May 2, 2016

#13 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot'

by Sampler


Background show artwork for Sampler

Brittany evangelizes her best friend to listen to podcasts, and then talks biological clocks & accidental pregnancies with podcast producer Joanna Solotaroff.

**Warning, this episode contains adult language.**

Episode #13 features clips from the following episodes (please click below for hyperlink to episodes):

StarTalk Radio - George Takei and the Legacy of Start Trek

Flash Forward, Episode 2, Love at First Bot 

On Being, with Nikki Giovanni - Soul Food, Sex, and Space

The Longest Shortest Time

The Facts:

This episode was produced by Rose Reid, Sarah Abdurrahman and Brittany Luse, with help from Kate Parkinson-Morgan.

It was edited by Annie-Rose Strasser and Alex Blumberg

Our theme music was made by Micah Vellian and our ad music was made by Mark Phillips.

The show was mixed by Matthew Boll.

Where to Listen


BRITTANY: Hi I'm Brittany Luse and welcome to Sampler, the show where we play you hand-picked moments from podcasts that you just have to hear. So today on the show I am going to attempt to do something that at least to me felt impossible. My best friend, someone who lives with me actually doesn’t like podcasts and won't listen to mine. So this week i bring her into the studio to try to convince her that podcasts are totally worth her time. And in the second half of the show, i speak to the producer of a podcast who bared her soul on mic. In a way that stopped me in my tracks. I had some follow up questions, so I decided to bring her in. And just a heads up, some of the themes in this episode will be adult in nature, so, you know, use some discretion when deciding who can hear this. So, dear listeners, by downloading this episode, you are already more supportive of my podcasting career than my own roommate and best friend, Imon. Out of the hours and hours of podcasting I’ve made, she’s heard probably a combined total of eight minutes. In fact, Imon doesn’t really like podcasts at all. I mean, how shameful? Me, a host of multiple podcasts, shacking up with an avid avoider of podcasts?? No, no, something has to be done. I am determined to convert Imon to the church of podcastology. So one night at home, I sat Imon down, poured us some wine, and tried to figure out the root of her podcast apathy and how I could bring her over to my side.

BRITTANY: So how would you describe our relationship?

IMON: Ohhh... [laughs] that. You know, you are like one of my best friends. I mean some days you like, are my best friend, and other days you aren't.

BRITTANY: Thank you. [laughing] Thank you.

IMON: I mean that in the best possible way.

BRITTANY: That's the kindest thing you've ever said to me.

BRITTANY: Okay. Do you listen to a lot of podcasts?


BRITTANY: So are you... aware, that I host podcasts?

IMON: Yeah no, I tell everybody all the time. I'm like, my best friend, she is like the Oprah of podcasting, and... I'm deadass—oh can I cuss?

BRITTANY: Yeah can curse yeah.

IMON: Okay.

BRITTANY: So you've admitted that you don't' listen to either one of my podcasts, really.

IMON: I mean, like you live with me and you know that I don't. But not everybody else needs to know that, and they don't actually even question it. They're just like, okay.

BRITTANY: That's good. No I appreciate you, you are probably my most... uninformed hype man, so I appreciate that.

IMON: Always. Always.

BRITTANY: So if you could, tell me what you know about Sampler.

IMON: It's a podcast about podcasts.

BRITTANY: That's very good! I'm actually very impressed.

IMON: No I like, I have like my spiel down. I was like you know, Start-Up? Alex Blum... Blumberg... blum?

BRITTANY: You met him.

IMON: Oh I did!



IMON: Alex.


IMON: Nazanin's husband.


IMON: Okay.

BRITTANY: So the next question I think you'll be happy to answer. What are you interested in?

IMON: capitalism. Food.


IMON: Things in popular urban culture.


IMON: Um, let's see. Mental health...


IMON: Topics. Conspiracy theories.

BRITTANY: Oh conspiracy theories! That's a good one.

IMON: Yeah.

BRITTANY: Anything else?

IMON: Korean beauty hacks.

BRITTANY: So what do you do for fun?

IMON: Just scheming, writing lists -

BRITTANY: Scheming, are you plotting on somebody?

IMON: Every, everybody. To want like, world domination. Taking care of myself, self care.

BRITTANY: So... what element would a podcast have to have in order to make you a regular listener?

