Of Course I'm Not OK: Emotional Resetting During the Apocalypse [EPISODE 9]

of course I'm not OK

Anyone else finding themselves throwing their hands in the air & yelling into the void?

On this week’s episode, Karen & Katie discuss strategies on how to reset emotionally when it feels like the world is ending. Katie asks if there should be an expiration date on “shit sitting,” Karen shares that with so much happening she’s been feeling like a contestant on American Gladiators, and the pair trade tricks & tips (from staring at the ceiling to reading erotica) that are helping them stay sane right now.

Listeners: we’d love to hear from you! What is helping you emotionally reset during this crazy time?! Connect with us on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to send us suggestions/comments at notokpod@gmail.com

Resources from this episode: Gender reveal party pioneer regrets starting trend, now has non binary child; Find out more about ‘This is Fine’ dog meme creator; Feminist Erotica: a fabulous podcast co-hosted by Jera Brown, Princess McDowell and our very own Karen Hawkins. Check out their recent episode with erotica editor Rachel Kramer Bussel. This episode is sponsored by Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.


Karen: Welcome!

Katie: Hi, I’m Katie Morrell. I’m a creative and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Karen: And I’m Karen Hawkins. I am the founder of Rebellious Magazine for Women and co-editor in chief of the Chicago Reader.

Katie: You are listening to Of Course I’m Not Okay: An Audio Project. Join us as we talk about mental health, coping with quarantine and what conversations we wish the world was having and isn’t.

Karen: For some of our episodes, we’ll chat with writers and creatives to get their take. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Karen: Oh my God. So what, we started, so usually what happens is that, ohmygod, I fight with my microphone for 10 minutes. So usually what happens is we, you and I get on this call and we catch up. And then we decide what we’re going to talk about. And then we start recording. But this week we just started recording.

Katie: We are changing it up, listeners. Welcome to an experiment inside of another experiment.

Karen: If it’s an experiment, does that mean our listeners are like lab, they’re not lab rats. That’s mean.

Katie: Well, they’re somewhat in the guinea pig family, I think. We love you, guinea pigs. Like this is, and we’re also guinea pigs in this podcast/audio project, whatever the hell we’re calling it.

Karen: Agree. Well, it’s like R O U S. We’re like R O U S-adjacent. For those of you who are Princess Bride fans, that’s Rodents Of Unusual Size. We’re like that, adjacent.

Katie: Yes. Part of the reason why I think that we didn’t even talk about it, but I kind of think that we just kind of pressed play and said, fuck it was that, that’s the theme of this week. Like I live in an apocalyptic state. So Wednesday-, I’ll just, I’ll just take you back. So Wednesday I wake up in Sausalito where I live and I, well, I woke up and I was like, ‘Well, that’s weird.’ Like, I actually feel pretty rested. I was like, that’s, you know, and it’s still dark outside. So, you know, huh? I thought I went to bed pretty late. Look at the clock. It’s 9:30 in the morning. It is pitch black, like legit pitch black.

Karen: *gasp*.

Katie: And I’m like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’ And so I get up. Tyler had already been up for a few hours. He had started working and I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ Like, it was the eeriest thing. And it was completely dark outside. And the only light that was filtering through was bright red. And so it was one of those things. I mean, it’s now been covered extensively in the press, but like, it was, I mean, it’s the smoke like the wildfires in California are horrible. The wildfires in Oregon are horrible.

Karen: Right.

Katie: I mean, it’s just, it’s like really strange.

[musical interlude].

Karen: Right? Oh my God. It is the apoca-, we started this call, like the two sec, in the two seconds before we hit record what you said was, ‘Oh my God, Karen we’re in the apocalypse.’

Katie: Yes.

Karen: What the fuck? Wait. Okay.

Katie: What is actually happening-

Karen: I can’t even process what you just said. I can’t even process-

Katie: Like what the actual fuck. And so then, I’m like, okay, well, you know. Today for example, I was going to go on a, like, a lunch date and it was going to be a socially-distanced thing. We were going to go to this outlet mall. We’re going to sit outside, yada, yada. So it was gonna be this nice thing that I have planned with my girlfriends for a couple of weeks, two of my girlfriends were going to go. And we text in the morning and we’re like, this is just legit, not safe. Like, it’s just, we can’t do this. 

