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Death, Sex & Money Podcast by Anne Sale

Death, Sex & Money Podcast

by Anne Sale

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Listen to one of the most popular and highly rated podcasts from 2015. WNYC's Death, Sex & Money Podcast focuses squarely on three major life topics that many would sometimes rather avoid. Host Anna Sale speaks with a variety of people from different backgrounds on topics like why many of us are celibate, what it's like to be a funeral director, and how one privileged couple dealt with sudden, debilitating debt. This podcast series follows in the tradition of This American Life, Radiolab, and OnBeing in its sensitive exploration of interesting real-life stories that are reflective of wider issues that anyone might face.

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  • Hot Dates: Help from an OKCupid Guru
    Thu, Jun 14, 2018

    In the third installment of our series Hot Dates, we check in with Louis, who's trying to date in D.C. and frustrated by how it's going. It's still hard—so we asked Tobin Low, cohost of the WNYC Studios podcast Nancy, to weigh in with some advice from his own time on OKCupid. Plus, Ceci tells us about some anonymous texts she's been getting.

    All summer, we're following a group of listeners as they date in real time around the country. We're calling this series Hot Dates—if you missed the introductory episode, go back and listen to it first.

    And if you're looking to expand your social circle—romantic or otherwise—check out Nancy's friendship project: How to Get a Gaggle.

  • Hot Dates: Do As I Say, Not As I Do
    Fri, Jun 08, 2018

    When we met Thomas in our first episode of Hot Dates, he was trying to avoid jumping into anything too quickly. It's June, and he's got an update on his love life.

    All summer, we're following a group of listeners as they date in real time around the country. We're calling this series Hot Dates—if you missed the introductory episode, go back and listen to it first

  • John Prine Wanted to Be Normal
    Wed, Jun 06, 2018

    I've loved John Prine's music a long timeI grew up singing his songs around campfires in West Virginia. But before he was a regular in my music collection, John was performing at open mics in Chicago, and paying his bills by delivering mail. So when he hit it big with his first album in 1971, he says that getting use to fame was a shock. "I was writing about things private to me and dear to me," he told me. "And to have people know me before they shook my hand was odd to me." And John says that in his life, he's felt odd himself. "That’s how I ended up making my living, being Mr. Oddball," he says. "I get these thoughts, and I like to make them into songs. They might sound odd at the time, but then people connect to them throughout their life. And it turns out I’m doing something that may resemble something solid."

    In the years since getting famous, John has started a family, battled cancer twice, and along the way, gotten more comfortable with being known. His new album is The Tree of Forgivenessand it's brought him the best album sales of his career. To get it written, John told me, his wife and stepson sent him to a hotel room in Nashville and told him to get to work. "I would knock around during the day and go get a hot dog," he told me about his writing process. "And at nighttime, I’d start writing about three in the morning, order room service up, have a party by myself and end up with a couple songs every day." 




  • Hot Dates: Romance Right Now
    Wed, May 30, 2018

    lot is changing about how we date right now, from how we meet people, to who pays, and how we talk about sex. It's complicated, but for many people, summer is the time to try. So as we head into the warmer months, we've asked a group of listeners to let us check in with them as they date. In this first episode, you'll meet:

    • Louis, a guy in Washington D.C., who's constantly ghosted by the men he matches with on dating apps.

    • Miracle, a woman in Alabama who's not using dating apps at all...but isn't having better luck meeting people at her church.

    • "Thomas," a young divorcee we originally met in our episode about breakups, who's learning to keep things casual.

    • Jessie, a software developer in Montana who's figuring out how to be comfortable earning more than most of the men she dates.

    • Dan, a recent widower who's navigating the new rules of consent and gender dynamics. 

    • Ceci, a 36 year old woman in Sacramento who's looking for commitment, but knows not to settle to find it. 

    • Vicki, a journalist in her sixties who's enjoying casual dating and sex, and has no interest in becoming a caregiver to an older boyfriend.

    • And June, a college Junior who uses Tinder to scope out who around her is single and looking.

    We'll be checking back in with these listeners over the course of the summer as they swipe their way to love...or at least, some good stories.

  • Tayari Jones on Frills and Freedom
    Wed, May 16, 2018

    Tayari Jones’ first step towards becoming a bestselling author was quitting. When she left a PhD program in literature at the University of Iowa in her early 20s, she worried about getting in trouble and disappointing her parents, who were both academics.

    Instead, two decades later, she says that decision ushered in the best times of her life. “I wanted a kind of life I had never seen before,” she told me. “I was always really attracted to women who seemed to be eccentric and kind of uncontrollable. I wanted them to teach me how they came to be so free.”

    I talk to her about pushing back against the unspoken confines of womanhood, in her writing and in her life, and about how a phone call from Oprah changed everything for her.  

  • Your Student Loan Updates
    Wed, May 02, 2018

    "Being an adult and taking on adult things has definitely made me grow up a little bit," Jordan Gibbs told me when we talked recently. "It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster." 

    Last spring, Jordan was just one of the many listeners who told us about their student loan debt. When we first talked, she wasn't paying hers at all. It was a secret from everyone in her life, including her parents. But as we were putting together our original batch of episodes, she made one hefty paymentand, as she told me recently, she's continued to stay on top of her finances. "I looked through my bank account and started x-ing things off the list," she says. "Looking at my spending at the end of the month, I was just like, wow. You can definitely afford to pay your student loans." 

    In this episode, I check in with several other listeners who we met in our student loans serieslike Josie, who decided to attend a more affordable state school because she'd have to take on less debt; Sharif, who questioned the American dream after being buried in more than $100,000 in loans; and Jessie, whose engagement was called off over differing opinions about debt and having children. 



  • When 'Daddy Dates' Pay The Bills
    Wed, Apr 18, 2018

    When Lizzie* joined the website Seeking Arrangement as a college undergraduate, she thought it would be a short-term thing. The “sugar daddy” website mostly connects wealthy older men with attractive young women—“sugar babies”—who they pay for sex and dates. Two years after joining, Lizzie calls herself a professional sugar baby, although she keeps her work secret from everyone except a small circle of friends. She says she brings in $4,000 to $5,000 a month from various arrangements—far more than she makes from her job as a freelance copywriter.

    Lizzie sees the relationships as purely transactional, but she says the men often don’t treat it that way. “They think they’re getting better girls if they’re not actually escorts,” she told me. I spoke with Lizzie about why she prefers seeing men who are new to Seeking Arrangement, and how she navigates her double life. 


    *Name changed


  • A Son, A Mother, and Two Gun Crimes
    Wed, Apr 04, 2018

    We first heard Dwayne Betts' story in Caught, the new podcast series about juvenile justice from WNYC. Today, Dwayne is 37, a poet, father of two and a Yale Law School graduate. He's getting his PhD in law there now. But as a 16-year-old, Dwayne carjacked someone at a mall, and was sent to prison for almost a decade. "The fact that I was a child, I should have been treated differently," Dwayne told us. "And that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have been punished, that that just means I should have been treated differently." 

    Dwayne's mom, Gloria, was in the courtroom the day her son was sentenced. I wanted to talk with her and Dwayne together, about how she remembers that day and how their family got through the years of Dwayne being locked up. But Gloria told me that around the time that Dwayne was sentenced, suddenly "it just seemed like everything that happened in my life involved a gun." That was something she hid from Dwayne until years later, when he was released from prison. 

  • Death, Sex & Money's Starter Kit
    Mon, Mar 26, 2018

    Death, Sex & Money began back in 2014, which means we have a lot of episodes for you to enjoy. But that also means there’s a lot to sift through, if you’re new to the show. So we asked our listeners about some of their must-listen Death, Sex & Money episodes. Here are some of the episodes that they recommended as places to start. 


    This Senator Saved My Love Life - You have to give it to some elected representatives—they really will respond to the letters you send. Or at least, Senator Alan Simpson did when host Anna Sale's boyfriend, Arthur, sent a plea for help. That’s how she wound up in the Wyoming kitchen of Alan and Ann Simpson, getting advice on maturity, commitment, and of course, sex.

    Ellen Burstyn’s Lessons in Survival - When Ellen Burstyn was 18, she got on a Greyhound bus going from Detroit to Dallas. She had 50 cents in her pocket and a hunch that she could find work as a model. Now 81, the actress and director, known for her roles in Alice Doesn’t Live Here AnymoreThe Exorcist, and Requiem For a Dream says she thinks of herself as a "work in progress," adding, "I know I’m a successful actress, but I don’t feel I’m necessarily a successful person."

    I Was Your Father, Until I Wasn't - Tony became a father in his mid-20s, after a woman he'd had casual sex with got pregnant. He shared custody of their daughter, and said being a dad gave him new purpose in life. But when his daughter was about a year old, Tony decided to take a paternity testand found out the child he'd been raising as his was not biologically related to him. 

    Opportunity Costs series - When have you been most aware of your class status? When we asked our listeners this question, they responded with stories about class and divorce, fertility, friendship, education, race and much more. Listen to the series and read pieces about class and money written by our partners at BuzzFeed News. 

    In New Orleans series - There's no single story about Hurricane Katrina, or about how people have fared in its wake. In this series that we produced around the 10 year anniversary of the storm, we share five very different stories about five people from New Orleans—including bounce artist Big Freedia, the elected New Orleans coroner, and a woman who calls herself the Demo Diva. They all lived in the city when Hurricane Katrina hit. They all live there now. And their lives in the decade since the storm have all been shaped in some way by it and its aftermath. 

    Autism Isn't What I Signed Up For - Diane Gill Morris is raising two teenage sons with autism. We first met her when she left a comment on our Facebook page in response to an article about people who are considering having children. "I have sacrificed a huge part of who I am—given up my career, gone broke, accepted social isolation," she wrote. "If someone had told me this is what it would be like, I never would have had kids." Diane talked with us about trying to keep her sons safe as young black men, about how her marriage has changed since the kids' diagnosis, and about how she can both love her sons deeply and mourn the children she never met. 

    Jane Fonda After Death and Divorce - When actor, fitness guru and activist Jane Fonda found herself newly single at 62, she says she felt whole for the first time. Now, she says she’d disappear into a monastery before getting married again. Hear her talking with host Anna Sale about her mother's suicide when she was a girl, her father Henry Fonda's long decline, and the lessons she learned by choosing to be alone.

    Why I Steal - Alice* lives in a small town, where the work dries up in the winter. So, she supplements her seasonal unemployment checks by shoplifting. "I do have rules that I follow," she explains. But she also keeps her stealing a secret from her husband and her young daughter. 

    Happy listening! And since you're new to our show, know that you can email your story ideas or episode responses any time to [email protected] 

  • 15 Years Later, An Iraq Veteran Looks Back
    Wed, Mar 21, 2018

    Ten days after the start of the war in Iraq, Staff Sergeant Thom Tran crossed the border from Kuwait with his unit. Four days later, he went out on a recon mission, and came millimeters from death when an enemy bullet grazed the back of his head in a firefight. He got relatively lucky; but still, he's spent the last 15 years thinking about how that moment—and his service—have defined his life after the military.

    Because for Thom, coming home after his deployment ended was not easy. "I had a real shit attitude because I'd been shot, my roommate had been killed...I was in a real bad mood all the time," he told me. "So I did what every combat veteran does. I fell into a bottle and I sat there." I talked with him about sharing those experiences with his father, who was a POW in Vietnam, and about how comedy has helped him manage his stress in the years since.

  • From Indie Rockers to Full-Time Caregivers
    Wed, Mar 14, 2018

    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 diagnosed him with bipolar disorder. 

    After Johnny got sober and went on medication, the band regrouped and continued touring and putting out albums. But last year, it was Nancy who needed help, as her health declined due to a degenerative nerve disease. So Johnny and his wife—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.


  • Sharing DNA, and Nothing Else
    Wed, Feb 28, 2018

    The consumer genomics industry has exploded in recent years. Websites like Ancestry.com and 23andMe have customer databases in the millions. But for some people, like a woman we met named Amy, the at-home DNA testing craze can bring some unexpected revelations.

    In 2016, Amy spit into a tube and mailed it to Ancestry.com's DNA testing service. She'd always been interested in genealogy, so the test seemed like the perfect way to learn more about her heritage—but what she found out was that the man who raised her wasn't her biological father. "It was this moment where time stood still and things got quiet," she says about the day she found out. "And I just sort of received, read it, and then just shut it off in a way that I've never really experienced."

    After the shock wore off, Amy braced herself to talk with her mother about what she'd discovered. And as she learned more about her donor and his family, she also struggled with whether or not she wanted to be in contact with them—a decision that became even more complicated when Amy found out that her biological father is a staunch Trump supporter, while she had switched careers only months before to become a full-time Democratic campaign worker. "It's like the universe's funny joke," she says. "'Woman gives up her life to join the Democratic resistance, and finds out she's related to a Trump-Pence supporter.'"

  • Lena Waithe Says Have a Dream... and a Sponsor
    Wed, Feb 21, 2018

    Writer and actor Lena Waithe moved to Los Angeles in 2006 from Chicago, right out of college. "I transferred my Blockbuster job from Chicago to LA," she told me. "It was definitely dues-paying time. I wasn’t even paying dues yet. I was just out there figuring it out."

    Lena's goal in Hollywood was to land a screenwriting gig. Growing up, she'd always loved to write—her fifth grade teacher told her she "writes the way she speaks." And she also knew that she wanted a career far outside of the corporate world that her mother worked in. "This is what hell looks like, whatever it is y'all do all day long," she remembers thinking when her mom would bring her into work as a kid. 

    But those office cubicle jobs were what enabled her mom to financially support Lena during those early days in California. As Lena was making a dollar or two above minimum wage and trying to land small screenwriting gigs, her mom was helping her with her bills. "I think for her it was an investment," Lena says. "She was like, Lena’s going to be somebody. I don’t understand it, but I’ll take it." That's paid off: since landing writing and acting jobs on Bones and Master of None, and creating her new show The Chi, Lena says she's been sending her mom a yearly check. "She sends a text like, 'And I thank you,'" Lena laughs. "And the emoji with the money on its eyes and tongue." 

