisting in the Army Reserve.</p> <p>As Shaun began training for a deployment to Afghanistan, Anna started a career in publishing. But deep down, she knew that acting still appealed to her. During one particularly rough day at work, a fortune teller stationed in front of her office recognized her on her lunch break. "She says, 'You’re not still want to do this,'" Anna recalled. "So that touched a nerve." She quit her job later that week.</p> <p>Anna and Shaun got married in 2008, and Anna landed her role on <em>Veep</em> in 2012. She gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Penelope, in 2013. For awhile, her job required her to commute back and forth between California and New York, where she and her family live. "I kept calling it 'The Momma Bird Commute' because I was like, 'Alright, I gotta go catch the worm, and then I will come back,'" she told me. "But I gotta catch the worm." She'll soon be juggling her work with two kids—when we talked, Anna was pregnant with her second child, after having a miscarriage. "People don’t talk about that enough," she told me. "It’s not even that we’re hiding it. It’s just that it’s so f-ing uncomfortable to talk about, 'cause you just aren't happy about it. But you do learn that this is kind of not up to you....There’s other stuff at work."</p> <p><span><a href="" target="_blank">Read Anna’s ode to Ovaltine for Gourmet Fare magazine from 2003</a>. </span></p>
Aug 10, 2016
Dating Was So Hard, Until It Wasn't
<p>"When I want it badly enough, I can...really steel myself and just be like, 'Don't freak out, just stay still, kiss them. Just do it!'" </p> <p>This is how Katie Heaney talked about her dating life when we first spoke back in 2014. She'd just published her confessional first book, <em>Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date—</em>a chronicling of her lifelong singledom until age 25. And she'd recently moved to New York City from Minnesota to take a job at BuzzFeed as an editor. When we talked, the 27-year-old was also a virgin—something that made her really uncomfortable. "I really don't like it," she told me. "And I also hate that I don’t like it. Because that feels like conceding that it bothers me and that I am susceptible to the opinions of others." </p> <p>Listening back to herself two years later, Katie winced. "I hear myself talk about all the fear and the dread and 'making myself,' and I'm just like, 'Ugh, you don't have to feel that way,'" she told me. Now 29, Katie says she's adjusted to life in New York—and along with that adjustment, has also come to terms with the fact that she's gay. "I remember being on the subway and looking around at all the guys. And being like, 'I don't want to date any of you. Like, I just don't - I don't want this,'" she said. "And...the attraction like fell out of my body." Soon after, Katie started dating a woman, and says that while she was nervous on their first date, she wasn't "uncomfortable to [her] core" in a way that she had been in the past on dates with men.</p> <p>Despite her newfound comfort in her sexuality, Katie says she's still learning how to be in a relationship. "I have to learn how to not catastrophize every disagreement or every feeling that comes to me that isn't a 100 percent joyous one," she told me. "I thought that I had struggled so long to find [a relationship] that once I did, it would just be perfect or easy. And, you know, I was naive about what it really means to spend that much time with someone." </p>
Jul 27, 2016
Siblinghood, One Year Later
<p>Last year, we asked you to tell us about your sibling relationships, and how they've evolved as you and your brothers and sisters have grown up. What we heard was that these relationships can be some of the most frustrating<span>—</span>and the most rewarding<span>—</span>ones in your lives. (Often at the same time.)</p> <p>In <a href="">our episode featuring your stories</a>, people across the country gave us a glimpse into their complicated sibling relationships, which are still very much evolving to this day. We recently reached out to some of the people we featured in that episode—read on to find out what’s happened in their lives and in their sibling relationships in the past year.</p> <hr> <p> </p> <p>Last year,<strong> Alix Sugarman</strong> told us about her twin sister, Katie. Growing up, their lives looked very different. Katie had cerebral palsy; Alix did not. Alix said that their relationship had gotten increasingly tense as they got older. "Every time I reach another milestone in my adult life it feels like something that she can’t ever get to," she told us. We also spoke with Katie via Skype, who said, "It's still hard to look at what my life could have been like if I could walk."</p> <p>A few weeks after our episode came out, Katie died unexpectedly. In the months since her death, Alix and her family have grieved<span>—</span>and have also had reasons to come together and celebrate. Alix got engaged in November, and got married last month. "If you want to know what it’s like to have the worst day of your life and the best day of your like separated by about 11 months, that’s pretty much what this year has been like for me," she told us in this recorded update. </p> <p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><div id="audioplayer_idm13988586007552071664ae2-26c8-4841-9f12-34e1d105cd03" class="player_element" data-url="" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="false" data-may-embed="true"></div></div></p> <hr> <p>Like Alix, <strong>Hannah</strong> also got married since our episode came out. Her younger brother, Jake, was being treated for Stage 4 melanoma when we last talked—he was able to be at her wedding in October. This winter, Hannah told us that Jake had surgery to remove a large tumor in his intestines, and that he was about to start a new treatment at the University of Arizona's medical center. "We are back in treatment/prognosis limbo," she said. But this spring, we heard from Hannah that her brother had passed away. "Even at the very end, when it was certain that he could not pull through, he wanted to know the odds that he would survive," Hannah told us. "Through and through, Jake truly believed he was going to beat his illness." </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Hannah and her brother, Jake, at her wedding last October.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Terri Attridge)</div> </div> </div> <hr> <p><strong>Paul*</strong> told us about his older sister, who he was close with as a kid but whose mental illness had driven them apart as adults. Last summer, Paul's sister had been out of touch with his family for more than a year. They believed that she was homeless in Los Angeles, but didn't know for sure that she was alive. "Shortly after Christmas she e-mailed my parents saying she wanted to visit for a week," Paul wrote to us recently. His sister, who confirmed that she is homeless in LA, came home for a visit and stayed for more than a week. "It's tough to reconnect with someone you haven't seen in over two years—especially when your lives are so incredibly different," Paul told us. "I will say the most positive thing that has come from my sister's visit is the conversations that I am now having with my parents. With my parents both retired, it has sparked conversation and action regarding end-of-life plans—which look COMPLETELY different when mental illness is involved. Surprisingly, it has been very positive and reassuring for us to have these conversations."</p> <hr> <p><strong>Jessica</strong> and <strong>Betsy Herczeg-Konecny</strong>, two sisters in their 30s who live across the country from each other, told us about getting closer in adulthood and about their dreams of living together in their old age. "On the Golden Girls-Grey Gardens spectrum," Jessica said, "We're hoping for Dorothy and Rose, of course." They let us listen in on one of their recent daily phone calls, the day after Jessica moved into her new house. </p> <p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><div id="audioplayer_idm139885896896688917a0807-cf5e-4b2b-ada3-306ffabe90d7" class="player_element" data-url="" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="false" data-may-embed="true"></div></div></p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Left: Jessica Herczeg-Konecny standing in front of her new house on closing day. Right: Betsy and Jessica Herczeg-Konecny after getting matching tattoos.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Jessica Herczeg-Konecny)</div> </div> </div> <hr> <p>After we first talked with <strong>Mike</strong> last year, he and his estranged older brother reconnected over the phone and had one of their "best [conversations] in years." The two were close as kids and were drinking buddies well into adulthood. But when Mike decided to get sober at 50, their relationship fell apart. When we recently reached out to Mike, he told us that after that initial conversation last summer, he and his brother hadn't talked much. And then, three weeks ago, his brother had a heart attack and died. "I feel a lot of remorse that we didn't get to talk and discuss [our relationship]," Mike wrote to us. "I don't feel sadness so much as numb. Unable to process even though I'm doing all that I can to do just that. I know mourning will rear its head when I least expect it. Or will it? Am I 'supposed' to miss him because he was my brother and we used to be friends? Am I a cold sonavabitch because I haven't really cried over him?"</p> <hr> <p><strong>Consuello</strong> told us last year that she was deciding whether to let her younger brother, Maurice, move in with her. After being in jail, he was homeless and looking for a place to stay. Consuello sent us a voice memo about what's happened with Maurice since. "He doesn't have a job, and he still doesn't own a key to anything," she told us. "And I've just come to the decision that my brother has created a formula that works for him." </p> <p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><div id="audioplayer_idm13988590255500855f6fdc3-8509-49fe-9765-42b229661988" class="player_element" data-url="" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="false" data-may-embed="true"></div></div></p> <hr> <p>We also checked in with <strong>Megan*</strong>, who told us about the childhood physical and sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her older brother. "I had a recurrence of major depression this winter and went back into therapy, which has been great," she told us in an email. "As a former therapist said to me, the incessant cruelty of my brother's speech was like an IV drip of poison to my psyche. This is true, but I now believe, actually I know, that people are able to transcend whatever crappy childhood cards they were dealt. And although I was damaged by my brother's cruelty, I see now that the greatest damage he has inflicted has been upon himself, and I wish that weren't so." </p> <p> </p> <p>*Names changed for privacy reasons </p>
Jul 20, 2016
We're Not Going To Have Karl Again
<p>Karl Ives Scorah Towndrow was born last spring to parents Amber Scorah and Lee Towndrow. Neither of them were prepared for how deeply they would fall in love with their first child. "I remember having this feeling where I wanted to almost...absorb him into my body," Lee remembered. "As Karl got a little bit older," Amber told me, "There were these moments where sometimes he would catch my eye and stare at long and with so much love in his eyes, that I’d almost start to blush."</p> <p>Amber and Lee's time with Karl was intense, but brief. Karl died when he was almost four months old, while he was at his first day of daycare. He stopped breathing after being put down for a nap. Weeks after Karl's passing, the medical examiner's office said the cause of Karl's death was undetermined. Because it was unlicensed, the daycare was shut down the day after Karl died.</p> <p>When we talked in February, Amber said she couldn't stop thinking about why her son died, and whether it was somehow her fault. "You feel like there's this direct correlation between you leaving them and them dying," she told me. "As a human being, you need an answer for death. Even if you can't understand death, you need to understand why a death occurred." And as Amber struggled through the first few days and weeks after Karl's death, Lee says he felt like he had to postpone his own grieving process. "I felt a lot of pressure to reassure everybody that it’s going to be okay," he told me. "It was really hard."</p> <p>Lee says he was eventually able to grieve, almost six months after Karl died. And while Amber says that she and Lee have mourned Karl's loss differently, they did agree that they both wanted to have another child. At the time of our interview, Amber was six months pregnant—this time, with a girl. "What I have heard from women who have been through this and then went on to have other children, they all said that it never ever fills the hole that you have from losing the one that you did lose," she told me. "But a little bit of the sadness is taken away." </p> <p>Since Karl's death, Amber and Lee have become advocates for paid parental leave. You can find out more at their website, <a href=""></a>. </p>
Jul 13, 2016
Tituss Burgess Airs His Laundry
<p>Tituss Burgess says there isn't much that he won't talk about. "I'm comfortable airing my laundry," he says. "I don't think one thing's dirty or clean. It's just what I wear."</p> <p>It's taken him years to get to that place. Raised by his mom in Georgia, the actor and singer says he knew that he was gay from a very young age. But it wasn't until his freshman year in college that he mustered the courage to come out to her. "She handled it very well," he said. But as his career has taken off, first on Broadway and more recently as Titus Andromedon on "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,"  Tituss has become an increasingly vocal LGBT activist—something he says his mom struggles with. "She feels uncomfortable with it," he said. "It means that there's a chance that she might have to come out and be vocal about a position."</p> <p>Despite not always seeing eye to eye, Tituss says he and his mom are still very close. But he acknowledges that he's had to be strategic about their relationship. "Because of what is growing increasingly important to me, almost becoming a part of my DNA, I've had to assist us both in redefining what our relationship is," he said. "Taking greater, more strategic steps towards protecting us. For fear that the very different thinking will dismantle what's left." </p> <p>Tituss moved to New York more than a decade ago. Now, at 37, says the city feels like where he belongs. But he's not sure that the close-knit feeling of family that he felt as a kid, surrounded by his mother and grandparents, is one that he'll find again. "I feel most at home when I'm alone," he told me. "That's not sad. It's just I feel closest to source and connection when I'm by myself." </p> <p>Watch Tituss performing his song "Comfortable" here:   </p> <p> <div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm1401505727691365dc2e662-c258-413b-8c05-a34f8aa3f957"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-148591518301081269" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div></p>
Jun 29, 2016
Inside Planned Parenthood
<p>The first thing that greets you when you step off the elevator at the Planned Parenthood in Brooklyn is a metal detector. "I didn’t necessarily expect it," a first-time patient told me. "But as soon as I saw it I was like, 'Oh yeah, that’s right, that makes sense.'" </p> <p>Many Planned Parenthood clinics across the country rely on security measures like these. The services provided by these clinics<span>—</span>specifically, abortions<span>—</span>have long been at the center of a raging political debate in the U.S. But it's not very often that we hear from the people who rely on these clinics for health care. </p> <p>Over a number of days this past winter and spring, we collected interviews at the Planned Parenthood clinic in downtown Brooklyn. Patients volunteered to talk with us while they were waiting for their appointments. They were there for STD tests, pap smears, birth control prescriptions<span>—</span>no one seeking an abortion talked with me on the days we were there. But for many of the people I met, abortion was an important part of their history with Planned Parenthood. </p> <p>"Here it was just very reassuring," a patient named Sarah, who was at the clinic for her annual exam, told me about her abortion three years ago at Planned Parenthood. "No one wants to do it, but life, you know, happens."</p> <p>We also talked with some of the abortion protesters who stand outside the clinic every Saturday, rain or shine. And I interviewed several staff members and volunteers at Planned Parenthood<span>—</span>like Rhea, who greets patients as they walk in the door downstairs. "If you’re wondering if this is the right choice and you’re there and you’ve made the appointment and you’ve been thinking and you’re like, crossing the line...somebody being a jerk to you could totally just melt you down," she told me. "Or, somebody with a smile and somebody who holds your hand, could just make you feel calm and make you feel good. At a time where maybe you don’t feel good." </p>
Jun 22, 2016
Danielle Brooks Is Ready to Talk About Sex
<p>Danielle Brooks started out her life in a very religious household. Her mother and father are a minister and a deacon, respectively, and she grew up singing in her church choir and participating in oratorical contests run by her congregation. And the church also shaped her early thoughts about sex. "I had this Bible study teacher, who scared the bejesus out of us about having sex," Danielle tells me. "She was like, 'Anyone that enters you, they become a part of you!' And I was like, 'I’m just not ready for this.'"</p> <p>Now 26, Danielle is known for portraying women on-screen who have no problem talking openly about their sexuality<span>—</span>like her <em>Orange Is the New Black</em> character, Taystee, or her character Sofia in The Color Purple on Broadway. And these roles have made an impact on Danielle, who says she just recently started talking publicly about sex<span>—</span>including losing her virginity during college. "I just remember like being there and the light’s dim or whatever, and saying to him, 'Just be gentle,'" she laughs. "And then, once we got into it, you would have thought I’d had sex for years the way I was talking!" </p> <p>Danielle's quick rise to fame has affected her relationships. "My<em> </em>last relationship felt so like me being used in a lot of ways," she says. "They just wanted to be a part of that fame." But, she says, her current partner is teaching her new things about love and intimacy. "I’m realizing it’s okay to allow yourself love, even when you're scared of it," she says. "And that sex can be more than just physical, or love can definitely be more than physical." </p> <p><em>Below: Watch video from Danielle's days singing in the church choir. </em></p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140150575701088929f3a25-8e30-4874-ba36-6dd2adba920b"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-2579817823918267764" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </p>
Jun 08, 2016
An Update from Susanne
<p>We met Susanne* and Mike* earlier this year, <a href="">when they shared how they overcame heroin addiction together</a>.</p> <p>They started dating when they were teenagers, and began doing heroin together only a few weeks into their relationship. What followed were years of overdoses, jail time and three unplanned pregnancies. But after several false starts, Mike and Susanne were able to wean themselves off of heroin with methadone. They got clean, they moved away from their home state of Texas, and Mike found well-paying work. But true stability still eluded the couple. </p> <p>After our interview, we learned that Mike had been charged with sexual abuse of a minor. When I asked about the allegations, Mike denied them. But last month, Mike entered a guilty plea. He now faces jail time. </p> <p>I called Susanne to talk about what's happened in her life since we last talked. "I feel like I wasn't abused, but I should have known that I was married to someone who had the ability to abuse somebody," Susanne tells me. "I should have left a long time ago."</p> <p>*Names changed</p> <p>--</p> <p><em>If you or someone you know is struggling with heroin addiction, you can call the <a href="" target="_blank">National Helpline</a> at 1-800-662-HELP for confidential, free information about substance abuse.</em></p> <p><em>If you need support, assistance or information about sexual abuse, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.</em></p>
Jun 01, 2016
How Jeff Daniels Got Sober, Again