IMON: I would like be exposed to like a new idea, point of view, um, sometimes it could be funny, but you know, I think that I'm the most funniest person, so that's going to be hard to make me laugh,

BRITTANY: Okay so, Describe to me your perfect podcast.

IMON: Oh my gosh okay, so it would be like, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Spock, in space.

BRITTANY: Wait Spock or Leonard Nimoy?

IMON: Spock. The character.

BRITTANY: Okay. Maya Angelou, back from the dead. Toni Morrison, still alive. Neil deGrasse Tyson, also alive.

IMON: Yeah.


IMON: Not a real person, the character.

BRITTANY: Fictional character.

IMON: Yeah.

BRITTANY: From the future.

IMON: Yes.


IMON: In outer space, telling me things, just like giving me wisdom.

BRITTANY: That's your ideal podcast?

IMON: Yeah. But maybe you can, you know, pare it down?

BRITTANY: Ooof, Imon was going to be more of a challenge than I even expected. I assembled Team Sampler, and we scrambled to find something that could satisfy my world domination-loving, podcast-hating friend. Nervous, I brought Imon over to the Gimlet studios to see if I could finally bring her in to the podcast light.

Brittany Luse: So before we get started, just like if you had to guess, how confident are you that we were able to follow through on this mission?

Imon: I mean like you know me pretty well. And um yeah like, I actually trust you.

BRITTANY: Are you ready then, for the first clip?

IMON: Yes.

BRITTANY: Alright so, our first clip comes from a podcast called Flash Forward. It's hosted by Rose Eveleth, and it explores the future, asking questions like how close are we to discovering time travel, or getting rid of all mosquitoes, which I think is an excellent idea. But rose takes a specific future scenario, and explores what it would look like.

So, you being a forward-thinking woman, I figured this was right up your alley. So, in this particular episode Rose and her guest, sociologist Shelly Ronen asks what our future would look like with a... special type of artificial intelligence? But first, you’ll hear a fictional ad for… sex robots.

IMON: [laughing] Sex robots.

——————CLIP ——————

[music plays]

Male Voice: Do you ever find that your desires are... unconventional? Do you want more than your partners can give? Something stronger, something bigger, something more intense? It can be hard to ask, but it's easy to program. Let the Leopold step in and make your desires a reality.

[music plays]

ROSE: Making a sex robot is really hard. Right now the products out there are really just sex dolls, that might have a couple of pre programmed phrases in them or a little bit of eye tracking. There are some devices that you can connect to the internet, to feel like you're having sex with someone that's in another room, or another continent. But those aren't humanoid forms. Sex robots, full on walking talking sex having robots, those are a huge technical challenge. But there are some deeper harder ethical questions to grapple with too, which don't just apply to sex robots. They apply to robots more generally. How do we feel about owning and using a thing that looks and acts like a human?

SHELLY RONEN: It's unlikely I think, by the time that we get to the sex robot commodity, if we ever get there, um... it's unlikely that they will be just for sex. It's more likely that they will actually be a multipurpose device, that they'll take care of your children, that they'll take care of your elderly, that they'll cook you dinner, that they'll drive you around, that you'll have a self-driving car, so who knows maybe you'll be having sex with your car. But you know you, it's more likely that this will be a full service, uh, device.


BRITTANY: So what are your initial thoughts?

IMON: I mean I thought this was pretty cool, you know it had enough of like a shock value for me to like pay attention.

BRITTANY: Shock value?

IMON: I was like, OH SEX, but then you know, then I started to go down this, you know, rabbit hole of artificial intelligence, and you know, will all the robots kill us in the end?


IMON: You know, is artificial intelligence the next step in like

BRITTANY: like the obliteration of the human race?

IMON: Yeah you know, so that brings back one of my interests, world domination.

BRITTANY: How does world domination connect with sex robots for you?

IMON: Look, it makes me kind of you know, think about the question, if if there's something that we like create, that's like a robot, and they start to have you know their own thoughts, their own feelings, are they going to try to overthrow us?

BRITTANY: So when you say world domination, I always assumed that you meant you dominating the world. You mean like...?

IMON: The end of days.

BRITTANY: The end of days.

IMON: Yeah.

BRITTANY: You think that bringing about sex robots could call the end of days?

IMON: Yeah. like they like pretty much brought up in like the clip. I mean there's, there's so much more that like a sex robot is going to have to possibly do.

