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Transcript: Samantha Stallard Asks, Can Men and Women Be Friends?
Below is a transcript of the Cruel Summer Book Club podcast episode “Samantha Stallard Asks, Can Men and Women Be Friends?” Please excuse typos: this text was transcribed by otter.ai and lightly edited.
Host Jillian Anthony: (JA): Welcome to Cruel Summer Book Club, a podcast about change how we get through it, and what we learn on the other side. I'm your host, Jillian Anthony:, author of The Cruel Summer Book Club newsletter, which is where I write about change in my own life. My guest this week is the first guest to come on the podcast twice. And I had to have her back because she's my best friend. She's someone I talked to about life's constant changes more than anyone else. And she's made some huge changes in her own life since she was last on the podcast over a year ago. And I can't wait to share all of the exciting moves that she's made with all of you. So please welcome back to the stage, SS:.
Samantha Stallard (SS): Thanks for having me, JillaThrilla. Thrilled to be here. Thrilled to be the first time second guest, because I love to win competitions.
JA: You are number one. Welcome back. I always love these extended chats and you know, giving people a chance to like, really hear me be myself a little bit more, which is nice. I figured we could just kind of do an intro a little bit together this week. So you know me and you, we're always reading all the time and always swapping book recs. Do you want to go first? What have you been reading lately that you really liked?
SS: Yeah, so I actually texted you about this because it's a controversial opinion. But I just finished Emily Ratajkowski's My Body and love it. And I truly did not know what to expect because—so I listened to this podcast called Celebrity Memoir Book Club. And they won by two girls. Yeah, the one by two girls. Okay. Their names I would I'm They read the book for their podcast. And it was like, split. Just one of them was like, This is so great. And the other one was like, I hated every second of it. And so that really enticed me to want to read it because I read her essay in the Cut, and didn't hate it. So I read the book, and I read it in a day. I mean, it's not long, but I devoured it. And then I started following @emrata on Instagram, which is so funny, because she's like, the epitome of the type of woman that we're all told not to follow, because she's just like, body-ody-ody. And, like, designed in a lab to make you feel bad about yourself. But just how the book humanized her and was like, okay, we're all insecure. Like, truly every last one of us. Even the most beautiful woman in the world is obsessed with her weight and how men perceive her. And I thought she was just a beautiful writer as well. It really made me fall in love with her. And she has such an interesting dynamic with her parents, because of course she does, because we all do. And it was a very interesting read. And I do highly recommend it to more women out there because it just, I don't know, it just showed that we're all so well-rounded. And we come in with judgments about every single person and they're just incorrect. So it was a nice, like, reassurance for me, gave me a little bit more faith in the world. I highly recommend you give it a read.
JA: Yeah, I will. I didn't even know that she had a memoir out. I also read the Cut piece when it came out. Probably a year ago. Maybe longer, what is time? But I also really enjoyed that essay and like, found it really thought-provoking and thought she was a wonderful writer. So I'd be very interested in her memoir and hearing more about that. Does she talk about what it's like to be a model?
SS: Oh, god, yeah, she talks about that constantly, and just how no one's ever satisfied. It's just a series of short stories. But early on, she tells a story of getting a really bad flu and losing 10 pounds and then going to a casting and they were like, oh, thank god, you look so much better. And she was like, oh, okay, so this is what you want. And just the forever work to keep those 10 pounds at bay, because she was booking so much more when she was sick, and just how wild that is. And she has really interesting thoughts on the "Blurred Lines" video, and all the drama surrounding that and how it was like, the director was a woman, like the the crew was mostly women and how it was built to be this really feminist, communal, powerful environment until the men came into the shoot, and then everything changed. So it's a really, really interesting read. And her whole thing is like, I'm an object, I'm fully aware of that, like, my entire worth is my body. And no one wants to hear me talk. No one wants to hear my opinions. No one wants me to be a businesswoman, or even a mother. Because all of those little details take away from you just valuing me for my body. Because if you humanize me, then you feel a little weird about objectifying me so much. So it was so interesting. And I am so team Emily Ratajkowski. In New York I was walking around lower Manhattan being like, if there's anyone I want to see, it's her.
JA: I will definitely read it.
SS: What are you reading?
JA: So something I read that was really different for me recently was The People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. Have you read that one?
SS: I have not. And you're not a big novel girl.
JA: No, I don't read much fiction in general. And I really don't read romances.