<p>Jeff Daniels dropped out of college and moved to New York City to become an actor. He left his family behind in Chelsea, Michigan, where his dad ran the local lumber yard. But a few years after moving to the city, Jeff says he got a letter from a young woman from his hometown. She moved to New York, they married, and had their first child. And then, they decided together to raise him back home in Michigan.</p> <p>"'I will sustain the career from the Midwest for as long as I can,'" Jeff told me. "That became the business plan for us. And it worked for quite a while." But the plan started to falter after a few years, which sometimes meant watching others succeed from the sidelines. "There was a time when I couldn't even watch the Oscars. I had to leave the room," he told me. With a family and a house "in the middle of nowhere," Jeff resorted to less than ideal jobs just to pay the bills. He says movies like <em>Dumb and Dumber</em>—commercially successful but critically lowbrow—took him out of the running for serious roles for a long time.</p> <p>By then, Jeff and his wife were raising three kids, which led him to another big decision: getting a vasectomy. "I had watched her go through childbirth three times," he remembers, "I said, 'There is no way I am going to force you or ask you to do anything...I’m the one. I've gotta be the one who gets fixed.'" As his kids got older, Jeff started to reemerge on stage and in the spotlight. When his acting career regained traction in the 2000s, the rush of success pushed him off the edge and broke 14 years of sobriety. "Just to take some of the stress away," he says of the moment when he talked himself into a beer, "Just to relax." It didn't take long for him to banish that inner voice that gave him permission. After getting professional help, he quit drinking again after a few months.</p> <p>Jeff is 61 now, and he's received some of the recognition he desired when he was younger. He won an Emmy for his leading role in <em>The Newsroom</em> and received a Tony nomination this year for his portrayal of a sexual abuser in <em>Blackbird</em> on Broadway. Still, he resists the urge to retire and look back on his career. "I always have to have something in the air," he says, "to feel alive."</p>
May 25, 2016
From Conversion Therapy to a Rainbow Yarmulke
<p>When Chaim Levin first met Benjy Unger almost 10 years ago, Chaim immediately wanted to be friends. "He was like one of those bros from high school that was just so regular and nobody would guess that he’s gay," Chaim tells me.</p> <p>Chaim and Benjy grew up in Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, but they didn't meet until they signed up for a therapy program then called JONAH, or Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality. Chaim was 18, and Benjy was 20. Both were attracted to men, and they sought out the program hoping to become straight.</p> <p>"It was like I struck gold," Benjy remembers. "I finally found my messiah. For that moment I was very happy and inspired." The program offered Benjy and Chaim a way to follow the path laid out for them by their religious community—including marrying women and starting their own families. Initially, it felt like a huge relief. "For people like me who were rejected for so long," Chaim says, "I just needed that connection with people."</p> <p>But both soon grew frustrated and quit the program. Chaim came out first, with gusto. "When Chaim does something, boy, does he do it!" Benjy says. "Rainbows here and rainbow glitter there and rainbow yarmulke and rainbow bracelets and rainbow necklace. But he at least seemed happy."  </p> <p>Watching Chaim become an activist gave Benjy courage, he remembers. "If it weren’t for people like Chaim, I might be still in the closet." </p> <p>Benjy and Chaim realized that being free of JONAH wasn't enough. They filed a lawsuit in 2012, along with two other clients. Together they claimed that the program defrauded them and their parents. They won, and JONAH was forced to shut down in 2015. "I would not have survived this lawsuit without this schmuck right here," Chaim says of Benjy, who has become a very close friend. "I tell people that the only good thing I ever got out of JONAH was this guy." </p> <p><a href="">Read more about Chaim, Benjy and their lawsuit against JONAH at Newsweek</a> by reporter Zoë Schlanger.</p> <p>Watch Newsweek's video about Benjy and Chaim's story.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p>
May 11, 2016
Diane Guerrero on Debt and Deportation
<p>Diane Guerrero was just 14 years old when she came home to an empty apartment. Her parents had been taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and would soon be deported to their native Colombia. "My family unit essentially died that day," she says. </p> <p>Now 29, Diane has recurring roles two successful television shows. She plays inmate Maritza Ramos on <em>Orange is the New Black</em> and smart aleck Lina on <em>Jane the Virgin</em>. But this success is new to Diane. Most of her teens and twenties were spent working any job she could get her hands on, dodging loan collectors, and keeping her family drama a secret. "You would never know that I was going through such sadness," she says, "I made sure that nobody would find me out."</p> <p>Keeping everything bottled up only worked for so long. In her junior year of college, she started to drink heavily and cut herself. "I used that as a coping mechanism," Diane reflects, "or a way to self-sabotage myself." As her life and relationships started to fall apart around her, Diane finally found a positive outlet in acting classes. And seeing a therapist didn't hurt. </p> <p>Diane's own life is stable now, but her family is still in a precarious place. Her parents are still unable to enter the U.S., even as visitors. And they separated shortly after they were deported. Dealing with their split has been an ongoing element of Diane's emotional recovery. "It definitely affected my relationships and how I dealt with people," she acknowledges, "and what I considered to be love or forever." </p>
Apr 27, 2016
When I Almost Died
<p>A few months ago, I asked you to share your near-death experiences. In all, we received more than 100 stories from you: through your emails, voice memos and—for the first time—<a href=";utm_campaign=ab21844c68-Death_Sex_Money_Jan_20_2016&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_566f296761-ab21844c68-&amp;mc_cid=ab21844c68&amp;mc_eid=%5BUNIQID%5D#.wvz4qhba6">our Medium page</a>, where you can read the submissions.</p> <p>You told us about car accidents...plane crashes...illness...suicide. And, you told us what happened after...when you didn't die. Ellen's near-death experience ended her marriage. Kelsey's forced her into sobriety. And Paul's left him feeling impatient: "Every moment has to matter, but then it doesn’t."</p> <p>We also heard from some of you about near-death experiences that weren't your own, but that deeply affected you just the same. Rachel* had only been in a relationship with her boyfriend for six months when he was diagnosed with lymphoma and hospitalized. She was terrified that he was going to die. But she was also terrified to admit that she wasn't happy in the relationship. "He didn’t miss me, the way I missed our closeness, because he was so preoccupied with the disease taking over him," she told me. "That really, really hurt me."</p> <p>And many of you told us that coming close to death changed the way that you think about dying. "It’s not as horrific as I thought it would be," said Elizabeth Caplice, who describes her life these days as "one big near-death adventure." A listener sent us a link to her blog, <a href="">Sky Between Branches</a>, where she writes about her life with stage 4 colorectal cancer. When I talked with her, she'd just been given an estimate of three months to live. "<span>It obviously is a really terrible and rancid thing to happen to anyone," she told me. "But in a lot of ways it’s simultaneously been worse and not as bad as I thought it would be. </span>It is a natural process. It’s a very human thing to have happen to you, is to die." </p>
Apr 20, 2016
Dead People Don't Have Any Secrets
<p>When Amanda* met Sam* in her mid-20s, she thought he was the most interesting person she had ever met. "It was almost like he had tried to live his life a different way," she told me. "I was just enchanted by that." </p> <p>Three years into their marriage, the couple found out that they were unexpectedly pregnant...with twins. Amanda says she took on the lion's share of the work at home while also juggling a full-time job that was paying most of their bills. "<span>I was angry with him for not knowing how to help me," Amanda remembered. W</span>hen Sam was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma while the kids were still toddlers, she says that neither one of them gave it the full attention it deserved. </p> <p>"It certainly didn't change the things it should've changed," Amanda said. "Starting with a will would have been nice."</p> <p>Sam didn't exhibit many physical symptoms at first, but mentally, he started to turn inward after his diagnosis. "He went to this place of living his life in secret," Amanda said. "And not sharing anything about how it was feeling or what he was doing with me." Then, the cancer spread to his spinal column and brain. He was admitted to the hospital and quickly lost consciousness. That's when Amanda discovered, among other secrets, that her husband had been having an affair. She planned to confront Sam when he woke up, but he never did.</p> <p>Amanda was left with a lot of anger<span>—</span>and, as it turned out, money problems<span>—</span>to process. But she had to keep most of it to herself. "My husband was really very well-liked," she explained. "You've got to be this plate for everybody else's feelings about your dead husband." With two young kids and everyone else's mourning to deal with, she says it took years to get around to her own emotions.</p> <p>Eventually, Amanda remarried. But only after figuring out what she <em>really</em> wanted out of a marriage<span>—</span>and her life. Her current husband, Frank*, is completely different from her first husband. She says he only has one deal breaker -- infidelity. But she's surprised to find that the rule isn't as comforting as she once expected. </p> <p>*Names changed </p>
Apr 06, 2016
Rosie, Sixto, Hari, Uma, Mahershala, Amatus, Lisa & Dan
<p>For <strong>Rosie Perez</strong>, it's her cousin, <strong>Sixto Ramos</strong>. For <strong>Mahershala Ali</strong>, it's his wife, <strong>Amatus</strong>. And for <strong>Hari Kondabolu</strong>, it's been his mom, <strong>Uma Kondabolu</strong>. </p> <p>Our recent live show in Brooklyn was all about times of big change in life and the family who keeps us grounded during those periods of transition. I've been thinking about this a lot as I prepare to move across the country and become a parent for the first time. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Julieta Cervantes)</div> </div> </div> <p><strong><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><h3>Rosie Perez and Sixto Ramos, Live at BAM</h3><div id="audioplayer_idm1401505663036165e300306-d379-4cf5-abd9-6e64d07b5932" class="player_element" data-url="" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="false" data-may-embed="true"></div></div></strong><strong>Rosie Perez</strong> didn't connect with her cousin, <strong>Sixto Ramos</strong>, until her 20s, when she almost got set up on a blind date with him after they acted together in <em>Do the Right Thing</em>. "I almost went on a date with my cousin!" Rosie laughed. "That's so sick!" Despite their awkward start, she and Sixto became close friends, bonding over their shared love of boxing. And they've stood by each other through times of loss, like when Rosie's mother passed away from AIDS in 1999. "He would call every day," Rosie said. "He would come over every day." </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Julieta Cervantes)</div> </div> </div> <p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><h3>Mahershala Ali and Amatus, Live at BAM</h3><div id="audioplayer_idm1401505731717124acd75df-e8c9-406e-97c7-21397442475b" class="player_element" data-url="" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="false" data-may-embed="true"></div></div>Actor <strong>Mahershala Ali</strong> and his wife, the musician <strong>Amatus</strong>, first dated when they were students together at NYU. But when they reconnected years later, after Amatus's brother was killed in a Chicago shooting, their relationship quickly became much more serious. "When you go through a tragedy that tears your crap up, you then...decide you're not gonna take anything for granted," Amatus said. "I was a thousand percent sure about what I truly wanted in my life." Now, as Mahershala's Hollywood presence continues to grow through his roles in <em>House of Cards</em>, <em>The Hunger Games</em>, and the upcoming Luke Cage series, they're figuring out together how to balance fame with their Muslim faith. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Julieta Cervantes)</div> </div> </div> <p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><h3>Hari Kondabolu and Uma Kondabolu, Live at BAM</h3><div id="audioplayer_idm14015057594539229dff2b4-6cf2-4fe8-b113-d2b635596c48" class="player_element" data-url="" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="false" data-may-embed="true"></div></div>We also got to know comedian <strong>Hari Kondabolu</strong>'s mother, <strong>Uma Kondabolu</strong>, who immigrated to the U.S. from India as a young woman. When Hari was born, she was still getting acclimated to her new home in Queens, and to the occasional racism that was directed her way. "I saw moments where people were trying to push my parents around, treat them poorly, and they wouldn't take it," Hari told me. Now that both Hari and his mother are older, he says he feels protective of his parents and sometimes guilty for choosing a career that doesn't bring in the big bucks. Although Uma acknowledged, "Occasional guilt is good," she added, "I tell them [Hari and his brother, Ashok] they don't need to feel that. I'm very proud of what they chose to do." And you'll hear: comedy runs in the family. Uma is one of the show's all-time funniest guests. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Julieta Cervantes)</div> </div> </div> <p>During the show, sex columnist <strong>Dan Savage</strong> also gave me a call to impart some parenting advice, we got to see some of your <a href="">incredible dance moves</a>, and I told a story about Sly and the Family Stone and pregnancy anxiety. It was all backed by the incredible music of singer <strong>Lisa Fischer</strong> and her band, <strong>Grand Baton</strong>. Hear their live performance of Eric Bibb's "Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down" and Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" below. </p> <p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><h3>Lisa Fischer, Live at BAM</h3><div id="audioplayer_idm14015056621028837e1c83b-a21c-413f-8aa7-7d08efaef45b" class="player_element" data-url="" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="false" data-may-embed="true"></div></div>  </p> <hr> <p>Looking for our Anthems of Change Dance Video? Find it <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p>We want to get to know you better! Take <a href="">our survey</a>. </p>
Mar 23, 2016
After My Brother Avonte Disappeared
<p><span>Danny Oquendo was in the spotlight long before his 14-year-old autistic brother, Avonte, disappeared from his New York City school. Growing up, Danny was a football star — “sort of a golden child,” he sheepishly told me — eventually playing for the University of Maryland. But several years after leaving his NFL dreams behind, Danny was thrust back into the public eye again — this time, as one of the people leading the search for his missing brother. </span></p> <p><span>Many New Yorkers remember Avonte’s story. His face was plastered across the city in the fall of 2013 after he ran out of a side door at his special needs school. The family was used to the nonverbal teen bolting on occasion, often calling him "a runner." "But it was never...for more than 10 or 20 minutes," Danny says. "Once we heard that he was gone for a few hours, we knew something was different."</span></p> <p><span>Danny, who is 12 years older than Avonte, put his job on hold and returned to New York from Florida — along with their father, who had separated from Avonte’s mother years before. With help from police, the family launched a massive citywide search and set up camp at Avonte’s school. They slept on benches and in cars so as to not risk missing Avonte if he returned. </span></p> <p><span>But Avonte didn’t come back. When his remains were found on the shoreline of the East River almost three months after his disappearance, Danny decided he needed to stay close to family. He moved back to New York permanently and moved in with his girlfriend, Ileana. They had their first child in 2014, and are expecting another baby this spring. And, Danny enrolled in law school — a longtime dream. He plans on pursuing a career as an advocate for special needs families and kids like Avonte. "Every day I walk into school, I'm reminded of the reason I'm walking into the school," Danny says. "He's who motivates me."</span></p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Ileana and Danny Oquendo at prom.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Courtesy Danny Oquendo)</div> </div> </div> <p><span> </span></p>
Mar 16, 2016
Death, Sex & Money DANCE BREAK! at the Brooklyn Museum | April 2, 2016
<p>A few weeks ago, we asked you to send in the <a href="">songs that you count on during big moments of change in your lives</a>. <span>More than 600 songs later, you’ve built</span> an amazing soundtrack—your <a href="">Anthems of Change</a>.</p> <p>We were so impressed with your suggestions that we want to celebrate your anthems with a dance party. Bust out your best dancing shoes because you’re all invited to join us on <a href="">Saturday, April 2nd at the Brooklyn Museum at 9 p.m.</a> for a DANCE BREAK!</p> <p>The party is free and is hosted by First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum. You can find more information on the <a href="">Brooklyn Museum website</a>.</p> <p><span>If you can’t make it, don’t fret. You can have your own dance party thanks to the listener-powered <a href="">Spotify playlist you helped build</a>.</span></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="380" src="" width="300"></iframe></p>
Mar 11, 2016
Falling in Love... With Heroin
<p>Susanne* met Mike* when she was 16. He was 18, and her supervisor at the call center where they worked. They flirted and started dating. "Average teenager stuff," Susanne recalls. Soon after they got together, Mike offered Susanne heroin. She says she had never even smoked pot before.</p> <p>"I don’t want to be mean, but I felt pressured into doing it. So, I did," she adds. "And then I fell in love."</p> <p>Heroin took over Susanne and Mike's lives for the next five years. Mike admits that their story, though increasingly common, looks bad from the outside. "I should’ve said, 'Hey, this is probably not the best way to move forward with my life,'" he reflects, "But there’s some things that’re more important, I guess. Like heroin addiction."</p> <p>Through overdoses, incarcerations and three pregnancies, Susanne and Mike kept their relationship intact, even as relationships with family deteriorated. Methadone treatment finally helped them kick their habit. Today, they say it's been almost 10 years since they last used heroin. They moved to a nice neighborhood hundreds of miles away from where their lives began to spiral. Mike found a well-paying job, but felonies on both their records have limited their career options.</p> <p>And true stability continues to be elusive. During our fact-checking process, we uncovered a pending criminal charge that Susanne and Mike hadn't shared with us at first. And it casts their interview in a different light. When we checked in with them again, it became apparent that the outcome of this story—and their relationship—is far from clear. </p> <p>*Names changed</p>
Mar 02, 2016
Michael Ian Black's Middle-Aged Angst
<p>Being a rebellious smart-ass helped comedian Michael Ian Black launch his career. And it occasionally got him into trouble. “Once I called the head of MTV a drunk,” he told me. “She was very offended.” It didn’t help that he was working for MTV at the time, as a co-creator and star of the ‘90s sketch show The State.</p> <p>At 44 years old, Michael’s comedy still has an acerbic bite. But in his personal life, he’s embraced all the trappings of Rockwellian stability: a new house in the Connecticut suburbs, a wife of 17 years, two kids and a dog. Of course, all of those things come with some anxiety—particularly, the house. “I have a house I can’t afford,” he lamented. “The end is nigh.”</p> <p>Michael's also trying to take care of his mom and younger sister, though he lives thousands of miles away from them. Michael’s mom survived uterine cancer but has spent more than ten years dealing with the effects of her treatment. And his sister, Susan, who has Down Syndrome, lives in an adult home without any family nearby. "It’s sort of in stasis right now," he said about his sister’s living situation. "I just sort of feel paralyzed. I don’t know what the right thing to do is."</p> <p><span>Michael’s anxieties also extend to himself—specifically, to his middle-aged body. “Currently top of mind is my waistline,” he says. And he feels career pressure too. "I’m tired of being somebody who has had a nice little career but hasn’t ever found any sort of mainstream success," Michael told me. "I don’t particularly want to be famous in any in any real way, but I’d like to have just a little bit more control over the kind of things I do."</span></p>
Feb 17, 2016
<p>We've been asking you to <a href="">tell us about the songs that have meant a lot to you during times of big change</a> in your life. You've sent in more than 500 suggestions so far—along with a lot of great stories.</p> <p>Our listener Kevin Chung from Seattle sent us his anthem: "<a href="">Miracle Mile</a>" by the Cold War Kids. You can hear his story about why that song means a lot to him in our short podcast this week—and you can hear about the video he recorded of himself dancing along to the song too.  </p> <p>That's what we want you to do next: <strong>tell us about your anthem</strong>, and then<strong> rock out to it on video</strong>. </p> <p><strong>Step one:</strong> Record a voice memo about your song and why it means so much to you. Email that to <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><strong>Step two:</strong> Record a video of yourself celebrating your dancing. Whether you're bopping your head along or having a full-on dance party, we want to see it! Use your phone or your webcam to make the video, and email it to <a href=""></a>. (If the file is too big, don't worry—just let us know and we'll help you out.) </p> <p>Need some inspiration? Check out <a href=";theater">my dance video</a>. </p> <p>We're going to use the videos for a special project that we're working on. We'll keep you posted about when it's done. </p> <p>Thanks friends! </p>
