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Death, Sex & Money

Death, Sex & Money

Podcast Death, Sex & Money
Podcast Death, Sex & Money

Death, Sex & Money


Available Episodes

5 of 150
  • Becoming A Parent Of Six, At 25
    On weekdays between 10 and 3, Yesi Ortiz is the warm, flirty host for the popular Los Angeles hip-hop station Power 106. But off the air, she’s a dedicated single parent of six adopted kids. Her kids' biological mom is Yesi’s older sister, who had her first child as a teenager. "She had baby after baby after baby," Yesi told me. "She didn't really know how to go out and find a job." When Yesi was in her early 20s and her nieces and nephews landed in foster care, Yesi stepped up, taking parenting classes and eventually petitioning for custody. And when she was 25 years old, the kids came to live with her. By that point, Yesi was already establishing her broadcasting career, and balancing her roles as a parent and a media personality wasn’t easy. "Every day was a game of chess," she says. "I wouldn’t miss a parent teacher conference or back-to-school night, but I would miss dinner." One thing she didn’t want, though, was a man around the house. Her first date after getting the kids was on her front porch. "I didn't want the kids to hear a man's voice in the house," Yesi told me. "I didn't want them to feel like, 'Oh, my aunt is leaving us now too.'" Now that several of the kids are grown and out of the house, she’s had a little more time for herself, and for her new boyfriend. She spoke with me about how her faith was challenged by her family's struggles, how her new relationship has brought religion—not sex—back into her life, and why being a single parent is the hardest job in the world. This episode is originally from 2015. 
  • “What I Live With”: The Aftermath of Fatal Accidents
    Accidental injuries are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 200,000 people die every year from overdoses, fires, unintentional gun discharges, falls, and car crashes. The headlines are familiar, but what we don't often hear about are the stories from people who cause those accidents—and survive. One of those people is John Vargas. "Nobody talks about that person on the other side," he told me when we spoke. "Do they think we woke up in the morning and wanted this to happen?" In 2017, John was driving for work when he hit a pedestrian in his hometown of Chicago. He wasn't charged with a crime; it was just a terrible accident. And in the aftermath, he couldn't find anyone to talk to who knew what he was going through—until he found a Facebook support group for people who have accidentally killed other people. "It was like the parting of the Red Sea," he says. "It was just like, holy cow. I'm not alone." I also spoke with Theresa Ruf, who moderates the group, about why she decided to form it in the years after she hit and killed a motorcyclist. Unlike John, Theresa's case did enter the legal system, where it languished for eight years—and in that time, adrift and wracked with guilt, Theresa wanted to do something to help other people who were in the kind of pain she was. "If I'm being honest, [part of the reason] why I started the group was like, maybe this is something I could do to feel a little better about myself by helping other people," she told me. "It helps me, too." If you or someone you love are struggling after being involved in a fatal accident, here are some resources that might help:  Accidental Impacts, a website founded by social psychologist Maryann Gray Theresa's private Facebook group, Accidental Casualty Survivors EMDRIA, a directory of licensed EMDR therapists The Sorrow and the Shame of the Accidental Killer, by Alice Gregory (The New Yorker, September 2017)
  • I Love My Dad, But I Don't Love Guns
    Back in the spring, we asked you to tell us about the hardest conversations you've ever had, and the ones you haven't had yet. A listener we're calling Jack wrote in about a conversation he wanted to have with his dad—about guns.  Jack grew up in a family that loved to hunt and shoot. His dad has a large collection of firearms—and loves to talk about them with his son. But as Jack has gotten older—he's now 30—he and his dad have drifted apart in many ways. "The last bit of common language that we have left is we can talk about guns," he says. "We retreat to that a lot." But Jack's views on gun culture have shifted too, and he no longer wants to own guns or even really be around them. "What I want to say to him is, 'Dad, I love you and I respect you and this just isn't something that I want to be part of,'" Jack told me. "I know he'll hear that as rejection because that's what it is, it's a rejection." I talk with Jack about why it's important to him to have this conversation with his dad, and about the ways it might impact their relationship—and other family members too. 
  • Order Up, Tapped Out: Life After Restaurant Burnout
    In the last few months, millions of restaurant and hospitality workers have left their jobs. Right now, there are more job openings in this field than ever before. For many of these workers, the pandemic was a breaking point, adding health concerns to workplaces known for long hours, low wages, and intense, hostile working conditions. But what comes after making a decision like this? I spoke with five people who have worked in food service and made big career changes in the last year and a half, from a former McDonald's worker in Chicago to a food truck owner in Portland who's becoming a teacher. They all told me about what they are leaving behind, and what they are trying to build next.
  • Succession's J. Smith-Cameron On Old Haunts and New Normals
    A few weeks ago, I was back in New York City for the first time since 2019. It was great—I saw coworkers in person, and I had lunch at one of my old spots, the Waverly Diner, with actor J. Smith-Cameron. She's best known for playing no-nonsense general counsel Gerri on Succession, but J. has had a long career as a stage actress in New York, on- and off-Broadway. She's also a neighborhood mainstay in the West Village, and over omelets and egg creams, she and I talked about the many phases of her life she’s spent there, getting ready to send her only daughter off to college abroad this fall, and how acting has taught her to slow down and observe the world going by, one thing at a time—a skill she says was invaluable during the pandemic.

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