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Death, Sex & Money

Death, Sex & Money

By WNYC Studios

Death, Sex & Money is a podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation. Host Anna Sale talks to celebrities you've heard of—and to regular people you haven't—about the Big Stuff: relationships, money, family, work and making it all count while we're here. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, On the Media, The Experiment, The New Yorker Radio Hour and many others.


Ellen Burstyn at 90 Today

Last week we heard one of Anna's most treasured episodes: her 2014 interview with actor Ellen Burstyn. Now, a brand new conversation. At 90, Ellen is busy with a new dog, sharing life with family and friends, and curating a book of her favorite poetry. “I hate to sound like I'm bragging,” she told Anna, “but I'm still working. I'm in good shape. I'm having a very good time.” You can listen to the original interview here.
27/09/23·20m 23s

Revisiting Ellen Burstyn at 81

This week we’re sharing one of Anna’s favorite episodes. It’s from 2014, when actor Ellen Burstyn invited us into her New York apartment for a sprawling interview. She told Anna 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 Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The role was based in part on her own life, and it won her an Oscar. "I really think of myself as a work in progress," Ellen Burstyn, then 81 years old, told Anna as they sat in wicker furniture in her Manhattan bedroom, "But I don’t feel I’m necessarily a successful person." In next week’s episode, you’ll hear a new conversation between Anna and Ellen, recorded just a few weeks ago. But until then, you can also listen back to Ellen’s conversation with journalist and feminist icon Gloria Steinem on our show from 2016 here.
20/09/23·55m 6s

I Did Surrogacy For Money And Now I’m Starting Over

When Sarah Short was pregnant with her first child, her health insurance didn’t cover it. She was 19, and by the time she found that out, it was also too late to apply for Medicaid. Her hospital bill for her daughter’s birth was around $10,000 — a figure that felt insurmountable. At first, the envelopes were something she tried to ignore. “I just threw them away,” she told Anna. “And then they turned red. And they kept showing up.” Sarah was newly married at the time, and was afraid of how the rising debt would affect her family’s future. So she looked for ways to pay it off. And when she chose to become a surrogate, the impact of that decision transformed her relationship with her body, money, debt, and her confidence.  Anna and Sarah first spoke in a 2017 episode, and in this update, Sarah tells Anna about getting divorced and starting over in her 30s, launching her own business, and why this chapter of her life feels “freeing.”
13/09/23·32m 45s

A Headline Stays Static Even As A Life Transforms

Lawrence Bartley is a journalist devoted to getting news stories about criminal justice inside prisons and jails, something he wished he had access to when he was incarcerated. “I could have used some of that language to move the court to get my sentence reduced. I could have just been abreast of what's going on in other prisons and jails.” Anna first interviewed Lawrence in 2014 when he was still in prison, and two more times after his release. Today, they talk about their years-long relationship, how the media (including our show) can be insensitive when covering incarcerated people, and how Lawrence’s life experience influences his work and his parenting style. 
06/09/23·31m 32s

Why Ezra Klein Thinks “We're Living Through A Mistake”

The New York Times journalist Ezra Klein thinks a lot about the impacts of policy and systems on our personal lives. On his podcast, The Ezra Klein Show, he recently mentioned how American society insufficiently supports families of young kids, and wondered why living in community is so hard, and the isolation that it can breed as a result. Ezra’s thinking about all of these issues in his own life as well: he’s married to fellow journalist Annie Lowrey, and they have two young kids. The family moved to California before the pandemic, and after a health crisis they struggled to find the support they needed for their family. They eventually decide to move back to the East Coast, and as they settle into their lives in New York, Ezra’s thinking a lot about the tradeoffs of two-parent households. “I don't believe people are meant to do this. You know, two parents plus kids, it's too few people,” he said. Ezra and Anna talk about the beloved communal spaces of his 20s and 30s, the tension between autonomy and community, and why he believes our emphasis on two-parent families is “a cultural mistake.”   Want more from Ezra on the topics in today’s episode? We recommend the following: This episode of The Ezra Klein Show with scholar Kristen Ghodsee on communes and intentional communities, a conversation with The Atlantic’s Jerusalem Demsas about homelessness and the origins of our current housing crisis, an interview with writer Sheila Liming on loneliness in America, and two interviews he’s done with child psychologist Alison Gopnik. Finally, you can read Annie Lowrey’s piece about her experiences with pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting here.
30/08/23·39m 1s

A Trans Elder’s ‘Final Act’: Musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland

Beverly Glenn-Copeland was in his 20s when he left a classical singing career to create experimental music. And at the time, making that change didn’t feel scary. “I felt totally free,” he told Anna. “I wasn't afraid of it. It was just like, this is what it is. I'm free to explore this.” But it took decades for that gamble to pay off, and 2020 was supposed to be Glenn’s breakthrough year. At 76 years old, he was going to go on an international tour, and move into a new home with his wife, Elizabeth. But then the pandemic hit, his tour was canceled and he lost his housing. When Anna and Glenn first spoke in 2020, he talked about his complex relationship with his parents growing, quietly releasing his music for years, and how his newer fans supported him during the precarity of the early months of the pandemic. This year, Glenn’s releasing a new album, and he’s finally going on tour. And even with the success he’s found, there are still moments of uncertainty. Glenn and Elizabeth told Anna about what’s changed—and what hasn’t.   Listen to the music in this episode from Glenn’s album, "Transmissions," here, and you can stream his new album, “The Ones Ahead,” here.
23/08/23·31m 1s

Secrets, Turn-Ons, and Fantasies: Your Stories About Porn

In 2016, a listener we’re calling James sent us a voice memo. He described himself as a recovering porn addict, and was struggling to stay away from it while his wife was away. So we wanted to know more about your relationships with porn, and over 100 of you shared how you first learned about it, your likes and dislikes, and why some of you stopped using it completely. Some of you are fairly open about how you use porn. Jennifer* likes to ask dates about their porn tastes. “You can have a better sex life when all the cards are out on the table,” she said to Anna. Michael* has watched it since he was a teenager, and found it a helpful way to learn more about his sexuality. “Why is it not accepted to be attracted to beautiful images?” he asked. But some of you have had to cut porn out entirely. Daniel* hasn’t watched porn in years, and after seeing how it negatively affected his relationship and mental health, he won’t go back. “It gives me a really intense feeling,” he told Anna. “But it’s also usually followed by a lot of shame too.” We’re revisiting our most popular episode: featuring your stories about porn.   *Names changed for privacy reasons.
09/08/23·27m 28s

Bells and Bills: The Price You Paid For Your Wedding

“I assumed we would have the most incredible celebration of our dreams,” a listener we’re calling Maya told Anna. Maya’s mother died in 2020 and unexpectedly left Maya $50,000 for a wedding celebration. It was a lot to think about a big party while also grieving a parent, and soon Maya learned that the money she thought would easily cover everything was coming up short. “I had no idea how much a wedding cost, and I was wrong. I was terribly wrong.”  In this episode we asked listeners if they were currently planning a wedding, and if money had become a sticking point. We heard from couples with vastly different ideas of what they wanted to spend, about opinionated parents and in-laws, tips from people who managed to spend less, and one Icelandic wedding planner’s mission to give the gift of a free wedding to a lucky, deserving couple.  Want to learn more about Pink Iceland’s Queer Wedding Giveaway? Visit their webpage here. 
02/08/23·41m 15s

The Crude Reality of Debt from This is Uncomfortable

This week we’re sharing an episode from This is Uncomfortable from Marketplace, a podcast about life and how money messes with it (you know that’s our bag) hosted by Reema Khrais.  To give you a taste of the show, we’re playing an episode from their latest season, featuring Canadian comics artist Kate Beaton. When Kate graduated college, she had exactly one goal: get rid of her student debt as fast as possible. The goal took priority over everything else in her life, including the dream of trying to make it as an artist. But when she decided to take a job in the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, she didn’t know she would be entering a workplace that was a world of its own, where the ordinary rules of society would not always apply. You can find a more detailed episode description here. This episode was produced by Camila Kerwin.
19/07/23·42m 43s

Why Writer Brandon Taylor Likes Being “A Little Bit Lonely”

When writer Brandon Taylor was growing up in Alabama in the early 2000s, he didn’t quite fit in with the rest of his family or his classmates at school. And these days, he still prefers his own company. “I never feel more myself than when I am by myself feeling just like a little lonely,” he told Anna. “That is like my optimal state of being.” But Brandon found community online in chat rooms, roleplaying communities, and on message boards for the books and TV shows he loved as a teenager, like the anime show Dragon Ball Z, Pokémon, or the Harry Potter series. And as an adult, the Real Life and The Late Americans author is figuring out how to share his excitement of literature and popular culture on and offline, which doesn’t always resonate with people in real life. In this episode, Brandon tells Anna about managing money on his own, what he likes about being single, and his evolving relationship with the Internet.
12/07/23·28m 11s

I Still Love My Dad, But I Don't Love Guns

In 2021, a listener we’re calling Jack wrote to us about a conversation he wanted to have with his dad about guns. Jack grew up in West Virginia, in a family that loved to hunt and shoot. His dad has a large collection of firearms—and, for years, he loved to talk about them with his son. But overtime, Jack’s views on guns shifted, and he didn’t want to be around them anymore. But telling that to his dad felt heavy. "I know he'll hear that as rejection because that's what it is, it's a rejection,” Jack told Anna at the time. Almost two years later, Anna called Jack back for an update on how his relationship with his dad has shifted since, and why his desired conversation now feels “cringey.”
05/07/23·40m 13s

Can You Help Your Kid’s Anxiety By Changing Your Behavior?

Alexis’s 8 year old son didn’t like to be out of sight from his mother for even for five minutes. “I would always be like, okay, I'm going right upstairs, I'm just switching the load of laundry – I'll be right back! He knew where I was every minute of the day.” Then, with the help of a therapist, Alexis and her husband wrote their son a letter, explaining to him that they would no longer allow him to accompany them to the bathroom. It didn’t go great. “He was visibly upset and crying and he shredded it immediately."  But things did start to change as Alexis and her husband continued to implement a therapy program designed to help parents change how they respond to their children’s distress.  Anna also talks to the founder of that program, Dr. Eli Lebowitz, director of the Program for Anxiety Disorders at the Yale Child Study Center, and author of Breaking Free of Child Anxiety and OCD: A Scientifically Proven Program for Parents. In therapy, parents are asked to think about the accommodations they do for their children, and to slowly eliminate them. “If you're a kid and what you're growing up learning about yourself through your parents is, I can't handle anxiety, well, you're gonna have a lot of anxiety in your life.” 
28/06/23·32m 45s

‘It Just Denies Reality’: Abortion Access and the Law After Dobbs

In the summer of 2022, Anna spoke with Laurie Bertram Roberts, co-founder of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund in the weeks after the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, ending almost 50 years of the Constitutional right to abortion in the United States. Laurie has spent much of their adult life in Mississippi working around abortion access, and has been clear-eyed – and frustrated – about the policy failures that led to this moment. Almost a year later, Anna called Laurie back to hear how their work has continued to shift, what they’re hearing from callers, and the policy changes they see on the horizon. This episode also features an excerpt from our WNYC Studios colleagues at More Perfect, about two legal scholars’ attempt to rewrite abortion law in the wake of Dobbs.   You can hear Anna’s original conversation with Laurie here, and subscribe to More Perfect here.
14/06/23·34m 48s

Ocean Vuong on Telling Lies, Building Family and Loving the Knicks

Ocean Vuong is one of the most beloved and acclaimed contemporary writers – his 2016 award-winning first poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, was published before he finished his MFA. But his sudden success has come with some pitfalls, and has illuminated some practical skills he hasn’t learned. “In some ways, I feel kind of like a child actor,” he said to Anna. Ocean’s partner and his younger half brother drive him places and accompany him on trips. “I tell my family, if it wasn't for you guys, if it was just me, I would be in a studio with just a single mattress surrounded by books stacked from the floor up,” he said. But sharing the benefits of his professional accomplishments is a big part of how Ocean lives with his family and shows up for his friends. He talks about falling in love with poetry – and his partner – in his 20s in New York, what he loves about living in the country, and his surprising love of the New York Knicks.
07/06/23·37m 24s

Hold On: Should I Tell My Boss I’m Depressed?

We like to imagine that there’s a clear distinction between our work-selves and our non-work-selves. But the stressors that impact our mental health don’t really make that distinction. So, when our work is suffering because of our mental health, and our mental health is suffering because of work, who’s responsible for addressing that? In this final episode of Hold On, a national call-in show about our mental health, Anna talks to organizational psychologist Melissa Doman, author of Yes, You Can Talk About Mental Health at Work...Here's Why (And How To Do It Really Well), about how and when to address mental health issues in the workplace, and listeners call in with questions and stories.   
27/05/23·48m 11s

Hold On: When Shame Keeps You From Therapy

Women are twice as likely to see a therapist than men, and, overall, white people are more likely to seek and find mental health treatment than other groups. In this episode of Hold On, our live national call-in series about mental health, we asked listeners to call in if the idea of getting therapy was something they felt excluded from, either because of how they were raised, what they looked like, or expectations around masculinity and what it means to be strong. Psychotherapist Dr. Avi Klein and Danielle Muñoz, director of Basic Needs at California State University, Long Beach, talked about their experiences helping people who were reluctant or nervous to get started.
24/05/23·46m 1s

Hold On: Let’s Talk About Psych Meds

According to a 2021 study, 1 in 5 American adults are taking medication to treat their mental health, that’s more than the number of people in any sort of talk therapy or counseling, which is about 1 in 10. In this episode of Hold On, a live national call-in about our mental health, Anna talked to sociologist Daniel Tadmon, and psychiatrist Dr. Kali Cyrus, about how the field of psychiatry is changing. Plus listeners call in about the drugs they’re on, the ones they’re trying to get off, and the prescription process.  Plus, listeners call in about the drugs they’re on, the ones they’re trying to get off, and the prescription process.
20/05/23·43m 53s

Hold On: My Diagnosis, My Self

Getting a mental health diagnosis is a powerful thing. It can make you feel less alone, but it can also impact or alter your sense of identity. In this episode of Hold On, a live national call-in about our mental health, Anna talks to Dr. Craig Rodriguez-Seijas, Assistant Professor of Psychology in Clinical Science at the University of Michigan, about his work studying bias in mental health diagnostics, particularly among LGBTQ+ individuals, and takes listener calls about how a diagnosis has shaped their sense of identity, for better or worse. Plus, Aneri Pattani, Senior Correspondent at Kaiser Health News, explains what investments the Biden administration is making toward mental health, and how soon we might see progress.
17/05/23·47m 1s

Hold On: How to Support our Teens' Mental Health

It's always hard to be a teenager. “There’s been plenty of times where it feels like my anxiety is happening above average,” a teen named Maisie in New Jersey shared. Anxiety, depression, and feelings of low self-esteem are common at that age, but what happens when a teen’s mood stays consistently low? And what should we do as parents and loved ones when the rates at which teens are reporting these feelings are higher than ever? Dr. Lisa Damour, author of the New York Times best-selling book, The Emotional Lives of Teenagers, joins Anna along with parents, teens, and young adults to talk about the mental health crisis facing teenagers, what parents and loved ones should look out for, and how to talk to teens about what’s on their minds.
13/05/23·45m 4s

Hold On: How Therapists See the Mental Health Crisis

One in five adults in the U.S. have sought out mental health care in the last year, and two in five report struggling with anxiety and depression. Many of us are struggling and overwhelmed, and don’t know how to get the support we need, or where to start looking for it. And mental health care providers are feeling it too. “I’ve been calling it a fever pitch,” Dr. Kali Cyrus, practicing community psychiatrist and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told Anna. We recently asked those of you that are mental health professionals to tell us what you’re hearing right now, and the extra work you’re doing. Listeners called in and joined Anna and Dr. Cyrus to share what current clients are worried about, the kinds of support newer clients need, and what they’re telling their clients right now. “Truthfully, I cannot do my job if my patients are hungry, if my patients are cold, if they do not have access to utilities,” a psychiatrist named Maria shared. And for those who are searching for care, there are also tips for finding a therapist.   You can find resources for finding a therapist, navigating a mental health crisis, and more here.  
10/05/23·50m 37s

