EPISODE 104: HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS
Published August 4, 2017.
Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.
Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.
Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. On this week's agenda, how to lose a Mooch in ten days, plus a shout-out to the women senators who saved healthcare, the Cheeto's own opioid commission comes down with a rather interesting recommendation, White House security officials are not protected by Barron Trump's cyber -- they were phished so hard -- plus we roast the DCCC for saying it has no litmus test on abortions, we talk about how abortion refugees are a thing, we hear from some defenders of the Girl Scouts, and we take a couple listener questions about debt guild and body-shaming group dynamics.
Aminatou: Hey girl! How's it going?
Ann: Oh my god, I'm just in a news tsunami over here. What about you?
Aminatou: I am not in a news tsunami. Tell me everything that's going on.
Ann: I mean, okay, first of all this podcast is less than an hour long which means there's no possible way I could tell you everything that's going on. But I will also say that we're recording rather early in the week and the whole world could be upside down and different by Friday. I know we offer that caveat a lot but it's true. It's so real. In the past few days alone we've gotten a new White House communications director.
Aminatou: Mazel tov. You have a new job, boo-boo?
Ann: Oh my god, don't even insult me like that. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Listen, everybody has a price.
Ann: I'm not sure that there is a price high enough. What price -- at what price would it cost? What is your buy-out rate to take a job with the Cheeto administration?
Aminatou: You know, honestly, this administration is tough because of fascism. Not enough money in the whole world obviously.
Ann: To Eva Braun yourself? Yeah, hell no.
Aminatou: Of course not. Yeah, also I feel like Omarosa already has the job I would want. There can literally only be one.
Ann: I mean I feel like the real version of this question is what dollar amount would it take for you to take a job at Uber right now? Like that's what I'm watching . . .
Aminatou: Oh my god. I mean it would take a lot of money but I feel like I would go work at Uber before I work at the White House because at Uber they have real money. Hello?
Ann: I mean, duh. I know. But it's also like just . . .
Aminatou: It's maybe like what's the dollar amount it would take for you to go be a Real Housewife?
Ann: Ooh. I don't know. Well, you can use that platform to build a real independent business.
Aminatou: Real talk. Real talk.
Ann: So I don't know.
Aminatou: Housewife money is good money.
Ann: It's true. I think the long game with that is pretty good. But anyway, okay, we're totally derailed. So this week -- okay, so it all began when new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci called a New Yorker reporter and let off a stream of expletives about his coworkers without declaring it off-the-record. I think that was how this began.
Ann: Who in the span of ten days declined to attend the birth of his child because presumably he was so amped on this job, and then was promptly divorced, and then was promptly fired. I can't even -- I don't even know if that was the order. I think he was divorced before he was fired.
Aminatou: Oh my god, tough week for Italian-Americans. Scaramucci, for real though?
Ann: Scaramucci, Scaramucci. I know.
Aminatou: But speaking of Real Housewives I hope his ex-wife becomes a Housewife because clearly she is 100% angling for it, right? Because all of his divorce stuff is leaked on Page Six. They're details that only she would know. And it's very cruel, but also I was like get your money, right girl? Well played, Deidre.
Ann: Also if you read beyond the headlines on this the baby is in the neonatal ICU. It's not like it was NBD, like the chillest birth ever. It's actually a medical issue that Mrs. Mooch -- the recently ex Mrs. Mooch -- is dealing with on her own.
Aminatou: All for ten days of glory in the White House.
Ann: Oh my god. Also just like can you imagine being told the story about your birth and this is the story that you have to hear about . . .
Aminatou: I mean, iconic. Page Six birth story.
Ann: I know.
Aminatou: But also my favorite detail in all of this is when the baby was born he wasn't there deadbeat dad style. He texted her "Congratulations. I'll pray for her baby." And I love that like whatever terrible outlet it was looked up to see that they both had iPhones so the conclusion is that he definitely sent her the congratulations confetti.
Ann: Did you also see that speaking of his children he has a kid, Anthony, Jr., who has just graduated from high school and on Friday he was throwing his older son a graduation party that featured an appearance by French Montana?
Aminatou: It's like -- it's a lot. There's a lot going on here. I love it when Page Six gets political. It's like thank you. This is the only way I want to receive my news.
Ann: Ugh, I mean I saw Kumail Nanjiani tweet this week that the Scaramucci is like if cocaine were a person and I can't stop thinking about what if other drugs were embodied in humans. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Oh my god, that is so true.
Ann: But, yeah, okay. Also a delightful meme about this entire thing is the newfound relevance of the late-90s Kate Hudson/Matthew McConoughey movie.
[Clip from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days plays]
Aminatou: Oh my god, so good. So, so, so good.
Ann: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is one of the canon of rom-coms featuring a lady journo in the protagonist role and in my opinion not one of the best ones. But, you know, I'll take it. I'm just saying it's at the center of my Venn of interests.
Aminatou: You know, I remember watching it a lot on TV way back when in college but I have not revisited it in a while. Maybe I'll do that for myself later.
