I’m Doing My Best (Life Now)

with Samantha Irby

Though magazines and movie stars try to convince us otherwise, we aren’t all living our BEST LIFE NOW. When humor writer Samantha Irby lost both of her parents at 18, she developed the perfect coping mechanism: finding the absurd in everything. In this conversation, Kate and Samantha have a wide-ranging conversation about topics like grieving their Sweet Valley High life goals, and how losing your parents as a child is the worst form of losing agency, and how important it is to speak honestly about our bodies and love them still.




CW: chronic illness, death of parents, MS

Samantha Irby

Samantha Irby is a comedian, writer, and the mastermind behind the blog “Bitches Gotta Eat” and the author of a new collection of essays We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, as well as the collection Meaty, and Wow, No Thank You. She is known for her brazen wit and boldly honest feminist writing.

Discussion Questions

1. For many of us, “living our best life now” is an illusion—which is why we need humorists like Samantha Irby to help us see the absurdity in being human. How would you put your own, more humorous, spin on the “living my best life now” line?

2. Samantha was a sensitive, inside kid who liked to listen to singer songwriters and read the Sweet Valley High series. Then, both her parents died at 18—and none of the pressures and desires of being young went away with the grief. How do you grieve when life goes on?

3. Reflecting on her mom’s long struggle with multiple sclerosis, Samantha says what makes her the saddest was there was nothing she could do as a young person to fix it. Big chunks of time were lost to feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, and helpless. What has losing your sense of agency cost you?

4. Both Kate and Samantha share hilariously tragic medical dramas in which they don’t spare themselves. This is, indeed, one of Kate’s favorite things about Samantha: she doesn’t make herself the hero in her own stories. How do you think one develops bravery like this—and what gets in the way?

5. Do you ever feel like you’re too much for everyone else? Kate does and wonders if writing is one of way of being honest without the pain of watching other people’s faces fall. What or where or who do you turn to when you need to tell the truth about what life’s really like?

6. Samantha reads an essay in which she destroys the idea that perfection can be attained in three easy self-care steps. “All I want,” she says after, “is to free people enough to just talk about the real stuff they actually do.” So, real talk, what’s humbling and/or hilarious about your self-care routine?

7. Social media can be a great way to connect without leaving our beds, but it can also be one of our most curated spaces. So, how you do interrogate what’s real? How might you use it, like Samantha, “to keep reminding everyone that we’re all disgusting and ugly and that’s fine”?

8. Samantha wrote an episode for the t.v. show Shrill about a fat babe pool party where the main character gets to witness women enjoying their bodies and be transformed by it. Have you ever witnessed a similar scene of shame free, big group, body love? How did the love transform you?

9. Samantha attributes her ability to revel in life to a tough childhood and ongoing depression. What do you think it is about the struggle that can make savoring life more possible? What helps you to pay attention to the good stuff and take joy where you can find it?

10. “Life has not turned out like you thought it would, but you are not alone, it’s just your humanity showing.” Kate ends the podcast with these words and this invitation: let’s take ourselves off the hook for perfection. What’s one small way you can risk being imperfect today?

Bonus: After listening to this week’s podcast, what part of Kate & Samantha’s conversation resonated with you most? What insight will you carry with you?

Discussion Questions written by author, editor, and facilitator Erin S. Lane.

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Kate Bowler:            Hi, I’m Kate Bowler, and this is Everything Happens. Look, the world loves us when we are good, better, best, but this is a podcast for when you want to stop feeling guilty that you’re not living your best life. Now, we’re not always having an eat, pray, love experience. I used to have my own delusion of living my best life now. I’m a Duke professor, wine and cheese enthusiast, wife and mom, Instagram gold. Then I was diagnosed with stage four cancer, that was four years ago, and I’m still here and now I get it. Life is a chronic condition. The self-help and wellness industry will try to tell you that you can always fix your life, eat this and you won’t get sick. Lose this weight and you’ll never be lonely. Believe with your whole heart and God will provide. Keep this attitude and the money is yours. But I’m here to look into your gorgeous eyes and say, hey, there are some things you can fix and some things you can’t. And it’s OK that life isn’t always better. We can find beauty and meaning and truth, but there’s no cure to being human. So let’s be friends on that journey. Let’s be human together.