And so I was like, ‘Okay, why don’t we do a Zoom call?’ And bless her, one of my friends responded, ‘I’m sorry, my life is consumed by Zoom. And I can’t do that. So we’re going to have to just like, schedule something for when the smoke clears.’ And I was like, you know what? I so appreciate those boundaries. I really did. I was like, ‘I totally get it. I’m not even mad.’ Like I would love to see her face, but also, good on her for like, saying like, ‘No. No. That won’t work.’.

Karen: Exactly. Just, just no.

Katie: Just no. So yeah. Has your week been a little less apocalyptic? Or how, how has, how have things been in Chicago this week?

[musical interlude]

Karen: It’s 60 something degrees, which sucks? Yeah, no, it’s like in the sixties, which sucks. And it makes all of us feel like we should have winter coats on. Cause it was like in the nineties probably a week ago.

Katie: Yeah.

Karen: So there’s that. And then I have a family situation, which I will not get into, but I have a sick family member, which is also super stressful. Yeah, no, it feels like the apocalypse. And I had this moment this week where I used to have this reputation that I really appreciated when I was an AP reporter. Oh my God, this mic. Do you see how it’s like cattywampus on my head cause I can’t get it to work right? Okay. So I have this-

Katie: Looks great.

Karen: You’re looking great there, Wendy’s drive-thru lady.

Katie: I’ll have three orders of fries, please.

[Editor’s note: Again, weirdly, the plural of Frosty is Frosty.]

Karen: Extra Frosty on my Frosty. Can you double up my Frosty.

Katie: Double, triple frosty please?

Karen: You got any bourbon back there?

Katie: Oh my God. All the vodka please.

Karen: So I had this reputation when I was an AP reporter. I think one of my editors came up with this, that it was just like, a shot pull, which I’ve never done that. They could just like, shoot assignments into the air and I would just shoot them down. Just like ‘Pull!’ and I would just shoot them down, right?

Katie: Nice.

Karen: And I like, loved that image of myself, right. And this week I just feel like, is it Wipeout? Is it American Gladiators where the person’s walking and they’re just like getting pummeled. That’s what I feel like right now. Like I’ve gone from like ‘Pull!’ and shooting shit down to just like, in the water, on my ass pummeled by like those car wash things.

Katie: Yes. Like those big, like they’re like the foam, I don’t even know like, the foam columns that swing back and forth. And then you have to like weave, like bob and weave-

Karen: Ohmygod.

Katie: -as you go between them. But if you don’t weave correctly, you’re just going to fall into a pit of water. Like, is that what you mean? Like, I remember that from when I was seven watching American Gladiator.

Karen: That is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not a good feeling.

Katie: No, it’s not.

Karen: I’m not into it. Not into it.

Katie: *exhales* You know, I mean today I was telling someone how crazy this is. And I was like, it’s almost comical. And I want to be the person who’s laughing at this. Like I really do. I mean, I am laughing with you, thank God. And like, this is something I look forward to so much every week.

Karen: Aww.

Katie: This is like, now part of my mental health routine. And it’s just like,

Karen: 100%.

Katie: But like, I’m not sure how to laugh about wildfires. Like, I’m not sure if that’s a thing. Like, I don’t know. Like I just, maybe it’s just like, you know. No, no, I got nothing.

Karen: I did see one thing. I mean, I’m not in it. I did see one thing. I don’t know if this will help you laugh about it. Have you seen the, you know the ‘This is fine’ dog?

Katie: No, this is fine dog? I don’t know what that is.

Karen: Oh wait, the dog? It’s a meme and, oh wait, now I have to put it in the chat. It’s a meme – listeners, you know exactly what I’m talking about – and it’s like, a dog sitting in flames. He’s surrounded by flames. And he says, this is fine. He’s drinking coffee.

Katie: *laughs*.

Karen: I’ll find it and send it to you. So I did see someone this week referencing the wildfire that started because of the gender reveal party.

Katie. Oh. My. Gosh.

Karen: So somebody replaced ‘This is Fine with ‘It is a boy.’.

Katie: *laughs* That is funny.

Karen: Right?

