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April 18, 2023

Lauren Hough: The Hardest Thing

Lauren Hough is living a remarkable life. Author of a collection of essays called “Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing”, Lauren causes us to consider what IS the hardest thing? Growing up in a doomsday sex cult? Joining the Air Force and almost getting court-martialed? Going to jail? Traveling around the country in a van with her dog? Being a 6 foot lesbian? We caught up with Lauren, all jet-lagged from a trip to Paris, to talk about writing, religion and cheese. Caution: some spectacularly colourful language.

Lauren Hough defies categorization so we’re not going to even try. Born in Berlin, raised in 7 countries as part of a cult known as the Children of God that robbed her of an education and any sense of self or family, Lauren eventually found her voice. Her memoir has won numerous literary prizes. She’s also the author of Bad Reads, an Substack journal both random and profound, and utterly addictive.

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Voiceover 00:00:02
The women of Ill repute with your hosts. Wendy Mesley and Maureen Holloway. 

Maureen 00:00:02
So, Wendy, I feel I have a lot of feelings.

Wendy 00:00:15
Now. Yes, we are.

Maureen 00:00:17
Excuse me. I feel very possessive about our guests this week, I really do. Her name is Lauren Hough. And I feel like I just covered her the way that they say Columbus discovered America, which is ridiculous because America was there the whole time. So what happened is I started reading Lauren's piece on substac. I think it was Leah McLaren who recommended her. And I thought, oh, look, there's this cool woman. She customized a van and she travels or she plans to travel around with her dog. And I thought that was all there was to her. And, you know, I have this thing for people who travel in vans, although I will never do it myself.

Wendy 00:00:56
I can't see you in a van somehow.

Maureen 00:00:58
No, you have to have room service. So anyway, I'm following Lauren. And then you start and she's a hilarious writer, and then it turns out there's a whole lot more to her.

Wendy 00:01:10
You go, well, yeah, it was through Leah McLaren, who was on our podcast, and she's a Canadian writer based in London. And she'd interviewed Lauren. And so I started reading her, and I can't stop as soon as she posts something. It doesn't matter what I'm doing, I have to read it. And then she writes this substac, which is like, it's about her van and the dog, and it's all very mundane, but it's all really true. And then you read her book and there's way more about the anyway, it's just we're gushing.

Maureen 00:01:42
Lauren lauren Hoff is our guest, and if you're watching us, you can see her right there. And you were just back from France, where you've been promoting leaving. Is it the hardest thing or is it a new book that you're promoting?

Lauren 00:02:01
It's the same book. They gave it a new extremely cool title because they're the French.

Maureen 00:02:07
What's it called?

Lauren 00:02:08
Le FuJo David. The Fury of Life.

Wendy 00:02:12
Yeah, well and Kate Launchette, she's, like a huge deal. So she narrates your book. She put a blurb in your book. Then you go to Paris. So you posted on Twitter all these pictures of you eating cheese. I thought you were like this really kind of like, straight person who's like, well, not straight, obviously, but I'm super mundane and I don't give a shit about the fancy stuff. And then it's all, Kate Gladsheff is blurring my book and I'm going to Paris. Was it amazing?

Lauren 00:02:44
Yeah. My life is really fucking weird right now. It has been for a few years. So I don't know. It's probably going to take another five years to process these last couple your.

Maureen 00:02:58
Life has been crazy. I'm going to just take that word back and say it's been crazy from the get go. All right, first of all, being raised in a cult in a Doomsday sex cult. That's enough. That would be enough.

Lauren 00:03:17
That one was plenty. Yeah. It seems sometimes like my life is just watching movies of different people at different times because no part of it matches the other. I grew up in a fucking cult, and then I ended up in West Texas going to high school, which, outsiders it's hard enough to be an outsider, much less having lived in communes most of your life. See, I didn't fit in at all, so I joined the fucking Air Force to get out of Texas, as one does.

Maureen 00:03:50
Which you say is a cult in itself.