BRITTANY: How do you feel about the clip. You feel like, thumbs up? Thumbs down?

IMON: Yeah, yeah, yeah I mean like, I think, I think it's cute, it's cute, you know I could see myself, you know cleaning my house, folding some clothes to it. Yeah.

BRITTANY: I feel good. I feel like we're moving in a positive direction. And we're going to move onto the second clip. So something else that you also expressed interest in when we spoke to you— you love outer space.

IMON: I do...

BRITTANY: You also mentioned that you love Neil deGrasse Tyson.

IMON: who doesn't love Neil deGrasse Tyson?

BRITTANY: I can't think of a person.

IMON: Yeah.

BRITTANY: So you described your perfect podcast as him, Spock, Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou in space... talking about things that would give you life lessons

IMON: Yeah.

BRITTANY: We could not do that. But Neil Degrasse Tyson does have a podcast. It's called Star Talk Radio. He talks to scientists and sometimes comedians and other smart people about space or science in space, sometimes about comedy, all sorts of things. So in the clip we're about to play for you now, Neil is interviewing George Takei.

IMON: Oh my god.

BRITTANY: We couldn't get you Spock. I'm so sorry. But he's interviewing George Takei who is from the original cast of Star Trek — the television show— interviewing him about the legacy of Star Trek... but then they get into something else that I personally found really interesting. And I think that you might like!

IMON: Hit me with your best shot. That was so corny! I just wanted to say that!

So this episode in part tackles the idea of traveling through space and time. And in this clip, George Takei is asking Neil DeGrasse Tyson about the plausibility of one the most common tropes in science fiction:

——————CLIP ——————

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Wormholes, you know, we're not going anywhere without them...

GEORGE TAKEI: Well we we, we haven't been there yet.

NEIL: Well, well forget that we don't know how to make one yet. We know how on paper we can do it, but not a physical—

GEORGE: And on movies too.

NEIL: And movies.

GEORGE: Interstellar.

NEIL: We're really good with movies.

GEORGE: Matthew McConaughey.

NEIL: Exactly.

GEORGE: And it was a stunning...

NEIL: It, so... forget that we don't know how to make one.... we don't have the command over space time matter and energy yet to make one.

GEORGE: And do you think we will eventually?

NEIL: I don't see why not.

GEORGE: As the communicator became so many other things?

NEIL: Yeah I don't see why not. Because what you want to do is to be able to control the fabric of space and time with matter… matter and energy curve the fabric of space and time, Einstein tells us, and we can experiment and we verify that that happens. So right now, how much energy do we command? Not that much. How much mass can we manipulate? Not that much. We're not there yet. But the day we can, the day we can summon the energy of a galaxy, the mass of all of the stars, in, in the supercluster, we can then tune it to bend space this way, that way, pry open... and use it almost as spacetime sculptors.

GEORGE: How many lifetimes though... before...we get to that point?

NEIL: You know I don't know if it's farther away than someone in 1900 say "oh we'll never get to the moon." And then 69 years later we're leaving boot prints. I don't... it's hard for me to assess how far away it is.


IMON: You know I just think that we just give ourselves too much credit.

BRITTANY: In what way?

IMON: Going to the moon, I think was possibly easy.

BRITTANY: Why do you think that was easy—because it's so close?

IMON: Yeah... I just think as human beings we have this level of self-importance that we can do anything and everything, and everything is for us, and it's not...

BRITTANY: So, how does that relate to wormholes for you?

IMON: I just think that we don't need to do it... that we need to you know, downsize.

BRITTANY: Downsize?

IMON: Yeah.

BRITTANY: Like, in some ways stunt our space ambitions?

IMON: Well like, I feel like, there's so many problems at home, but somebody can also you know just have a case for like, ‘Well that's why we need to explore the stars, because we've ruined this planet!’

BRITTANY: That actually is something that is explored in the next clip that we're getting to.

IMON: What?! There's more?

BRITTANY: Oh yeah, there's definitely more.

IMON: Okay...


IMON: Hit me with your best shot.

BRITTANY: You, you said that the last time.

IMON: But I think it sounded better this time.

BRITTANY: Uh the next clip comes from a podcast called "On Being," it's hosted by this woman Krista Tippett. I guess the simplest way to describe it is conversations with guests about spirituality. On Being is asking these big, open-ended questions to people who have spent decades just like, thinking about like, you know, what is love? So in this particular clip, Krista Tippett is interviewing Nikki Giovanni.

