Approved For Breakup

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Speaker 1: Hey, Tom Scharpling here, the host of The Best Show. And if you’ve never heard of the best show before, everything you need to know is right there in the title. Each week we put on the Best Loss podcast you’re ever going to hear. Featuring live callers, celebrity guests, music. Plenty of surprises. Who knows what’s going to happen? Last month alone, we were joined by CONAN O’Brien, Patricia Arquette, Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, Nathan Fielder, Sinéad Archives. John Oliver. The list goes on and on. So what are you waiting for? Join us live every Tuesday night on Twitch at 6 p.m. Pacific Time and find us the next day on the Forever Dawg Podcast Network and wherever you find podcasts.

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Danny Lavery: Just a reminder, that big mood, little mood with Daniel and Lavery happens twice a week. Slate Plus members get an additional mini episode or little big mood every Friday. Sign up now to listen at Slate.com slash mood.

Danny Lavery: And.

Danny Lavery: Hello and welcome back to Big Little New. I am your host, Danny Lavery. And with me in the studio this week is Katie Tastrom, a sex worker and writer whose work focuses on disability justice. Her forthcoming book about prison abolition and disability Justice is coming out in late 2023. Katie, welcome to the show.

Speaker 3: Thanks, Tammy. It’s nice to be here.

Danny Lavery: Thank you so much. We had to rerecord our opener because we had a little bit of technical difficulties. So listeners, you’re you’re just never going to hear the initial conversation that we had about interactive dinner theater in the United States. But I can let you all know that we have since moved on from my medieval times obsession to the pirate dinner show, the Pirates dinner adventure, I should say, which which claims it as the most interactive dinner theater in the city of Orlando, Florida, which is, I think, kind of a beautiful dig yet simple find.

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Speaker 3: What you just revealed to me that the listeners may not know is that it’s a separate company from medieval times. So it’s a competitor.

Danny Lavery: Yeah. Now, so medieval times weirdly got started in Spain in the sixties. This guy owned a barbecue and he was like, How can I get more people to stop by my barbecue as opposed to all the other barbecue joints in town? And he was like, Oh, will we create medieval jousting? And I guess after he had done that for a few years, he was like, You know, where this would be great is several suburbs in the United States. And so he took it over here. And there are now nine medieval times in the world, eight in the U.S. and one in Toronto. Wow. And I don’t know as much about the history of Pirate’s Dinner adventure, but there are only three pirates dinner adventure. And of course, now I’m going to have to, like, do some digging on, like what company actually owns them and whether or not it’s just like a front for like, yes, we are also the medieval times people.

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Speaker 3: Yeah, I have an idea. I think instead you should get the owner of medieval times and the owner of the Pirates runs to joust off a boat off a pirate ship.

Danny Lavery: I feel like they would love that, actually. I feel like that would not be difficult to persuade them to do those things. But I will look into it and see what I can do.

Speaker 3: Great. So now you got me, you know, really into medieval times and and the pirates adventure and I will be going to every location.

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Danny Lavery: I just think that, like dinner theater as a whole has like its heyday was like the sixties and seventies and it’s, it went steeply downhill, but then also had a sort of like corporate revival in the eighties and nineties. And the fact that there are any like dinner theaters left in the United States amazes me. And it just feels like you couldn’t possibly drum up enough custom to keep your doors open. And yet I’m very wrong about that because there are, you know, nine medieval times and three pirates dinner adventures that are able to keep their doors open and pack them in, presumably every night, including through the pandemic. So clearly, there’s something about this business model that’s either money laundering or I’m just really missing. That speaks to the heart of what the people want.

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Speaker 3: Yeah, why not both, you know.

Danny Lavery: Why not both? Exactly.

Danny Lavery: I think before we go too far down, you know, corporate dinner theater, we should probably try to answer a couple of specific questions from people whose problems have nothing to do with jousting or fake pirates. And I.

Speaker 3: Guess.

Danny Lavery: With your permission, I’m going to read our first letter, which is very much more in the sort of usual wheelhouse of My boyfriend’s a bummer and I don’t want to hurt his feelings. So the subject is disheartened and depressed. I think I need to leave my boyfriend and I don’t want to. We’ve been dating for about five years, over three different stints. We broke up after graduating college and again after moving for a job, but got back together over two years ago. We were together through COVID and always had a great time. Something has changed in the last year and a half. He’s become so depressed and for a long time he has avoided getting help. He’s been in therapy for six months now, but he still doesn’t seem like himself and I’m wondering if I can handle it.

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Danny Lavery: Last year he bought a ring and told me he was going to propose. Six months went by and in that time my brother proposed to his girlfriend then. So it’s not to take anything away from that couple. We waited another six months before I said he was clear to propose. I want him to show me how he feels about me with a proposal. And while I’m not super girly, I had previously told him that I’d like to have my hair and nails and makeup done and be out on a date. When he asked, he did propose, but lazily in my apartment at the end of a long shift at my physically demanding job while I was taking off my shoes and needed a shower, I told him I couldn’t accept and then I was hurt by his lack of effort after he’d had so much time to plan. He’s also failed his grad school classes, hasn’t found a better job and hasn’t been giving me any physical affection this time either. I don’t blame him for his mental health issues. I have some too, but this relationship makes me feel unimportant and worthless, and I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.

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Danny Lavery: I’ve been honest about how this makes me feel. I know this isn’t who he quote really is, but how long should I wait? The pain this is causing me is nearly. Unbearable. Did you get a sense as you were reading this? Like, I feel like I got a very strong sense of why the letter writer feels like she needs to leave her boyfriend. I didn’t really feel what was animating the I don’t want to leave part, and I found myself just trying to guess, like, did you see anything in here that suggested? She wanted to stay.

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Speaker 3: No, nothing at all. The one thing that I did wonder about is in terms of maybe the appearance of staying just the whole part, in terms of the engagement and, you know, wanting to have her hair done and nails in, which is completely understandable. But I wonder if there is something about she doesn’t want to look like. You know, it’s been many years. She doesn’t she’s worried about other people, what other people might think.