Ann: It does kind of make sense, though. It's about her doing all of these terrible things in order to end her relationship, and obviously the gender issues are awful, but I'm like what if Scaramucci is doing this all to deliberately end the relationship? I mean when even the Cheeto is like you've gone too far, it's like you must be doing it deliberately. Like really?
Aminatou: I know, but he is like a small, like a little terrorist. He came in, exploded all over the place, like two people got fired, and then now he's gone. He did his job. It's perfect.
Ann: I mean what do you think about the theory that this was all an elaborate Jivanka plant to get rid of Reince as chief of staff?
Aminatou: I mean I think that's what the news is saying -- like people are saying. I don't know if that's true, but people are saying that's what's going on. Every week feels like a year, you know? In a weird way I'm just like wow, it's already August. Like I remember when I thought this could never come because I was so devastated in November and I was like oh, it's fine. These people are fucking idiots. But at the same time it's just like it's too much. My metabolism can't keep up.
Ann: Okay, you're right. There's like a total whirlwind of things happening, but some of it is more serious than others. Some of it is more real newsy than just the White House male ego bloodbath that's happening.
Aminatou: I know. So real news is what? Don Jr. probably definitely going to jail.
Ann: Ugh, probably definitely. I love that.
Aminatou: Probably definitely. Like if the family had to throw somebody overboard it would be him. It's like sorry, you're the ugliest one.
Ann: It's true.
Aminatou: Actually that's debatable. But, you know, there's no love for him.
Ann: What else is going on?
Aminatou: We're probably going to war in North Korea by Friday. That's definitely going on.
Ann: And I've got to say this is some west coast relevant news. I'm like oh, your ICBMs are not making it all the way to Washington. This is relevant to my Pacific Coast lifestyle.
Aminatou: I'm not going to lie, every time I see those maps where they're like "What's the missile range?" of the North Korean missiles I'm like for once Brooklyn is fine and I sleep better at night. Not to be really flip about it, even though I am being very flip about it, when war happens -- not if, but when war happens, whoever it happens with, we're going to find out on Twitter. You're just going to be sitting at home looking up Bachelorette memes and then the president will tweet one thing and then twelve minutes later he'll tweet the second statement and that's how you'll know what's going on. Like it's just bananas.
Ann: We'll see "Great day at the White House" and know someone has attacked the country.
Aminatou: Exactly. It's like oh my god, ugh. A den of incompetence.
Aminatou: Which is both saving us and putting us at grave risk.
Ann: Ugh. So in other branches of our dysfunctional government, after we released last week's straight scam express episode, John McCain carefully orchestrated . . . I mean it was like -- did you watch footage of him casting his healthcare vote?
Aminatou: Oh, I watched all of it because CSPAN is the jam. He's such a drama queen. Like what is it? A messy bitch who lives for drama.
Aminatou: I could not believe this man. I could not believe this man.
Ann: Yeah, I mean basically it was like people were like "How are you going to vote?" and he was like "Watch the show." Like he's not even pretending. It's 100% -- I mean and while I'm happy he voted the way he did, I'm like don't pretend that this TV news declared maverick moment was anything other than a reputational move for you so you could have maximum spotlight. I'm like good job voting but you don't get a pat on the back because you voted the wrong way too and you were just an opportunist.
Aminatou: Oh, also in his statement the next day for why he didn't vote he made it very clear he's not voting for it because the bill's not conservative enough, so there's that.
Ann: He's like "You're not killing enough people!"
Aminatou: But also, you know, no shocker to see the media just give him all the accolades when actually the people who withstood the real pressure were Murkowski and Collins.
Aminatou: But women aren't getting credit. Like what's new there? So it's just, yeah, par the course. Par the course.
Ann: And also shout out to Mazie Hirono, senator from Hawaii, who showed up to cast her vote while she is also in the middle of fighting cancer.
Ann: And has not been subject to the same kind of praise that McCain has when it's like literally it's the same illness, the same vote, only she's not grandstanding and playing politics with other people's lives. She's like no.
Aminatou: Oh, haven't you heard? Breast cancer is a thing that all women get and also she's a liberal lady so she's voting exactly how she should. The media is so predictably daft about this and it makes me so annoyed.
Ann: But I was reading the follow-up. So some of the language that's been leveled, especially at Collins and Murkowski, from men who were supposed to be their colleagues in the Senate has been openly violent and threatening especially in the run-up to the vote. And then I was reading some coverage of Lisa Murkowski being home in her district in Alaska last weekend, and don't get me wrong, I have no great love for Lisa Murkowski, but it described her constituents coming up to her crying and being like "Thank you for voting down the bill." And I'm like you know, maybe these women have figured something out that the rest of the Republican Party has not which is that people don't want them playing politics with their healthcare and they want access to affordable care. Ugh.
Aminatou: Listen, Lisa Murkowski is a stone cold lady first of all. She 100% got her job through nepotism, shout out her dad for giving her his Senate seat, and then remember when the Tea Partyers tried to oust her and she lost her Republican primary?