IMON: Okay.

BRITTANY: Who is a poet and professor as you know at Virginia Tech.

IMON: I've thought about getting a "Thug Life" tattoo so many times.

BRITTANY: Because of Nikki Giovanni?

IMON: Yes.

BRITTANY: So for those of you who don't know, Thug Life actually is a phrase that was popularized by the 90s rapper, the late Tupac Shakur, and he says "the hate you give little infants fucks everybody"; basically the way that society bears down on hating small young black and brown children, like creates people who feel really unloved, you know, you unleash a bunch of unloved people on society and it's just not good. So Nikki Giovanni was a huge fan of that particular phrase, she found that really poetic, and she was always a champion for Tupac,

and even got a “Thug Life” tattoo herself.

IMON: Yeah.

BRITTANY: Anyway, what you're about to hear is Nikki Giovanni talking to Krista Tippett kind of about the idea you left the last clip thinking about, which is: why do we need to continue to explore space? Why do we need to leave this planet, and go someplace else?

Nikki makes the argument that we should. And actually, as black people we are uniquely qualified to go to space.

——————CLIP ——————

NIKKI GIOVANNI: it goes back to Middle Passage. Because if you can survive that journey, from West Coast to Africa to the East Coast of the United States, and be sane when you get here, and and that's what we haven't' looked at. And so again, a part of my research that I'm trying to do now, and hopefully I'll live long enough to get more done than I've been doing... though I'm working on it, a part of my research is that we have not dealt with the fact that they were sane when they got here. I just wrote a poem, and I said, one of the lines in the poem said "Pluto will one day be, be a planet, and we're gonna send black kids up there to learn how to ski." [laughing] And I love it.

KRISTA: Would you say a little bit more about how you're thinking about slavery now in ways that you didn't think about it before?

NIKKI: when you say, as I look into slavery, well we know that there were victims in slavery, I don't have any problem with that. But we also know that something good came out slavery,because we in Black America became Americans. Because we, no matter what Marcus Garvey, you know the rest say, there is no back to.


NIKKI: This is it for us, because we have no place to go back. I'm, I'm what, a fifth generation American, something, again I'd have to do the math, but there's no place to go back... so it's not unusual for somebody like me to be in love with something like Mars. Because all my people have ever done is go forward. And we... we we go forward with a sanity and a love. And and I think that that's so important that planet Earth tap into that... quit playing these little stupid race games, and find out what it is that these people are bringing to all of us as we go forward.

[music plays]


IMON: out of all the ones you've played me, I'm like, oh my god! This is over. I need to find this. I mean she, she just sounds like me in like 20 years.

BRITTANY: What did you like about it so much?

IMON: You know I feel like it wasn't gimmicky. It was like, you know conversations with you know, people that I really really respect, and you know, and honest, and you know, yeah just like an honest conversation.

BRITTANY: what did you, what did you think about, what Nikki said about black people's' desire to go to space, or to be on Mars, or to like, even like, it makes me think of like the concept of Afrofuturism, sort of like, imagining a future, like imagining like a vibrant future for people of African descent, specifically, I guess, speaking like, about myself, or about us, specifically for black people from the United States.

IMON:I don't know. Like listening to that clip, it made me think of like a lot of thoughts, not so much about outer space, but just like what it means to be American. And you know, slavery, and how that, if nothing else, we are American, and we're as American as it gets, and you know, like me in like my life, like... you know. I remember like one day I was in like Howard University, an afrocentric class, and everyone was like "Well I'm this, and this makes me unique." And I was like "Well I'm American" and everybody was like "whoa whoa whoa." And as much as I try and fake it, um... I'm as American as it gets. when you played that clip, it made me kind of think more about who I am, identity-wise, and... you know, I don't think the answers are in outer space. Answers are right here. I think that we just need to, you know, fix, fix what's around us, and or just you know...

BRITTANY: What allow the sex robots to take over and kill us all?

IMON: Yeah..

BRITTANY: Actually I think that's a really beautiful reflection. And I guess I also listened to the longer episode, it's really good, I suggest that anybody listen to it.

IMON: Yeah, no, like I'm going to download this, and like beep boop beep beep podcasts!