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Danny Lavery: Yeah. So maybe it’s like, I want to go, but I’m worried about other people might think of it as me like, you know, getting out of there when the going got tough or something.

Speaker 3: Yeah, exactly. And I think like she’s saying with him, you know, she still cares about him though. Clearly she doesn’t want to be in the relationship. But, you know, when someone is going through a harder time, you know, you do want to be a little more careful with their feelings. Yeah.

Danny Lavery: I also felt, you know, I don’t want to think about this in, like, a flippant way, but, like, letter writer. You guys have already broken up three times. I don’t want to sort of, like, deprecate the the last year and a half that you’ve had together or anything, but like you’ve broken up with each other kind of a lot. And so while that doesn’t necessarily mean this is going to be like easy and frivolous, it does suggest to me that, like, it’s not going to shock him. It’s not going to be the first time you’ve broken up. And so I wonder if in some ways you’re making this out to be this like huge definitive decision when really it’s more like, oh, you guys kind of break up a lot and maybe this is going to be the last time. But it sounds like maybe this is just a college relationship that kind of lasted too long.

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Speaker 3: Yeah. One thing that in her narrative that I kind of saw through it and, you know, because I work and do disability just stuff, I kind of always frame it this way. So, you know, I’m a little focused in this area, but that the depressions, you know, she talks about how he’s not himself. Mm hmm. And I think this idea that she kind of sees it as, like, this cloud kind of, like, came, and he was this perfect person. This cloud came and landed on him, you know, some time ago. And, you know, he did a couple of things that I asked him to do, like get rid of it, but it’s still there. And that’s just not that’s not how depression or anything works. You know, we’re not separate from our depression or our ADHD or everything. We’re not. It’s part of us.

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Speaker 3: So he is himself, you know, she’s kind of like, oh, he’s not himself. And she’s there’s she just doesn’t like him, which is totally fine. You know, there’s nothing wrong with that. And and I think she kind of feels bad, like, oh, I’m leaving him because of the depression or whatever, because she sees that, you know, people with mental health issues need to be accountable for our behavior, to, you know, what I’m being like just because someone is depressed doesn’t mean they can be, you know, a miserable person. You know, like does it mean that they can treat someone badly or, oh, a relationship? And and then this where it just sounds like they’re just not compatible. You know, I think that she might be kind of looking for permission, that it’s okay to break up with someone who’s, you know, from what she’s seeing is, like, depressed. And that’s not a terrible thing. And in these circumstances, you know, she doesn’t need my permission or anyone’s permission, first of all. But but if she’s not happy, you know, that’s he’s going to they’re going to feel that, too.

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Danny Lavery: Yeah, I think I’m with you as well in terms of like this question of who he really is or whether or not that he will return to the person he really is. And I think I’m with you in the sense of like I don’t know to what extent he I don’t know if he would put it in the same terms. He might not feel like I used to be one kind of person. And now depression has taken that for me. He might feel like depression has changed some elements of my life, but also maybe I never cared about big stage proposals in the same way that you do. Or he he might put it in other terms entirely.

Danny Lavery: I would just really encourage this letter writer not to think of this as a referendum on his depression so much as like this is a guy who you’ve broken up with at least three times already. Just do it again like you. I feel like dismissible. Like you guys have broken up a lot. It’s not going to come as a shock to anyone if you’re like, Well, we broke up for a fourth time, so I just want to be able to remove some of the weight of like this fear that you have around breaking up again like the other ones weren’t practice runs or like fake because this is the real one you broke up before and you can break up again. I would encourage you not to get back with him like a fifth time after this, but also like you’re allowed to if you if you really want. But I don’t want to spend a ton of time litigating the whole. He bought me a ring, said he was going to propose. I said, We’ve got to wait to respect my brother for six months. Like, again, if there weren’t other bigger issues here, maybe we could kind of discuss how reasonable some of those things are.

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Danny Lavery: As it is, it feels a little bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s just like you want something really specific. You want like a big stagy. And I don’t mean stagey in terms of like fake. I mean, like, theatrical, you know, infill involving, like, dressed. Thing up, specially in like a highly ritualized one. And he doesn’t. And that makes you feel really, really bad. And you would like to break up with him. You know, I guess my only question here is, at what point will you find the pain unbearable enough to do the thing that you already kind of want to do? And that’s really a question that only you can answer. Letter writer. It doesn’t seem like whatever you’ve been trying so far has made you feel more invested in your relationship. And it doesn’t seem like he is saying, like, if you leave, I’ll have nothing. So maybe you can let go of some of that guilt.

Speaker 3: I agree.

Danny Lavery: Yeah, I think that’s just it. Like and I think the letter writer already knows this on a number of levels, but this is just like it’s less I want to dump him because he has failed to become happy after six months of therapy, so much as just we don’t want the same things. We don’t seem to connect in any ways that feel meaningful to either of us. And this isn’t working.

Speaker 3: Yeah, I feel a little bit like the letter writer. It’s coming to us where, like the DMV, and they want to, you know, get their papers stamped, like, okay, you’re approved for breakup, but that’s not really how it works. But I guess if they want it, they are approved. But, you know, you can decide anytime you don’t need anyone. It’s it’s up to you.

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Danny Lavery: And I think sometimes people can get really hung up on like breaking up with someone is the most pain you can inflict on them. But like, I got to say, this like little song and dance of, like, proposed to me. Don’t propose to me. Wait six months. Okay, now you’re cleared. But you didn’t do it under the right conditions, so try again. That’s probably been painful for you both to like. That is also unpleasant and sad and hurtful. And so I think in some ways you’re thinking like the breakup is going to be the really painful thing. What we’re doing now is trying. But your relationship right now sounds pretty depressing, and I wonder if you might not both feel pretty quickly after the breakup, despite some initial sadness that that was, in fact, the kinder, happier choice. So, yeah, I would encourage you not to think of the breakup as the worst and most painful thing you can inflict upon another person. Sometimes it is the kindest, definitely being.