  • Suicide Prevention Resources
    Wed, Feb 07, 2018

    Struggling with thoughts of suicide, or trying to help a loved one you're worried about can be difficultand finding help can feel overwhelming, especially when you're already stressed. Here are a list of resources that you may find useful (if you are in immediate danger, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255)

    • The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also provide services for specific communities such as disaster survivors, attempt survivors, Native Americans, LGBTQ+, and veterans. 
    • The Trevor Project is a national organization that focuses on young members of the LGBTQ+ community mainly between the ages of 13 and 24. 
    • SAVE, or Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, is an organization that offers education on the warning signs of suicide in hopes of preventing suicide attempts. 
    • SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is an agency within the US Department of Health and Human services. They provide a number of services, and have a section on suicide prevention



    If you have a resource that you think should be on this list, email us at de[email protected]

  • After Suicides, a Texas Veterinary Community Opens Up
    Wed, Feb 07, 2018

    "Stress is in the environment. It's that fast pace. [Veterinarians] will do a euthanasia and not stop, and they'll go right to the next case. There's no processing of it."

    Suicide statistics in the veterinary profession are sobering: a 2014 CDC study found that one in six veterinarians has considered suicide, and a British study found that the suicide rate in the veterinary profession might be up to four times higher than that of the general population.

    But reading the statistics and experiencing the reality of these numbers are two very different things, as the veterinary community in Dallas learned last spring. Over the course of about a month last year, three veterinary workers there—two veterinary techs, and one veterinarian—died by suicide. We went to Dallas to talk to people in the veterinary community about the stresses of their profession, how they remember their colleagues who've died, and what they're doing to take care of each other now—and to prevent more suicides from happening in the future. 


    We're proud to partner with the Dallas Morning News for this story. They've produced a photo essay to take you inside the veterinary clinic we visited in Dallas, as well as a video that we've included below. Dr. Kathryn Konieska at the Center for Veterinary Specialty + Emergency Care talks about what the euthanasia process entails, including the emotional toll it can take on a vet. 

    If you’re considering suicide, or are worried about someone who might be, please get help. We’ve compiled a list of resources here. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and is open 24 hours a day.






  • Opportunity Costs: I Never Felt Inferior
    Fri, Jan 26, 2018

    I first talked to Ernie Major a few years ago, for our episode about living alone. When we put out our call for class stories, Ernie got in touch again. "I’m retired now, by myself in a single wide trailer," he wrote us, "but I still don’t feel inferior to other people of higher class. In fact, sometimes I feel kind of sorry for them, trapped their web of expectations."

    Ernie is 73, and over the course of his life he's been in a lot of different class brackets. He grew up "dirt poor" as a homesteader, but he had relatives who were quite well off. After serving in Vietnam, he went to college on the G.I. Bill, and worked as a photojournalist before starting a new career in his fifties at an oil refinery. And now, he's on long term disability after a motorcycle accident last year. Those experiences exposed him to a lot of class diversity, but he says as an adult, he's identified as "socially lower middle class, economically a bit better than that," without aspirations to move up. "I look down on people who invest a lot of time and energy into status symbols that can just go away in a second."

    Yet Ernie also recognizes that being white has allowed him a level of class fluidity--which has fueled some of that emotional detachment from where he fits in the class hierarchy. "I understood early on that [being white] gave you a a a step up even though we were dirt poor," he told me. "And I had my mom’s [upper-middle class] family, so I had a connection with people who were not definitely not the same as us." 

    Anna took this picture of Ernie after their conversation, with his new Death, Sex & Money "should-less day" mug. Afterward, when we asked Ernie to send us a picture of something that represents his class status, he sent along a picture of his Royal Enfield motorcycle on a wheelchair ramp next to the trailer where he lives. He wrote, "My friends made this ramp after I crushed my foot in an accident. It's the kind of thing that people would do when I was a kid and we lived on a homestead." 


    This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to deathsexmoney.org/class.

  • Opportunity Costs: More Is Not More
    Thu, Jan 25, 2018

    Nishant is a junior at Berkeley. Like a lot of college students, he’s trying to figure out how he thinks about class and money as he moves towards graduation and financial independence from his parents. But Nishant’s dealing with a special set of privileges, and complications: his family is in the one percent. His dad, Vik, immigrated from India with his family as a teenager and then went to medical school. But instead of becoming a doctor, Vik founded a software company instead. It was a gamble that paid off. Within ten years, a Fortune 500 corporation had bought Vik’s company, and the family got rich.

    Learning to navigate the privilegesand the burdensof being wealthy is something both father and son struggle with. Vik is aware that his discomfort around wealth brings out a competitive edge in him that he's not proud of. And Nishant worries that his friends at college would think of him as “spoiled” if they found out just how much his family has. As Nishant thinks about what he wants to do after college, he’s also dealing with social pressure to match his parents’ financial success. “There’s some American dream kind of pressure that each generation you do better than the generation that came before you,” he told me. “I would have to get very lucky to accomplish that, and that focus is not one that I want to have.”

    We asked the people we interviewed for this series to submit photos of things they felt represented their class status. Vik sent us this photo of his garage, and wrote, "Some really amazing choices of cars to select from to drive to the gym, but in the end, regardless of the car you drive, you still have to have the self discipline to make time and show up, and work out hard and push yourself. Once you're on the racquetball court or on the treadmill, class has no relevance."


    This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to deathsexmoney.org/class.

    To hear Anna and Vik talk about the Opportunity Costs series with WNYC's Brian Lehrer, click here

  • Opportunity Costs: The Class Slide After Divorce
    Wed, Jan 24, 2018

    A decade ago, Jaimie Seaton and her family were living overseas in Asia while her husband worked as a high-ranking executive at Citibank. "We lived in a huge house with a pool and staff and a driver," Jaimie told me. "We always traveled business class. We always stayed in 5-star hotels. We always had a lot of parties."

    "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." 

    Jaimie wrote a piece for BuzzFeed about her class transition after her divorce. Read it here


    We asked the people we interviewed for this series to submit photos of things they felt represented their class status. "In this picture, I am lying on a private beach in Florida, when I was staying with a friend a few summers ago," Jaimie wrote. While she's cut out a lot of her expenses, Jaimie told us, "I still get a pedicure—my toes are always done. You get a lot of bang for your buck. It lasts a whole month and it costs $30." 


    This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to deathsexmoney.org/class.

  • Opportunity Costs: An Education or Nothing
    Tue, Jan 23, 2018

    When Ramal Johnson imagined his life as a PhD student at Howard University, he didn't picture waking up at 4 A.M. to work double retail shifts in addition to his coursework. But last semester, when he was struggling to keep up with rent and student loan payments, that's what his days looked like. Even with his jobs at Best Buy and Express, he wasn't always making enough to cover the cost of living in the D.C. area. "I kind of felt like a failure," he says. "I was just depressed, I was sad, and I was angry, but at nobody in particular. I guess I was just angry at the situation."

    But, he says, the tradeoffs feel worth it. Like a lot of students, Ramal sees education as a way up the class ladder. "There’s a pretty good chance I’ll be making six figures in the future," he told me. Right now, Ramal says he's straddling the middle and working class—he grew up on a military base, and now, he says, he’s kept a "middle class mentality" while he tries to keep up with the financial reality of his almost $200,000 in student loan debt. But, he told me, it's a burden that he says felt necessary to take on. "Especially as an African American male, people don’t take me seriously in the first place," he said. "With a PhD I’ll have more of a chance."

    If you're curious about whether you're considered in the middle class based on your location and the number of people in your household, check out this class calculator from the Pew Research Center.

    We asked the people we interviewed for this series to submit photos of things they felt represented their class status. Ramal sent us this photo of Howard University, where he is getting his doctoral degree in communications. 


    This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to deathsexmoney.org/class.

  • Opportunity Costs: Friendship and Fertility
    Mon, Jan 22, 2018

    We heard from more than 400 of you when we asked you for your stories about when you've felt your class status the most. Our listener Cat in Chicago told us it's a question she's been waiting "literally 20 years for someone to ask."

    Cat wrote to us about her best friend, Christine. They met in college, and have stayed really close in the years since. But when they both struggled to get pregnant, Cat had a lot more options. She describes herself as upper-middle class—she and her husband own their own home, and bring in more than six figures per year. Christine comes from a working class background, and the incomes she and her husband make in the theater industry barely cover their bills. So as Cat was able to afford the expenses of adopting a child, Christine was told by her doctors to keep trying to get pregnant naturally. It didn't happen. 

    "I feel this sort of guilt about kids," Cat told us. "I know that she knows about that. We've we've talked about that before." 

    I talked with Cat and Christine together about how their class differences have impacted their friendship and the families they've been able to build. "Over the years I have just kind of let go of a lot of things let go of of trying to compare or keep up," Christine says. "You want your best friend to have this awesome life. Of course you do." 

    We asked the people we interviewed for this series to submit photos of things they felt represented their class status. Cat sent us this photo of her living room. She wrote, "It is a super over-the-top room, but it was the first thing we saw when we walked into the house with the realtor and I just love it. Rumor is that the house was built by a mob attorney (as if you could get more Chicago than that); evidence in this room is that there's actually a wall safe hidden behind one of the panels."


    This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to deathsexmoney.org/class.

  • Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America
    Wed, Jan 17, 2018

    In partnership with 


    Death, Sex & Money is partnering with BuzzFeed News to share conversations and essays about class and money—and the ways they manifest in our day to day lives and in our relationships with each other.

    Read BuzzFeed's reported pieces and essays about money and classincluding one from Anna!here.  


    Episode 5: I Never Felt Inferior 

    Ernie Major self-identifies as "socially lower middle class, economically a bit better than that." But he also says status has never been something he paid much attention to. 


    Episode 4: More is Not More 

    For a father and son whose family is in the 1%, having resources that "exceed their wants" brings its own set of challenges.  


    Episode 3: The Class Slide After Divorce 

    Jaimie Seaton got used to an upper class lifestyle while married to her banker husband and living overseas. Then she got divorced, and her financial picture totally changed.

    Read Jaimie's BuzzFeed piece about class changes after divorce here.  


    Episode 2: An Education, or Nothing

    Ramal Johnson has a "middle class mentality," a working class paycheck, and upper class aspirations. 

    Looking for the Pew Research Center class calculator? Find it here. 


     Episode 1: Friendship and Fertility 

    Best friends Cat and Christine met in college and have stayed close since. But their class differences became very clear—and uncomfortable—when they both struggled to get pregnant.



    For several months, we've been asking for your stories about when you've felt your class status the most. Now, we're sharing five conversations about class and the ways it intersects with different parts of our lives. Two best friends talk about how being on the opposite ends of the middle class have impacted their ability to start families. A first-generation college student deep in debt bemoans how hard it is to climb up the class ladder—and how easy it is to fall down it. A mother of two teenagers talks about how her life looks different after her financial situation changed post-divorce. A son talks with his father about how their family became part of the 1%—and why it's not all it's cracked up to be. And a 73-year-old Vietnam vet who never got comfortable in the professional world reflects on how being white allowed him a level of fluidity in class status not afforded some of his non-white colleagues and friends.






    "Class is complicated. So, so complicated," a listener named Jessica wrote to us when we asked for your stories about class.

    While it pops up in many ways in our lives, class is a term that can be hard to pin down, and isn't just about money. "My class is defined by my home and my education," one listener wrote. "Class is your ability to rebound from inevitable setbacks," another said. "Class does not define our worth or ability as humans," wrote another listener. And a listener from the UK wrote about class, "We embrace it as who we are, not what we want to become."

    One of our favorite class definitions came from Elizabeth in El Paso, Texas, who wrote, "I feel like class is a level of pride or shame." So we want to hear from you: what embarrasses you about your current class status, and what makes you feel pride? To read through what your fellow listeners have told us already, click here

    Plus, we ask you to tell us a song that sums up where you fit, class-wise. Check out the Spotify playlist we built from your suggestions here



    Stay in touch with us! Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you up to date about what's happening behind the scenes at Death, Sex & Money. Plus, we'll send you audio recommendations, letters from our inbox and a note from Anna. Join the Death, Sex & Money community and subscribe today.



  • Preview: Opportunity Costs
    Wed, Jan 17, 2018

    For the past few months, we've been asking you for stories about class. We heard from more than 400 of you about moving up, moving down, and struggling to define where you stand in the first place. One thing that was clear for everyone, though, is that class is something we talk around, but rarely address head on.

    So next week (January 22-26), in partnership with BuzzFeed News, we're bringing you five in-depth conversations about class—and the ways it manifests in your day-to-day lives and in your relationships with each other. Two best friends talk about how being on the opposite ends of the middle class have impacted their ability to start families. A first-generation college student deep in debt bemoans how hard it is to climb up the class ladder—and how easy it is to fall down it. A mother of two teenagers talks about how her family's social life looks different after her financial situation changed post-divorce. A son talks with his father about how their family became part of the 1%—and why it's not all it's cracked up to be. And a 73-year-old Vietnam vet who never got comfortable in the professional world reflects on how being white allowed him a level of fluidity in class status not afforded some of his non-white colleagues and friends.

    We're calling this project "Opportunity Costs," because there are tradeoffs and choices when it comes to money and status—and and a whole lot of chance, too. Look for a new episode in your feed every morning next week. In the meantime, take our class pride and shame survey—and tell us a song that sums up your class status!

  • If You're Being Harassed At Work
    Wed, Jan 03, 2018

    If you've been harassed or bullied on the job and are wondering what you can do about it, knowing where to start can be hard. Here are some resources you might find useful:

    • The Time's Up Legal Defense Fund is a new initiative that offers subsidized legal aid to men and women who have experienced harassment or bullying on the job.
    • From the New York Times, a roundup of advice from lawyers about what concrete steps you can take right now to document and report harassment or bullying you've experienced as it's happening—and what you can do next.
    • On Feminist.org, there's a state-by-state directory of hotlines you can call to deal with emergency situations, as well as contact information for local organizations and agencies who can help closer to home.
    • If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination at work and your employer has been unresponsive to your complaints, you can file a charge of employment discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 
    • And outside of work, if you need to talk to someone but are on a limited budget, Open Path Collective is a network of mental health professionals who offer their services at a sharply reduced rate to people in need. 