SS: The only romance novel I've ever read is 50 Shades of Grey.
JA: I have not read it, but my mom has. And that's important to note.
SS: You don't need to read it.
JA: But yeah, I think this might have just like, come up on my library hold list. People have been telling me to read Emily Henry forever. I read it while I was on vacation in Europe. So it felt like a nice vacation read. And I just really, really liked it. It was really heartfelt. It tells the rom-com story of boy meets girl early on in college. They're very opposite, but they become very good friends, they're friends, just friends, for a whole decade until things change. And what I liked about it, how the book didn't wait till the very end till they finally got together. It was actually like, around the middle, and it's showing you how they got closer through these different vacations they took throughout their 20s. Because she's a travel journalist and having a great time writing for magazines. It was just nice to read about a love story. I think I am in need of love stories right now. I'm like, pretty down about love in general. And this made me feel like a little better. And I think maybe I should just like let some more romance into my life in general.
SS: That's nice. What did they touch on the subject of like, can men and women be friends?
JA: Well, I guess they don't really touch on it. Because as far as this book is concerned, they were never really just friends. So he's loved her this whole time. Blah, blah, blah. I guess that's a spoiler. But is it really? I mean, it's a romance novel.
SS: We know that that would happen. Wait, Jillian, can men and women be friends?
JA: What do you think? Yes, of course. My god. I'm laughing because I asked an ex that and he said no. And that really should have told me everything about him.
SS: I think no.
JA: Girl, why do you say that?
SS: Maybe this is a bad feminist take but like, I feel like someone always wants it to be more. Like there's one person in the friendship who would be down with like it being taken to the next level. And like, it's very When Harry Met Sally–
JA: Which is what your worldview is based on.
SS: There's what my worldview is actively based on. We're getting into When Harry Met Sally season, so you know. Maybe this is like very self-centered of me. But every straight male friend I've ever had, I have either had the thought, I want to have sex with him, or I've had the thought, he wants to have sex with me. But I do see examples of it in the world. I just don't think that I have experienced it.
JA: Yeah, I think it is complicated. So first of all, we're obviously talking about heterosexual relationships, because they're the only ones that are so inherently toxic that we even have to have this conversation.
SS: Exactly, exactly. Yes.
JA: But, you know, yes, of course, I believe that men and women can be friends because men are people, women are people. If we only like men for sex, which we do not— that's why that question is, like, so insane to me, and that a lot of men would be like, no, of course not. Which a lot of men would answer exactly that way. I think men don't see women as full human beings with a full range of emotions of experiences and ways that you can be part of their lives. It can be very just like, is this person going to be a sexual object in my life? Or not? Or like, are they a friend of one of my friends? I guess that's like, how it's accessible and safe or whatever? It's stripping each other of such base humanity that, of course we're worth more than, you know, being a possible sexual partner.
SS: Totally. And this goes back to a conversation that we have had about something my therapist said, if you remember, and my therapist told me to date for friendship. Because heterosexual men often put men on a pedestal, and I'm making vast generalizations here, like beyond vast, but many straight men are strictly friends with other men, they idolize other men, they put the friendship, the value, the worth of how men see them, above how women see them, even down to they read books with male protagonists, they watch TV shows with male protagonists. It is very difficult for a woman to crack through that, and be a part of this world that many straight men have created. And so if you date for friendship, and someone who you value, first of all, because that is the most important thing, do I want this person in my life? Do I find this person interesting? Is this person worthy of my time? When you date for friendship, and a man, like, suddenly realizes that he likes hanging out with you, because of who you are as a person, not because of the sex you can give him, that that's beyond powerful. And so I've definitely been dating from that perspective now. And it's been very interesting. And the past couple men I've been out with have been like, you're so cool. I'm like, yeah, thank you. You mean, I'm like, a person with interests and hobbies? And so yeah, it's this little social experiment. it right now.
JA: How does it make you think about it differently from your end?
SS: It makes me not prioritize the physical part of dating. I'm not going into dates thinking about the sexual chemistry with someone. I'm just thinking about, do I find this person interesting to talk to? And do I want to continue to talk to them? Do I want to learn more about this man and just have interesting conversation with him? Not like, oh damn, is he going to try and kiss me? It's so often plagued me on dates where I'm like, oh god, please, please don't try and kiss me.
JA: It seems like an approach of just trying genuinely to get to know people. Because even if you've been on 10 dates with someone you still barely know them. Like, that's the reality.
