Most Presents: The Homo Schedule

Carmen Maria Machado’s Schedule

Episode Summary

What is that connects the sensual and the monstrous? Is there a right way to be creative? And how does a hypochondriac make it through a pandemic? All that and more as Liv and Jasmin talk to Carmen Maria Machado!

Episode Notes

What is that connects the sensual and the monstrous? Is there a right way to be creative? And how does a hypochondriac make it through a pandemic? All that and more as Liv and Jasmin talk to Carmen Maria Machado!


- Generations of Mentorship: Conversations With L.G.B.T.Q. Elders by Jamal Jordan for The New York Times

- On writing about whatever you want by Carmen Maria Machado for The Creative Independent

- Carmen Maria Machado Takes Us 'In The Dream House' by Code Switch

- The artist Jasmin mentioned is Tashina Suzuki!


Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the bestselling memoir In the Dream House and the award-winning short story collection Her Body and Other Parties. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of many awards, including the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction, and the Shirley Jackson Award. In 2018, the New York Times listed Her Body and Other Parties as a member of "The New Vanguard," one of "15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century."


- Hosts: Jasmin Savoy Brown and Liv Hewson

- Producer: Eric Silver

- Co-Producers: Jasmin Savoy Brown and Liv Hewson

- Editor, Engineer & Sound Designer: Mischa Stanton

- Executive Producer: Amanda McLoughlin

- Researcher: Gina Cherelus

- Created by: Jasmin Savoy Brown

- Produced by: Multitude & Netflix

Find Us Online

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- Instagram: @Most

Episode Transcription

Jasmin: Welcome to the Homo Schedule, [Singsong] where we're corrupting your children into celebrating their wins and being proud of the journey! I'm Jasmin, your personal assistant in charge of all your Birkenstocks.
Liv: And I'm Liv, and I'm drawing up a chart of everybody's dietary restrictions. Would you mind emailing me yours so I can put it in? [Laughs]
Jasmin: Oh… That's going to be a lot, and that's so funny because no one in this duo has ever done that before for an entire cast of people.
Liv:Where do you think I got the idea? 
Jasmin: [Exasperated sigh] Let's review the minutes from last week's meeting. [Laughs] Liv, what's going on my friend?
Liv: Oh man. I don't even know what has been going on. I, my sense of time is shot. I never know what day of the week it is anymore. I never know what I was doing five minutes ago or what I'm doing next month. I feel like I'm floating in space. How are you? 
Jasmin: You know, I'm good. I, um, recently moved back into my apartment in LA. I [Laughs] forgot about the painting that I had commissioned last summer. 
Liv: Tell me about this painting. 
Jasmin: I think I’ve told you about it. It’s is a picture of my friend and I, like, having a moment that I decided to have commissioned by my favorite artist. And it's very gay, there's a big rainbow around it and a lot of stars. And, um, it really makes me laugh because, why did I do that? [Laughs]
Liv: No. Why aren't we doing that more? I think that is the better question. Of course you did that. I would do that. I think that's the right thing to do. 
Jasmin: It reminds me of a specific time in my life! I just got out of a relationship that wasn't so great. I was free, happy for the first time. And I decided, you know, $1,200 on a painting of me and my friend naked was what I needed in my room.
Liv: Now you've told me about the painting before, but I've never seen the painting.
Jasmin: It's here. Let me see if I can show you. 
Liv: But podcasts are a visual medium.
Jasmin: But for you!
Liv: Just for me. 
Jasmin: Can you see it? 
Liv: Oh my God. It's beautiful!
Jasmin: Isn’t it?
Liv: Yeah. It's so nice. Also like commissioning a painting of like you and a naked friend with rainbows and stars around it is like peak homo schedule advancement behavior. 
Jasmin: It really is. And it's my favorite lesbian painter, so…
Liv: Oh my God!
Jasmin: You know what, we'll put the link to her website in the episode description. So y'all can buy her paintings if you want. 
Liv: Literally, we absolutely will do that. 
Jasmin: She's fantastic. So cheers to that.
Liv: Cheers to that. And to gay oil paintings! 