    If you have a resource that you think should be on this list, email us at [email protected]

  • All Your Workplace Rage
    Wed, Jan 03, 2018

    "Phew, that felt good."

    "Wow, 30 seconds goes by real fast."

    "I actually really needed this."               

    A few weeks ago, we asked you to send us 30-second voice memos with your anger about harassment and bullying you've experienced at workand the advice you'd give your younger self about what you don't have to put up with. And you all were ready to vent! You sent us stories about sexism and racism, physical harassment and psychological abuse, from bosses and co-workers male and female alike. Some of you were thinking back on things that happened to you decades ago; some of you are right in the middle of figuring out how to deal with a bad situation.

    One thing was clear—lots of you feel like you haven't been able to talk about this before. So this week, we're bringing you a supercut of your stories, and your anger. Let's rage.

    If you're currently dealing with harassment or bullying at work, click here for a list of resources you might find helpful.

    And for even more rage, check out today's new episode of the podcast For A Bad Time Call—it's a special episode devoted specifically to workplace anger.

    Special thanks to SassyBlack for composing original music for this episode. You can find more of her work here


  • Pull Quote: Plunging In
    Mon, Jan 01, 2018

    Happy new year! We've got a special treat for you today.

    You may have heard that we've been working on an experiment, a new mini-podcast series called Pull Quote. The episodes are short audio gems that we've dug up from our archives and from elsewhere.

    This week, we're sending our first batch of episodes to those of you who've donated to support the show. But as we start the this new year together, we thought we'd share the first Pull Quote with all of you: some words of wisdom about beginnings from writer Jamaica Kincaid. 

    We’ve had a lot of fun making these, and it's not too late to sign up to hear them all. If you want to hear the other Pull Quote episodes we’ve made, chip in $30 or more right now. We’ll email you a special link every morning for a week where you can listen in. Plus, you'll get to tell us what you think about this Pull Quote series and whether we should make more.

    Thanks so much to those of you who've given money and supported our show. We really appreciate it. Look out for a new episode from us later this week.

    Special thanks to composer and sound designer Hannis Brown for his scoring work on our Pull Quote series. 


  • I Felt Like The Story Had To Change: Life After Heroin
    Wed, Dec 20, 2017

    When my friend Danielle was in high school, she was hanging out in her hometown of Merrick, Long Island, going to punk shows and fighting with her mom—like a lot of teenagers. But when she was 19, her mom died, and Danielle's experimentation with drugs and alcohol really accelerated. By the time she was 25, she was using heroin daily. She says that in some ways, her mom's death gave her a justification for using. "It sounds horrible to say, but I remember when my mom passed me kind of feeling a sense of relief," she told me. "I was like, oh, I finally have my thing. I have my baggage that I've been looking for."  

    I met Danielle when we were both in our late 20s. At that point, Danielle was about a year sober. We're close, but in the years since we became friends, I'd never talked in detail with her about that earlier time in her life. So I asked her if I could interview her about her heroin addiction and the process of getting sober. I also wanted to know how she thinks about it now—especially as she's preparing to become a first-time parent and go through childbirth with a medical history that makes things more complicated. "On the first visit with the midwives I told them I don't want them to prescribe me anything addictive or any opiates, if we can get around it," she told me. "If I do get prescribed something then I won't hold that bottle. I'll have my husband give me the pill."

    Looking back, Danielle says she's acutely aware of how differently her story could have gone. Following another year of record overdose deaths in the U.S., Danielle says that she reads the stories of people who die from addiction, and it's an uncomfortable experience. "I see myself in them," she told me. "I'm not better than any of those people. I don't have a stronger constitution. I'm not more moral. I'm not smarter. I'm not anything. I just happened to hear a message, and was able to follow up and take steps and do some work and make this change." 

    Click here to listen to my conversation about addiction from the other side, with an EMT supervisor who's on the front lines of the opioid crisis in my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia. 

  • I Can't Fix It: A First Responder and Heroin
    Wed, Dec 13, 2017

    Mark Strickland knew he wanted to be a first responder when he was five years old. "It was a way to help people," he told me. "You're giving everything you've got to help people in distress, no matter what it may be." 

    When he first started working as an EMT in my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia back in the 1990s, Mark says that his job rarely involved reviving people after drug overdoses. But in recent years, as heroin and other opioids have ravaged the Charleston community, he says that's changed. Overdose calls are a near-daily occurrence for Mark and his colleagues—in fact, he got was called away to one while we talked.

    While the national opioid overdose death rate has been steadily climbing over the last several years, nowhere is the situation more dire than in West Virginia. In 2015, the state had the highest drug overdose death rate in the country, at 41.5 per 100,000 deaths. Mark and his colleagues see the people behind those statistics. And when they see the same patients overdosing time after time, it can feel like fighting an uphill battle. He says that he's still figuring out a vocabulary for work-related stress that feels appropriate. "By and large, most first responders will shun away from the P.T.S.D. phrase," he says. "That's what guys get from coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq because they've earned that. You're in a foreign country, taking hostile fire [...] I'm still in America. I'm good, brother. I can go to the store get a six pack."

    In the midst of finding ways to deal with his own stress, Mark is also raising three boys, and thinking about how he wants to prepare them to make good choices. He's honest with his kids about what he's seen drugs do to people—and he gives them an out if anyone tries to convince them to try any. "Tell 'em no, my Dad makes me pee in a cup," he told me. And Mark also said that he doesn't want his sons to follow in his footsteps as a first responder. "I guess the parent in me wants to shield my kids from bad things."

  • Your Workplace Rage, And Mine
    Wed, Dec 06, 2017

    This past weekend, New York Magazine published a story detailing a pattern of alleged sexual misconduct and bullying by John Hockenberry, the former host of WNYC's show The Takeaway. The story includes allegations of forcible kissing, excerpts of inappropriate online messages Hockenberry sent to staff and guests, and descriptions of a pervasive culture of intimidation on the show that was most publicly directed against three of Hockenberry's cohostsall women of colorwho left The Takeaway one after the other, while he stayed. 

    This story is part of a much larger conversation we're having about sexual harassment, and about misconduct of all kinds in the workplace—but this one hits close to home. I worked on The Takeaway from 2009-2010, and I remember this culture vividly. And since this story broke, I've been mad. And I've been wanting to talk about it with someone. So I called up my friend and former colleague at The Takeaway, Noel King, to talk about what we put up with during our time at the show, what we shouldn't have—and how we're rethinking that time in our careers now.

    And we want to hear from you about how you're processing this moment in our cultural confrontation of sexism, racism and other inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Inspired by one of our favorite new podcasts, For A Bad Time Call..., we want to hear your rage. Send us a 30 second voice memo of what you would tell your younger self about office culture, or share with us the advice you would give yourself to deal with harassment, bullying, or worse. You can send those voice memos to [email protected]—we'll put them together and share them with you soon. 

    Click here to read Suki Kim's original reporting in New York Magazine about the allegations against Hockenberry. WNYC's own reporting on the story can be found here. And you can find statements from Hockenberry and WNYC here

  • Gabrielle Union Is Fed Up
    Wed, Nov 29, 2017

    When she was a teenager, all Gabrielle Union wanted was to be chosen. Growing up, she felt conspicuous as one of the only black girls in the mostly-white California city of Pleasanton, and she distinctly remembers how badly she wanted to fit in—but more often than not, she says, she felt like an outsider. "My parents thought moving us to Pleasanton was giving us all of the opportunity. You have great schools, safe neighborhoods, you're going to be around the right kind of people," she told me when I spoke to her live on stage at The Commonwealth Club, "and all it did was isolate us." But it turned out that Pleasanton wasn't as safe as her parents had hoped—a lesson Gabrielle learned in a horrific way. When she was 19, she was raped at gunpoint in the Payless ShoeSource where she was working. In addition to the trauma she had to work through in the aftermath, Gabrielle says that being labeled as the victim of an assault made her feel even more socially isolated. "You become that black girl," she told me. "And for someone so fully committed to assimilation, that was by far the most traumatizing part."

    Twenty-five years later, Gabrielle's talking about these experiences in a new collection of essays, called We're Going To Need More Wine. It's not the first time she's gone public with her most private moments; last year, an op-ed she published in the L.A. Times reflecting on the rape allegations against her Birth of a Nation director and costar Nate Parker went viral. But being open with fans hasn't always been easy for her. She told me that for years after she was assaulted, she had difficulty figuring out how to set boundaries and protect her personal space—especially as she was becoming recognizable from her roles in movies like Bring It On. "Not saying no means there’s no boundaries," she told me about her early experiences with fans. "So self-care goes out the window. You've got to be everything to everybody at all times, which is impossible." 

    In the years since, she's learned to balance her fame with self-care. She's now married to NBA star Dwyane Wade, and together, they're raising his nephew and two sons from a previous marriage. And she says that ironically, their relationship works because they know they don't have to be in it. "There is no 'you-complete-me' shit," Gabrielle explains. "It's, 'I'm making a conscious choice to be with you every single day because we both have a lot of options. So I'm choosing you every day.'"

    Thanks to Inforum at the Commonwealth Club for hosting this event. You can watch a video of our entire conversation with Gabrielle here


  • Finding Love, And A Kidney, On Tinder
    Wed, Nov 22, 2017

    In 2015, Lori Interlicchio and Alana Duran swiped right on each other's Tinder profiles. They were both in their early 20s, and not looking for anything too serious. But on their first date, Alana told Lori that she has lupus—an autoimmune disease that, in Alana's case, has taken a major toll on her body.

    At that point, Alana had been on dialysis for four years. Her kidneys were failing. And after just three dates, Lori was thinking about offering to see if she could be a potential kidney donor match. "I called one of my former roommates and I started asking like, 'Is this absolutely insane or is this like, fine?'" Lori told me. "If a another person needs something that you don't need and aren't going to miss, then whatever, right? Why not give it to them?" 

    Lori was a match. And starting their relationship with an organ donation has led to questions they've both had to address. When Lori got into law school just months after the surgery, she worried about leaving Alana behind. "I know that right now Alana is doing really well health-wise," Lori told me, "but I also know that that could change at any time." And Alana has had to grapple with what would happen if she decided to end their relationship. "Someone gave me a literal piece of them," Alana says. "I can't repay them for that. In my mind I was thinking that would come up, like, 'Oh, I can't break up with Lori because she gave me a kidney. That'd be terrible, people would be really really mad at me.'" 

     Lori and Alana's story is documented in the new film BeanFind out more about screening times here. 

  • What Lisa Ling Regrets
    Wed, Nov 08, 2017

    In her late 20s, Lisa Ling was co-hosting The View and enjoying single life in New York. "When I think back on it I see myself, you know, dancing on tables sometimes," she laughs. But her decision to leave her previous life in Los Angeles behind had long-lasting consequences. "As soon as I got to New York, this whole world opened up to me and I was invited to every party. And given where I grew up in this kind of middle, lower-middle class home and community, it was it was exciting for me," she recalled. But, Lisa says, her long-distance relationship with a serious boyfriend back home suffered, and ultimately ended, as a result. "In retrospect now, it was really sad because he really, really loved me," she says. "I kind of—you know, I in many ways sort of abandoned the relationship." 

    At the same time, she was having difficulty with talking about her personal life at her very public job. Even though Lisa had been working as a reporter for teen shows like Scratch and Channel One since she was 16, The View required something different of her. "The expectation of me was to be totally open about every aspect of my life," she says. "And I really struggled with that in the beginning because I was so out of my element." But it was a skill she was later grateful for—in her marriage. Lisa got married in 2007, and she says communication between her and her husband, Paul, hasn't always been easy. But she says they've found a language that works. "Our mutual therapist once said to us, if you were in a business, you would do everything in your power to make sure that that partnership worked," she told me. "And you need to apply that same work ethic to your marriage. And that really kind of resonated with us."

    You can watch Lisa's new web series for CNN, called This Is Sex, here

  • A Bitcoin Mogul Goes Broke
    Wed, Nov 01, 2017

    When Charlie Shrem was growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, he learned a lesson about money the hard way. "I got a credit card in the mail [...] the day I turned 18. I had a $6000 credit limit. And I was taking people to Vegas," he told me. It was a lifestyle that got him in ten thousand dollars worth of debt. He repaid that debt in full, and then started looking for a way towards financial independence. 

    He landed on Bitcoin. Charlie was an early adopter of the cryptocurrency, and his gamble paid off. By the time he was 22, he had co-founded a company called BitInstant, which helped its users convert dollars into Bitcoin. It made Charlie rich, but it also landed him in legal trouble. One of Charlie's customers was making a profit reselling Bitcoin purchased on BitInstant on Silk Road, an underground marketplace known for illegal transactions. Charlie knew about it, and ended up being arrested for it. He plead guilty to a reduced charge, and served a year in federal prison. "When you're in prison, it's not like TV where everyone's like, oh, I'm innocent," Charlie told me. "Everyone tells you they're guilty. I'm guilty. Because to say you're innocent minimizes all that hard work you're doing to get out." 

    I talked with Charlie about money, prison, and ultimately leaving his Orthodox community live onstage at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. Our conversation took place in conjunction with an exhibit there called Generation Wealth. It's a series of photographs by Lauren Greenfield about money, status, and the ways we show themyou can learn more about that exhibit and see some of the photographs here

    Watch Anna and Charlie Shrem in conversation at the Annenberg Space for Photography. 


  • Why She Steals: Your Reactions
    Wed, Oct 18, 2017

    Last month, we spoke to a woman named Alice* about her shoplifting habit, how she justifies it, and her reluctance to go on food stamps. And a lot of you responded to her story. Here's just a sample of some of the comments we got:

    I grew up poor, but stealing was never the answer for my family. And I don't think it's the answer here either.

    My moral core was grossed out.

    This episode made me enraged. That's all.

    It seemed like there was more to talk about here. So this week, we dug into your reactions with a couple of listeners who wrote to us after we released the episode. Alyssa, a listener from Atlanta, told us that she felt "betrayed" by the show. "This interview was so empty for me," she initially wrote us. "Alice was so openly selfish, I couldn't really believe you were giving her a voice bigger than she apparently already has on Tumblr. A platform to speak about her ridiculous lifestyle like it was something fascinating, something to be proud of. I couldn't tell why you had chosen her." Another listener in Brooklyn, Trevor, commented on a point Alice made about how her whiteness would help protect her from legal repercussions if she got caught. "Because of people like her," he wrote, "I am the one followed around the store." 

