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We Are Surrounded By Mysteries In Our Own Backyards

Normal Gossip logo with cartoon characters gossiping
Illustration by Tara Jacoby

One of my neighbors stands on her balcony and sings to the sunrise every Saturday. (She’s actually quite good.) One of my neighbors mows her lawn zealously, with such a studious commitment to keeping her eyes on her own yard that her downward gaze has begun to feel like a searing rebuke of the rest of us. But I am not a neutral presence, as much as I’d like to think my status as a renter exonerates me somehow—I bring my own vibes to the neighborhood. I never turn on my porch light. Lately, I’ve been playing Tears of the Kingdom with my windows open. My garden beds lie neglected, still adorned with the skeletons of last year’s tomato plants. Living together in neighborhoods fosters its own strange sense of intimacy. I know so much less about these people than I do about my friends, and yet, in other ways, I know more. 

You could say today’s story is about Katya’s journey to return a plastic bag to a man who lives on her street. You could say today’s story is about secrets and lies, or about misunderstandings and assumptions. You also could say today’s story is about the crags and chasms of the human heart. These interpretations exist side-by-side, like neighbors. And—as with neighbors—the dividing lines may not be impermeable.

Our guest this week is Mariah Smith! Mariah is a comedian, producer, writer, and host. She has written for The New York Times, Time Magazine, Gawker, New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and more. Currently, she's a writer and producer on Freeform's Grown-ish, host of the Sony podcast Spectacle, and along with her sisters, she co-hosts Smith Sisters Live.

Kelsey and Mariah talked about Keeping Up With The Kontinuity Errors, the foundational influence of Harriet the Spy, and how to catch people in lies—are you sensing a theme? Then we traveled to one particular bunting-ridden neighborhood to accompany Katya on an amateur investigation that will change the course of her life forever. 

You can subscribe to Normal Gossip on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you listen! You can follow Normal Gossip on Instagram here.

(The transcript for this week’s episode can be found here.)

And if you have some good goss that you want us to hear, the email for that is, or phone it in to 2-6-7-9-GOSSIP.

We’ve got a delightful update on our summer tour: Tuck Woodstock will be our guest for the June 16 show in NYC!

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