Leaving the Extreme Right, and a Marriage, Behind

Tasha Adams followed the trial of her estranged husband closely. In November 2022, Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right group the Oath Keepers, was charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “I just was pretty obsessed with the whole thing,” Tasha said about the trial, “the idea of seeing Stewart face consequences is so huge for me.” In this episode, Anna and Micah Loewinger, correspondent for On the Media, travel to Montana to talk to Tasha about her decades-long marriage with Stewart, from their courtship in a ballroom dance class in Las Vegas, to abuse and isolation as Stewart became transfixed on politics and apocalyptic ideas.  Plus, Tasha sits down with Kelly Jones, ex-wife of far-right radio host Alex Jones, and they compare notes on their marriages, and reflect on their secret text exchanges from 2018, when Tasha was plotting her escape from Stewart with her six kids. Subscribe to On the Media to hear Micah's episode about testifying in the Stewart Rhodes criminal trial. That's out later this month.  And for more, check out the podcast This is Uncomfortable from Marketplace. They did a series with Tasha Adams, and her oldest child Dakota, that dropped last fall.   
03/05/23·50m 47s

The Voice of NYC's Subways Comes Out as Trans

If you’ve ever waited on a subway platform in New York City, you probably recognize Bernie Wagenblast’s voice — you know, the one that tells you when the next train will arrive. Bernie’s voice has been her calling card since she began working in broadcasting in her early 20s. But after coming out as a trans woman late last year, she’s been thinking a lot more about how and when she uses it. “I don't think there was one waking hour of my life from six years on that I didn't think about being a girl,” Bernie told Anna. “It was something that was always there.” This week, Bernie reflects on her career, the people who supported and affirmed her gender over the years, and what her life has looked like since coming out.
26/04/23·37m 29s

John Green on OCD, Writing, and Loving Middle-Age

*This episode originally aired in 2018, and contains a description of  suicidal ideation. If you find yourself in a moment of crisis like John did and need to talk with someone, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 988. They're open 24/7—please ask for help. Writer John Green is a master at connecting with young people. His YA novels and the popular YouTube channel he runs with his younger brother, Hank, have created massive communities of teenage fans all over the world. But when he was growing up, John himself often felt isolated from his peers. Anxiety and obsessive thoughts plagued him, starting when he was a kid, and in his 20s, he was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder.  When John talked to Anna back in 2018, he told her about how he suffered a period of severe mental health crisis in his 20s, and then again in his adulthood after publishing his best-selling novel, The Fault in Our Stars. "It felt like there was a lot of attention on that story and, by proxy, on me," he told Anna. "And I had always wanted that, I always sought that out, but when it happened it was overwhelming at first." This week, John talks about getting healthy again after that period, and why he's learned that so many things about adulthood—including having comfortable shoes—are really great.   John talked to us again back in 2021 about how he was managing his OCD in the first months of the coronavirus epidemic. John and his brother Hank also host three of their own podcasts, which were part of the WNYC Studios family from 2018-2020. Listen to Dear Hank and John, The Anthropocene Reviewed, and SciShow Tangents wherever you get your podcasts.
12/04/23·27m 37s

The Movies That Taught Us What Sex Could Be

The movies that we watch as we’re coming of age leave a mark, especially when it comes to sex. Some movies shape our fantasies, and others show us what’s possible. For example, Bull Durham was where our executive producer, Liliana Maria, learned that “sex could be something that a woman not only wanted but initiated.” In this week's episode, hosted by Liliana Maria, we share your stories about the movies that awakened you sexually – the scenes from movies like Purple Rain, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Dirty Dancing that you couldn’t help but replay over and over again – and the ones that have gotten more complicated over time.
05/04/23·27m 16s

Alice Wong On Medicaid, Rage, and “Good Care”

Growing up near Indianapolis in the '80s and '90s, Alice Wong was eager to leave. "I knew life was going to be so much better once I got into college," she said. Alice was raised in an immigrant household, and while there was a local Chinese-American community, she rarely saw people who looked like her in the mostly white community of disabled people she was also a part of. Back in 2020, Alice and Anna talked about how she learned to advocate for herself as a young adult, finding a community that felt like home, and managing finances on Medicaid. Since then, Alice has published a new memoir, Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life, and then, last summer, faced a medical emergency that left her without the ability to speak or eat. She recorded an update for us using a text-to-speech app.   You can read more of Alice’s recent essays in Teen Vogue, for CNN, and on the Disability Visibility Project’s website.  
29/03/23·44m 59s

Kate Bowler on Shame, Productivity, and Living with Chronic Pain

Kate Bowler has always worked extremely hard. As the daughter of two academics growing up in Canada, she preferred books to sports, and liked talking and thinking about the nuances of her faith. “I never really thought about my body very much in time and space,” Kate told Anna. But while starting her career as an academic, Kate’s relationship with her body changed. She was diagnosed with a joint laxity disorder in her 20s. And at 35, not long after having her son, Kate was diagnosed with stage IV cancer, changing her relationship to productivity and rest once again, which she also chronicled in her New York Times best selling memoir, Everything Happens For A Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved). Kate tells Anna about the shame of not living up to her own expectations, learning to let go, and what brings her joy.
22/03/23·38m 57s

How to Face Your Fears With Steve-O, Laurel Braitman, and Rev. angel

We asked you to tell us about the fears in your life that are holding you back. In this episode, we share your stories and questions with Steve-O, Laurel Braitman, and Rev. angel Kyodo williams. Each of them, in one way or another, had fear and bravery inform their work and their lives. They offer advice and insights on what’s worked for them, and what they’ve learned from navigating fear.  Laurel Braitman is a writer, teacher and secular, clinical chaplain-in-training, who also has a PhD in the history and anthropology of science. She is the author of the NYT bestselling book Animal Madness: Inside Their Minds and the new memoir What Looks Like Bravery: An Epic Journey Through Loss to Love. Reverend angel Kyodo williams is a Zen priest, activist, and teacher. She’s the author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace and Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation. Steve-O is best known for his extreme stunts on MTV’s Jackass. He’s also a stand-up comedian, and an author most recently of A Hard Kick in the Nuts: What I’ve Learned from a Lifetime of Terrible Decisions. 
15/03/23·53m 34s

A Trans Parent’s Adoption Journey

Liam Lowery and Marisa Carroll met in college, just as Liam began transitioning. Liam had been crushing on Marisa 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. Liam and Marisa got married in 2014, and right after that, we released an episode about their love story. Late last year, Anna got an email from Liam with an elated update that they are now parents. They worked with an agency to adopt their son Jude when he was a baby. Anna talks with them about this next chapter in their family’s story, and how they weighed sharing that Liam was trans in their story to introduce themselves to prospective birth parents, knowing that being totally honest could mean risking their chance of being picked.   Update: We changed the title of this episode after publishing to be more accurate. It was initially called "Adopting As A Trans Couple."
08/03/23·38m 48s

My Sex Life Became A Screenshot. Then I Lost My Job.

Erick Adame was a TV weatherman for over 15 years. Then in September 2022, he was fired after his employer received photos from an anonymous sender of Erick performing sex acts on a webcam. Erick had been camming for many years, doing it for pleasure, not for money, and even though strangers were watching him, Erick thought of camming as part of his private sex life. In this episode, Anna and Erick talk about what led up to his firing, the lasting effects of shame, and how privacy changes when you're in the public eye. “I don't apologize for being sex positive," he said, "but basically what it comes to is, as a news person, I live under different rules. I don't think that's fair, but I think that we do.”
01/03/23·42m 40s

Introducing La Brega Season 2, the Puerto Rican Experience in Eight Songs

Today, in a short teaser episode, Anna talks to Alana Casanova-Burgess, who is the co-creator and host of La Brega, a dual-language podcast from WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios. Alana and her team of Puerto Rican journalists, producers, musicians and artists at La Brega have just released their second season, which tells the story of the Puerto Rican experience through eight different songs. You can find the newest episodes of La Brega in both English and Spanish here.
27/02/23·4m 52s

How to Say Goodbye to Your Pets

Early this year, our host Anna had to euthanize her 13 year old Australian Shepherd, Jack. He’d been a part of many major milestones in her life, from meeting her husband, to having her kids, and more. But while the grief of losing a pet can be just as profound as losing human friends and loved ones, it can also feel like something you can’t share. So we asked you to share your stories of the pets you’ve loved and lost, and what grieving them has taught you about loss.   Some of you also shared some resources for dealing with the loss of a pet. Here are a few of those suggestions: Sara recommended a TEDx talk by veterinarian Dr. Sarah Hoggan on the lingering impact of pet euthanasia. Looking for books to read? Margaret recommended “Good Grief” by E.B. Bartels, Flora shared “Lifetimes” by Bryan Mellonie, Sophia offered Mary Oliver’s book of poems “Dog Songs,” and for more poetry, Jeni suggested Lynne Schimdt’s “Dead Dog Poems”. A listener named David told us about the Jimmy Stewart interview on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson where Jimmy reads a tearjerker of a poem about his late dog, Beau. Watch it here. Aileen shared an episode of Encyclopodia podcast where Dr. Allison Bergin discussed end-of-life care for pets. A listener named Ali told us about Dr. Amanda Stronza (@amandastronza on Instagram), an anthropologist and conservationist who writes about her experiences with pet loss online And finally, another listener shared a CBS Sunday Morning story about Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Learn more about it here.
22/02/23·29m 55s

Your One Night Stand Stories, Revisited

*This episode originally ran in 2021. We just got through Valentine’s Day, our annual celebration of romance. Usually of the long-term sort...or if not long, at least, the sort where you’ve committed to be someone’s sweetheart.  This week, we want to celebrate another important kind of romance: the very short term. The one night stand. Those moments in your life when someone appeared in a flash, you connected, and then, you went your separate ways.  It may seem like these moments are destined to be forgettable, but the memories are powerful, as you told us when we asked you for your stories about one night stands.
15/02/23·21m 39s

Gabrielle Union Completes Herself

*This episode originally ran in 2017. When actor Gabrielle Union talked with Anna in front of a live audience back in 2017, she was about to turn 45 and had just released her first book of essays, We’re Going to Need More Wine. Since then, she’s turned 50, and she's written a second book, You Got Anything Stronger?, in addition to starring in the third season of “Truth Be Told” on Apple TV, and in a critically-acclaimed supporting role in the A24 movie, The Inspection.  In their conversation, Gabrielle Union talks openly about her relationship with herself and her body, and how she’s worked on healing both after the traumas of her sexual assault as a 19-year-old and her fertility struggles within her marriage to Dwayne Wade. “I've never felt more whole and healed and connected and present and beautiful and powerful,” Gabrielle Union says.
08/02/23·35m 22s

Margo Price After Cheating and Drinking

When country musician Margo Price was two years old, her family lost the farm they had owned for generations. That big upheaval left her family with a deep sense of loss and shame—feelings that they largely swept under the rug. Margo, on the other hand, is forthright about the hardest moments of her life, writing candidly in both her song lyrics and in her new memoir Maybe We’ll Make It. Anna talks with Margo about the agony of losing a child days after their birth, rebuilding trust after her infidelity, and how quitting alcohol has been one of the hardest tests of her nearly 20 year relationship. 
01/02/23·33m 55s

Your Estrangement Calls Answered Live

This week, we bring our estrangement series to an end with a live call-in show co-hosted by Anna Sale and WNYC’s Kai Wright, host of the Notes from America podcast. Kai and Anna heard from listeners all around the country about how stark disagreements — particularly around politics and key values — led to estrangement with families, long-time friends and also long-time romantic relationships. Plus, Rebecca Martinez Fitzgerald, a therapist based in Durham, North Carolina, offered advice on how to move forward. If you’re living with estrangement, check out some of our listener recommendations on what’s helped, and listen to Kai’s show, Notes from America, wherever you get podcasts or on WNYC's YouTube channel.
25/01/23·37m 14s

From Fan to Friend: The Unlikely Friendship Between Pico Iyer and Leonard Cohen

When writer Pico Iyer drove to a California monastery in 1995 to profile famed singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen for a story, he was a longtime fan of his music. That fateful meeting turned into a deep friendship that lasted over 20 years. “He did have that rare gift for making me feel as if there was nothing I couldn't say,” Pico said. And the men were both drawn to periods of solitude. In his 30s, Pico left his glamorous and exciting dream job in New York to travel to a Japanese monastery, but found the monastic life wasn’t for him. However, that visit to Japan introduced him to his wife and his new home. Anna talks with Pico — whose new book "The Half-Known Life," is a chronicle of his visits to holy sites and sacred places — about the chance encounters that shaped his life, how he’s learned to let go, and how much he still misses his friend, Leonard Cohen.
18/01/23·31m 56s

Why the Creators of "Everything Everywhere All At Once" Treat Their Partnership Like a Marriage

When Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert first met as film students at Emerson College, they didn’t like each other. But after a summer camp job, they embarked on a creative partnership that’s lasted for over a decade, from producing the music video for “Turn Down for What,” to 2016’s Swiss Army Man, and the hit 2022 film Everything Everywhere All At Once. The movie stars Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn, a woman whose family laundromat is being audited by the IRS, while she’s also tasked with a mission to save the multiverse. The film’s inspired repeat watching, many fan costumes, and has won a plethora of awards. As the directors adjust to the spotlight, they reflect on how their personal relationship has changed over time, from Daniel Kwan’s ADHD diagnosis, to exploring their masculinity, and the intimacy of their partnership. “I always say I watch movies about marriage and I'm like, ‘Ooh, yes. This reminds me of Dan,’” said Daniel Scheinert.
11/01/23·37m 13s

Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp Talk About Their Divorce, Anxiety, and Slowing Down

When we looked back on the movies we loved in 2022, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On was one of our favorites. The film stars Marcel (voiced by actress and comedian Jenny Slate), a small, animated shell who is the subject of a documentary by a newly divorced man named Dean (played by director Dean Fleischer-Camp). Jenny and Dean first came up with Marcel over a decade ago, back when they were a couple living together in Brooklyn. In the years since, Jenny’s career took off, with roles on shows like Parks and Recreation, Big Mouth, Saturday Night Live, and Bob’s Burgers. They also moved across the country, got married and then divorced, and still made a feature-length film together over the course of seven years. “Being Marcel, I don't have to think about it,” Jenny said. “And you can't be Marcel unless you're with Dean.” They talk about negotiating their creative partnership while ending their marriage, anxiety, and holding space for grief and joy at the same time.
04/01/23·34m 1s

Trevor Noah Talks Depression, Radical Honesty, and Braiding Hair

*This episode originally ran in 2019. When Trevor Noah started hosting The Daily Show in 2016, he says he told his head writer early on that he might sometimes be late to work. "I'm suffering from depression and sometimes I do not see the purpose of getting out of my bed or living life," he told him. "And he was like, 'Wait, what?'"  Trevor and guest host Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom talk about why radical honesty around mental health can be liberating. Plus, they talk about Trevor's feelings of being an outsider growing up in apartheid South Africa, his evolving relationship with his mother, and how he got so good at doing hair.    Sociologist Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom first joined us on Death, Sex & Money in 2017 to discuss student loan debt during our live call-in. Listen to that, and our two-part series featuring your stories about student loan debt, here.
28/12/22·23m 15s