    I called Alyssa and Trevor to talk to them more about their reactions—and then, I called Alice. 

    *Name changed

  • Life in Our 20s: Advice from Niecy Nash, Alia Shawkat & Terri Coleman
    Wed, Oct 11, 2017

    Your 20s can be hardbut getting advice from people who've been there can make things a little easier. And that's exactly what we're doing this week, in a live show we recently recorded at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. 

    With the help of guests Alia Shawkat (Search Party, Arrested Development, Transparent), Niecy Nash (Claws, Reno 911, Getting On), and Terri Coleman (from our series "In New Orleans"), we take on life advice questions from listeners in their 20s, and talk about the most challenging and exciting parts of young adulthood.

    One listener named Sumaya asks how to handle tough conversations about money with friends who, all of a sudden, are making more than she is. Mia wants to know about how to make friends in a new city, without the help of a social life centered around school. And a listener who wants to be known as "Rebecca" asks about how to figure out exactly what she and her partner like in the bedroom.  

    We also talk with Alia Shawkat and Niecy Nash about their 20s. Niecy was married with three kids by the time her 20s were over. Alia's still in her 20s, and talks about what it was like to get famous young on Arrested Development, and how her view of relationships and money has shifted during this decade of her life. Plus, Terri Coleman tells a story, accompanied by drummer Bianca Richardson, about an important lesson she learned in her 20s from an unlikely mentorJose Cuervo.

  • Ellen Burstyn's Lessons on Survival
    Wed, Oct 04, 2017

    I talked with Ellen Burstyn three years ago, sitting on wicker furniture in her New York apartment. She told me about getting on a Greyhound bus to Dallas at 18 with 50 cents in her pocket, and about surviving an illegal abortion. And she described adopting her son, leaving an abusive marriage, and starring as a newly single mom in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The role was based in part on her own life, and it won her an Oscar. "I know I’m a successful actress," she told me. "But I don’t feel I’m necessarily a successful person."

    Ellen also told us about her "should-less days"days she sets aside "where there’s nothing I should do." As she explained to me, "I have wiring in my brain that calls me lazy, if I’m not doing something. I haven’t been able to get rid of it. But what I can do is I can put in another wiring, I can put in should-less days, so when that voice goes off and says you’re being lazy, I turn to the other wiring in my brain that says, no, this is a should-less day, and I’m doing what I want."

    This month, we're celebrating Ellen Burstyn and should-less days with our new Death, Sex & Money should-less day mug. Support our work by becoming a sustaining member at $8/month, and we'll send you one! Just go to deathsexmoney.org/donate or text "DSM" to 70101. 

    Listen back to Ellen Burstyn's conversation with Gloria Steinem on Death, Sex & Money last year here

  • Why I Steal
    Wed, Sep 27, 2017

    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 last year through Tumblr, where there's an active community of people who say they shoplift. They post pictures of their "hauls," as well as tips for other lifters. For Alice, finding that community was huge. "It felt like I had people that I could talk to about it," she told me. "Because it is such a huge part of my life, and to have people that I could talk about it with like it was normal, that felt great. It just sort of opened up a whole new world of possibilities." 

    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."

    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

    *Name changed

  • Our Student Loan Questions Live: Part Two
    Thu, Sep 14, 2017

    "Is it totally crazy to go to grad school before paying off my undergrad loans?"

    "Is it best to pay the smallest [loan] first and reduce your number of loans? Or is it best to reduce your highest interest loans first?"

    "Lately I've been thinking about refinancing my student loans, but I worry about moving from fed loans to a private company [...] does it make sense to do this?"

    "Do you think it's likely that in this lifetime, student loan victims unionize and agree to collectively default?"

    You've sent us a lot of questions about your student loan debt. And in this episode, we're trying to get some answers. In the second night of our live call-in shows about student loans, we're joined by Miranda Marquit, a finance expert and senior writer at the website Student Loan Hero. Together, we're taking your calls to talk about ways to tackle your debt proactively and efficiently. 

    If you missed night one of this call-in special, you can go back and find our conversation with other experts and listeners here. And if you missed our original two-episode podcast on student loan debt from this past summer, or if you want to explore the hundreds of stories we received from listeners feeling burdened by debt, check out our student loan project here.

    Here are some of the websites mentioned during tonight's show: 

    XY Planning Network - Recommended by Miranda as a way to find fee-only financial planners who specialize in working with Gen X and Gen Y clients.

    Let's Make a Plan - Recommended by Miranda as another resource for finding a financial planner, run by the Certified Financial Planner Board.

    National Student Loan Data System - Recommended by financial aid counselor Danny as a way to find out exactly how much debt you've taken out, and how to contact your loan servicer(s). 

    The American Time Use Survey - A look at what Americans spend their time on—Miranda points to it as an example of how much time we spend watching TV and doing other activities during time that could be spent bringing in additional income to help pay down student loans.

  • Our Student Loan Questions Live: Part One
    Wed, Sep 13, 2017

    After we released our two-part series on student loan debt earlier this summer, we got a lot of emails from you. In addition to your stories, you also had questions about your loans: about what concrete steps you can take to pay them off smartly, and if you're not in school yet, about whether it's worth it to go into debt for college in the first place. One listener wrote in about his shared debt with his wife: "We are continually putting off having children because we realize we really can't afford it. We are concerned about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program still existing by the time we can have our loans forgiven. We found ourselves unable to be approved for a loan to buy a home because of our extreme debt. The situation is so overwhelming to us."

    So this week, we're gathering several student debt experts to take your calls live, and help you sort through some of the big questions that you have about loans. In this first of two live call-in shows, we're joined by Rohit Chopra, a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Federation of America; Tressie McMillan Cottom, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author of Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy; and Anya Kamenetz, lead education blogger at NPR and the author of Generation Debt. And we talk about the changing face of student loans under the Trump administration, about the communities hardest hit by the student loan crisis, and about how to decide if going into debt is the right choice for parents and kids. 

    After listening to this episode, listen to part two of our student loan call-in series

    Looking for the website that Rohit Chopra mentioned about help with public service loan forgiveness? It's here: http://forgivemystudentdebt.org/.


  • Tracy Clayton's 2017 So Far: Therapy, Forts and Auto Bill Pay
    Wed, Sep 06, 2017

    Back in January, I interviewed Tracy Clayton, who writes for Buzzfeed and is the co-host of the podcast Another Round. We talked about the long thread of New Year's resolutions she’d tweeted out for everyone to seeeverything from getting her taxes done by a professional to meeting a chicken

    "You know at the top of the year you’ve got, like, hope and energy," Tracy told me when we recently caught up. "It’s like the slate’s being wiped clean, and now you can do anything. New year, new you." More than halfway through 2017, Tracy says she's in "a much different place today" than she was at the top of the year. 

    So far this year, Tracy says she's made financial strides by signing up for automatic bill pay and having conversations with her dad about his finances after he's gone. She also "bought some real fucking grown up furniture" for her living roomone of her goals we talked about at the beginning of the year. "It should not have cost as much as it did," Tracy laughed. "But, this was also a really good exercise in investing in me." 

    Tracy also tweeted about going back to therapy in June, after not going for several years. "It's hard and it's been kicking my ass," she said. "The things that I'm dealing with are catching up with a lot of the really, really, really big changes that have occurred in the last two years or so that I haven't really thought about or dealt with." She added, "At the top of the year, that wasn't something that I even realized. I do think it's accurate to say that I'm working on accepting things that I can't change, which I've never been good at."

    Tracy accomplished her goal of meeting a chicken! Check out her interview with Melissa Harris-Perry's chickens here: 

  • As Harvey Hits, Looking Back at New Orleans
    Wed, Aug 30, 2017

    We changed our plans for Death, Sex & Money this week as we watched the storm known as Harvey pummel the Gulf Coast. It's made us think about the conversations we had in New Orleans two years ago, for a series about life there around the tenth anniversary of Katrina.

    In those episodes, we profiled five people and heard in detail about how their lives were forever changed by a few days of rain, wind, and catastrophic floods. We also heard about their collective trauma of having the home they knew suddenly under water, and about the very long process of rebuilding. You can find that entire series here.

    One of the people we interviewed, Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, is heading to Texas this week to volunteer with a medical team. When Katrina hit New Orleans, she didn’t evacuate. Instead she stayed inside New Orleans’ Charity Hospital, where she worked for six days, caring for 18 patients on the 5th floor. There was no power, and it seemed like no one was coming to rescue them. Before they were finally evacuated, Kiersta—who was part of the last group of people to leave—helped clean up the space for when her staff returned. "We didn't want it to look messy," she remembers. "We were naive." 

    Charity Hospital never re-opened after they left, but Kiersta returned to New Orleans after being evacuated. After a long rebuilding process, she still lives there today, and is raising her family there. "We just got too weird for any place else other than New Orleans," she laughs. 

    We compiled a list of organizations that need your help after Harvey. Find it here: How to Help After Harvey

  • How to Help After Harvey
    Tue, Aug 29, 2017

    Want to help? Give money, not stuff, to aid disaster relief and long-term rebuilding in communities affected by Harvey. Here are some places to start:

    All Hands Volunteers

    Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group

    Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County 

    Feeding Texas

    Food Bank of Corpus Christi

    Global Giving Harvey Relief Fund

    Greater Houston Community Foundation: Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

    Houston Food Bank

    Houston Humane Society

    Houston Public Library

    Texas Diaper Bank

    United Way of Greater Houston

    If you live in a community affected by Harvey, the State Bar of Texas has a hotline (1-800-504-7030) to answer basic questions and to connect you with resources. If you or a loved one is in emotional distress, call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

    If you know of a local recovery effort that needs support, please add it in the comments. 

  • Katie Couric on Death and Dishonesty
    Wed, Aug 23, 2017

    Katie Couric has lived in the public eye since 1991, when she began co-hosting the Today Show on NBC. While she's built a career on her unflappable on-screen presence, she says that same journalistic rationality served her poorly when crisis hit closer to home. In 1998, her husband, John Paul "Jay" Monahan, died of colon cancer at 42. Katie says her reluctance to accept the inevitable conclusion of his diagnosis is something she regrets. "I really tried to not fall apart in front of Jay, and looking back on it, there's probably a lot of dishonesty about the whole thing," she says. "I think that sort of cockeyed optimism prevented me from ever really saying goodbye."

    After Jay's death, Katie parented their daughters alone until 2014, when she married her second husband, John Paul Molner. While her two husbands share a name, Katie says there’s a lot that differentiates the two marriages. "I'm in a different phase of my life," she told me. "The horizon isn't quite as far as it was when I married Jay."

    Katie turned 60 years old this year, and says it was more emotionally difficult than she expected. "Half my life is over. It's been a little a little depressing for me," she said. But, she admitted, you’d never know it from looking at her Instagram feed. "You can give people the impression that you're a fairly one-dimensional happy person," she says, "when the truth of the matter is it's much much more complicated than that."

  • When Grief Looks Like ?\_(?)_/?
    Wed, Aug 16, 2017

    In 2013, podcast producer Rachel Ward's husband, Steve, died unexpectedly. She was 32, and he was 35. Being widowed is painful under any circumstances, but Rachel says that she went through an unusual kind of grief and confusion after losing her husband at such a young age. "I felt like I re-experienced adolescence after Steve died," she says. "But I also feel old because I am an aging person. I'm 36 years old. And that's older than a lot of my peers who on paper have an equivalent life position. You know, like just moved to New York City and are single, except they're 26 and I'm 36."

    The first time I spoke to Rachel was in 2015, after she wrote a viral Medium post called "I'm Sorry I Didn't Respond to Your Email, My Husband Coughed to Death Two Years Ago." Humor got Rachel through the early days of her grief, and her post was an attempt to put the social awkwardness that comes with widowhood behind her. "I guess I’m kind of hoping this is also sort of a juncture in my life and like a transition point,” Rachel told me. So we held on to the recording of our interview, and checked back in with her this summer to see what happened next.

    A lot did happen in Rachel's life in the two years between when we spoke. Rachel changed jobs and moved cities. She says that four years into widowhood, she tries not to think about the grieving process in stages. "I have to remind myself all the time that grief is not linear," she says. But she also says she feels stuck in ways, especially when it comes to dating. "It feels like I have to be like cooked to a certain level and I'm just, like, not," she told me. "But I've also lately been having some really nice realizations about how it's kind of great to be single and not have to like not have to the kind of draggy parts of relationships." 

  • The Cookie That Ended Jeff Garlin's Sobriety
    Wed, Aug 02, 2017

    For over thirty years, Jeff Garlin has been a film and TV mainstay—writing, producing and starring in comedies like Curb Your Enthusiasm (coming back for its ninth season this fall) and The Goldbergs. He's also had a long career in standup comedy. He's so comfortable on stage that he says he often doesn't prepare at all for his sets. But that doesn't mean that Jeff takes his job lightly.

    "It's a real important thing, comedy, to make us human and help deal with pain," he says. "Life throws a lot of pain at people. My job is to ease people's pain."

    Comedy has helped Jeff deal with his own pain. He had a stroke at 37 and has struggled with his weight for years. He views food as an addiction. After seven years of sobriety—which for Jeff means staying away from sugar and processed foods—Jeff fell off the wagon when he indulged in a celebratory cookie. The occasion? One of his sons was guest starring on The Goldbergs. "Anything with a feeling brings about wanting to eat," Jeff told me. "I always say I eat Pop-Tarts raw because I don't have time to toast them. I need to shove down my feelings." 

    I also talked to Jeff about dealing with attention deficit disorder as an adult, slowly losing a parent, having sex in his 50s, and maintaining a fulfilling marriage. Jeff says the key to it all is being present, and tries to stay focused on whatever is in front of him. "When I sit in quiet moments and just stare at the stars, nothing pops in my head of looking back on my life," he says. "I don't like overthinking."