Jasmin: Get, get oil paintings of yourself naked with your friends that you're about to hook up with. Anyway, Liv what is on the agenda for today?
Liv: Jasmine today on the gay agenda, we are talking to Carmen Maria Machado, who is the author of the bestselling memoir In the Dream House and the award-winning short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and she's the winner of many awards, including the Lambda literary award for lesbian fiction, the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ nonfiction and the Shirley Jackson award.
In 2018, the New York times listed Her Body and Other Parties as a member of the new Vanguard. One of the 15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century, she is one of my favorite writers in the world. And I was so happy that we got to talk to her.
Jasmin: The way you read that was so funny because I felt like you did the same thing you did with the interview before she got on and you're like, ‘be-boo-bah-bah-bah,’ and she got on and you're like, “hello, I am serious. And I want to impress you.” And I was just like, ‘oh, hi Carm’ - what did I say right before she got on?
Liv: I don’t remember!
Jasmin: You were like, ‘Jasmin? You can't say that to a guest.’ And I was like, ‘no, I can tell she's chill you guys.’
Liv: This episode was an exercise in me staying cool. [Laughs]
Jasmin: You did a good job. So you've been a fan of Carmen for a while?
Liv: I came across her writing when Her Body and Other Parties had like, kind of recently come out. Cause I'm a big fan of short stories. I’m a big fan of like magic realism and like horror writing and like short fiction. So I was like, this is perfect. Thank you. I will read this and I loved it and I've followed everything she's written. 
Jasmin: I had heard of Her Body and Other Parties because you had talked about it and you told me to read it. So yeah. Hope you guys are ready for it. Let's enter it into the record!
[Transition music]
Jasmin: Hello, Carmen, and welcome to The Homo Schedule!
Liv: Hi, Carmen!
Carmen: Thanks for having me. I get the newsletter, but I was really excited to be invited to actually speak to The Homo Schedule. So thank you. 
Jasmin: This is like the next level up from the newspaper. 
Carmen: Oh yeah. In the MLM that is The Homo Schedule. I've gone up the ladder. [Laughs]
Jasmin: We love to start our podcast saying our names and our pronouns and how we identify. I'll go first today. My name is Jasmine. My pronouns are she/her, I identify as queer and also as the janitorial staff for the cast of The L Word.
Liv: I love that. Um, my name is Liv, my pronouns are they/them. I'm a lesbian and also - oh, that might be it. Actually. That might be all I've got. It's real - That's that's the whole, that's all of it 
Jasmin: That’s it for today. And you know what? That's more than enough. Thank you for coming as you are. 
Carmen: My name is Carmen. My pronouns are she/her, I identify as queer. And also as a dog mom. 
Liv: Oh, we love it. 
Jasmin: You also identify as a deeply anxious person and a hypochondriac so that yes. [Laughs] Yet you seek things out that make you scared. And I want to know why. 
Carmen: Oh my God. We're just diving, jumping right into this, this scenario. 
Jasmin: Yeah. Perfect segue. 
Liv: Totally.
Carmen: Um, yeah, like this was always the way I've been and it was only when I started touring my first book that people began to ask me this question. And I was like, ‘I have never even thought about that.’ Cause it's true. Like I am very anxious, I'm a hypochondriac. And I also seek things out that sort of make me afraid. And even as a child I was like deeply, deeply afraid of horror and scary things, and yet I would read them and watch them and be drawn to them. Back in the days of Blockbuster, [Laughs] I would always run into the Blockbuster and I'd run to the horror section and I'd always look at the, the Hellraiser box, you know, with, with Pinhead? 
Jasmin: Yeah.
Liv: Mmhm.
Carmen: And I’d always like stare it down for like a minute. I mean, I didn't like check it out. I wasn't allowed to, but I like would look at it really intensely. And then like, cause it like thrilled me on this like brutally deep level that I would just run away. 
Jasmin: Interesting. 