Radiolab’s Lulu Miller Steals All Her Best Ideas From Her Kids

Before Radiolab co-host Lulu Miller became a parent, she worried having children would zap her creativity. “I had a really patronizing view of them,” she said. “Like, you gotta use dumb, simple words and keep it real easy and safe.” And given the sometimes parasitic nature of child rearing, she wondered if she would even have the energy to create? These days, she has two small kids, and she’s enthralled with their curiosity, their resilience, and how they tell stories about the world around them. As she shares with Anna, her kids have informed and deepened her work, and inspired her new podcast series for kids, Terrestrials. In this episode, you’ll hear clips from the Terrestrials episode “The Water Walker,” but we recommend you check out the whole incredible series here. And for the curious kids in your life, watch some bonus video extras here.    
21/12/22·17m 46s

Estrangement’s Alternate Endings

In our last episode, we look at how estrangement changes shape over the course of a life: how it can bend or harden, and how it affects new relationships, old memories, and the idea of family. Siobhan hasn’t seen her children since 2008 and has slowly built a new identity; Juliet seeks to reconcile with her mother at the end stages of her life; and Kristen, who has been estranged from her mother since she was a teenager, is now pregnant, and thinking about how to have a relationship with her child that is different from what she experienced.
14/12/22·34m 19s

Then I Blocked Them: How Estrangement Became Official

When we first asked for your stories on estrangement, we wondered if it was like a slow pulling away, or like a flipped switch? In episode two of our three-part series, we talk to four listeners for whom estrangement might have been a long time coming, but the choice to cut ties was recent and abrupt: Juan was kicked out of a group chat; Dinona sent a text to her siblings; Megan received a surprise note on her doorstep from her daughter, and Sonia blocked her parents’ numbers.
07/12/22·41m 19s

Estrangement Purgatory

Brian is on the fence. On the one hand, he no longer believes in the religion he was raised in. “It’s high control,” he told us, “rules on everything from what to watch on TV," and "what you do in the bedroom.” On the other hand, leaving the religion would mean losing contact with his parents and wife. “If I told my mom and my dad where I was, the phone would simply go dead.” In our first episode of Estrangement, we talk through the stakes—what could you gain by cutting ties, and what feels impossible to lose?
30/11/22·27m 5s

Fran Lebowitz’s Guide to Life (And Parties)

Earlier this year, Anna interviewed writer and humorist Fran Lebowitz onstage at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in California. But for most of her adult life, Fran’s lived in New York City, where she found early success with her first two books, Metropolitan Life and Social Studies, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In the years since, she hasn’t published much, citing a decades-long writer’s block. So she’s become a professional talker, which you may recognize from Martin Scorsese’s multi-part Netflix series, Pretend It’s A City, and which you’ll definitely hear in this conversation as Fran never misses an opportunity to make her audience laugh. In front of a live audience in Berkeley, Anna and Fran talk about her early years in New York, her strategies for navigating all types of parties, and why her 40+ year old sofa is her favorite place to read.
23/11/22·33m 15s

Estrangement: We Were Close, Now I Don’t Know You

In Death, Sex & Money’s new three-part series about estrangement, we talk to listeners about cutting family ties, leaving religion, and ending friendships. We also talk to listeners on the other side of estrangement, still desperately wishing for contact, and about what happens after the break.

Race and Friendship After 2020: An Update

In January 2020, we released an episode with our listeners’ stories about when race became a flashpoint in their friendships. Today, we’re holding a reunion of sorts – checking back in with those same listeners about the way race, identity, and racism have impacted their friendships since. Antoinette told us she would have handled an interaction with a white coworker much differently today. “It's kind of like with kids… when they're upset with each other, you want them to talk it out and then hug it out and then everything's okay,” she said. “And I think I'm making more peace with the fact that everything might not be okay."”  Since 2020, Matt has met other people who share his background as a Korean adoptee, and a new diverse group of work friends has also made him feel more comfortable. Chrishana and Sarah have grown even closer, despite changes in their personal lives that could have pulled them apart. And Devan, like Antoinette, told us he’s more quick to disengage with people who don’t share his values. Check out Matt’s photo series of other Korean adoptees, Where are you really from?. And Chrishana and Sarah talked about reading Big Friendship, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman’s book – we recorded an episode with them in the summer of 2020. Plus, the Pandemic Toolkit we mentioned, full of activities and coping mechanisms for stress and isolation, still lives here.
16/11/22·32m 27s

Between Friends: Stories About Race and Friendship

*This episode originally ran in 2020 A text message gone wrong. A bachelorette party exclusion. A racist comment during the 2016 debates. When we asked you all about moments when race became a flashpoint in your friendships, we heard about awkward, funny, and deeply painful moments. "The fact that she could drop me so easily really stung," one listener, Ashley, told us about a childhood friendship that suddenly ended because her friend's parents didn't want her "hanging out with Black kids." Another listener, who we're calling Kathleen, wrote in about the regret she felt about not confronting an ex-friend who posted a racist comment on Facebook. "I don't know if I could have changed her mind," she told us. "But at least [I could have] let her know that what I thought was so wrong about what she was saying, instead of just quietly clicking 'unfriend.'"  Today, we're sharing your stories about how race, identity, and racism have impacted your friendships. And listen to the episode from our partners at the NPR podcast Code Switch, featuring expert advice on navigating those flashpoint moments around race—and explaining why it's so hard to make, and maintain, cross-racial friendships.  
09/11/22·46m 10s

An Update from the Sex Worker Next Door

*This episode originally ran in 2015, with an update recorded in 2017. Anna first talked with a woman we're calling Emma in 2015. At the time, Emma was supporting her family as a sex worker and wrote Anna an email – she 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. Am I facilitating cheating? “I guess so," she wrote. "Can I sleep at night? Mostly." After Anna spoke with Emma that first time, Emma called her back, saying their interview made her realize how much she needed to get away from her job. She canceled 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 Anna that she wanted to talk. 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. Then, in 2017, Anna reached back out to Emma to check-in and hear about what had happened in Emma’s life since they talked. As it turns out, a lot had changed.
02/11/22·41m 25s

Sandra Cisneros on Sex, Aging, and the Paranormal

Sandra Cisneros is one of America’s most celebrated coming of age writers. Her book The House on Mango Street is a staple in American classrooms and has been translated into more than 20 languages. Her latest book is a collection of poetry called Woman Without Shame. Sandra brought that same shameless spirit to this conversation, including everything from finding birth control and a mode of sexual freedom that worked for her as a working-class Mexican American in the 1970s, to her questionable taste in romantic partners and her decision to move across the border in her late 50s to start a new life for herself and her dogs in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. A powerful intuitive sense has guided all of these choices, Sandra told Anna. She says she’s been sensitive to the world around her since she was a kid – it’s something her mother saw as a weakness. But as Sandra puts it, “I just have a big radar disc.” Over the years, that radar disc has helped her translate natural beauty into poems and receive spiritual messages. It’s been a little less helpful in pointing her away from disastrous relationships, but she’s taken those in stride. “When I was young, it was more like, ‘Where is that other half? Where is he?’” Sandra says, “[But now] I feel a sense of joy and completeness that I didn't feel when I was younger.”
26/10/22·34m 27s

Singing in the Pain: Hrishikesh Hirway on his Mother, Grief and Creativity

Hrishikesh Hirway is a musician and the host of one of Anna’s favorite podcasts, “Song Exploder,” which describes how a song is built track by track by the artists who made it. Music has always been at the heart of Hrishikesh’s life as his mother, Kanta, loved to sing (and to hear Hrishikesh sing). Kanta married his father when she was 24 and they moved to the US from India that same year. Hrishikesh remembers his mother as the bubbly, social center of her friends and family, but towards the end of her life Kanta developed a degenerative neurological condition – PSP, which stands for progressive supranuclear palsy – that limited her mobility, and eventually, her ability to communicate. Kanta died in the fall of 2020 and Hrishikesh has been releasing new solo music this year about the grief of losing his mother when she was in her early 70s, and in the years leading up to her death. Anna talks to Hrishikesh about Kanta, about the eight years it took to get her a diagnosis, and about her life before her illness.
19/10/22·32m 55s

Conversations with My Dead Mother

Elaine Mitchell came of age in the counterculture of second wave feminism. When she was diagnosed with likely curable rectal cancer at age 66, she decided to exclusively pursue alternative cures, instead of conventional medicine. Rachel, Elaine’s kid, was 30 at the time, and they spent years trying to convince her to get surgery. But Elaine never wavered. Despite all their painful disagreements, Rachel became Elaine’s primary caretaker as she was dying. Rachel and Elaine’s dynamic never followed a typical mother-child script (if there is such a thing). Elaine modeled independence and self-reliance for Rachel, always letting Rachel make their own decisions – including when Rachel dropped out of high school to become a traveling hippie. Eventually, Rachel started working as a radio producer for the CBC. There, they created an award-winning audio piece called, “Dead Mom Talking,” which first aired on The Sunday Edition (and which is excerpted in our conversation). Rachel also released a memoir, Dead Mom Walking: A Memoir of Miracle Cures and Other Disasters, which was just published in the U.S.. In this episode, Rachel talks about the ways autonomy drove both of their lives, and about the humor at the heart of their relationship, even as they argued about Elaine’s end of life choices. “Our relationship wasn’t perfect,” Rachel says, “but it was great.”
12/10/22·34m 8s

I Wanted To Be A 'Good Girl'

*This episode originally ran in 2019.  Andrea grew up attending an evangelical church in Texas, where she was taught to abstain from sex until marriage and keep herself sexually "pure." That early sex education—and her decision to have premarital sex anyway—had long-lasting impact, well into her adulthood.  This episode was part of our month-long series called Our Sex (Mis)Educations. Find the entire series here.
05/10/22·23m 43s

India Walton: I Knew It Was Gonna Be Tough, But I Didn't Expect it to Get Nasty

India Walton grew up in Buffalo, New York, a starkly segregated city, where 85 percent of the city's Black residents live on the East Side. She started a family there at 14 and then a career as a nurse in her 20s. In her 30s, she left a violent marriage, became a neighborhood organizer, and decided to run for mayor. In June 2021, India shocked the political establishment and won the Democratic primary, beating the four-term incumbent mayor. She was shocked, too, and the jubilant video of her calling her mom that night went viral. But, the mayor did not concede, and he won the general election after he launched a write-in campaign. Five months after India lost that election, a gunman shot up a grocery store on Buffalo's East Side and killed 10 people in a racially motivated attack. In this episode, we talk about when government helped India and let her down, and how growing up poor and Black in Buffalo fueled her drive to change systems – in healthcare, education and housing politics. Want to hear more of DSM's past episodes with political leaders and public officials? Listen to Anna chat with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, current Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and way back, in one of the show’s very first episodes, former Wyoming Senator Al Simpson.  
28/09/22·45m 39s

Inside John Waters' Home (But Not Inside His Colon)

John Waters is the writer and director of such cult classics like Pink Flamingos, Serial Mom, and his biggest mainstream success, Hairspray. He’s been making movies since the 1960s and this year he released his debut novel, Liarmouth: A Feel Bad Romance. The novel is an incredibly dirty romp filled with the kind of taboo storytelling that John Waters revels in. In his work, he shines a light on the worst of us but rarely to ridicule, more as a reminder of how gloriously sinful we can be, as we discussed when I spoke with him in his Manhattan home. His interest in the carnal, though, has its limits. “When I got a colonoscopy, they said, do you wanna watch? No!” he told us. “Why do I wanna go on a fantastic voyage up my a–hole?”  We also talked about money management, aging, and his secret to maintaining his many long friendships. “I do stay in touch and if anything bad happens to you, I call. If you get a bad review, I call. If you go to jail, I definitely am your first visit,” he laughed. “I never don't come visit you if you're in jail.” 
21/09/22·32m 6s

How Clothes Help Us Find Our People and Ourselves

For many of us, the last few years of the pandemic has given us time to reflect on different aspects of our identities and how we show up in the world. That's meant more room to explore what silhouettes, colors, and textures feel good, what haircuts work or don't, and what you love—and what you hate—about getting dressed up in the first place. And for a couple of listeners, ruminating on their personal style has also meant thinking about community, and how clothes fit us into social spaces. A listener named Stephen told me he can remember what he wore in most social interactions. "The clothing in all of these memories is like the set of extras that don't have any lines." For another listener, Bill, fashion allows him to recognize himself as a trans man, and who he wants to attract… or avoid. "I think about what I wear a lot," he told me. "It takes up space in my brain that doesn't always feel good." This week, your personal style transformations: the good, the bad, and everything in between.
14/09/22·31m 16s

Lucinda Williams Says Whatever the Hell She Wants

*This episode originally ran in 2016.  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—including those on the album The Ghosts of Highway 20. "I know these roads like the back of my hand," she sings on the title track.      Lucinda was close to her father, poet Miller Willams, 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 a year before our conversation, 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."  In her sixties, 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."    See the video 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.
07/09/22·30m 19s

Big Freedia Bounces Back

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." 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 let people know that you are not no joke." She eventually started performing as part of New Orleans' queer bounce music scene, and became a local celebrity.  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.  In Houston, Freedia met her 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. 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.  * This interview is from 2015 and part of a series about New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Big Freedia in New Orleans, holding her high school graduation photo. (Rush Jagoe) The lot where Big Freedia's house stood, before Hurricane Katrina. (Emily Botein) Sitting on the porch swing with Big Freedia. (Katie Bishop) Big Freedia performs her song "Excuse" before she and over 300 dancers set the Guinness World Record for most people twerking simultaneously:  Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce Season 4 Trailer:
31/08/22·26m 21s

Finding Meaning After My Husband's Public Death

When talking about the death of his husband, Terry Kaelber doesn't use the word suicide, "I tend to say he took his own life out of deep distress about the environment through self-immolation." Terry says it's out of respect for David that he chooses his words carefully — "It was a rational decision on his part."  In 2018, David Buckel doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Minutes before, he sent a note to prominent media outlets. He wrote, “Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result—my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.” David was 60, an environmentalist, and a former LGBTQ rights lawyer. In this episode I talk to Terry about how he thinks about David's death now, and how grief still connects them. "I would never want the grief to go away," he says, "It's always a reminder of how important we were to each other." We also talk about moving on and finding new adventure and joy — "If somebody had said to me within the first year of David's death, that this would happen, I would've said you're crazy." David Buckel ran one of the country's largest compost sites operating without heavy machinery (Terry Kaelber )   A memorial for David in Prospect Park (Terry Kaelber )   For more Terry, listen to him on Vox’s Today, Explained, along with Tim DeChristopher who was imprisoned for his climate activism. And if you are experiencing climate grief, we encourage you to go back and listen to our episode with researcher Britt Wray about our emotional reactions to the reality of climate change where we also link to resources.   
24/08/22·35m 10s

Knock Knock, Who's There? Bob the Drag Queen

If you lived in Columbus, Georgia in the 90s, you might have spent time in a queer club called Sensations. But Bob the Drag Queen knew Sensations by day, not night – she was in elementary school when her mom owned the place. As a kid, Bob would try to help clean or bust a move on the dance floor. A couple years into college, Bob left the South for New York City. She performed in drag for the first time, turned her big ideas into iconic side hustles, and auditioned for, and eventually won, season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. But, that schedule didn’t leave her a lot of room for romance. Bob and I talked about making time for her first boyfriend in her 30s, trying to move her family into a bigger home, and supporting and collaborating with queer and trans people in small U.S. towns as a co-host of the HBO reality show We’re Here.
17/08/22·30m 52s

What's Going On With Student Loans?