    Want to suggest a podcast episode for our Welcome to Adulthood playlist? Go here: deathsexmoney.org/adulthood

  • Bonus! Anna Talks Interviewing with Jesse Thorn
    Wed, Jul 26, 2017

    "One of the really important traits of an interviewer is to communicate to the person you’re asking questions of that you are sincerely curious," Death, Sex & Money host Anna Sale recently told Jesse Thorn on his new show, The Turnaround. "Because your interview is only going to be as good as the person’s willingness to participate."

    This summer, Jesse (who also hosts the radio show/podcast Bullseye) is turning the tables on interviewers and interviewing them about their craft. He's talked with people like Jerry Springer, Errol Morris, Audie Cornish, Marc Maron, and Annawho joined Jesse from her maternity leave last summer to talk about preparing for interviews, asking hard questions, and learning from interviewer heroes. 

  • My Husband Killed Someone. Now He Might Get Out.
    Wed, Jul 19, 2017

    Ronnine Bartley dated her now-husband Lawrence when they were in middle school. "Even when we were like together at 13 and 14 years old when we had no business being together, we always talked about being married," Ronnine told me. But when Lawrence was 17, he was arrested and convicted of murder. They weren't dating at the time, but they stayed in touch and eventually got back together while he was in prison. And in 2006, they got married. 

    But married life hasn't exactly been how Ronnine once imagined it would be. She and Lawrence have never spent more than 72 hours together as a couple. Their two boys were conceived during conjugal visits inside prison walls. And she's had to be the breadwinner and the decision-maker in their family. "Do I consult with [Lawrence]? Absolutely," she told me. "You know, that makes the relationship work. That makes him feel involved, but I'm the boss. Like in my head, I'm the boss!" 

    Life for their family will look very different if Lawrence gets paroled. After 27 years in prison, he's going before the parole board for the first time next month. "I try not to talk about it too much," Ronnine says. "I'm not really prepared for if he doesn't get released." But, Ronnine says, even if Lawrence gets out, there are still plenty of challenges that they'll face as Lawrence adjusts to life on the outside and they adjust to life together as a couple. "I guess we're gonna have to go to counseling," she told me. "You know, that's a lot. It's deep." 

  • I Killed Someone. Now I Have Three Kids: Updated
    Wed, Jul 12, 2017

    I first met Lawrence Bartley three years ago, inside Sing Sing Correctional Facility. He'd been behind bars for 24 years, after shooting his gun inside a crowded movie theater on Christmas night in 1990 and killing a 15-year-old bystander named Tremain Hall. Lawrence was 17 at the time. 

    Lawrence was sentenced to 27 to 30 years to life in prison for his crime, with the possibility of parole. This August, Lawrence will face the parole board for the first time. So we're sharing his story again and a few updates, including a conversation with Tremain Hall's older brother, Chad Hall. 

    Next week, look out for my conversation with Lawrence's wife, Ronnine. She and Lawrence got married more than a decade ago, and have two sons together. We hear from her about how she's thinking about the possibility of Lawrence coming homeand what she wants for their future together. 

    Several years ago, Lawrence participated in a documentary project called Voices from Within. In it, inmates at Sing Sing talk about their crimes and their regrets. Watch for Lawrence around the 7:30 mark.


  • Our Student Loan Secrets, Part 2
    Thu, Jun 29, 2017

    Nathan realized he couldn't pay his rent and his monthly student loan payments. Beth* collapsed in tears while doing yoga because she couldn't stop worrying about money. Jordan set a calendar reminder to force herself to finally make her first payment. 

    Hundreds of you have shared your stories about student debt with us, especially the mix of frustration and shame you feel about it. But we also heard stories of turning pointswhen something changed that redefined your relationship with your student loans. 

    For Beth, that meant radically changing her spending and allotting close to half of her taxable income toward student loan payments. Nathan converted a van into a mobile apartment to save on rent while he chips away at his $200,000 debt. And Jordan, after first telling me how she's dodged her student loans for two years, finally set up regular monthly payments. 

    "It started becoming something that was consequential but inconsequential at the same time. Something that can be controlled and doesn't control me," a listener named Krista said about finally getting help managing her student debt. "That was a huge revelation."

    Go to deathsexmoney.org/studentloans for more stories and to see how your debt compares to national statistics and to other Death, Sex & Money listeners.

  • Our Student Loan Secrets, Part 1
    Wed, Jun 28, 2017

    I have blatantly lied to my friends about student loans.

    I feel fooled and bamboozled about the American dream.

    It’s a stupid system. No one talked about this.

    When we asked you to tell us your stories about how student loans are affecting other parts of your life, we were overwhelmed by your responses. You've shared more than a thousand stories in all, and they keep coming. We heard about years of incremental payments and the thrill of getting to a zero balance, but also about delayed weddings, tensions with your parents over your shared debt, and fading hopes of ever buying a home or saving for retirement. 

    It makes sense that you have a lot to say about student debt. More Americans are taking out more in student loans and taking a longer time to pay it off. And it's fundamentally reshaping how you think about the value of education and the milestones of adulthood.

    "You sort of feel lost and like you totally screwed up somehow because you just couldn't figure it out," a listener named Dena said about struggling to make loan payments ten years after college. "And the rest of the world is making money and paying their bills and there's this subculture of individuals who are book smart and world stupid." 

    "I don't know how else to put it except that I almost made it," a listener named Sharif said. He put himself through school with loans to became a chemical engineer, but feels embarrassed by his six-figure debt and never talks about it. "I felt like a total, complete idiot that I put myself in this position." 

    For some of you, that embarrassment has become denial. "I just didn’t pay," Jordan Gibbs told me about receiving her first student loan statement. "Like, I just felt like, how can you expect me to start paying you $700 a month? Which is just a crazy number. I can’t even afford to pay rent." 

    In part one of this series, hear how our decisions about how to pay for education are having unexpected effects, long after graduation. 

    Go to deathsexmoney.org/studentloans for more stories and to see how your debt compares to national statistics and to other Death, Sex & Money listeners. And look out for part two of this series for stories about how some of you stopped feeling stuck and started taking control of your student loans. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Resources
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Struggling with your student loan debt? It can be hard to find answers. We've compiled some free resources that can help you manage your debt, whether you're a recent grad, a parent of a student, or someone who's had loans for awhile.

    Got other suggestions? Put them in the comments below!

    Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

    The CFPB’s Repay Student Debt resource guides borrowers through a series of questions to help you determine the best option to pay down your debt. CFPB also has answers to frequently asked questions about student loans. 

    Forgive My Student Debt

    Recommended by student loan expert Rohit Chopra, this site helps you figure out if you are eligible for public service loan forgiveness.

    NerdWallet’s Student Loan Calculator

    A personalized tool that helps you determine what you owe and a timeline for paying it off. 

    Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

    If you work for the government (local, state or federal) or for a 501(c)(3) non-profit and have Direct Loans, you’re likely eligible for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which forgives the remaining balance on Direct Loans after a certain number of payments. 


    A resource from American Student Assistance, SALT has personalized tools, videos and other services to help with payment plans, postponements, dealing with defaults and more. *Requires sign up*

    Student Loan Borrowers Assistance

    A website from the National Consumer Law Center that guides you through a series of questions to determine the type of loan you have and suggests possible solutions to potential difficulties (deferment, new repayment plans). It also has guides to dealing with repayment, bankruptcy, collections and possible cancellation, along with an advocacy guide.


    After you sign up, this website links your bank accounts, credit card accounts, retirement accounts, loan accounts and more so you can keep track of your finances in one place. It also has apps to help with budgeting and financial goals. *Requires sign up*

    Ready For Zero Blog

    For recent grads, this blog post from Ready For Zero has tips for your first summer with student loans, and there’s this one for when your grace period ends a few months from now.

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Jason's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Jason has more than $200,000 in student loan debt from law school. Recently, he decided to move away from New York City to save money and pay down his loans. "After 37 years on the island of Manhattan, I'm going to leave," he told us. "It just seems so strange that what might kill me financially is wanting to have a higher education."

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Graham's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Graham avoided student loan debt by not going to college. Instead, he pursued a career as an artist, specializing in woodworking and metal casting. But 12 years after leaving high school, he says the stigma of not having a degree has limited his career opportunities—and he's now heading back to college. "This world will not accept you as a valid member of the workforce without a degree," he says. "I haven't played the game." 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Diane's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    "I'm not sure my daughter understands the scale of the Parent PLUS loans we took on to put her through college," Diane told us. Although she says she's glad that she and her husband were able to help their daughter pay her her education, Diane says the debt is equivalent to buying another home or taking several European vacations—which they now aren't able to do in their retirement. 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Rose's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Rose is $100,000 in student loan debt. She avoided paying her student loans for years, but says she can't run from her loan servicer any longer. To pay back her loans, she's taken a higher-paying job with more responsibility, which makes it harder for her to pursue her true passion: singing. 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Nathan's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Nathan, a physical therapist, has about $200,000 in student loans. He found a creative way to pay down his debt: instead of paying rent, he lives in his van with his girlfriend and their three dogs. "I couldn't imagine paying back my loans in any reasonable period of time if I had to pay rent," he told us. 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Chris's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Chris is an engineer in his 30s. He left college with two degrees, no debt, and enough money to buy a car. He says his friends never talked much about their loans, and he only recently realized how different his experience was from most. "Should I feel guilty?" he asked. "The only thing I can think about is that I was just incredibly, incredibly lucky." 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Brandy's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    At the age of 32, Brandy has $168,000 in student loan debt and pays $1,000 a month on her loans. She says feels fooled by the American dream. "My biggest dream now is just paying off debt," she says, "though the thought of that makes me want to cry." 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Emily's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Emily has more than $80,000 in debt. She's 36 and says she doesn't use the degree that saddled her with student loans. She believes that her early financial decision-making changed the course of her and her husband's lives. "I was told that I need a college education in order to have any kind of acceptable or reasonable life in this society," she says. "And I just wish I would've just made some different choices."

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Elliot's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Elliot's in her 20s, and decided to go to law school soon after getting her bachelor's degreein part to delay her undergraduate student loan payments. "It's definitely counterintuitive to take out more debt because you can't handle the debt you already have, but it was the only way for me," she told us. She now works full-time and goes to law school in the evenings. And she says if she and her boyfriend get married, they'll have $400,000 in combined student loan debt. 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Liz's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    While growing up in Mississippi, Liz often dreamed of moving somewhere new as an adult. Now in her 20s, Liz's $70,000 in student loan debt is keeping her in her home state. She says she regrets going to a private college rather than taking advantage of scholarships at state schools. She told us, "Whenever I'm spending any money, whether that's just going out to eat or having a glass of wine or shopping, I'm constantly in the back of my head thinking how can I save to pay off these student loans?" 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Patrick's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Patrick is 56 and lives in New York City. When he graduated from physical therapy school in 1999 with $60,000 in student loan debt, he says he thought he "was going to be able to pay all this off in a snap." But he quickly realized that the interest rates on his loans were highand says a new relationship fizzled because of his anxiety about money. 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Dana's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Dana’s 29 and recently finished paying off her $40,000 in student loan debt. As she neared the end of her repayment, she moved in with her boyfriend and they started saving up for a wedding and a house. "The student loan is its own phase now," she told us. "Once you pay that off, then you go into the engagement and wedding phase." 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Audrey's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Audrey's in her 20s and recently received a graduate degree. She has more than $40,000 in debt, and says she constantly worries about her finances and the opportunities she's missing out on because of her student loans. "I just want this obligation to be done with and over as soon as possible," she told us. "Maybe even at the expense of enjoying my mid to late 20s."

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Teri's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Teri is 43 years old and has $40,000 in student loan debt. She's raising two kids and put off paying down her debt for years, but she hopes to start budgeting for it soon. "There was always something else to pay for that was more important, or that came first, so this wasn't a priority," she says.

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Callie's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Callie went into $150,000 of student loan debt to pay for her master's degree, and then decided to pursue her Ph.D. She was recently diagnosed with cancer and now worries her loans will plague her, and her husband, in the future. She says, "Student debt is the number one stress in my lifesecond only to cancer."

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Your Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Maureen's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    Maureen decided to stay at home with her kids after she received her master's degree because her husband's career took him overseas. Now, at the age of 45, she owes much more in student loans than she did when she got her degree. "My payment is currently $700 a month, and I think I'm going to be paying this until I'm 65 years old," she says. 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Our Student Loan Secrets: Molly's Story
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    At 34, Molly has $40,000 in debt. Her student loans have affected the way she thinks about her future. She says, "I always thought that if I really applied myself, and I got really good grades and worked hard and was a nice person, that I would have a home someday and that I would have a family." She added, "I can barely pay my own bills." 

    More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, but we don’t often always feel comfortable talking about it. Death, Sex & Money wants to show you you’re not alone. Explore our ongoing project Our Student Loan Secrets to find out how other people are dealing with their debt, tell your story, and find out where you fit in the student loan landscape. 

  • Coming Soon: Our Student Loan Secrets
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    More Americans are taking on more debt than ever before to pay for higher education: 44 million Americans have $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. But when we asked you to tell us how you feel about your debt, hundreds and hundreds of you told us about the guilt, shame and isolation that surrounds your loans. 

    Next week, we'll share your stories about how student loan debt has affected your relationships, careers, families and more. For now, visit deathsexmoney.org/studentloans to join the community there: find out where you fit into the student loan landscape, explore other stories about student loan debt, and share your story if you haven't already. 

  • Who's Driving Your Uber?
    Wed, Jun 07, 2017

    I’ve learned a lot about the Bay Area from Uber drivers since I moved here last fall. Some of them are new arrivals, like me, but others have watched the region change dramatically over the last few years. When I'm stuck in a car with a stranger at the wheel, I've been surprised by how personal conversations can get. 

    So last month, producer Katie Bishop and I took our microphones and recording gear along on a bunch of Uber rides all around the Bay Area. The company has been in the news a lot lately, but we set out to learn more about the drivers and what keeps them on the road. We talked about money, competition from other drivers and how they spend their long hours driving and waiting for rides. They also told us about domestic violence, grave plot sales, and the long ripples of the financial crisis. And we heard why one Pakistani driver has decided it's better to not talk to his passengers. 

