On podcasts and annoying hosts

Okay, I’m so irritated that I’m writing a whole post about this.

I just finished hate-listening to part 1 of Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations interview with Julia Roberts. I love Oprah, right, but damn did she interrupt Julia so much in this interview! Countless times Julia would be in the middle of an answer that Oprah asked for!!!! And Oprah would just interrupt her with her view on it. So frustrating!

The worst part of this interview is at 39:23 when Julia is saying something about her husband Danny and Oprah interrupts her and Julia stops talking then Oprah goes, “Oh, you go ahead,” as if she’s surprised that Julia Roberts has stopped talking after getting interrupted for the gazillionth time, and Julia goes, “No, you go ahead.” And what follows is an awkward 2-second silence and Oprah going, “Errrr, you were mentioning Danny Moder so I have to stop at Danny Moder.” And Julia goes on to make the point she was trying to make, which I don’t care for anymore at this point because ERMAHGERD. I mean, I’ve known this about Oprah forever but never has her interrupty-ness bothered me as much as in this interview. You ask her a question? Now let the woman answer you!

God, there’s nothing I hate more than being interrupted while I’m talking. I might do it to you if I’m nervous, but I’m usually self-aware and stop after the second time. Don’t other people realise they’re being interrupty? I read somewhere long ago that people gotta stop saying, “Me too!” every time someone is telling a story about themselves, and I don’t think I did that much to begin with but I still made sure I stay aware and never do that. You can say “me too” when they’re done, but while they’re talking you let them finish. Is it really that hard?

There’s a podcast called Terrible, Thanks For Asking and it’s about people who have had terrible things befall them (e.g. illness, miscarriage, rape, murder, stuff like that). I have great interest in hearing others discuss the complexity of grief because of my own experience with it. But what I do not enjoy is the host Nora McInerny always bringing it back to herself. Her first husband died of brain cancer, which is her inspiration for starting the podcast. So anytime someone says something similar to her experience, she will talk about how it happened to her too and how she dealt with it. At least she doesn’t interrupt them mid-sentence; she typically edits a voiceover into it after. But still!

What bothers me too, is that she’s overly chirpy (in her voiceovers) in a podcast talking about devastating stuff. I don’t expect her to weep, but tone down the chirpiness, man. There’s nothing cheery about what your guest just said. Match their tone!

She also makes a lot of truly awful jokes that are simply NOT funny, it really makes you wonder wtf she’s smoking. One time in an episode long ago, I’ll never forget it because I got so angry. Haha. At the end of the episode when she’s reading the end credits (PSA: The end credits are the bulk of where her dumbass jokes are…just stop the episode right there) and she’s inviting her listeners to send her an email if they have stories or comments to share, she goes (paraphrasing), “You know, e…mail. Electronic mail. E-lec-tro-nic mail. Non-paper mail.” Or something like that. And she just laughed and laughed like it was the funniest thing ever. That’s her thing: she laughs at her own unfunny jokes. It’s so painful to listen to.

If not for the genuinely captivating stories on her show, I’d have abandoned it long ago because the host is so tone-deaf and annoying af. Some humour is fine, but actual funny humour, not you explaining email in 2017 (when the episode aired). If you’re not funny just be serious. It’s okay. It’s a podcast discussing dark and heavy topics. I’m not really expecting to laugh here.

Some examples of podcasts with hosts who don’t share their own perspectives so much and actually let their guests talk are:
Criminal
Death, Sex and Money
Strangers

Criminal and Strangers are more narrative interspersed with some questions, but DSM uses a 100% interview format and the host Anna Sale is such a fantastic interviewer and listener, I actually began to emulate her style when speaking to others. When you let people finish, you get true honesty from them and that is the entire point of an interview or a conversation. If you, the asker, are constantly interrupting and sharing your thoughts, how can the other person tell you their truth?

Having said that, one of the most heartrending stories I’ve ever heard is an episode called The Truth on the Strangers podcast from two years ago. No synopsis. Just listen. It bothered me for ages. Lea Thau was perfect for this story because she offered no perspectives until the very end (if that). Too bad Lea Thau had a breakdown of some kind and stopped making the podcast. I hope she makes a comeback because she’s great.

If anyone’s reading this, feel free to share your favourite podcasts in the comments or post about it on your blog! Jenny? Christina? Anyone? If not, I at least enjoyed writing this post and I feel much better now after talking about my feelings!

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When you try your best but you don’t succeed

Someone received really good news today.

It wasn’t me.

Oh, how I wanted so much for it to be me.

I came sooooooooooo close. You have no idea.

I did everything that was asked of me and beyond. But evidently, it wasn’t enough.

It’s been a few hours now and I’ve come down from the initial shock but every so often I find myself shaking my head going, “I can’t believe it.”

I’m fiercely guarding my thoughts and making sure I don’t let this define me, while at the same time allowing myself to feel the full spectrum of emotions.

Let it arise and let it flow. And then, let it go.

I asked ZZ, “How does one learn to recognise the beauty and blessings in not getting something one really wants?”

In typical ZZ style, he replies succinctly –

“Not everything one wants he needs, not everything one needs he wants.”

Alright. Okay.

Soon. I will soon understand.