SS: Exactly. And like, we're all just bullshitting each other for the first–
SS: I was gonna say a year, and then I was like, that feels crazy. But it's true. Like, you're showing them the best version of yourself for a year. And then the cracks start to show. You get a little tired.
JA: It's complicated for me. Yes, I believe men and women can be friends, but it's been kind of a sad journey for me with some of my male friends. Let's say I'm at an event with my married friends. The men and women just split up right away. I guess that happens in a lot of situations. I had a male friend since college, and he basically broke up with me after he got married. Because he really wasn't allowed to be friends with women anymore. And that sucks. And like, still hurts. I guess at this point in my life I have one close male, heterosexual friend. And I treasure him very much. And we are very much friends. And yeah, there's no, is it gonna happen or not? Like, there's none of that. And he's married. And I really, really value him. And he values me. He actually came to visit me in Austin earlier this spring, or this winter, maybe. It's just so rare for especially a married man to do something like that. I've been shown that heterosexual men devalue our friendship as we get older r as life circumstances change.
SS: Totally, totally. I feel like it was very normal in college, especially. And so a lot of the straight male friendships I had were from college. And then, like you're saying, those were the first relationships to fizzle out. And as other people got into relationships, it was not okay anymore. You know, "not cool" for you to be hanging out with someone of the opposite sex without supervision. Like the the partner had to be there to, like, make sure everything was kosher.
JA: Yeah, just to butt in, my friend who broke up with me, he basically told me his wife was not comfortable with me texting just him. He's like, we're usually on a text together with our friends of the opposite sex. And I was like, well, why would I text her? I've been friends with you for 10 years. It's crazy.
SS: Yeah, there are so many little rules like that. I can think of a straight male friend that I used to work with, we worked together for many, many years. Everything was always normal. He got married, and then so we don't hang out anymore, which is how it happens. But I think back and I'm like, if he ever made a move on me, what would I have done? And the answer is, I would have gone for it. That's what's so interesting because I really did value his friendship. I was never like, actively, I want this to be more. But now that I think back on it, I'm like, if he had ever tried something I would have gone with the wind baby, I would have just ruined that friendship. So maybe I'm the problem.
JA: For me, maybe that was true in a small amount of circumstances. But almost 90%, no, I wouldn't do it. I have always had that in mind, like, the friendship is more important. But I think that's more of a woman thing.
SS: Exactly, exactly. Definitely more of a woman thing. Sorry to derail your intro.
JA: Before we go any farther, I just want to tell people a little more about you who didn't, like aren't familiar, or who didn't listen to season one episode with you. Sam and I had been friends for nine years now. We lived a lot of those years together in New York. That's where we really became friends. And three years ago, we both experienced really big breakups at the same time. And we were huge support systems for each other. Then Sam called off her engagement and moved away from New York within 72 hours, she moved back to Atlanta, where she's from, for a couple of years and laid very low. And then she finally moved back to New York this January. It's already coming up on a year that you've been back there. I just wanted to give people a little more context, because you've had three years of huge change. And then this year, I feel like has been another like really positive level of change for you. Because I just feel like you're back to living your best life and where you really want to be.
SS: Totally, and I had to leave New York to understand how much I love it here and how much like I have to be here. And I really thought that by leaving New York that I would just, like settle into a more calm space. The pandemic was calm for me as it was for so many people. But I still didn't settle into it. I was still very antsy. But I was full Ariel, I want to be where the people are. I want to see, want to see them dancing. I was gonna keep going with the song but I'll spare everyone.
We've all been there.
SS: But I missed the city so much. And I feel like in my breakup, I grieved my breakup with New York so much more. And was just heartsick over not being here. When I moved back, god, my move was an absolute nightmare. And the city was like, oh, bitch wants to come back. Like, you're gonna have to work for it. And she tested me. I mean, my moving bill ended up being triple what I was originally quoted. Everything I owned was being held hostage for two weeks on a truck. I had no internet, I was literally working off of my phone for days, slept on the floor of an empty apartment, couldn't get my dog here. It was six weeks of utter chaos but then I overcame it and, you know, shit still happens. It's still New York, but I'm just so happy to be here. And I immediately got a new job. It was just change, change change. But I have to live in this trash city.
SS: And thank god so I can visit you. You have your own two-bedroom apartment, which is many, many New Yorkers' pipe dream.