Aminatou: And those Alaskan people wrote in her name and that's how she retained her seat. You can't mess with somebody with a hard-to-spell name who wins in a fucking write-in. Like no.
Ann: I know. I know. And that's part of the thing too where I actually don't understand how . . . I mean I know the answer to this, right? Like I was going to say I don't understand how the GOP thinks that this is a good idea in terms of people actually voting for them in the future to try to mess around with healthcare. But then I realized that they've got this whole voter suppression thing going on simultaneously and think there will be no accountability anyway and then it all comes together.
Aminatou: It's so crazy. It's so crazy. Okay, politics. Tell me.
Ann: Can I tell you . . . I want to tell you something that I feel kind of got buried this week that's also related to healthcare that I just wanted to mention which is that so you know how Mr. Ivanka, Jared Kushner, has this strangely wide purview, like he's working on Middle East peace at the same time he's working on an opioid commission at the same time -- you know, I mean all of these crazy responsibilities.
Aminatou: He's fixing all of it.
Ann: Well, so the opioid commission which again is something that the Cheeto commission directly -- and much like infrastructure I'm like good, look into it, even knowing that they're probably not going to look into pharmaceutical companies and they're more likely to look into other stuff, but whatever. I'm like this is a public health issue. I agree it bears paying attention to. And the commission came back and they were like guess what our number one recommendation is to combat this crisis?
Aminatou: What is it?
Ann: More Medicaid spending.
Aminatou: Wow. That's really awkward, man. That's awkward.
Ann: I'm like yes, sounds great to me. Like why don't you get it together when your commission -- even your compromised commission -- is recommending more Medicaid? I mean it would do better if it were paired with some crackdowns on the way the pharmaceutical industry markets these highly-addictive drugs, but whatever, you know? Medicaid, good place to start. Ugh.
Aminatou: Whew! Okay. Medicaid for all.
Ann: If only.
Aminatou: This is how this is all going to end. It's just a matter of time.
Ann: And also, wait, so you said you were catching up late on the news. Did you see this phishing scandal as well?
Aminatou: Oh my god, the email thing? I died. Will you explain it to the people? Because I'm still shaking my head. At first when I read the story on CNN I thought it was a parody. I was like oh, this is really funny. Then I was like no, no, this is real.
Ann: Okay. So according to CNN a "self-described email prankster" -- I feel like often these people are described as hackers, but in this case CNN is going with email prankster who lives somewhere in the United Kingdom.
Aminatou: No, this guy is like a legit prankster. Like legit prankster.
Ann: This person sent emails posing as different White House staff members to other officials including some national security officials. I'm just like where is Barron on the whole cybersecurity thing?
Aminatou: Oh my god.
Ann: But yeah, some of these emails are incredible including -- to go back to the Mooch -- this self-described prankster emailed Reince Priebus, or sorry, emailed as Reince Priebus -- then White House chief of staff -- to basically get the Mooch even angrier than he already was. And it really is just like using masculinity, like toxic masculinity, against toxically masculine men. That's what this whole email thing says to me.
At one point fake-Priebus was basically like "Why are you even? What are you doing?" And the real Scaramucci was like "You know what you did. A real man would apologize for what you did."
Aminatou: A real man would apologize. I really want to get to the bottom of what is the beef with those two? I hope it's something so trivial and petty and this is what has -- like now two people's careers are dead.
Ann: I mean I know we know what happens when government has exclusively this kind of toxic masculinity represented at the very top. But this is like wow, it's an extreme example of what can go wrong when the only thing motivating your actions is ego.
Aminatou: It's crazy. Also I love the guy that is the homeland security advisor also fell for these emails. It's like sir, what is your job even if you are falling for fake I'm a Nigerian prince emails? Like what?
Ann: Yeah, I'm a New York real estate prince, a.k.a. Jared Kushner. Do you want to come to a soiree at my house? And he was like yeah!
Aminatou: I know. These emails are so good. Good job, British prankster. Also these people are way too comfortable working off of personal email which to me like -- I don't know. I was like maybe one day we will be blessed enough, not that I condone hacking, but to see the emails of these people centering the campaign and it will really be . . . it will really be something.
Ann: Yeah. I mean well Jared's on Signal so you know that's where all the real good stuff is getting sent.
Aminatou: Oh my god. Oh my god. I can't even. These people.
Ann: Yeah. So, anyway, that happened. Barron, get on it. Get on the cyber.
Ann: So, okay, so people who are supposedly of a better party are also up to no good.
Aminatou: Oh my god, you're obviously talking about our -- not our friends at the DCCC, useless in every way.
Ann: So I think it's worth noting that the DCCC are people who dispense money from the Democratic Party to people running in House races. And we all know -- we've talked a lot about how important the midterm elections are in 2018, how we really need House majority again. Like these are people who are giving out serious cash to that end. What have they done?