Lauren 00:03:53
Yeah, it really kind of was. There's a lot of things in America that I don't realize. We understand how fucking weird they are to anyone else. They opened a Walmart in Germany, and we have the greeters at the front door of Walmart. And they had to stop that because Germans were getting so offended by this person they didn't know saying hello to them when they walked into the fucking store. The chance in the morning that we do is a lot of I think it gets worse the less you get paid. Well, they'll gather you around and make you do chance about the company every second morning before you start work. And it's absurd to anyone outside of this country, but that's the way corporations have decided to build loyalty by becoming cults. And then, yeah, I was working at a shitty it's not shitty. I love the Bear Bar, but I was working a shitty job at the front door in Austin and checking IDs. And I'm like, hold on. Talking to Kate Blanchett on the phone like, Hold on, I've got to check this leather daddy's ID because that essay blew up. And now yeah, some parts of my life haven't changed even a little. I'm living in a tiny apartment with a dog, and we go for walks, and I work on my little van, and then I go to Paris to promote my book.

Maureen 00:05:19

Wendy 00:05:20
And eat cheese.

Lauren 00:05:22
Yeah. Oh, my God. I ruined my life by going there. I really did. I will never be able to eat bread or cheese or meat over here again.

Maureen 00:05:32
No. Do people recognize you, Lauren, because you're quite distinctive? Do they recognize you? If I saw you and I hadn't met you, I'd go, oh, my God. That's Lauren Hoffman. I'd immediately walk up to you because I've discovered you in your mind. But does that happen with other people?

Lauren 00:05:52
It happens sometimes. It's pretty rare. Thankfully, some of the few times that have happened have been in front of my brother. It happened one time, and I tried to play really cool about it and then just couldn't. As soon as the woman who left, she asked me if I was Lauren Huff and talked about my book for a minute. And then my brother was like, does that happen all the time? No, she just did that so that was pretty cool. But yeah, people recognize my dog more often, which is fine.

Wendy 00:06:21
Well, now you've signed for a new book and it's this sort of traveling across America in your van. So there actually is a reason for the van other than it's the cool van that you're right about. But I'm wondering, like the blurb, I guess we all have experience with people who sort of take a big idea and make it into dealing with prejudice in the United States and bridging the divisions. Anyway, how do you do all of that? Are you just going to write essays about how weird some Americans are and how this is shit? Is there an answer?

Maureen 00:06:55
What's next?

Wendy 00:06:56
Lauren, can you fix everything that's wrong with America with your book?

Lauren 00:07:03
In a way, it's kind of funny. I was reading all these other people's travel around the World books because I'm a nerd and have to read everyone else's before I do mine. Just to see henry Miller had just come back from Paris when he did his bill Bryson had just come back from Europe and now I'm reading Simone de Beauvois and she's Parisian. So yeah, I don't know how that'll tint what I write about. Probably a little bit. I might complain about the lack of baguettes, but a lot. God, bread is good there.

Maureen 00:07:36
And fresh.

Lauren 00:07:37
Yeah. I'm not really sure how it's going to come out. I wanted to drive around America and talk about America and with my dog there's this weird thing that happens with the dog. We were in Tennessee, driving out there for what? Or to DC for a wedding and on the way back just went really slow. And because I had my dog with me, we'd get out to walk and some guy in an actual I think it's kind of great. They merchandise the MAGA hats so well and the MAGA gear and the jackets and the shirts because you could spot them a mile off. So it's kind of a great way to avoid them. And I would have avoided this guy in any other situation. And he was carrying a fucking rifle. But he came up to talk to my dog and I talked to him because we were just talking about dogs and everything and there's like this humanizing factor that dogs provide that I don't think we have from anything else. So maybe that'll help.

Maureen 00:08:36
I know people in my neighborhood. I had two dogs. I have one now. The other one died. I didn't lose it. I had two dogs. Where did the other one go? And I know people just through our dogs. I don't even know what their names are, but I say hi to them because I know that dog's name is Piper. Piper's owner. And that's just the way it is.

Wendy 00:09:01
It's weird because you talk about evangelicals as being sort of the same as the cult, like believing in some of the same shit, like the end time stuff and let's just all love God and everything's going to be great and women should have a certain role and everybody should have a certain role and gay people are not good. But I'm just wondering why you think that. Why is it worth it? And what drives you? Is it just like, you're not going to give up? I guess it's why I read why I read your substac.