SS: I know. It's a two-bedroom, back patio. Don't get too jealous because it is expensive and very far from a train, but these are the New York sacrifices we make to pay insane rent in a city that wants us out.
JA: I visited in June, I was in New York for nine days. We spent a lot of time together. It was amazing. And yeah, your place is wonderful. And it's just so cool to see you back where you obviously should be right now. Yeah. And then also, this summer, we went to Italy.
SS: We talked about it while you were in New York, because you already had everything planned. And I just sort of bought a ticket.
JA: Yeah, thank God. So I knew I was gonna go to Europe for August. That was my plan since probably last November. Maybe earlier. I was just itching to go to Europe. So I did it. And then after I booked my two tickets from here to London and back, I started asking friends, where are you going to be in Europe this summer? Where can I maybe join? So I asked Sam where she might want to join me. And it worked out perfectly, because you were in Prague visiting a friend the week before. And then we met up in Naples and went from there.
SS: Exactly, exactly. And I had a couple solo days in Naples, where I treated myself to pasta and Aperol spritz lunches and stayed in a gorgeous hotel, if I do say so myself. Which Jill came to on the last night, and it was such a dream. I mean, I could really get used to not working ever again.
JA: Me too. I really did get used to it because I did not work for a full five weeks.
SS: Yeah, was it hard to come back and work? Did you feel like ready to be productive again? Or was it a slog?
JA: I did feel genuinely rested. And I didn't take my laptop on the trip. Sometimes I would sink into my phone here and there. But like, I didn't watch TV, like my screen time was taken away. And in my life, I have a ton of screen time, as most of us do. So I did feel actually rested. I think what's been stranger is just how deep-seated my bad habits are, as far as the ways I waste time, my screen time. That kind of stuff. I think that that's been unsettling for me because I do feel ready to get back to work, although it's slow right now because I'm having to rebuild my freelance portfolio of clients. But yeah, it's gonna take a lot of work for me to really change the bad habits I have. And I've already done a lot of work on changing my bad habits this year. So it's hard to know that.
SS: Well, you never reach nirvana. You never fix every bad habit, and then you're perfect. You form new ones, old ones come back. I understand. That's why I locked myself out of TikTok. Because if I didn't, I could waste hours on that stupid, soul-sucking app that has taught me so much and brought so much joy to my life.
JA: Yes. And I was super active, out every day, walking miles. I was with friends most of the time. But there was one day in Bordeaux. It was like 102 degrees out, I went inside at two o'clock, because I was sweating my brains out and slept. And then was on my phone for like, two hours. And you know what, it feels really good and nice. And I don't want to give that up entirely. But as usual with me, it's hard to find the balance. At the same time, I look out for future me so much more than I used to. It's become a way more natural with practice of like, do I actually want to stay out later? Do I actually want to have another drink? Do I want to drink at all? Can I at least get 30 minutes done of this work task today? And I know you're like really good at that, Sam.
SS: Yeah, I am really good at that. I call it self-parenting. I've always just sort of referred to it as that when I do when I do the thing that I know I have to do. And I just told myself, okay, we're going to self-parent right now. We're going to answer emails for 30 minutes, and then it's going to be done. There is this therapist on TikTok being like, the past are memories and the future is anxiety. What is a memory but a thought? What is an anxiety but a thought? We literally only have right now and the rest are just thoughts. And the way that was like such an Oprah, a-ha moment for me, was wild. And because I am always trying to obsessively plan like, today is Sunday, tomorrow is Monday, I have to go to a conference tomorrow. And I also have real work to do. And so this morning, when I woke up, I sort of started spiraling a little bit about like, okay, am I going to be in the office for breakfast? Or am I going to be home for breakfast? And then wherever I'm going to take this 11 o'clock call, am I going to take it in my office or am I going to take it at the conference? And I have to tell myself, ou will figure it out tomorrow, it is going to be okay. You do not have to have a plan for your entire day tomorrow. Because who the hell knows how the day is gonna go? Just relax. Control is so huge for me. So I have to bring myself back down to Earth. God, I'm meditating so much now, because it is the only way to get myself out of that thought dungeon and refocus my energy.
JA: And that's a that's a big difference between you and I. We both have anxiety and both overthink things, of course, but your anxiety lies a lot in the future and my lies in the past. I think I do an okay job of living in the present. I've been working on it for years. I want to build up thinking for a future me. But yeah, your anxiety lives in trying to make it as perfect and controlled as possible.