Feb 10, 2016
Lucinda Williams Says Whatever the Hell She Wants
<p>When Lucinda Williams was in elementary school, all the other kids brought rock collections and other standard fare to show-and-tell. But she brought a folder. "I put this notebook together of seven poems and a short story by Cindy Williams," she remembers. Decades later, she's still documenting her impressions of the world, now in raw, often mournful songs that explore death, heartbreak, abandonment, and love. Many of her them are based in the American south, where Lucinda grew up<span>—</span>including those on her latest album <em>The Ghosts of Highway 20</em>. "I know these roads like the back of my hand," she sings on the title track.     </p> <p>Lucinda's father was Miller Williams, a prolific southern poet. Her mother, Lucille, was a pianist. They split up when Lucinda was about ten. "That's all just kind of a big blur," Lucinda says about that time. Her mother had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenic tendencies, and she spent most of her life in therapy or mental hospitals. Her father took over Lucinda and her two siblings, and tried to help them understand that their mother was sick. "My dad was actually quite protective of her, and he would say, 'It's not her fault, she's not well,'" Lucinda told me. "There's a part of that that's healthy; the only problem is that I never gave myself permission to be angry at my mother." </p> <p>Lucinda was close to her father throughout her life. He encouraged her interest in words and writing, even taking her to visit Flannery O'Connor when she was a little girl. So it was especially hard for her to see him go through Alzheimer's disease. He died last year, less than six months after the summer day when he told Lucinda he couldn't write poetry anymore. "I just sat there and just cried," she remembers. "That was when I lost him." </p> <p>At 63, Lucinda says she's more successful than ever, selling out shows on the road and happily in love with her manager Tom Overby, whom she married on stage during an encore in 2009. But, she told me, getting older can still feel like a drag. "I don't like the aging process. I don't like getting older because of all the loss. It just gets harder and harder."</p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140150564060944d7d063d6-098d-4a29-9ebc-be3f94897137"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-2933618823564136225" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </p> <p><em><strong><a href=";theater">See the video</a> on Lucinda's Facebook page of her performance of "Compassion" at her father's home before he died. Miller Williams reads his poem, and Lucinda follows by singing her musical interpretation.</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Want to share the song that's been an anthem for you during a time of big change? Fill out <a href="">this form,</a> or email your story to </strong></em></p>
Feb 03, 2016
Death, Sex & Money Live at RadioLoveFest | March 12, 2016
<p>Death, Sex &amp; Money returns to BAM's Harvey Theater on Saturday, March 12, 2016, as part of <a href="">RadioLoveFest</a>! Join us for an evening of conversation and celebration with actress and activist <strong>Rosie Perez</strong> and her cousin, <strong>Sixto Ramos</strong>, comedian <strong>Hari Kondabolu</strong> and his mother, <strong>Uma Kondabolu</strong>, as well as actor <strong>Mahershala Ali</strong> and his wife, the singer-songwriter <strong>Amatus-Sami Karim Ali</strong>. Plus, musician <strong>Lisa Fischer</strong> -- <a href="">who you've heard on Death, Sex &amp; Money before</a> -- will be bringing along her band, Grand Baton. </p> <hr> <p>This event has already occurred. <a href="">Listen to our live recording from this show here.</a></p>
Jan 29, 2016
Why Jeb Corliss Jumps Off Cliffs
<p>Jeb Corliss says he's "impossible to be in a relationship with." He's a professional BASE jumper and wingsuit flier—who's learned to very carefully analyze and control his emotions, including fear. "People don't realize that feelings get you in big trouble," he told me during our conversation at his condo near the beach in Marina del Rey, CA.</p> <p>For the past two decades, Jeb has made a living doing things that, to most of us, seem crazy. Like jumping out of planes or off of cliffs and flying through the air, often through narrow spaces or trying to hit targets close to the ground. He was first drawn to BASE jumping after seeing it on TV when he was a depressed and suicidal teenager. "It was this concept of, wow—very few people in the world are willing to do that. And if I do it, well then I've done something that very few people would ever be willing to do," he told me. "And if I failed, well then, I got what I wanted." </p> <p>Jeb has had a few brushes with death. In 2012, he slammed into a rock outcropping while soaring down from the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. He was sure that he was going to die, but instead broke both of his legs. Some of his friends haven't been so lucky. Earlier this year, fellow wingsuit pilot Jhonathan Florez—a friend who Jeb says "barged his way" into his life—died during a practice jump in Switzerland. "I'm kind of back to just being a total anti-social, just on my own, kind of thing," Jeb says. </p> <p>In our conversation, we talk about what motivates Jeb to keep risking his life, at 39. And we talk about why his near-death experience left him thinking...about retirement savings. </p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140150563993088ffd01a4f-2155-4a99-8269-966fc0eaca30"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a6563425319145211315" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </p>
Jan 27, 2016
Brooke Shields, Recovering Daughter
<p>Brooke Shields became famous as a sex symbol long before she was actually having sex. At 12, she played a child prostitute in the film Pretty Baby. Soon after, she starred in the sexy teen romance Blue Lagoon. And at 15, she became the controversial face of Calvin Klein jeans. But then, in college, Brooke publicly revealed her virginity—which she says turned her into "the most famous virgin in the world." "There was a juxtaposition of those two things," Brooke says. "I was not aware. I was not sexually aware."<br> <br>Despite the sexual nature of her early roles, Brooke says she felt safe on set, protected within the industry, and very sheltered at home. Her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother managed her career. But from a young age Brooke also singlehandedly dealt with her mom's alcoholism, which only worsened as she got older. "She damaged almost every relationship she had," Brooke says. "She cut almost everybody off. And I was the only thing left." Brooke eventually fired her mom as her manager and separated her finances from her—but not until she was 29. </p> <p>Brooke married her second husband, Chris Henchy, in 2001. They wanted to start a family, but it was a struggle. After several rounds of IVF, Brooke got pregnant with their first daughter. She was thrilled, but soon after her daughter's birth, Brooke says the "toxic thoughts" started. "I saw my baby hitting the wall. Like, being flung across the room," she says." "I would close my eyes. And these horrible things, these images, would come through my mind."</p> <p>I talk with Brooke about the treatment that she received for postpartum depression, and whether it made her nervous about having a second child. And we talk about how the death of her mother in 2012 has impacted her career—and how, at 50, she's finally paying attention in financial meetings. </p>
Jan 13, 2016
Living Alone, One Year Later
<p>Today, more than a quarter of American households are home to just one person. And living alone has its perks. You can eat what you want, crank up the stereo and let your dishes pile up for days. But there's also no one to help foot the bill, and no one to turn to for reassurance when things go bump in the night. </p> <p>Last year, I asked you to send in your stories about living solo. Listener Ashley Ward decided it was time to get her own place after dealing with a less-than-ideal roommate. But living alone can also be a consequence of bigger life changes. Arlene Pickett’s husband died four years ago after a long decline. She liked the freedom that came with living by herself. But when she was diagnosed with cancer, solo life just felt hard. Walid Shantur's wife moved out about eight years ago. His daughter left for college the same day. He told me last year that he'd come to embrace living alone—he found it "intoxicating." But when I checked back in with him this year, he told me that he'd met someone new, and added, "I no longer can say that living alone is pleasing and satisfying." </p> <p>I caught up with everyone who talked with me last year about living alone. As you'll hear, some of them are still living alone and loving it. And some aren't. </p>
Dec 30, 2015
Stop Calling Me 'The Homeless Valedictorian'
<p>A year and a half ago, Rashema Melson’s story made <a href="">national news</a>. She attracted attention after she graduated at the top of her high school class in Washington, D.C., and earned a full scholarship to Georgetown, all while living in a homeless shelter. Now halfway through her sophomore year, she says she still gets recognized as “the homeless valedictorian.” She says people stop her for pictures, and strangers even send her donations.</p> <p>But Melson’s life didn’t change overnight. She visits her mom and her brother in their apartment across town where they've moved since leaving the shelter. She also does her best to help them out with money. While her new classmates are busy partying and enjoying life away from home, she says she's stayed focused on what got her here: working hard. "M<span>y job here is to just get my education and keep moving. It’s not a bad thing. It's just my motives are different," Rashema told me. "</span>T<span>his isn't permanent. This is my home for the moment."</span></p> <p><span>The pressure she feels to succeed, though, can be weighing. She had what she called "a little breakdown" earlier this semester. "I want to get out and I want to have fun, but I'm kind of stuck. I'm in a situation [where] you're not going back home to a family who financially supports you," Rashema said. "I'm the one who's pushing my family."</span></p> <p>Rashema told me about considering dropping out this semester, the distance she feels between herself and her classmates, and why the one thing she's not afraid of is growing apart from her family.</p>
Dec 18, 2015
Autism Isn’t What I Signed Up For
<p>Diane Gill Morris was 25 when her first son, Kenny, was born. About 15 months later, she and her husband realized that he’d stopped talking. By the time Kenny was officially diagnosed with autism, Diane’s second son, Theo, was eight months old. Less than a year later, he was also showing signs of the disorder.</p> <p>Diane left a comment on our Facebook page in response to an article about people who are considering having kids. "I have sacrificed a huge part of who I am—given up my career, gone broke, accepted social isolation," she wrote. "If someone had told me this is what it would be like, I never would have had kids." </p> <p>Before having her sons, Diane worked full time. She wanted to travel. But those things have been pushed aside. After Theo put his teacher's arm in a sling when he was 6 years old, Diane cut her work hours, pulled both boys out of school and taught them at home for several years. She told me she often feels isolated, particularly from other moms. "My kid’s the lunatic who I have to be, like, right next to every second," she says. "I can’t sit down and have a conversation with another mom. Because I’m always worried that he's going to beat up some other kid on the playground." </p> <p>Diane's sons are now teenagers, transitioning from being seen as autistic children to young black men. Diane’s focus is on making sure they’re safe in the world, and teaching them how to control their emotions and their bodies when she's not around. </p> <p><span>When Diane spoke with us from her home in North Carolina, she told us about how raising her boys has made her "devoutly atheist," about how her marriage has changed since the kids' diagnosis, and about how she can both love her sons deeply and mourn the children she never met. </span></p>
Dec 09, 2015
Death, Sex & Money's Thanksgiving Playlist
<p>This holiday season, listen to our "Siblinghood" episode as you mentally prepare yourself to act like an adult with the people who knew you as a kid. Hear former NFL player Domonique Foxworth reflect on competition, injuries and multi-million dollar contracts before you sit down to watch that Thanksgiving football game. Enjoy Big Freedia's infectious bounce music and hear how she and her family escaped their flooded home days after Hurricane Katrina, only to get separated while waiting for a ride out of town. And, catch up on our latest episodes: "Why You're Not Having Sex"—your stories about why you're not having sex, now or ever—and "Holland Taylor Steps Off Her Island," a conversation with the actress about breakdowns, breakthroughs, and taking big relationship risks in your 70s.</p> <hr> <h3>Siblinghood</h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>After hearing from more than 200 listeners about their siblings, it's clear that the people we spend our childhoods with aren't the easiest ones to act like adults toward. (Jul 1, 2015)</p> <h3>Holland Taylor Steps Off Her Island</h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Actress Holland Taylor built a reputation by playing self-assured characters who keep others at a distance. But at 72, she's finally ready to take a chance on love. (Nov 25, 2015)</p> <h3>Why You're Not Having Sex</h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>We asked you why you're not having sex—right now, or ever. These are your stories. (Nov 18, 2015)</p> <h3>In New Orleans: Big Freedia Bounces Back</h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Big Freedia is a reality TV star and fixture in New Orleans' bounce scene. But days after Hurricane Katrina, she was sleeping on the street outside of the city's convention center. (Aug 19, 2015)</p> <h3>In Sickness and in Mental Health</h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Giulia Lukach was three years into her marriage when she began experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. She and her husband talk about how her illness has reshaped their marriage. (Apr 8, 2015)</p> <h3>The NFL Made Me Rich. I Won't Watch It Now. </h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Domonique Foxworth can't stand to see players getting knocked unconscious. In this candid interview, he explains how his need for relevance and security took him from the NFL to Harvard. (Sep 24, 2014)</p> <h3>I Killed Someone. Now I Have 3 Kids.</h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Lawrence Bartley has been in prison for 23 years on a murder charge. Now, he's wondering what he'll say to the parole board—and to his sons, who are still too young to know of his past. (Dec 17, 2014)</p> <h3>Songs in the Key of Strife</h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Teddy and Kami Thompson followed in the footsteps of their musical parents, Richard and Linda Thompson. But they remember their childhood and its lessons about family very differently. (Feb 11, 2015)</p> <h3>My Father's Secret Life</h3> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Whitney Joiner's father told her he was HIV-positive in 1992. When she asked if he was gay, he said no. Now, she's looking for answers about the father she never knew. (Oct 8, 2014)</p> <h3> </h3>
Nov 25, 2015
Holland Taylor Steps Off Her Island
<p>Actress Holland Taylor has played roles like Judge Roberta Kittleson on <em>The Practice</em>, an ad executive in <em>Bosom Buddies</em>, and the emotionally distant mother Evelyn Harper on <em>Two and a Half Men</em>. She's built a reputation for playing patrician, self-assured women who don’t <em>need</em> anyone else. Which, in many ways, has also been a pretty accurate reflection of her personal life. "I was always at a certain safe remove I think," Holland says. "No matter how much I might have loved a person, I was at some sort of a safe ground, still with a foot on my own island." </p> <p>When Taylor’s mother died several years ago, she says she started to think about the relationships in her life more deeply. "I just suddenly got the sense that I was living a very shallow life," she says. "I had not had wonderful relationships. I had stayed very solo." Holland says that feeling of loneliness, combined with an "aging spurt" at 70, sent her into a major depression after her Tony-nominated one-woman Broadway show, <em>Ann</em>, ended its run in 2013.</p> <p>But now, at 72, Holland says that without that period of breakdown, she wouldn't have been able to get where she is today<span>—</span>in her first-ever deeply committed relationship. "It’s the most wonderful extraordinary thing that could have ever possibly happened in my life," she says. Holland didn’t want to discuss her partner’s identity in detail, nor did she want to turn her own sexuality into a political conversation ("I haven’t come out because I am out," she says, adding, "I live out."). But she did share that she's with a younger woman<span>—</span>and that they've started to talk about marriage. "Given my generation it would not be something that would automatically occur to me," Holland says, adding, "But as a symbol, as a pledge, as a plighting one's troth, it would be a wonderful thing to do." </p>
Nov 25, 2015
Why You're Not Having Sex
<p>A 34-year-old listener we’ll call “Marie” emailed us not long ago. She’s never dated anyone seriously. She's never been kissed, and she's never had sex. She's not opposed to any of those things. They just haven't happened for her yet. And she’s worried that if she tells a potential partner about her sexual inexperience, he'll walk away. </p> <p>Many of us aren’t having sex, for all kinds of reasons. When we asked you why you're not having sex, you told us about abstaining for religious reasons, or because of lingering fears based on what you learned (or didn’t learn) about sex growing up. We heard about not having sex because it hurts too much, or because you could hurt someone else by doing it. Some of you aren't having sex because you can't find the right partner or keep running into narrow societal standards about what’s “attractive.”</p> <p>We heard from people in relationships, too, like a couple who can't agree on how much sex is enough—so they're not really having any. And a man who says everyone <em>thinks </em>his life is full of three-ways and orgies because he lives with his wife and their girlfriend. But in reality, he says they're not having sex at all. </p> <p><span>When we asked for your stories about why you’re not having sex, you also told us that not having sex can be really difficult to talk about. But by talking about it, what becomes</span> clear is that our idea of what's "normal" might in fact be a myth. </p>
Nov 18, 2015
Kevin Powell Doesn't Fight Anymore
<p>Born in Jersey City to a poor, hard-working single mother from the South, Kevin Powell was a gifted young writer who earned a scholarship to Rutgers. Then things fell apart. He got expelled after a series of violent outbursts, two of which were directed at women. He’s not proud of what happened, but in some sense, he feels misunderstood. “Just because someone is in a college environment that’s supposed to be a positive space,” he told me, “doesn’t mean that they’ve healed from where they came from.”</p> <p>After leaving college, Powell got an unexpected break when MTV cast him in the first season of The Real World. He says he didn’t think much of joining the show beforehand (“I didn’t know that all these years later, everyone and their mother would have a reality TV show”), but his profile exploded. He became a senior writer for Vibe, and made a lot of money—most of which he quickly spent. When he was fired from that job, he says depression kicked in. "I felt like a failure all over again," he says. "I call it my dark years." </p> <p>Powell and I spoke in front of <a href="" target="_blank">a live audience at WNYC's Greene Space</a> about his rocky history with sexism in the midst of his activism for racial justice, what his mother taught him after getting kicked out of school, and how all these years later, he’s replaced drinking and fighting with yoga and veganism.</p>
Nov 04, 2015
All in the Family of Norman Lear
<p>I spoke with Norman Lear, the veteran writer and producer behind such hit TV shows as <em>All in the Family</em> and <em>The Jeffersons</em>, at his luxury apartment in Manhattan. He told me he wanted to make sure his kids would never be "desperate for a dollar" -- but what "desperate" meant has fluctuated along the way. "<span>I guess now it’s 60 billion," he deadpanned, adding, "That’s a joke." </span></p> <p>Lear's own childhood had a degree of desperation: When Lear was nine, his father, Herman, was sent to jail for selling fake bonds. Lear's mother scrambled to make ends meet. "M<span>y mother tried to warn him," he said. "But nobody ever told Herman anything." </span>When his father returned from prison three years later, tensions remained high. "I used to sit at the kitchen table and I would score their arguments," he says of his parents. "I would give her points for this, him points for that, as a way of coping with it."</p> <p>Now 93, Lear has been married three times, and has six kids -- ranging in age from 20 to 69. That range of ages has presented its own challenges. "My middle daughter was ... hoping, wishing, trying to be pregnant," he says. "And her dad is suddenly married to a younger woman, and in a year’s time or less, <em>she’s</em> pregnant. T<span>hat was not an easy time.</span>"</p> <p><span>We spoke about the lessons he’s continued to learn over the years, how he’s managed to bring his family closer together despite their differences, and what he’s anticipating for the final stage of his life.</span></p>