Lauren 00:09:33
It might be a little bit of it. I think it's our only hope. We're so isolated and divided right now. And I think a lot of it is from the Internet, probably a lot of it's from COVID a whole lot of it's from the last election. If our friends or our family didn't vote the same way, we've unfriended them on social media and we no longer talk to them. And part of the reason it was so easy for us to leave a cult is because our family, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins never gave up on us. They kept talking to us. They kept arguing with their parents. We'd come to visit the States and we'd go back, and we were supposed to pray against our evil systemite. Aunts and uncles who worshipped Satan and were definitely going to hell. I remembered them. They were nice to me, and I couldn't do it. And it planted a lot of doubt in my mind. And I think more than maybe anything, part of the reason you still should go to Thanksgiving dinner or to Christmas is because the kids see it. So whether they're paying attention or not, it plants a whole lot of doubt about what the adults say when you leave the room. So we can either become a whole lot more isolated and never speak to one another again and divide countries and families, or we can fucking start talking.

Maureen 00:10:57
You've had some absolutely horrendous things happen to you from the get go. I mean, just reading your essay about the time you spent in jail, I felt like I had been in jail for a long time. You were only in jail for what, few weeks?

Lauren 00:11:12
Just a week. That's all it takes.

Maureen 00:11:16
It felt like the Shawshank Redemption, to be honest. But you have that ability, and yet never for a second reading through all your experiences do I ever doubt that you don't have faith in humanity, that you don't believe in kindness, that you don't find love and humor wherever you go. Is that true or is that just what you're projecting?

Lauren 00:11:42
I mean, I lose faith quite a lot, I think keeping faith in humanity and in love and in things getting better, if we lose that completely, then there's no fucking point. It's part of the problem right now. You can get really convinced online that these people are bad or evil or someone attacking you is just mean and cold, and you go through their timeline and they're just trying to get through their fucking day like everybody else. But there's a way that we interact with each other on the internet that's not real and not true. And we amp things up way beyond what they should be.

Wendy 00:12:19
I loved what you wrote about, started following you on Twitter and why do we pay so much attention to teenagers?

Maureen 00:12:31
Why do we?

Wendy 00:12:32
Yeah, why like this whole world, this whole social media thing where everyone agrees with everything we say except for the teenagers who all think that we're stupid. Like, how much of a role does that play? And are you going to tackle that?

Lauren 00:12:45
I'm not sure how to tackle it. It started with one of the pylons. I step in it often enough online. But if you go through their profiles, whoever's screaming at you, it turns out they're just 14. And it's really hard to take it seriously. After that, we're suddenly all in the same room. Traditionally, the teenagers would be in the other room talking amongst themselves about how fucking stupid we are. And then we would walk in and they shut up for a minute. Then we'd get our drink and leave. And then they go back to talking about what idiots are and how we're doing everything wrong. And then most of the time they grow up. But on the internet, the same weight is given to someone who knows nothing, has no life experience whatsoever, has never been anywhere or done anything. And because they're an account online, they have the same volume that the rest of us do. We're just not meant to interact with them so much. We're not meant to talk to them this much. Teenagers are terrifying for a reason. You see a group of them, you avoid them at all cost. If you've ever been torn apart by teenagers, there's no greater pain. But they hurt a lot. I have nieces and nephews and I've been bullied by twelve year old nieces about how I don't do my makeup and I let them do makeovers and then they realize that I should not wear makeup. But yeah, it's not natural that we're all in the same room talking.

Maureen 00:14:20
That's a good way of putting it.

Wendy 00:14:22
You sort of hinted at it. And something happened to me very similar. Well, not similar. Like I used a word that I shouldn't have used. I used the N word. I didn't call anybody the N word. I never ever would in a thousand years. But mostly young people or it was right after the murder of George Floyd and the beginning of COVID and everybody was like hyper aware and hyper paying attention. The thing that I did was wrong and I should have paid more attention, but it was so mischaracterized. And then I read all of you writing about what happened, how you were nominated for the Lambda Award. And then they took back the nomination because you had defended another writer who wrote a book about all the men disappearing, and then you were labeled a turf, a radical feminist, and blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I really appreciate that you're talking the truth about a lot of things, and some of it is scary. And I'm sure that you live in a lot of fear. I mean, everybody does. Nobody wants to be mischaracterized or misunderstood, but you're still trying. Anyway, I hope that Lambda thing and you supporting that author, I hope you're okay. I'm still recovering from what happened to me, so I just wanted to reach out to you and be supportive that you're trying to do the right thing.