  • Hari Kondabolu and His Mom Answer Your Life Questions
    Wed, May 24, 2017

    When we first met comedian Hari Kondabolu and his mom, Uma, a year ago, we found out that comedy runs in their family. We had such a good time with them that we invited Hari and his hilarious mom to join us on stage againthis time, for a live advice show in The Greene Space. Uma, who immigrated from India to the U.S. as a young woman, and Hari, who was raised in Queens and is now a stand-up comic, sat down with me to answer your questions about everything from money woes to relationship hurdles to pursuing a meaningful life. 

    We hear from a listener named Kevin in California, who's unsure about his career path at 30. An anonymous audience member says her parents hate her boyfriendand wonders what to do. A listener named Judith asks how long parents should financially support their kids. And Katie, who lives in Boston, sent in a message about finding balance between her closeness with her family (physically and emotionally) and a potential dream job that could take her abroad. 

    Uma lives far away from her family, and for her that's worked. "I left my country," Uma said. "And if my kids want to do it to fulfill their career, I think I would let them go. I think without happiness you find resentment later." However, Hari says his mom has taken that approach to the extreme. When his career was first taking off, he was traveling for weeks on end. In the middle of it, Uma had a heart attack. "She didn't want me to know," Hari said. "She didn't want there to be any regret."

    Watch video of Hari and Uma on stage at The Greene Space below. 


    We are still hard at work on our episode about student loans. We've got another assignment for you: Send us a picture of the amount that you owe on your student loans. Take a picture of your loan statement, or write out your number in a creative way. Make sure your hands are in the picture (no faces required!) and send it in to [email protected] 

  • 'Precious' Paid Off Gabourey Sidibe's Crunch Gym Debt
    Wed, May 17, 2017

    Gabourey Sidibe was 24 and working as a phone sex operator when she was cast as the lead in the 2009 film Precious. It was her first acting role. "It had better change my life for the better," she remembers thinking to herself. "That’s what I prayed for." And it did: she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, and has since landed roles in big-budget movies like Tower Heist and television series like American Horror Story, The Big C, and Empire.  

    But financial success didn't come right away. As Gabourey writes in her new memoir, "This is Just My Face," she only made about $30,000 from that first role. And, she tells me, it went fast. "Not that I spent it on frivolous things," she says. "What I did with the money was I got out of credit card debt." Gabourey remembers calling a collections agency to pay off several thousand dollars from a Crunch Gym membership that had gone unpaid. "I was like, 'Lisa I'm gonna pay the whole thing off now,'" she laughs. "And she was like, 'Whaaaaat?' And I was like, 'Girl, I got a movie!'"

    These days, Gabourey says she's financially stable, and enjoys the attention that's come with her career—mostly. "Before I was an actress nobody said anything about my body," Gabourey says. "It took a while for me to learn that I was never going to out-talent the fact that I should be skinny in, you know, somebody else's eyes." Everyone from directors to fans have told her to do something about her weight—that she should lose it or, at times, that she should gain it back. "People think that I don't care that I am bigger, that I don't notice," she says. "I know. I'm worried." 

    That worry fueled her decision to get weight loss surgery last year—something she kept from her family, her manager and her agents. "I had made up my mind and I didn't want space for anybody else's mind to be made up about it," she told me."I wanted my opinion and my comfort and my safety to be the only thing that mattered surrounding the surgery." 

  • Kevin Bacon Shows Us His Cash
    Fri, May 12, 2017

    "We all have a different relationship with money," Kevin Bacon told me on stage when I recently interviewed him at The Greene Space in New York. "It's just as complex as death and sex."

    One thing I learned about Kevin Bacon's relationship with money in our recent conversation: he likes to carry around a lot of cash. No wallet. A wad—folded up in his pocket. "It's just a weird thing," he said. "I don't leave the house without it."

    I asked the actor about how he thinks about money differently after he and his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, famously lost much of their savings in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. "It leaves you with a sick kind of feeling," he said. "However, I think you have to live your life trying to avoid bitterness." At the time, Kyra also had steady TV work, which Kevin says helped them get through their rough financial patch. 

    Now, Kevin also has a leading role on a TV series: I Love Dick, Jill Soloway's latest project. Kevin plays Dick—who is an intensely sexual character. We talked about how he approached the role and how he thinks about sex in his own life now that he's almost 60. "Honestly I feel like it's become in some ways even more important to me right now," he told me. "I almost feel like I'm trying to cram as much of it in before it's over for good." 

    Watch the video below for my full conversation with Kevin Bacon on stage at The Greene Space. 

  • Two Wheelchairs and A Baby
    Wed, May 03, 2017

    When Nikki Villavicencio and Darrell Paulsen found out they were going to have a baby, their first question was: What now? "It was a scared feeling. It’s not that this was not the right thing or the right feeling, but it was, 'What do we do next?'" Darrell told me.

    That’s how a lot of people feel when they first become parents. But for Nikki and Darrell, there were complicating factors. For one, neither Darrell nor Nikki has use of their legs. Darrell has cerebral palsy, and Nikki has a rare joint condition called arthogryposis, which means she doesn’t have much use of her arms either. Both rely on home health aides for tasks like bathing, using the toilet and making meals, and spend much of their time in wheelchairs. "I’m in my chair probably a good 18 to 20 hours a day," Darrell said. 


    (A video from Nikki's YouTube channel)

    Before Nikki got pregnant, neither of them believed it was possible for them to conceive. Their parents were told when they were young that it wasn't possible. "I mean, society tells us all the time that people with disabilities either can't have children or shouldn't have children," Nikki said. When they told their family members that Nikki was expecting, some of them were worried—including Darrell's mom. But, Darrell remembers, she found hope in the fact that the couple had a cat. "She used to say, 'Well if we can keep the cat alive for a year, I know you guys can be parents,'" Darrell recalls. "So we've kept the cat alive for a long time. We became parents."

    Raising their daughter hasn't been easy. Home health aides aren't supposed to help Nikki and Darrell with tasks related to parenting, whether it's laundry or schlepping a bike across the street. But as their daughter, Alley, has gotten older, she's able to do more for herself—and for her parents. "We always tell her that she doesn’t have to do anything for us...but she will be insistent," Nikki said. "She's super independent." 

    Nikki and Darrell's story is a collaboration with Cosmopolitan.com and journalist Kathryn Joyce. Read their piece here.

  • Newlywed and Paralyzed
    Wed, Apr 26, 2017

    "I want to understand if this isolated feeling is normal." That’s what Rachel Swidenbank wrote to me just six weeks after a cycling accident left her husband, Hiroki Takeuchi, paralyzed from the waist down.

    The accident happened last summer, less than a month after Rachel and Hiroki got married. They'd also recently bought their first home. Quickly, almost everything in their lives changed. After major surgery and five weeks in the hospital, Hiroki had to learn to navigate the world in a wheelchair. He couldn’t dress himself or use the bathroom without help. Rachel shuttered her company, a tech startup, so that she could spend more time with him.

    Physical intimacy is different, too. "We're still in the stage of sort of shock, when it comes to that regard," Hiroki told me. Rachel added, "It's probably the hardest thing to deal with in the relationship." They're not sure how Hiroki's accident will affect their sex life in the long term, and how it will affect their chances at becoming parents. 

    Rachel says she's gotten angry at Hiroki about the accident. But there are ways it's strengthened their bond, too. "The emotional connection that we have is so much deeper than it’s ever been before," Rachel told me. And despite all the changes in their relationship, some things have managed to stay the same. Hiroki is still learning how to manage his wheelchair one-handed, but he makes it a point to bring Rachel her morning cup of coffee every day, just as he always has, even if it means spilling a little bit of coffee on the kitchen floor. "It is very bittersweet," Hiroki said, reflecting on the accident, "both survival and loss mixed into one."

    Update: When we checked in with Rachel about a year after this episode was released, she told us that "things are still challenging"—including travel and dealing with grief when thinking about their lives pre-accident. However, both Rachel and Hiroki are now back at work full time, and Hiroki's physical strength has increased—making things like travel more possible. They also plan on starting the IVF process soon. 


  • Alec Baldwin Talks Money, Family, Fame and Cocaine
    Wed, Apr 12, 2017

    "I completely forgot that this is an episode of Death, Sex & Money. We're taping this for your show!"

    That's how Alec Baldwin responded after I started our on-stage conversation at the Brooklyn Academy of Music by asking him about money, and how he thinks about accumulating it. It's a topic he addresses head-on in his new memoir, Nevertheless, explaining that the reason he wrote the book was because he got paid for it. While Alec told me he believes "a lot in providence, financially," he says he's often made clear career choices motivated by the paycheck. It's a tactic he says he learned early on, from older actor mentors. "Embrace the commercial," Alec says, "But then when you can, you run off and do these other things for your soul." 

    That willingness to say yes has led Alec into a very public existencehosting Saturday Night Live a record-breaking 17 times, engaging in local politics and philanthropy, and maintaining an active social media presence. But being in the spotlight has also led to regular spats with the tabloid press, a cocaine habit in the 1980s, and his very visible custody battle in the 1990ssomething he also covers in his book. When asked what advice he would give to a friend going through a split now, Alec said, "Find a way that you can get into therapy and get into the collaborative divorce. The dignified divorce. You're gonna regret if you don't." 

    Alec remarried in 2012 and has had three more children in a little over three years. He says he's embraced the chaos that has come with having little kids back in his life. "My role is to support her," he said of his wife, Hilaria. "I kind of accept that in order to make things easy. As my dad taught me, parenthood is a contest between two people where the dad always wins the bronze medal."

  • An Update From the Sex Worker Next Door
    Tue, Apr 11, 2017

    I first talked with a woman we're calling Emma almost two years ago, after she sent me an email. At the time, she was supporting her family as a sex worker, and wanted to share her story about how she got into sensual massage and why she didn't feel any guilt about working with married clients. 

    We recorded an interview. And then, months later, we recorded another one, because after the first time we talked Emma says the way she felt about her work started to shift. When we spoke for the second time, she'd taken a long break from her work doing sensual massage, but had just started seeing clients in her studio again because she needed the money. She said she was trying to figure out a way to go back to school and put sex work behind her, but wasn't sure how she'd pull it off. You can hear both of those conversations in the episode that we put out called The Sex Worker Next Door

    The podcast Snap Judgment recently re-aired that episode, and I reached out to Emma to see what's happened in her life since we talked. As it turns out, a lot has changed. Listen to our conversation.

  • Pleased to Meet You, Nancy
    Mon, Apr 10, 2017

    I first met Kathy Tu and Tobin Low two years ago, when they had an idea for a new podcast. The two friends wanted to make a show that would feature fun, honest and edgy stories and conversations about all things gay. And today, I'm so excited to finally introduce Nancy, their podcast, to all of you!

    The story we're sharing with you is from one of their very first episodes. It's about Kathy and her mom, and coming out with the help of Google Translate. 

    You can find out more about Nancy at nancypodcast.org. Subscribe today!

  • Why Rashema Melson Left Georgetown
    Wed, Apr 05, 2017

    I met Rashema Melson in the middle of her sophomore year at Georgetown University. She'd made national headlines the year before when she graduated as valedictorian of her D.C. high school class after spending several years living in a homeless shelter. It was a feat that landed her a scholarship at Georgetown—and saddled her with a lot of pressure. "I can't fail, I mean what would I do?" Rashema said as we talked in her dorm's common room, weeks before finals. "Do I want to believe that I didn't work hard enough or there is something more that I could have done? I just—yeah, no, I can't fail." 

    After our conversation, I kept tabs on Rashema through her video blog—which is how I found out that just months after we talked, she left Georgetown. She married a longtime boyfriend in the military, and transferred to a new school in Tennessee to be closer to his base—hundreds of miles away from her old life in Washington D.C. He was in the car with her when I called recently to find out how she was feeling about all of her big life changes. But our call quickly took an unexpected turn, and Rashema told me she's considering a return to Georgetown. "Why run away from what I'm destined to do just because people are showing me that they’re on my side?" she said. "When I had all these people in my corner, I didn't know how to receive that."

  • A Prison Guard In Transition
    Wed, Mar 29, 2017

    Mandi Hauwert was 32 and a few years into her career as a correctional officer at San Quentin State Prison when she started to wear eyeliner to work. "Just a little bit," she tells me. "Just to have some sense of feeling when I went to work that I was being secretly feminine."

    At the time, Mandi hadn't come out being transgender. She'd struggled with her secret for years—becoming depressed and suicidal as a teenager, joining the Navy to feel "a little more manly," and finally gathering the courage to open up to one of her female coworkers at the prison. "She was super accepting," Mandi told me. "And then it got me thinking, like, maybe—maybe—I could come out." But after another colleague started to ask questions about the makeup she was wearing, Mandi got called in to her supervisor's office. "I immediately told them that I was transgender," she says. "And their immediate response was that they don't allow cross-dressing."

    Mandi eventually got permission to come to work as a woman, and since July 2012, she's done just that. The health insurance she receives as a state employee also covered most of her gender reassignment surgery in 2015. Still, continuing to work as a guard hasn't been easy. Early on, inmates called her names. And while that's eased up over time, Mandi says her colleagues haven't gotten over her transition yet. "It's walking into a room full of officers and having everybody move their chairs over to one side, away from you," Mandi says. "I hate the negativity." 

    Mandi's also gotten some pushback from the trans community, which she says views police officers and guards with a lot of suspicion. "To be fair, law enforcement has historically treated trans people very poorly," she says. But Mandi is holding firm to the idea that being a part of the system is what could eventually bring about change. "Who knows?" she laughs. "I could be the first transgender warden."

  • I Was Your Father, Until I Wasn't
    Wed, Mar 15, 2017

    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 saysbut 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. 

    *Last names have been withheld for privacy reasons.

  • Live from the Internet: Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires & You
    Wed, Mar 08, 2017

    We met Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires three years ago to hear about their love story. They met when Jason was still struggling with sobriety, and got married about a year before we first sat down. Since then, they've continued to create new music, moved into a new house together, and had their first child—Mercy. After our recent episode on breakups, we couldn't think of a better duo to take your questions about heartache, relationships, creativity and loss. 