Oct 28, 2015
The Power of Yesi Ortiz
<p>On weekdays between 10 and 3, Yesi Ortiz is the warm, flirty host for the popular Los Angeles hip-hop station Power 106. But off the air, she’s a dedicated single mother of six adopted kids.</p> <p>Her kids' biological mom is Yesi’s older sister, who had her first child as a teenager. "She had baby after baby after baby," Yesi told me. "She didn't really know how to go out and find a job." When Yesi was in her early 20s and her nieces and nephews landed in foster care, Yesi stepped up, taking parenting classes and eventually petitioning for custody. And when she was 25 years old, the kids came to live with her.</p> <p>By that point, Yesi was already establishing her broadcasting career, and balancing her roles as a parent and a media personality wasn’t easy. "Every day was a game of chess," she says. "I wouldn’t miss a parent teacher conference or back-to-school night, but I would miss dinner." One thing she <em>didn’t</em> want, though, was a man around the house. Her first date after getting the kids was on her front porch. "I didn't want the kids to hear a man's voice in the house," Yesi told me. "I didn't want them to feel like, 'Oh, my aunt is leaving us now too.'"</p> <p>Now that several of the kids are grown and out of the house, she’s had a little more time for herself, and for her new boyfriend. She spoke with me about how her faith was challenged by her family's struggles, how her new relationship has brought religion—not sex—back into her life, and why being a single parent is the hardest job in the world.</p>
Oct 21, 2015
An Astronaut’s Husband, Left Behind
<p>Dr. Jonathan Clark and his eight year-old son Iain watched the space shuttle Columbia launch from Kennedy Space Center on January 16, 2003. Sixteen days later, Columbia exploded upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Jon's wife, Dr. Laurel Clark, was one of seven astronauts killed in the disaster. </p> <p>Jon and Laurel met because they were both doctors in the Navy, so they weren't strangers to risk. They shared a passion for scuba diving, and just months before the Columbia launch, their small plane crashed as they were flying to New Mexico. "I still have flashbacks about that," says Jon. "You crash, and you either live or you die."<em> </em>Jon says he thought about that a lot in the aftermath of the Columbia explosion. "In this case they died. And, you know, it’s over. And the hard part, quite honestly, is living."</p> <p>Jon says he remembers everything from the day of the explosion—except for later that night, when his fellow NASA buddies got him pass-out drunk. As time went on, he had to learn how to be a single parent to his son, and how to process Laurel's death in his own way—which, for him, meant joining the NASA team that studied every detail of the Columbia disaster. </p>
Oct 07, 2015
The Sex Worker Next Door
<p>I first heard from Emma—that's not her real name—after our cheating episode. She emailed me about all of the married men that she encounters through her job. "Am I facilitating cheating? I guess so," she wrote. "Can I sleep at night? Mostly." </p> <p>She wanted to share her story about what it's like to be a sex worker. So we set up an interview. She told me that for her, sex work is a job. It’s something she does to pay her bills and support her kids. She has a boyfriend, but his income can’t support her household. </p> <p>Emma does sensual massage; she doesn't do "full service," as she says. She has other boundaries too, “though there are times,” she says, “where I choose to let things happen to my body where I feel like I’m violating myself. And that’s hard.”</p> <p>After I spoke with Emma that first time, she called me back, saying our interview made her realize how much she needed to get away from her job. She cancelled her appointments, and took some time off. She also asked us not to use her interview. But after a few months, she started seeing clients again—and told me that she wanted to talk. We had a follow-up conversation about why she continues this work, how much money it would take to stop, and why she decided to speak about her story. </p>
Sep 23, 2015
From Chaos to Sesame Street
<p>Sonia Manzano, who spent more than 40 years playing Maria on Sesame Street, often gets asked by kids if she’s rich. It all depends on where you came from, she told me. Compared to Jennifer Lopez, she’s “poor as a church mouse.” But compared to where her parents started, she said she's well off.</p> <p>Born into a Puerto Rican family in the Bronx, Manzano grew up with an alcoholic father and a mother who bore the brunt of his abuse but refused to leave him. "I was always standing between them," Sonia told me. "When I was five, six, seven, and eight, I was standing between them." As an adult, Sonia cut her father out of her life and pushed her mother to get a divorce. "I asked her about…why she allowed it to go on. And she said, 'Well you know, I just thought that when you guys grew up, you'd understand,'" Sonia remembered. "And I remember thinking, 'You might understand, but you don't gain the childhood back.'"</p> <p>Sonia got a scholarship to study theater at Carnegie Mellon, and it was there that she first saw Sesame Street on television, with James Earl Jones’ booming voice reciting the alphabet. Several years later, she was cast as Maria on the children's show, as part of an effort to put more Latino actors on television. When Sonia married and got pregnant in her late thirties, Maria's character got married and pregnant as well. "We were going to show Latin people with the same hopes and dreams as anyone else," Sonia said. "You wanna get wanna have a baby, you wanna look for daycare, and you want your child to have an education."</p> <p>I spoke with Manzano, who recently wrote a memoir, about growing up in the South Bronx and what she’s learned about marriage and parenting—both from her parents’ experience, and her own.</p>
Sep 09, 2015
In New Orleans: How to Get Elected Coroner
<p>Dr. Jeffrey Rouse is New Orleans' coroner—a job he describes as the “interface between law and medicine.” But ten years ago, he was working in a lab studying the brains of people with PTSD, getting ready for a life in academia.</p> <p>When the storm hit, Dr. Rouse and his family evacuated to Houston. A moment he caught on TV brought him back to the city. “I...remember being glued to the television and seeing a police officer that I knew on camera, crying,” he recalls. “And that was not this guy's temperament.” Armed with his background in psychiatry and a gun, Dr. Rouse hitched a ride back into the city with a reporter and set up a makeshift clinic inside a Sheraton hotel lobby to provide medical care to first responders.</p> <p>Nine years later, he ran for coroner, which he calls “the most bizarre job interview a human being can ever go through.” After a year in office, Dr. Rouse talks about making controversial judgment calls in police shootings, working out of a temporary office in a converted funeral home, and writing condolence notes to every family after signing a death certificate. </p> <p><a href="">Click here to read a text version of this story on The Atlantic's site.</a></p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>The New Orleans Forensic Center has been located in a temporary facility since Katrina. </span></div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">A refrigerated truck storing bodies of decedents sits on the street alongside the coroner's office.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Katie Bishop)</div> </div> </div>
Aug 21, 2015
In New Orleans: A Doctor's Adopted Home
<p>Ten years ago when Katrina hit, Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke didn’t evacuate. Instead she stayed inside New Orleans’ Charity Hospital, where she worked for six days, caring for 18 patients on the 5th floor. There was no power, and it seemed like no one was coming to rescue them. Before they were finally evacuated, Kiersta<span>—</span>who was part of the last group of people to leave<span>—</span>helped clean up the space for when her staff returned. "We didn't want it to look messy," she remembers. "We were naive."<em> </em></p> <p>Charity never opened after Hurricane Katrina, and Kiersta never got to properly thank the people who she worked with through the storm. "That's still something I would love," she tells me. Shortly after the storm, Kiersta started working at the VA hospital in New Orleans, where she still works today. </p> <p>Kiersta's home was heavily damaged during the storm, and rebuilding took years. "We just had a feeling of, 'Can we slog through this?'" she says. But she stayed, and is now raising two kids in the city with her husband. "We just got too weird for any place else other than New Orleans," she laughs. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke in front of Charity Hospital, which has stood abandoned for ten years.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <div class="embedded-image"></div> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Kierta Kurtz-Burke, with her children, Vida and Leo, and her husband, Justin. </div> <div class="image-credit"></div> </div> </div>
Aug 20, 2015
In New Orleans: Big Freedia Bounces Back
<p>Even before becoming Big Freedia, Freddie Ross was known around New Orleans. Her "signature call"—an operatic bellow that she lets out when I ask to hear it—was legendary in the city. "They'd be like, 'Oh that's Freddie in the club'.... The signature call comes very loud. And proud."</p> <p>Freedia came out to her mom as gay when she was 13, and soon came out to her classmates as well. She tells me she "had to do what every other gay kid had to do: fight for their life, and fight to be strong and stand up and let people know that you are not no joke in who you were." She eventually started performing as part of New Orleans' queer bounce music scene, and became a local celebrity. </p> <p>Then, in 2005, Freedia got shot. "What the motive was, I don’t know to this day still," she says. After finally mustering the courage to start performing again, Freedia also moved into a new place, to get a fresh start. Hurricane Katrina hit about a week later. She and her family were together at her duplex during the storm, where the water rose to the second floor. They cut a hole in the roof to signal for help. Days after being evacuated, Freedia made her way to Houston, where she lived for two years. </p> <p>In Houston, Freedia met her current boyfriend, Devon. After years of dating men who weren't openly gay, Freedia says Devon's openness about their relationship has made a difference. "When your love grows for somebody and y’all get closer you wanna...feel more appreciated, and you wanna feel loved," she says.</p> <p>Freedia eventually returned to New Orleans, where her career continues to expand. “A lot was happening after Katrina. I mean money was slinging everywhere,” Freedia tells me. “You know everybody had FEMA checks, girl!” I talk with Freedia about what's happened in her life in the years since she returned to her hometown: publishing a memoir, starring in a reality TV series, and losing her beloved mother to cancer. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Big Freedia in New Orleans, holding her high school graduation photo.</div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">The lot where Big Freedia's house stood, before Hurricane Katrina.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Emily Botein)</div> </div> </div> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Sitting on the porch swing with Big Freedia.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Katie Bishop)</div> </div> </div> <p><strong>Big Freedia performs her song "Excuse" before she and over 300 dancers set the Guinness World Record for most people twerking simultaneously:</strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="349" src="" width="800"></iframe></p> <p> <strong><em>Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce</em> Season 4 Trailer:</strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="349" src="" width="800"></iframe></p>
Aug 19, 2015
In New Orleans: Becoming the Demo Diva
<p>Simone Bruni never imagined she would someday run a demolition company. "I grew up in a very traditional Latin home," she says. "My mom did not work. I wanted her life. I wanted to be a stay at home mom." But when Hurricane Katrina hit, Simone was 32 and single, working in the hospitality industry.</p> <p>After the storm, she found herself unemployed. "No one knew what to do. I did nothing," she recalls. Jobs were scarce.<span> "It was...a situation of blaze your own trail or leave. I wasn’t going to leave." </span></p> <p>When waves of aid workers showed up to help with storm cleanup, she saw an opportunity. "I realized the first step to coming home was demolition," she says. Armed with her skills in marketing, Simone started <a href="" target="_blank">Demo Diva</a>, a demolition company geared towards women. "I had everything painted hot pink," she laughs. "I said, 'I’m in this and I’m coming out strong.'"</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Simone Bruni, on a job site in New Orleans. Her excavator is named "Smashing Star," because "she looks smashing."</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Rush Jagoe)</div> </div> </div> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Host Anna Sale, meeting Simone's baby squirrels. "I've notified all the tree companies that when they find baby squirrels to call me."</div> <div class="image-credit">(Katie Bishop)</div> </div> </div>
Aug 18, 2015
Death, Sex & Money: In New Orleans
<p>I want to introduce you to five people from New Orleans.</p> <p>They all lived in the city when Hurricane Katrina hit. And they all live there now. As the 10-year anniversary of the storm approaches, we're taking a close-up look at what's happened in their lives since.</p> <p>One New Orleans resident that I spoke with, Terri Coleman, described Katrina as "erasing the world." Big Freedia, widely credited with popularizing New Orleans bounce music post-Katrina, remembers it as "a survival time." And Simone Bruni, New Orleans' "Demo Diva," called it "a rebirth."</p> <p>There's no single story about the storm, or about how people have fared in its wake. That's why we're sharing five very different stories with you. In our series "In New Orleans," you'll hear not just about the hurricane and its immediate aftermath, but also about what else has happened in the lives of these five New Orleanians during the ten years since: finishing graduate school, finalizing adoptions, running for public office, falling in love, and mourning a mother.</p> <hr> <h3><a href="">From Raising Hell to Raising Kids</a></h3> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Terri Coleman outside her house in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. The spray paint on her garage door was left there by rescue crews who searched her home days after Hurricane Katrina.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>A decade after Hurricane Katrina, Terri Coleman is teaching a summer class to incoming students at Dillard University – a historically black college in New Orleans. But 10 years ago, when she was about the same age as her students, she was not the kind of kid to get a jump on freshman year with a summer class. "I did a lot of drinking. I did a lot of drugs. I did a lot of watching reruns of Family Guy all day long while super stoned," Terri tells me. In the aftermath of the storm, the landscape of New Orleans complimented Terri’s lackadaisical lifestyle. "The storm allow[ed] my kind of weird adolescent destruction to be socially structured and socially acceptable in some way," she says. Now married with three children and a graduate degree, Terri recently moved back to her old neighborhood after a few years out of state. She talks to me about her mixed emotions regarding what’s been lost in the post-Katrina rebuilding of New Orleans. <a href="">Click here to see more pictures and to download this story.</a></p> <hr> <h3><a href="">Becoming the Demo Diva</a></h3> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Simone Bruni, a.k.a. "the Demo Diva," with her signature hot pink equipment.</div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Simone Bruni never imagined she'd run a demolition company. "I grew up in a very traditional Latin home," she tells me. "My mom did not work. I wanted her life. I wanted to be a stay at home mom." But ten years ago, Simone was 32 years old and single, working in the hospitality industry. Six weeks after the storm, she got official word that she was laid off. "No one knew what to do. I did nothing," she recalls. But when waves of aid workers showed up to help with storm cleanup, she saw an opportunity. "I realized the first step to coming home was demolition," she says. Inspired by her background in hospitality, and armed with skills in marketing, Simone started <a href="">Demo Diva</a>, a demolition company geared towards women. "I had everything painted hot pink," she laughs. "I said, 'I’m in this and I’m coming out strong.'" <a href="">Click here to see more pictures and to download this story.</a> </p> <hr> <h3><a href="">Big Freedia Bounces Back</a></h3> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Big Freedia holding her graduation photograph from Walter Cohen High School.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Right before Hurricane Katrina hit, Big Freedia, one of New Orleans’ biggest bounce music stars, had just come out of hiding. A shooting left her with a bullet lodged in her forearm. She was frightened and unwilling to leave her house for six months. After finally mustering the courage to start performing again, Big Freedia also moved into a new apartment – and then, Hurricane Katrina hit. Big Freedia tells me about growing up gay as a church choir member, coming out to her mother at 13, and leaving New Orleans after Katrina and bringing bounce music with her. But it wasn’t long before she was back home. "A lot was happening after Katrina. I mean money was slinging everywhere," Freedia says. "You know everybody has FEMA checks, girl!" And, as Freedia told me, "There's no place like home." <a href="">Click here to see more pictures and to download this story.</a> </p> <hr> <h3><a href="">A Doctor's Adopted Home</a></h3> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke in front of Charity Hospital, which has stood abandoned since Katrina.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Ten years ago when Katrina hit, Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke didn’t evacuate. Instead, she stayed inside New Orleans’ Charity Hospital, where she worked for six days. There was no power, and it seemed like no one was coming to rescue them. Before they were finally evacuated, Kiersta – who was part of the last group of people to leave – helped clean up the hospital for when the staff returned. "We didn't want it to look messy," she tells me. "We were naive." Charity never reopened after Hurricane Katrina, and Kiersta never got to properly thank the people who she worked side by side with during the storm. She talks to me about the tediousness of rebuilding after destruction. But she stayed. "We just got too weird for any place else other than New Orleans," she says. She and her husband are now raising two kids in the city. <a href="">Click here to see more pictures and to download this story.</a> </p> <hr> <h3><a href="">How to Get Elected Coroner</a></h3> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Dr. Jeffrey Rouse, Orleans Parish Coroner since 2014, in his office.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src=";share=0" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Dr. Jeffrey Rouse is New Orleans’ coroner, but ten years ago he was studying the brains of people with PTSD, preparing for a life in academia. When the storm hit, he evacuated his family to Houston. A moment he caught on television brought him straight back. "I can distinctly remember being glued to the television and seeing a police officer that I knew on camera, crying," he recalls. "And that was not this guy's temperament." Armed with his background in psychiatry and his own personal weapon, Rouse hitched a ride back into the city with a reporter and set up a makeshift clinic to provide medical care to first responders. The experience was pivotal in his decision to run for coroner in 2014, which he calls "the most bizarre job interview a human being can ever go through." <a href="">Click here to see more pictures and to download this story.</a> And <a href="">click here to read our text version of this story for The Atlantic. </a></p>
Aug 17, 2015
In New Orleans: From Raising Hell to Raising Kids