K.B.:            I study the people and pastors and self-help gurus who say, live your best life now, it is usually a shorthand for believing that anything is possible, if you just believe. But for many of us, that best life now is an illusion. Our lives have come apart. Families sit on edges of the political divide. We have diseases we can’t out believe, like infertility or cancer or chronic illness. People we love have died too soon. There is simply not enough in the bank account. And no amount of suspended belief will bring back what you have lost. Best life now, more like let’s be a realistic life now or I’m doing my best life now or worst life ever, please stop making me feel bad about it. When we see things as they really are, sometimes we can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of how we thought things should have ended up and how things really are. Today, I wanted to introduce you to someone who knows how to make any situation, no matter how horrific or mundane or humiliating, hilarious. Samantha Irby is a New York Times best selling essayist, screenwriter, extraordinary talent and genius of getting everybody to stop pretending they’re taking their multivitamins. No one is, that life is over. Her books, so that you may buy them and laugh out loud when you are entirely alone include: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Meaty, New Year Same Trash and Wow. No, Thank You. And I also get to include the language warning here in the biography section by telling you that if you have gentle ears around, then you might want to take this episode off of speakerphone because it will be as honest as it needs to be, OK? Also, Samantha runs the blog, Bitches Gotta Eat, which is unbelievably funny and does things like, you know, recap full episodes of the reality court show Judge Mathis, which brings the world to joy and more Judge Mathis. She lives in Michigan with her wife. And I have been looking forward to this conversation forever. Samantha, oh my goodness. Hello.

Samantha Irby:            First of all, your voice is very lovely. I would love for you to I mean, I listen to your podcast, but like, I would love for you to just, like, be in my ear all the time. Also, I need you and the audience to know that I have been saying to myself, like all morning, listen, we’re not going to curse, that much on Kate Bowler’s podcast (laughter). So we’re not going to say any of the four and five and eight letter colorful words that we love so much. We’re not going to do it.

K.B.:           Right, right, right. No, I just I want to take the lid off any any shame and tell you that I began swearing during some of the most important liturgical seasons of just God’s time on Earth. So I give you full permission to be yourself. So I have been in quarantine in Manitoba where I grew up. And so there’s been a lot of living in my childhood home and walking past my old schools and combing through my horrible, horrible diaries. And holy crap, I was a very sensitive and intense and sad and funny kid. When I read your work, I get such a strong sense of, like, what you must have been like as a kid. You must have been very aware and very honest.

S.I.:             I was super aware I, too, was incredibly sensitive, I felt things very deeply, which is like a kind way of saying that I had lots of melodramatic emotions, so, you know, growing up in the like grunge 90s when, like, you could be moody and have, like, all the singer songwriter pain, like the Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, like that kind of like deep yearning music. I tapped into all of that like I was very much an inside kid. I mean, I’m sure it tracks. But I was I was a very like sit inside, listen to sad songs and read, so I read a lot, but probably not what you would think. Like I read a lot of, like Christopher Pike, kind of like kid spooky horror kind of stuff. And I also really loved, like, Sweet Valley High and that kind of stuff. Like, I, I really wanted a mix of like horror, kind of. Like light horror but also I was like deeply invested in all things that were like romantic, ugly duckling finds like convinces the jock, you know, she does his homework and then he falls in love with her like.

K.B.:            But who knew that was the horror genre, right? Like, who knew that like a set of twin blondes in California with a spider Fiat, was in fact a horror genre for little girls who were not maybe going to be that person?

S.I.:            Oh, I definitely read that without having I mean, I had some idea, but without really having much of an idea that that life was never going to happen for me. Deeply upsetting growing up and being like, oh, well, this is what the world is OK, yeah, but Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield story is not going to be the Samantha Irby story. But I did spend a lot of time being deeply invested in those books. Do you remember, well I don’t know, like how many of them you read. But do you remember an early one where Elizabeth was in a coma? And the whole town was like, you know, worried about her. I was like, you know, I was like the kind of idiot kid who was like, God, all I need is to be in a coma. And then people will love me. They will gather around and support me. What a psychopath.