Here we are again: Just weeks before the federal pause on student loans is set to expire, with indications that the pause will be extended, and hints at debt forgiveness, but no concrete course of action as of recording this episode in early August. With so much uncertainty, we decided to invite our favorite expert on the topic, Betsy Mayotte, president of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors, to take some of your questions. Maybe not surprisingly, we got a lot of them. Some of you dreaded budgeting back in loan payments after the pause ends (for that Betsy suggests trying a loan simulator), and many of you had questions about Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), and whether the changes the Biden administration made to the program are here to stay. Betsy says, "I have researched the Higher Education Act back to the seventies, and Congress has never, ever retroactively removed a benefit from existing student loans. There is practically as close to zero of a risk of PSLF going away." If you have a question that was not answered in this episode, you can contact Betsy by going to her website where you can also find all sorts of helpful resources, like a guide to forgiveness, and where to start when thinking about a repayment plan.       
10/08/22·39m 39s

"This Isn't Just About Abortion": What the End of Roe Means to You

In the weeks leading up to and after the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, which ended almost 50 years of the constitutional right to abortion in the United States, we asked you to tell us how you’re feeling, and how you’re thinking and talking about family planning and access to reproductive care. Some of you told us about your anger, your fears, and we also heard stories about difficult conversations with loved ones, or a sense of clarity about the options in front of you. And as the post-Roe landscape continues to shift state by state, we wanted to hear from someone in Mississippi, the state at the center of this landmark Supreme Court case. "There's no getting around that the impact is on everyone," said Laurie Bertram Roberts, co-founder and executive director of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund. I spoke with Laurie about the ways this moment was expected, how their work has changed post-Roe, and why they feel both rage⁠—and a sense of hope⁠—about what's to come.
03/08/22·37m 27s

Bottled Up: Your Stories About Alcohol

It can sometimes feel like alcohol—whether you're drinking it or not—is an intrinsic element of navigating adulthood. After all, over 70 percent of American adults drink. We take drinking so much for granted that we often fail to really engage with the role it's playing in our lives. "It’s been a piece of everything since we’ve turned 21, or 18," a listener named Cari told us. "We've always had a drink or been drinking when we’ve been at parties. And it’s so funny that I’m 34, and that is a worry: that if I weren’t drinking, maybe the party would move to someone else’s house." We asked you to share your experiences with alcohol—why you drink or don't, the strategies you use to manage your consumption, and what alcohol brings you besides a buzz. And we learned that our feelings about alcohol are much more complicated than we tend to acknowledge.  If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or seeking more information about alcohol consumption, check out these resources.
27/07/22·41m 26s

The Highs and Lows of Being a Starbucks Union Organizer

When we called Jacob Lawson, a 23-year-old Starbucks worker from Utah, he was on his way to another Starbucks store in Idaho to help them start a union. "It’s not too far from Utah. It's 150 miles, but I’ve driven further to help a store unionize," he told us.  By now, you've probably heard that the Starbucks union is having a moment. Since the first store successfully voted to form a union in 2021, more than 175 stores in 30 states have followed suit. The reasons for the union's success are varied — support from the established union, Workers United, and small store sizes make getting a majority vote simpler — but the Starbucks unionizing drive is also extremely collaborative, made up of mostly young people who talk to each other from stores across the country and share tips. For this episode, we invited a few of these workers to tell us what their experience has been like. I met Jacob Lawson, 20-year-old Laila Dalton from Phoenix, Arizona, and 33-year-old Benjamin South from Ithaca, New York over Zoom. When we talked on a Friday in early June, they were all experiencing different turns in the unionizing story, some victories, some defeats, and some very real consequences of going up against a multi-billion dollar company.  
20/07/22·29m 16s

“No Call Goes Unanswered”: A Lifeline in Wyoming

On July 16, 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline becomes a 3-digit number: 988. This switch means that many local call centers across the country are preparing for a higher volume of calls. And for someone in crisis, it means a lot to hear someone on the line who knows the community they're calling from. In Wyoming, that sort of knowledge can be helpful, and also a deterrent to accessing mental health services. "We’re very rural. Everybody knows your business," Karen Sylvester told me. She's the director of training and fundraising for the Wyoming Lifeline, one of two new call centers in the state that began operating in 2020. "And so when it comes to somebody struggling, the last place that they want to have their car parked is outside the mental health office. So that everybody in town can whisper or try to decide what they think is going on with so-and-so." Wyoming had the highest suicide rate per capita in the US in 2020, and while that impacts people across all demographics, white men 25 and older account for most of the deaths by suicide in the state. I talk to suicide prevention advocates, as well as a suicide attempt survivor, about the changes ahead in the state.
13/07/22·30m 43s

The Very Hot Marriage of Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts

When actress Niecy Nash and R&B singer-songwriter Jessica Betts first met in 2015, they struck up a deep friendship. So when they began to fall in love a few years later, they were both caught off-guard. Niecy was newly divorced and had never been in a relationship with a woman before, and Jessica didn't think she could find love again. But they took the plunge, and when they announced their relationship and marriage publicly in the summer of 2020, they didn't expect the outpouring of love and support. Almost two years into their marriage, they're still learning about each other's habits and quirks, and are just as in love and hot for each other as ever. They joined me from their Los Angeles home to tell me about their love story, how they learned to live together during the pandemic, their faith, and the surprising ways their age difference shows up in their marriage.   Want to hear more Niecy? Listen to our 2017 episode, "Life in Our 20s: Advice from Niecy Nash, Alia Shawkat & Terri Coleman," or my 2015 interview with her for NPR's Fresh Air.
29/06/22·37m 24s

Cut Loose: Your Stories of Breaking Up

When Nan Bauer-Maglin was 60 years old, her husband left her for his 25-year-old student. "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." Nan wrote a book inspired by their breakup and called it Cut Loose. "First I was gonna call it 'Dumped.' But that’s so negative," she told me. "Cut Loose is also about freedom." 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. 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. 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." 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. Whether you're in the middle of a breakup or you've been through one in the past, check out, a website our listener Emily Theis built from your best suggestions about what to read, watch, listen to and do after a split. *Name changed for privacy reasons We're re-airing this episode from 2017. Listen to the end for some relationship and life updates. 
22/06/22·40m 56s

'I'm Done Kissing Your Butt': From Manager to Labor Activist

One of the first things Mary Gundel told us about her childhood was that the Florida foster care system left her with a persistent sense that she was invisible. "Nobody cared, nobody wanted me," she said. Pregnant at 16, then again at 18, and with a third child diagnosed with autism a little while after that, Mary and her husband worked many low wage jobs on opposite schedules so someone could always be home with the kids. But despite feeling unseen, Mary told me story after story about how she changed the lives of her coworkers and loved ones, from taking in a friend's kid, to staying late at the register when a coworker called out, no questions asked. These sorts of stories might have stayed confined to Mary's small Tampa network had she not become an overnight TikTok celebrity. Her viral moment? A 6-part series documenting her day-to-day frustrations managing a Dollar General, one of America's largest convenience stores, where she worked for three and half years. We talked about what led her to speak out about working conditions on social media, getting fired, and igniting a national workers’ movement. Invisible no more, Mary concedes, “They’re listening to me now!”  
15/06/22·34m 0s

How Harvey Fierstein's Bad Sex Led to Good Art

When Tony Award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein was growing up in New York City in the 60s, he was surrounded by the beginnings of the gay rights movement, and protest art and avant-garde theater was the norm. "I didn't know that being gay was sad until I got out into the world and they told me that," he said in our interview. "All the gay people I know are really kind of happy." And writing from that lens has informed his work ever since. In his new memoir, I Was Better Last Night, Harvey shares the six year journey to get his breakthrough play, Torch Song Trilogy, on Broadway, and shares other behind the scenes stories from hit Broadway plays like Hairspray, Fiddler on the Roof, and La Cage aux Folles. He also told me about his relationship with his younger brother turned business manager, why he's happily single and sober, and how he thinks he'll be remembered.
08/06/22·27m 24s

What Our Teachers Are Carrying

At the beginning of the calendar year, when Omicron was surging across much of the country, we asked those of you that are educators to tell us what led to your profession in the midst of another difficult pandemic school year, and how you were coping with it all. You told us about burnout, navigating confusing and changing rules about safety and politics in the classroom, feeling undervalued as workers, and why some of you were leaving education altogether. As the end of the school year approached, I followed up with four teachers in school districts across the country, from a middle school librarian in rural Wyoming, to a teacher navigating their first year of in-person teaching in New York. They told me about how the year has gone, the effects on their personal life, and what they're most excited about for this summer.
25/05/22·31m 17s

Maria Hinojosa on Partying, Partnership, and Her New Pulitzer

Journalist Maria Hinojosa and the staffs of Futuro Media and PRX recently won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Audio Reporting for the podcast "Suave." For Maria, winning this accolade took years of hard work. Maria is best known as the host of the public radio program Latino USA, a role she's occupied for over 25 years. But before then, she had to navigate newsrooms at CBS, NPR, CNN, and PBS at a time where she was often the first and the only Latina journalist there. As she wrote in her memoir, Once I Was You, that meant having to walk with confidence and believing in her work when, she says, her mostly white colleagues didn't. But, as Maria told me when we spoke back in 2020, the confidence she built while working in media didn't totally translate to other parts of her life. "You know, my marriage almost broke up because of my ego," she said. And as her career became more successful, she told me about the times she says she didn't prioritize her husband and her kids, about the crisis point that led her to reevaluate her role in her relationship and as a mother, and about how, these days, she is practicing listening and self-love. Plus, I catch up with Maria and she tells me about the significance of the award for her.
18/05/22·28m 10s

How Much Climate Anxiety Helps?

If you're like me, you might have a hard time getting to the end of articles that predict climate catastrophe. You might put a lot of faith in technology to save us, and you certainly don't want to think about an unsafe climate future for any young children in your life. If you're more like my guest for this episode, Britt Wray, you may have had periods of time where you can't stop thinking about climate catastrophe, times when your climate anxiety became so unbearable you couldn't function. Britt’s new book is all about our emotional reactions to climate change. She says, "these abilities to sit with the emotions and allow them to be there is actually really crucial to climate action at all." We met for a hike through the Santa Cruz mountains and we talked about how she emerged from debilitating climate dread, and how she grappled with the question of whether or not to have a child. "In the end the decision to not have a child felt like a commitment to fear. And then on the flip side, deciding to have a child felt like a commitment to joy." A photo from my hike with Britt Wray in the Santa Cruz Mountains Do you want to lessen your climate anxiety while also helping the planet? Britt says, "It's a crucial step to find community with others who can stand in the fire with you, who get it, who will mirror and validate the concerns and will never say you're overreacting." Here are some resources she suggests: The Good Grief Network, modeled off of a 12-step program, hosts in-person meetings around climate anxiety and climate action. Conceivable Future hosts parties for people to talk about family planning in a warming world, and The All We Can Save Project offers a how-to guide on starting your own community talking group. Subscribe to Britt Wray's news letter Gen Dread, which is all about staying sane in the climate crisis.  Britt Wray is a Human and Planetary Health Fellow at Stanford University and author of the new book Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis  
11/05/22·32m 59s

"There’s Never a Perfect Time to Say, 'I’m Blind'"

Back in 2021, we asked you to tell us about the hard conversations you were struggling to have in honor of the release of my book, Let's Talk About Hard Things. One of the people I talked to was a listener named Fey. Fey is 27 and lives in Maryland, and she has a degenerative eye condition. Eventually, she will probably lose her eyesight completely. She'd written us an email about her "tricky sense of disability identity."  As Fey's sight worsens, she struggles to know how and when to open up to people in her life about it—friends, dates, coworkers. Over the course of several conversations in the last year, I talked with Fey about how and when to disclose her disability, gaining independence, and relying on others. Plus, she gets a pep talk from a fellow visually impaired Nigerian American, EDM singer Lachi. Come sing along with me at a special sing-a-long karaoke party in honor of the paperback release of Let's Talk About Hard Things. We'll drink, talk and SING about hard things in NYC on May 6, at 7pm at The Greene Space. You can email us any time to share your stories at   
04/05/22·33m 44s

Anna Sale Introduces Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery

Anna talks with her WNYC colleague Nancy Solomon about her new podcast, Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery. New Jersey politics is not for the faint of heart. But the brutal killing of John and Joyce Sheridan, a prominent couple with personal ties to three governors, shocks even the most cynical operatives. The mystery surrounding the crime sends their son on a quest for truth. Dead End is a story of crime and corruption at the highest levels of society in the Garden State. EVENT: Come sing along with me at a special sing-a-long karaoke party in honor of the paperback release of my book, Let's Talk About Hard Things. We'll drink, talk and SING about hard things.  In San Francisco: on May 3rd, at 6:30pm at Manny's. Tickets HERE.  In NYC: On May 6, at 7pm at The Greene Space. Tickets HERE.  
29/04/22·5m 47s


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 possibly 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. 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. 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. *Name changed This episode first aired in 2015. Listen to updates from most of the siblings here.  EVENT: Come sing along with me at a special sing-a-long karaoke party in honor of the paperback release of my book, Let's Talk About Hard Things. We'll drink, talk and SING about hard things. In San Francisco: on May 3rd, at 6:30pm at Manny's. In NYC: On May 6, at 7pm at The Greene Space.
27/04/22·44m 29s

Hard: Softening Expectations

Carson Tueller became paralyzed from the chest down after an accident in 2013. "I absolutely know that there is a sense of loss and grieving that comes when you lose physical function," he told Death, Sex, & Money, our colleagues at WNYC. "If you could previously have an erection and have penetrative sex with your partner in a really fulfilling way and you can't anymore, the grief and the loss from that is totally legitimate." However, Carson adds, "that doesn't have to mean that something's wrong with you. It just means it’s time to learn how to have sex differently."  In this final part of DSM's series Hard, we hear from Viagra users past and present whose ideas about sex have shifted—from being a goal-oriented pursuit to one that is much more about pleasure and acceptance.  This is the third episode of a three-part series. Listen to the first episode—about the impact of ED and Viagra on relationships—here, and the second episode—about the surprising origin story of the drug—here. 
13/04/22·32m 1s

Hard: Little Pill, Big Pharma

When Dr. Irwin Goldstein started his career in urology in the 1970s, he remembers asking his mentor—an early pioneer in penile implant surgeries—"How the hell does an erection occur in the first place?" His answer: 'We have absolutely no idea,'" Dr. Goldstein recalls. "So I said, okay, well, this is what I'm doing."  In this second episode of our three-part series, Hard, we dive into the medical and scientific advancements that led up to Viagra's FDA approval in 1998. From an unforgettable conference an overnight drug study where an unexpected side effect kept popping up...we hear about the strange twists and turns that eventually led to a little blue pill, from some of the people who were there along the way. Plus, we explore the intentionality around the early marketing of Viagra—when former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole encouraged men to summon the bravery to talk to their doctors—and we hear how that message has shifted over the years. This is the second episode of a three-part series. Listen to the first episode, about the impact of ED and Viagra on relationships, here. And look out for our episode next week, where we meet people for whom Viagra sparked deeper exploration about the meaning of good sex. 
06/04/22·30m 5s

Hard: Erectile Disappointment

Bob first started experiencing erectile dysfunction in his 50s. "The erections wouldn't last," he told me, "and that became kind of a frustration." Bob and his wife, Joanne, tried asking their doctors for help—but it was the mid-1990s, and medical interventions were limited. "I think back then [ED] was kind of looked upon as, you're getting older and this is going to happen and there's nothing you can do about it type thing," Bob told me. "That’s life, guy!" A lot has changed since then. In 1998, Viagra was approved by the FDA, suddenly opening up new sexual possibilities for people like Bob and Joanne. The drug also sparked a very public conversation about erectile dysfunction—one that, despite beginning earnestly, quickly veered toward late-night punchlines. "There's just so many memes and so much pop culture reference in a joking manner," a woman we're calling Louise told me, whose husband has prostate cancer-related ED. "[Viagra is] for the couple, it's for the marriage, the relationship, the partnership. It isn't just about a guy getting a boner."  And while millions of Viagra prescriptions have been written during its almost 25 years of existence, for some, Viagra has not been the quick fix they hoped it would be. A listener named Brandon takes medication for depression and anxiety, and found that for him, erections when taking Viagra are "very much a roll of the dice." Yet in a world where ED drugs are readily available—he feels a lot of pressure to perform. "This oversexualized culture doesn't say anything about having sex and not being able to get an erection as being okay," he told me. "It's very much big hard dicks flying everywhere."  This is the first episode of a three-part series. Look out for our episode next week where we go back in time to tell the story of how medicine, science, money and marketing collided to create a Viagra explosion. 
30/03/22·30m 39s

Why Lynn Nottage Cashed Out Her 401(k)

At the start of this year, two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage achieved a feat. Three of her works—Clyde's, the musical MJ, and an opera adaptation of her play Intimate Apparel—were playing on New York City stages simultaneously. But three decades ago, during the height of the AIDS and crack epidemics, Lynn almost stopped writing plays for good. "I was watching many of my classmates and my professors get sick and die or succumb to drug addiction," she told me about her time at drama school. "And it was really hard to stay focused on writing and figure out, well, why am I writing? And what is it that I want to write about when there's so much trauma?" Lynn grew up in Brooklyn, where she now lives in her childhood home. She spoke with me from her living room about how bombing a test in college led her to theater, how quitting her day job and cashing in her 401(k) helped her return to it, and how she shares "marriage miles" with her filmmaker husband.
16/03/22·32m 13s

Affairs, Throuples, and Big Monogamy: Your Relationship Questions Answered

We recently asked you to tell us about the decisions weighing on you about your romantic lives. The strangeness of the past two years has impacted all of our relationships—in both negative and positive ways—yet in this time of not-normalcy, it can feel especially hard to make decisions that bring big change into our lives.  So, we gathered a panel to help you sort through it all: Foreverland author and "Ask Polly" columnist Heather Havrilesky, Gawker editor and co-host of the podcast Straightiolab George Civeris, and Tuck Woodstock, host of the podcast Gender Reveal. Listen as Heather, George, and Tuck give advice to listeners contemplating long-distance relationships, coming to terms with betrayal, navigating the fallout of a throuple, and more.
09/03/22·1h 1m

Inheriting Divorce

Many of the marriages in producer Ian Coss’ family have ended in divorce. His parents’ marriage, his grandparents’s marriage, as well as some of his aunts and uncles’ marriages. Ian is married, but he’s spent a lot of time thinking about the legacy of divorce in his family, about the failures and successes of those marriages, and what came after they ended. So he sat down with his relatives and talked to them about those relationships and ending them, which he turned into the critically-acclaimed podcast Forever is a Long Time. As someone who’s been divorced myself, I wanted to know more about Ian’s family, and what he’s learned from his relatives about commitment, self-determination, and how he applies that to his own marriage.
23/02/22·31m 12s

Where is Lisa Fischer's Backup?