Katie: That’s good. Like, that’s funny. I love that person. Also, gender reveal parties? Like, I mean, okay. So full disclosure: I’ve been to one gender reveal party and it went something like this. We were indoors. This is years ago. We were indoors. And the bride and groom? Ugh, the mother and father. They, they opened a big box and a helium balloon that was, I guess it is pink, came up into the room and everyone clapped. And I was like, okay, like, that’s nice. But like, the idea of, I mean actually, I’m kind of like anti-gender reveal parties. I mean, let’s just be honest here.

Karen: Yes!

Katie: Can we just talk about the fact that like gender reveal-, like you can know the birth assigned sex of a baby, but like gender is something that someone chooses when they’re born and they become someone who understands gender?

Karen: The gender, I mean I feel like the gender binary in general, it’s problematic as we all have come to understand. So, and I don’t know if you’ve seen it. The woman who had the very first gender reveal party is now mortified that people took her lead.

Katie: Oh no.

Karen: Oh yeah no, she’s written this very long piece about like, because she now has a non binary child. Like, that kid that she had the gender reveal party for now identifies as non binary. And she’s just like, ‘Oh my God, what a shitshow. I’m so sorry-

Katie: Wow.

Karen: ‘I never meant for the rest of you fuckers to do this.’.

Katie: I mean talk about the irony. Holy crap.

Karen: Yeah.

Katie: Wow. Okay. I will definitely include that in the resources section of the description of this podcast, because that’s actually fascinating. I think it’s like a flare that you can put out, that you can actually buy a flare in the color of, almost like a firework type of situation, in the color of blue or pink.

Karen: No, no.

Katie: yeah, I just hope that in the future, people kind of reconsider that and maybe just send an email. Just send a text. Like that’s good.

Karen: Like, how about the reveal party is it’s a baby. We’re having a human child.

Katie: That’s it. That’s the reveal. Yeah. This week has been interesting. I will say like, it’s just been super, super interesting. I mean, I do think that, like, it also goes, there is something to be said for trying to figure out how we feel in this moment as we talk about in this podcast. And I was having a conversation with someone this morning and she was really bummed out. Like she was really having a hard time. And I was saying, you know, like, I think it’s totally fine that you’re having a hard time. I think a lot of us are having hard times. And then I was like, I’m finding myself trying to think like I need to focus on what I’m grateful for. I need to focus on like how to bring joy into my life. And like, all of that is true, but sometimes it’s okay to sit in the shit. Like, sometimes it’s okay to say like, I’m not okay. Hence the name of our fucking podcast, audio project, whatever it is. And so it’s like, the thing is though, I guess I wonder how long do you sit in the shit? Like, is there like an expiration date for shit-sitting? Or do you like, I mean, is it okay to wallow? I don’t know. I think that’s just a different answer for every person.

Karen: Oh my God. Of Course I’m Not Okay: An Audio Project t-shirts would be, ‘How long does it?’ Wait what was it?

Katie: How long-, ‘Is there an expiration date to shit-sitting?’ That will be available in 2021.

Karen: That’s right.

Katie: Q1.

Katie: You roll out the store. I have heard, I remember when I was like a very, very young person. Well, not that young. Let’s be honest. When I was young and going through my first breakup, I’ll just put it that way. I remember a friend telling me that I should allow myself to like, be sad and to grieve for a certain period of time every day. And then to just like, move on.

Katie: Ooh.

Karen: Not like, move on, move on. But just like, let yourself, like freak out for this certain period of time every day, because otherwise it will consume you and you will become that person who does nothing but talk about the breakup. For months. Like, no one cares as much about your breakup as you do.

Katie: Yes.

Karen: And you can’t see that when you’re going through it, but she was just like, just do it. If you have to set a timer, just do it. Like set aside the time and then don’t do it the rest of the day.

Katie: It’s like allowing the sadness, or allowing the grief, but not being consumed by it. That’s a brilliant idea. How did that work for you? Like, did that help you? Or do you remember how you felt back then?

Karen: Oh, no. I was a hot mess and that’s all I talked about for like a year. It’s terrible and insufferable. And I’m so sorry. And thank you for everyone. I’m still friends with now who tolerated me at the time.