Aminatou: These people have now claimed that there will be -- you can't see the big bunny ears I'm making -- no litmus test on abortion for candidates that they're fielding in 2018. This is infuriating for many, many, many, many reasons. It just purports that if you are pro-choice that you somehow have this ridiculous purity test that you are putting all candidates through. And two, honestly, it just illustrates the point that so many women made even during the past campaign that the first thing that goes out the window with the Democrats is always issues that relate to women. I get it, we have to win races in some of these red districts but it is complete bullshit that abortion is the thing that we . . . like you cannot call yourself progressive and not be pro-choice. It's just like it's not possible. It's not okay. I don't want to caucus with people who don't believe this. I don't want to give money towards people who don't believe this. And I shouldn't have to. It's just like it's complete garbage.
Ann: And I think, well, correct me if I'm wrong, I think you and I might disagree on this a little bit but it's my personal belief that I am not thrilled with but I am okay with candidates who are like "Listen, I personally wouldn't choose an abortion or don't think I would. I personally wouldn't advise someone I love to. But I believe this should be a safe, legal option."
Aminatou: Yeah. I mean that's like most of the men in the Democratic Party if we're completely honest.
Ann: Right. The Tim Kaines.
Aminatou: Here's my feeling about that -- yes, the Tim Kaine problem, right? My feeling about that is you're 100% entitled to your feelings but you're not entitled to your set of facts. It's like I definitely 100% roll my eyes at all of the Democratic Catholics and all of the people who are like "I don't want this" or whatever. But at the end of the day it is good public policy and it is good health policy to let women be in charge of their own bodies. And if you cannot stand by that then you need to get the fuck out of the way.
Ann: And for me too this is about what is your end game, right? Because when it comes to other health issues the Democrats are totally fine with highlighting what is your endgame? When we talk about the Affordable Care Act and Republicans want to repeal it, they say what is your endgame? What are you going to do when all these people don't have insurance? But somehow when it comes to reproductive choice it's not -- no one is asking what is your endgame? Everyone is like oh, yeah, yeah. Cool, cool. The endgame is pretty fucking terrible for a large -- I mean I would say at least 50% of this country, probably more. But I read this on the same day this week that I read an interview published by friend of the podcast Jorge Rivas who interviewed a woman who is from El Salvador which is a country where abortion is completely illegal. Presumably if you are an anti-choice Democrat or Republican that is a future that you want for America. It's not out of the question if you're looking to ban abortion that maybe the future could look like El Salvador.
And this woman, Maria Theresa Rivera, who Jorge interviewed was arrested in 2011 in El Salvador after she was accused of having an abortion. In fact she had a miscarriage and the courts did not believe her that it was a spontaneous miscarriage. They thought she had gone out to get an abortion. They sentenced her to 40 years in prison on charges of aggravated homicide. And she served four-and-a-half years before attorneys were able to free her, and then after she got out, after those four-and-a-half years, she fled the country because a prosecutor was appealing her decision which essentially has made her the world's first abortion refugee.
Aminatou: Part of the reason that we freak out so much whenever they field these candidates who have bad voting records on abortion is because we know that the party keeps moving away from their commitments to policies that treat women as economically, socially, politically, and professionally equal in the law. And so that's why it bothers me a lot. Like who is making calls and sending postcards and being the energetic activist that we need right now to make sure the DCCC even has enough money or a leg to stand on? It's women.
Ann: Yes! Yes! Sorry, I'm screaming at you.
Aminatou: And it's so infuriating to me that the people in the party who do the most work are always the ones who have the most to lose.
Ann: Ugh. I mean, yeah, honestly, this is not . . . I think that also there are people who are chill with this approach who maybe identify or claim to be pro-choice who are like oh, no, even though I'm pro-choice I'm fine with backing candidates who aren't who like to tell themselves that once we have a Democratic majority we can mostly protect choice. Like these people are in our party. It'll do more good than harm if we have this as our coalition.
And history has shown that is not true. History has shown when you have a Democratic coalition with people who are anti-choice they vote with Republicans when it comes to legislation that would restrict reproductive rights. It's just like that's what happens. There is no historical basis on which to argue for this stupid litmus test policy.
Aminatou: We're going to keep an eye on it. We'll probably be griping about it very soon again.
Ann: I'm honestly -- I'm sweating, I'm so angry.
Aminatou: Oh, god.
[Music and ads]
Aminatou: Do you want to take a question or some mail? I've gotten a lot of mail from very, very, very vocal former Girl Scouts.
Ann: Tell me about it. Did we misrepresent the Girl Scouts?
Aminatou: Apparently, Ann, the Girl Scouts were lesbian separatists. We did not realize this.
Ann: I mean, let me tell you, if only the Girl Scouts of my youth had been lesbian separatists. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Here's my thing. Listen, I totally get the mail that we're getting. Like sure we're both not enthusiastic about Girl Scouts for a lot of reasons. But I really chafe at the fact that people taking things so personally that they're involved in. Girl Scouts is good for a lot of things like cookies for sure and, yeah, lesbian separatism. But also I think it's totally okay to examine the fact that you're part of a group -- like a group think experiment for children. It's fine to be concerned about that.