Lisa Fischer has sung backing vocals for Dolly Parton, Bobby McFerrin, Luther Vandross and Beyoncé. She's also toured with the Rolling Stones since 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.” 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.  By her mid-twenties, she was touring as a backup singer, and in 1991 she won a Grammy for her first solo album, So Intense. But soon after, she lost her record deal, and returned to singing backup. The 2013 documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom 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." This conversation took place in 2015. Listen to the end to hear an update from Lisa, about getting back on stage during the pandemic and the financial realities of being a musician during COVID.  Below, watch Lisa Fischer on stage with the Rolling Stones, and singing with Luther Vandross. 
16/02/22·28m 24s

This Elvis Impersonator Does It For Love… And Money

Brendan Paul never meant to become an Elvis impersonator. He wanted to play in rock bands like Kiss and was an art major in college at UCLA. But one day in his early 20s, he got a haircut—one that left his dark hair a little shaggy on top, with sideburns. "And then the next day at UCLA a girl came up and said, my roommate in my dorm is a huge Elvis fan. If I give you a hundred dollars, can you come sing happy birthday?" he recalled. "I said, absolutely." Today, Brendan co-owns the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, which claims to be the site of the world's first Elvis-themed wedding. Dressed in sparkly jumpsuits, Brendan marries sometimes as many as 75 people a day—in back to back 15 minute appointments. But while his portrayal of Elvis generally leans into the kitsch, his view on The King's life goes deeper. "That loneliness, that despair, that unsatisfied inside," he told me about Elvis near the end of his life. "A lot people go, 'I bet you wish you were Elvis,' and I always go, 'Not really.'" This episode is a collaboration with Condé Nast Traveler and their new love and travel series. Read more about Brendan and find other essays about love and travel here.
09/02/22·28m 56s

André De Shields On Living With His Shadow

Self-proclaimed “professional charmer” André De Shields has performed on stage for more than 50 years. Today, at 76 years old, he brings his Tony Award-winning portrayal of Hermes to the Broadway musical Hadestown eight times a week. “I’m the slowest moving entity on the stage, which mesmerizes people,” he told me. “They want to know, ‘Why is this person moving so monstrously slowly? He must know something.’” André shared some of his immense knowledge with me: stories about his coming of age sexual awakening with a woman twice his age, words of wisdom he learned from Sammy Davis Jr., and the lessons about learning to live with your shadow. Since his diagnosis with HIV and the loss of his life partner, André has had many conversations with death, but he has determined that the only way to live is to “enter the darkness. And if you persist, if you will be determined, if you will be hardy, if you will have sufficient stamina, you will enter the light.”
26/01/22·35m 21s

Downsizing After Divorce

When her kids were young, Jaimie Seaton and her family lived overseas in Asia while her husband worked as a high-ranking executive at a bank. "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." "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."  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." 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."  This episode was part of our 2018 collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more episodes in this series, go to  Jaimie wrote a piece for BuzzFeed about her class transition after her divorce. Read it here.  
19/01/22·27m 47s

A New Year's Pep Talk From Robin Arzón

For people who love Peloton, the company's head instructor Robin Arzón is an inspiration. I know quite a few people who swear by Robin's tough love teaching style and confidence-boosting mantras. But there was a time when Robin wasn't always confident, or even into athletics. "When I identify with feelings of anxiety, it is the younger version of myself," she told me. "Being picked for kickball or something like that is like my worst nightmare." But in the aftermath of trauma, she started running, and it changed her life. Robin and I also discussed how she envisioned the home and marriage she has now, the ways becoming a mother changed her relationship to her body, and the limits she places on her time. 
12/01/22·32m 45s

Why I Steal

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." We first learned about Alice 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."  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." Since first talking with Alice in 2017, a lot has happened in Alice's life. We called her back to find out how she and her family fared during the pandemic—and to find out if she's still stealing today.  Thanks to Tasbeeh Herwees for her help with this story. You can find Tasbeeh's article for GOOD Magazine about the shoplifting community on Tumblr here. And to listen to our 2017 episode featuring your responses to Alice's story, click here.  *Name changed
29/12/21·33m 56s

A Season to Savor

For the last couple years, we’ve produced special year-end episodes where the entire Death, Sex & Money team shares moments we’re proud of, and looks back at the year we've been through. But after another difficult year, I'm sharing a concept that's helped me get through it: savoring. I talk with some of the people and artists who've shared ideas or made work that I've savored this year: including my therapist; Kendra Adachi, host of The Lazy Genius podcast; and Saturday Night Live's Ego Nwodim. Plus, I share more of the TV shows and movies I savored this year. Looking for The Favorites File from Kendra Adachi? Find it here! If you're able to give right now, and would like to support our work in 2022 and beyond, visit to make a year-end contribution. Thank you!
22/12/21·20m 9s

The Weight Of Love

Recently, we asked for your stories about how weight and body size has affected your romantic relationships. We heard from single people who are dating, couples who have been together for a long time, and from people who described their bodies as fat, thin, overweight, plus size, and everything in between. In this episode, I talk with listeners about how navigating weight and body size inside a relationship has sometimes made their partnerships stronger...and sometimes broken them apart. 
15/12/21·42m 46s

Why Alan Cumming Doesn't Do Drama

Alan Cumming has a favorite Australian mantra: "Shouldn't be a drama." And he told me that he first came across it after a tumultuous period in his life. It was the mid-'90s, and he was struggling with an eating disorder, coming to terms with the abuse he endured from his father as a child, and his first marriage had recently ended. But as he was navigating those changes, he was also on the cusp of fame. Alan was learning what he liked about living alone in London, and exploring what he called his "debauched phase," which eventually led him to his now-husband. He wrote about this chapter of his life in his new memoir, Baggage: Tales From A Fully Packed Life. "What I'm trying to do is normalize being a hot mess," he told me. Now 56, Alan and I talked about why non-monogamy works for him and his marriage, what he likes about getting older, and how he stays motivated during his at-home workouts. If you or a loved one needs support around an eating disorder, you can call or text the National Eating Disorders Association's helpline at (800) 931-2237.
01/12/21·27m 6s

Becoming A Parent Of Six, At 25

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 parent of six adopted kids. 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. 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 didn’t 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.'" 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. This episode is originally from 2015. 
24/11/21·29m 29s

“What I Live With”: The Aftermath of Fatal Accidents

Accidental injuries are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 200,000 people die every year from overdoses, fires, unintentional gun discharges, falls, and car crashes. The headlines are familiar, but what we don't often hear about are the stories from people who cause those accidents—and survive. One of those people is John Vargas. "Nobody talks about that person on the other side," he told me when we spoke. "Do they think we woke up in the morning and wanted this to happen?" In 2017, John was driving for work when he hit a pedestrian in his hometown of Chicago. He wasn't charged with a crime; it was just a terrible accident. And in the aftermath, he couldn't find anyone to talk to who knew what he was going through—until he found a Facebook support group for people who have accidentally killed other people. "It was like the parting of the Red Sea," he says. "It was just like, holy cow. I'm not alone." I also spoke with Theresa Ruf, who moderates the group, about why she decided to form it in the years after she hit and killed a motorcyclist. Unlike John, Theresa's case did enter the legal system, where it languished for eight years—and in that time, adrift and wracked with guilt, Theresa wanted to do something to help other people who were in the kind of pain she was. "If I'm being honest, [part of the reason] why I started the group was like, maybe this is something I could do to feel a little better about myself by helping other people," she told me. "It helps me, too." If you or someone you love are struggling after being involved in a fatal accident, here are some resources that might help:  Accidental Impacts, a website founded by social psychologist Maryann Gray Theresa's private Facebook group, Accidental Casualty Survivors EMDRIA, a directory of licensed EMDR therapists The Sorrow and the Shame of the Accidental Killer, by Alice Gregory (The New Yorker, September 2017)
10/11/21·33m 12s

I Love My Dad, But I Don't Love Guns

Back in the spring, we asked you to tell us about the hardest conversations you've ever had, and the ones you haven't had yet. A listener we're calling Jack wrote in about a conversation he wanted to have with his dad—about guns.  Jack grew up in a family that loved to hunt and shoot. His dad has a large collection of firearms—and loves to talk about them with his son. But as Jack has gotten older—he's now 30—he and his dad have drifted apart in many ways. "The last bit of common language that we have left is we can talk about guns," he says. "We retreat to that a lot." But Jack's views on gun culture have shifted too, and he no longer wants to own guns or even really be around them. "What I want to say to him is, 'Dad, I love you and I respect you and this just isn't something that I want to be part of,'" Jack told me. "I know he'll hear that as rejection because that's what it is, it's a rejection." I talk with Jack about why it's important to him to have this conversation with his dad, and about the ways it might impact their relationship—and other family members too. 
03/11/21·34m 38s

Order Up, Tapped Out: Life After Restaurant Burnout

In the last few months, millions of restaurant and hospitality workers have left their jobs. Right now, there are more job openings in this field than ever before. For many of these workers, the pandemic was a breaking point, adding health concerns to workplaces known for long hours, low wages, and intense, hostile working conditions. But what comes after making a decision like this? I spoke with five people who have worked in food service and made big career changes in the last year and a half, from a former McDonald's worker in Chicago to a food truck owner in Portland who's becoming a teacher. They all told me about what they are leaving behind, and what they are trying to build next.
27/10/21·37m 34s

Succession's J. Smith-Cameron On Old Haunts and New Normals

A few weeks ago, I was back in New York City for the first time since 2019. It was great—I saw coworkers in person, and I had lunch at one of my old spots, the Waverly Diner, with actor J. Smith-Cameron. She's best known for playing no-nonsense general counsel Gerri on Succession, but J. has had a long career as a stage actress in New York, on- and off-Broadway. She's also a neighborhood mainstay in the West Village, and over omelets and egg creams, she and I talked about the many phases of her life she’s spent there, getting ready to send her only daughter off to college abroad this fall, and how acting has taught her to slow down and observe the world going by, one thing at a time—a skill she says was invaluable during the pandemic.
20/10/21·34m 26s

Dead People Don't Have Any Secrets

Three years into Amanda* and Sam*'s 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. "I was angry with him for not knowing how to help me," Amanda says about Sam. When 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.  "It certainly didn't change the things it should've changed," Amanda said. "Starting with a will would have been nice." 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. Amanda was left with a lot of anger—and, as it turned out, money problems—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." *Names changed 
06/10/21·27m 46s

Your Infertility Stories Have Many Different Endings

Sometimes the path to parenthood isn’t a straight line. What happens when you hit speed bumps on the road to having kids? Earlier this year, I asked you about what happened when you realized becoming a parent would be more difficult than you expected. We heard from those of you who’ve gone through fertility treatments like IUI and IVF. We heard from people in queer relationships, people who chose to become a single parent, and people who ended up adopting. And we also heard from those of you who decided that the money, physical toll, and the heartbreak wasn’t worth it. "The gynecologist said to me, 'If you want this, let me know and we’ll hit it hard,'" a listener named Eva told us, after going through a miscarriage. "And I just thought, 'Do you want to hit it hard? Do you want to - do you want this enough?'" Today, your stories about infertility, and managing your expectations through it all.
29/09/21·40m 13s

"You Should Be Carrying This. Not Me."

When a listener named Chloe was in college, she says she was sexually assaulted at a party by a former classmate. She filed a police report, but her classmate was never charged with a crime. He left town. And then, ten years went by. In that time, Chloe says her relationships with friends and family were damaged—she says her mom blamed her for the assault, and her friends seemed to not believe her, or care very much. Chloe eventually connected with other sexual assault survivors, and began her career as an artist. And she started speaking out about what had happened to her, including on social media—which led to an opportunity for Chloe to speak directly to the man who she says raped her. "I tried all these other avenues to get closure for myself, including reporting this to the police," Chloe says. "And this felt like kind of crafting closure for myself."  Find a list of resources for sexual assault survivors here.    
22/09/21·34m 57s

When A Banker Became A Nun

Sister Josephine Garrett grew up Baptist and worked her way up the corporate ladder—eventually becoming a vice president at Bank of America, where she managed a few hundred employees. But after converting to Catholicism in her mid-20s, the idea of becoming a nun popped into her head, and she couldn't leave it behind.  This episode first aired in 2018. Watch Anna's update with Sister Josephine from earlier this year on Instagram.  Sister Josephine Garrett, on the day she took her first vows. (Sister Josephine Garrett)
08/09/21·25m 23s

Decision Fatigue Is Real. We Called For Backup.