Speaker 3: There’s nothing worse than being in a bad relationship.

Danny Lavery: Yeah. And just like I don’t really know what else is going on with him in terms of a proposal, but like there will be people out there who would be delighted by a proposal that came in the moment of a really like ordinary day. And there are going to be other people who are going to be delighted to do like a really over-the-top proposal type thing. And, you know, you should both be able to go and find those people. I wish you both well in that endeavor.

Speaker 3: Me too.

Danny Lavery: But trying to, like, force it again and again of, like, keep trying to propose again. That just feels, like, really sad.

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Speaker 3: Yeah. And it just feels almost like he’s set up to fail. There’s just no there’s no winning at this point because the ship sailed. You know, by the way, she’s saying about all this, you know, it’s it’s over. And now it’s just kind of the. You know, the hard part that it’s tearing the bandage off quickly is always better, even though it is hard. But I do feel like. Every time I’ve broken up with someone, it’s always good in the end. Yeah.

Danny Lavery: So I would say, wait, no time. Wait. Zero time. Break up now and then. Like once you’ve kind of been able to go through the immediate, like grieving period and get your own place. Like, if it feels okay to you both to be in some sort of contact, you can, you know, try to cultivate a friendship. You can try to, you know, look in on him or if you just feel like that makes it too painful. Neither of us are very good at that.

Danny Lavery: You know, trust that he will lean on other people once you break up. That is the great rule of the breakup is even if you don’t necessarily have other support structures in place, if someone breaks up with you, you have to go find one. And people do like he will seek out someone to, you know, vent about his breakup, too. If you guys breakup and don’t stay in touch, that happens. I think that’s all that I have. Again, I’m like at this point getting really tempted to, like, litigate, like someone bought a ring, said they’re going to propose and like what I think about that. But it’s just as unimportant. Who cares? People are allowed to buy rings and say things.

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Speaker 3: Yeah, it’s. Yeah, it’s just about finding someone who’s compatible with. With your weird things.

Danny Lavery: Big mood.

Danny Lavery: A little meat is brought to you by progressive. Are you thinking more about how to tighten up your budget these days? Drivers who saved by switching to progressive save over $700 on average, and customers can qualify for an average of six discounts when they sign up a little off your rate. Each month goes a long way. Get a quote today at progressive.com Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and affiliates national annual average insurance savings by new customers surveyed who saved with progressive between June 2020 and May 2021. Potential savings will vary, discounts vary and are not available in all states and situations.

Speaker 1: Hey, Tom Scharpling here, the host of The Best Show. And if you’ve never heard of the best show before, everything you need to know is right there in the title. Each week we put on the Best Loss podcast you’re ever going to hear. Featuring live callers, celebrity guests, music. Plenty of surprises. Who knows what’s going to happen? Last month alone, we were joined by CONAN O’Brien, Patricia Arquette, Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, Nathan Fielder, Sinéad Archives. John Oliver. The list goes on and on. So what are you waiting for? Join us live every Tuesday night on Twitch at 6 p.m. Pacific Time and find us the next day on the Forever Dawg Podcast Network and wherever you find podcasts.

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Danny Lavery: So I will take us into our second letter, which is called Hurting on two fronts, which is. So I find this letter like very you’re upset about one thing that’s very, very small because of the second thing in your letter. And I really like letters like that where it’s just like, here’s this little nicety and here’s this huge thing.

Speaker 3: It’s it’s almost and I don’t mean this in a kindness anyway, but it’s almost cute how kind of obvious it is, you know.

Danny Lavery: Yes, yes, I have the same feeling was like, oh, this is charming. Yeah. So hurting on two fronts. I’m a nonbinary and transmasculine person. I use their pronouns and changed my birth name. I have a dear friend I mostly talk to online via discord voice chat. They’re also nonbinary transmasculine and go by a chosen name. I’ve known them as this name for about three years. The other day, while playing a game online, I called them by their dead name. Out of nowhere. I immediately apologized and corrected myself. I also sent them a brief, personal message of apology. After some gentle ribbing, we all moved on. But I can’t stop thinking about the harm I likely caused them in that moment, despite how they brushed it off. I worry of damage to our relationship, even if they’d never admit it. Is there anything I can do to repair our relationship? I don’t want to bring this to them again because I don’t expect them to make me feel better about my hateful act when they were the one harmed.

Danny Lavery: This brings me to another question How much patience should I offer? My mother, who is outwardly supportive of my transition but is often passive aggressive and, quote, unintentionally transphobic? She uses my birth name now more than ever, once I’ve asked not to be called by it. Before that she usually used my gender neutral nickname for 20 years with no problem. She’s tried to guilt me out of changing my name legally and constantly refers to me as her daughter, not her child or son. Like I’ve asked.

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Danny Lavery: This is compounded by the issue that for the next two years I’ll have to continue living in her house while I save for a move to the States. I worry she’s harming not only our relationship, but my fiancee’s opinion of her because he has zero patience for this kind of thing. She’s always been difficult to confront. She gets emotional and low key plays the victim and I end up feeling bad that I’ve upset her. Can you help me find a way to make her see how harmful this is to me? I know I’m lucky to have any of the support that I have here when so many trans people are in actual danger. But it’s making me feel like if she doesn’t change, I’ll have little to no relationship with her in the future. I mean. Yeah. Really charming.

Danny Lavery: Do you? I’m not even quite sure where to begin. Maybe. Should we start with just what they’ve described as a hateful act? Would you describe what, like the letter writer mentions in our in the first paragraph as a hateful act?