BRITTANY: Precisely. For those of you who have been confused how you've been listening to this show every week, it's beep boop beep beep podcasts, if you just say that into the iPhone microphone, the whole thing just opens up. [laughs, then sighs]. How do you feel like about the... the wide breadth of clips that we played for you today?

IMON: I mean I feel like, you know, I have a really really good friend, Brittany, and that she knows me pretty well, and she definitely definitely delivered, and I think this is really really sweet that you did.

BRITTANY: I am relieved. I'm not going to lie. i was a little nervous that you have such discerning tastes, that we wouldn't be able to like, at least keep your attention.

IMON: Yeah.

BRITTANY: But I... I feel like we did!

IMON: Yeah, no, you definitely did.

BRITTANY: Well you're welcome back anytime, and um... happy listening Imon.

IMON: Oh thank you!


BRITTANY: So we obviously couldn't get to ALL of Imon’s wish list, so if anyone out there knows a good podcast about Korean beauty hacks or some great moments on capitalism or conspiracy theories, let us know! Send us a voice memo at We’re going to take a quick break, but first to recap what you’ve heard so far--my playlist for Imon featured clips from Flash Forward, Startalk Radio and On Being.

Up next, we are going to get into the story behind the story of one podcast producer’s on-air confession:

JOANNA SOLOTAROFF: And then I started working on this show, and it totally crushed my romantic vision of parenthood. And so I kinda backed off of the idea that I would ever want to be a parent.s

—————— AD BREAK ——————

This week’s episode of Sampler is brought to you by Audible. Audible has over 250,000 audio programs from the leading audiobook publishers.

So, Mother’s Day is coming up, which has me thinking a lot about my mom and my childhood…And it’s basically impossible to think about my mom and my childhood without also thinking about Oprah-approved life coach and television personality, Iyanla Vanzant. Yes… the One my mom’s favorite book was One Day My Soul Just Opened Up…

I think any black child from the 90s has a strong memory of their mother having a deep connection with Iyanla, from like, one of her 60,000 Oprah Winfrey Show appearances. Honestly when I was a kid, I don’t really know if I had a concept to understand her. But I guess now that I’m an adult, things are really starting to make sense.

So you could get your mom an Audible subscription and you know, make her relive her Iyanla days! Check out “One Day My Soul Just Opened Up” or any of the other 250,000 audio programs audible has to offer at Show your support for Sampler and get a free 30-day trial and a free audiobook at audible-dot-com-slash-SAMPLER.

This week’s episode of Sampler is brought to you by Squarespace...Squarespace is the easiest way to create a beautiful website, portfolio or online store. So in my old job as a marketing manager, I had to lead the creation of my company’s updated website— which, mind you, hadn’t been touched since 2005. To me, building a website from scratch was like someone telling me that I had to build a house but all they would give me is, like, the stove for the house. They’re just like: ok build a beautiful house! We gave you a stove! Squarespace is less like some random person giving you a stove and telling you to build a home, and much more like on House Hunters Renovations, when you select the house you want to live in and Squarespace is also additionally the contractor and the interior designer that will help you build the home of your dreams.

There are many reasons to make a Squarespace site. For your wedding, a big anniversary party, a baby shower or even your housewarming.

Squarespace has easy-to-use templates for that stuff too. All you have to do is add you. So if you haven’t yet, check out Squarespace. When you decide to sign up for Squarespace, make sure to use the offer code SAMPLER to get 10-percent off your first purchase, and to show your support for our show. Squarespace… build it beautiful.

——————END AD BREAK——————

BRITTANY: Welcome back to Sampler. I want to tell a story about a podcast called The Longest Shortest Time. This is a show all about parenting, hosted by Hillary Frank. It’s a show about parenting-- but it's not just for parents. I listen because it helps me understand all the different ways that people make a family. When i think about how you start a family, as somebody without children, there's so much to me that feels so mysterious about it. And I think that the longest shortest time does a really great job of taking you behind different sets of people's decision making. And also the show is just really real. Like you hear these moments of just pure joy from parents.

NARRATOR 1: I grabbed her nose, you know how you do with kids? 'I got your nose, I got your nose.' And then I told her, 'I'm going to keep your nose, I'm going to put it on my face and you can have my nose. And she was like no no you cant do that! And i was like why not? And she said because if i have your nose then i have to be big like you!

