Terrible, Thanks for Asking

Don't Ask Nora - Transcript

This is a transcript of a “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” episode entitled, “Don’t Ask Nora.” The text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future for accuracy.

Listen to the episode here.


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I’m Nora McInerny, and this is “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” This is a show where we talk to people. If you’ve listened… geez. “It’s a show where we talk to people.” Unlike other podcasts, we talk to people. Okay? Most podcasts are just AI talking to a bunch of robots. Not “Terrible, Thanks for Asking! No no no. We talk to people. Okay? Not pets! Not inanimate objects! People.

Okay, so this is “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” I’m Nora McInerny. I’m a podcast host. I’m an author. I’m a person. I have a very hard time summarizing myself or my work, but the point is, this podcast is not an advice podcast. However, I am, for some reason, asked for advice kind of often. I get emails, I get DMs. People will be in kind of a sticky situation, they’ll ask what I would do. Or they’re dealing with a difficult emotion, they’ll ask me if it’s normal. The answer is pretty much always like “yes,” and the answer to like, what would I do is usually like... freak out. Which is why I'm not a great advice giver. Full disclosure. But I like being asked for advice. I really do. Because I have enough of my own problems that always seem unsolvable, or just big and overwhelming. But someone else’s problems I can look at with a lot more clarity, and it almost seems like a vacation for my own problems to be presented with somebody else’s. And usually I’m not solving them, but I'm at least weighing in from a safe and comfortable distance. And it’s fun! It’s fun. 

It’s even more fun when the questions I’ve been asked are very easy to answer or very low-stakes. Not to play favorites but, you know, an easy-to-answer question, or a question with a pretty obvious answer (or one that I at least know the answer to), that feels nice. Feels good. It feels good. It feels like, you know, the kind of satisfaction I get from going to the doctor and filling out a form, which is… it just… god, did that! And it’s like the questions they were asking you, Nora, were like, your own birthday. Your own middle name. You should be able to do that with some degree of competence. 

But back to the matter at hand. The matter at hand is questions. Questions that have been asked of me. So I’m gonna answer some of these easier questions right here and right now. And if this ends up being a format that you all like, let me know. Let us know on whatever way you let us know. You know, like, send us an email. Send us an Instagram message. Leave a comment. Something like that.

So, I get asked a question a lot about how to write a book. How to write a book. Not just the, you know, like, “How do I do it,” which is obviously like... you sit down and you type it. I suppose you could write it freehand. If you have a typewriter, nothing should prevent you from writing it in that way. I’ve got an uncle who still writes books on typewriters. Okay? He does not own a computer. Nobody show him a computer. He is pure of mind, pure of heart. He has not yet been tainted by the internet. His brain is so sparkling, so shiny, so quick, because it’s not mired down by you know, notifications and direct messages and scrolling through photos of strangers the way mine has just been smoothed down to a barely functioning nub, it feels like most days. 

So I’ve written four books. I am working on a fifth book. I love to write. I love to write. The writing process for a book I think when people ask me this, they’re looking for a few things. One, which is lie, how do you get a book published. Um, nobody knows, really. If you want to go the traditional publishing route, you do usually need an agent. To get an agent, you send query letters, which means, you know, you gotta look up different agents, the kind of people they represent, send them basically a pitch letter, maybe a sample of writing. I’ve never done that. I’ve never done that. But I will tell you that every author that you admire, they thank their agent in the acknowledgments. So if you’re wondering who represents your favorite authors, flip to the acknowledgements of their books, and if you think that you would write a book that would be similar, that would sit on a shelf next to theirs, would compliment theirs, that would fit into that genre, that’s who you should be reaching out to.

That’s not how I got an agent. I got an agent the easy way — or the hard way, depending. I did not have to ask for an agent. However, I did have to write a very, very successful piece of writing, and that piece of writing was my first husband’s obituary. Yeah, it was. So… wrote that obituary, which was, Google it, “Aaron Purmort obituary.” It went viral. It led people back to this blog I'd been keeping for years, and that’s how my agent found me. And she reached out and said you know, “Maybe someday you’d want to write a book,” and I said, “Hmm. Yeah. Let's do that right now. I mean, ya know, I'm freshly widowed. I am no longer going to attend my job, and eventually I do believe that’s going to become a problem. Let’s write a book!”

And that’s how things came together for me. That’s highly unusual, from what I understand. But to give you the advice that I’ve gleaned from other people who went through the process in a more traditional way, you find an agent by asking, by opening yourself up to rejection, to hearing no. It’s absolutely bruising and brutal, and it will get you ready for writing, and for publishing, and for creative life in general, which is a lot of rejection, a lot of being told no, a lot of working on things that actually don’t go anywhere and then make you feel like you are absolutely deficient and somehow subpar, which of course you are not, that’s just the way the process works. And I don’t know why.