We recently asked you to tell us about the decisions you're struggling to make right now. There have been so many choices to make and risks to weigh lately, and after almost 18 months into this pandemic, many of us are feeling decision fatigue. So we decided to put your decisions to a panel of friends and experts: author and Emory University professor Tayari Jones, writer and ¡Hola Papi! columnist John Paul Brammer, and Tara Ilsley, a public health worker at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. They shared their advice for listeners weighing big moves, going back to school, caretaking, and more.
01/09/21·59m 36s

Financial Therapy: A Baby, And A Plan

In Cora and Garrett's final session with financial therapist Amanda Clayman, they talk about soon becoming parents, and their recent experience consulting a financial advisor while navigating Garrett’s gambling addiction—which is still a sensitive subject for him. "I guess I would have preferred that we didn't have to mention it," Garrett says. "But it's kind of like the elephant in the room a little bit with coming up with a system."  And while the financial advisor helped them feel more confident about paying off their debt, Cora and Garrett say they still are having trouble seeing eye to eye about their finances. Garrett says he's found it difficult to be excited about paying off some of their credit cards, while Cora says she wants to celebrate victories as they come. "This is the thing that is different between straight financial advice and financial therapy," Amanda says. "There may need to be a period of digging into the mess, if you will, of what stands between where you are today and where it is that you'd like to go. It's not as simple as, here's the perfect sort of way to organize this. Now, just go do it."  To hear more of Amanda, check out the NPR podcast Life Kit. In their most recent episode, Amanda goes over some helpful principles of financial intimacy for couples—things she thinks about when counseling couples towards healthy financial behaviors, and tips you can use in your own relationship. It’s available wherever you listen, and at
18/08/21·40m 7s

Financial Therapy: Struggling To Trust Again

Financial therapist Amanda Clayman gave a couple we're calling Cora and Garrett an assignment at the end of their first session—talk together about your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to money. But talking together about finances has always been a source of conflict in Cora and Garrett's relationship, and this time was no exception. Before Garrett became addicted to gambling, Cora and Garrett mostly kept their money separate and avoided talking together about it. But now that Cora has taken over their family's finances, including Garrett's paychecks, it's forced a lot of conversation about their money styles—which, it turns out, are very different. "I've always seen you as more frivolous," Cora tells Garrett. "Everything that was left over that wasn't going into's fair game," Garrett says. "That's kind of the way I approached it."  Cora and Garrett also talk together about the barriers currently between them—Garrett's resentment about now not having much control over his earnings, and Cora's distrust stemming from Garrett's deception about money. And they talk with Amanda about how to overcome the emotional distance between them.  Find all of our past Financial Therapy episodes here. If you or a loved one is in crisis, please reach out to the Crisis Text Line (Text TALK to 741741) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to talk to someone who can help. If you're struggling with a gambling problem, call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700, or get peer support at And for more resources about dealing with debt, click here. 
11/08/21·46m 54s

Financial Therapy: A Secret Gambling Addiction

We first heard from a listener we're calling Cora late last year. "My husband and I recently hit a pretty intense rough patch regarding our financial life, mental health, and the trust in our relationship in general," she wrote in an email to us. "It has brought about a lot of important growth for both of us, but at great expense...literally and figuratively."  Cora and her husband, who we're calling Garrett, went through a lot in 2020. Garrett, who is a construction worker, was laid off multiple times. He started secretly online gambling. And when his debt became overwhelming, he tried to kill himself.  Now, Cora and Garrett are trying to put the pieces of their relationship and their finances back in order. And while they've had access to mental health treatment and addiction recovery groups—they haven't found much help when it comes to talking together about money, and all of the emotions and history wrapped up in it. Listen in to Cora and Garrett's sessions with financial therapist Amanda Clayman, as she helps them communicate better around money, understand their own financial tendencies, desires and fears, and forge a path forward. Find all of our past Financial Therapy episodes here. If you or a loved one is in crisis, please reach out to the Crisis Text Line (Text TALK to 741741) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to talk to someone who can help. If you're struggling with a gambling problem, call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700, or get peer support at And for more resources about dealing with debt, click here. 
04/08/21·31m 26s

When Grief Doesn't Move In Stages

Radiolab producer Rachael Cusick's mother died when Rachael was six years old. Her grandmother, Marilyn Ryland, stepped in as a parental figure for Rachael, and while they didn't talk directly about grief together, Marilyn says, "it was always in the room."  I talked with Rachael and Marilyn together, in this special collaboration with Radiolab. For the past year, Rachael has been reporting a piece for Radiolab about psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and her "five stages of grief"—a model of neat progression through loss that Rachael quickly grew frustrated with when she was younger. In "The Queen of Dying," Rachael's new Radiolab episode, we learn about how those stages actually came about, and about the woman who created them. As Rachael was working on that piece, she also learned that her grandmother, Marilyn, had been diagnosed with cancer. I talk to Rachael and Marilyn together about losing Rachael's mom, and about the stages of grief—and dying. Listen to Rachael's companion Radiolab episode about the story and legacy of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross here. And read a Modern Love essay that Rachael wrote for The New York Times about her relationship with her grandmother, and loss, here. 
23/07/21·32m 6s

Doree Shafrir On The Out Of Control IVF Train

For a long time, writer and podcaster Doree Shafrir didn’t know if she wanted kids. “It wasn’t a future that I fantasized about or necessarily saw myself doing,” she told me. But when Doree entered her mid-30s, she started to feel left behind as everyone around her was reaching major life milestones that she wasn't: getting married, having children, buying a home. It seemed impossible to catch up, feelings she explores in her new memoir, Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (& Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer. Doree did get married at 38, and realized she wanted kids. She and her husband, Matt, tried to get pregnant on their own for six months, but after seeing a specialist learned that IVF (in vitro fertilization) would be their best option to become parents. But the process presented new challenges at every turn—surgeries, failed embryo transfers, "miracle baby stories," and growing financial debt. Doree and I talk about how she dealt with these hurdles, why the couple chose to share their journey publicly on their podcast “Matt and Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure,” and whether or not they'll pursue having a second child.
14/07/21·41m 59s

When Indie Rockers Become Full-Time Caregivers

In 2010, Johnny Solomon's band, Communist Daughter, was on the rise. But behind the scenes, Johnny was struggling—he was 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—his mom, Nancy. She paid for him to go to rehab, which helped him get clean and gave him a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  After Johnny got sober and went on medication, his band regrouped and continued touring and putting out albums. But then, a few years later, it was Nancy who needed help, as her health declined due to a degenerative nerve disease. So Johnny and his wife—and bandmate—Molly packed up their life in Minnesota and moved in with Nancy and her husband in San Diego. 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. This episode first aired in 2018. Johnny and Molly Solomon in the backyard of the house they share with Johnny's mom Nancy and her husband. (Anna Sale) Check out our podcast playlist roundup of recent audio recommendations from our newsletter here. And if you're not already subscribed to our newsletter, sign up! Every Wednesday we send out podcast listening recommendations, fascinating letters from our inbox and updates from the show. Sign up at
07/07/21·28m 26s

A Teen Musician Is Ready For His Solo. His Mom Is Not.

This week, I speak with Miguel Llapa, who is 18 and just graduating from high school. Miguel is a percussionist, and a soon-to-be college student, with congenital scoliosis — an abnormality of the spine which affects his lung capacity. “As I got older, I started to feel more dependent when I wanted to be more independent,” Miguel said. “Because I was always in and out of the hospital, I always had someone with me. I always had someone accompany me, which I love. But after some time, you know, I started to grow, to feel like I wanted to test things out on my own.” Miguel, alongside his mom, talks about his excitement about heading off to college and living independently for the first time—and his mom shares what's making her feel nervous about it.
23/06/21·32m 52s

"The Lying Stops Now": Your Hardest Conversations

Hard conversations often spark a change. Whether they shift something in a relationship, or a situation, or inside you, there is often a definitive "before" and "after" a hard conversation.  When we asked you to tell us about the hardest conversations you've ever had, you told us about talking with kids about a death. Telling family that you've fallen in love with a man in prison. Breaking up with a longtime friend. Sometimes the conversations resulted in resolution, and relief. Other times, they left you feeling like there was a lot more to be said.  You also told us about hard conversations you haven't yet had—but know that you need to. And we're looking for even more stories like this, for an upcoming series we're working on. If you've got a hard conversation that you've been waiting to have, and need a push to do it, send a voice memo to 
16/06/21·27m 2s

Michelle Zauner's Joy Is Rooted In Vengeance

When Michelle Zauner of the indie band Japanese Breakfast returned home to Eugene, Oregon, to take care of her mother in 2014, she wasn’t prepared for what life would be like as a caregiver. Her mother, whom she often clashed with growing up, had been diagnosed with late-stage gastrointestinal cancer, and Michelle struggled to fulfill what she believed her obligations were as an only child. “I did not have any idea of what I was getting into or what death looked like and what illness looked like,” Michelle told me, and writes about in a new book called Crying in H Mart. “I felt like needed to write about these things, in some sense, to like, warn people,” she told me.  Since Michelle’s mom died, her band has released three albums—two that were focused on grief and loss, and the latest, which is called Jubilee. I talk with Michelle about the things that are making her happy today—and about why she recently tweeted that all of her joy “is rooted in vengeance.” Listen to Japanese Breakfast's latest album, Jubilee, here, and check out her Crying in H Mart Spotify playlist here.
09/06/21·34m 30s

Mahershala Ali and Rafael Casal: Envy Is A Hell Of A Drug

Today, Mahershala Ali is an Oscar-winning actor who lands leading roles in TV shows like True Detective and Hollywood blockbusters like Green Book and the upcoming Blade Marvel series. But he got his start as a poet-turned-rapper in the Bay Area, where he grew up.  Rafael Casal is another Bay Area poet and musician who made his big screen debut in the film (and upcoming TV series) Blindspotting, which he co-wrote and co-starred in with his creative partner, Daveed Diggs. "We put a movie out and everyone back home thinks I'm on," Rafael says. "And I'm like, that was an indie movie. I lost money." In this guest hosted episode from 2019, Mahershala interviews Rafael about his childhood as a "knucklehead," his life-changing discovery of slam poetry when he was a teenager, and how he and Daveed handle uncomfortable discussions about money and creative credit.  This episode was part of Death, Sex & Money's 2019 Maternity Leave Lineup. Mahershala Ali first joined us on Death, Sex & Money in 2016, along with his wife, Amatus. Hear their conversation about faith, love and success, taped live in Brooklyn. 
02/06/21·33m 22s

Alison Bechdel On Menopause, Mortality and Punching Pennies

Alison Bechdel went through menopause 10 years ago, when she was 50. I know this because she writes about it in her latest graphic memoir, called The Secret To Superhuman Strength. "I just felt crazy," Alison told me about that time in her life. "It was kind of like having really bad PMS for extended periods. I just know I felt nuts." Alison's observations about her outer physical life and inner emotional life are at the center of her new book—which follows two works that are largely about her parents: her 2012 graphic novel Are You My Mother? and her acclaimed 2006 graphic novel-turned-musical Fun Home. Alison's parents and their influences on her are present in her new book, but it follows Alison's own life progression—and exercise obsessions—decade by decade. "I so much wanted to be a big strong guy," Alison told me about herself as a young girl. "I think what the real lure for me was this idea of being self-sufficient, that I wouldn't need anyone else's care or protection. I wanted to be that powerful."
26/05/21·33m 31s

A Former Pro Climber On Enduring Chronic Illness

Until 2018, Mason Earle was a professional rock climber. Mason started climbing as a kid, and developed a specialty in a style known as "crack climbing," where you climb by wedging your hands, fists, or your whole body into cracks in rocks. Mason spent most of his 20s seeking adventure and climbing around the world. But just before turning 30, he started feeling flu-like symptoms on a climbing trip in Yosemite with some friends. Mason never fully recovered. "It was the first moment in my life where I really felt there was no safety net underneath me," he told me. He was later diagnosed with ME/CFS, commonly called chronic fatigue syndrome. In a series of three conversations, Mason and I talked about his former career, how he's adjusting to life and marriage with a disability, and why he doesn't miss rock climbing.
19/05/21·52m 42s

Strictly, Entirely On The Fence About Having A Kid

A few months back, Avery Trufelman, host of The Cut podcast from New York Magazine, reached out with a request to talk. About becoming a parent.  "I am strictly entirely on the fence about whether or not I want to have a kid," Avery told me when we talked. "And I guess I wonder, you know, you were almost in the exact same position that I'm in, working as a podcaster, being in media. And I'm curious how you went from my position to your position. Why did you make the plunge?" There's a lot to consider when trying to decide whether to become a parent. There's your biological clock. The environment. Your financial situation. Your romantic life. Your health. But today, in this episode, we're focusing on the decisions and tradeoffs we make around ambition, desires, and identity when we decide to become parents. I talk with Avery about how being a mom of two has changed my work life, and what I've let go of. We hear from artist Julie Mehretu about how being a mom has impacted her art, and comedian Margaret Cho about being at peace with not having kids. And we hear from one mom who decided to radically change the way motherhood looked in her life—and the price she paid for it. 
12/05/21·39m 49s

Where Noel and Anna's Hot Girl Summer Went Wrong

Last week, I talked with my friend and colleague Noel King, who is a co-host at NPR's Morning Edition, about my new book. It's called Let's Talk About Hard Things, and in front of a live (Zoom) audience, we talked together about why I've built my career on having tough conversations—and all the life stuff that led up to making that leap.  Noel and I first met more than a decade ago, back to when I was still married to my first husband. "You and I were supposed to go to Washington D.C. on a reporting trip together," Noel remembered during our conversation. "And I remember maybe a day before we were supposed to walked over to my desk and you said very quietly, 'I cannot come to Washington, D.C. I need to stay in town this weekend and work on my marriage.'"  I talk together with Noel about the hard conversations that led to the eventual end of that relationship (and the eventful summer that followed), and the ones that helped build the foundation of my second marriage. And, I talk with Noel about why I believe it's important to engage in personal, vulnerable conversations both with people inside our orbits—and people vastly different than ourselves. — Hear more from Noel King on Death, Sex & Money, in the episode she reported about reparations to Chicago police torture victims, and in our 2017 conversation together about workplace harassment, including at WNYC. 
05/05/21·57m 4s

The 7 Hardest Conversations I've Ever Had On This Show

As the host of Death, Sex & Money, my job is to ask my guests to talk about the things "we think about a lot and need to talk about more." And sometimes, talking about hard things that you don’t have much practice talking about...can be unsettling and uncomfortable. It can also feel like the deepest exhale you didn’t know you were waiting for. I've experienced this as both an interviewer and as a participant in the conversations on this show.  We've been talking a lot about hard conversations recently, as my new book, "Let's Talk About Hard Things" is about to be released into the world. So today we thought we'd look back at seven moments in our show’s seven year (!) history that I remember as the squirmiest, most stomach-ache inducing, unsettling, powerful, hard—and, ultimately, some of the most meaningful—conversations that have ever happened on Death, Sex & Money.  Hear more of the interviews we excerpted in today's episode:  My Awkward Money Talk With Sallie Krawcheck Why She Steals: Your Reactions The Sex Worker Next Door Chaz Ebert On Life Without Roger A Son and His Mom Laugh Through Darkness (featuring Bex Montz and Katie Ryan) A Son, A Mother And Two Gun Crimes (featuring Dwayne Betts and Gloria Hill) Dan Savage Says Cheating Happens. And That's OK.
28/04/21·35m 21s

When I Almost Died

A few years ago, I asked you to share your near-death experiences. 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." 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." 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 described her life as "one big near-death adventure." A listener sent us a link to her blog, Sky Between Branches, where she wrote 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. "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. It is a natural process. It’s a very human thing to have happen to you, is to die."  This episode was originally released in 2016. To read updates about some of the people featured in it, sign up for our newsletter here.
21/04/21·34m 24s

I Was In Debt. Then My Sister Offered Me $16,000.

