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A Tote Bag Full Of Starting Lineups, Live With Rohan Nadkarni

There are all kinds of methods and techniques that a person might use to make themselves less anxious, and as far as I can tell none of them work. I don't know to what extent this is the fault of those methods/techniques, and I suspect a lot of it is that like "mindful breathing" can only do so much to mitigate the disorienting effects of "being alive and in the world." Some of them may well work for you, or someone less anxious than you; I can tell you that none of this has really worked for me. So it was with some surprise that I noticed, before we went onstage for our live episode of The Distraction last Wednesday, that I was not anxious at all.

I'm not entirely sure that shows up in the recording, but I promise it is true. I was eager and even excited to get out there and do our goofy thing, but I wasn't worried about the stuff that I am usually worried about, on the micro or macro scales on which I tend to worry about stuff. Some of this was that I knew that all the stuff that could have been taken care of had been taken care of: We'd sold a lot of tickets, the venue knew what it was doing, and Eric and Amanda from Multitude had set up a winning and intelligently structured production for the evening. There are also, always, all the things that cannot be taken care of, but perhaps because I knew that I was going to be in a room full of people deranged enough to have bought tickets and carved out time in their lives to be in the room while we recorded our ridiculous podcast, I was not worried about that stuff, either. If there is a room in which I can feel comfortable or safe or just merely less anxious than usual, it is one packed with people committed enough to whatever the hell it is we're doing that they bought a ticket to watch it happen.

And so we went out there and did the thing. It helped to have beloved guest Rohan out there with us, and it helped to have the aforementioned room full of weirdos out there to lend support, and I suppose it was also helpful to have done a few hundred episodes of the show, including a few live ones, in years past. But also this felt new: It was a little bit more of a show than our previous live efforts, thanks to Multitude, and there were parts of it that we decided beforehand were not going to be released as part of the podcast, which loosened things up somewhat.

That balance between the familiar and less-familiar felt ... well, good, as I have established, but also strangely easy and natural. Some of that familiarity will extend to the actual substance of the episode; if you have heard any of Rohan's previous appearances you will be familiar with the mixture of basketball chat, chin checking, sandwich discourse, and Funbag depravity in here. But it helped immensely to feel and know that I was amongst friends, both on the stage and in the room. It's not that I necessarily knew all or even very many of these people; I'd met Rohan maybe once before in real life, and I only see Drew outside of a Zoom window just a few times per year. It's more that I knew that there was a sort of happy equilibrium in the space—that there were people in the audience depraved enough to ask a Funbag question like "Are cookies candy?" and to take my perhaps over-firm answer in the spirit in which it was intended. It was a rare and valuable thing, to get to be in a room full of people like that; it remains a privilege to be able to do this for people who don't just put up with it, but get it.

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