However, there are more ways to publish a book than just going through a traditional publisher. There are a lot of hybrid publishers, which means you pay the upfront costs of paying for an editor, which… every writer needs an editor, cannot stress that enough. Every writer needs an editor. And that upfront cost also helps to cover the cost of producing the book, and then you can sell it directly. You can list it on Amazon. You can list it on whatever other websites you would like to sell books on. And then, you keep all the money afterward! Which I think is a pretty good deal. 

And just to step back one moment. I mean, I know that there are plenty of people who consider that, like, I don’t know. We have this weird, like, prestige economy, like a hierarchy of sort of like what counts and what is the best and like oh, did you publish it yourself or did you get it published? And I'm like, I guess I would just ask you what does it matter? What does it matter? What does it give you to have it, you know, published by a third party vs. you know, being a thing that you make and create on your own? And I’ve certainly heard of — I’ve not met, but I've heard of — people who do the self-publishing route and make way way more money that way. And also just like, we have to ask ourselves like, what really are we looking for? Because if we’re just looking for the validation, there are other ways to get it other than writing a book.

Now, when people ask me about writing as a craft, I say I have no idea. I have nothing to teach you. I am not a disciplined writer. I am not a particularly educated writer. I do not have any business teaching anybody how to write, period. Somebody reached out to see if I would participate in some writing class she was teaching, as like a guest lecturer. I was like absolutely not. I literally cannot in good conscience do that. I did it once, I felt like the biggest fraud. And if you took that class and you were disappointed, please contact me. I will personally refund you. And if you did take that class and you found value in it, thank you. 

So, there’s two books that I really appreciate that I think could help you if you want to write, and the first is “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott, patron saint of sad writers everywhere. It’s just wonderful. Anne Lamott gave us the concept of shitty first drafts, of just getting something down and revisiting it later. She is the person who rails against perfectionism, and this book is iconic and sort of evergreen for a reason. It’s because it’s just a good book about writing. The second book is one that I forgot about which is Stephen King’s “On Writing,” also really excellent. Absolutely not what I expected to get from him, and you know, he’s not just a prolific writer, he’s really a person who understands his genre and his craft, and it’s just a very generous book, and I cannot recommend it enough. I’ll put those in the show description. 

Second question is: Do you really use the products that you advertise? And the answer is yes, absolutely. If I tell you I use something and I like it, I have to mean it. I have to mean it morally and just to live with myself at night. At night? I have to live with myself all the time. But I really do have to use something and like it and enjoy it for it to end up being an advertiser for the show. So when an advertiser reaches out and is interested I say, “Okay I’ll consider it but I’ll need the product first and I’ll need to have it for a while,” because I can’t just use a shampoo once and say it’s the best shampoo ever. You have to live with the shampoo before you make judgements like that. You have to live with a pillow or a mattress or a set of sheets or whatever the thing is. And we do turn down advertisers. We turn down advertisers all the time because it’s something that does not align with the show’s values or with my values. We turn down advertisers because I got the product and I was like, ick, nope, sorry, just not for me. Might be good for somebody else, but not for me. And if you want me to say to people that I enjoy it, I have to actually enjoy it. And the advertisers that we’ve had the longest — you know who they are from listening to the ads — those are also companies where I spend my own money. They send me the first thing for free, and then when I love it, I spend my money there. So I think that is a good sign and also, feels good to make that kind of show and make those decisions about a show. And we are lucky that we are in a space where we can make those decisions because not every show is.

Those are really easy questions to answer because I already know them. There is one other question which… if you like this format, let us know, because people always ask me about my current husband and my first husband. I’m a remarried widow, if you’re new to this show. And how my current husband handles it. Like, isn’t he so jealous of your dead husband? I’m like, “Oh yeah, he can’t wait to be dead. What are you talking about.” But I have a whole earful of stuff to say about that. But it takes a lot of time, and I do want to get into it maybe at a later date.

So, I love answering questions. I love being able to give advice with the huge caveat that my advice is not always good. Because it comes from the narrow band of my own experience, which is always the problem with it. Right? I grew up reading Ann Landers, Dear Abby, all the fake, make-up questions in the back of like YM and Seventeen. I can’t remember which one had the advice thing called “Traumarama,” which is… I mean… you know… a little overstated, because it was always like, “I got my period and a boy noticed,” and it’s like wow, a human person saw you having an absolutely human experience, and they shamed you for it? Sounds like maybe the problem is him, not you. If Traumarama existed now, it would be very different in tone and scope, and the subject matter as well. But, I’ve always, always loved advice. I think it's so… even though it’s slightly ridiculous to think that a complete stranger could give us prescriptive advice without knowing the details of our life and our experience and all of the intricacies that make us who we are, it’s still fun. Right? That’s why we do it.

One of my sister podcasts here at American Public Media is technically an advice show. It’s called “Don’t Ask Tig.” I’ve promoted it before, and maybe you’ve already listened to it. But it’s hosted by Tig Notaro, who is a comedian. If you’re not like, just not a comedian person and you’re like I know who that is. When you google Tig Notaro, you’ll be like OH HER. She’s so dry and so witty and so observant and just… funny? You’re like duh, she’s a comedian, of course she’s funny. She also completely understand like, the ridiculousness of dolling advice out to strangers. And what I love about her show is that it’s fun and sincere, and she recognizes immediately her own limitations, always brings on a guest, and they don’t just address the listener questions, she’s sort of evolved out these other really humorous, touching segments. And I got to be on an episode of “Don’t Ask Tig,” which basically makes this episode “Don’t Ask Nora.”