A few years ago, a 27-year-old listener we're calling Tessa was about $19,000 in credit card debt. An unexpected windfall helped them pay most of it off in one fell swoop. But even then, they weren't sure it would stick. "I'm worried that I am going to mess this up and end up exactly where I was before," Tessa told me they were thinking then. "And that is what happened. It ballooned back up to 16 [thousand] in less than a year."  Tessa's been keeping all of this a secret from their family and friends. But a few weeks ago, they decided to reach out to their older sister for help. "She's a really great point in her career," Tessa told me. "She's really financially savvy." But before Tessa could even ask their sister to borrow money—she offered to pay it all off for them. But instead of it feeling like a relief, Tessa told me, "I just felt like I really failed." I talk with Tessa and their sister, who we're calling Rose, about how they eventually made the decision for Tessa to file for bankruptcy—and the ways that talking about money more openly together has led to some unexpected questions and answers about Tessa's spending habits.  If you're struggling with consumer debt, check out these resources. 
14/04/21·38m 42s

When Claudia Rankine Brought Up Race In Couples Counseling

Before the pandemic, poet and professor Claudia Rankine traveled often for work. Her acclaimed 2014 book Citizen: An American Lyric brought her unflinching perspective on race relations to the mainstream. And in her latest book, Just Us, Claudia examined her own personal interactions with white friends, family, colleagues…and even the strangers she'd meet on those work trips. While Claudia's made a name for herself with her reflections on these types of conversations, she told me they're not always easy to have, including with her own husband. "I might say, 'You're only doing that because you're a white guy.' And he'll say, 'Well, you do the same thing.' And I say, "I may do the same thing, but I don't have the same reception,'" she said. Claudia also told me about growing up in predominantly white spaces in the Bronx during the 1970s, and how a cancer diagnosis in her 50s allowed her to reassess what she wants out of life.
07/04/21·37m 42s

A Friend In The Execution Room

This week, we’re sharing an episode of a new podcast called The Experiment with you. It’s a show about America, and what happens when the big ideas and forces that have shaped our country collide with everyday lives.  The Experiment is produced by our colleagues at WNYC Studios and The Atlantic, and as they were putting together this episode, we here at Death, Sex & Money heard about it. And we thought it would be something that you all would want to hear, too. It’s about a man who stepped up to participate in an American process that he doesn’t agree with. And it’s a really powerful story about duty, faith and humanity. Subscribe to The Experiment wherever you get your podcasts. 
24/03/21·31m 31s

Finding Blessings and Throwing Vases

Donna Perry, who lives in Brooklyn, recovered from COVID-19 a year ago. That’s when producer Yasmeen Khan first interviewed Donna for a news story. At that point, Donna had lost several people to COVID. And as the virus spread through New York City during the past year, she lost many more. Donna estimates that she’s been to at least 15 funerals on Zoom—all deaths related to the coronavirus—mostly for her fellow members of Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn. And she's also grieving the loss of one of her best friends, Selisha. They had been close since childhood and talked on the phone every morning.   Still, Donna is adamant about what she calls the “blessings of COVID.” She’s had a chance, she says, to hunker down with her family, to refresh her marriage, and to think with clarity on what’s most important to her. Donna caught up with Yasmeen over Zoom a couple of weeks ago. "I'm really starting to believe that now more than anything, that every day that I have is a gift and I have a responsibility to live my life in purpose," she said.  Donna learned the importance of picking up the phone and calling her loved ones this year. So we're inviting people to do this together on Friday, March 26. We've declared this day “Pick Up the Phone and Call Day.” If there's someone you've been meaning to call in the past year, get on it. Text "call day" to 70101 and we’ll send you text reminders and tips leading up to our newly declared holiday.
17/03/21·22m 39s

Masks On, Tops Off: Inside A Texas Strip Club

Whenever Josh, a 32-year-old commercial truck driver, passes through El Paso, he usually pulls off the highway and heads to the Red Parrot—a topless bar where he goes to have some human contact after hours by himself on the road. "I'm a social butterfly," he told me. But after the club was shut down for long stretches last year, he tells me, the vibe there has changed. "The main thing that I've noticed is that it's a little tamer," he says. "What was a party is now a library."  Live adult entertainment has been hard hit during the pandemic. Like most non-essential businesses, strip clubs have dealt with closures, social distancing restrictions in place and smaller crowds. But on top of that, federal rules have deemed them ineligible to receive federal aid, like PPP loans. "Nobody is even caring about whether you've gotten assistance," Red Parrot owner Darius Belcher told me, as he described utility and rent bills piling up. "Any day...could be our last day."  I also talked with Jessica Barrera, a stripper at the Red Parrot, who worries about what she'd do if the club shut down. "Other clubs...they don't care about your well-being," she told me. "At least at the Red Parrot, if I fall, they pick me up. I couldn't imagine going and dancing anywhere else." 
10/03/21·38m 59s

Ugh, Dating Right Now

Recently, I asked those of you who are single and looking for a relationship to tell us how dating has been going for you during COVID. You told us about messed up momentum, lots of new rules, wrenches thrown into your plans, and a lot of frustration and longing. "I feel a sense of cautious desperation," one listener told us, while another added, "There's no spontaneous kissing. There's none of that sparks flying situation." While some of you have found some unexpected upsides to dating during a pandemic, most of you are pretty burned out. So today, we're airing your grievances about dating right now—and following it up with a pep talk. Logan Ury is the director of relationship science for the app Hinge, and author of the new book How To Not Die Alone. "Love is this natural thing, but dating is not," she told me. "Dating is a skill. And so like anything else dating is something that you can actually learn about, get better at and improve." Even, she says, during a pandemic. 
03/03/21·30m 19s

I Was Your Father, Until I Wasn't

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."  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.  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. "It felt good to have purpose, and it felt amazing to love something so much, in a completely new way."  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—but he also feared the results. "That's not something that you want to know, especially when you love something so much." Tony quickly learned the truth: he had a zero 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.  This episode first aired in 2017.  *Last names have been withheld for privacy reasons.
24/02/21·29m 54s

Your One Night Stand Stories

We just got through Valentine’s Day, our annual celebration of romance. Usually of the long-term sort...or if not long, at least, the sort where you’ve committed to be someone’s sweetheart.  This week, we want to celebrate another important kind of romance: the very short term. The one night stand. Those moments in your life when someone appeared in a flash, you connected, and then, you went your separate ways.  The possibility of a one night stand feels so remote for so many people right now, because chance meetings aren’t really happening much. But the memories are potent, as you told us when we asked you to tell us your stories about one night stands.
17/02/21·18m 13s

Getting Real About Getting Older, Live

Concerns about ageism. Dreams of moving in with roommates, Golden Girls-style. Desires to slow down, while still working 12-hour days. Worries about missing out on precious time with grandkids during the pandemic.  When we opened up the phones to talk with listeners over 60 about life today, we heard from people across the country about big changes and small ones; loneliness and the joys that solitude and independence can bring; and why there are as many ways to experience aging as there are people doing it. Here are some highlights from our national call-in special, co-hosted by Colorado Public Radio's Jo Ann Allen.  This episode is part of our ongoing series of conversations about aging. Find the rest of the series at 
10/02/21·59m 49s

What The Border Taught Norma Elia Cantú About Being Free

When Dr. Norma Elia Cantú was growing up in Laredo, Texas, on the U.S./Mexico border, she was the oldest of what would eventually be eleven siblings—so she stepped into the role of coparent early. "When one of my younger siblings got in trouble at school, they called me," she says. "They [didn't] call the parents because my father was working, and my mother, who didn't speak English, was not able to go." Norma lived at home and continued to help support her family when she went to college, but left after two years, when she became the primary breadwinner of the family. She finished her degree in night school while working at the local utility company, but even now, she says, she "wonders what would have happened had [she] not been so dutiful a daughter." She eventually completed her degree and went on to get her PhD. Now she's 74, a writer, a professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, and the president of the American Folklore Society. I talked with her about how she's supported both her family and her own ambition at the same time throughout her life, as well as about how she processed the deaths of her parents, and her younger brother Tino, who was killed in the Vietnam War when he was only 19. Head over to our Instagram page to see some photos of Norma's family that she shared with us. And Norma graciously agreed to read some of her poetry for us, all from her 2019 collection Meditación Fronteriza: Poems of Love, Life and Labor:  My Mother's Hands    Song of the Borderland (English)   Canto A La Tierra Fronteriza (Español)    
03/02/21·33m 55s

Beverly Glenn-Copeland's Gifts From The Universe

Shortly after college, musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland walked away from a classical singing career to create experimental music. "The great thing about youth is that it isn't afraid of anything," Glenn told me, "and the difficulty about youth is that it has no idea what it should be afraid of." 2020 was supposed to be musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s breakthrough year, after decades of quietly putting out albums while also working for children's television programs. A collector resurfaced his music five years ago, and at 76, Glenn was releasing a new album, embarking on an international tour, and moving into a new home with his wife, Elizabeth. But then the pandemic hit, his tour was cancelled and he lost his housing. In our conversation, I talk with Glenn about what happened next — and about how his new fans stepped up to support him, a Black trans elder. And we talk about his complex relationship with his parents growing up, finding new audiences later in life, and how he relates to his younger bandmates. Listen to Glenn's latest album, "Transmissions," here.
27/01/21·29m 40s

Marlo Thomas Is Her Mother's Revenge

As a young woman, actor and activist Marlo Thomas thought marriage was not a good idea. After watching her mother abandon her own successful singing career to support her father's career in acting, "I thought [marriage] really was a place for one and a half persons," she told me. One person, a man or woman, could live their lives fully, "and the other person would be the half person that would support the other person in their dream." Marlo's views on marriage were well known, too. "Marriage is like a vacuum cleaner," she famously said. "You stick it to your ear and it sucks out all your energy and ambition."  So it came as a surprise to some that, at age 42, Marlo married TV host Phil Donahue after dating for several years. "I had to understand that I could define my own marriage," she told me. "I didn't have to have somebody else's model." And her own model worked: she and Phil have now been married for 40 years. I talked with Marlo about how her beliefs about marriage shifted, and about how her own marriage has continued to evolve as she and Phil have entered their 80s. 
20/01/21·34m 4s

Just Ask Us: Your Stories About Life After 60

A few months ago, we asked our listeners over 60 to tell us about their experiences of getting older, especially during the past year. And it turns out, you had a lot to say about it.  The United States is a country that’s rapidly aging. According to Census Bureau estimates, the number of people over 65 in the U.S. will nearly double over the next 40 years. Americans are also working later, living alone more frequently, and facing greater financial hardship. And of course, there’s the pandemic. 80% of COVID-related deaths in the United States have been among people over 65. But despite all of these commonly-cited statistics, we don't hear much about what it's actually like to be over 60. We don't talk enough about getting older in our society, and when we do, we don’t often do it well. So in this episode, we hope to break down some of that silence around aging. We hear from listeners about unexpected health challenges and financial instability; feelings of isolation, invisibility and freedom; the responsibilities that come with being caregivers to parents, children and grandchildren; and shifting relationships with friends and loved ones.  Hear Your Stories About Life After 60: We're having these conversations with the help of veteran public radio broadcaster Jo Ann Allen—who also hosts her own podcast, Been There Done That, all about the Baby Boom generation. As Jo Ann told us when we had her on Death, Sex & Money back in the fall, even as she's navigated uncertainty about financial stability and her fears of COVID-19, she wouldn't trade this period of life for anything. "I am 67 years old, and I am really into older people!" she says. "I love, without a doubt, up and down, over and under, in and out, being an older person and getting older." To read a transcript of this episode, click here.   If you're not yet 60, but know someone who is and might not know about our show, please forward it on to them! Click the link below to send them a special email with a link to this episode.      Share this episode with a friend!     Did you know only 22% of people over 55 listen to podcasts regularly? Let's change that!  We've rounded up some of our favorite recent reading and listening about people over 60 here, including reflections on living through the pandemic, a handy guide on how to care for older people in your life right now, and a deep dive on ageism.  All month long, we've also been featuring conversations with guests over 60. Listen to actor and activist Marlo Thomas reflecting on her 40-year marriage, musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland talking about the realities of touring and making a living from his music in his 70s, and 74-year-old writer Norma Elia Cantú on growing up in Laredo, Texas, and the three family deaths that changed her.  We wrapped up this series about life after 60 with a live national radio call-in hosted by Jo Ann and Anna on February 3. Listen to highlights of that show here. And if you still want to hear more, here are a few of our favorite episodes with guests over 60 from the Death, Sex & Money archives:  Loading...
06/01/21·49m 25s

Death, Sex & 2020

In 2020, we put out more than 60 episodes of Death, Sex & Money—far more than we've ever put out in a year before. We decided early on in the pandemic that we wanted to be there for our listeners during this especially difficult and isolating time.  This year, we heard from essential workers, from Black listeners processing police violence and injustice, and from many people losing loved ones and missing important milestones, all while isolated from each other. We also shared the books and the podcasts we love, came up with a tool kit for how to pass the time, and tried to find moments of joy. Today, the Death, Sex & Money team reflects on highlights from this year’s episodes, and we check in with a few of the listeners we got to know this year.  Want to revisit some of our favorite episodes this year? Here's our essential workers episode, our Financial Therapy conversation with Frenchie, the live conversations with Back Issue hosts Tracy Clayton and Josh Gwynn and author Akwaeke Emezi, our episode on conversations in immigrant families, part one of our Skin Hunger collaboration, our update with Sharron, and our Game Changer episode featuring Shelby Harris. And if you want to support our work in the new year and beyond, go to and make a year-end contribution. Thank you! 
28/12/20·30m 54s

All That 2020 Has Taken From Us

When we asked you about what 2020 has taken from you, you told us about jobs, travel opportunities, relationships, milestones. Physical objects and feelings. Irreplaceable moments and loved ones.  Today, we're taking some time to sit with those losses, mark them, and reflect on all that has been taken from us this year. 
16/12/20·26m 32s

Stuck Apart, And Falling In Love

Marcy has had Joe* on her mind since she went to the prom with him during her senior year of high school. “He kept coming up in my, in my brain, like, well, I wonder whatever happened to him,” Marcy told me. “It seems like he's always just kind of been with me.”  Earlier this year, Marcy—who’s now 69 and divorced—decided to track down Joe. And months after sending him an email, Joe responded. Since August, they’ve been talking on the phone every day. Marcy says they’re in love. And Joe lives only 15 minutes away. But Marcy and Joe... still haven’t seen each other. Not even over Zoom.  This week on the show, we’re partnering with our friends at NPR’s It’s Been A Minute with Sam Sanders to talk about two very different sides of being stuck during the pandemic: together and apart. Find their episode, about being stuck together, wherever you get your podcasts.  *Name changed
08/12/20·35m 27s

Living Alone and Liking It. Sometimes.

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. Back in 2014, I asked you to send in your stories about living solo. More than a quarter of American households are home to just one person. And from what you told us back then, it’s clear that the way we feel about living alone can be complicated. Today, as many of us grapple with the isolating effects of the pandemic, we’re revisiting your stories about living alone. 
02/12/20·25m 1s

Miguel Gutierrez's Strongly Worded Emails About Art and Money

This past March, choreographer Miguel Gutierrez posted a call on his Instagram. It asked performing arts institutions to honor their commitments to artists like him, who were no longer able to perform publicly because of the pandemic. "The first thing I noticed was all the cancellation emails and their complete, uh, lack of acknowledgement of a financial component," Miguel told me. "Like, you have the money in your budget, right? So pay me."  While Miguel wanted to make sure he was compensated for his work, he also told me that he's been reexamining his relationship to performing. "There's a whole other part of me that’s like, do I ever want to tour again, actually?" he told me. "I actually crave certain kinds of normalcy that are just part of other people's lives." We talked about the years it took for him to learn how to manage his finances as someone living gig-to-gig, how getting sober helped him get out of years of debt, and how he was able to make ends meet this year.
25/11/20·31m 22s

I Killed Someone. Now I Study Police Violence.