<p>A decade after Hurricane Katrina, Terri Coleman is teaching a summer class to incoming students at Dillard University—a historically black college in New Orleans. But 10 years ago, when she was about the same age as her students, she was not the kind of kid to get a jump on freshman year with a summer class. “I did a lot of drinking. I did a lot of drugs. I did a lot of watching reruns of Family Guy all day long while super stoned,” Terri says. </p> <p><span>When the storm hit, Terri was staying with her parents in New Orleans’ Gentility neighborhood. She still remembers the sound. "I woke up to...these crashing sounds like someone throwing dinner plates</span><span>," she recalls. And then, the water came, "Like a light brown soup covering everything." </span>In the aftermath of the storm, the landscape of New Orleans complimented Terri’s lackadaisical lifestyle. "The storm allow[ed] my kind of weird adolescent destruction to be socially structured and socially acceptable in some way," she tells me. </p> <p>Now married with three children and a graduate degree, Terri recently returned to her old neighborhood after spending a few years in Illinois. She tells me about her mixed emotions regarding what’s been lost in the post-Katrina rebuilding of New Orleans. “Clearly I'm here for white hipster game," she laughs. "But as a class of people, I think they're really dangerous to the city."</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Terri and her three children, Lollimae, Booker and Harland, walking between her parents' house and her newly purchased home across the street.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Terri with her family outside of their home in the Gentilly neighborhood.</div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Terri and her kids having breakfast at her parents' house, where they live for now.</div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">"I'm really happy with my life. And I don't know that my life would be what it is if the world hadn't been erased. Like, if I didn't have this kind of clean slate, especially with the way I was right around the storm." - Terri Coleman</div> <div class="image-credit">(<a href="">Rush Jagoe</a>)</div> </div> </div> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Terri Coleman's honors writing class at Dillard University. </div> <div class="image-credit">(Katie Bishop)</div> </div> </div>
Aug 17, 2015
Life as a Wife
<p>Cindy Chupack got married for the first time when she was 25. Two years later, the man she married realized he was gay. They got a divorce. Chupack went on to have a successful career as an author and screenwriter, working on shows like <em>Sex and the City</em>. She won her first Emmy, and bought a house on the beach in California. Which made her second marriage, at 40, feel a little tricky.</p> <p>For one, her husband, Ian, came into their relationship with a lot of debt <span>—</span> and was heading toward a not-so-lucrative career. "I was supportive of theory," she laughs. But Chupack says that kvetching about her husband's spending habits isn't something she can do openly. "There’s no world in which women can [say], you know, my husband bought a Jeep he didn’t need...and some pot. There’s not really a great place to laugh about those things...without women kind of judging you."</p> <p><span>As someone who’d spent much of her adulthood as a serial dater, she was also used to the autonomy of being able to dump someone she didn’t like. "I think I still had that empowerment when I went into the marriage, like, if this doesn’t work for me I am out of here," she tells me. But when Ian first brought up the possibility of leaving the relationship, it spooked her. It meant that she wasn’t totally in control. But, she says, “there’s life in my life now. It’s big and messy and out of control, but it’s what was missing.”</span></p>
Aug 12, 2015
Joy Williams' Public Breakup and Private Grief
<p>Before singer-songwriter Joy Williams became one half of the Grammy-winning duo The Civil Wars, she was a fledgling Christian artist in Nashville without much romantic experience. “Pure as the driven snow would have been the moniker at that point,” Williams jokes. She met her husband, Nate, when he waited on her table at an Italian restaurant, and they got married soon afterward -- she was 21, and he was 23.</p> <p>When Williams met John Paul White a few years later, "It was like meeting somebody that I had known for a really long time," she told me. The two formed the band The Civil Wars. Their powerful creative connection led to gold records and four Grammys in three years. But there was also tension about the direction of the band. When the two finally broke up, rumors started flying that it was more than a professional split. Williams admits that it was hard being in an artistic partnership with one person while being married to another. "Saying yes to something means saying no to something else. Saying no to something means saying yes to something else," she said. "You have to weigh those questions very deeply."</p> <p>I spoke with Williams about going through a public breakup while she was also privately dealing with miscarriages, her father's terminal cancer diagnosis and a rough patch in her marriage. </p> <p><strong>Below, Williams performs "Before I Sleep," from her latest album, <em>VENUS</em>, on KCRW:</strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="349" src="" width="620"></iframe></p>
Jul 29, 2015
A Funeral Director's Life After Burnout
<p>When I first spoke with Caleb Wilde last year, he joked that he's damned to be a funeral director for the rest of his life. But there's some truth there. He's a sixth-generation funeral director in the small town of Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. It's a community with an aging population, which means the funeral business is a stable means of supporting his family. </p> <p>When we talked in Parkesburg, he told me about his struggle with depression, and about how the exposure to so much death has shaken his religious beliefs. "Nobody ever told me that it’s going to affect you negatively and you’re going to have to learn to cope," he said. "There is very little training at all." </p> <p>I recently checked in with Caleb to find out how his views on death—and his family business—have changed since we last spoke. He told me that a lot shifted during what was the funeral parlor's busiest year yet.  </p>
Jul 15, 2015
<p>For all the things we share with our brothers and sisters -- parents, genes, a childhood -- most of us have also wondered at one point or another how we could <em>possibly</em> be related to our siblings. As we grow up, it can be hard to update those relationships that were forged so long ago. You were children together; it can be hard to act like adults together.</p> <p>More than 200 of you reached out to tell me your sibling stories. I heard from Alix, whose twin sister, Katie, has cerebral palsy. “Every time I reach another milestone in my adult life,” she said, “it feels like something that [Katie] can’t ever get to.” Mike told me about sobering up at 50 -- and losing the thing that brought him and his drinking buddy brother together. Paul* reflected on why he feels angry at his big sister, whom he used to look up to. Consuello debated whether or not to let her younger brother come and live with her, after she found out he was homeless. And Megan* opened up about the brother she decided didn’t exist anymore, 30 years ago.</p> <p>We also heard from people without siblings -- like Sabrina, who cared for her mom when she got sick last year. And, I called up my four sisters, all at once, in four separate time zones.</p> <p>*Name changed</p>
Jul 01, 2015
A Dirty Cop Comes Clean
<p>Retired NYPD officer Ken Eurell says the first time he stole money on the job, he was responding to a burglary call. When he got back in the squad car, he says his partner Michael Dowd pulled out a wad of cash he'd taken from the scene and handed over a $100 bill. Eurell took it, though he doesn't remember how he spent it. "I bought bad karma with it," he told me.</p> <p>A new documentary, <em>The Seven Five</em>, tells the story of Eurell and Dowd, two corrupt cops working out of the 75th precinct in East New York, Brooklyn, during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. For Eurell, stealing was just the start. Taking cash from homes led to taking cash from drug dealers in exchange for tips about police drug investigations. "<span>From my perspective, it was pure greed," Eurell recalled. "Once it was drilled into my head and my brain was rewired to do my job in a search for padding my paycheck, that’s all I saw."</span></p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p>When Eurell retired from the force at age 28 on disability, he started dealing drugs himself, lacing pure cocaine with chemical fillers to boost his profits. The police finally arrested Eurell in 1992, and he decided to cooperate with the cops on a plan to bust Dowd, his former partner. Dowd was arrested; Eurell moved to Florida with his wife and kids. He’s been there since, where his NYPD pension and the money he’s made selling auto parts help cover the bills. </p> <p>I had plenty of questions for Eurell about his story<span>—</span>how he came to do what he did, what his wife thought of all this extra cash coming in, and whether he feels any remorse now that it’s all over. </p> <p><em><strong>The documentary <a href="">The Seven Five</a> is in select theaters this summer and available for streaming on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong><a href="">Tell us about your favorite documentary</a>! Add your suggestion to our <a href="">Google spreadsheet</a>, and get inspired for your next movie night. </strong></em></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="349" src="" width="620"></iframe></p>
Jun 17, 2015
2 Couples, 1 Poet, a Rock Band and a Dog
<p>In celebration of Death, Sex &amp; Money's one year anniversary, we brought two married couples, one Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, a rock band, a dog and a turquoise couch onto the stage at BAM for a special live show during WNYC's RadioLoveFest.</p> <p>First, I sat down with the author, Slate columnist and Barneys ambassador Simon Doonan, and his "impossibly younger" husband, the pottery mogul and designer Jonathan Adler. We talked about their first date (Adler wore rollerblades) and all that's happened since.</p> <p>Then, poet Tracy K. Smith got candid about one of the first times she used language to establish an emotional relationship – during a "chaste epistolary romance" with one of her high school teachers. She burned the letters in college, but her writing career continued.</p> <p>W. Kamau Bell, whom you may have heard on <a href="">a recent episode</a> talking about the fallout from his FX show coming to an end, joined us with his wife, Melissa Hudson Bell. And they brought some good news: Kamau has a new show coming out next year on CNN, called <em>The United Shades of America</em>. The show won't keep them from raising their daughters in the Bay Area, where they have an extended family network. We talk about that, and about teaching biracial children about race <span>– and</span> then, racism.</p> <p>And I share a few words about the origin of this show itself. The idea for Death, Sex &amp; Money really started about four years ago, in a crappy Williamsburg apartment, on the night I decided to get a divorce.</p> <p>Thank you for listening. And please don't stop, because this is going to keep getting better.</p> <p><em>Hear our house band for the evening, Luscious Jackson, performing their hit song "Naked Eye" live during our show.  </em></p> <p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><h3>Luscious Jackson - Naked Eye</h3><div id="audioplayer_idm1401505749393608b02b664-36d4-4f2a-a198-187986507dd0" class="player_element" data-url="" data-width="" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="false" data-may-embed="true"></div></div>  </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Richard Termine)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Richard Termine)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Richard Termine)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p>
Jun 03, 2015
Robert Earl Keen Quit Nashville and Stayed Married
<p>When Robert Earl Keen moved from Texas to Nashville in 1985, things were looking up: He’d just gotten married and put out his first album, <em>No Kinda Dancer</em>. Nashville was the place to be for an aspiring country musician...but that ended up being part of the problem. All around him, the careers of his fellow musicians were taking off. Keen didn’t see that kind of success. "I was hitting the streets and knocking on doors and trying to get some attention and it just wasn't happening," he told me. One night, he and his wife, Kathleen, came home from a gig in Kansas to find that their house had been robbed. After 22 months, he gave up on Nashville.</p> <p>But he didn’t stop playing music, and 11 albums later, he’s still making a career of it. Keen spends half the year on the road and keeps his band members on salary, giving them health insurance, retirement plans, and plenty of pizza backstage -- so there’s something to soak up the booze. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p>Despite all that time away from home, Robert and Kathleen are still married, and have two daughters. Now in his late 50s, Keen spoke candidly with me about what growing older has meant, from prioritizing stability to noticing his sex drive fade.</p>
May 20, 2015
Brooklyn Left Me Broke, But I Came Back
<p>For more than a decade, Heidi Reinberg, a 54-year-old freelance documentary producer, lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn -- just a few doors down from Mayor Bill de Blasio. Then, her landlord decided to sell. Heidi got priced out of her apartment as work dried up and credit card debt mounted. In <a href="">one of the first episodes</a> of this show, Heidi and I had a frank discussion about how she got to that point, and what would come next. Her plan then was to move to Los Angeles to live with her sister. </p> <p>A year later, Heidi is back in Brooklyn, but not without making compromises. She slept in the basement of some friends rent-free for a few months. Now, she has a 25-year-old roommate. Her work has picked up and she got a unexpected cushion from the sale of some family land, but she’s still paying off debt. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p>The hardest part, she told me, was learning how to reinvent her life and career when she was still mourning her old one. A year on, she still has questions about where she'll end up, but she also has a little more peace. I went to Heidi’s new place to catch up with her about the move back, the way she’s dealt with receiving help from others, and what she sees for her future.</p>
May 06, 2015
W. Kamau Bell Wonders How Much Is Enough
<p>For a long time, W. Kamau Bell’s fear was that he would complete his career in comedy and remain anonymous. Then, Chris Rock took notice of his one-man show, and they teamed up to create the television series <em>Totally Biased</em>. Bell moved across the country to New York with his wife and baby for his new job. But the show was cancelled after a year and a half.</p> <p>Bell realized staying in New York with his family would be a struggle. “We were living in an apartment that was rented by a guy who had a TV show, and suddenly when that guy didn’t have a TV show, it was like, ‘We can’t afford this apartment.’” </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> </div> </div> <p>Now, back in the Bay Area with his wife and two young daughters, Bell is in the midst of rebooting his comedy career, which has required time away on the road. He is weighing what kinds of career sacrifices he’s willing to make for his family, while being realistic about the money he needs to bring in. “My personal challenge of 2015 is to figure out a way to work hard enough to earn more money than I did in the previous year, but also still feel like I’m an attentive parent and husband,” he told me.  </p> <p>Bell and his wife Melissa Hudson Bell will be at <a href="" target="_blank">our upcoming live show</a> for RadioLoveFest at BAM in Brooklyn on May 8.</p>
Apr 22, 2015
Hedwig, Older and a Little Less Angry
<p><span>The day I went to meet John Cameron Mitchell in his apartment, he had glitter stuck to his face and two ice packs in his freezer for the knee he injured on-stage during a performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. </span></p> <p>"I was doing Neil Patrick Harris’s superhuman choreography," said the 51-year-old actor, who took over the lead role after Harris's Tony-winning run in the Broadway revival. His leg has recovered, but Mitchell still performs in a knee brace. "I actually like the show much better with it," he told me.</p> <p>Mitchell is drawn to things that are a little... broken. Hedwig, the character he created in the '90s, is an East German singer left with an "angry inch" after a botched sex change. Her one-liners are hilarious. But she's reeling from a bad breakup, and is abusive toward her current partner. </p> <p>Since creating the character, Mitchell has lost his father to Alzheimer's, and his ex-boyfriend Jack Steeb to addiction. He says those losses have informed his "new" Hedwig. But he also says playing Hedwig now, in his 50s, is a lot more fun than it was two decades ago. </p> <p>"I think things are dishonest if they're not aware of sadness," he said. "Humor without sadness underneath it feels cheap and aggressive." </p> <p>Sitting on his upholstered couch in his rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan's West Village, we talk about being an openly gay actor in the '80s, the healing that comes with watching parents age and why he says Jack Steeb was the best man he ever knew. </p>
Apr 15, 2015
In Sickness and In Mental Health
<p>Giulia and Mark Lukach got married when they were 24. Three years later, Giulia began experiencing paralyzing anxiety and paranoid delusions. She started talking about committing suicide. Mark and her father drove Giulia to the emergency room while she kicked and screamed in the back seat. Mark told me, "I still was under this impression that a doctor was going to walk in the door and say, 'Okay, here’s exactly what’s going on, and here’s this pill, and as soon as she takes it, she’ll be totally fine within an hour, no problem'....That is not at all what happened."</p> <p>Giulia stayed in a psychiatric ward for 23 days. It took her almost a year to get back on her feet after she got out of the hospital. The recovery period took a toll on their marriage. Doctors told Mark that it was his responsibility to keep Giulia safe and on her medication. Giulia started calling him "the pill Nazi.”</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p>Finally, Giulia did feel better. She started working again. And in 2012, after consulting a team of doctors, Giulia and Mark had a son named Jonas. </p> <p>Giulia was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has been hospitalized two more times. "We've learned a lot about 'through sickness and in health,'" Giulia said. </p> <p><span>You can read Mark's essay for <em>Pacific Standard</em> about Giulia's diagnosis and treatment <a href="">here</a>.</span></p> <p>-- </p> <p><strong>If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental illness, there's help available.  </strong></p> <p>The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK. There's also a live chat option <a href="">on their website</a>. </p> <p>The <a href="">National Alliance on Mental Illness</a> can help you find a support group in your area. They also have online resources, like tip sheets on <a href="">mental illness warning signs</a> and a <a href="">helpline</a> that can be reached Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm ET. </p> <p>The <a href="">Family Center for Bipolar</a> works with families in New York City. If you are not in the New York City area, their website also includes online <a href="">video and audio lectures</a>. </p> <p>You can find resources on various mental health disorders at <a href=""></a>. The site includes a treatment locator to find resources in your area, as well as <a href="">resources for friends and family</a> who are looking for information on how to support their loved ones who have a mental illness. </p> <p>--</p> <p>Like the music at the end of our episode? It's Kishi Bashi's "<a href="">Bright Whites</a>."</p>
Apr 08, 2015
Cancer Changed Ken Jeong's Comedy
<p>Ken Jeong describes his role in the 2009 blockbuster <em>The Hangover</em> as "the most obscene love letter to a spouse one could ever have.” He peppered his dialogue with bits of Vietnamese as an inside joke with his wife Tran. </p> <p>Ken met his wife while they were both practicing medicine at the same hospital in Los Angeles. Ken had always done comedy on the side. He even performed midnight improv while he was working up to 100 hours a week during his medical residency. But after he and Tran married, he quit medicine to pursue acting full-time. Then, a year later, Tran was diagnosed with aggressive stage III breast cancer. They had twins who were a year old. And Ken had just gotten an offer to play an Asian mobster in a Las Vegas buddy movie. </p> <p>Tran encouraged him to take the part. "You're kind of burning out right now," she told him. And he channeled his anger about her illness into his character's comedic rage. </p> <p>Seven years later, he talked to me about raising a family in the shadow of cancer and how his careers in comedy and medicine have converged in unexpected ways. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p> </p> <p><em>This week’s episode of Death, Sex &amp; Money is part of WNYC’s <a href="">Living Cancer</a> series, a radio companion to “<a href="">Ken Burns Presents Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies</a>.” Support for Living Cancer is provided by the Susan and Peter Solomon Family Foundation. </em></p> <p><em>Thanks to WNYC's Mary Harris and Amanda Aronczyk for their help with this episode. </em></p> <p>Read a full transcript of this episode <a href="">here</a>. </p>
Mar 25, 2015
Where is Lisa Fischer's Backup?