So I cannot go so far as to say that I am friends with Tig Notaro, but… after this conversation, i think you will want to be. 

So here is my conversation with Tig Notaro. And the question at hand is about something I know very well, that I’m highly qualified to answer, which is about… skater boys.





Tig: This is “Don't Ask Tig.” I'm Tig Notaro. Nora McInerny is here as our guest. My guest. You get to enjoy her as well. Nora, thank you so much for being here. In your closet. Wherever you are. Where are you?

Nora: Oh, it's a closet. Yeah. It's very much a closet.

Tig: Well, you, you have your own podcast, you're the host of “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” And I've been going on a deep dive of you and your stuff and was quite impressed and very interested to talk to you. So I appreciate you taking the time.

Nora: Thank you. Yes. My podcast is quite a bummer. So thank you for diving deep into it. Jump on in! The waters are sad.

Tig: You've listened to dozens of people describe the worst moments of their lives. And what do you take away from those stories?

Nora: I think that the overarching theme, and I mean this in the best way possible, is that we're just not that special. And I do, I do mean that in a good way. Because every time you talk to somebody who has not gone through something hard yet, they cannot believe this has happened to you. Right? They’re like Oh! Oh no! And if you've talked to somebody who has been through it, they're like, yeah, that makes sense. And I've found so much connection in those hard places, which is a place that I actively avoided for what is still the majority of my life. I had not been through anything difficult until I was 27 and my boyfriend had a seizure. And really, it's like, he went through the hard thing. He had brain cancer. I was just there along for the ride. And before that, truly, the worst thing that had happened to me was one time I got pushed into a garbage can in high school, butt first, so I was stuck like a hermit crab. That wasn't great. 

Tig: You lived through it.

Nora: I lived through it. Like I just had really not... I was sure that I did not have whatever it took to go through something difficult. Like, that was something that happened to other people. And then all the sudden, you’re other people. I do think it has made me more sure that I don't know that whatever happens next… because I'm also not done. You know, it's not like I filled up my punch card just because my husband and my dad died right after I had a miscarriage. Like it's not, you know, I didn't, it's not over for me. And I guess it just reassures me that it's not worth sort of like… living life braced for the next thing, because the next thing will come and future Nora will do whatever it is she has to do, just like past Nora got through it.

Tig: Well, I mean, I certainly relate. I have had my experiences with trauma and tragedy. And I had that same thought of, “I'm not special. And why would I think I am immune to this? Why would I think it's only other people?” And it's just not the case. It's an equal playing field. And it's startling when it happens. Because I remember thinking, well, there's no possible way another horrible thing will happen, because the universe knows that I've already been through all of these things. It doesn't work that way, either. 

Nora: God, it really doesn’t.

Tig: I really can just keep happening. And it might not ever stop.

Nora: It might not ever stop, that's also the thing. I'm like, I always feel bad when people like, really want me to like,  end on a positive note, because it'll really, really depend on the day, and I'm sure it does for you, too. And sometimes I'm like, “Yeah, no, the things that don't kill you, they could just ruin your life forever. I don't know. They could haunt you for the rest of your days.” Maybe they'll make you stronger. But honestly, who’s measuring. There's not like a real, you know, it's not like the Presidential Physical Fitness Test where, you know, this year, I could do still zero pullups. It's just things will just keep happening. The world keeps spinning. And, you know, it's not like I live every day, like, looking at my children and my current husband being like, yeah, who's it going to be today? Me? Or you?

Tig: Right? And so you are remarried? And as you mentioned, a moment ago that your first husband passed away? He was 35. Is that right? 