SS: Exactly, exactly. And to be prepared for any situation, which is truly impossible. But what do you do about the past? Do you try to like replay it in your head? Do you get mad at yourself about it? Like, what do you do?
JA: I think that for me, it can just be intrusive thoughts in general. I can get in weird spirals about things I've said or done, or things that have been said or done to me. I have learned different ways to stop that. First of all, our thoughts do not matter, they are not real, they are not us, they're a brain activity that we can learn to see for what it is and to stop basing our emotions off of or to stop thinking any of that is real. There are just brain signals that we can choose to ignore actually. I think I've been practicing that a lot over the last few years. If a thought comes up that's really disruptive—the example I always use is, my friends don't like me. Examine that and be like, what's the proof of that? Where's that coming from? You have this many texts from friends telling you they're thinking of you and love you right now. Just give light to the situation. And if thoughts come up that are eally taking away your energy, it's like, enough. Like, this is bullshit. This isn't real. I don't need this. So just learning to see those for what they are a little better.
SS: Totally. I've had that internal dialogue so much where I'm like, oh, gross, shut up. Like, stop. Enough. Get out of here. You and I also spend a lot of time alone, which I think doesn't do a good job of helping that either. When you are alone, there's no one there to be like, you're being insane. You just have to do that to yourself. You have to self-partner in that way and be like, you're being insane. Stop it.
JA: I think we've both learned how to do that so much better. We are better partners to ourselves. I've changed a lot in that way. I was just having a conversation with a friend last weekend about how my self-trust has grown exponentially in the past three years. I worked on listening to my own voice, I worked on not calling you or other people the instant I had a problem, I worked on thinking it through for myself. And now I trust myself so much. I trust my higher intuition, higher self a lot. That is so different than it was few years ago. I'm super confident that I know the answer.
SS: Yeah. Because you do. You always do. I went on a yoga retreat a couple of years ago in Sedona, and we actually hung out before. And Jill literally dropped me off like she was my mom taking me to camp.
JA: Bye, sweetie.
SS: Bye, be good, make friends. I don't know anyone here. But we did a guided meditation at that yoga retreat about meeting our future selves. Can you visualize in your head, like, can you see pictures in your head?
JA: I can.
SS: I can too and I found out during this that many people cannot. So I'm learning that visualization is a very powerful tool if you have it. And so I feel very lucky to be able to do that. And so I was imagining this white cottage with a white picket fence around it and this gorgeous vegetable garden in the back. And I encountered my future self. And she's this hippie dippie woman with long gray hair, long floral dress, bracelets stacked up to her elbows, just Earth mama. And I was like, okay! There she is. Our guide was telling us, how do you feel around her? How do you feel connected to her? Like, do you have any questions for her? And my question was, I've made so many bad choices. I've put myself in terrible situations, I just I do not trust myself. And I don't know how to make the right choices. And she laughed. And I was like, bitch is laughing? She was like, you've gotten yourself out of so many bad situations, you've made so much good change, you know exactly what you want. You know exactly what you want, and you know exactly how to get it. And don't talk about yourself like that. That's a wild thing to say. And that stuck with me so hard. And then we were sharing in the group afterwards. And everyone was like, damn, I can't see anything in my head, I don't know how to create pictures in my mind. And so I was like, well, I have a gift here for visualization that I didn't realize wasn't an option available to everyone. So I feel really lucky in that. And truly since then, I've just had this sense that I know what I want. And I know how to get it. It doesn't make it easy. And it doesn't mean I want to do the work, because I certainly don't. But I know what the work is involved in it. And I was actually just tested on this the other night because I went on a date with someone and I was being interviewed basically. This guy came with questions. And I I knew what he wanted to hear.
SS: What do you mean by you knew what he wanted to hear?