Where’s my mind Where’s my mind Where’s my mind Where’s my mind Maybe it’s in the gutter where I left my lover What an expensive fate My V is for Vendetta Thought that I’d feel better But now I got a bellyache

I was waiting for my friend VJ at the MRT station yesterday evening when a man who appeared to be in his late 70s approached me. He waved his ez-link card in my face and said, “Can you give me $10? I need to get home and don’t have enough money in my card.” I asked him how much money there was in the card, and he – I believe accidentally – blurted out that he had $8 in it. $8 is more than adequate to get home anywhere on this tiny, albeit expensive island – and even make a few side trips in between – and I told him so. That was when he changed his story: “I mean, it’s for tomorrow, so I can buy food. I’m unemployed, you know.”

At this point I should have called him out on his bullshit and told him I wasn’t going to give him any money. But for reasons I can’t explain I took out my wallet and decided to grab not just one but two $2 notes. As I was handing it to him he had the gall to say to me, “Give me $10. $4 is not enough.” I lied that I didn’t have $10 and he said, “Okay, thank you very much. I will ask other people for more money.” And he walked away into the crowd. For the next minute or so I could see him milling about, doing exactly what he said he would do, that is to look for his next victim. I didn’t see him stop anybody though. And then, I think he saw me looking at him and felt uncomfortable so he went into a corner where I couldn’t see him and that was that.

VJ was late so I had some time to just stand there as shame over my idiocy slowly percolated within me. I knew when he changed his story that he was lying, so why did I give him the money anyway? This wasn’t my first time falling for a random person (especially if they’re elderly) on the street’s sob story and giving them money, but this was my first time giving them money when they’ve clearly lied. Also, that he named the amount he wanted is extra deplorable. The cheek to ask a stranger for $10 because $4 “is not enough”? He should have been happy with any amount!

I want to do the Muslim thing and let it go. If he lied, then just let God/the Universe/karma deal with him. No skin off my nose. May God accept my deed as a good deed regardless of the recipient’s intention and all that.

But there’s another part of me that’s really annoyed. At him and at myself. Is it really that satisfying to come up to a stranger begging for money and lying about your situation? He was neatly dressed and looked clean and healthy, so he was definitely not homeless. Nah, he was just bored and wanted to make some money off of randos at the MRT station.

And me? What do I do with my bleeding heart, gullible self? Is kindness a weakness? You can be kind but you need to also be smart about it. I wasn’t smart. I was easily persuaded and deceivable, and I let it steer my kindness into giving. In this case, my kindness was definitely a weakness. (But if you did something kind, despite the questionable driving force behind it and the bad intention of the recipient, does it still count as kindness?) Pretty sure there’s a psychological explanation for my “kindness” and I’m off to google it.

Deep thoughts…over $4. Yeah, I think I think too much. 😉 But, you know, it’s not about the $4 exactly. It’s how it was asked for, and given. It’s the principle of it.

Meh. People suck.

14

My mum’s been gone 14 years today. Over the years the unbearable has become somewhat bearable but there are still days when her being gone weighs heavy on my soul and it suffocates me. I get a kind of panic attack when I remember that she’s dead, as in not coming back, ever. As if I’m newly bereaved. As if she’d just died.

My last night in Morocco last week, when I suddenly recalled that she would not be home when I got back to Singapore, a sense of dread took over me and a great big sob rose from my chest. I had to plead with myself to be okay, please be okay, because I knew this already, this is not a surprise, she’s been dead so long, please, please.

This song is so emotional for me because of the last two lines.

I sometimes wish I’d stayed inside my mother

Never to come out

I lived in her womb way past my due date. She was my first home and I didn’t want to leave. I must’ve known. I had to be evicted by way of a scalpel. I yearn for a time I don’t remember.

God, I miss her. I will never not miss her. I was 18 years and nine months when she died and I’m 32 years and nine months now and it will never not shock me that my beloved mother is no more. There is nowhere in the world I could go where I will not miss my mother.

62

2nd Ramadan

Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have turned 62.

I was finally able to convince dad to buy a new sofa. Our current one is old and tired, and the cushions are in desperate need of changing – but no one makes B-shaped cushions this size anymore. I was thrilled when he agreed, thrilled when we eventually decided on which kind, and I was still thrilled when making the deposit. A new sofa…that would really change the look of the house. I hit submit.

And immediately, my heart sank to the pit of my stomach. A new sofa…means getting rid of the current sofa. The sofa mum liked, and chose, and bought when furnishing our new home in 1996. A new sofa means…not looking at the armchair and seeing her sitting there. A new sofa means…losing a tangible part of my memory of her. A new sofa means…disrupting her interior design. It’s not like we haven’t moved things around since she died, or purchased new stuff. But the sofa set is a major part of the house…it feels wrong.

Truth be told, I have half a mind to shove the current sofa set into the spare room; it doesn’t matter that it wouldn’t be where she left it, as long as I could still see it if I wanted to.

In four short years, it’ll be 18 years since she passed – the exact number of years my mother’s father had been dead when I asked her, all innocently and impropos of nothing, “Do you still miss him? Do you still cry?” To which she answered, “Yes, I still miss him a lot. Yes, I still cry.” If somebody were to ask me the same questions in 2022, I would say the same thing.

How could a person whose toes I still see poking out of the sandals that I don’t have the heart to throw away, whose cracked heels I still feel on my legs where she would deliberately rub against to annoy me, whose random notes are still everywhere in the house, whose legendary fried rice I still taste in my mouth, whose mirror still reflects her face, whose laugh I hear when I laugh…

How could a person so, so alive in my mind be so, so dead?