Nora: Aaron… was the best? I don't know. It's like, you know, people tend to sort of deify the dead. No, he was, he was like, literally was the best. Truly. I was always like, people were like, “Aaron!” And like, “You brought... her! That's great. Like, what's her name? Is it Laura? Is it Laura? I can't remember.” And he was just so funny and wonderful. And, you know, it's not like he didn't know that he had stage four brain cancer and he was gonna die. It's just… that was not… he didn't give that all of the space in his world or our world. Like, cancer was there. And we gave it as much space as it absolutely needed, which was like, you know, weekly doctor's appointments and several hospitalizations. But overall, I just… I learned everything I know about life from watching Aaron suffer and be so graceful and so gracious and still, you know, come to the hospital and talk shit with me about the annoying coworkers that we both knew in common. He still worked. And I'd pick him up from work. And he'd be like, “Guess who doesn't wash his hands when he goes to the bathroom?” I was like, I knew it! I knew it. Like he just, he was still so like, alive and wonderful. And so Aaron died in 2014. He was 35 years old. We had an almost 2-year-old son together who's now almost 8. And our son is named Ralph. And sometimes six years feels like a very long time. And sometimes six years feels like nothing. And it's... I'm experiencing this very differently than our son. I think we sometimes figure that like, kids maybe... I don't know? I was like, oh, thank God. I mean, thank God, you know, Ralph is only two like, maybe this won't mess him up. No, like, of course it will. Like he's, he's seven and, and he lost a tooth the other day and was crying at night about like, “I wish my dad could see like that I lost a tooth.” And so, you know, I don't, I don't know, it's still something that I'm figuring out. And I had never seen grief very close. And I just assumed that it was, I don't know, that it was supposed to be something that scabbed over and was a part of my past. And instead, I really have let it become just a part of my life. Which... before I experienced it, I would assume like, “Well, god, is that healthy?” But like, yeah, it's just like, it's not as if every day I am, you know, sad and bawling over Aaron's death, but obviously, sharing a marriage with the person, sharing like an intense relationship, having a child with someone, like that stays with you, that stays with you. And I think that we can keep those things and still also like, fall in love with a person who's currently alive. And and you know, like show up and and still, you know, live fully in the face of these losses.

Tig: One of my favorite things that you said is that because of Aaron, you have your new husband, and because of Aaron, he lives on in your life now. And I just, yeah, there were just so many powerful things that you said. And you clearly have a sense of humor about things. And your... the obituary that you wrote for Aaron went viral.

Nora: With him. He wrote it with me! Best lines were his, he was so funny. It's so funny.

Tig: And do you have, if somebody’s in a similar situation, do you have advice on writing a good obituary? 

Nora: Oh, God, write it when the person is alive, which I know feels dark. I know feels weird, I know feels wrong. But at the very end of life, everyone wants to sort of like tiptoe around it. And I remember my dad being in the ICU. He died a few weeks before Aaron died. And this nurse coming in, you know, this sweet little Minnesota girl who was like, “Hey, Mr. McInerny, how are you?” And he was like, “Kelsey, I'm kind of dying here.” And she was like, oh... you could tell just wanted to like, disappear into a puff of smoke. And we laughed so hard. And yet also, we didn't just ask my dad, who was an infomercial writer, Tig. He wrote infomercials! What do you want? Like, how do we talk about you? How do you want to be remembered? He would have written an amazing obituary, and instead, I was like, sitting on the couch with my dopey brothers and my bossy sister being like, “No, I don't think that's it. I just, you know…” We're like, looking around the house like, well, books. I mean, he liked books. You know, hunter green?

Tig: Really a great idea to work with the person on that.

Nora: Yeah. And it's, it was so sad. We cried our faces off. And also, it was a very, very funny and good obituary. And I'm so glad we did it that way.

Tig: In your podcast, and in all that you do, do you enjoy giving advice? I mean, here you are on an advice podcast.

Nora: Here I am on an advice podcast. I mean, I love solving someone else's problems. You give me just the chance to reach in and meddle in someone else's life. Yes, I'll take it. Absolutely. Absolutely. I’ll shake some stuff loose, yeah.

Tig: We have a lot of stuff to shake loose.

Nora: I'm ready.

Tig: All right, our first question comes from Ann. And she writes, “2020 was shit. The pandemic sucks. And I'm getting divorced. How can I learn to love again?” I mean, I feel like you get it. I feel like I can answer. I've loved. I've loved. And then I've loved again. I haven't gone through divorce. I'm assuming you haven’t either.

Nora: Not yet.

Tig: I hope to never. I have seen how devastating. I mean, you can think of it... I wonder why it is so... I guess just emotionally and psychologically, you're so prepared to potentially spend the rest of your life with somebody but very similar to... to a death. Abruptly comes to a halt.

Nora: So when someone dies in a relationship, we're like, “Wow, they were a saint. Everything was great. The relationship was wonderful.” When there's a divorce, we're like, “Didn’t he suck anyways?” Like, we're like, also just like, kinda unhappy. And like, oh my god, good riddance. But really, I mean, have you listened to “evermore” by Taylor Swift yet?

Tig: I have not. But I love Taylor Swift.

Nora: So there is this song that is essentially about an imaginary divorce. I think it's called “Happiness.” And it's about the both/and which is that there was more than just this awful wrenching pain that you are in now. You can love again, the same way that this was probably statistically speaking not your first love. After every breakup, we're like, it'll never happen again. I have all my old journals on the floor over here. 15 years old, I was like, “I'll never love again.” That was it for me. And more importantly, no one will ever love me again, because I've already let this boy touch my boobs and I'm tainted forever. People will know. People will know these boobs have been touched before.

Tig: She’s gonna end up working in a closet one day.

Nora: Working in a closet, listening to sad stories. This is the life she deserves. Okay? You reap what you sow. You will love again. Also, maybe take a minute, several minutes, quite a long time, to let this be as bad as it is.