Ann: Yeah. And a few people have also written in about alternatives to Girl Scouts that are deliberately a little less group thinky, a little bit less serve God and my country.
Aminatou: Yeah, like the one group that I love giving money to is the Radical Monarchs.
Ann: Oh yeah, the Radical Monarchs.
Aminatou: Out in Oakland. I like 100% support the mission of the Radical Monarchs. There's like no cookies involved but lots of wokeness and great kids.
Ann: Oh my god, LOL, I just Googled alternatives to Girl Scouts and it's all right-wing organizations that are like here are more fascistic alternatives to the Girl Scouts, not like here are Radical Monarchs. LOL.
Aminatou: That's really funny. That's really, really funny. So I guess the Girl Scouts are lesbian separatists?
Ann: Ugh, yes. I want them to lean into that so hard.
Aminatou: It's true. Do you want to read this piece of mail that we got from someone?
Ann: Sure. Okay. A listener writes "I love you both and this podcast so much but please don't lump the Girl Scouts in with the Boy Scouts. While they started out of the same movement they're separate organizations. The Girl Scouts have welcomed LGBT people for many years. An out lesbian couple ran my summer camp back in the '90s and they've turned away donations that require them to discriminate against trans people. On top of that the Girl Scouts taught me my most valuable lesson in safe sex. During summer camp we were taught about how big of a responsibility children were. We were given enough in fake money that would represent what you were given on public assistance. Then we had a list of things to go buy for our fake baby. After finding out just how damn expensive babies are our entire Girl Scout camp was kicked out of Wal-Mart." [Laughs] Okay.
Aminatou: That's hilarious.
Ann: "The Catholic Church has been at odds with the Girl Scouts for years because of their stance on safe sex and access to abortion care, condoms, and other methods of birth control. The Girl Scouts pledge has long been open to allowing any girl who does not worship the Christian God to replace that term with whatever word she chooses." Stevie Nicks, Oprah, whatever. [Laughs] "Most importantly, instead of mostly camping, learning tricks to do with fire, learning how to do other things in the woods that would serve me no purpose in life the Girl Scouts instilled a huge sense of leadership in me. I have to be honest, without the Girl Scouts I would not be the person I am today with the liberal, progressive views that I have today."
Aminatou: That's fair. But also if you look into the Girl Scout cookies business model it's very, very shady so I think that we can hold both of those truths in our hearts.
Ann: Sure, of course. And, man, maybe this is a good time for me to plug the Melissa McCarthy movie The Boss which is like a pseudo Girl Scouts movie that is one of my favorite stoner relaxation watches. When you say Girl Scout cookies it's like the only thing I can think of. I'm like if only they truly taught business acumen. Shout out to . . .
Aminatou: Yeah, it's like teach those little girls how to spend their money.
Ann: I know. Well, speaking of money, do you want to take a listener question?
Aminatou: Yes. Let's do a listener question.
Ann: Okay. "I started listening to the podcast last year after I graduated from The New School with a B.A. in anthropology. I was severely depressed but thankfully getting treatment and this podcast was a kind, funny, woke, and grown-up voice in my ear that helped me believe everything was going to be okay. I basically sat on my couch eating peanut butter and refused to budge from New York City because I thought that going home was giving up. I now know that that was a huge mistake. Depression leads to some serious financial instability made even worse in a really expensive city. Now that I am doing better and have exciting plans for my summer I'm facing the debt of late rent from two months where I just shut down and didn't face any of my responsibilities. Luckily my landlord is actually really nice and I have some time. I'm working my ass off to pay it before my fun summer plans start. I don't mind working to fix my mistake but the worst feeling is the self-esteem blow of debt, especially because it was called by mental illness. I'm having a hard time navigating and accepting what I got myself into or the guilt of sabotaging myself. Maybe I'm just sending this email because it's a relief to tell women I look up to, but even the queen Anna Sale on Death, Sex & Money doesn't talk about her own money struggles because she says it's too hard and too scary. So I understand if you don't have any answers for me, but here are my questions. Will it always be like this with my self-esteem and debt, guilt, fear, and denial? Do you have any tips for maintaining self-esteem and self-care while facing debt?"
Aminatou: Oof, that's a lot.
Ann: First of all I'm glad that you are feeling better and that you are through that period and it sounds like getting some good help and getting things in a place where you're healthier and happier.
Aminatou: I know, that's kind of the most important thing and also the only thing that really matters. You know, the other thing too that I would say is I 100% understand where that guilt and that shame is coming from but it's not your fault. It's not your fault. If in the depths of depression you were conscious enough to say "Oh, I should probably move back in with my mom and dad," you're probably not as depressed as you thought you were. That's the problem with depression is it clouds everything and you're not thinking in the same mind that you're thinking now so of course hindsight is 20/20, like a thousand percent.