Speaker 3: No, not at all. I mean, you know, and it’s interesting to me to to see how, you know, their trans my you know, my spouse is trans. I have a couple trans kids. And, you know, the I’m sure that and unfortunately, you know they probably been misgendered and or you know used whatever something along those lines and and it definitely sucks but if it’s, you know, unintentional and which I think it’s interesting, too, that the letter writer talks about their their mother, you know, they call themselves they say that they didn’t fill out, but then they say that their mother is unintentionally transphobic when they’re when the mom is actually actively, like, you know, making things worse and and it seems like is intentionally trying to be transphobic.

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Speaker 3: And it just seems classically like worrying about one thing, because the actual thing to worry about is, is, is too painful, which is something that we all do. And it’s understandable. But, you know, I think with the misgendering or, you know, actually using someone’s said name, especially if you knew them before, obviously like you try your best. I, you know, I used to train adult volunteers that worked with, you know, queer and trans youth. And and they would get so worked up about the pronouns. And that actually made them awkward and weird to trans kids. And I try and be like, look like you just correct yourself, you apologize, and then you move on and do better because the more you focus on it, you’re, you’re digging the knife in deeper. And, and when my parents I’m not trans, so I will defer to that.

Speaker 3: But this kind of seems kind of like a little bit 1 to 1, you know. Yeah. So I think that they. They need to be. Nicer to themselves and a little more critical of their mom, not for being critical sake, but just to be able to adequately strategize to get through the next two years.

Danny Lavery: Yeah. I mean, letter writer. I get that you feel bad that you used your friend’s old name, especially given that you are yourself like dealing with ongoing misgendering from your mom and there’s like little that’s within your control for the next two years. And so it feels like, well, this one thing should be in my control. I should be able to like never mess up and call someone by an old name. But even though it looms large in your mind right now, it’s not a hateful act. It’s a genuine accident.

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Danny Lavery: You know, you’ve been consistent for three years. I would not worry that this, like, speaks to some subterranean reluctance to, like, actually see your friend for who they are. Like, you get it right. 99.99% of the time. You know who your friend is. It was just a weird thing. It was like, you know, being in kindergarten and accidentally calling the teacher mom. Like, that’s why everyone was kind of goofing on you for it, because they knew, like, this isn’t a problem. You’re not, like, inconsistent about this. You haven’t been weird about this person’s transition. Like, it was just silly. And so you already apologized in front of everybody.

Danny Lavery: You already apologized again. I really get that. It’s still maybe going to feel difficult for a while just because you know how unpleasant it can be. But you just have to remind yourself, like when that cringe feeling comes up, I’m just like, I really, really harmed my friend. Like you are assuming that they felt the way about it, that you feel about your mom doing this all the time. And I’m sure they didn’t love it. But again, the best thing that you can do is just let time go by. And as time goes by and you continue to be consistent, it’s going to recede further and further into everyone’s memory.

Danny Lavery: And as I’m sure you know, letter writer, I don’t think it would actually make you feel better to keep asking for reassurance, because I don’t think that the problem is that you did something really fucked up. I think the problem is you feel like you’re isolated and alienated from someone you wish, loved and supported you in the way that you need. And you feel like hyper vigilant about turning into that with somebody else. You don’t seem to be showing signs of doing that.

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Danny Lavery: So I would I would maybe instead encourage you to share with some of your friends in that group how hard dealing with your mom has been for you, in part because you make it you feel like it makes it more difficult for you to foster any kind of friendliness between your fiance and your mom, in part because you’re stuck living with her for the foreseeable future, and in part because you’re worried that further down the line you’re not going to have any kind of relationship with her. Those are really big fears and really serious feelings. And I want you to be able to lean on your friends. I think you have absolutely apologized plenty. You can let that one go. But I think the reason you feel like there’s something I still need to say is because you need to you need to tell your friends that this is really hard.

Speaker 3: Yeah, I agree. I mean, this is a terrible situation. And one thing I think it’s good that, you know, we understand now that it’s not just intent that matters. It’s impact matters, too. But I think we kind of overcooked it a little bit. Not that impact is important, but intent is relevant. You know what I mean? Like it is, intent doesn’t mean you’re not hurt, but it does make a difference. You know, whether someone’s doing some, you know, someone you’re close to, if they’re if they’re saying something mean to intentionally versus unintentionally, you know, no matter what it is like, that makes a difference just in terms of how you’re going to feel, how you might want to respond, etc.. Right.

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Danny Lavery: And just again, like if it’s only once and it was clearly an accident from someone who normally gets it right all the time, like it’s not going to feel amazing, but it just is not on the same level as like, wow, someone is constantly fucking this up. They really don’t get it. Are they really not like trying to be here with me? So, you know, I just again, if you caught yourself, you apologized, you haven’t done it again. You have checked off all the things that it is possible to do. And even if your friend felt like it really sucked in the moment, I feel like by and large, most people I know who change their names. If somebody messes up once and then like, you know, catches themselves, apologizes and doesn’t do it again, it’s fine. It’s really fine.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And I think, you know, I don’t want to be hard on this letter. I know. Because because they’re obviously, you know, coming from a good and hurt place. But sometimes it’s a way to avoid accountability, to make it about us and how we’re feeling and our guilt instead of the harm we did to someone else. And we and, you know, we can be over accountable. And and but but all of that is about us in the end. You know what I mean? It’s not really about them at all. So I think like the first the first party letter could kind of be like not disposed of, but you know what I mean? That’s kind of the easy part. But then but then I think that it’s a good idea to, you know, have your friends involved in and strategize about living with your mom for the next month, for the next couple of years. Because, you know, the letter writer says that their mom is outwardly supportive. I don’t know what that means because it sounds like, you know, they’re sounds like they’re intentionally using my name in different things like that.

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Danny Lavery: My guess is it’s the kind. And a person who’s like, No, I’m happy for you. And then there’s an implied. But after that.