Tom Baker is getting his PhD in criminology, and as part of his research he's spent hours watching and studying police shootings. "The goal is to identify...things that police are doing that could be changed in some fundamental way, or maybe just tweaked in a slight way, so that you reduce the number of officer-involved shootings and police related deaths," he told me. This research is personal for Tom. In 2009, while he was working as a police officer in Phoenix, he shot and killed a man while on an off-duty security shift. The killing was determined to be legally justified, but Tom has struggled with it more and more. "You live in a culture where taking a life is the worst thing you can do," Tom told me. "I was trying to do what I thought was the right thing....But then when I didn't feel guilty about it and I didn't feel bad about it, I think the initial thing was feeling, feeling wrong for feeling that way. So feeling guilty for not feeling guilty." Tom left the police force in 2014. But he remains connected to that community, while also forging new relationships within the academic world. "I feel like I'm sort of like straddling the fault line in our country right now," he said. "I don't know if I'm going to just fall into the chasm."  Police killings are not tracked federally, but are tracked by several organizations, including Mapping Police Violence, Fatal Encounters and The Washington Post. A recent study using data from Fatal Encounters examined the risk of being killed by police use of force by age, race-ethnicity and sex, and found that black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police. And while police killings nationally have remained somewhat steady since 2013, the number of deaths in cities have dipped, while the number of deaths in suburban and rural areas has risen. In 98% of cases since 2013, police faced no charges after killing someone. To read Tom Baker's article in The Guardian, click here. 
18/11/20·39m 22s

51 Years Loving A Man Named Sissy

Last year, we met Sissy and Vickie Goodwin, a Wyoming couple who had been married for 50 years. Around the time they started their lives together, Vickie learned of a secret Sissy had been harboring since childhood: a preference for feminine clothing and cross-dressing in private. Vickie was accepting of it, until Sissy started wearing skirts, dresses and frills in public—something she says took her years to understand. "Sissy and I were kind of out here in the Wyoming wilderness figuring this out together," Vickie told me. "And I'm really glad we did."  A few months after we met the couple, Sissy started having problems with memory and fatigue. This winter, he was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer, and quickly entered hospice. He died on March 7—the same day the Wyoming State legislature recognized Sissy with a resolution, honoring his lifetime of achievements, including "bringing gender independence to the Equality State."  "I read it to him," Vickie told me. "I think it did touch his heart."  The resolution honoring Sissy from the Wyoming State Legislature. (Vickie Goodwin)  
11/11/20·38m 29s

What’s Going On In Your Immigrant Family's Group Chat?

This past summer, as protests were erupting across the U.S. in response to George Floyd's death, racism and police brutality, producer Afi Yellow-Duke and I started talking about the conversations she was having with her family. Her parents both immigrated to the U.S. from other countries—Nigeria and Haiti—and Afi said that the discussions her family was having, about belonging and race and identity, felt complicated. And really interesting.  Afi was curious about what's been going on in other immigrant families' conversations this year. So we asked those of you in immigrant families to tell us. In this episode, hosted by Afi, we hear about how some of you are talking with with your immigrant parents, siblings and extended family about the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism in the U.S., the upcoming election, and more. 
28/10/20·40m 34s

Alice Wong On Ruckuses, Rage And Medicaid

Growing up near Indianapolis in the '80s and '90s, Alice Wong wanted to leave. "I knew life was going to be so much better once I got into college," she said. Alice grew up in an immigrant household, and while she had a local Chinese-American community, she rarely saw people who looked like her in the mostly-white community of people with disabilities she was also a part of. In some ways, her new essay collection, Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century, bridges that gap. The book is a series of essays by people with a wide range of backgrounds and disabilities.  Alice and I talked about how she learned to advocate for herself as a young adult, leaving Indiana behind, the complications of managing finances while on Medicaid, and how she's planning for her and her parents' futures.
21/10/20·43m 48s

Audio We Love Fest: California Love

Interviewing people is hard. Interviewing a harder. But that's exactly what writer Walter Thompson-Hernández does in the final episode of his new podcast California Love from LAist Studios, in which he talks to his mom, Ellie Hernández, about her decision to immigrate to the U.S. from Mexico as a young woman. It's a beautiful episode of a show that's part audio memoir, part love letter to Los Angeles. Subscribe to California Love from LAist Studios wherever you get your podcasts. Then tune in tomorrow, October 16th, at 7 pm ET as we end the festival week with a live Zoom show with Tracy Clayton and Josh Gwynn, hosts of one of our favorite new podcasts, Back Issue. Josh and Tracy are going to tell me about some of the things they're turning to for joy in a year when that's hard to come by—it's going to be a really good time. More info here.
15/10/20·46m 23s

Audio We Love Fest: Constellation Prize

When producer Bianca Giaever found herself feeling especially lonely, she decided to look for a stranger who was feeling lonely, too. In the basement of a Brooklyn church, she met Sophia, a former professor-turned-crossing guard. As they developed a relationship, Bianca recorded conversations with Sophia at her home and in her crosswalk, about everything from faith to divorce to gratitude for what we've been given. She chronicles their friendship in a beautiful episode of her podcast Constellation Prize, called Crossing Guard, and we're sharing it with you today as part of our first-ever Audio We Love Festival.  Subscribe to Constellation Prize from The Believer Magazine wherever you get your podcasts. They've also offered a special 20% discount to our listeners. Just enter the code "DSM" at checkout. Then tune in on Friday, October 16th, as we end the festival week with a live Zoom show with Tracy Clayton and Josh Gwynn, hosts of one of our favorite new podcasts, Back Issue. Josh and Tracy are going to tell me about some of the things they're turning to for joy in a year when that's hard to come by—it's going to be a really good time. More info here.
14/10/20·54m 36s

Audio We Love Fest: Goodbye To All This

Every week in the Death, Sex & Money newsletter, we share some of our recent favorite listens with you in our "Audio We Love" section. There are so many great podcasts to listen to...but so little time to discover them. So this week, we're taking our recommendations a step further, and sharing episodes of some of our favorite new shows with you, right here in the feed. First up is Goodbye To All This, a brand new show from the BBC World Service, written and hosted by Australian producer Sophie Townsend. It's a beautiful series about losing her husband to lung cancer, quickly and unexpectedly, and how she and her two young daughters grieved him. The show launched this week, and all twelve episodes are going to be released weekly wherever you get your podcasts.  Subscribe to Goodbye To All This from the BBC World Service wherever you get your podcasts. Then tune in on Friday, October 16th, as we end our festival week with a live Zoom show with Tracy Clayton and Josh Gwynn, hosts of one of our favorite new podcasts, Back Issue. Josh and Tracy are going to tell me about some of the things they're turning to for joy in a year when that's hard to come by—it's going to be a really good time. More info here.  
13/10/20·36m 20s

Getting Real About Getting Older

The United States is a country that’s rapidly aging. According to Census Bureau estimates, the number of people over 65 in the U.S. will nearly double over the next 40 years. They’re also working later, living alone more frequently, and facing financial hardship. And of course, there’s now the pandemic. 80% of COVID-related deaths in the United States have been among people over 65. I see these statistics a lot, but I don’t hear much about what it’s like to be over 60. I don’t think that as a culture, we talk enough about getting older, and when we do, we don’t often do it well. It's time to have better conversations about aging—and we're going to do it with the help of veteran public radio anchor Jo Ann Allen. Jo Ann is the host of the podcast Been There Done That, a show about and for the Baby Boom generation. As she tells me, even as she's learned to navigate uncertainty about financial stability and her fears of COVID-19, she wouldn't trade this period of life for anything. "I am 67 years old, and I am really into older people!" she says. "I love, without a doubt, up and down, over and under, in and out, being an older person and getting older." Over the next few weeks, Jo Ann is going to be stepping into the host chair and recording some interviews with older listeners in our audience about what it's like to be aging, and what questions are coming up for you—especially in this moment. I can't wait for you to meet her. Jo Ann and her dad, who lived to 103. (Courtesy photo)   Are you over 60? We want to hear from you! What's your life look like right now? How are you feeling your age differently this year compared to last year? You can send an email to us, at You can call us and leave a message, at (917) 740-6549. Or you can record a voice memo on your phone, and email it as an attachment to And if you're not over 60, you can still help us by spreading the word, and sending this episode to someone in your life who is. And make sure to check out Jo Ann's podcast, Been There Done That. We particularly like the episode "Betty," in which she talks to her older sister about surviving coronavirus.
07/10/20·25m 6s

Game Changer: A BMX Olympic Hopeful Looks To 2021

As soon as it was announced in 2016 that BMX freestyle would become an Olympic event, Chelsea Wolfe knew she was going for a spot on the team. "Growing up as a woman in BMX, you don't really get that opportunity to see a future for yourself and doing it professionally," Chelsea told me when we talked this summer. "As soon as they said the Olympics are involved, it just changed the game for all of us."  Since then, Chelsea has been working hard to make the Olympic team—enduring big training injuries and a lot of paperwork along the way. As a trans woman, Chelsea had to have her testosterone levels checked and documented regularly before she could even start to compete in qualifying events. "I spent from 2016 to 2018 just purely training and then doing the behind the scenes work of getting all of my paperwork in order," she told me. "And then right as soon as things start to look great, just, boom! Coronavirus happens and everything is shut down."  Want to see Chelsea in action? Watch her competing at the BMX Freestyle Park World Cup in Japan last year. This episode is part of our series Game Changer, about how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives and livelihoods of athletes. Make sure to check out the previous two episodes, about a high-risk NFL player's decision to participate in this year's season, and a Minor League Baseball player who's dealing with the fallout of a cancelled season and contract. 
30/09/20·24m 1s

Game Changer: Whether To Play, And Protest, In The NFL

Shelby Harris uses inhalers daily to treat his asthma, and worries about what getting COVID would do to his lungs. But when he was given the choice to opt out of the 2020-21 NFL season, the Broncos defensive lineman—now on his seventh season in the NFL—knew he wouldn't take that path. "That could be the end of your career," Shelby told me. "It's just going to be young players that come in and perform, and that's how you get your spot taken."  Shelby is now getting tested for COVID almost daily, and wears a tracker while at NFL facilities to monitor whether he's exposed to anyone who tests positive. But his season looks different in other ways than he thought it would too—including the amount of money he's making, and the way he's protesting racism and police violence during games. Shelby is currently wearing Elijah McClain's name on his helmet, and as the National Anthem played during the Broncos home opener this year, Shelby took a knee for the first time since 2017. "I'm doing this because I need to be able to look my kids in the eye when I get older and told them I fought for them," Shelby said. "I want to figure out something that's actually going to make a change."  This episode is part of our series Game Changer, about how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives and livelihoods of athletes. Look out for the next episode in the series on Wednesday. 
25/09/20·23m 26s

Game Changer: A Minor League Pitcher's Lost Season

Mitch Horacek started the baseball pre-season in Florida, at minor league spring training for the Minnesota Twins. He'd just been signed by the team months before, after seven long years of playing on a low-paying contract for the Rockies. And he felt like it was going to be a big season. "I was probably slated for AAA baseball this year, which is the closest level to the big leagues," Mitch told me when we talked in August. "I do believe that if the season happened this year and I was pitching well right about now, and there was a spot open, it could have been my number that was called." But the minor league season didn't happen—it was cancelled this spring. Mitch wasn't invited to make his major league debut with the Twins, as he'd hoped. And rather than making the salary Mitch had negotiated with Twins—one that paid him much more than he'd been making for the past seven years—he ended up getting paid a weekly stipend that amounted to $400 a week before taxes. "It is something," he said. "But it's a long shot from what I was expecting."  This episode is part of our series Game Changer, about how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives and livelihoods of athletes. Look out for the next episode in the series on Friday. 
23/09/20·24m 13s

How Maria Hinojosa Learned To Fluff Her Feathers

Maria Hinojosa is best known as the host of the public radio program Latino USA, a role she's occupied for over 25 years. But getting to that point in her career required navigating newsrooms at CBS, NPR, CNN, and PBS at a time where she was often the first and the only Latina journalist there. As she writes in her new memoir, Once I Was You, that meant having to walk with confidence and believing in her work when, she says, her mostly white colleagues didn't. But, as Maria told me, the confidence she built while working in media didn't totally translate to other parts of her life. "You know, my marriage almost broke up because of my ego," she said. And as her career became more successful, she told me about the times she says she didn't prioritize her husband and her kids, about the crisis point that led her to reevaluate her role in her relationship and as a mother, and about how, these days, she is practicing listening and self-love.
16/09/20·26m 3s

A Broadway Actor Turned Stay-At-Home Dad

Last week, we released an episode about the many challenges of childcare in America right now. We talked with a childcare provider in Pittsburgh, Lesely Crawford, whose centers are currently open. And, we heard from a parent, Cara Moody, who’s depending on Lesely's daycare centers so she can go back to work.  But we’ve also heard from a lot of you who haven’t had access to childcare in recent months. And who have had to make big changes in the way you’re taking care of your kids. One of the people who wrote in to us is named Bill Army. He's a Broadway actor who lives in Queens, New York, and has two daughters. We're sharing his voice memo with you today, about the adjustments his family has made, and about the ways he's kept his kids connected with the world outside of their apartment.  Find more photos of Bill and his family at our Instagram page. Looking for our Pandemic Tool Kit? Click here.
11/09/20·4m 59s

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor On Racism, Insecurity and Negotiation

"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." 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 Death, Sex & Money guest host Sonia Manzano, 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." 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, Citizens United. 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."  This episode is part of our 2016 Great Guest Takeover series, when several past guests took a turn in the host chair during Anna's maternity leave. Check out Sonia Manzano's 2015 interview with Anna on Death, Sex & Money here.  To listen to our 2016 Other Americans call-in special, click here. And to add to and browse our Pandemic Tool Kit, click here. 
09/09/20·35m 25s

Drop Off: A 24-Hour Daycare's Struggle To Stay Open

Lesely Crawford runs two daycare centers in Pittsburgh—both of which are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "It's like a hodgepodge of craziness," she told me, as she described their sleeping arrangements and what each age group of kids likes to do while they're there. "But it's so awesome when we have the whole space filled with everybody."   These days, though, Lesely's daycares are operating at less than half of the capacity that they normally do. Many families haven't returned, since the centers reopened to children of non-essential workers. There are additional costs, for things like thermometers and cleaning supplies. And in order to accommodate new families, Lesely needs to hire a few new employees—something that has proved difficult during the pandemic. "I don't know what we're gonna do," Lesely told me, when I asked about their financial situation. "I'm really giving it like six to eight months."  But for the essential and frontline workers who are sending their children to them, Lesely's daycares are providing a critical service. Cara Moody has sent her five-year-old son Colton there for the past two years, and depends on their evening and weekend hours while she works her shifts at a local restaurant. Especially now that her work hours are limited by the pandemic, she can't afford in-home care. "Even just having a babysitter come for a couple of hours is expensive and unreliable," she said. When I asked her what she would do if Lesely's daycare closed, she responded, "I have no idea."
02/09/20·30m 37s

Books We Love: Inside The Bubble With Akwaeke Emezi

The third conversation in our "Books We Love" live Zoom series is with writer and artist Akwaeke Emezi. In the last two years, they've published three books: their critically-acclaimed debut, Freshwater; a young adult novel, Pet; and their newest novel, The Death of Vivek Oji. Their latest book tells the story of Vivek, a young gender-nonconforming person growing up in Nigeria, and how his loved ones grieve him and what they learn about him after his death. Akwaeke joined me on Zoom from their home in New Orleans to talk about their own childhood in Nigeria, why they now identify as "based in liminal spaces," gardening as a form of self-care, and how the act of dissociation has become a powerful tool for them.   You can watch the video of this live conversation here, thanks to our friends at The Greene Space. For the first two conversations in this series, you can watch or listen to Michael Arceneaux here, and watch or listen to Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman here. And be sure to check out Akwaeke's home on Instagram.  To find out about the next conversation in our series, and to get more recommendations from the Death, Sex & Money team, subscribe to our newsletter.
26/08/20·56m 32s

"They Rely On Me": An Update From A USPS Mail Carrier

The United States Postal Service has been in the news a lot in the past week, as national anxiety rises about the upcoming presidential election, mail-in ballots, and the Postmaster General's recent cost-cutting changes to the mail system.  Our listener Beth is a mail carrier in rural Maine who first wrote to us back in March about being an essential worker, and her fears of contracting and spreading COVID-19 on her route. "I don't know if this virus is on the mail," she said then. "The packages, the mailboxes. I touch everything."  When we checked in with Beth more recently, she told us some of those fears have lessened for her. But now, she's facing new pandemic-related challenges at work, including childcare issues, and delivering a lot more packages. "I definitely run from my truck to a house to drop off a package and I run back to my truck and it's go, go, go, go, go all day long," she said, adding that because she gets paid a set rate for her rural route, "I get paid for 43 hours [per week] no matter what." Listen to our episode about essential workers, including Beth, from earlier this spring.   
19/08/20·14m 17s
Heart UK