[musical interlude]

Karen: Yeah.

Katie: In theory, it’s a beautiful thing, right?

Karen: Absolutely. Absolutely, in theory. And I think, like it answers the question, like is there an expiration date. Like, set a shit timer. Like, okay, I’m going to feel like-, I’m gonna allow myself to feel like shit til this timer goes off.

Katie: It’s kind of a nice way to not just like drown in that, in feelings of negativity. It’s like, that’s a really good idea. I might try that honestly. Like just on my iPhone, just like a little timer. You don’t have to download an app or have a time management tool for shit sitting. Just use your timer. You know?

Karen: Though those will be available also in Q1 in the Of Course I’m Not Okay store.

Katie: Yes. Get ready. There will be an egg timer for shit-sitting. It will look like a piece of poop. Oh my God, Karen, we are geniuses. We’re building an empire basically.

Karen: Yeah, exactly right. With shit as the foundation.

Katie: Yes, exactly. But yeah, I mean, I think that that’s a really good idea to set a timer and to also just, also just be okay to say like, I’m really not okay. And you know there have been some days this week where I just, I lay on the ground on my living room rug and I’ll stare at the ceiling for seriously, like 30 minutes. And it actually helps me a ton. I learned this because I was at this panel discussion years and years ago. And there was this woman, and I can not remember who it was, but it was this very high-powered CEO. And she was, you know, the person that the moderator was like, ‘How do you do all the things that you do?’ Like this woman is, you know, a mother of 16 children and she has three companies and one of them is public. Like that kind of thing. Like it’s like one of those “Superwoman,” like in quotes, lives. 

And what’s really interesting is that the woman – I so appreciated her honesty – she was like, ‘Honestly, I come home every single night and I am completely wiped out. And I lay on the ground on my living room rug and everyone knows to kind of,’ or maybe it was her bedroom rug. But like an actual, like just lay on the ground. Not on a piece of furniture. On the ground. And like, and just look at the ceiling. And she’s like, ‘And then I just breathe for 10 minutes. Like, sometimes I don’t have 10 minutes and it’s five minutes. Sometimes I have 30 minutes,’ but she’s like, ‘It really helps ground and center me.’ And I so appreciated that honesty, that I’ve been doing that for like a year and a half since that panel. And I’m actually in love with the method, honestly, like helps a lot. Sometimes I cry and sometimes I’m just like, ‘Oh, maybe I don’t feel as bad as I thought I did. This is kind of nice.’ And then I get up and I’m like, okay, I’ll go on with my day.

Karen: I really love that. I mean, it’s like meditation.

Katie: Yeah.

Karen: It basically is meditation. Like, you’re breathing. Maybe you’re not thinking about your breathing, but you’re also not, you’re just kind of giving yourself this, both physical space and time space to just be blank and stare at the ceiling.

Katie: Yeah, exactly.

Karen: I love it.

Katie: And like who lays on their floor? I mean, I don’t. Maybe some people do and they’re like super enlightened and levitating all the time. I’m not that person. And so like, I feel like if you’re, if you don’t normally sleep on or lay on the ground, it’s a nice change of pace. The other housemates you have might think you’re a little, you know, batty, but that’s okay. They can just deal with their own judgment.

Karen: We’re in a pandemic. There are no rules. There are no judgments. I mean, I’m judging people all the time, but if you’re doing things for self-care, there’s no judgment.

Katie: Yes. I completely agree with you.

[musical interlude]

Katie: So let’s say we’re in the shit and we’re, you know, having a hard time. And the whole thing is just, you know, like it’s just one thing on top of the other. And we, you know, it’s the wildfires. It’s the, you know, it’s, it’s Trump. It’s a million things going on at once. And I love the idea of how to have an emotional reset. Like I love that concept. I’m just, I mean, I think one of the things that we talk about in almost every episode is to use the Calm app. Calm.com. And we are still putting into the universe that we want Tamara Levitt on this podcast at some point. Tamara Levitt is the voice of Calm. Highly recommend checking out that app. But yeah, I mean, I think that’s a really great reset. I think that there’s, I mean, it’s like coping skills, right? Like it’s like, you kind of have to just dig into your chest of like, ‘Hey, what’s going to make me feel good right now?’ Like, are there things that you do that help you kind of emotionally reset?