Lauren 00:15:47
Thank you. Yeah. I won't say it doesn't leave a mark. Every one of them leaves a mark. I can't even remember all the silly fights I've gotten into. Like, if you ask me to name them all, I'll forget twelve of them, but every one of them leaves a mark. I didn't realize for a long time that my looking at it, my needing to know what people are saying, my insistence that but I do know. Need to know before it kicks up again. Turns out that it's like checking the door and making sure it's locked 200 times and watching behind your back when you have PTSD. Because I do. From other things. But now that's been built onto it. Yeah, it leaves a mark. It makes us less willing to talk. It makes us less willing to communicate with one another. And that's never a good thing. But, I mean, there are also a lot of shit stirs rabble rousers online who make their name by starting fights, by make their name by assigning a target of the day and telling marginalized people that Anna Martel was a great example. His entire stick was the character Anna Martel, because Anna Martel isn't a real person.

Wendy 00:17:06
That was the person who basically called you a trans, hating something or other and is not a person.

Lauren 00:17:11
Yeah. And I'm not anyone. But that's the thing. Like screaming I'm a nice person isn't going to help you online. Like screaming, I'm not crazy.

Wendy 00:17:22
Not crazy.

Lauren 00:17:23
There's a symptom right there. But I am a crazy person. But outrage pays. Outrage gets page hits. Outrage about a person whose name already gets page hits because other people are looking for their name, searching for the next subject is going to get you page hits. And it's the street preacher mentality that they gather other marginalized people around them and say, I'm the only one who's going to defend you. I'm the person who's searching for the truth. I'm the only one who's talking about this, and please support my GoFundMe to continue my work. And they're street preachers. They're just on Twitter now.

Wendy 00:18:03
Save the wheels. Buy a T shirt.

Lauren 00:18:05

Voiceover 00:18:10
The women of Ill repute

Maureen 00:18:10
Because you have been and are so incredibly open and forthright about everything that's happened to you, as well as how you feel about it. I think that's why people feel that they can be as open with you. I'm just listening to Wendy tell you about career destroying, if not life altering moment in her life that she doesn't offer up all the time. But you bring that out in people. Is that a burden, do you find? Or is that the fact that people want to share their darkest secrets with you because you've shared yours with us?

Lauren 00:18:48
It depends on the context, I think. I get a whole lot of letters and for a long time I tried to respond to all of them. Emails or messages or whatnot. People just pouring out their souls to me. And I don't know. I'm not a therapist or a priest. I can't absolve you or forgive you or fix anything in your life. I shit head online who wrote a book. I think maybe it has to just be enough that they write it down. I think if I did write all that down and send it to someone, the exercise of writing it down and sending it to someone would be what I was searching for. Not necessarily words of wisdom from them. Who knows anything at this point? But yeah, I read all of them and I see it a lot. I assume people don't need something from me. We're just trying to connect with another person. And I think that's why it happens or that's where I've come to about it, because you have to do something with it or it keeps happening.

Maureen 00:19:52
That's why substac is such a fantastic outlet. I mean, everybody's on substac. I'm talking to our listeners right now. If you haven't checked it out. Not only are we all writing on substac, Margaret Atwood is. I mean, you're going to find everybody and anybody and you might ask, why would someone like Margaret Atwood want to write a newsletter? Because it's a way of connecting. Even if it's just a few people, it's a form of connection both for the reader and the writer. And it's how we found you. That's how a lot of people find other people. We're not now relying on being published in the traditional way to be able to reach an audience. Anyway, that's my thought on substac.

Lauren 00:20:34
I think it helps a lot. My brain has never been able to comprehend that 5000 people were following me on Twitter, much less 100,000. You have to assume if you gather any audience of that magnitude, that half of them are just following you because they hate your guts and want to see the next stupid thing you say. And I'm always going to say another stupid thing for them. But substac feels a lot more intimate. It's like a smaller room. And it made it easier to write, not worrying about how something would be misconstrued or taken out of context. It made me easier to talk to the people who I think are just my audience. You can't comprehend that many people our brains aren't built to comprehend. When anything goes outside of your audience, that's when shit goes haywire on Twitter. I said something the other day about people lining up when they call your flight or before you call your flight, people will line up and wait to get on the plane. And why would you want to be in your airline seat any longer than you would need to? And that took about 30 seconds before people started screaming at me that I didn't understand having kids and I wasn't talking to kids I wasn't talking to. And then it was, well, you don't understand what it's like to be disabled. And I could argue back into I'm legally a disabled veteran, but there's no point. It doesn't matter. People are really angry right now and no one is listening. And they're angry at the government, they're angry at society, they're angry at life, the way things are going. And it's easy to just take it out on someone online who's not a real person to you. That has nothing to do with it.