BRITTANY: And the Longest Shortest Time isn’t afraid to go there with the scary stuff either…

NARRATOR 2: He had an IV and he had stuff taped to his face and he had a heart monitor and I could only just sit there and cry and hold his little hand…

BRITTANY: But I want to talk about this ONE episode specifically. It was the story of one woman, who actually wasn’t even a parent at all:


JOANNA: When I started at this job, I was like, oh yeah, I wanna have kids. I think I would be a good mom someday. But it was like very, very romanticized.


BRITTANY: That’s Joanna Solotaroff, and she was a producer on the Longest Shortest Time. For this particular episode called “Should I have Kids?” Joanna asked her boss Hillary if they could go into the studio. She wanted to share her personal journey about wanting children. A struggle that the show played a big part in…

—————— CLIP ——————

JOANNA: And then I started working on this show, and it totally crushed my romantic vision of parenthood. and so I kinda backed off of the idea of ever being a parent - it kind of scared me!

HILLARY: Ugh! This is breaking my heart - I ruined it for you.

JOANNA: [laughing] You ruined it for me - closed for business.


BRITTANY: But that’s not even the reason why she wanted to go in the studio with Hillary. She actually had this whole OTHER realization after that. it brought her to a completely different point in this debate about whether or not to become a mom.


JOANNA: About a month ago I ran into an acquaintance on the subway. And we were talking, and she said she was enrolled in this program - it’s sort of a life envisioning thing.

HILLARY: So it’s like a support group?

JOANNA: It’s like a cohort - you’re with a group of people - and there’s someone who guides you through this curriculum of identifying what your goals are - in short term - next week, next month, next year. She was explaining the program to me and we were unpacking it for me. And then she said, I made a 10 year plan, and then I made a 20-year plan. And on the train, i thought to myself, whoa, I’ve never considered what my life would be like in 20 years... I’ve never given it a thought…and then the first thing i thought was having a relationship with a daughter…


JOANNA: And I was on the train and was like, ‘What!? what?’ I didn’t even know this was a desire of mine!

HILLARY: Your face is turning red.

JOANNA: I know! it freaked me out!


BRITTANY: So now Joanna wants to have kids! She told Hillary about being close to her own mother, and wanting to have a similar relationship with a daughter some day. Later in the episode, she even called her mom to discuss her newly realized desire with her. It was really sweet. After hearing the episode, I had a million questions for Joanna. What made her decide to put herself out there in such a personal way? Has she changed her mind since then? The show came out a year ago--could she--maybe--be in the family way? So I invited Joanna down to the Sampler studio to follow up on the aftermath of her big reveal to ask her some highly personal questions…

JOANNA: A friend of mine was like, cool you went on a podcast and talked about your plans to have kids with both your mom and your boss at the same. Interesting choice... not what I would've chosen to do. [laughing]

BRITTANY: Yeah! How did you decide… like why record that and share that realization with so many people?

JOANNA: You know, The Longest Shortest Time, that show is all about, sort of like, intimacy, and it felt like, it has a very supportive community around it, and I think it felt like a safe venue for me to talk about it. I think there's a lot of women who feel the same way I do… who are in as similar place as me, where you think of yourself as somebody who... would maybe like to have a family someday, but like, the things in play, but the way your life is arranged isn't necessarily pointing to that, and then you know, you've got like... the term biological clock is like the grossest thing ever. [laughing]

BRITTANY: I hate, say more about... I hate that term myself, say more about that..

JOANNA: It’s very present, and my friends are having conversations about how they want to freeze their eggs, or the challenges that come with dating, the challenges that come with being single, the challenges that come with like, you know, not being settled down when you're in your 30s, and also we were hearing from a lot of people who are listeners who are like, I don't have kids... but that doesn't mean that they don't have a relationship to the idea of parenthood or being a parent.

BRITTANY: This is going to make me sound like, like That's So Raven, [laughs], but when I was 25, I had this vision, where I was a mom, I had two children. I was getting them up in the morning, and taking them to school.and like I realized that my current lifestyle at 25 was not really like... it wasn't supporting what it is that I wanted. Now granted, at 25, what are you doing anyway? I knew I wanted to be a mom, I knew I wanted to get married, I just thought I had forever...

JOANNA: It feels so abstract.