Tig: Yeah, you have to settle into not being okay. I do think there is something, and it is terrible to sit through the pain. It does not feel good. But Nora found love again, even though she got her boobs touched. I got my boobs touched and then removed. My boobs got cut off, and somebody still loved me. Okay? So yeah, get your boobs touched, you can get them cut off. You can lose a spouse, you can… there's so many things, but people will find you lovable, and...

Nora: The sorrow of divorce needs more recognition. It needs more respect, frankly. And also, I hope that you use this time not just to try to, you know, focus on how you fall in love again. But like, how you can truly just like fall in love with yourself in your own life, which sounds so corny, but I watched my sister do that after her divorce over the past two years, and I'm just so proud of her because she loves herself so much. [Tig: That's great.] Another person would be great, you know? And I even watched her, I watched somebody fall in love with her, and her say like, “You know, I'm just really not there yet.” Which... I've spent my whole life being like, “You love me? Well, then I guess I'm yours. I mean, what am I? Okay, I'll stay till you're done.”

Tig: Where do I sign?

Nora: Yeah. So yeah. That's what I hope for Ann. I hope for her to go through [inaudible]. I also hope for her to just like,love her own life, which is now fully hers, which is terrifying and also... what an opportunity.

Tig: It’s pretty exciting. Ann, we're very excited for you. Yeah, and I think, I think you've got a lot coming in 2021. We all do, but especially Ann. More questions after the break. Stick around, Nora.





Tig: All right, Nora, this next question is about some of the awkwardness that comes with grief. Meg writes, “I'm 24, and my father died suddenly in May. A lot of my friends were really supportive and great, but some were not up to the task. I miss the friends who ghosted, and it's been a little while, so I want to try to reconnect with them. I'm not sure how to go about it without making people uncomfortable and would appreciate some advice about how to approach them.” 

So Meg is saying her friends kind of couldn't deal with it. And they went away. And she's wanting to say, “Hey, I miss you.” I mean, I experienced that myself. I'm sure you did, too. Yeah. I think it's pretty common. And it's also... I think it's really generous and honest of Meg, because it's really hard. I know it hurt my feelings when I experienced it. I understood it, but you also learn what people are capable of in a friendship with you. And there are people that I found in time that this is what they can do, this is the most they can do. This is what I can expect from them. And beyond that, I can't. And do I still want them in my life with what they can and can't bring to the table? And there are people that I thought I just don't need them. And I don't miss them. And then there are other people where I think I do miss them stil, and I understand the limitations here. And I'm fine with opening that door. And I personally don't even think that there has to be a big, uncomfortable moment to it. I think that a very basic direct reach out, “Hello, I've been thinking about you,” would open the door perfectly fine.

Nora: What listeners couldn't hear was my nodding. My just emphatic nodding to everything that you said, because the wake of Aaron's loss is littered with former friendships. It really is. And some of those people, they couldn't have done anything right, because there was nothing right to do, and I will own that part. And some of those people were operating at their maximum capacity. And what I've realized in the intervening years is that they had also not done this before. And if you have not seen grief up close, if you have not watched, like, friendship, go through a really truly hard thing, you don't know how to do it. You assume that you're doing well. One of my best friends who I've known since second grade, he lost his dad when he was 27 years old. I went to the funeral, I sent a hot dish, sent a card. Never brought his dad up again. I just assumed like oh yeah, you just don't bring it up, because it would make you sad, right? And the worst part about being at the center of a shitstorm is that you are the captain of that shitty ship. And people are looking to you for cues, which is so crappy. You don't need another job when you're grieving, when your life is falling apart. But they're waiting for you to kind of tell them what to do. And not every friendship is going to last through your entire life. And we have to normalize that too, like some friendships, they just end. And that’s okay.

Tig: That's completely fine.

Nora: A friendship is like any other relationship which is that you have to like, make your needs known and then like, communicate when someone disappoints you. It sucks.

Tig: It’s a full on relationship. And I just, I think it's okay to reach out and say, I miss you. I've had people reach out and say something that they meant I miss you, but they didn't say I miss you. They made it some convoluted crazy thing. I don't suggest that. Just say, I miss you. I would love to talk.

Nora: Say like, I miss you. This has been a really hard seven months. Like, I've been really sad. I haven't reached out. Like I hope you're well. Like I would never start with the way somebody's disappointed you. Just not really great. But with, you know, I statements and explaining to people how you were feeling, because like, they probably don't know, because we are all so wrapped up in our own, you know, stuff.

Tig: Meg, we will be thinking about you. And we hope that you get the support that you need, and that these friendships pan out in a way that that feels right. Nora, this next question is about skater boys, and maybe how to avoid them.

Nora: Oh, my weakness. They're my weakness.

Tig: All right. Well, Jordan asks, “How do I start attracting rich, put-together people instead of skater boys?” Well, we can't ask Nora. She didn't want to help you do this.

Nora: No. Married two skater boys! Did not say see you later boys. I said see you later in my closet. We can go under the shirt over the bra.

Tig: That's what I get. I love skater boys, obviously, in a different way. You know, they're my friends. They're my roommates of the past. It's similar to my love for rock and roll guys. I always say, with their little rock and roll bodies.