K.B.:            You know what I really need? Is just like a prolonged, medically induced sleep, at which point it garners sympathy and understanding for my plight.

S.I.:            I would take that now like being real.

K.B.:            So there are so many people in this community at the Everything Happens project that are just like die hard softies. They are love worn, tenderhearted people. And I think we all mostly got that way in one way or another because of grief, like they never really had the luxury of pretending that their life was going to be a series of women’s yogurt commercials. And only ninety calories.

S.I.:            Women’s yogurt commercials, please. Please, please write that essay. Women’s yogurt commercials. OK, I’m sorry I interrupted, but that’s genius.

K.B.:            I’m reading your work. It sounds like you you really understood a lot about grief already by the time that you were a teenager.

S.I.:           I never got to have, like, the traditional grief, right? Oh, that that is such a dumb thing to say. But when I say it, I mean, like, it wasn’t like my grandma died when I was little. My parents were 40 and 50 when I was born. Both of my parents were really sick. My mom had multiple sclerosis. My dad had a ton of heart problems and they both died when I was eighteen. My dad died in February, like the day after I turned 18 and then my mom died that June. And it’s one of the things about like experiencing grief when you’re young, at least for me, I don’t ever mean to speak for anybody else, but it’s like the other pressures and desires of being young don’t go away just because you’re dealing with this hard thing. Right? So I still was like worried about having friends and being popular and who would date me, you know, what was my GPA? Like no one ever steps in and goes, hey, listen, your mom’s got M.S. and is in a nursing home and you’re in foster care at 13. You don’t have to worry about high school, you know what I mean?

K.B.:            Yeah, yeah,  I exempt you from your Sweet Valley High plotline.

S.I.:            Yeah. And then, like, when you’re a kid, you know, you’re you’re selfish and you want stuff. So I, I didn’t stop, like, wanting to have a good high school experience and all that because multiple sclerosis is the kind of thing where you really are, at least in the 90s, you’re really like watching someone die bit by bit by bit. It takes a long time. And so I just kind of compartmentalize that. Like, this is my my essentially my real life where, like, I have friends and I need to write a paper in the computer lab. And then there’s this other part of my life that I can’t really talk about with my peers because they can’t relate. No one wants to be the person at the lunch table who’s like, So guys, my mom stopped walking completely.

K.B.:            Oh love, yeah, absolutely. The deep end.

S.I.:            Going through those things while also trying to have some semblance of being a teenager because like I add to it, you know, we didn’t have any money or anything that makes like having a sick parent easier. So it’s it was like, man, I got to wear clothes from the goodwill and have a dying mom and also worry about getting a B on this chemistry test, which honestly, I don’t think I ever got a B on a Chemistry test. I think grieving when you’re young is such a, it’s such a weird thing at the time because it’s like no one teaches you how to do it and you’re full of all these emotions and hormones that you can’t control any way.

K.B.:            You cared for your mom for, like from when you were nine to when you were I mean, you went through, you were a young child being a caregiver at a very early age. And it sounds like I mean, when you have multiple dependents and no independence, if that makes sense.

S.I.:            Oh, it totally does. And no ability to like, when things happen to you as a kid, it truly, I mean, if I had had the wherewithal to stay in college, which I did not, I definitely would have gone into like social work or something. Because one of the things that you learn, like you just feel so helpless when you’re a kid going through something like that and you don’t get to make any decisions. You don’t have money or status or access or anything to help yourself or the people you love who need help. And that is such a, that was maybe more of a terrible feeling than like when my mom essentially died, because when she died, it was like, OK, this is the end of a long suffering. She can go be at rest. But the things I think about that make me the saddest now are like the times when we were struggling and there was nothing I could do to help or fix it. Because as a kid, what can you do?

K.B.:            Yeah, that’s right. The helplessness, I’m sure. And then just like because the love, the love never gets turned down, but the needs are just remain completely overwhelming.