Wendy 00:22:15
You still do it. Why do you do it? I think it's great because I read.

Lauren 00:22:20
You fuck Them honestly, that's why. I should have probably deleted my account long ago. But fuck you. And I won't say anything real on there. I won't respond to anything anymore. I don't read the replies most of the time, but every couple of weeks I'm going to tweet something and then almost immediately delete it half the time, but because fuck you, I'm not leaving because you're mean to me. That's stupid.

Wendy 00:22:52
Well, I'm glad that you question everything now, and I wish that you didn't have to go through, like, being locked up all the times you were locked up because you tried to express yourself and you were in these weird sexuals with your family. But I'm glad that you have managed to say fuck you and just right.

Maureen 00:23:09
And also find the absurdity and the hilarity and stuff. Because something that if you haven't read Lauren that I want to convey is that it is literally put the book down and laugh funny. And I don't know how well, I mean, what doesn't kill you makes you funny. And that would certainly be true about you because it is like everything you find the absurdity, does that happen while it's happening? Because I know with me, sometimes I think I've fallen down the stairs. But I'm going to write about this as I'm falling. I'm thinking, this is material. You have to basically I'm asking you, how do you find the hilarity in these things?

Lauren 00:23:51
I don't think funny ever comes from a happy place. You go to a funeral and you'll hear some of the funniest shit your pants stories you've ever heard at a funeral, and they wouldn't work in any other context. But you can tell pants shitting jokes at a funeral. You can tell because it seems like the darker situation, the funnier and sometimes grosser the joke has to be. My therapist would call it deflection, but I think it's also necessary when writing when you're writing about for fuck's sake. It really was a sex cult. We're the reason everybody knows what a sex cult is. The Children of God was we're number one.

Maureen 00:24:32
We're the number one sex cult.

Lauren 00:24:35
Fucking nexium showed up and had better branding, quite literally. You have to joke about it. That's how you survive. I think the people who came out of it with some sort of sanity or at least a workable insanity were all the ones who think a whole lot of it is really funny because a lot of it was there were hippies who believed heaven was in the fucking moon. How do you not joke about that?

Maureen 00:25:05
Well, all religions are pretty weird, right? I mean, when you get right down to it, I can't think of a single religion that isn't deeply absurd. I was raised a Catholic, in a convent, no less. When you look at it dispassionately, it's like, Are you kidding me? And yet we all seem to think we're in a position to say, what? And I am saying that The Children of God is a bad cult. I wouldn't defend it. And yet if I were to say, and I will, that the Catholic Church is one of the most depraved and awful institutions, then can you imagine the pushback I would get from that? So some things are just easier to make fun of than others. Or decry.

Lauren 00:25:49
Yeah. I don't think many people are going to show up to defend The Children of God.

Maureen 00:25:54
They're still happening, right?

Lauren 00:25:55
This is still they're half assing it. The prophet died, so his wife's sending out newsletters, and you can give her a little money for the newsletter. I don't know that they have communes much anymore. I've seen them. They were doing some proselytizing among refugees of the border, but they always do just enough to get a couple of good photo ops, and they don't help anyone or do anything. When we were in Japan, when I was a kid, we landed in a town and didn't know a fucking typhoon was coming in because I guess we didn't check the weather. So we got off the train and winds blowing sideways, and these refugees picked us up, Vietnamese refugees, and they took us back to their place, and they fed us and took care of us for days. And they had nothing. They had absolutely nothing. And we took a lot of pictures with them. And then as soon as we got the pictures developed, when we left that town, we started showing them in our little please donate to us book of like, these are the refugees we helped. Yeah, we loved a good photo op, and we never helped a single person. A whole lot of people helped us, and we would claim the otherwise.

Maureen 00:27:10

Wendy 00:27:12
We're going to let you go in a SEC, but I got to ask you a really important question. Maureen's getting possessive again.

Maureen 00:27:19

Lauren 00:27:24
I got time. I may never sleep again, or I may sleep for 24 hours. I'm at that stage.

Wendy 00:27:30
So you picked up your dog, you got back from Paris. Did you see Kate? Did you see Kate Blanchette? No.

Maureen 00:27:36
She was at the Oscars last night.

Wendy 00:27:38
Oh, yeah.

Lauren 00:27:40
She's otherwise engaged.

Wendy 00:27:43
Yeah, you picked up your dog. But what I really want to know is about the haircut, which I read in your book is the international lesbian option number two. It's one on the side and then long on the top.