Nora: I love a scrawny human. I like somebody scrawny, somebody scrappy. I love somebody with stupid, ironic tattoos, but that are misspelled and like, you know, probably infected. That's my type. You're asking the wrong person.

Tig: You’re talking to the wrong people. And also, a pro skater just moved in next door to me. I haven't met him yet. But I called my old roommate who is a skater. And I said, “Do you know this guy? He just moved in next door to me.” And my old roommate flipped out and was like, “Oh my gosh, he invented the whatever move.” And he just basically wrote his Wikipedia for me. And I was like, oh, wow. So there are some attractive, rich, put-together skater boys. And I mean, you should see how this guy redid his house. And you can see through his windows. And I'm not like lingering in front of his house. But when you drive by his house.

Nora: He wants you to look in. That's why people have big windows. They want you to see.

Tig: Yeah, well. He has no nice taste. And Jordan, I think you are foolish to move on from skater boys. Plus, they remain active. And they remain hip and cool. This is, these are alive people.

Nora: I'm so sorry Jordan. Rich, put-together guys are almost all sociopaths. Like what do you want to be with a boring person who can pay your bills? Who cares? Like you pay your own bills, first of all. In the words of one of my children yesterday, they said, “Look, who makes breakfast? Dad. Who makes lunch? Dad. Who folds your laundry? Dad. Who pays your bills? Mom.” Like… this is a 7-year-old. Okay? So justice for skater boys is what we’re saying.

Tig: I feel so bad. I have never pushed back so hard on somebody's question.

Nora: I know. I just like, I cannot stress enough that like, you do not —

Tig: I can’t find it in me.

Nora: You don't want a boring dude with a job. I understand. At some point, I do understand the appeal. And I will say, here's the thing: I can kind of imagine the kind of experience you're having. So let's say like there's this boyfriend and literally —

Tig: Nora, are you leaving me on this?

Nora: I'm not, I'm not, I'm not. I'm saying there's a difference between a skater and a jackass. I've broken up with… what you're describing is not like a skater, but you're describing a jackass, which is like a person who, like doesn't actually care about you, doesn't have any sort of, you know, priorities in life. And you know, who the person that I dated in my late 20s. I like, look back and I'm like, what? Why was I begging you for attention? Like, I was so hot. Like, what? Like, I was so hot. And by the way, like, I went to work every day, and you went to work on occasion. And so I understand this frustration. You still don't want a boring, put-together dude. They're are very sweet, kind, wonderful skater boys. And that is what I wish for you. I wish for you a nice scrawny guy who wears like dirty black t-shirts, and also has a savings account. They exist.

Tig: Yes, you can find it, Jordan. You're gonna find what you're looking for. But don't start looking into just rich, put-together people. How dare you Jordan? You know better than that. All right, Nora, our last listener question is a real Corona conundrum at the

AUDIO: Are you at all concerned about the coronavirus? No, not really. We know that mandatory masking work. You literally cannot mandate somebody to wear a mask. Let's not leave that out for any reason. Unless, of course, you have a reason, then you may leave the house.

Tig: Mary writes, “I'm a teacher and I'm slated to be one of the first people in my community to get a COVID vaccine. How do I balance sharing this publicly to show I support the vaccine without sounding braggy?” I have no concern. I just think that anybody that's going to feel like you are being braggadocious about your COVID vaccine is a foolish person. They would likely know you're a teacher. And if they don't know that you're a teacher, then share, “I am a teacher, and I'm going to be vaccinated.” And I would imagine any sensible person would be happy for you, and appreciate the work that you do, and that you're taking the steps to ensure your safety and those around you.

Nora: Yeah, anybody who doesn't understand that is committed to thinking the worst of you and is really not worth your time. So I would share it on social media and then I would not read the comments. And I would say, “if we have a relationship and you would like to ask me questions, you know how to get in touch with me about it.” 

Tig: Or you can turn your comments off, right?

Nora: You can turn the comments off, you can turn the comments off, I forgot about that. But I do think I follow several people who have gotten the vaccine. And I don't think that they're bragging, but I do know, I know the kind of person on social media you are describing. And the thing is, if you live your life imagining responses from dipwads, you will… you just can't do that.

Tig: Dipwads exist, they're out there. And so that's what Mary's saying, when she says publicly you think she means social media?

Nora: I think she means social media. And I think what she's imagining is she posts this and there's somebody who's like, “Oh, well must be nice. Must be nice. You know, I'm also a frontline worker.” I'm you know, it's like well, yes and yes/and, okay? Yes, it is. I got it. It is nice. And of course, we all deserve it. Of course, we all deserve it. And we're working on that.

Tig: I guess it's not even about what I would think. But I guess I'm surprised, more than anything, that there would be this concern because of people, you know, coming from my headspace and like, if people thought I was bragging... I can't even imagine. Unless, Mary, there's some part of you that is kind of bragging. So this is why you're thinking, “I hope nobody thinks I sound like I'm bragging.”