SS: So he asked me, do you want children? And I said no, because that's a realization I've come to in the last few years is I really don't think I do. And I saw his face drop because that was the wrong answer. And Samantha in her 20s would have probably—if I had said no then, which I wouldn't have, I would have said yes. But even if I had said no, I would have tried to walk it back. Because I would have seen that, here's this man sitting across from me, I can tell what he wants, I gave the wrong answer. Shit. I have to alk it back and try and get the right answer this time, or show him that I am open, and I can be what you want for me. And just putting my whole worth on how this person views me. But even though I didn't like being on the other end of this table, like answering these questions—I mean, good for him, honestly, because there was no second date because we were not aligned on anything. And so we didn't have to waste each other's time. But it was very jarring. But I also knew the right answer is, I'm open to marriage, I don't think I want children. I don't know where I want to live after New York, I just want to exist in the present moment right now. I don't align to any religion. You know, wrong answer, wrong answer, wrong answer—wrong to him, right to me. So it was just a very powerful experience. And I felt shitty afterwards. But then I was like, good for you for sticking to your guns. It seems so simple. Like, obviously, you're going to tell the truth about how you feel. But I think for so long I just wanted to be what a man wanted me to be, and didn't really know what I wanted. So it was a powerful exercise, to get to say what I actually wanted and for it to be a point of rejection, too. So I'm glad that went down that way. So thanks, Brian.
JA: That's super powerful. What I'm hearing in that is, it sounds like it was an early experience of you voicing how you've unlearned femininity in the past few years, or what we've been taught we should be as women. In our 30s we've really explored that a lot. I have these conversations on dates and stuff a lot now. I am open to marriage and possibly open to kids, but I'm also on the no side of both of those things. So that's pretty much how I respond to people, that marriage and kids are not a priority for me. So it's probably not going to happen. Because, you know, that's how life is, like, for important things to happen for you, you have to go after those things. I do want a long term partner. I'm always really clear about that. I went on a date with this guy who was in his 40s. He wanted to get married and have kids. I told him I probably wasn't interested in those things. Definitely not, like, this year either. I generally liked him. We weren't aligned with what we wanted. But he basically said to me, jokingly and also not, Me and you would make beautiful children. It wasn't creepy. It was more funny and endearing. But I feel like that's like a women stereotype. Right? Where women are like, well our kids would be so beautiful. Like your last name would look so good, whatever. So it was an interesting experience to have a man telling me that and be on the other end.
SS: Well, what I get so often from family, but also from not family, is but you would be such a good mother. I hear that all the time. And I guess it's a compliment. I mean, it is a compliment. It's just an interesting way to say, you're so caring, when they could just say, You're such a caring friend and daughter and sister and hashtag dog mom. But it's just like, huh, what a way to say that. But you would make such a good mother. Like it's a waste if I don't do that. And it's like, yeah, there are things I could do that I don't want to do. I could learn to be better at Excel. I choose not to. And like, do people say that to men too? They say, but you'd be such a good father. Maybe they do. I don't know.
JA: Rarely, I'm sure.
SS: The bar for fatherhood seems so low anyway. It's just like, you did something that your partner usually does one time, and you get praised for it. So, not to shit on men, because I am not shitting on men anymore. But like so many things in this world, it's just such a gendered bullshit thing to say, oh, but you'd be so good at it. Okay, I'm good at other things, too.
JA: Because that's supposed to be your inherent purpose. So it's like an unfulfilled inherent purpose. Oh, so you're caring? Well, what are you going to do with that? Like, that should go to an unborn nonexistent child, not yourself or your family. Or a million other places you could put that.
SS: Exactly, exactly. Like there's not other outlets for care in this world. Navigating dating was just such a different perspective, because I didn't really date in my 20s. I had boyfriends in my 20s. And this is the longest I've ever not been in a relationship since I was 16. It's been three years. And before that it was about a year. So it's all very, very new still, to me. What's also interesting is, I don't want a relationship, which is also feels shitty when you're dating and saying, like, I don't want this to go anywhere. You know, maybe it could, but I'm really enjoying being alone. To me, it's still so focused on the freedom of it, just the absolute freedom of not having to answer to anyone, or explain where I am or what I'm doing, or how I spend my time, or how I spend my money. Just having absolute autonomy is so enjoyable to me. And I still look at relationships as a loss of freedom, because that is how I have experienced them. And I know you don't have to be healed to start something new, because no one's ever healed. But I'm just still just enjoying this too much. And the thought of anyone coming in and disrupting that feels like a loss that I don't really want to lose right now. So I'm in a weird space still.
JA: But that's completely fine. Like, what's wrong with that? As long as you're honest with people and not leading people on, as long as you're telling them, that's fine. Men and women are in that space and date from that space all the time. Just don't lie about it. Right? Enjoy it, enjoy dating, enjoy meeting people, enjoy sex. Enjoy whatever you want out of it. I think people think women less date that way, especially women in their 30s. Like, we're expected to be wanting to find a husband, like, six months ago.