Speaker 3: Yeah, like it’s support. Like support exists on a continuum, right? Like support. Is it like this binary like. Oh, yes, I support, you know, like support. You can, you know, like not object to a name change or like for me, for my, you know, for my when my son’s like I filled out his name, change paperwork for him or, you know, helped him or whatever. Like, or you can fight against the name change or you don’t need. Like there’s varying levels of things you can do. And I think it might be helpful, even though it’s hard for literature to understand, like, okay, I think your mom actually doesn’t really support this. And so with that information, how can we get through this? Because I think it might end up being more painful in the infiltrator to keep expecting to have this expectation of their mom being somewhat supportive and then keep being shown that she’s actually not.

Danny Lavery: Right. And this is such a classic move, right, of, you know, often people won’t do you the favor of telling you outright, I’m going to be transphobic about this. I mean, sometimes they do, but often people will say something like, Wow, this is really big. I’m glad you told me. It’ll take some adjusting, but I love you and then immediately start doing stuff like, you know, buying every card at Walgreens. It’s like to a wonderful daughter and like all of a sudden, they’re deeply invested in, like, your birth name. When before they were like, I love this nickname. I don’t care. Now, all of a sudden, it’s like, No, no, no. You can’t take away this beautiful heirloom that I clutched to my chest. So not to, again, be dismissive, but like, this is such a classic passive aggressive move. It does happen a lot.

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Danny Lavery: And so the question, you know, that’s twofold. I worry she’s harming not only our relationship, but also my fiance’s opinion of her. That makes sense. I think it is harming your fiance’s opinion of her. I think it that’s reasonable. I don’t mean to say necessarily that that makes it easy for you. I get that she’s still your mom and that like if you could control the situation, you know, she and your fiance would have at least like a mutually respectful and warm relationship, if not necessarily be besties. But I think one of the things I would encourage you to avoid doing is to try to lean on your fiancee to to bend over backwards for her, because you see him as like an easier target to get him to change.

Danny Lavery: I think that sometimes happens in this dynamic when there’s one person who’s like, boy, if I try to confront her, she’s going to really make a meal out of it and be super passive aggressive and make herself the victim. And I’ll feel exhausted and bewildered at the end of it. But my fiance, if I can just tell him to like bend over backwards for her or make excuses for her. He’s a really nice person and he’ll probably try to do it at least for a bit. So like, let me lean on him even though she’s the one fucking up and I would encourage you not to do that. So instead I think I would encourage you to talk to your fiance and say, like, it’s hard for me that my mom is being transphobic. And I also worry that this is damaging your relationship with her. I don’t say that because I want you to reassure me that you’re going to love her no matter what. I just really want you to know what’s on my mind.

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Danny Lavery: And I wonder, you know, what you feel like you are capable of when it comes to her. Like, do you feel like I can be polite to her for like 45 minutes and then we have to go? Do you feel like I kind of can’t be around her right now? And we need to figure out other ways to spend time together. Like, just get a sense of the lay of the land. And even if it’s not the news we’re hoping for, at least then you’ll be able to sort of strategize like how can we most easily spend time together where I don’t have to worry that he’s going to blow up at her or something?

Speaker 3: Yeah. And I think the literary tour is probably also being a little over their fiancee probably doesn’t care about the literary his mom as much as they care about the mom’s impact on the fiancee. You don’t like. Right the the mom they don’t care. It’s not about like what their relationship with the mom. It’s more about the way the mom is making their partner feel right. And that’s what makes them worked up.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And, you know, I think I would encourage the letter writer to support any boundaries that the partner wants to have. Like you were saying, you know, oh, you know, I don’t go over there or I come over once a year for this, you know, whatever, instead of using the partner to try to help kind of smooth this over. Because the thing is, the letter writer is, you know, can you help me find a way to see to show how hurtful she is?

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Speaker 3: And like, the answer is kind of no in that people won’t see things if they don’t want to. You know, you’ll need so much control over someone and you can try. I mean, I think, you know, depending on what the letter has done or not, it might be worth trying. But or but maybe it’s not worth trying. Maybe that will just come with more harm. And that’s really something only the letter writer can see. But I hate it. But you can’t. There’s so many things I wish I can make my parents understand. And there’s just you can’t make anyone think or believe anything that that they don’t, you know? So I know for me what I try to focus on if I know that someone’s not really going to get it. I tried to focus on their behavior and be like kind of concrete around that.

Speaker 3: Like, okay, so it’s okay if you accidentally, for example, look for the letter. I see some like. If you accidentally use a drug name like I asked you immediately, correct yourself and say the right name and say I’m sorry or something like that or, you know, different things. They can strategize with their with their fiancee and friends to to come up with different ways to try to get her behavior to be less harmful and not worry so much about what’s in her head unless there’s some, you know, some big information she’s missing.

Speaker 3: But it doesn’t sound like that’s the issue. You know, she’s not if she’s not interested in educating yourself about it, then she’s then if she doesn’t care, then she doesn’t care. And that’s hard. And I don’t mean to sound harsh, but, you know, just from. From being in situations like this, that there’s just the longer you try to pretend like someone will act in a safe way, then they’re not. The harder it is to actually, in my experience, to actually put in those boundaries that help keep that help keep you feel safer and in the end, preserve the relationship because you don’t have that. Like if you don’t get to the end of your rope, you know, when you get to the middle of Europe, you step back a little bit.

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Danny Lavery: Yeah. Do you have a sense of just generally speaking, as a strategy when it comes to dealing with somebody who’s sort of go to move when you say, hey, stop doing that is oh my God, I’ve broken my leg. Everyone look at how broken my leg is, poor me. Do you have a strategy that you kind of recommend for dealing with that type of a person? That doesn’t necessarily have to be specific to transition, just generally dealing with somebody who’s like, as soon as you make even a mild request, they like fake an injury.