Lauren 00:27:59
Yeah. This is just a standard, pretty much crew cut, which is not what I wanted at all. But I'm too gray, so it looks like I have bald spots because all of that's gray, so it looks even sillier. I got the one haircut that was the fourth haircut and therefore terrible. And then I got a haircut to fix that, which made it worse. And then the problem with fixing a short haircut is it's just going to get shorter. There's only one way to do it. Yeah. I ended up with this, which isn't the worst. I think I look okay in it. It's just this haircut is a whole lot butcher than I am. Yeah. It's been a traumatic thing my entire adult life. Everyone updated.

Wendy 00:28:48
Freeze it in time.

Lauren 00:28:49
Really tired of hearing me whine about the crappy haircut I got because maybe two months out of the year, I have the haircut I want.

Maureen 00:28:57
Yeah. Carry a lot of pictures. That helps. Seriously. Carry pictures or take pictures of people whose haircuts you like. I mean, it says 1000 words. I wanted to ask you, I have a feeling that you're going to get really huge, and I think someone's going to want to make a movie or about your life. I have this feeling it's just such a fascinating story. I don't know how it's going to end, and I don't know what the message is going to be, but I could see this happening. And I wonder if you ever do you think visually that way? I guess it's because I just watched the Academy Awards and there were some great stories, and I thought, you're a story. You could be a visual story, too. So your hair will be important.

Lauren 00:29:42
If anyone wants to pay me to travel around and eat disgusting cheese, I'm in. But when I'm writing, I don't think visually at all. I know some people do. The visual parts are harder for me. I'm good at describing a person, I think, but it's still a narrative of how would you describe this person to a friend? And I try to pick out a little thing about them so that people can fill in their own picture. There's one in the Cable Guy essay where I said, a man tucked in his. Polo shirts and walked like a little teapot. And I think people fill in their own version of that guy. And I think it's easier to go through one line about a person than to fill in, like, an entire page. If he had an aquarium nose and his eyes were blue and teeth were straight or crooked, I can read through an entire list of descriptions of a person. I still won't know what they look like. But if I give people one line, I think and it works better for me, I don't know how to fucking write. All I can do is write the way I want to read it. But then people fill in their own image.

Wendy 00:30:49
Yeah, it's kind of like comedy. I mean, you're very funny and you're a great writer, and the two do not contradict each other, but you hear a great comedian and you go, yeah, what he said, or what she said, it's like that's. It exactly. And it seems, like so simple and yet coming up with a teapot. Please tell me that it took a couple of hours to come up with it, because I think it is a skill and I don't think that people recognize that it doesn't just sort of fall off the table, that the comedian didn't just sort of stand up there and say, I'm brilliant.

Maureen 00:31:24
You do know how to fucking write, Lauren. You may not know why or how, but you may not know how it came to you, but you do know how to write. You're a phenomenal writer and, yeah, you're welcome. We'll leave it at that.

Lauren 00:31:38
Yes. Thanks. Fuck. Really not good at anything else, but I think it just comes from watching people. I didn't go to school or anything, so I just read everything and found out what I liked to read and then describing things. It's from watching people and it comes from even watching film. You can watch Psycho, and the most terrifying scene is the handprint on the curtain. But you don't have to see the rest of the murder. You don't have to see the chopping or the slashing or anything else. Your brain will fill in the most terrifying thing because you saw a handprint on the curtain. That's how my brain works. So I write for that. And so, yeah, when I'm trying to describe someone, I'll drive around and try to pick out something, some detail about them that I think my brain will fill in the rest of it. And hopefully it's funny. Hopefully it works.

Maureen 00:32:39
What's next? That will be my final question. Wendy, what is next? More essays or travel show where you get to eat cheese?

Lauren 00:32:49
Honestly, if anyone wants to do the travel show, contact me. But I need to be able to bring my Jag, though. Turns out I miss that guy. But, yeah, I'm going to drive around in a van. I'm going to follow, sort of follow Steinbeck's path. Although he didn't go to Florida. And he made up a whole lot of his book. And I can't make up any of my book and still have to fill 300 pages. So I'm going to go to Florida because it's fucking weird. And my transmission might fall out in South Dakota. And there's another chapter. But yeah, we're going to see what happens. I thought essays would be easy because I wrote The Cable Guy in a weekend. But it's a lie of accounting, I think, really, because I'd been writing that the entire time I was working in my mind. And so when I sat down to write it, it just came out. So when I signed up to do a book of essays and was like, yeah, this will be easy, it was not at all. So now I'm going to do a narrative book because I think it'll be easier. And it will not.