SS: Like, six years ago.
JA: Right? But I have so many single women friends who are not dating for marriage or long partnership at all who are in the same space. So that's fine.
SS: Yeah, it is fine. I'm just so thrilled to not be in the race anymore. To have been given the gift of being able to redirect my life and think, was that actually what I wanted? Holy shit. No, it wasn't. Like, no one ever asked me. I never asked myself. I just went with it. Because that's what you do. That was what you're supposed to do. And you know, it's 2022 and we're still not really giving women the space of choice. I mean, fuck, even less than we were a year ago. I mean, absolute dumpster fire, who knows if we'll be even able to have an abortion in my state, we certainly can't in yours, but who knows if that's even going to be allowed in New York a year from now? That's utterly terrifying. And women need to know that they have choices. And you don't have to do what everyone else around you is doing. We need to ask young women what they want, and give them opportunities and not just let it be assumed that you're gonna go down a certain life path. And I honestly challenge women in their 20s who think they want that to sit with it for a while, and really ask themselves. I feel I've I've watched friends get married young. And then they wake up one day with a husband and two kids and a house in the 'burbs. And they don't know if this was right, but they also feel like it's too late, which is so shitty. No one should ever feel like it's too late. We all have control of our destiny at any given time. I've just heard so often, I'm in too deep, and yeah, you're in deep. But I, too, have been in deep. Not to that extent for sure. But it's never like you just have to succumb to your fate and like, slowly die. There's always a chance. It's hard. You know?
JA: It is. And I also just think people like us having these conversations more publicly and openly are important for more and more women to hear of all ages. I feel so lucky that I have a lot of single friends in my age bracket to talk about these things with and who are having so many enjoyable experiences and are pursuing so many other things in their life other than marriage and kids. But I know some friends that don't have that. So it's still such an important conversation to have as there are more and more single, unmarried women and men. The majority of people are in fact single and unmarried, the majority of adults, for like the first time in history. So we're far from alone in thinking about these things. And it it just feels good to continue to have these important conversations.
SS: Totally, totally.
JA: Well, I am just obsessed with how happy you are, how calm you are, all the things that you're doing in New York. I've told you this so many times, but just to see you go back to yourself, after a couple of long, sad years—it's just so wonderful to see and makes me so happy as your friend and you know, you're doing an amazing job, sweetie.
SS: You too. It's been so lovely to watch you take a good life that you had in New York, but say, I need more, to just go embark on a city that you had truly been to once and really liked, but just trusted that instinct so much to say like, Yeah, this is where my next chapter lies, and to just do it. And it's so hard, especially like, starting over yet again. But moving to a new city as an adult and making a friend making friendships as an adult is so hard. I just long for the days of the first week of college when everyone's open and available to new friendships and opportunity. And that it is the last time in your life that that's gonna happen. And it's messy because you meet people you want to be friends with and then you don't want to be their friend anymore. Or you're like man, I don't want to invest in this but I want to invest in this person, and it's so emotionally taxing. But you're reaping the rewards of it because you're building this beautiful new community that you craved for so long. So you're doing the work.
JA: Thank you. As you know, it has been really challenging and continues to be. In June it was my year mark of moving to Austin. So that journey continues but I have no regrets. I am so happy to be here still. And now I'm entering a new chapter of making sure my roots are really getting settled where I want them to be. So that's a continuing process. And thank god I've got my close friends elsewhere. When I when I saw Sam in Italy, I had already been traveling for three weeks. We spent the fourth week of my travels in Italy together, which was fantastic. But I told Sam like, thank god, I'm finally with someone I know really well, because I love the friends that I traveled with and they were wonderful, but like, we're still getting to know each other. And as everybody knows, it's hard. That's a lot of energy out. That's a lot of watching your p's and q's and telling these backstories about yourself. So lik I saw Sam and I could sit on the bed and be on my phone without like being like, am I rude? What's she thinking? I was like, thank god. So you need those people in your life.
SS: Right, where we could just truly sit in silence for an hour.
JA: Please. Silence.
SS: Exactly. And you're not overthinking.
JA: You're not worrying and it's not like, is she mad at me?
SS: No, I'm not mad at you. I too am being quiet. Yeah, it's so easy. And when Jill came and stayed with me, I was like, truly come whenever because I'm not wound up at all about having you in my space or like worried about, did I get the right food? Is she having fun? Is Jasper being annoying to her?