S.I.:           Yeah. And when, I mean as children you’re are just so limited in not only what you can do and what you’re legally like, what sort of legal standing you have, but also like, where would I even like know how to help, you know what I mean? Like someone has to teach you all that. No one taught me how to fix anything. Like we were basically just surviving. It’s funny. It’s funny like talking about this now because I was just I don’t know, like listening to some old song I listen to in high school, which is a thing I do more than I would like to admit. It’s like listen to those old songs. And I think I feel like so sad for that lost time, like kind of growing up stressed out and encumbered rather than like, you know, like I think about my youth and I’m just like, oh, there was not a time when I felt like I could relax, you know? And that’s the stuff that I’m like but more than the loss of the individual people. I feel like these big, like chunks of time were lost. And like, you can’t go back, like, what am I going to go be 17 again? No, but I am going to listen to, you know, Bjork and be wistful about those times I didn’t get to be a kid.

K.B.:            You know, and so early to have developed the, this very razor-sharp and beautiful and probably also painful ability to observe all the details. Samantha you’re such a gorgeous, funny writer. It is, it is magical and wonderfully disclosive. There is a thing that you do that is this little triangle of like honesty and pain and humor and you just, like, bounce around between it because it just seems like as the as the person who gets to experience it, like we get your helplessness and we get your deep, deep desires. And then also like the feeling that like all you can do is, is just live in the absurdity of it for a hot minute.

S.I.:            Yeah. That is my coping mechanism, if I had to name it, would be to always be like I have an ability just to always find the absurd piece of even like the saddest situation and just try to cling to that to get me through. I’m like, I just need a little levity and I can get through this thing. I feel like there is always something that is just so absurd because life is just so absurd that you have to you just have to find the one funny thing to pull you out.

K.B.:            O my gosh, you would love this! I don’t know, a couple of weeks ago I had to get a colonoscopy, and those are always really scary because blah, blah cancer. And, you know, they wheel you in and you just have a moment there where you’re looking at a large surgical theater of people and you’re thinking, this is the last moment in which I will experience anything close to dignity. This is it, you know, and you’re like the drugs are slowly taking over. And it’s enough to just ask you questions, and they’re like, OK, I’m just going to need you to turn to this side and scoot your butt back here. And and just at the last minute, right before I passed out, I yelled, “I went to Yale, we’re peers!” I think one of them must have gone to Yale. We’re peers, while somebody was scooting my bear butt was one of the funniest things I’ve ever said and perfectly timed. And I can hear, I hope what I thought was laughter before I passed out.

S.I.:            That’s incredible. So I have a colonoscopy, funny story for you. I mean, we should really just like make a podcast about colon issues. But again, if you don’t laugh at this stuff, you will just weep, uncontrollably. I went to have a colonoscopy done once, and I had what my doctor, I don’t know if this is a technical term, but he called a dirty prep, meaning I had not gotten cleaned out enough. And so what happened? This isn’t even the funny part. I went to a party the day before, I mean, this is so stupid, I went to this party the day before and I was nervous. Right? And so they had a little like chips and dips and like veggies. And I was like, oh, my God, I don’t want to be the person, like, vacuuming up all the chips. So I just was like nervously eating baby carrots, which you’re not going to get all that cleaned out before a colonoscopy, right? So I’d eaten like a ton of baby carrots and the prep was bad and I knew it, but I went in anyway.

K.B.:            It’s like specifically on the forbidden list too it’s like, how dare you eat high fiber food. It’s like on the list is just basically baby carrots.

S.I.:            So bad. So my GI who is so handsome that it’s appalling and I hate embarrassing myself in front of him, but all I do is embarrass myself in front of him. He comes in and like, you know, we’re in the like passing out stage, and I was like, my prep is bad. And he’s like, don’t worry, we’ll like, you know, they have like a power washer, they can they can do to help you along. So he’s in there, he’s doing that. You know how you like fade in and out of consciousness? So I was like asleep and then I was awake and he kept saying, Samantha, Samantha. And like, I, like, come out of it, and I was like, yeah? And he’s like, stop gripping the scope. And I’m like, but my hands are over, and he’s like, yeah, stop clenching on the scope. He was trying to clean out all of my carrot detritus and I had the kung fu grip on the scope.