    A caller named Rebecca in Alaska wants to know how the two strike a balance between their creativity and their love for each other. "Happiness is the most important thing," Amanda says. "You've got to make yourself happy first, and be the truest self you can, before you can even try and be happy in a relationship." Russ calls in from Adairsville, Georgia to ask Jason and Amanda if they share their works in progress—especially if they write about each other. "If it's true and honest—no rules," Amanda says. "If the piece of art is good enough, no one can argue with it," Jason adds.

    We also hear from Lori in Ukiah, California, who lost her husband to cancer. She wants to know about Jason's relationship to his faith these days. "For me, it's about not needing too many answers," he responds, adding he still relies on his faith in God for support. Muhammad from Boston shares his struggle to stay authentic as a Middle Eastern musician playing Americana music. "Americana is America," Amanda says. "Play your folk songs. It's going to kick ass."

    Let us know what you think of our live-call in format! If you enjoyed it, tell us what you'd like our next call-in to be about and who should be our guests by emailing us at [email protected].


    Jason & Amanda's Playlist

    Leonard Cohen, (ANY Leonard Cohen song, Amanda says)

    Ray LaMontagne, "Lesson Learned"

    Willie Nelson, "You Are Always On My Mind"

    Willie Nelson, "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground"

    Willie Nelson, "Remember Me"

    Willie Nelson, "On the Road Again"

    Jason Isbell, "Flagship"

    Amanda Shires, "You Are My Home"


  • Cristela Alonzo's Lower Classy Comedy
    Wed, Feb 22, 2017

    Comedian Cristela Alonzo says she didn't grow up with much. Her mom raised four kids on her own in an abandoned diner with no running power or water in South Texas. Things are different for Cristela these days. "I have the kind of money where I can go into a Target and go on my own Pretty Woman shopping spree," she tells me.

    Cristela became the first Latina to develop, write, produce and star in her own network TV show. The self-titled sitcom, Cristela, premiered in 2014, but only lasted one season due to disappointing ratings. Still, for Cristela, failure isn’t enough of a reason to stop. "The worst that can happen to me is I end up being as poor as I started, and I know what it's like to live life that poor," she explains.

    Cristela spent a lot of time in front of the TV as a kid while her mom worked double shifts at restaurants to pay the bills. Cristela's mom moved the family into the abandoned diner when she discovered her husband was having an affair, leaving him behind in Mexico. "She was trying to survive and trying to get us to survive," she says of her mother. "She had no community. She had nothing, and you can tell how hard it was on her."

    In high school, Cristela struggled between obligations to her family and her own professional aspirations. She enjoyed theater and acting, which eventually drew her towards Los Angeles. After a series of fits and starts, she ended up back in Texas when she found out her mom was gravely ill. "In my family, the parents pick the kid that will take care of them when they're older, and my mom picked me," she remembers. "It's kind of winning a really resentful lottery."

    Even though her show was cancelled in 2015, Cristela's stories about family and money are still a big part of her comedy—especially in her latest comedy special, Lower Classy. "I like talking about where I came from to show people why I am the way I am now," she says. "The poverty I grew up with made me want to work really hard to not ever be that poor again."


  • Cut Loose: Your Breakup Stories
    Wed, Feb 15, 2017

    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 our Breakup Survival Kit. It's a Google doc created by all of you that's filled with your best suggestions about what to read, watch, listen to and do after a split. Plus: see what our listener Emily Theis built from your suggestions, at breakupsurvival.guide

     *Name changed for privacy reasons

  • The NFL Made Me Rich. Now I Watch It... Sometimes.
    Wed, Feb 01, 2017

    When Domonique Foxworth and I first talked, the former NFL player was attending Harvard Business School and looking forward to a career as a high-powered executive. "I want to get to the point where I feel comfortable saying the things I’ve achieved financially are partially because of football, but even more because of what I’ve done afterwards," Domonique told me. 

    That's saying a lot. Shortly before an injury permanently sidelined his career, Domonique signed a contract with the Baltimore Ravens worth $28 million. It was the culmination of years of devotion to the sport—much of which was unpaid. As a college football player at the University of Maryland, Domonique remembers feeling pressure to prioritize the school's athletics over his own academics. "That will benefit the coach, the university, the president, the alumni, the students," he told me. "None of us had any control or leverage in order to protect ourselves."

    Years later, when his own payday finally came—in a big way—Domonique says it didn't feel quite as good as he had hoped. "We get paid well because the talents that we have are so rare," he says. "But you’re still the labor." It was around that time that Domonique tore his ACL, and decided that he was ready to leave football behind. 

    Since my first conversation with Domonique, a lot has changed in his life. He's graduated from business school, had a third child, and moved to Washington, D.C. And his career sights have shifted. After landing a job as a top sports executive, he realized he wasn't happy. "I kind of made the decision to try my best to quiet those egotistical urges in me that liked having the big title and liked having the big salary," he told me when we recently caught up by phone. "So I quit with no plan to do anything else." We talk about what he's doing now, and about how his years playing football continue to have an impact on the way he lives his life today. 

    Read Domonique's reflections on the film Concussion, as well as some of his writing for ESPN's site The Undefeated.

  • Mahershala Ali on Faith, Love and Success
    Tue, Jan 24, 2017

    We met actor Mahershala Ali and his wife, the artist Amatus, last year in Brooklyn, a few months after he filmed his scenes for Barry Jenkins' film "Moonlight." Now, ten months later, Mahershala has earned his first Academy Award nomination for his role as Juan, a Miami drug dealer who takes the movie's main character, a young boy whose mother struggles with addiction, under his wing.

    Just last month, Mahershala also announced some exciting personal news: He and Amatus are expecting their first child. 

    Today, we're revisiting our conversation the the couple, which took place months before the buzz of awards season or news of their first baby. On stage in Brooklyn last March, we learned how Mahershala and Amatus first met when they were students at NYU, and how they reconnected years later after Amatus suffered a violent loss in her family. They also shared how their Muslim faith grounds them, and how it guides them through their careers today. 

    Listen back to our entire live show with Mahershala and Amatus (as well as Rosie Perez, Hari Kondabolu, Lisa Fischer and more) from last March at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

    And this... What a surprise. So much love.

    A video posted by Amatus (@amatus23) on


    It looks like Amatus and Mahershala had a lot of fun at their baby shower last month!

  • I Had Babies To Pay For My Baby
    Wed, Jan 18, 2017

    Sarah Short remembers being 19 years old, staring at the bill from the hospital where she gave birth to her daughter. It added up to about $10,000. "There's the anesthesia, the hospital stay, and the doctor—and I just laughed," she tells me. "I was like, 'I can't pay this.'"

    Sarah had health insurance, but it didn't cover obstetrics. And she'd waited too long into her pregnancy to apply for Medicaid. She felt guilty about bringing so much debt into her new marriage—she married her boyfriend right before her baby was born—and when the bill went to collections, the dollar amount climbed even higher. 

    "I would just get so overwhelmed and I would be like we're never going to be able to get out from under this," Sarah told me. "And it felt like it was all my fault." So, she started researching ways that she could make money to pay off her bill. She tried to sell her eggs, but says she wasn't what the clinic wanted in an egg donor. "But you're a great candidate for surrogacy," she remembers being told. Soon after Sarah filled out an application at a surrogacy agency, she met the parents she'd be working with—a lesbian couple who turned to surrogacy after years of trying to adopt.

    Sarah ended up having twins for the couple, although this pregnancy and childbirth were very different from what Sarah went through giving birth to her own children. "When my son was born I looked at him…and it was a huge profound moment in my life that I remember," Sarah says. "When the twins were born they didn't look like me, and they weren't mine. I wanted them to get to their parents."

    Even after giving birth, Sarah's work wasn't over. For several months, she pumped breast milk for the twins, which she also got paid for. Still, she's careful when she explains how much money she made from surrogacy: around $40,000. "I'm always reticent just to tell people just a flat number because it sounds so high and it sounds like I sold these babies for this amount of money," she says. "When in actuality I had a part-time job for two years."

    That part-time job helped Sarah pay off her medical bills and make a down payment on a new house. She describes her life today as "a life that I could have never pictured for myself a few years ago." But when Sarah recently tried to become a surrogate again, she realized that the process might not go as smoothly the second time. "Why is this not working? This doesn't make sense," Sarah told me. "It felt like I'd been fired, because I'd had this thought of, I have this job, I'm gonna have this income, and then I didn't." 

  • Tracy Clayton Is Speaking Things Into Existence
    Wed, Jan 11, 2017

    Right before the new year, Another Round podcast host and writer Tracy Clayton tweeted:

    What followed were 30 tweets about the things Tracy wants when it comes to family, relationships, work and finances. Some were funny ("I want some real fucking grown up furniture!") and others were serious ("I want to do the hard work of reconciling my past relationships so that I can prep myself for the partner and kids I'm scared to admit I want"). I watched her tweets coming down my feed in real time—and thought what she was doing was really brave. 

    I wanted to talk with Tracy about what inspired her goal-setting outburst, and about the things she wants for her 2017. "I feel like I've been in transition for a really long time," she told me. "I don't feel like both of my feet are planted firmly on the ground." At 34, Tracy's been in New York for less than three years—and has had a hugely successful career rise during that time. But, she says, "I didn't feel like the rest of my life reflected that same sort of success or happiness." Tracy says she hopes that by announcing her goals to the world rather than keeping them to herself, she'll be held accountable. "I’m very used to letting myself down," she said. "I’m much more afraid of letting other people down." 

    Tracy's already started knocking things off of her 2017 to-do list. She opened her first-ever savings account just a few days into the new year. She got drunk with her relatives for the first time over the holidays, "giving myself permission to be a grown-ass woman around my family." And, she's gearing herself up to take on some of the bigger challengeslike finding a partner. "I don’t do very well with actually tying up loose ends once those ends become loose," she told me about her past relationships. "And now I’m like, okay, Trace, if you never ever ever fix it and wade through this uncomfortable-ass box, then you know, sure, you’ll probably be fine, but what if you could be more than fine? What if you could be happy? Wouldn’t that be cool?" 

  • A Son and His Mom Laugh Through Darkness
    Wed, Dec 28, 2016

    In 2014, after Bex Montz dropped out college, transitioned and got sober, he tried to kill himself. Before losing consciousness, he called 911. When he woke up, the first thing he saw was his mom, Katie Ryan, sitting in the corner of his hospital room. 

    Bex told me his story earlier this year in our episode about near-death experiences. He's living with his mom in San Francisco, and soon after I moved to California, I asked Bex if I could catch up with him in person—and meet his mom. 

    In our follow-up conversation, I learned about the depression that Bex has struggled with since he was a kid and, as his mom told me, that his extended family didn't know Bex was a suicide survivor until the podcast episode came out this spring. Bex said he couldn't believe it. "I've been mentally ill since I was like 13 years old," he said. "Jesus Christ, I hope there's a suicide attempt in there somewhere! Or else, I'm like, what have I been doing with the last couple of years, you know?"

    This prompted Bex and his mom to burst into laughter.

    This is how they talk about all they've gone through as a family, with brutal honesty and cutting humorwhether they're describing Bex's father's sudden death, Bex's ongoing depression, or his gender transition in his 20s. "These gender issues are, like, the smallest problems we've faced together," his mom Katie described. "They're miniscule, for me, compared to the mental health issues."

    Those issues have made parenting Bex difficult, he freely admits, both when he was a kid and now that he's an adult. "I want to try to figure out all this shit by myself," he told me. "That's my ideal." 

    "I've learned I can't keep him safe," Katie added. "I thought that sleeping on a mattress outside his door and taking the door off the door jam would keep him safe. It meant nothing. It meant that I was pissing him off because he didn't have a door to his bedroom and I was sleeping on the floor outside his bedroom because I couldn't trust him. And it didn't work."

    "Ugh. I'm such an asshole," Bex responded. "I haven't made things easy on anybody. And, like, that's obviously not a choice. But it also doesn't feel good, you know."

    Now, Bex is focusing on staying healthy and reapplying to college. He isn't sure whether he would ever want to be a parent, but right now, he said he's leaning against it. "There's this thing that you love desperately and you always want to be around, and progressively over the course of it's life, as it gets more interesting, you have to let it go."

    "Like, that sounds awful. That sounds horrible!" Bex exclaimed. "Both of you guys are fucking idiots!"

    After that, we all burst into laughter.   

  • My Awkward Money Talk With Sallie Krawcheck
    Wed, Dec 21, 2016

    Before she was a Wall Street executive or the CEO of an investment company for women, Sallie Krawcheck was a little kid, listening to her parents fight about money. 

    "You just knew, once a month, they were gonna have a big fight and somebody was gonna storm out of the house," she told me. "It was a really stressful and tense topic for us, because we didn't have any." 

    That taught Sallie that she never wanted to be in that position. She says she started working in the third grade, filing papers at her dad's law office. By high school, Sallie was lending her parents money to fix the furnace when it gave out. "I wanted to make my own money. I did not want to have those fights with a spouse, or be put in a position where I would be financially vulnerable," she said. 

    Sallie learned that lesson again after she began her career in finance, and she found out her first husband was having an affair. She had graduated from business school, but at the time of their divorce, she wasn't in charge of their finances. "I knew vaguely how much we had, but it was an eye-opener," she says. "When you're reeling from a break to a relationship, that's a really bad time to try and figure out how to manage your money." 

    Sallie remarried, and while she and her husband raised their two kids, Sallie's career continued to advance. She became the CEO of Smith Barney, and then, a top executive at Citigroup. She was there when the financial crisis hit in 2008, and Sallie was fired amid corporate infighting about how to handle some of the bank's major losses. "We told the kids that we were okay. You know, that mom got fired, mom got re-orged out and that we were okay as a family," she says. "I think the conversations were that straightforward." 

    This year, Sallie started Ellevest, a financial planning firm specifically focused on women. When I asked whether her Wall Street past ever makes it awkward to have money conversations with women who earn much less, it got a little heated. "I have made money in my life. Isn't it interesting I had to come back and tell you that I also lost a lot of money in my life, as if I'm apologizing for it. It's funny. You've made me feel quite defensive," she told me. 