JA: The food especially is perfect.
SS: When you have those friends where it's just like family, because that's how I act around my family. It's just like, I don't care what I look like, I don't care what I'm doing. I don't care what I'm saying. Yeah. So that's when you know that it's deeper than friendship.
JA: To wrap up this wonderful time together, I always ask, what was a piece of art that helped you through a difficult time in the past year?
SS: So I hate myself, but The Artist's Way. I'm sticking to my guns. Everyone should do it. And the way I have screamed this for the past year and a half since I did it for the first time. I actually gave it to our friend Louie for his birthday and he was like, I don't want this. I was like, you're gonna benefit so much.
SS: It's a workbook. It's weekly projects written by Julie Cameron, a screenwriter. And it's not just for writers. It's not just for artists, it's for everyone. And if I could give everyone in the world a copy of this book and have them dedicate themselves to morning pages and artist dates. It's just all about learning about yourself, which so many people go through life, never doing, never looking inward. And I just want to give everyone the gift of looking inward. And to be able to learn and grow and to acknowledge past experiences that they've had that they've never really thought about in on a deeper level. But there is so much to unpack there. So The Artist's Way. Please do it. Jill did it.
JA: Yeah. Preach about The Artist's Way. My Artist's Way secret is the program is 12 weeks, and I only did nine. And I think that's very common. I think people start and stop a lot. But I think it's really about time for me to start again and go for the 12 weeks again. So yeah, I absolutely also recommend The Artist's Way.
SS: Two out of two podcasters recommend.
JA: And what has been a joy bomb in your life since you moved back to New York?
SS: Just being busy again, because I spent two years in silence basically. I thought being busy was bad. When I left New York I was like okay, I'm getting out of this city I'm going to have more time. But one thing I learned about myself is that I like to be busy and that's okay. And that was a huge realization of like, this is not a character flaw to like to have things to do. And I always need something to look forward to. And for me it's it's even less about the going out and doing, it's about looking forward to going out and doing. This week I have dinner with friends, I'm going to a Broadway show, and I'm going to a professional wrestling match. So you know, t's gonna be busy nights, but I'm excited for all of them.
JA: She's got the range.
SS: I've got range, honey. I like knowing that I live in a city where I can wake up in the morning and say, what are my possibilities today? Because I can truly see it all honey. I like to be in it. And that's something I've learned about myself the past few years is, I like to go and do and be out with the world. I am a Sagittarius and we are restless. So that doesn't have to be a bad thing.
JA: And now she's in it.
SS: I've been trying to find my way back for a minute. Do you have a joy bomb?
JA: The first thing that pops in my mind is sitting on my porch in the mornings and either doing morning pages, which is just three pages of journaling, or reading. And I bought these wicker chairs. Because for the first at least six, nine months I lived here, I didn't have anything out there. And so it's just a really nice part of my routine to be out there at like 8am, have my coffee, journal, listen to the birds, my cat comes out with me, my neighbors pass by and say hello. It's such a nice part of living in suburbia again. I just really, really enjoy it. So yeah, having that morning routine. And that nice start to the day is really, really nice for me.
SS: That's lovely. I mean, that's better than scrolling through TikTok in bed.
JA: Which I also sometimes do, but not often in the mornings.
JA: Well, thank you so much for being here, Sam. I love and adore you. And please tell everyone where they can find more of your work.
SS: I'm SJStallard on Instagram. And that's also my website, which desperately needs to be updated. Something I have truly been ignoring for one year.
JA: Big same, big same.
SS: To the point where I'm like, actually don't go to my website because it's not updated. And yeah, it's just basically me retweeting leftist feminist politics. But that's my dark little corner of the internet. I'm a yoga teacher as well and working on my Reiki certification. So I'm a well-rounded bitch.
JA: Yeah, she'll get your head right. Well thank you, Sam, so much for being here. I really appreciate it. It's always so amazing to connect with you in this way.
SS: Love you, Jill. And I'll be back for season three because I demand that.
JA: And thank you everyone for listening to Cruel Summer Book Club. If you like this podcast, please take the time to subscribe and give me a five-star review on Apple podcasts really helps me reach more listeners. And you can find more more of my work at cruelsummerbookclub.substack.com And follow me on Twitter and Instagram @jillathrilla. See you next week, and take care of your heart.