But the truth is that, you know, it's almost impossible to have that kind of insight or even if you have that insight to be able to execute on it for where you are. I'm so happy that this person's landlord is understanding and all of that stuff. I think that the only thing that you owe yourself is to see how 1) you can pay your debt back and 2) knowing that mental health is an issue for you how you can setup a system so that next time this happens -- because it's quite possible that it will happen again -- that you have both a financial cushion and that you have people around you who can help make those decisions for you.
Ann: Yeah. I mean when I hear this story too I think would you be feeling this way if it wasn't mental illness that took you out for two months but if you had like pneumonia for two months? If it was a physical illness. And I think one thing that you can know is that the word illness is there for a reason. It's not like it's not real because it was depression. Like it's a very real and valid reason to struggle, and the fact that you have an opportunity with this amazing landlord to get back on your feet, it sounds like you're in a good place. And you're totally right about the planning for the future but also like I don't mean the answer to be just accentuate the positives but still I'm very excited about -- it's happy to get this email when it sounds like you're kind of through the worst of it.
Aminatou: Yeah. And also like, you know, it's like yes talk to us about it but for real talk to your friends about it. I say this very candidly as the half of this podcast that is either frequently too anxious and too depressed to do work or actually has another kind of physical illness that takes me out. And Ann, if you and Gina didn't step in when you stepped in this whole thing would collapse. And that's happened more times than I care for it to happen in the last year. And the only thing I can say is it sucks but be vulnerable and tell the people around you what you are going through. And even like -- and it's hard because it's kind of an invasion of your privacy, but the only thing that you can do is in the times that you feel better to mitigate the consequences for when it happens next time.
Ann: Yeah. And the people who love you, whether or not those people personally struggle with mental illness or depression, those people love you and want to find a way to be there for you. And so, you know, I think one thing that has been so helpful for me is like A) recognizing the extreme advantage I live with and not dealing with as much as most of my friends do or many of my friends do when it comes to mental health, but also having an open communication so it feels very good to me to know okay, well this is what's happening right now. It's not that my friend is ghosting me; it's that she is going through a health crisis and what can I do to support her in the short term and in the long term? And I think that, like Amina says, it's not the . . . you know, it feels -- it is in some ways an invasion of privacy, but I guess for people who already love you and are invested in you it's really nice to have an open communication about these things because you probably know your own patterns a little bit and the more you can be open with people who love you to say "Okay, this is what the pattern is. When you see this is happening, this is what I think would be good for me," and when you can have that conversation at a moment when you're in a good place, I think that is the best.
And it's funny -- I mean it's not funny. Couching this in terms of debt, in some ways it's . . . I feel like we've talked about this before. Adulthood feels like there's always something, right? Like if there's not debt there is a family thing.
Aminatou: My god, there's always another shoe. Like are you kidding me?
Ann: Exactly. And so being able to wake up every day and say "Okay, yes I have debt, or yes I'm having a low-key family crisis, or yes I'm having an illness right now," but being able to say like "Okay, but this is what I need to do and this is what my community understands about that," I mean I think that being honest with the people who love you about stuff like debt can be really powerful as well. And just sort of saying like hey, help me stick to this plan I've set for myself.
Aminatou: Yeah. We should do a whole thing about debt because it's so interesting how you kind of never talk about it, you know? And so you . . . like for me I didn't have access to loans when I was in college so I mercifully graduated college with no student loan debt and I didn't realize how weird that was.
Aminatou: How like completely weird that was like later on to find out how many of my friends are still in college debt and how much that weighs on them and how much of a thing that is was something that was so eye-opening for me in not realizing it was going on. And to be clear then I got saddled with medical debt and family debt and all sorts of crazy things but it was one of those things where it was like oh, I really wish I would've had this conversation when I was 20 because I would have different expectations and better coping mechanisms for how debt is a part of so many of our lives and it's a thing we don't talk about.
Ann: I know. And I also -- I know we've recommended it a few times, but that book The Index Card has some great chapters about making a plan to deal with debt, whether it's student loan debt or other types of debt, in a matter-of-fact way rather than a shamed or loaded way. And then it also has some pretty clear instructions about your order of operations. You know, like debt versus saving and how do you kind of balance some of that? And so part of it when it comes to not the feelings around it but the practical stuff, it's like there are some good expert resources too, you know?
Aminatou: Totally. And it can take a long time to get out of debt. It can take a long time to save. You know how everybody says save up three months of living expenses and rent or whatever so that you're okay? That took me like four years to do the first time I tried to do that. No joke. Just having enough money that I was like this is going to be three months of if I get hit by a bus tomorrow.
Aminatou: I have that in savings. And I was so struck by like how long that took, but also how much shame I had around the fact that I couldn't save. And the truth is you can't save if there's nothing to save, and also being poor is expensive in ways that we refuse to acknowledge or talk about.
Aminatou: There are so many cultural mixed messages about how saving should be easy like the whole -- you know, I love Oprah like a mother, but she is very responsible for this whole stop buying a latte then you could save to buy a house or whatever. It's like even if you drank three lattes a day and you saved that money for 365 days that's not enough money to retire on. Like that's crazy.