JOANNA: But yeah i hope it doesn’t sound arrogant to say but I really love that interview, and I've gone back and listened to it a lot, because I don't know... I just... I think that people don't always have the freedom to talk about what their desires are, and for me to talk to my mom about what that might really look like, and to share that with her for the first time was just, very very cool. And also the story she told me about getting pregnant with me--I hadn’t heard the whole thing and I was like thats insane.


JOANNA’S MOM: Truth be told I did have unprotected sex during my span, and did not get pregnant…I was pretty casual with birth control, and then it was, whoops, and I totally knew that if we didn’t get married that I was going to - I just knew it - you were a very assertive fetus. What does that mean? I mean there was no question that I was going to have an abortion - there was no question that you weren’t going to happen. That’s what’s known as the assertive fetus, at least in my world. [laughing] I love that. That was a given, I did not question it… Steam coming out of his nose [laughter]


BRITTANY: I just assumed that you guys had had this kind of conversation before.

JOANNA: I knew that I was a surprise, but I didn't, I really didn't know that my mom basically thought that she was going to raise me like a single mom halfway into her pregnancy. I didn’t know that. My dad did propose halfway through the pregnancy but thats so scary! Like i put myself in those shoes like that must have been so intense.

BRITTANY: Do you think you couldn't have talked to your mother so openly about this if it weren't' for the premise of the show?

JOANNA: Normally I call my mom when I'm really distracted and doing the dishes, and we just talk about reality TV with each other. And so this created this great venue to just pull back and tell each other our stories. Especially since we don’t live near each other, usually we have those conversations face to face.

And so like to create the time and space and intention to really talk it through was amazing. Thats an experience that i'm never going to take for granted.

BRITTANY: So, you said that working, that prior to working on the show, you always assumed ht at you wanted kids, like something nebulous and in the future.... one of the things that I say in the "Should I Have Kids?" episode is that you heard some things that were really scary, and some things that made you be like OHHH... no not for me. Like... what specific stories did you work on that made you afraid to have children?

JOANNA: I feel like, not necessarily to have children, but like,like, it made me very... afraid of like, childbirth and afraid of the medical procedures. I mean part of my job was like, calling people up and asking about their childbirth injuries. Like people have kids all the time, and learning about the shit that people would go through is like, was like, this is not acceptable! Like, one woman it was the episode called “Pediatricians They’re Just Like Us”...


JOANNA: She was pediatrician, and she was like literally giving birth, she was like there's something that's not right, there's something that's not right.


PEDIATRICIAN: I kind of saw him reach for something. I couldn't see everything obviously. My husband said he saw him reach for scissors to cut an episiotomy. And the fact that he didn't say anything… I don’t know, I don’t know it did surprise me a little bit. But I knew right afterwards that it was something a bit more significant because as I’m holding the baby, I look down and right between my legs basically the obstetricians head, and he’s kind of bent over really looking, concentrated and serious and he’s sweating. And I’m like whats he doing down there. He looked up at my finally and said he had a little bit of a tear. And I said ok, is everything ok? And he said yep. And I said ok, do what you have to do. About three or four hours after that I started having more and more pain and I thought ‘This I didn’t expect. Doesn't it get better? And why is it getting worse?’ I kept telling me husband something is wrong, something is wrong. I don’t know if it’s because we know what it’s like to deal with difficult patients? Both of us were somewhat reluctant to be really pushy.


JOANNA: She felt disappointed that she wasn't able to advocate for herself more. and I heard so many like so many stories like that. Like having a child and not being offered the full spectrum of healthcare thats available to help women recover from childbirth injuries. A lot of women think they're never going to have a healthy sex life again, after they have babies, because they never get the medical attention that they need... and I feel very very lucky to have a lot of information that a lot of people don't have

BRITTANY: Yeah are there any moments you can think of in particular, that gave you like the greatest education to the difficulties of childbirth?

JOANNA: When Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, a pioneer of pelvic floor therapy in the united states said that you should take a picture of yourself before childbirth as a reference for after childbirth... I was like, this is good, this is good information [deep breathe]

BRITTANY: When you say take a picture of yourself, what do you mean specifically?


BRITTANY: I'm not being obtuse.

JOANNA: Like, of your parts?

BRITTANY: Oh... of the pieces...

JOANNA: yeah... yeah...

BRITTANY: And use it as a wow... that is SMART...