Speaker 3: So I think for me, you know, one thing that comes to mind, obviously, and I talk about this in my book about Allison, but the idea that there isn’t one way, there’s millions of leads, there’s infinite ways to do things. So, you know, you try one thing, you try two things, or maybe you take one away. But so one thing I would think is so if someone’s looking for that kind of attention to want to be the victim, that as soon as they, you know, maybe as soon as they call you by the wrong name, you just turn around and walk away. And so you don’t give them the attention they want or whatever and see if that works. You know, a lot of times it’s just trying to figure out different things and just trying to be creative about making it work and and and what works for you.

Speaker 3: And that’s why I think it’s so important to really not give the mom more credit than than she deserves in terms of, you know, being accepting because it doesn’t sound like she is. And, you know, that is it is what it is. And so it’s a matter of or, you know, or maybe it’s a matter of, okay, now that I realize this, I’m going to see if there’s other ways. You know, maybe there are other housing things I didn’t look into because it wasn’t that bad. But now it is bad enough, you know, different just. It’s just about using those resources, but. It’s just so. Impossible to change your parents. That’s like my therapist. I talked to her about that. I was just.

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Danny Lavery: I didn’t make sure that my father lost his job. So that’s something of a change.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Like, yeah, I was.

Danny Lavery: I was hoping for a big, like, ramshaw and, like, audience laughter and applause. But it’s part of my lore.

Speaker 3: No, I don’t. I don’t know all about it. I just didn’t know.

Danny Lavery: It’s this big a scam. I’m just being a scam that I want. Attention.

Speaker 3: Well, I’m going to walk away from you now, Danny.

Danny Lavery: Damn it. Oh, yeah, it’s right. It’s what I deserve. I think that all makes a lot of sense. And, like letter writers, some of this is really separate from this fear of, like, I’m worried we won’t have a relationship in the years to come. That might happen. And if that does happen, I want you to feel a lot of freedom to mourn it and feel your feelings about it. But I also want you to feel like there are ways ahead for you that do not involve constantly feeling that grief, constantly trying to negotiate with her, trying over and over to get the same like dry well to give you water.

Danny Lavery: And so, you know, I’ll include links to this in the show notes, but I have I have written a couple of like field guides to avoiding transition by family committee under the guise of like, let me save you some time, which has to do with like different tactics on like people who all of a sudden are like, Oh, fine, using a gender neutral nickname. Oh, you’re transitioning. Know your birth name. It’s so special to me. It’s a beautiful pearl that I found in a field 30 years ago, according to prophecy. And like, oftentimes, the tendency is to sort of like transition, like you’re unwrapping a candy bar in a crowded movie theater, like doing it really slowly so it won’t make any noise, but like, it’s kind of make noise no matter what you do, so you might as well go for it. So I will include some of that in, in the show notes just so you can kind of take a look at it.

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Danny Lavery: But I would encourage you to give your mother as little as possible to get passive aggressive about again, at least for the short term. And I share, Katie, your instincts of. It may just be that you have no other options besides living with her while you save up for this move. But I would encourage you to at least look into, you know, do you have a, you know, another friend who could even just, like, let you stay over one night a week? Maybe you and your fiancee can look for a place together. Maybe there are other ways that you can try to earn or set aside money that don’t necessarily. And just to feel like you’ve looked into your other options. You might decide you still need to live with her this whole time anyway. But I think it can be really hard when you’re like, I have to, no matter what, stay here and maybe you don’t.

Danny Lavery: So, like, you know, she’s trying to guilt you out of changing your name legally. Don’t tell her a damn thing about your legal name. Change. Make your plans independently of her. Don’t tell her when you’re going to go. She will, I’m sure when she finds out. Want to make a big scene out of it. You can decline to be an audience member for that, but just don’t give her opportunities. And if she says, I want to tell you something again about changing your name, I encourage you to like pretty neutrally say something like, you’ve been saying this a lot. I think I know how you feel about it. I’m good.

Danny Lavery: And again, then just kind of go neutral, like do the grey rock routine where like, if she wants to really, like, flop around, like, she’s just been shot through the heart with an arrow, you can just kind of stay neutral and say, like, well, it seems like this is really big for you. I’m going to go. If she wants to play the victim, you don’t have to play the murderer. You don’t have to stand there wringing your hands, saying, What have I done?

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Danny Lavery: And again, I get that it’s hard when it’s your mother. And this is a lifelong pattern. It’s not just as easy as being like, look at this silly lady. I’m going to walk away and feel normal. It’s your mom. It’s hard, but you really will have to learn, I think, not to treat her cues as like, Oh, that’s my cue. I have to go on stage now and feel guilty. You don’t you don’t have to comfort her when she’s crying. If she cries at the drop of a hat over stuff you’ve discussed endlessly.

Speaker 3: Looks like you don’t have control over them. But we have control over ourselves and walking away. And the more resources you have, the easier and the more kind of separate you are from them for the easier. I mean, not that it’s ever easy, but even in, you know, I’m I’m actually relatively close to my parents in a way. And and part of that is having that boundaries. And so you don’t need to even, like, project or try to imagine where your relationship will be to in the future. Just just take it as it comes, but really try to look at your options and make sure that when you’re weighing the pros and cons of staying there, that you’re weighing the cons of staying there in the harm that she’s doing to you adequately.

Danny Lavery: Yeah. And so, you know, letter writer, I really get that fantasy of if I could only explain to my mom that this hurts me, obviously she would stop doing it. And I also hope that at some point she stops doing it. But my guess is if she ever does, it’s going to be because you draw really firm boundaries and pull away. And she really realizes like, oh, I’m not going to be able to have a relationship with my kid if I keep calling in my daughter. And even that, there’s no guarantee.