<p><span>Lisa Fischer has sung backing vocals for</span><span> Dolly Parton, Bobby McFerrin, Luther Vandross and<span> </span><span>Beyoncé. She's also toured with the Rolling Stones since </span></span>1989, going from one swanky hotel to another, "eating caviar for breakfast" and playing sold out stadiums. “I feel like a normal girl,” she says, “visiting for a very long time in the not-normal world.”</p> <p>It wasn’t the world she came from. Lisa grew up in Brooklyn. Her mom was pregnant with her at 15, and had two more children by the time she was 19. Money was tight, and when Lisa was 14, her father left. Her mom started drinking heavily, and died three years later after complications from seizures. </p> <p><span>By her mid-twenties, she was touring as a backup singer, and in 1991 she won a Grammy for her first solo album, <em>So Intense</em>. But soon after, she lost her record deal, and returned to singing backup. The 2013 documentary <em><a href="">Twenty Feet from Stardom</a> </em>highlighted some of the glory, and struggle, that came with her years on the road. "When I think about the money that I have gone through I have to laugh to myself," she told me during our conversation. "I don’t like to look at how much I have because it’s never enough."</span></p> <p><span>Now in her 50s, she still tours regularly with the Stones and <a href="">on her own</a>. I talked with Lisa about her new approach to money in mid-life and the lingering effects of her early loss. </span></p> <p><span>Below, watch Lisa Fischer in performance at the <a href="">Napa Valley Film Festival</a>, on stage with the Rolling Stones, and singing with Luther Vandross. </span></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="480" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p> </p>
Mar 11, 2015
Cheating Happens.
<p>People cheat. But they don't often talk about the aftermath, and how they and their partners decide what comes next.</p> <p>When I asked you to send in your stories about infidelity, I heard from so many of you. Listener Sasha* told us about how she suspected that her partner of five years was having an affair -- and later, after they broke up, discovered that he had been been posting online ads for casual sex throughout their relationship. Andy in Connecticut remembered being a 12-year-old trying to convince his father not to cheat on a girlfriend. Joe* in Texas talked about having a relationship with a married woman as a single man, and the feeling of being a sideshow to the main event. Listener Chrystal* began her email to us about the cheating in her relationship: "Spoiler alert: we made it." </p> <p><span>Numbers about cheating vary from <a href=";pg=PA93&amp;lpg=PA93&amp;dq=Serial+monogamy+and+clandestine+adultery:+Evolution+and+consequences+of+the+dual+human+reproductive+strategy&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=C6WxSbB2lD&amp;sig=430EfblRt7nQJXWya53Ka6CeUMs&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=M0bhUqDMNImosQT8tYGgCQ&amp;ved=0CDUQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&amp;q=Serial%20monogamy%20and%20clandestine%20adultery%3A%20Evolution%20and%20consequences%20of%20the%20dual%20human%20reproductive%20strategy&amp;f=false">study to study</a>, but indicate that 20 to 40 percent of straight married men and 20 to 25 percent of straight married women venture outside their marriages. When <a href="">Dan Savage</a><span> joined us on the show last year, he put that number even higher, at 50 percent of women and men in long-term relationships. </span></span></p> <p><span><span>If infidelity is ubiquitous, it can also be surprisingly mundane. Amid the secretive motel rendezvous and unexpected pregnancies, cheating often takes the form of...furtive texting on the couch. </span></span></p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p>If the reality of cheating doesn’t fit the old cliches, neither do the consequences. One listener, who I'm calling Sheri*, says that when she slept with another man, she had an idea of what would happen: the cheater gets caught, crockery gets thrown, lawyers get called. But instead, she and her husband thought through what they really wanted -- and a divorce wasn’t on the list. Instead, Sheri took back her maiden name, and they decided that flings outside the marriage would be okay.</p> <p><span>In this episode, you'll hear from men and women who've cheated and been cheated on. Nobody's proud of it. But we learned that when a secret affair is revealed, it’s a moment for us to finally and fully be honest about what was missing from a relationship, and what’s worth saving.</span></p> <p><span>*Name changed for privacy reasons </span></p> <p> </p> <p><span>Read a full transcript <a href="">here</a>. </span></p>
Feb 25, 2015
Real Love: A Valentine's Special from Death, Sex & Money
<p>This whole show started with a love story. I’d been married in my 20s, then divorced at 30. Months later, I started dating Arthur, a biologist studying wolves in Wyoming. The distance made things hard, and the relationship almost ended. Then I got a call from <strong><a href="">Alan Simpson</a></strong>—as in, the former Republican senator from Wyoming. That call, and a conversation with Sen. Simpson and his wife <strong><a href="">Ann Simpson</a></strong> at their home in Wyoming, are largely responsible for getting me back together with Arthur.</p> <p>So it's a love story, yes. Maybe one that’s a little too strange, or a little too surreal, to fit neatly on a Hallmark card.</p> <p>I’ve heard so many stories of <em>real love</em> since we started this show—stories about heartbreak, death, money, divorce. They all tell us how we continue to find joy in relationships, no matter how challenging they can be.</p> <p>In this episode, we’ll hear from author <strong><a href="">James McBride</a></strong>, who hasn't jumped back into the dating pool after his divorce. He says he's happier than he's ever been, even without romance. </p> <p><strong><a href="">Jane Fonda</a></strong> went through a difficult break-up with her third husband, Ted Turner. She found herself scared and alone. Now she’s back in Los Angeles, acting and taking on a new role as caregiver while her boyfriend deals with a serious illness. But she says she'll never marry again.</p> <p><strong><a href="">Dan Savage</a></strong> speaks about our need to communicate with our partners about sex—something that may or may not be part of your Valentine’s Day agenda. He says that while sex hasn’t been a hang-up in his marriage, issues around money and spending definitely have been. </p> <p><strong><a href="">Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires</a></strong>, both in-demand touring musicians, talk about the temptations they’ve faced on the road. After confronting Jason's alcoholism together, they now know how important trust is in any relationship. </p> <p><strong><a href="">Chaz Ebert</a></strong> remembers her late husband Roger. After his lower jaw was removed, Roger couldn’t speak. He asked Chaz to be his voice—something that brought them incredible unspoken intimacy. </p> <p>These aren't just stories of heart-wrenching tragedy or fairy-tale romance. They're honest statements about the exciting, maddening, potentially bankrupting and totally essential experiences we share with the people we love.</p>
Feb 14, 2015
Songs in the Key of Strife
<p>Teddy Thompson was six years old when his parents, English folk rockers Richard and Linda Thompson, split up. The breakup coincided with the release of <a href="">the duo's most successful album</a>. They were on tour together as their marriage dissolved. </p> <p>That same year, Teddy's sister Kami was born. "Kami was a symbol of divorce to me," Teddy told me during our conversation. "I just remember having a vague notion that there was a big change and Kami was a part of the big change. Something was lost and something was gained." </p> <p>The siblings didn't spend a lot of time together as kids, due to their age difference. But they both grew up to be musicians. Teddy and Kami recently reunited with their parents to record an album aptly titled <a href="">Family</a>. It includes deeply personal songs about the inner workings of the Thompson clan -- even though both Teddy and Kami say talking directly about their relationships with each other hasn't exactly been a family tradition. This became evident during our conversation: Teddy told me he started the project because he was craving more closeness with his family. For Kami, it was more straightforward. “A gig’s a gig,” she said. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Richard Thompson, along with Teddy and Kami as children.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Courtesy of the Thompson family)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <p><em>Hear the siblings perform two songs live in our studio, along with their nephew Zak Hobbs</em>. <em>Thank you to Irene Trudel, who engineered this session. </em></p> <p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><h3>The Thompsons - I Long For Lonely</h3><div id="audioplayer_idm14015056382676829880c6e-da8b-4755-81c7-c1cd3432472c" class="player_element" data-url="" data-width="620" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="false" data-may-embed="true"></div></div>  </p> <p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><h3>The Thompsons - Family</h3><div id="audioplayer_idm140150567516640dbc60ec7-fc29-4f43-b918-f78f89c48933" class="player_element" data-url="" data-width="620" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="false" data-may-embed="true"></div></div>  </p> <p>Read a full transcript of this interview <a href="">here</a>. </p>
Feb 11, 2015
Margaret Cho's Sex Education
<p>The daughter of Korean immigrants, comedian Margaret Cho made a successful career in comedy by making fun of her parents, and <a href="">telling jokes about the ethnic snacks they put in her lunchbox</a>. Cho felt that her parents seemed out of touch, and she was determined not to be. From an early age, she learned about American tastes in music, culture and sex from the young gay men who hung out at Paperback Traffic, the San Francisco bookstore that her father owned. She says her dad wanted it that way: he hoped his customers would teach his daughter the things he couldn’t.</p> <p>Cho says her childhood also contained several instances of sexual abuse. She experimented sexually throughout her 20s and 30s to try to regain a sense of control. Costumes, sex parties and BDSM -- Margaret did it all. She identifies as queer, <a href="">but jokes that "slutty" might be the best way to put it</a>. </p> <p>Now 46, she’s changing course. In public, she’s a proudly outrageous commentator on TLC’s new late-night talk show, <em><a href="">All About Sex</a></em>. But in private, she says she’s focusing on something new: learning how to be vulnerable and taking things slow. </p> <p>When I spoke with Cho recently, she told me about growing up gay in San Francisco in the '70s, negotiating consent in hookups and relationships, and learning to tell her jokes in Korean for her dad.</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p>A full transcript of the episode is <a href="">here</a>.</p>
Jan 28, 2015
Desiree Akhavan's Breakthrough Breakup
<p>At 16, Desiree Akhavan says she was voted the ugliest girl at her school. In a play that she wrote that same year, Akhavan included a sequence based on the incident, turning a sad, victimizing event into something entertaining. But when you ask Akhavan, now a successful 30-year-old director and actor, if her work is healing, she’s hesitant. To her, it's more about using the original event creatively, and turning it into a narrative she can control. </p> <p>There is real-life truth in the stories she’s telling. In her debut feature film,<em> <a href="">Appropriate Behavior</a></em>, Akhavan plays a bisexual Iranian-American—like herself. The main character, Shirin, lives in Brooklyn, and has just broken up with her longtime girlfriend. <span>Shir</span><span>in</span>'s brother is a doctor. She struggles to be open about her sexual identity with her family. All of these things have been true for Desiree. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p>The film garnered positive reviews at Sundance, and also won her a fan in Lena Dunham, who cast Akhavan in the fourth season of HBO’s <em>Girls</em>. In the series, she plays one of Hannah Horvath's fellow students at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. </p> <p>As Akhavan becomes more prominent, she says she fears that if her next film isn’t a hit, she won't have another shot at success. I spoke with her recently about finding humor in her post-breakup misery, what it meant to get that call from Dunham, and how feeling invisible as a kid motivated her to boldly tell her story. </p> <p>A full transcript of the episode is <a href="">here</a>. </p> <p> </p>
Jan 14, 2015
Living Alone and Liking It. Sometimes.
<p>Living alone has its perks. You can eat what you want, wear what you want, and listen to show tunes as loud as you want. You can let your dishes pile up for days—or you can be a total neat freak. There’s no one to stop you. But there’s also no one to help foot the bill.</p> <p>I asked you to send in your stories about living solo. Listener Ashley Ward decided it was time to get her own place after dealing with a less-than-ideal roommate. But living alone can also be a consequence of bigger life changes. Arlene Pickett’s husband died four years ago after a long decline. Arlene says it felt good to get back some of the control she lost while caring for him. But more recently, when she was diagnosed with cancer, living alone just felt hard. Glen Uhlig is separated from his wife and takes care of his two boys every other week. On Monday mornings after their week together he drops them off at school<span>—</span>exhales<span>—</span>and then has the time to pick up the newspaper again. </p> <p>Today, more than a quarter of American households are home to just one person. But we don’t often talk about it, and it’s clear from your stories that living alone can be pretty complicated.</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p>A full transcript of the episode is <a href="">here</a>. </p>
Dec 31, 2014
Death-Sex-Money Books: The Full List!
<p>A couple of weeks ago, we put out the call for your favorite books about death, sex and money. <span>All three</span>. We heard from so many of you with suggestions. Some of you checked off each category for us. Some of you explained what your pick was about and why you love it so much. Some of you told a story about a time in your life when that particular book really spoke to you. Thank you for sending in your great ideas and letting us take advantage of your good taste!</p> <p><em><strong>Find the full list of your suggested death-sex-money books <a href="">here</a>. </strong></em></p> <!-- This is a test comment --> <p>Unlike the librarians at the New York Public Library who <a href=";utm_medium=treatment&amp;utm_campaign=featured&amp;utm_content=item1">sent along their carefully chosen suggestions</a>, we have not vetted and scrutinized each of these books for their deathiness, sexiness and money-ness. But the team here at Death, Sex &amp; Money does plan on diving into a few of the books on this list during some scheduled "should-less" time over the holiday season. We encourage you <a href="">follow Ellen Burstyn's example</a> and do the same! </p> <p>If you do read one of the books on this list over the holidays, <strong>we want to hear about it</strong>. Did you learn something about money? Cry as a character dealt with a death? Enjoy a really steamy sex scene?  <a href="">Write us an email</a> with your review. Or record a voice memo and send it in! We love hearing from you. </p> <p>Happy holidays from all of us at Death, Sex &amp; Money!</p>
Dec 20, 2014
I Killed Someone. Now I Have 3 Kids.