Ann: I know. And what you say about the long term is so important. I think last year, the beginning of maybe my fourth year as a freelancer, is when I financially recovered from getting fired. It's like it takes a long, long time.
Ann: If you had told me on day one it's like okay, good luck, you'll find some financial footing in four years, I would've wanted to cry, right? But it is true that all of this is a long game.
Aminatou: Yeah. It's a really long game and I think that the only way that you learn how to cope with it is by being open about your own struggles with money and talking to other people in your industry and especially your friends about it because a lot of times they will have good coping skills for you. It wasn't until I told someone about the medical debt that I had that they were like hi, here are all these ways to tackle different debt that you have. They were like here's this thing called the snowball method and blah, blah, blah. Then I became a fanatical personal finance like insane person. [Laughs]
But, you know, it's a place where you do have to make yourself very vulnerable but the truth is the minute you open up to your -- you open up to it and you open up to getting advice and to being vulnerable about where you're at, there are a ton of resources there and people are really generous and also if anything you will find out that you're not the only person in this situation. And also the fact that we live in a fucking society where you can be sick, whatever kind of sickness that you have, and not be able to make your rent and that's a huge fear to have says more about who we are as a society than it says about your own personal responsibility.
Ann: Right. And so trying to find a balance between knowing that the system has set normal human beings up to fail, like let's be real, the system is not supportive, while at the same time acknowledging that things get better if you talk about them. And that is a way of taking action. I really do believe that, like having some of those honest conversations with the people who love you about both health stuff and money stuff is such a good start.
Aminatou: Yeah. So give a key to your house to somebody that loves you. Start saving up no matter how small it is for your eventual if I get hit by a bus three months money fund. And ask for help and people will be there to help you.
Ann: And there's no shame in eating peanut butter on your couch.
Aminatou: I know. I'm about to eat peanut butter on my couch, but I could also be a little depressed. Now I'm always going to wonder. [Laughs]
Ann: But that is some protein-rich food. I'm like there are worse things you could be eating.
Aminatou: I know. I know. Depression is real, y'all. Depression is real.
Aminatou: Mental health is super, super, super important, and the first step honestly is just talking about it.
Aminatou: Good luck, listener.
Ann: Good luck.
Aminatou: Do you want to take another question?
Ann: Hit me.
Aminatou: Oh my god. This one, very near and dear to my heart. "I'm in a few women-only group chats on WhatsApp with some of my girlfriends. I have noticed in one in particular, which is mainly used to arrange workout sessions which are super fun, let me tell you exercising IRL with your best GFs is great, can sometimes descend into that particularly female trait of competitive self-shaming mainly over food. For example, 'Oh my gosh, I ate so much chocolate last night. Never going to be ready for bikini season.' 'I know, I just had two McDonalds meals in my hungover state. Back on the diet tomorrow.' Etc., etc., etc. I find this really negative as I have a long history of eating issues so these sorts of messages can be pretty triggering. But I know it's a common part of girl talk and I don't want to stop them from sharing these probably silly, just meant for a joke comments with each other. I guess my bigger question is how would you go about dealing with the self-shaming part of this issue as I think that this is a bigger problem which has wider ramifications?" Oof. So first of all I don't think it's normal to think that this is a common part of girl talk.
Aminatou: This is not normal. It's not normal on so many levels. And I have dealt with this on many, many, many, many -- like in many ways, some bad and some less bad. Generally for me as a fat woman if somebody who is not fat complains about being fat I always will gaslight them about it.
Ann: Well, and not to mention the fact that I don't personally have a history with disordered eating or eating issues or food trauma, let's be real, but I feel like as I've gotten older and as I have learned -- shockingly slowly -- how many women I am close to have struggled with these things and never talked about them even though I've known them for years, now my default assumption is that if I am in a group of people, a group of women especially, someone in that group has a history with this and therefore don't fucking say that stuff. You know what I mean? Even if you are . . . like I feel like that's a convo for you and your therapist or someone else who helps you work on stuff on you. But yeah, you're totally right, the idea that this should be or is a normalized part of group dynamics with women is so dangerous.
Aminatou: It's really dangerous. I think that one thing that you can do -- because I think you're absolutely right, there's so much disordered eating in our own friendships and community and not having an outlet to talk about it is really unfortunate. And I don't think that your therapist should be the only person that you talk to about it, but I think that you should be able to have constructive conversations about it. So something like "I'm never going to be ready for bikini season" is very different from "I'm really struggling with how I am eating right now." And I think, you know, it's like I want to make space in my conversations to be able to have those real conversations because it's true. It's like so many people struggle with disordered eating and secret eating and all sorts of -- like I think especially for women we're so conditioned to not talk about it because you're supposed to be perfect which is why the fact that when it comes out sideways like this, it's so annoying. But I think that your default assumption of this is something that somebody close to me is struggling with so I should be careful about how I talk about it is 100% true.