Nora: “I don't know why they would think that just because I posted a picture of me getting the vaccine that said like ‘Sorry, losers, me first.’”

Tig: yeah, maybe don't do that. Maybe if you do share it publicly, don't, you know? Give everyone the middle finger and thanks for getting the vaccine and for writing. We’ll be back with more questions after the break.





Tig: And we are back. Nora, there’s one last person we have to help. It’s a person from the past. This is a segment called advice of yesteryear.


AUDIO: When Jerry brags about taking Jenny out, he learns that she dates all the boys. So long as we see now menstruation is just one routine step in a normal and natural cycle. How do you choose a date? Well, one thing you can consider is look. I did everything you said but my boss still hasn't asked me to lunch.

Tig: This question comes to us from 1927 from Dorothy Dix's advice column. “Dear Miss Dix, I don't want to marry the kind of girls who are painted up like a circus, who wear their skirts above their knees, displaying their hose supporters who have nothing on their minds but clothes and who class you as a cheap Johnny unless you spend a big pile of money on them. I haven't come across a sensible girl for years. If I could find one who had real gray matter in her head and was willing to stick to me like glue, who was modest in her dress and conversation and who would be willing to love, honor and obey me? I will be glad enough to marry and share my fortune with her. Where is she? Signed Harry S.” Well, it sounds like we found someone for Jordan.

Nora: We did. We did. Yeah, exactly.

Tig: Yeah, he's got a fortune.

Nora: Good to know men have always been like this.

Tig: These questions, the way he speaks, it's immediately... I hear it you know just in the [exaggerated announcer voice] “Painted up like a circus. You know what I'm saying?”

Nora: [exaggerated announcer voice] “They classify me as a cheap Johnny cuz I'm not gonna spend a pile of money on them?”

Tig: Cheap Johnny. Come on. Aye. You know? It doesn't seem real.

Nora: Oh, it seems very real to me. This seems 100% if you have been on certain corners of the internet. There are men who still feel this way who are like —

Tig: Sure, but I'm talking about the [exaggerated announcer voice] who wear skirts above their knees displaying hose supporters who have nothing on their minds. But clothes and who class you up as a cheap Johnny. I haven't found a sensible girl in years. I'm looking for one with gray matter in her head. [normal voice] Well, first of all, Harry, what a line. Walk up to a woman and say [exaggerated announcer voic] do you have gray matter in your head? Little lady. I'm gonna share my fortune with you.

Nora: If you are sensible, how sensible are you? How short is your skirt? I mean above the knee. Also below the knee is such a strangely it's... I've tried. It's an unflattering length for me, Johnny. Like I look better with an above the knee skirt or honestly a pant.

Tig: I feel like the more I read this, I feel like I'm his dream girl. He's looking for someone who is not painted up like a circus. And who doesn't wear skirts above the knee or displaying hose supporters? Like, I don't think about clothes. Or somebody’s class. I just proved that with Jordan. I don't that's what I'm looking for. I don't care if you're a cheap Johnny. 

Nora: Honestly, you might be.

Tig: I’m modest in my dress and conversation. Ah, this is where it falls apart. I'm not willing to love and honor and obey

Nora: And obey. 

Tig: We got pretty close. 

Nora: We got so close. We got so close.

Tig: What's your what's your advice for Harry?

Nora: I honestly think like, you know, maybe, just maybe it's not about the women around you. It might be you.

Tig: It might be cheap Johnny. 

Nora: It might be that you are a cheap Johnny, it might be that you are projecting a lot of…  you're projecting a lot on the women around you. And I would suggest you find I don't know what they're called in 1927 —

Tig: Lesbians that are in the closet. 

Nora: That might be what he needs. He needs a Carol. Okay?

Tig: Yeah, well, do you want to hear the answer?

Nora: Oh, god, yes, I do.

Tig: “The trouble with men who complain that they can't find this sort of wife is because they hunt for them in the wrong places. You will no more find them at nightclubs and you will find a point lace in a blacksmith shop. But you won't have to do much sleuthing. If you really want one. You can always ask your mother or any other middle aged woman without daughters to give you a tip.” [exaggerated announcer voice] Hey, it's me cheap, Johnny. You got a tip for me? Where can I find a closeted lesbian?

Nora: That's all the advice Dorothy has? Like basically just like ask older women?

Tig: Go as an older woman. Yeah. Okay.

Nora: Yeah, she's like, I like the way that you talk about younger women. Guess who else also does this older women. So find somebody who they approve of? And therein you will find your happiness. I wonder if Harry did find this person? I mean, honestly, like Harry's great-grandsons are probably like, you know, on Reddit right now like, “Yeah, what's up with women, man? Like they all want me to be put together. Have a job.”

Tig: I don’t think I understand what Reddit is. I thought Reddit was where people go on to talk about celebrities, but you can go on and talk about annoying women. 

Nora: Anything. Or you can just lurk

Tig: Well, thank you for talking about anything and everything with me Nora. It was a pleasure having speaking

Nora: What a joy What a joy.