K.B.:           I don’t think ether of us were supposed to be trusted in these situations. I think they should have known. I think we told them and they didn’t listen.

S.I.:            It’s like, why how can I make a terrible experience even more terrible? Oh, I will figure out a way. And that’s it. Involuntarily clenching the, I don’t even know what it’s, I can’t think of what it’s called, but the butt camera.

K.B.:           Yeah, yeah, yeah, You’re like I’m going to need to hold on to that thing.

S.I.:            I’m like, I don’t know what you think my insurance pays for, but I think it pays for me to take this camera home.

K.B.:            All this seems really like it’s just proof that we’re both filming reality shows that are actually performance art just kind of protesting the whole idea of best life now. Like don’t tell me this isn’t my best life.

S.I.:            It’s, I mean, honestly, that’s why I started writing, because, like, all of this stuff happens and it’s like, I’ve got to tell somebody. Right? Like, someone needs to know.

K.B.:            Yes, I was going to ask you that exact thing because very often I’m talking to, like, a lovely regular normal person. Um, and they seem to be able to exist in a world in a way I cannot. And it feels like every time I say something like I’m, I’m breaking something, you know what I mean? Like, everything I’m saying is like a bit much. I was wondering, does writing let you be honest, without the pain of watching other people’s faces collapse like an imploding star?

S.I.:            That’s an incredible way to put it, and yes. So, it’s so funny because you know what I do like kind of completely pouring out my inner self for people to read. You know, people always like, oh, that’s so brave, and I’m like, no, no. What would be brave is if I had to watch every single person who didn’t like it read it. You know what I mean?

K.B.:            No thank you.

S.I.:            The easy part is the like putting it, you know, sitting at the computer and typity, type type.

K.B.:            No, I disagree with you, Samantha Irby. I think that part of your bravery is you don’t spare yourself, and that is something that almost everyone does. Everyone tells the story where they’re always the hero. If they have a scar, it’s like in all of my eight year old girl novels, it would be like she had a scar, a small, slender, what ever this, everyone always has like tiny, delicate problems and you don’t spare yourself. And I think that is is fundamentally brave. I really do.

S.I.:            Kate, you are an angel. Thank you for saying that. It doesn’t, but you, I mean, I need you to know though that when I sit down, I don’t think, I have never thought, you know, what I’m going to do? I’m going to be brave today. I going to sit at this computer, and I am going to free people with my own bravery. You know, there are people who think like that, but I am not one of them. I just am always like, how can I take myself even less seriously? And I don’t take myself very seriously at all. I am my number one target, but like, how can I completely destroy my life?

K.B.:            OK. I’m going to make a very strong case that your work is deeply emancipatory for the following reasons. One, I think people, I think women are usually forced to live this unbelievably exhausting script called Best Lives Now. And we all have to pretend, for example, that we’re radical believers in self care, like our lives are amazing because we take care of ourselves and we have time for ourselves. And I would like to, for instance, ask you to read a bit of writing in which you describe your very powerful self care routine. I have chosen one of your many, I think, very exciting routines, if you don’t mind reading it for me. In this gorgeous essay you’ve written about just really like something I think that any woman can really just participate in if they really would learn to love and care for themselves in a very similar way. You really dig deep and the whole thing is amazing.

S.I.:            OK, are you ready? In the shower, I use a big block of Irish Spring and because I am black, I was raised to always use a washcloth no matter what, so I do. I also scrub my scalp vigorously with anti dandruff shampoo, which is the thing beautiful people never have to use. Just once I want to read one of these profiles where a slender, shiny tooth model is like, Hey bitch, I have psoriasis. While aggressively slathering t-gel on to her roots, I don’t shave my armpits or legs, but somehow I still take an inordinately long time to get clean. After my shower, I use Neutrogena body oil because you can get a giant bottle super cheap at Target and it smells like rich people. My towel smells like mildew, but I ignore it.

K.B.:            It’s powerful stuff.