I wish we had better models on how to talk about food addiction and body image issues in ways that were more constructive as opposed to always going to that self-deprecating place where it's like really if you want to play this game there's always going to be somebody who's worse off than you and also it's really insulting that you do that.
Ann: Yeah. And I think the line can be kind of tough, right, between not so much among this particular friend group where it sounds like it's more lightweight or silly or people are saying this stuff without really thinking about it too hard, but I think even among friends where let's say most people identify as feminists and most people identify as wanting to be kind of body-pos the idea that it can be hard to talk about struggling with these issues, struggling with food, or feeling shame about your body while not wanting to mimic that kind of mainstream "I ate so much chocolate last night" dialogue can also be really hard. You know, the idea of I want to share this with you. I'm really struggling, even though I know I don't want to replicate these narratives but I still feel these feelings. And I don't know. I mean I also, for this listener, I don't know how close you are with this friend group but I would say that a little bit of trust in sort of saying like okay, well maybe if I open up a little bit about my history or what these messages mean to me . . . you know, I can't imagine that people who really love you would be so flip about continuing to send you. I really can't.
Aminatou: Yeah. And I guarantee you that a lot of people probably identify with her, right? I think it's almost because you don't know how to talk about it in a healthy way this is the only way that you can hint at it. You don't even have to share some of your history. Just to say like "Hi, I find this a little disappointing that we talk like this. Is there a better way to do this? Or does anybody else feel the same way that I do?" I think that putting the ball back in everybody's court is really important because group accountability is really big.
And especially for women who work out together, you have common goals. You have common pursuits and passions or whatever. And I think the idea of talking about exercising as a way to be strong as opposed to as a way to be skinny is something that a lot of people really actually identify with. And, yeah, you're right, taking the first step to just be like "Hi. I find this problematic. It's not personal." What do you think?
Ann: I love that, and I was going to say something about that too. Like one thing I feel like some of my close friends, you among them, really model for me is when we talk about our bodies talk about things we are doing that are really giving us pleasure in our bodies. You know, being like I just bought myself the best silk robe or I'm taking a really long bath tonight or I slept in or, you know, I just masturbated for a full hour and I feel awesome. Like whatever, you know, the thing is, these kind of lightweight anecdotes about what is life like in your body, being able to share some that model positivity instead of just like I did something that I now feel bad about. I think there is something that can be also positive about a group dynamic in like reinforcing -- you know, when I get those texts from my friends I'm like oh, I should do something nice for my body too. You know, the reverse can be true.
Aminatou: Yeah. Body-shaming stuff, it's really, really tough because you're right. Like the line . . . it's like how you feel is 100% valid. That's the thing that I don't want anybody walking away from this conversation thinking. There are reasons that you feel bad about the fact that you ate too much chocolate and nobody should invalidate that about you. But also there are ways to have healthier conversations around that and not contaminate everybody else in your group by the way that you talk.
Ann: Totally. So, yeah, good luck resetting with your group if you feel like you're up to it.
Aminatou: Oh my god, all of this has just made me really hungry so I'm going to go . . . I'm going to go have this half of an upside down pineapple cake I've been saving all day.
Aminatou: It's like that's what I'm doing for my body today.
Ann: Ugh, I love to hear that. I'm going to go get a big sammy. It's lunch time over here. I'm like yes, all of that. I'm actually currently wearing a silk robe too. I just need to point that out. [Laughs] That was not an abstract example.
Aminatou: Ann, I got the best caftan but it's all white and cotton and I'm just like what do you wear under this? Also when I got it I thought that it would not be white-white so that I could wear it to this wedding I'm going to and now I definitely cannot wear it to a wedding.
Ann: Unless you get a really . . . I don't know, I'm a firm believer in the slip and being like if it's kind of cool, the fact that you can see through it, like see through to the slip a little bit, is I think 100% on-point with a light caftan.
Aminatou: Oh my god, you've taught me so much about solid underwear. A slip, duh.
Ann: Foundation garments. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Foundation garments, which I really suffer. Yeah, that's like my downfall. My foundation garments are garbage. Also, I just never know . . . maybe -- I'm going to Google this, but if you're a black woman who listens to this podcast, what kind of underwear are you supposed to wear under white clothes? Like this has been . . . I'm 32 and this has been a mystery my whole life.
Ann: Well, let's be real, you have been underserved by companies calling shit nude that's not nude for you so it's like this is systemic.
Aminatou: I know, but I'm like is the answer the nudes? Like the brown nudes? Or is the answer something else? Like I still don't get it. I'm just like is this -- are white clothes on black skin always a trap? I don't know.
Ann: I mean I think white clothes on black skin look incredible but I hear you on the foundation garment.
Aminatou: Okay. Like somebody please fix my life. Like let me know what I'm supposed to.
Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or on Apple Podcasts where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Facebook -- look that up yourself -- or on Instagram at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn. All other music you heard today was composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs and this podcast is produced by the beautiful Gina Delvac.
Ann: See you on the Internet in your foundation garments, boo.
Aminatou: You are the best. Thanks boo-boo.