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Danny Lavery: So I would just say, be consistent, be clear. Don’t get drawn into arguments. Let go of the fantasy that if you just explain yourself beautifully for the 300th time, that she’s going to stop being transphobic, she’s choosing transphobia over you, and she’s doing it with crocodile tears so that you feel bad for her rather than like a raised voice and a clenched fist so that you feel justified in saying, Hey, you’re being mean, but she’s being fucking me and she’s being a piece of shit. And, you know, you might end up having little or no relationship with her because she chooses to do cruel things and pretends that she’s a victim while she, you know, commits acts of cruelty. That would be a shame. But it wouldn’t be your fault because you failed to explain that being transphobic isn’t nice and it wouldn’t be your fault because you failed to reassure her out of her cruelty. It is your choice to behave cruelly, and I think that’s why your fiancé is exhibiting less and less patience.

Danny Lavery: I think he’s right, too. And again, that doesn’t mean it’s going to feel easy for you or that you’re just going to be able to dismiss her and say, like, well, she’s just like a bad person. But I really, really do want you to get in touch with like a robust and calm sense of she is in the wrong and she is in the wrong on purpose here. Because then I think you’ll be able to make your own decisions without just being held back by that fantasy of I can fix her. I think the worst time that anyone gets, though, like I can fix her mentality is often about their mom because, oh, we all want to fix our moms. And yet moms are often so unwilling to be fixed by their children. For some reason they seem to think that it goes against the general order of things. I don’t know why.

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Speaker 3: You know, one thing research that really help me with this is that it’s a pretty popular book people might have even mentioned on here before, but felt like adult children of emotionally immature parents or something along those lines in that it’s a pretty like short book like relatively quick reading and not really help me with a lot of this and I recommend it just like kind of for a lot of like practical advice around just kind of like relationships with people who aren’t who you can’t sit down and have a conversation with.

Danny Lavery: Yeah. And you know, if all else fails, start calling her your uncle. It’s like, be real childish right back and just be like, Oh, Uncle Patrick, you mean so much to me. You’ve always been such a devoted uncle and I value our uncle nephew relationship. Call her avuncular and shit.

Speaker 3: I love it.

Danny Lavery: Oh, my gosh. Well, I think when we’re at this stage of whimsy, we’ve probably finished answering some of these letters so we can we can safely say that we’ve put that to bed for now. The letter writer, I would love to hear from you in a few weeks, in a few months, especially if you’ve shared some of your feelings with your friends and looked for other avenues of support and ways of possibly moving out sooner. So please, please do get in touch if you get the chance.

Danny Lavery: How are you feeling, Katie? How’s. How’s everything going with the book?

Speaker 3: Oh, well, you know, endless edits. You know, like a book like bookseller. You know, it’s coming out either late next year or maybe early 2012. Four, depending on like. The supply chain, all that, you know, other. Mm hmm. All that kind of stuff. But so I have some time, but it just feels like. I mean, you really are, but you’re at it for, like, a year, and it just feels a little endless. But I’m excited. It’s going well. It’s, you know, it’s a real book. I, you know, hit that stage where, like, if I die, someone could finish it. So I feel good about that.

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Speaker 3: But yeah, it’s about abolition and disability justice. So by abolition I mean like prison and police abolition. But I mostly I kind of use that as a starting point and look at the way that ableism intersects with castle systems. So, so, you know, I talk about like jail and prisons and even like institutions, but it go beyond into like, okay, how does disability benefits affect like incarceration and how does like, you know, different ways like the social work and social workers and the way that how they’re involved in disabled people being incarcerated and just, you know, really like go, go more Y than d, but, but very wide kind of beyond what we usually think of when we think of abolition.

Speaker 3: But also I highlight the ways that disabled people and disability are such a central part of just prison to police abolition. And we’re not really, you know, we’re it’s kind of like, oh, to the side, people be like, oh, we got to rid rid prisons at least. Oh yeah. And institutions, but they don’t really like think about the ways, you know, like that. Right? There is no at this point there’s not really a dividing line between institutions in jails and prisons in some places. It’s just it’s both more complicated, but also more obvious than than the way it’s usually talked about.

Speaker 3: So I kind of try to do that. I know it sounds more commonly that it’s because I talk about it’s a lot about things that we see in our life. Like, no, you know, um, they talk about the way I have a chapter about talking about the way that the relationship between disability and sex work. And I started, I was a lawyer and then I got to do that. So I ended up doing sex work and I like it. Would you have to say with that, not with any other job? Well, that’s a whole different process for another time. But but and I noticed that almost every other that soccer I knew was also disabled in some way. So I started like looking into that and then looking at the way that being disabled kind of makes you makes it more likely that you’ll end up in, in kind of like the carceral net in all different ways. And so.

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Speaker 3: Yeah. I go into that looking at different things and, you know, bring in a lot of research and a lot of other people’s work and kind of stitch together a quilt of probably like a lot of points that people probably already know. But I kind of put some of them together in a way that is like, Oh yeah, that, you know. So I’m hoping that there’s lots of light bulbs in there for people. And, and I do try to make it, like, easy to understand and just kind of regular words. And, you know, I don’t talk about Flaco or anything like that at all, so.

Danny Lavery: Yeah, I’d love to. I’m glad you mentioned that you feel like it’s indebted to a lot of different writers and thinkers. I’ve been thinking about this a little bit lately in terms of like a book. What is it? Oh, like what predecessors is it in conversation with? Are there like one or two other texts or writers that you feel like your book like owes a debt to? And if so, are there any that you recommend?

Speaker 3: Oh, so oh, this is I could go on forever about this, but the main one or two. So there’s obviously like in terms of abolition, you know, prison police abolition, you have the the big one on people who are wonderful and you know, a lot of the foundational stuff you have Merriam Cabal, you have ruthlessly. Gilmore You have of course like Angela Davis, you know, Dean Spade, you’ve all the people that are doing have done different work around kind of abolition itself. And then you kind of have, you know, the more disability justice kind of area where, you know, like Sims and Ballard and Leah like flips summarizing like different people. Other people like doing that kind of work which is, which are both great. But then there’s this kind of like other area of things that I’m trying to highlight where that I think that there’s a lot of like abolitionist books that aren’t kind of like endlessly desert books that aren’t kind of under those headlines.