S.I.:            Where is the recounting of the routine of someone who just has regular stuff that you can get at the regular store that doesn’t cost a million dollars. And there, I just want to read someone talk about being like greasy and grumpy and not knowing what to put on their face.

K.B.:            Well, I think we’re all just like two hundred easy steps away from perfection. But I think it’s that feeling, just give me the details and I could do it. I swear to God, just tell me what to do. And then we read it and we’re like, I will never do it. I will die on this hill. Goodbye.

S.I.:            If people were on it, like, that’s the thing, I just want us to always talk, do whatever you want, right? Like, I love it if you like it, I love it. But I do want the headline to say,

K.B.:            Impossible routine.

S.I.:            It’s always like, how do you the shiny hair of Julianne Moore. I don’t know why I picked Julianne Moore, but, you know, and then but it doesn’t say it’s going to cost you three thousand dollars. Like just say that, just say you can have this body. You need to make one hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year minimum and it’s fourteen hundred things you have to do.

K.B.:            Yeah. And quit your job. No, for sure. For sure. For sure. Perfection is attainable if you were a different person with unlimited resources.

S.I.:            Yes. Like let’s just talk about what you actually have to do and then I can read it, you know, like watching a documentary, like reading a documentary rather than like looking for tips I can actually use. It’s like I’m never going to go kill a lion, but I will watch a major documentary about lions. I’m not going to do twenty seven things to my hair, but I will read this article about how you did it. Just tell me that that’s what I’m getting into.

K.B.:           But you’re screaming, don’t lie to me and that gives me joy. Because I’m always in a position where, like, I’m trying not to let my body kill itself, and there’s like something dramatic going on. And when you have to give up on the idea that there’s even a possibility that your body is decorative, you need different categories for how to live there. And I do think that your writing helps people stand up a little taller and say, “yeah, I got the vat from Target and it smells like I thought it would.”

S.I.:            All I want is to free people enough to just talk about their real stuff they actually do. Because like, I love social media. I mean, I don’t mean love like, I want to be on it all the time. But I love the idea that you can connect with people without leaving your bed. I’m into that. But I think I think it does look like there’s a you know, it is like our most curated stuff. It’s our it’s our funniest jokes. It’s our nicest selfies, and I think, unless we are always like kind of maybe not interrogating it, but just being like, OK, that’s not really real. And it does help if people show, like, the bad stuff, too, like not just the picture perfect. Like, you know, I spent two hours putting my makeup on, but I want you to think that I just woke up. Like, just tell me you spent two hours, that’s fine. I love it. You look great. Let me give you the credit. So that’s like my whatever influence I have, I just want to use it to keep reminding everyone that we’re all disgusting and ugly and that’s fine.

K.B.:            It’s weird but when I wake up, I wake up just like, “ahhhhahhh”, and I go through the full, I Little Mermaid it every morning. I just want you to know that about me, we’re really getting to know each other.

S.I.:            I am willing to believe that. I’m the wrong person to tell because I’m just like, oh Kate magical.

K.B.:            Thank you. And then I do a very, very long whistle while you work montages and birds make my clothes. Birds are really crappy seamstresses, by the way. You wrote this beautiful episode for the show Shrill that I thought was one of the most powerful arguments for loving yourself that I’ve ever seen on TV. So for people who haven’t seen the show, can you just tell me about the pool party?

S.I.:            Shrill is a book written by my dear friend Lindy West and a broad overview of the book is basically how she went from kind of being like a meek mousey person to being like a bossy, confident person. That’s like really simplifying it. So the show Shrill, we wanted to kind of have that same journey for a character. So the main characters, Annie, played by Adie Bryant and she’s a writer, at a little like indie newspaper in Portland. And it’s basically about her journey to go from dating a loser who makes her feel bad and not speaking up at work. And like she goes on this journey of kind of hate the word journey, but on this journey of self acceptance and like be like feeling like bold. I just all I hate all these words, but like empowered and not self-hating. We only we knew we only had six episodes and we’re like, OK, halfway through we need to see some kind of shift. Right? And she’s like a chubby girl who’s like, mom is always like eat almonds and count calories. So Lindy and I were like, what if we took her, the character, Annie, to one of the like a fat babe pool party? And like in the like since the 70s, there have been these pool parties where fat women could just kind of like hang out and swim and not feel like they’re being watched or being ridiculed. And so we thought it would be like a great idea, like a great thing just to have in the show in general, but also I really was like, can we make it be so beautiful? And can we, like, just have women, like, really enjoying themselves and not talking about dating and not talking about, you know, Lean Cuisines or I mean, not that that’s what women talk about, but none of that stuff. Can we just have an afternoon of women enjoying themselves and then Annie seeing that and being transformed by it.