Tig: And do you have anything you would like to plug that the world should know about?

Nora: My podcast is terrible. Thanks for asking. And you can also find out more about me at stillkickin.co. 

Tig: Love it. Well, it was a pleasure and like I said, I just think that you're tremendously insightful. And, and thank you for, for putting all this out there. It's helpful.

Nora: Thank you.

Tig: “Don't Ask Tig” is hosted by me, Tig Notaro. It's produced by Thomas Ouellette, Tracy Mumford, and Whitney Jones. Our editor is Phyllis Fletcher. Executive producer, Lauren Dee. Engineering and sound mixing by Eric Romani. Digital production by Kristina Lopez. Talent booking by Marianne Ways. Production assistance by Nancy Xu. Our theme music is “Friend In Tig” by Edie Brickell and Kyle Crusham, and “Listen To Your Heart” by Edie Brickell. Special thanks to Hunter Seidman, Lily Kim and Alex Schaffert. Our executive consultant is Dean Capello and Godsmack Studios. You can always ask for advice at dontasktig.org. Just write in with your problem or send us a voice memo. You can also follow us on social media @dontasktig. “Don't Ask Tig” is a production of American Public Media. And as always, thanks, Dana. And I'll tell Becky.





So, as you know, I’m two for two with marriages to skater boys. I think both my husbands would be like, “No, we’re not really skater boys. We do own skateboards. We have ridden skateboards.” But to me if you can like, stay on a skateboard standing up and move forward, create forward momentum without falling, injuring yourself. If you can even do like, a little kickflip or like, you know, if you can go over a curb and not fall so hard, which is what happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I was riding my skateboard that I got for Mother’s Day two years ago. I was feeling a little too confident. I approached a curb and instead of bailing, which I should've done, I knew it was going to be bad, it’s just like the lip to our driveway is more of a curb than a lip. And so I approached this lip, and I know the minute the first wheel goes over the edge that I’m a goner. And I am. I fly forward, up, over, I don't know how I landed specifically. You know when things happen in slow motion but also in a fraction of a second? I put out my arm and I was like, “Don't put out your arm, you dummy, you are going to snap that little wrist bone so fast,” so then I tucked my arm in and I landed completely on my hip and my side. I was wearing a helmet, thank god for small miracles. And it hurt so bad. I was out front with my little kids and they were like OH MY GOD MOM’S DEAD. I was like, “I’m not dead but you definitely want to get your dad.”

So I am no longer a skater girl, but I do still love skater boys. Again, my current husband would be like, “I'm not a skater boy, I just know how to ride a skateboard without dying,” which to me is the exact same thing. I will always wonder like, what would’ve happened if I would’ve taken the road less traveled in high school and professed my love for the skater boy who made me mixtapes and whom I drove home secretly after school because he did not have a car but he did have a skateboard and he was sort of dirty looking but really cute and, Brenden, what happened? It was like the most romantic mixtape. 

Anyways, skater boys. Skater boys are great. We sometimes get caught up in this idea of who we think we need in order to have some sort of life that we think we want. And I know that I've been caught up in that too. I know that I would not have selected my current husband and possibly even Aaron from like a lineup. I just sort of fell into them, even though they did not look like what I thought like, my partner would necessarily look like. When you’re really really really caught up in that, okay? So there’s nothing wrong. There’s nothing wrong with a skater boy. There’s nothing really even wrong with just a nice boring guy with a regular job unless they’re not the person for you. Unless they do not treat you well. Unless they are not giving you what you need from a relationship. It is not about the genre of person. It is about the relationship that you have with them and how healthy that is. However, given a choice, I would always choose the skater boy.

So, with that, this episode of “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” is over. You don’t have to leave, but you just cannot stay in this… I almost said PDF. MP3? WAV? I don’t know what kind of file you’re listening to. Can’t stay in this episode. You’ll have to find your own episodes. There are more episodes of “Don’t Ask Tig” wherever you found this podcast. We could do more episodes like this, that are more just rambly and stuff. Very hard to please hundreds of thousands of listeners. I mean, at this point in time, I'm asking for feedback but I'll also know based on numbers what people do and do not want to listen to. Although, sometimes a little bit of a skewed result because you’re like, “Well, it’s not nobody, right? That’s not nobody? There’s a very large amount of people listening. Just because it’s not as large as another episode doesn’t really tell me much.” 

Anyways. It’s always hard to make things that everybody wants. And some people only want certain kinds of episodes. Or only some other kinds of episodes. And I'm not complaining, I'm just trying to make sure that everybody knows that we are trying! We are trying. So…

That is it. I’m Nora McInerny. Our production team is Marcel Malekebu, Hannah Meacock Ross, Jordan Turgeon, Jeyca Maldonado-Medina, Phyllis Fletcher — rest in peace. She did not die, however she did leave for the New York Times, and that is hard for all of us. Not her! She's having a great time. But for the rest of us, we are really gonna be missing her. Okay, well, we will see you soon. Bye guys.