<p>Lawrence Bartley watched his youngest son's first steps in a visiting room at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. He is an inmate. On Christmas night, 1990, he killed a 15 year-old bystander during a shoot-out in a movie theater. Bartley was 17 at the time. </p> <p>Now, he is a father of three. He's married to his middle school sweetheart. He has a master's degree. His daughter, born just after he was arrested, is now a grown woman. And he's had a lot of time to think about his crime. He's serving a sentence of 27 years to life. He is up for parole in less than three years. He's not sure what he'll say to the parole board, or if he'll feel comfortable asking for his freedom after taking a life. That's not his only challenge. His two young sons—a 7-year-old and an 18-month-old—don't understand that he's in prison, or know why. To them, he's their hero.</p> <p>I visited Bartley at Sing Sing, where we talked about the crime he committed, what he has learned, and what he's doing to counter gun violence outside prison. He is thinking hard about what kind of husband and father he needs to be. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p>A full transcript of the episode is <a href="">here</a>. </p> <p>Lawrence Bartley appears in an upcoming documentary about gun violence called <strong><em><a href="">Voices from Within</a>.</em></strong> It's in production now and will eventually be shown in schools.</p>
Dec 17, 2014
Librarians Share Their Death-Sex-Money Book Picks
<p>When we put out the call for your favorite books about death, sex and money, we should have known that it would be a task no librarian could resist. A couple of staffers at the New York Public Library sent along their favorite books that include all three topics <span>—</span> carefully vetting each pick for its deathiness, sexiness and money-ness. We also asked all of you for your favorite books with all three — here's <a href="">the full list</a>.</p> <hr> <h3><strong>Jenny Baum, Supervising Librarian, Jefferson Market Library</strong></h3> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Jenny Baum)</div> </div> </div> <p><a href=";t=smart&amp;search_category=keyword&amp;q=beautiful+you+palahniuk&amp;searchOpt=catalogue">Beautiful You by Chuck Palahinuk</a> (2014)</p> <p>A polarizing satirical book. Penny meets billionaire playboy C. Linus Maxwell and becomes the test subject of his sex toy inventions. The inventions are so successful that women lock themselves in their rooms with them and no longer come out. Chaos ensues as the men are left bereft of their womenfolk.</p> <p>Checklist: <strong>Death</strong> (not sure, possibly Maxwell's first test subject) <strong>Sex</strong> (check) <strong>Money</strong> (see billionaire playboy)</p> <p><a href=";q=the%20deep%20whatsis&amp;commit=Search&amp;searchOpt=catalogue">The Deep Whatsis by Peter Mattei</a> (2013)</p> <p>Another satire, antihero Bill Nye is an unhinged ad exec who sees his life of carte blanche "Mad Men" style excess derailed by an intern. "Intern" as he calls her, proves infuriatingly illusive and unforgettable, contrary to the one-night stand that he meant her to be.</p> <p>Checklist: <strong>Death</strong> (no, but gunshots, without giving too much away) <strong>Sex</strong> (check) <strong>Money</strong> (check)</p> <p> </p> <hr> <h3><strong>Lynn Lobash, Manager, Reader Services</strong></h3> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt="" width="300" height="300"> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Lynn Lobash)</div> </div> </div> <p><a href=";suppress=true&amp;custom_edit=false">The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters</a> (2014)</p> <p>Period piece to steamy romance to crime thriller. Amazing!</p> <p>Checklist: <strong>Death</strong> (check) <strong>Sex</strong> (check) <strong>Money</strong> (class, so it's implied - check)</p> <p><a href=";suppress=true&amp;custom_edit=false">Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore by Walter Mosley</a> (2014)</p> <p>Debbie is determined to get out of the porn business but it won't be as easy as giving two-weeks notice.</p> <p>Checklist: ​<strong>Death</strong> (check) <strong>Sex</strong> (check) <strong>Money</strong> (check)</p> <p><a href="">​Some Dead Genius by Lenny Kleinfeld</a> (2014)</p> <p>A fast paced slick black comedy of a book about the art scene and a plan to capitalize on all its pretensions. ​</p> <p>Checklist: ​<strong>Death</strong> (check) <strong>Sex</strong> (check) <strong>Money</strong> (owed - check)</p> <p><a href=";suppress=true&amp;custom_edit=false">​The Circle by Dave Eggers</a> (2014)</p> <p>At first you think you have read this story a hundred times, a culmination of all the<em> New Yorker</em> and <em>New York</em> magazine profiles on the tech industry and San Francisco, but this telling will make you shut down your Instagram account.​</p> <p>Checklist: <strong>Death</strong> (check) <strong>Sex</strong> (check) <strong>Money</strong> (tech billionaires - check)</p> <p><a href=";suppress=true&amp;custom_edit=false">The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn</a> (2012)</p> <p>Patrick Melrose is at once a snob, selfish, and mean while mocking everyone around him for these very reasons. I had to put these down at times because I began to see the world through his paranoid lens, but I always came back because I missed his sense of humor. ​</p> <p>Checklist: <strong>Death</strong> (check) <strong>Sex</strong> (check) <strong>Money</strong> (check)</p> <h3> </h3> <hr> <h3><strong>Maura Muller, Manager, Volunteer Program</strong></h3> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt="" width="300" height="300"> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Maura Muller)</div> </div> </div> <p><a href=";search_category=author&amp;t=author&gt;">Sway by Katarina M. Spears</a> (2014)</p> <p>This YA novel has all three elements. High school senior Jesse Alderman, a.k.a. Sway, is a heartless survivor who will do anything for money. We should hate him, but his twisted sense of humor and smart, snide remarks make us laugh out loud at his ruthless pursuit of sex, power and money. Did the death of someone close to him really make him this cold? Is there a girl out there who can win him over?</p> <p>Checklist: <strong>Death</strong> (check) <strong>Sex</strong> (check) <strong>Money</strong> (check)</p>
Dec 16, 2014
College Sweethearts: Transformed
<p>Liam Lowery and Marisa Carroll have a charming, if almost archetypal, New York love story. They were college students. Liam had been crushing on her for a while, and one day, he spotted her on the subway. They came to his stop. And he stayed on the train. That led to coffee, Facebook flirting, making out, and as Liam says, fantastic sex.</p> <p><span>When they got together, Liam identified as trans, but didn't yet have that scruff on his cheeks. Soon after they began dating, he started taking testosterone, and he had surgery to remove his breasts last spring. </span>While Marisa had considered herself a straight woman prior to dating Liam, they are, together, in a queer relationship. And as of this Thanksgiving, in a queer marriage.</p> <p><span>I asked them both what changed in their relationship as Liam's body transformed. And I asked Marisa what it was like to commit to someone who was undergoing so much change. </span></p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p><strong>You can read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of the interview. Marisa wrote about her love story with Liam in a story called <a href="" target="_blank">My Self-Made Man</a> for Marie Claire. Liam wrote about<a href="" target="_blank"> getting through airport security when you're trans</a> for The Toast. </strong></p>
Dec 03, 2014
James McBride Resets
<p>When you hear that someone’s a best-selling, award-winning author, what do you imagine their life is like? A big house with a BMW in the driveway? James McBride, author of the smash hit <em>The Color of Water </em>and <em>The Good Lord Bird</em>, had all that for a while. But, living like a celebrity distracted him from the sort of work he wanted to do. </p> <p>McBride doesn't live like a famous author. He doesn't identify himself as an author at all. He tells people he’s a musician—which he is. He plays the saxophone and piano at a professional level and he's written songs for Anita Baker, Grover Washington, Jr. and Gary Burton. These days, he teaches a music class for kids at a housing project in the same Brooklyn neighborhood in which he grew up. </p> <p>When McBride came to the studio to talk to me, he immediately gravitated to the Steinway piano in the room. He talked to me about his mother’s last moments, the financial and personal difficulties that came after divorce, and the ways in which he has redefined success for himself. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt="" width='620"'> <div class="image-metadata"></div> </div> <p><strong>You can read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of the interview. Here's a video of McBride accepting the 2013 National Book Award</strong>:</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="349" src="" width="620"></iframe></p>
Nov 19, 2014
A Funeral Director’s Dead Reckoning
<p>Caleb Wilde jokes that he's damned to be a funeral director for the rest of his life. But there's some truth there. He's a sixth-generation funeral director in the small town of Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. He's been doing this for over ten years. In a community with an aging population, this is a stable means of supporting his family. </p> <p>This wasn't Caleb's first choice. After high school, he worked abroad for a Christian humanitarian group. He's now in graduate school, studying theology. And he's an entertaining writer who keeps a blog called "Confessions of a Funeral Director." He says that in a profession in which he sees things most people should only experience once in their lifetime, connecting with an online audience makes him feel less lonely. </p> <p>There was a funeral on the day I went down to Parkesburg to visit Caleb and his family. It was immediately clear that the Wildes are pros: affable but calm, soft-spoken but self-assured. The kind of people a town relies on to provide comfort when things seem chaotic or senseless. When we talked, he told me about his struggles with depression, how the exposure to so much death has shaken his religious beliefs, and about the lessons he's learned from some controversial things he's said online.</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <p> <strong>You can read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of the interview, and Caleb's blog, "Confessions of a Funeral Director," at <a href=""></a>. He also gave a TEDx talk recently about the troubled gap between acceptance and denial when it comes to death:</strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="620"></iframe></p> </div>
Nov 05, 2014
Ellen Burstyn's Lessons on Survival
<p>When Burstyn was 18, she got on a Greyhound bus going from Detroit to Dallas. She had 50 cents in her pocket and a hunch that she could find work as a model. The actress and director, known for her roles in <em>Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore</em>, <em>The Exorcist</em>, and <em>Requiem For a Dream</em>, says she’d never do that now. But back then, she didn’t doubt herself.</p> <p>It wasn’t the only risk she took as a young woman. At 18, she’d already gotten pregnant and had an illegal abortion. By her mid-20s, determined not to just get by on her looks, she left Hollywood to study acting with Lee Strasberg. In her mid-40s, after leaving an abusive marriage, she starred as a newly single mom in <em>Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore</em>. The role was based in part on her own life, and it won her an Oscar. </p> <p>Now, at 81, she told me she is most proud of her relationship with her son, whom she adopted at birth. "I really think of myself as a work in progress," Burstyn told me as we sat in wicker furniture in her Manhattan bedroom. "I know I’m a successful actress, but I don’t feel I’m necessarily a successful person."</p> <p><strong>INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS</strong></p> <p><strong>Why she doesn’t recommend abortion:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I don’t recommend abortion to anybody. I don’t think it’s a good thing to do. At the same time, if women are pregnant and don’t want to have a baby, they will get an abortion one way or another. And if it’s illegal, they will get an illegal abortion. As I did. And it’s a scarring experience. The illegal abortion just botched me, so I couldn’t ever get pregnant again. That was a part of the trauma.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>What the police said when her husband assaulted her:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>When I called the police, they said, we don’t mix in household problems. And I said, he’s threatened to kill me. And he said, no, we don’t respond. And I said, well what is it you do? And he said, we apprehend criminals when a crime has been committed. And I said, you mean, I should call if he actually kills me. And he said, that’s right. </em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>How her acting coach filled the role of a father figure:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I think an absent father—not ever having that experience of a man who just loves you because you’re you—is a big detriment. I think it’s very hard for women to overcome that. Thank God I got to Lee Strasberg, because when I got to him, he approved of me for me, and I hadn’t ever had that. You know, without wanting sex from me.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On being taken for granted as a woman:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I think that we have a natural impulse to serve. We like to serve a man dinner. We like to get up and give him a cup of coffee. But that leads us down a path where it gets taken for granted. As though we are supposed to, as opposed to, we want to. One has to learn that. It’s not an obligation. It’s a gift. That we want to give. But if it’s not received as a gift, but as a duty, one starts to get their hackles up after a while.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>You can read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of the interview, and if you haven't seen </strong><strong>her 1980s sitcom <em>The Ellen Burstyn Show</em>, I highly recommend it:</strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="620"></iframe></p> <p>"When Death Comes" from <em>New &amp; Selected Poems, Vol. 1</em> by Mary Oliver - published by Beacon Press, Boston, used herewith by permission of the Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency.</p>
Oct 22, 2014
My Father's Secret Life
<p>Whitney Joiner was 13 when her father Joe told her he was HIV-positive. He said he hoped to see her graduate from high school. Five months later, he was dead. It was rural Kentucky in 1992, and Whitney and her family thought it was best to keep quiet.  </p> <p>Whitney never learned how her father contracted the disease. After his funeral, her mother heard from a mutual friend that he’d secretly gone to gay clubs. As a teenager, Whitney had wondered if he were gay. She'd even asked him, but he denied it. His denial was a relief at the time. Now, she wishes she had more answers.</p> <p>That’s part of what led her to co-found <a href="">The Recollectors</a>, a site to collect stories from children about their parents who died of AIDS. In this episode, Whitney talked to me about the shame and anger that kept her family from talking about her father for years, meeting other people who had a parent die of AIDS, and reconciling her memories of her father with details she’s only learning now.</p> <p><strong>INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS</strong></p> <p><strong>Remembering the Early, Mysterious Signs</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>The only thing I knew was wrong with him was we would go to the hospital in Lexington and see this doctor. And he would get his blood drawn...It was kind of like, oh we’re going to the mall. And the movies. And just stopping off at the doctor. And he explained that he had a blood problem, and I said at one point, like, oh, Leukemia? And he was like yeah, something like that.</em></p> </blockquote> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Whitney keeps this photo of her late father on her refrigerator.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Whitney Joiner)</div> </div> </div> <p><strong>Finally Meeting Someone Else Whose Father Died of AIDS</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>It felt like, so shocking there was someone else out there with the same story. And we just started talking about—it was so weird that we don’t know more people, there have to be more people. Not everyone who died of AIDS is a gay man with no children!</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>The Conversation She Wishes She Could Have Again</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I said, I asked mom once if you were gay...And he said, I’m not gay. In this kind of like scoffing way, like what, I’m not gay, obviously. And I said, Oh. Oh, okay. He was like no, I got it from a woman. You can get it from women too, you know. Oh, okay. Part of me at the time was relieved, honestly. Because I was still so young, I didn’t want to have to deal with the gay dad. At 13, in rural Kentucky….It felt like a relief, but just in that, ugh, we don’t have to have that conversation. But really, we should have that conversation. Because that’s the important one. And we both know that’s really what’s happening here.</em></p> </blockquote> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption">Whitney now, with her mom and brother.</div> <div class="image-credit">(Whitney Joiner)</div> </div> </div> <p><strong>When Her Family Was Afraid to Accept His Sexuality</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>My family was very angry at him for lying about his sexuality. To me it felt like our family was almost glad that he was gone. Like I would bring him up, I just felt like any time I brought him up, there was this eye-rolling on the part of my family. So I felt like I just shouldn’t talk about him. And I would feel ashamed of loving him, you know, even though he’s my father. And why would anybody have to feel ashamed of loving your father?</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>You can read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of the interview, and read Whitney's essay about her father on <a href=""><em>Slate</em></a>.</strong></p>
Oct 08, 2014
The NFL Made Me Rich. I Won't Watch It Now.
<p>It’s difficult, Domonique Foxworth says, to watch guys get knocked unconscious, carted off, then brought back out to play. And he knows something about injuries—a first-team All-ACC cornerback at the University of Maryland, Foxworth’s seven-year NFL career sputtered to a halt after a knee injury during practice.</p> <p>Football itself is hurting right now. <a href="">Concussion-related lawsuits</a> filed by former players against the NFL are still in court. Sexual assault and domestic violence scandals continue to plague both college and professional teams, including Foxworth's former team, the Baltimore Ravens. Questions about the very state of amateurism in college sports, a <a href="">multibillion-dollar industry</a>, linger on the sports talk circuit.</p> <p>As a former president of the NFL Players Association, Foxworth has an intimate understanding of these hot-button topics. But his own stories, going back to high school, offer a fuller picture of what it’s like to be a football player, and what it takes to be a man.</p> <p>He spoke candidly with me about the praise he thrived on as a young player, the sexual dynamics of being a star black athlete at a predominantly white college, and how his priorities have shifted as he’s gone from the NFL to Harvard Business School.</p> <p><strong>INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS</strong></p> <p><strong>What dating was like as a celebrated black athlete at a primarily white university:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I think it probably had a racial component, going to a predominantly white school. Like, these women who wouldn’t necessarily be interested in you as a long term relationship type person, they’re like, this big Mandingo strong black man, let’s experiment with that and see what this is all about....I kind of used it to justify some of the things that I would do. So I wasn’t the best boyfriend at the time....Like, they’re just after me because they want to be close to the football guy, or they think I’m in great shape and they think I’m this stereotypical, oversexed black male. They want to give that a try, but they don’t want to actually take me seriously.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Pro football's not a team sport; it's a business:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>We get paid well because the talents that we have are so rare, but you’re still the labor....The really big difference is guys who are able to maintain the love for the game, and I don’t think I maintained that. I’ve joked with some of my friends, saying that you’re either really strong mentally or really weak mentally to be able to maintain that, because you either don’t see what’s going on around you, or have the strength to put that out of your mind. When I was a high school student, obviously, to do anything I could for my team and the guys—that’s the last time I felt like I was really on a team.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>How he's perceived still matters:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>The best thing about the money is having flexibility, and more than that is, for me at least, it kind of gives you that kind of prestige and relevance that I’m looking for. People knowing that you have that money. Or people knowing that you have had success in the NFL is good. And I think, part of the reason why I want to make more money is because I think that, I don’t like that people think—or I assume that people make assumptions about me—about what i’m able to afford or what I’m able to do is only based on me being an athlete.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Why he stopped watching football: </strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I have a hard time watching injuries. It’s difficult for me to watch guys get knocked unconscious. The strategy and the mental part of football, I still love. It’s a lot more like chess...But the play-by-play guys don’t know what they’re talking about, which is shocking considering there’s so many ex-athletes, and maybe they just simplify it for the sake of the common fan, but I can’t listen to them....I want to see the entire field, so I can really analyze the chess match....I can’t—the angles that they have, what I enjoy about football, I can’t see.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of our interview, and see Foxworth talking about the social capital of the savvy athlete at the Harvard Innovation Lab:</strong></p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm1401505637520321746f073-278f-4b14-b884-04d45cf3b949"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a1275665578009318245" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </p>
Sep 24, 2014
Meet the First Family...of Podcasting
<p>Scott Aukerman and Kulap Vilaysack are the podcasting world’s ultimate power couple, but they couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds.</p> <p>When Scott was a musical theater-loving teenager in Orange County, California, Kulap was washing dishes in the restaurant run by her Laotian immigrant parents, where she'd worked since she was a little kid. Then she went away to college—responsibly running away, she says—and met Scott at a taping of a comedy TV show he wrote for. She was just 18.</p> <p>It took a year for them to start dating, but they’ve (basically) been together ever since. And Kulap’s starting to tell her story through both her podcast, "Who Charted?", and her upcoming documentary, <em>Origin Story</em>. It's harder to get to know Scott. If you’ve ever listened to his "Comedy Bang! Bang!" podcast—or watched the IFC show of the same name—you really just know the character he plays.</p> <p>In this episode, I spoke with them about Kulap’s family secrets, Scott's family roots, and what plans they have for their future family together.</p> <p><strong>INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS</strong></p> <p><strong>How Kulap found out that the man who raised her wasn’t her biological father:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>K: I always, I just preferred my dad, I thought I looked like my dad, I got along better with my dad. And [my parents] got in another horrible fight, I defended him, she looked at me and said, Why are you defending him, he’s not your real dad.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>The trailer for Kulap's documentary <em>Origin Story</em>:</strong></p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm1401505761155846458f41b-8a51-44ed-b045-8656c6ce070b"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-6939278052639736480" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div></p> <p><strong>Couples need their own interests:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>S: Yeah I think when I first met Kulap, she seemed like a really interesting person with different interests, and that’s what I really liked about her. And then slowly she seemed to just kind of assimilate into my life and kind of not want to do much more than whatever I was doing. I think I read when I was younger that the best relationships are ones where the two people have really interesting separate things going on and then when they meet at the end of the day they can talk about them and be excited to see each other. I think we broke up because that wasn’t happening at the time.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Thinking about parenthood:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>K: How do I think about motherhood?  I think about it, naturally, in terms of my own upbringing, and wanting to do better. I think about ... I think about Christmases, that’s what I think about. I think about firsts, and stuff.</em></p> <p><em>S: I think Kulap has always been very worried about how she’ll act with our kids. And trying to make sure that she doesn’t do what her mother did with her. I think Kulap’s gonna be a great mom.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>You can read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of our interview, and hear both the <a href="">Comedy Bang! Bang!</a> and <a href="">Who Charted?</a> podcasts on the Earwolf Podcast Network, and donate to the Indiegogo campaign for Kulap's documentary <a href="">Origin Story</a><em>.</em></strong></p> <p><strong>And speaking of Christmas traditions, here's Zach Galifianakis wearing a santa suit on Scott's IFC show <em>Comedy Bang! Bang!</em>:</strong></p> <p>  </p>