K.B.:            Yeah.

S.I.:            Like I was just the staff writer on the show, so I literally turn it in and that’s it. They are not asking me how it should look or who should be in it or any of that stuff. I was just like, I want it to look like candy land and I want women to be like having fun and looking great. We got to walk and see the set before all the extras and stuff were there, and it truly just looked like a dream come true. It was like everything we wanted and more. They had so many extras and they were all different types of bodies of different races and different representations. And it was just so, so beautiful. And like I, when I was writing the episode, I didn’t think like, oh, this is going to be a big deal. Right? Because I don’t ever think about my work that way. But when I saw the set and like saw all of the extras, I was like, oh, we are doing we’re doing something big here. And it was incredible.

K.B.:            No, it was great. And I think there’s like there’s something that happens though, with, like, abundance. That’s why, you know, honestly, that’s why I think, like, big dumb meals with friends or just big dumb meals, things that are too much. And like a giant party of women getting to enjoy how their own bodies look without shame is really like an argument for love that I was really struck by. Samantha, you just get something about reveling in things that the rest of us need to pay attention to.

S.I.:            That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me. I mean, I think where it comes from, it’s like having, you know, a bad childhood and feeling kind of unhappy a lot and being like clinically depressed. I do really try to, like, take joy where I can find it and really enjoy things. Like I don’t enjoy everything, right? Who does? But the things I get into, I really want to do it.

K.B.:            No, and I love it and always feels like it starts with like, OK, you wouldn’t believe what just happened and it makes me so grateful. Samantha, seriously, thank you for doing this and thank you for your abundant love of the absurd. You get something about me that I don’t know if anyone else does and thank you.

S.I.:            Thank you for having me. This was a joy, I would take a bullet for you. You’re the best. I watch your Instagram stories every day. I’m sure it creeps you out. I will keep doing it.

K.B.:            Do you do a more long Lenten series, Samantha?

S.I.:            Yes. I watched every one of those Lent videos. I was like, I’m not giving up shit, but I will watch all of them.

K.B.:           I was like twenty days in and I was like, I’m so sorry, guys, but Jesus keeps dying for a while.

S.I.:            It’s so great. Please put out six videos the day I watch them all.

K.B.:            No, no, no, no, no. I’ll just start at the very beginning. It’ll be like Genesis. Totally unclear to me how this fits into it. Never mind. I’ll just do my best. It’s going to be great.

K.B.:            Perfect, right? Sam, in her wonderfully disclosive way, reminds us that there is no such thing as best life now. Sometimes we lose things we can’t get back. The people we love, our bill of health, our dignity on the operating table. But she teaches me so much about how seeing our imperfect lives realistically isn’t meant to be pure tragedy. It’s simply being human. Human in our big, delicate, disease ridden bodies, human in our fragile relationships, human as we grieve and screw up and feel like we don’t belong. Life has not turned out like you thought it would, but you are not alone, it’s just your humanity showing. So let’s take ourselves off the hook for perfection, who knows, you may make someone laugh or find a new friend or horrify a medical professional, but you know it’s worth the risk. This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of the Lilly endowment, huge thank you to my team, Jessica Richie, Keith Weston, Harriet Putman and J.J. Dickinson. Oh, one more thing. I’ve been sending out these weekly blessings like a blessing for when you’re afraid or a blessing for when you wonder if your gifts still matter. Just little prayers you can pray if you lack the words. You don’t have to be nearly as Jesus-y as I am. But if you like a good blessing, come on down. Sign up for free at Katebower.com. This is everything happens with me, Kate Bowler.

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