Karen: Definitely stepping away from this murder machine. Stepping away from the computer, stepping away from my phone, stepping away from screens. Like, you know, I think we all used to joke, and those of us who didn’t work from home all the time, used to joke about like, when you’d work from home and take a break and then it’s three hours later and you’re like washing your dishes. Or like vacuuming the floor or, you know, finding all these other things to do around your house rather than working. But I do think that’s a reset. That totally counts like, doing something with your body that is not this machine, I feel like totally counts as a reset.

Katie: Yes. I think that’s a really good point. Like getting away from technology. Going for, you know, any type of movement. If it’s watering your plants, like don’t make yourself feel bad for what used to be seen as procrastination when you work from home. No, we’re in a pandemic. The sky, like ash is falling on my house right now. Like there’s a lot of things that are happening that are pretty upsetting. And so if you’d like to water your plants, or if you’d like to organize your closet based on, you know, Pantone colors, do that, please. Like have, have fun with that. I mean, I have friends who get really into organizing their bookshelves alphabetically by author, like a library. Do that, you know, like that. I mean, if that’s, if that’s calming to you, that can be a nice emotional reset. 

There’s this woman, her name is Tiffany Shlain. And I went to a panel discussion with her last year. She wrote a book that I’ll also put into the description of this episode. And it’s all about taking a, basically a digital sabbatical. So it’s based on the Jewish Sabbath. From evening on Friday night, I guess it’s dinnertime Friday night until dinnertime Saturday night, her entire family – I think she has two kids – and her partner, her husband, they turn off all technology completely. Like completely. Like unplug. I mean like truly, like they’re not getting any, you know, emergency calls or anything like that. And so they started this 10 years ago and she found that it actually really helped their entire weeks and it made them closer. And it’s not like they were all seeing kumbaya around a fire pit every Friday night. But like, I think that just having, you know, like no technology was just really, really nice. And, you know, I remember someone in the audience asking her, ‘Well, what about, you know, an emergency?’ And she said, ‘You know, well, after a few months of doing this, we did install a land line.’ And she’s like, ‘In 10 years we’ve gotten two phone calls.’ Like, that’s it.

Karen: Wow.

Katie: And yeah, I mean, they were emergencies. And like, that’s, you know, if that’s something that, you know, you feel like you need that, then that’s totally understandable. But I remember going and coming home and being like, ‘Damn, that sounds so amazing.’ Like I think that would be the ultimate reset once a week. Like that’s incredible. Something to aspire to.

Karen: It absolutely is. I love it. And I’m just thinking about, like an emergency is not like, ‘Oh my God, Old Navy has jeans on sale.’ You know what I mean? I feel like we are constantly bombarded with images and messages and all of the things. And I just love the idea that like, you want to talk about cutting through the noise? This is an actual emergency, and that is the only time somebody is going to contact you.

Katie: The concept of resetting, for me, it’s like sometimes it’s reaching out to friends that I don’t talk to very often and just saying like, ‘Hey, how are you?’ And even if they’re having trouble also, like at least, it’s just nice to connect. I feel like connection is the way that definitely helps me reset.

Karen: Yeah. And reaching out to friends who are okay with your shit timer. Like I have friends – obviously, it’s one of the reasons that I value you so much and I call you luminous – is that like, we can just be like, ‘Hey Karen, how you doing?’ Or, ‘Hey Katie, how are you doing?’ You’re like, ‘What the Fuck man?! Like it sucks. Everything sucks. I hate everyone.’ And I feel like we all have people in our lives we can do that with hopefully. And we have people in our lives who really don’t want to hear from us unless we’re awesome.

Katie: Yes. And that’s okay. And it’s good to know the difference. Like it really is because it’s like, not every friend is going to be that. That’s actually a really good distinction because it’s like, there are some people who it’s just not the right thing for them to hear anything but positivity. And that’s great to know that and to know like, when I have positive news, I’ll tell that person and that will be that. But it’s really nice to know, kind of. Who you can talk to and like call when you’re in the middle of a sob fest and they won’t judge you. Which is why I love you so much. And that’s how I feel about our relationship, too. So it’s like, it’s very nice.

