Anyone with anxiety knows that the biggest threat to composure is having time to think. As a general rule, I like to give myself as little time to “think” as humanly possible, assuming that, in this instance, “think” means “obsess.”
This means that sometimes when I’m driving, I can’t listen to music, because music only serves as a soundtrack to my anxiety. So instead of just imagining that the slightly wobbly looking tire of the man driving in front of me is going to somehow lead to a bloody heap of twisted metal and carnage, I imagine these things with a score by Rilo Kiley.
And then I discovered podcasts. Podcasts require a higher level of focus than listening to the same Rilo Kiley song on repeat ad infinitum (I am apparently a 19 year-old girl in 2004.) I can listen to podcasts at work and on runs and at the grocery store, and I almost never have panic attacks during them. This is especially helpful as I wait to hear back from MFA programs because my body is pretty much always trying to have panic attacks.
So, in order of awesomeness. Here are my favorite podcasts…
1. Bookfight!: (bookfightpod.com) There is that saying that people want a President they could have a beer with. I’m not saying that Mike and Tom should be the first joint Presidents in the history of the United States, but I’m not not saying that. They alternate each week between answering writer’s questions and talking about a specific book, but they always devote plenty of time to harassing each other. I was particularly into the episodes where Mike considered and completed Nanowrimo and am still keeping my fingers crossed for a full-length Jerk Ghost novel.
2. VlogBrothers: (www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers) This is technically cheating because it is a video blog, but if I could figure out how to make my phone play youtube videos with the screen off (anyone?) I would definitely spend most of my time just listening to these videos. You might know John Green from his best-selling YA novel The Fault in Our Stars and you might know Hank Green from him being John Green’s brother. Their videos tackle tough topics like health care and global warming, while also sometimes ending with one of them drawing on their own face with a Sharpie. I dare you not fall a little bit in love with both of them.
3. Other People with Brad Listi: (otherpeoplepod.com) While his monologues sometimes make me a little panicky (he is oftentimes vocally self-conscious in a way that makes me empathetically embarrassed for him) the podcast is otherwise very enjoyable. Every week he interviews two different writers and the interviews are almost always engaging and insightful.
4. Slate Gabfests: (www.slate.com/articles/podcasts) I prefer the Culture Gabfest and XX, but I haven’t gone wrong with a Slate podcast yet. These podcasts are like eavesdropping on smarter, more articulate people talking about pop culture. This week on the Culture Gabfest, they talked about whether or not we should collectively stop liking Woody Allen (we probably should, but probably won’t) whether Jezebel should have put a bounty on Lena Dunham’s untouched photos (nope) and the best moments of punctuation in literature (spoiler alert: Nabokov uses parentheses better than me.) Also, June Thomas is maybe my soulmate.
5. Stuff You Should Know: (www.stuffyoushouldknow.com) This is a great podcast for learning facts to misremember at a party. This week I learned that you can’t see the Great Wall of China from space (and also that everything I know about the Great Wall of China I learned from the game Crash Bandicoot: Warped) and that we have way more than five senses (spoiler: hunger is one of them!)
So Keep Calm and Podcast On. (I’m so sorry.)