    "It is interesting how awkward it is to talk about it," Sallie added, "even though I talk about it in the abstract everyday." 

  • Let's Talk About Porn
    Wed, Dec 07, 2016

    Porn. It’s something that people use in their most intimate, private moments. It’s a way to acknowledge desire—without any of the attachments of intimacy. For some of you, that's incredibly freeing. For others, it's caused some real problems.

    This spring, we heard from a listener named James* who described himself as a recovering porn addict. He was struggling to stay away from porn while his wife was out of town. His story made us wonder about your own relationship with porn, so we asked you about it. More than 100 responses later, you told us how you first learned about porn, what drew you to it, and why some of you have had to turn away from it completely.

    Rose* was in her 30s when she first stumbled across a porn video on Tumblr. She tried to put it away, but kept coming back to it. "I was going through heartbreak at that time, and really craving affection and love and desire," she tells me. "Seeing that acted out…I found it intriguing." Another listener, Antonio*, says porn helps him stay faithful to his boyfriend by letting him live out his fantasies on his smartphone. And Michael* says his porn collection is a stress reliever that he carefully tends to "like a rose garden."

    We also heard from listeners like Daniel*, who've had to cut porn out of their lives entirely. Daniel went cold turkey three years ago when he realized porn had become a coping mechanism for his mental illness and was hurting his relationship with his girlfriend. "It's hard because it gives me a really intense pleasurable feeling," he says. "But it’s also usually followed by a lot of shame, too."

    But for Jennifer*, experimenting with porn and talking about it openly can be helpful—even though it often makes the people she's dating uncomfortable. "I think it's important to just get it out of the way," she says. "You can have a better sex life when all the cards are out on the table."

    *Names changed for privacy reasons.

  • Other Americans
    Wed, Nov 23, 2016

    Since the election, Americans on both sides of the political divide have been feeling deeply alienated and profoundly misunderstood. So we've been asking our listeners one central question: What's the thing that you wish other Americans understood about you, that they don't? 

    In this live call-in special, Anna speaks with listeners about their answers to this question. Among the Americans we hear from are Kelly, a black woman in Portland, Oregon, who feels frustrated by the "smugness" of the white liberals she's surrounded by and sometimes feels like she's not being seen in her community; David, a first-generation Jewish American who was inspired by a recent white nationalist speech to wear a kippah for the first time in his adult life; Katherine, a Republican who's tired of being labeled a racist and a bigot; and Jorge, who identifies as a progressive but wants other Americans to know that plenty of Latinos lean right politically. 

    We also hear from Nora*, a Republican staffer on Capitol Hill who voted for Hillary Clinton and was shocked when Donald Trump won. "When I voted for Hillary...I did it completely against my own career interests," Nora says. "There are so many people [on Capitol Hill] like me....We are simultaneously terrified of the uncharted unknown but also really excited to...do what we envision for the country." 

    This call-in special is part of The United States of Anxiety, WNYC's election series. Find out more about the series here

    *Name changed for privacy reasons

  • What Money Can't Solve
    Thu, Nov 17, 2016

    On November 2, 1983, Darrell Cannon was woken up by the Chicago police banging on his door. He knew the drill. As a longtime gang member, run-ins with the cops were common. He'd already served more than a decade behind bars for a murder conviction.

    But that day, something unexpected happened: Darrell says the cops tortured him while they were questioning him. During the torture, Darrell confessed to a crime that landed him back behind bars for 24 years. 

    This didn't just happen to Darrell. Between the 1970s and the 1990s, more than 100 people—most of them black men—say they were tortured too. The city of Chicago has officially acknowledged that this happened. Earlier this year, the city approved a $5.5 million reparations package to 57 of the people who suffered at the hands of the police. 

    Planet Money reporter Noel King interviewed Darrell shortly after he picked up his reparations check earlier this year. She shared his story as part of a larger Planet Money episode called "Paying for the Crime." And today, in collaboration with Planet Money, we're sharing more of Darrell's story with you. It's a story about money—and the things that money can't solve.

    "I hate 'em," Darrell says. "That ain’t never gonna change."

  • If You're Not ____, Then Never Mind
    Fri, Nov 04, 2016

    Actor Amy Landecker got divorced in 2011. "It was the worst time of my whole life," Amy says. "People told me it was going to get better and I didn't believe them." Amy and her ex-husband share custody of their daughter, and Amy struggled with being away from her for days at a time. "I would watch Louie, there was this one episode in particular where, when his kids would leave he would eat doughnuts, get high and want to kill himself," Amy remembers. "I was just so comforted. Because I was like, 'That's how I feel.'" 

    Amy's 47 now, and says the pain of her divorce has eased as time has passed. In the past few years, she's found breakout success in her role as Sarah, the oldest sister on the series Transparent. That's also how she met her boyfriend, actor Bradley Whitford. "My daughter was worried that I was gonna be alone and...she was like, let's just make a list of the qualities that we're looking for," Amy laughs. "So she takes out this piece of paper and she titles it, 'If You're Not This, Then Never Mind.'" Soon after that, Amy met Bradley—who met a lot of their requirements. "I wanted him to like cats and dogs," Amy says. "Bradley has both, which is very rare." 

    For the past two decades, Amy has also been sober—a decision she made at 24, after years of hard partying and some sexual close calls. Plus, drinking was getting in the way of her career. "The final drink of my life was before an audition," Amy remembers. "I was absolutely terrible and I was like, 'I'm not going to be able to do what I want to do for a living if I continue down this path.'" 


    Before being cast on Transparent, Amy worked as a voiceover actor—and voice double. Don't know what that is? Watch this video from New York magazine. Get ready to be amazed. 

  • Death, Sex & Money Live at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre | November 14, 2016
    Wed, Oct 26, 2016

    Death, Sex & Money is live from Chicago’s Music Box Theatre in partnership with WBEZ on Monday, Nov. 14! Anna sits down with writer and actor Mara Wilson (Matilda, BoJack Horseman) to talk about sex, death and life after child stardom.

    Stay after the interview for a screening of one of Mara’s favorite films—Clueless—as part of the Music Box Theatre’s “My Favorite Flick” series.

    Get your tickets to the show today, or get a Podcast Passport from our friends at WBEZ.

  • I Was More Angry At God
    Wed, Oct 26, 2016

    Two years ago, Jane Chung was living in New York, working at a startup and having the time of her life. The business she co-founded, called Klooff—a sort of "Instagram for pets"—was growing by leaps and bounds. "Everything seemed to align," Jane says. "And I would call my dad every day and I will tell him all the news." Jane, who was 30 at the time, hoped that after her startup got big, she could sell it and help her dad leave behind the dollar store business he owned in California. 

    And then, on October 31, 2014, Jane got a phone call from her mother. "Her voice was really weird," Jane remembers. "There was like the feeling that you just kind of know that something awful happened." Jane's father had been shot and killed in a robbery.

    That phone call rerouted the course of Jane's life—leading her to pack up her things in New York, sell her business and completely start over in California. Jane moved in with her mom, and struggled to accept that the God she had trusted to take care of her family had let something so terrible happen. "Most people were angry at the murderer," Jane says. "I think I was more angry at God."

    In the past two years, Jane's been adjusting to her new life on the West Coast, and figuring out where to draw boundaries between herself and her mother. And she's trying to see God in a new way—and accept that she won't always be able to predict what's coming next. "You collect things in life, you gather pieces, you don't know what you're gonna do with those pieces but somehow it maps to something in your future," Jane says. "It can become a bigger piece of work. I think that's what God does."

    Jane made a video that was played in court at her father's killer's sentencing. Watch it below.


  • Andy Cohen and Anna Sale: Taboo Topics | November 30, 2016
    Tue, Oct 25, 2016

    Join Anna as she sits down with Andy Cohen—the author, executive producer behind Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise and host of Watch What Happens: Live. Catch up with them both on Nov. 30 at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre.  

    Buy your tickets today! Use this link to get a special "DSMinSF" 20% off discount

  • Ellen Burstyn & Gloria Steinem
    Wed, Oct 05, 2016

    Before the women's movement came around in the 1960s, Gloria Steinem thought her options for the future were limited. "I was being a freelance writer and not having any money to save, and assuming that I would be a bag lady," she tells guest host Ellen Burstyn. "I was supposed to get married and have a man to support me. But that seemed to be a kind of hard bargain."

    Gloria was raised by a father who traveled across the country selling jewelry and antiques, and a writer mother who suffered from severe depression. They separated when Gloria was 10 years old, and Gloria soon became her mother's primary caregiver. The journalist and feminist icon says the circumstances she grew up in gave her the confidence to step into the world on her own—like when she traveled to India as a young woman, leaving her then-fianc? behind in the States. "I realized in later life that...I felt not so safe at home because I was a small person looking after a big one," Gloria says. "So I felt the world outside the home was safer."

    Gloria broke off that early engagement—but married entrepreneur David Bale when she was 66. "By that time the women's movement had worked for 30 years to equalize the marriage laws," Gloria says. "So no longer would I lose my name and my credit rating and my legal domicile and all my civil rights, as I would have had I got married when I was supposed to. So I thought, 'Well, you know, why not? I mean I'm not going to lose.'" David died three years after they got married, after being diagnosed with brain lymphoma. Gloria says taking care of him at the end of his life forced her to live fully in the present. "He let me do over what I couldn't really do for my mother," she added. "It gave me a chance to do that over."

    Gloria is 82 now. And she says she isn't yet very comfortable with the idea of death. "I'm torn because I love it here...I'm very attached," she admits. "I'm still trying to hang in there 'til I'm 100. Because just to meet my deadlines I have to do that."

  • Diane Gill Morris & Officer Robert Zink
    Wed, Sep 28, 2016

    Diane Gill Morris first joined us last year to talk about raising her two boys, Kenny and Theo. Both of her children are autistic, and Diane told us about the challenges that have come with their diagnoses and the overwhelming responsibility she feels to protect and nurture them, particularly as they become adults. 

    Diane said she was particularly worried about her older son, Kenny, who was then 16. "I am still trying to figure out how I make sure that he is safe in the world," Diane said, "when I can’t explain to him all the intricacies involved in what it means to be young and black in America."

    There have been several recent stories about police interactions with autistic people of color—and their caregivers—that have ended violently, in places like Miami, New York, and St. Paul, Minnesota. Today, as a guest host on Death, Sex & Money, Diane talks with police officer Robert Zink, who founded the St. Paul CARE (Cops Autism Response Education) Project and has two autistic boys of his own. "Officers may not read the cues of what the person is presenting," Officer Zink says. "Officers may view them as cues of, is it drug interaction? Is it a mental health issue? And read those cues wrong....And we go down one path and it gets worse and worse." He adds, "I never want to see something like that happen to my sons just because something they did was misinterpreted." 

    Diane also talks with Officer Zink about her worry that officers might make incorrect assumptions about her sons because they're black. "In the media most of the people that we see with autism are white. I don't think a lot of people are aware that there's a really large population of minority children and adults with autism," Diane says. "My fear is always that an officer sees a black man and they will immediately go to the idea of this being a person on drugs versus this being a person with disability." 

    Diane also talks with Maria Caldwell, whose son, Marcus Abrams, was injured during an confrontation with Metro Transit officers in St. Paul last year. Marcus is black and autistic, and was 17 at the time of the incident. Maria talks with Diane about how Officer Zink reached out to her family after Marcus landed in the hospital—and Officer Zink and Maria talk together about working to rebuild trust after it's been lost. "There's no expectation that trust is going to be gained in six weeks, six months, six years, or sixty years," Officer Zink says. "Even though you may not have it back right away, you still have to work to get that trust back." 

  • Chris Gethard & Tim Dillon
    Wed, Sep 21, 2016

    Comedian Tim Dillon has lived a lot of life in his 31 years. "I was a child actor," he tells guest host Chris Gethard. "I started doing coke at 12. My mother's a schizophrenic. I was a closeted homosexual. I'm politically all over the map, though I lean conservative. I was in the mortgage industry. I idolize hucksters, thieves, cons and cheats. My dream is to be a traveling salesman through America. And if comedy works, that's nice too."

    Around the time that Tim says he began experimenting with drugs, he also began to notice that his mother was starting to talk about being followed. She was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, and had a mental breakdown when Tim was twenty years old. She's been in and out of psychiatric hospitals since then. As an adult, Tim says he feels a growing responsibility to care for his mother, but he's also come to terms with the fact that no amount of money will "fix" her. "That's the amazing thing about mental illness," he says. "If I had a million dollars, and I had a home, and I could move her in and pay all her bills, she wouldn't be better."

    Tim did in fact once own a home, in his early 20s. He started his career selling mortgagesincluding those of the subprime variety. "I didn't know how bad it was going to get," he says. "I took one myself." He bought a $570,000 house that, as it turned out, he couldn't afford after the subprime mortgage crisis hit and he lost his job. The bank foreclosed on his home, and Tim says his credit is still suffering today.

    But the economic downturn did push him to make a dramatic career change. Tim started doing stand-up comedy about six years ago. And that same year, he decided to come out to his family. "There was no like, 'We love you,'" Tim says. "There was none of that. They're funny, acerbic people." Tim isn't dating much, though. Right now, he says he's focused on building his career as a comic, doing two to three shows a night. But, he says, he might slow down "if I fell deeply in love with somebody...I'm not saying that that even would slow me down, I'm just saying that could." 

  • Sonia Manzano & Justice Sonia Sotomayor
    Wed, Sep 14, 2016

    "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." 

    Sonia and the Justice also talk about some of the opinions that the Justice has written for the Supreme Court, including those about race and prejudice. "I know that for people to hear me, I have to be able to explain it in terms that people can sit in the shoes of the other person," the Justice says. "I suspect that there are many people...who never thought about what the impact is of snickering at a person of a different race when they walked by or of asking someone, 'Where are you really from?' when that kid has been born and raised here." They also talk about the Justice's recent words about police searches and parents of color giving their children "the talk" about interacting with the police. "It is inescapable for any child in this society who is of color of any kind, or who comes from a different background where language becomes noticeable, that they will experience that difference," the Justice says. "And they will have to cope with it. We have not become colorblind yet."

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