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Speaker 3: So the number one recommendation I have, it it’s on their books is Dorothy Roberts. I think Dorthy Roberts, she has a number of books there recently. Just one came out about the child welfare system. But she talks a lot about race, especially blackness. But the way that blackness, you know, how it affects the child welfare system and the way you know, how, like slavery Africans will be, they just all these different things are really kind of going into even though she doesn’t really use the word abolition or in that way. But she she draws these connections that are not the same connections that are made of disability because obviously disability and race, there is a relationship between them, but they’re not obviously they’re different things.

Speaker 3: But she explains a lot of the way the systems work against marginalized people in in more subtle ways than just, oh, someone’s, you know, picked up and brought to jail. And I think Dorothy Roberts’s work, like Dorothy Roberts work, is really probably the most fun, the most lovely, too, even though she doesn’t talk that much about disability. But but it really, you know, but her work really, I can’t recommend her enough. And I feel like she doesn’t get nearly enough credit. So. Yeah. Anything by Dorothy Roberts.

Danny Lavery: Oh, that’s fabulous. Thank you so much for that recommendation. And that’s very exciting. Congratulations. And I’m really looking forward to the book coming out.

Speaker 3: Thank you. Hopefully I’ll make it through. And if I don’t, then.

Danny Lavery: Something else will happen. As you said, it will now be able to survive your death and be one of those great posthumous books. So.

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Speaker 3: Exactly, exactly. You know.

Danny Lavery: You know, worst case scenario, you know, now you don’t have to go do book events.

Speaker 3: Exactly. I don’t think the promo anything for beautiful Katie.

Danny Lavery: We did it. We helped everyone.

Speaker 3: Yeah, I. I’m so glad that no one has any more problems except Fuller bother to go to the pirate thing or medieval times.

Danny Lavery: I want you to know that one thing that pirates does have over medieval times is on their website. They have a cast list, complete with, like, pictures of everybody in there, a little like pirate getups. And they’re just exactly what you would hope for. They’re like slightly color coded. They they’ve got there’s there’s one mermaid.

Speaker 3: Only one. Oh, well, there we go.

Danny Lavery: Now, at least one in the named cast list. And then it’s mostly just like a bunch of different guys in color coded tunics who are names like Saxon and.

Speaker 3: Well, it isn’t.

Danny Lavery: Andre Baptiste.

Speaker 3: Is there water there?

Danny Lavery: I think it’s like there’s a stage and then there’s like a big ship and then there’s maybe like a pool inside of the ship.

Speaker 3: Well.

Danny Lavery: Because the mermaid is is emerging from some sort of water, although I can’t really see because she’s like coming up against the wall. But there’s, there’s definitely water around.

Speaker 3: I was hoping it’d be like at Sea World where you get a decent Jacuzzi at Splash.

Danny Lavery: I bet that’s the case. And I bet there’s like a lot of fog machines and whatnot. It’s also amazing because it’s literally just their pictures and their names. And then if you click on it, it’s just the picture bigger. It’s not like the name of the actor or like some like, you know, fun copy about the character. It’s just like you want to look at McGee. Well, here he is, a little bigger.

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Speaker 3: That’s amazing. I’m going to do that next month. Like, here, here’s Megha.

Danny Lavery: Yeah, here’s me again. Nothing else. Well, Katie, thank you again so much for joining us today. And best of luck with not dying before your book comes out.

Speaker 3: Thank you, Danny. I will try my best. But the U.S. government is trying to stand historic against me. But. But so far, so good.

Danny Lavery: Thank you for joining us on Big Mood, a little mood with me. Danny Lavery, our producer, is Phil Surkis, who also composed our theme music. Don’t miss an episode of the show. Head to Slate.com slash mood to sign up to subscribe or hit the subscribe button on whatever platform you’re using right now. Thanks. Also, if you can please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. We’d love to know what you think. If you want more big mood, little mood, you should join Slate. Plus, Slate’s membership program members get an extra episode of Big Mood Little Mood every Friday, and you’ll get to hear more advice and conversations with the guest. And as a Slate Plus member, you’ll also be supporting the show. Go to Slate.com forward slash mood plus to sign up. It’s just $1 for your first month. If you’d like me to read your letter on the show, maybe need a little advice, maybe some big advice. Head to Slate.com slash mood to find our big mood, a little music listener question form or find a link in the description on the platform you’re using right now.

Danny Lavery: Thanks for listening. And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday. Literally have like a little written out list of things your partner can do and to discuss it sometime when you’re both awake and nobody’s being triggered. I think will go a long way towards I don’t need you to learn a new concept. I don’t need you to have a conversation with me about this. You’ve told me you want to be helpful. You know, this sometimes happens. Here’s the list. Let’s both look at it. Now you can do those things next time. And again, like doing it with the help of your therapist will go a long ways towards making you feel just more of a relief, knowing like, I’m not going to have to have a conversation in the middle of the night again about what PTSD is.

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Danny Lavery: When I’m like awakening from a nightmare and screaming at my partner’s like, What’s going on? You know, just really stick to when this happens, when I’m in this kind of distress. I need help focusing. I need to be reassured. I need space. I need contact, whatever. To listen to the rest of that conversation. Join Slate Plus now at Slate.com, forward slash mood.

Speaker 1: Hey, Tom Scharpling here, the host of The Best Show. And if you’ve never heard of the best show before, everything you need to know is right there in the title. Each week we put on the best podcast you’re ever going to hear. Featuring live callers, celebrity guests, music. Plenty of surprises. Who knows what’s going to happen? Last month alone, we were joined by CONAN O’Brien, Patricia Arquette, Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, Nathan Fielder, archives. John Oliver The list goes on and on. So what are you waiting for? Join us live every Tuesday night on Twitch at 6 p.m. Pacific Time and find us the next day on the Forever Dawg Podcast Network and wherever you find podcasts.