Sep 17, 2014
Cult Comedy Heroes Have Bills to Pay, Too
<p>Chris Gethard is at a personal peak, but in a professional valley. Maybe you’ve seen him in brief turns on The Office or Louie, but he’s best known for his Manhattan public access television show, The Chris Gethard Show. It’s beloved by New York comedy nerds and hapless teens across the Internet, but it just got passed over by Comedy Central − and eleven other networks. Now, he's wondering whether to keep doing the show. But he can’t say it wasn’t worth it. After all, he got a wife out of the whole thing.</p> <p>Hallie Bulleit is the singer for The Chris Gethard Show's house band, The LLC, along with the punk outfit The Unlovables. Until recently, she made her living as a professional dancer, who performed in popular shows like Rent and Stomp. Now that she's in her early 40s, dancing for a living is no longer possible. So she’s also questioning <em>her</em> professional future.</p> <p>They got married this summer, and while it’s an exciting step for both, it brings a whole new set of pressures and challenges. Right before they took off for their wedding, I spoke to them about Chris’ struggles to overcome depression, the awkward start to their relationship (he was on-stage, naked, and she was in the audience), and whether they can continue as middle-aged artists who don't know where the next check’s coming from.</p> <p><strong>INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS</strong></p> <p><strong>They were fans of each other first:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Hallie: The first one that I saw…I mean I was completely hooked. I don’t think I missed many shows after that.</em></p> <p><em>Chris: No. And that used to freak me out because Hallie is the frontwoman and songwriter for this band The Unlovables that I really loved. I had been listening to her music for like five or six years before she started coming to the show, and I thought she was the coolest, prettiest lady.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Hallie's band The Unlovables performing "Today's the Day" on The Chris Gethard Show in 2013:</strong> <div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140150564324464cff6ef9e-ea8d-400a-bf61-74e1463a1b3d"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a6692508562780845423" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div> </p> <p><strong>Chris comparing himself to his father:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I always have in my head that my dad had two kids and owned a house when he was I think 27 years old. And I’m 34, and I’m just getting married now, and I’m like, currently workshopping a joke about how I pooped my pants on a subway platform. Like that’s professionally what I’m up to right now, is trying to really tighten up a joke about pooping my pants in public. </em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Hallie on what happens when your body stops supporting a dance career:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Now I’m at a point where I’m trying to figure out, okay so I did all this—had this brilliant career that I loved so much. And it’s a tough act to follow. It’s—how do I find something that I love as much as I loved what I did. That’s just the nicest thing about being around Chris is just, to use that as a model. You have an idea and you just do it.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Chris on the new kind of money fears that come with planning a family</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I’ve lived this lifestyle that’s all calculated on risks. Which is pretty fun, but I legitimately don’t know how I’ll be making my rent money in November. I don’t know if I’ll have any money coming in. That’s pretty fun when you’re in your 20s, and when all you have to worry about is yourself, and where it’s like, oh well, if I need to sublet my room and find someplace not as nice to crash, that’s pretty fun. But now there are actual consequences: someone I have to come home to and look in the eye, and a small human I’m dragging into it. Who doesn’t have a choice in it, you know? It stresses me out.</em></p> <p><strong>You can read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of the interview. And if The Chris Gethard Show does indeed resume, you can watch new episodes along with all the archived shows at <a href=""></a>. </strong></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>And here's a video of Chris doing the Carlton dance with a box of Ritz crackers in front of the Ritz-Carlton hotel:</strong>  <br><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140150560224672869d6b70-253c-4706-8ba8-60e97a722663"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-4505611131381159802" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div></p>
Sep 10, 2014
Chaz Ebert on Life Without Roger
<p>Don’t call Chaz Ebert a widow. She’s Roger’s wife. Since his death in April of 2013, she says she still feels his presence. She knows it sounds a little crazy, but she says they still communicate in their own way.</p> <p>There was always magic in their relationship. She admits that their partnership was unlikely. He was a white, Catholic film critic and television star who'd been a life-long bachelor. She was a black lawyer and mother with a proud history as a civil rights activist. They first met after an AA meeting, and their connection was instant. Whatever hang-ups about personal history or race she may have had, she knew she loved Roger Ebert.</p> <p>When they married in 1992, she left her law practice to manage his business dealings. After he was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, she also became a full-time caretaker, buoying him through years of treatments, setbacks, and recovery. His lower jaw was removed in 2006, and Roger eventually lost the ability to eat solid food, and to speak. He continued writing and reviewing movies, and when he asked her, Chaz spoke for him. </p> <p>Now, she’s touring the country talking about Roger and the documentary about him, <em>Life Itself</em>. She spoke to me about mourning her husband in public, and the presence he still has in her life today. </p> <p><strong>INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS</strong></p> <p><strong>What happened when Roger lost his ability to speak:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Almost nothing, because Roger and I developed almost a mental telepathy. We were so in tune with each other that we actually could speak to each other without words or without even being in the same room . . . And I know that happens—sometimes when he was in the hospital, I would wake up in the middle of the night, and I would call the hospital and I would say, oh my God, he is so cold. Would you please go in and put the warming blanket on him? And the nurse would come back and go, how do you know? Did he call you? And they would say, he couldn’t call you. He can’t speak. And I said, I don’t know, but he just told me it was cold.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>How she still feels Roger in her life:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>He still talks to me. Yeah, he does....</em><em>It’s very comforting, because he lets me know that he’s okay. He’s more than okay. He is blissful. It is so reassuring, It just makes me smile to know that he is this...I don’t know what he is. I don’t know what form we’re in. But I know that it’s something that’s comforting. And it feels so natural and so normal, and I know that there are a lot of things that we shut down talking about in our society, things that we can’t prove. But now I firmly, firmly believe in an afterlife.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>How sobriety helped their relationship from the beginning:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I tell you, I think it was a gift, because when you are someone who is sober and you’re very grateful for being sober, you realize, that’s a process that increases your compassion for other people. It really helps you to minimize the small talk, and you’re more willing to talk more openly and honestly with someone about the things that are important in life. And so, when Roger and I first met, I think we fell right into a conversation that turned out to be our lifelong conversation with each other.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>You can read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of our interview, and see the documentary <em>Life Itself</em> in select theaters or on demand. Here's a preview:</p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140150564026832436c9450-2ab8-4faf-a24d-8ad8756bce66"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-865542580368904991" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div>  </p>
Aug 27, 2014
A Player Leaves the Game
<p>Jozen Cummings can’t get <em>any</em> woman he wants. But for a while there, the <em><a href="">New York Post</a></em>'s dating reporter was doing pretty well for himself. He used to take out multiple women a day: one for coffee, another for lunch, and another for dinner. He left the rest of the night open for a wild card.</p> <p>But as a kid, he'd watch his single mom stare at the phone, waiting for a man to call. They often didn't. He knew he didn't want to be one of those men. For a long time, he was.</p> <p>Now that he's found the woman he plans to spend the rest of his life with, he knows he can't treat her that way. </p> <p>So there are challenges ahead. For example, all that dating he did wrecked his financial life. He also made some pretty bad decisions — like cheating — that ruined past relationships. Because his father couldn't keep a relationship together, he's had to learn what it means to be a committed partner on his own. </p> <p>Jozen and I talked about how what life was like as a confident ladies' man, what he learned from his father’s death, and what he hopes for after bachelorhood ends.</p> <p><strong>INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS</strong></p> <p><strong>The first girl he liked didn’t like him back:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>You definitely remember the first. Roxanne, this girl in my second grade class. I started off coloring pictures for her at home and leaving them at her desk. I’ll never forget one day, the person sitting next to me tapped me on my shoulder and said turn around, Roxanne is trying to get your attention. And I turned around and she just mouthed the words, 'I don’t like you.' And I was just like, Oh man. I was so upset, and so hurt....And that stayed with me. And you just don’t forget that feeling. And what’s funny is that no matter what age it comes, it feels the same.</em></p> </blockquote> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-caption"><em>Jozen Cummings in middle school.</em></div> </div> <p><strong> </strong><strong>How he learned to be confident:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I worked the deli section of a restaurant, which was right next to the host stand. And we had a bunch of pretty hosts. And all of them were about — if I was 16 they were 18. [One of them said], you know Jozen, the number one thing that you have to have as a man is confidence. It doesn’t matter how you look to anybody, but people can see whether you’re confident. So you have to be confident if you want to get anywhere with girls. And that’s when I just kind of told myself, well, okay, get confident.</em></p> </blockquote> <p> <strong>He doesn’t want to die alone like his father:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>None of [the mothers of his children] showed up to his funeral. What that showed me was that you can love someone, but you can also put them out of your life. And I just thought that, here was my father, a man who was loved, but nobody really wanted to be there.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On dating black women when you're multiracial:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>I feel like for a while, I subscribed to this idea that I was actually being like, doing a noble thing. Like that I liked black women was somehow progressive….I grew out of that. And that’s when I, once I let that go, that’s when I started becoming more open to dating anybody....I used to feel like very much that they were a gateway, or they strengthened my identity.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Why he’s getting his finances in order:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>What I see with Gina is somebody who will love me, and ride for me, like be by my side. But I don’t want her to have to take responsibility for decisions that I made before she came into my life. And my finances are a reflection of that. And I’m really trying to get myself into a better place, because I want to take care of her.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>You can read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of our interview, and visit Jozen's blog, <a href="">Until I Get Married</a>, for regular updates on his love life.</strong></p>
Aug 13, 2014
I Love You, But There's This Money Thing...
<p>We like to think of our romantic lives as pure and unbothered by the cold business of spreadsheets and tax documents. But here's the thing: serious relationships are both romantic and financial partnerships. That can come as a shock to a lot of people. I asked for your stories about love and money. Tiffany sent in this plea:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Anna,</em></p> <p><em>Can we talk about prenups? My fiancé and I just broke things off because we couldn't agree to the terms that each of us wanted...I'm completely devastated and I'm getting mixed messages from people. Some are for and some are against but everyone seems to feel very strongly for one side or the other.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Tiffany’s 28, and she’s disappointed by what killed her otherwise great romance: an irreconcilable disagreement about money. </p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-caption"><em>Tiffany is dating in Washington, D.C. after breaking up with her fiancé over a prenup dispute.</em></div> </div> <p>Her problems aren't unique, though. Relationships demand regular financial negotiation: prenups, joint checking accounts, retirement plans. What if one partner wants to buy a luxury car and the other finds that totally embarrassing? Is it worth getting remarried later in life when pricey hospital bills are looming? These are big questions that might not seem romantic, but talking about them is essential for a healthy relationship.</p> <p><em>Got a money or relationship question that's causing stress at home? Let us know in the comments below − or share a tip that might help us all.</em></p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-caption"><em>Eric and Martha are teaching their 4-year-old daughter about money while figuring things out themselves.</em></div> </div> <p>Consider Eric Burton and Martha Mills. They opened a joint checking account, and had a perfect system in which each of them deposited a percentage of their income. Until the kid came along. Here’s what Eric wrote us:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>After our daughter was born 4 years ago, we chose for Martha to stay at home (since I made more money).  We both do a little bit of side work, but I still earn most of the income. Now all of our money goes into joint and we each just tend to use spending money via our credit cards and figure it all out down the line. The stay-at-home mom/not-working-but-always working dynamic kind of [adds to] the difficulties of our new fiscal reality. </em></p> </blockquote> <p>When you have a system around money that’s been working for so long, how do you deal with change?</p> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-caption"><em>Lola, a personal assistant and actress, is paying all her own bills now. </em></div> </div> <p>Ask Lola Davidson. Several years ago, she fell in love with a very wealthy man, and he paid for everything. That included the BMW, the handbags, the jewelry, and the condo on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>I remember the day we went to the open house of that condo and the realtor, a sharply dressed woman, asked what we both did for a living and I said some obnoxious thing like, "just living the dream," and she replied, "and that's how it should be, the man makes the money and we spend it." Today I'd be so offended if someone said that to me, but that day, at that time in my life, it sounded more like approval.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Then, Lola and her boyfriend broke up. She had no income and had to face her financial problems head-on. That’s what this episode is all about — the ways money complicates our relationships, what we learn, and what questions still linger.</p> <p>And we got a <em>lot</em> of calls from listeners dealing with money in their relationships. Here are a few more.</p> <p><strong>Erin's inheritance makes her feel guilty that she can't fully support her family:</strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" src=";containerClass=wnyc" width="474"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Rob and his husband have separate checking accounts and very different spending habits:</strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" src=";containerClass=wnyc" width="474"></iframe></p> <p><strong>This listener dated a 32-year-old man who was totally happy to let his mother support him, and she couldn't stick it out:</strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" src=";containerClass=wnyc" width="474"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Jeremy's in his 40s, and has no idea what his parents actually made to afford the life they gave him:</strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" src=";containerClass=wnyc" width="474"></iframe></p> <p> </p>
Jul 30, 2014
Dan Savage Says Cheating Happens. And That's OK.
<p><span>Occasional infidelity adds excitement to Dan Savage's </span><span>marriage</span><span>. He's not afraid of talking about that, he told me. </span><span>What he doesn’t like discussing is money. Namely, how his husband Terry likes spending it: on shoes, clothes, and records he may never listen to. It’s what they fight about most.</span></p> <p>Dan and Terry have been together for nearly twenty years. They married in 2005 in Canada. Dan told me that if you’re in a committed relationship, you should consider this: cheating happens. <a href="" target="_blank">Studies differ on the rate of cheating</a>, but after writing a sex advice column for decades, he wants us to confront the fact that infidelity touches more monogamous relationships than we like to admit. And sometimes, he says, being with other people is what keeps couples together. It's worked for his marriage.</p> <p>So that’s part of what he and I talk about in this episode, plus building honest boundaries with your partner, fighting about money, being a gay activist with a conservative father, and missing his mother.</p> <p><strong>INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS</strong></p> <p><strong>Keeping sex fun after 40:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>One of the things that’s kept our sexual connection really intense has been the non-monogamy. We have these adventures together. People have come into our lives as lovers and enriched and enhanced our lives. Taken us into new worlds. And exposed us to new communities. New groups of people, new groups of friends. And that’s been very rewarding, and very rich.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Experiencing the AIDS epidemic as a teenager:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Something that makes straight people sometimes uncomfortable when you talk about gay life, particularly then, is that I came out at 15, 16, 17 years old. And most of my gay friends were older. My first boyfriends were older. Because my peers weren’t out. I didn’t have 15, 16, 17-year-old gay people, lesbians, bi and trans folks to hang out with. Because nobody was out except for me. So I lost people — mentors. I lost first boyfriends.</em></p> </blockquote> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt="gay pride parade 2011 New York City"> <div class="image-caption"><em>Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller at the 2011 NYC Gay Pride Parade. (Amy Pearl)</em></div> </div> <p><strong>How the Supreme Court gave Dan and Terry financial security:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>One of the things that was so wonderful about the DOMA decision from the Supreme Court was the Sword of Damocles that had been hanging over our heads — it disappeared in an instant. Because I’ve been the sole bread-winner and Terry’s been a stay-at-home parent. If I had died, if somebody killed me, Terry wouldn’t get my Social Security survivor benefits because he has the wrong genitals. He couldn’t inherit my property or keep our house without paying onerous, crushing taxes. So, in addition to losing me, he would’ve been pauperized, and he and D.J. would’ve both been turned out of the house.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>The challenge of relating to his father:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>We’re in a much better place than we were 20 years ago. We have a difficult relationship, or a relationship complicated by politics. He’s one of those guys, 70-year-old guys who sits in front of his television set in Arizona in retirement watching Fox News. But he’s a good guy, and a fun guy, and I enjoy talking to him when we talk. We’re not the closest, but that’s life, I guess. I don’t even know how to talk about it. I don’t want to disrespect my dad. But we never really clicked.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Here’s a <a href="">full transcript</a> of the interview.</strong></p> <p><strong>Dan Savage talked about the death of his mother onstage at This American Life in 2009</strong>:</p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140150562297248abad5f31-6956-4c2c-a6ca-9b5e7f9d6b37"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-5006466096713902110" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div> </p> <p> </p>
Jul 16, 2014
Alpha Dad Gets Snipped
<p>In a lot of ways, vasectomies couldn’t have asked for a better spokesman than Australian Clint Greagen: weightlifter, Australian football fanatic, loving husband, and stay-at-home father of four who <a href="">blogs</a> about pretty much everything -- including the time he got his vas deferens cut by a man named Dr. Snip.</p> <p>Here in the U.S., the pill is the most commonly used form of birth control. Second is female sterilization -- procedures like women getting their tubes tied -- which is a more common form of contraception than condoms. But urologists say that vasectomies are simpler, safer, faster, and less expensive.</p> <p>Why don't men get vasectomies more often? The answer may have to do with our assumptions -- and our insecurities -- about gender roles. This is something Clint had to deal with long before going under the knife. He left the workforce about six years ago to raise his children, and that switch took some adjustment.</p> <p>But all this change has paid off. When I spoke with him recently, he talked about getting used to the stay-at-home dad life, rethinking masculinity, and experiencing the sexual freedom that comes after two easy snips.</p> <p><strong>INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS</strong></p> <p><strong>Committing to the vasectomy was a little scary:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>The two biggest things I was worried about [were] all the inspections that had to go on with my genitals in front of other people, and the second thing was actually having my genitals pierced by sharp objects.... It was probably about two years after we first brought it up before I actually got into gear and got the job done.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>A new sexual life with his wife Tania:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>She can just throw me onto a bench anytime she wants now and not have to worry about it. It’s good fun. If you take concern out of it, you can just go and do whatever role play you want right to the very end....Freedom.</em></p> </blockquote> <div class="embedded-image"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="" alt=""> <div class="image-caption"><em>Clint Greagen and his wife Tania (photo: Clint Greagen)</em></div> </div> <p> <strong>Coming to terms with being a stay-at-home dad:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Being a man who was moving out of the workforce to become a fulltime [care-giver] in what has traditionally been a female role, I did start to notice things around me that sort of suggested I was doing the wrong thing. Little tongue-in-cheek jokes that people say, but that has that kernel of truth to it, or their kernel of truth to it.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>You can read a <a href="">full transcript</a> of our interview.</strong></p> <p><strong><span>And Clint Greagan blogs at <a href=""></a>. His first book, also called <a href=";qid=1403887676&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=reservoir+dad">Reservoir Dad</a>, was released in Australia in June 2014.</span></strong></p> <p><strong>Here's a Safe For Work (sort of) video of Dr. Snip performing the vasectomy:</strong></p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140150560020016151930bf-beb6-42e9-bd29-465252ce95e4"><iframe width="620" height="349" src=";autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a7765748514033831068" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url=""></iframe></div></div></p>
Jul 02, 2014