Maureen 00:34:05
I'll read it and we'll follow you along through substac. And yeah. Wish you all the best. Really. You're huge talent.

Lauren 00:34:14
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. This has been a blast.

Maureen 00:34:17
It's been our pleasure.

Lauren 00:34:19
I'm sorry that I look as layover as I am.

Maureen 00:34:23
Great conversation. I love conversations when you're tired or hungover or whatever. Because you just ramble them to say the most interesting thing.

Lauren 00:34:30
It's a terrible interview trick you do. I realized that I didn't know that it was an interview trick. A friend of mine, Carrie Blake Andrew, is a journalist. And I was talking about some interview I'd done where the interviewer was just flat and I couldn't get anything off of them, and I couldn't see what was going on. And it's because you keep talking. If we don't give you anything back, you'll just keep going. And then we have lots to write because you need them to like you. It's the same trick cops use. And I'm fine. I've learned with cops just shut the fuck up, dummy. I've not learned that with journalists because they really like me, which is a terrible fucking trait to doing interviews.

Maureen 00:35:11
Well, we really do.

Wendy 00:35:13
Well, we like you. And we really like that you don't give a shit. That whether people like you or not. I mean, you kind of do, but your writing is like, this is me, so whatever. So thank you.

Lauren 00:35:24
Thank you so much. Thank you.

Maureen 00:35:26
Thank you. All right.

Wendy 00:35:31
I'm so glad that she said it's hard. The writing is not easy to make it seem easy. Yeah, because it reads like her writing is so like what happened to her in her life is so shocking. And yet the substat is not shocking. It's so mundane. It's about well, today I connected the sink to the whatever. Anyway, I love her.

Maureen 00:35:52
I know you do. I do, too. She's our new best friend. We have a lot of best friends, though, through this podcast.

Wendy 00:36:01
Thing about doing a podcast. We like her.

Maureen 00:36:04
Let's get her on yeah, you may have picked up. Yeah. Wendy and I don't really talk to people we don't like, but maybe we should maybe find somebody we don't like and see how that goes. But no, Lauren is a gem anyway.

Wendy 00:36:18
Yeah. So it's interesting.

Maureen 00:36:19
I have feelings, Wendy.

Wendy 00:36:21
Yeah, well, I mean, you think that your childhood was kind of weird, but.

Maureen 00:36:27
Oh, everybody's childhood is weird.

Wendy 00:36:28
But hers was really freaking weird.

Maureen 00:36:30
No, hers was really weird.

Wendy 00:36:32
Like the sex cult, the children of God, and then joining the military.

Maureen 00:36:37
I know.

Wendy 00:36:37
I don't know. And then deciding that you're going to try and tell the truth about everything.

Maureen 00:36:41
It's pretty wild, but still finds joy, and not in a corny way. She still finds she's quick to laugh and quick to empathize. Like what I said, what doesn't kill you makes you funny. There's some truth to that. But it can also make you incredibly kind and empathetic, and that shines through as well. Anyway. Lauren hoff.

Wendy 00:37:08
She got a great haircut, though. That's all that matters. There's a nice story.

Maureen 00:37:12
I really like the haircut. Leaving isn't the hardest thing. It's a collection of essays from Lauren Hough. And by the way, we don't talk enough about Substac. Wendy and I write individually, but under the collective title of Women of Ill Repute on Substac. It doesn't cost anything to follow us. Of course, we ask you for money from time to time because it's our job. But if you go to Substac, you will discover a world of phenomenal writers. Everyone from us to Margaret Atwood and everyone in between writing casually, and it's a wonderful resource. So check us out. Check Lauren out. Check Margaret atwood out.

Wendy 00:37:51
Yeah, we started it as well. I thought, well, let's promote the podcast. And then we realized we really liked writing, and we both read so much on Substac, so it's been a wonderful experience. And that's how we discovered that's how we fell in love with Lauren, and now she's on the podcast, so it's great.

Maureen 00:38:09
Yeah, so it's a good thing. So check it out, and I will see you later. Bye. Women of illrepute was written and produced by Maureen Holloway and Wendy Metz with the help from the team at the Sound Off media company and producer Yet Belgraver.