Karen: Agreed. Yes. Same. It’s mutual.

[musical interlude]

Karen: My chill out used to be HGTV. Like, you thought it was funny I could name all the Princess Bride actors. Like, I know every single person on HGTV. I know who they’re married to. I know who they’re dating now. I know their pet’s names. Like, that used to be my thing. And now I don’t, I don’t even want the television on. I don’t know what that’s about, but like even HGTV is not calming to me now. I will use this as an opportunity, however, to promote another podcast that I do, which is Feminist Erotica.

Katie: Yes!

Karen: Our fourth episode just came out today. And so for that, my escape is reading erotica, which is just like, how can I have this be my full-time job? Like, reading erotica for a living? How can I just make this my full-time job? But some of it is really good. And some of it’s really, I appreciate their efforts so much.

[musical interlude]

Katie: I would be very happy to read erotica for a living. If I was like an erotica editor, I guess? A book editor or?

Karen: Yes. And so our second episode we interviewed Rachel, Rachel Kramer Bussel, who is the editor of Best Women’s Erotica every year. And that’s what she does is she compiles-, Oh my God. I know. Yeah.

Katie: Oh my gosh.

Karen: Complies the stories for the Best Women’s Erotica from Cleis Press. And she was fascinating. She was so fun to talk to, but yeah, that’s her job.

Katie: Oh my gosh. I’m definitely going to have to look that up. And I’ll put that in the description of this podcast also for this episode, of course. I mean, I listened to your first episode and it was so great. It’s Jera-, can you kind of tell everybody about it? So it’s like, it’s kind of, so it’s Jera and Princess, right?

Karen: Yes. It’s the three of us. We all have different perspectives on things. Yeah. And we’re, this first season we are talking about what makes erotica feminist. Like what is erotica? And then what makes erotica feminist? And we have this poll, and we’ve been interviewing all these people in the industry. And I’m just, I’m so grateful that people have been so generous with their time. Like Rachel, you know, is a big deal and she’s our first interview. And she was so generous and so funny and so witty. And so we’re going to have interviews with people. And we also have what Jera has called Quickies, which is that we have a-

Katie: Love it.

Karen: -voiceover artists reading erotica. So if you don’t want to hear these like, nerdy ladies talking about erotica, you just want to hear smutty stories. We also have that every other episode. Feminist erotica, definitely on Spotify. I don’t know about Apple yet.

Katie: Okay, cool. I still think that’s exciting. And also you can find it at rebelliousmagazine.com, which is-,

Karen: Correct.

Katie: Yes, your beautiful magazine. That’s so cool. I mean, that’s, that’s actually really fun. Like that’s something different that people can think about and like, to try something else. Like to read maybe stuff that you don’t normally read. Or to kind of just get out of the normal cycle of whatever you normally consume. I find that for me, at least like a really good reset is just to not, like intentionally not look at the things that I usually look at. So like I’m always reading the news or I’m always listening to certain podcasts that unfortunately usually have to do with the news. Like why not try out other things? Like there are so many other great podcasts out there, and just other ways of consuming different things. Or Just like, I honestly think that staring out the window sometimes it’s like really enjoyable. That makes me sound a little sad. But like sometimes if you just set a timer. Stare at the winter window for like 11 minutes, it kind of makes you calmer. I can only speak for myself, but it makes me calmer.

If anyone else has the resets that they enjoy, please tweet at us. It’s @not_okay_pod on Twitter. It’s the same handle on Instagram. And you can also email us: notokaypod@gmail.(com). And we also are cooking up some really fun episodes in the future months with some really fun guests. And so we will not reveal anyone yet, but I will say that they are incredibly exciting. And we’re also really open to anyone’s suggestions of, you know, guests that you’re interested in hearing from, or topics that you’re interested in hearing from. Oh! We do need to cover how to find a therapist. We should promote like we’ll probably cover that in a future episode. Don’t worry listeners. It will come soon.

Karen: Agreed.

Katie: Yes. But it’s really nice seeing you, Karen. I really feel like this experiment of an experiment totally worked.

Karen: Absolutely.

Katie: Yes.

Karen: Congratulations.

Katie: Congratulations. Talk to you next week!

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