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The comedian on whether it's better to be right, or be together.
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One of many things comedian Hasan Minhaj and I talk about in our new episode this week is teenage acne. 

We both waged a war against it, in each of our cases with a very strong pharmaceutical that doesn't play around. We both not only survived, we thrived. (I mean, look at his skin in the picture below!)

Listening back to us talk about our teenage selves, I could access that excruciatingly uncomfortable feeling of what it was like to be a teenager with acne. Of desperately wanting both to feel seen while also wanting to shrink away so no one could look at you. Oh, junior high. 

That was also a period in my life when I fell in love with music. Over the last few weeks, when I've needed to take a pause from wall-to-wall impeachment chatter, I've been turning music on more often at home, and it's striking to me how many of the artists I gravitate to are ones I discovered when I was around 14. And then I noticed when I was on a recent road trip with my sisters, it was songs from the mid-1990s that got us really scream-singing along. 

So, all this is to say, thank god for art. And also, I need some help building new music playlists! So—send me your go-to song when you need an escape or a reset or a full-bodied sing-along with the chorus. The one requirement for this playlist is that the song has to have been recorded after 2010. We'll make this our own personal 'Best of the Decade...' playlist, while saving me from fully descending into middle-aged cliché!

Just reply to this email with your song choices and I'll share the playlist back with you next week, just in time for your Thanksgiving road trips. 

Anna and the Death, Sex & Money team
This Week on Death, Sex & Money

Hasan Minhaj started doing stand-up sets during college, drawn to comedy by its "radical honesty." But as he was experimenting with being radically honest on stage about everything from his family to his political beliefs, he says he was being less honest in his personal life. After moving to Los Angeles post-graduation, he says he started lying to his parents, and to his then-girlfriend, Beena, about a lot of things.

Even though he's worked to repair those relationships, Hasan says it can still be tricky to navigate honesty, both on stage and off. In our new episode, out today, we talk about when sharing his honest opinions on stage has come with serious personal ramifications. "I have a duty to my loved ones and to my family too," he told me. "And figuring out that has been the new challenge for me."

Your Responses: Debt Collection
As we expected we might, we heard from a lot of you after our recent episode with the former debt collector, Angela, who told us about the methods she used to try to get people to pay up...and why she’s dodging debt collectors now.
"I listened to this episode with an open mind: for at least three-fourths of the episode I thought Angela was articulate, forthright, and erudite on the very industry she was kicked out of. However, what irked me was when she said she doesn’t want to give excuses anymore for the debt she now faces, yet won’t take responsibility for engaging in the abusive debt collecting tactics she took part in. Angela, take accountability, admit you performed some unsavory measures to collect debt and own up to it. In my book, not taking responsibility for your actions felt disgraceful and frankly, puerile. My empathy was gone at that point." 
 
—Ellen, 37, Portland, OR
"I was a little let down that it seems like Anna went a bit too easy on Angela in the last episode. I would’ve liked to hear her push back on whether or not Angela can relate more to her prior marks now that she has debt that she just doesn’t want to pay.

I feel that Angela could use a lot of education on poverty and race in America, and how she as a privileged woman literally profited off of those in a lower socioeconomic class than her. Basically, I think she should be regretful. It sounds like she increased the suffering of a great number of people and got relatively wealthy from it. And as she said in the podcast episode, she will eventually be able to pay her bills off, so she will escape unscathed and prepared to take advantage of people again." 

 
—Laura, 29, Minnesota
"Regarding the debt collector, if we turn her arguments on her, why did she have children she knew she could not afford? That’s her argument as to why collections and predatory lending collections is okay. 'People know what they are getting into and it doesn’t matter the corner you are backed into, these are the consequences.' She needs to use her knowledge for good! She needs to start a business on the other side. Like when thieves go work for the FBI. She needs to go work for the indebted and show them how to work the system in their favor.
 
—Nadia, 43, Redding, CA

Listen to This: Audio We Love

In 1984, Kari Swenson was 23 and had recently won an Olympic bronze medal in biathlon when she went for a run in Big Sky, Montana. It was a normal part of her training routine—but that particular day ended in trauma. She was abducted by a father and son who held her hostage and eventually shot her and a would-be rescuer (him, fatally). A recent episode of the 30 For 30 podcast lets Keri tell the story in her own words, and covers both her eventual return to biathlon and how the media mythologized her kidnappers at the time.

Did you know that Congress has twice considered making square dancing our national dance? (And twice turned it down?) In "Birdie in the Cage," a recent episode of Radiolab, producer Tracie Hunte goes deep on the history of square dancing—from its origins in Appalachia to the modern-day conventions where people from around the country do-si-do to J.Lo and Leonard Cohen. And, Tracie explores the hidden roots beneath square dance's origin story—one that complicates the dance style's white-washed history.

Next on Death, Sex & Money

Last month, I joined writer Anne Lamott on stage in San Francisco at the Reimagine End of Life festival. Anne's written a lot over her 40-year career about death and grief, as well as about addiction, recovery, and parenthood. In our next episode, we talk about what it means to be sensitive, how to sit with someone who is dying, and why Anne recently decided to marry for the first time at age 65. 
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