JOANNA; Yeah! What great information to have! Like I love that I know about that. It’s cool. My pregnant friends were calling me and asking me for advice, and I was like, that makes me feel pretty awesome, and I felt like I could give them useful information...but more than anything with the Longest Shortest Time I got to learn a lot about like, relationships. I got to talk to parents from all over the country, and people were so generous with sharing their stories. It just felt like an intimate space for me to share my story. A lot of people responded to that piece, they were like i really related to this episode bc ambivalence is something i've struggled with. They felt judged or they judged themselves for either not wanting to have kids or not being sure if they wanted to have kids or being pregnant and still not sure if they want to have kids.


JOANNA: You know? I mean the best response I got were people saying that listening to that episode made them feel less judged or less guilty about their own feelings of ambivalence. That felt really really good.

BRITTANY: And what was the hardest response?

JOANNA: The hardest response is that some people got the assumption that I was very naive and like I didn't really know how difficult it can actually be to have children, nor that I was not being sensitive to people who might be having a difficult time trying to conceive, and the fact that that's something that someone would take away from that, or that it would be, cause any sort of like offense or pain for somebody who is struggling with something like that was not something that I intended.


JOANNA: Also, I like went on a date with a guy who like knew about it,and he was like "Well I already know how you feel about having kids" and I was like... okay...

BRITTANY: How has, how has the response been, in your dating life? Like, I'm going to be honest, the older I get, the more that I want to be a little more choosey and a little more targeted about the people that I'm trying to date... I try to let it be known, not like right away, but I'm trying to get married to you and have your children... but just sort of let it be known through conversation, like these are things that I'm interested in... because I kind of want to know, if they freak out, it’s like great, peace...

JOANNA: Yeah totally, then you know, it's just like, this is probably not... a match...

BRITTANY: But I can just tell people this. Like, they're like, if a dude meets you, they just google you, you know what I mean? They just googled you and be like oh, ho ho ho... and they can listen to thirty minutes of your life, how has that affected your dating life?

JOANNA:... Oh, that’s so funny. I honestly, I haven't, I haven't been in the situation to really initiate that talk yet. I mean there's nothing I'm embarrassed about with that episode though. It's just where I'm at... I'd share it with anyone who wanted to hear it...

BRITTANY: So the show aired last year, obviously there’s been some time between then and now - how has the show airing changed your point of view? Do you still feel the same way now that you did then?

JOANNA: It hasn’t really changed how I feel about it at all.


JOANNA: There are a couple of times where I get sort of insecure about it or...sort of berating myself for verbalizing that wish or that dream. And then— I get over it. [Laughing] And like ultimately I’m really, I’m really happy with it and I feel good about it.


JOANNA: I was joking with a friend that like if I showed up here and I was pregnant that would just be perfect for the story arc.

BRITTANY: I would have... I would have gifted you the largest fruit basket if you'd shown up here pregnant. [laughing]

BRITTANY: Joanna Solotaroff--formerly a producer on the Longest Shortest Time, is now producing a new podcast called 2 Dope Queens. You should check it out. And The Longest Shortest Time continues to release new episodes--so you should check those out as well.

So at the top of today’s show, I played clips for Imon from Flash Forward, On Being and Star Talk Radio. And in the second half you heard clips from The Longest Shortest Time. Stay tuned after the credits for a taste of what we are Sampling next week.


This episode was produced by Rose Reid, Sarah Abdurrahman, and myself with help from Kate Parkinson-Morgan.

It was edited by Annie-Rose Strasser and Alex Blumberg

Our theme music was made by Micah Vellian and our ad music was made by Mark Phillips.

Additional music in the show was by Jeffrey Brodsky

And the Longest Shortest Time music is made by the Batteries Duo.

The show was mixed by Matthew Boll.

Sampler is a production of Gimlet Media.

—————— AD BREAK ——————

BRITTANY: Next week on Sampler, it’s sweet, it’s tart, it’s refreshing and it’s Beyonce… We’ll look at how some of your favorite podcasts are sipping on LEMONADE.

——————CLIP: JALEN & JACOBY——————

JACOBY: Jalen, you think they made this whole thing up?

JALEN: I’m not rolling.

JACOBY: You think they made this whole thing up?

JALEN: This is why. You ready for this? I think if it was this deep, at the end of that documentary, it would be her packing her stuff.