Carmen: So anyways, so I like asked this question a lot the way I've I guess, reconciled it or concluded it is just like, I'm a hypochondriac and I'm anxious because you know, my nervous system is like turned up to 11. That's just like how I am, but I also love the feeling of having my temperature altered by art, by situations. So it's like this desire, it's like, ‘yes, it's like, it makes me feel a lot of things and it can obviously get out of hand and I am, you know, deeply medicated.’ [Laughs]
Jasmin: [Laughs] Aren’t we all? 
Carmen: Like we all know I'm in therapy, right? Yeah. I do all the things. But like also there is something really thrilling about having that sense of something inside of me is changing. 
Liv: Yes.
Jasmin: And I mean, I hate, there's nothing I hate more than like consuming a piece of art and feeling nothing like that to me is like the greatest indictment of like something where it's like, I feel unchanged like in any way. [Laughs] Um, but you know, I just love that sensation of being frightened or being unsettled or being turned around by something. And I seek it out even though it does stress me out. 
Liv: There's something too, I always wonder about like horror and being frightened in art that it's like, you are ultimately safe. Right? 
Carmen: Right, right.
Liv: Like you're not really in danger. So it's like, yeah. It's like a space to play in to have those changes happen to you. 
Carmen: Totally. 
Jasmin: That’s beautiful, really.
Carmen: A hundred percent. I mean, it's like going on a rollercoaster where it's like, you're, you're creating like a situation that's giving you like adrenaline and all this stuff, but like ultimately you know you're safe. Yeah. I mean, so I don't, I don't like go like cliff jumping. [Laughs]
Jasmin: That would not be my next question. 
Carmen: No, no. I mean, I actually have gone skydiving, but I only went skydiving once I had asked the man who ran the company how many jumps he had done in his lifetime. And he said like 40,000 or something insanely huge number. 
Liv: Whoa.
Jasmin: What?
Carmen: I said, has anything ever gone wrong? And he was like, ‘Nope, and like I'm here.’ If something had gone wrong, I wouldn't be here. 
Liv: What would have been the threshold? Of jumps at which he would have said no. Like if, if he had said like 200 - 
Jasmin: No, I would say no at 200!
Carmen: I mean, yeah, if he said 200, I would have been like, oh no, that's not enough jumps. He also likely, he was like, my dad's age. Like, he's like an old, like, he feels like a young guy who's like, I've successfully done four jobs. I'd be like - 
Jasmin: [Laughs] He's 19. 
Carmen: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's like a thing that's like very safe, like at least in the US. That's like the, kind of the most extreme version of it. And I felt like James Bond, because then I hosted a dinner party that night just like coincidence timing. 
Liv: Oh my god! 
Carmen: And it was like, once I jumped out of the plane, whatever happened to my body chemically, I like jumped out of the plane, I don't remember the first like 30 seconds -
Jasmin: That’s the most terrifying part!
Carmen: I literally, there was a blank part of my brain where I think my body was just like, ‘you're not meant to do this. Like, what are you doing? Like goodbye.’ And just completely, like my mind just like vacated my body. But then it was funny, cause after it was done, it was great. And then I felt so relaxed. I felt like I was high the rest of the day, I think cause like it was like just all that adrenaline and then like it kind of left me and I was just like, ‘I feel so cool right now.’ [Laughs] So chill. Like I've never felt that relaxed in my entire life before or since.
Jasmin: But you only seek out those thrills - Okay. You did the skydiving once, but aside from that, you seek out those thrills within art and within the art you make, but you're not going to go swimming with sharks tomorrow.
Carmen: No. I mean, yeah. Like it's like stuff that feels safe and that feels like a controlled something. So like, yeah. Like I love like haunted houses, like I'm, spooky season is my season, I'm like every haunted attraction I'm like pull over. I want to go. And actually in Philly we have the Eastern State Penitentiary, which is like one of the, I think it's the oldest prison in the country and it's - 
Liv: Whoa.
Jasmin: Whoa. 
Carmen: - like this really cool museum that's about like the history of like prisons in the U S and it's like this really interesting place. And every year they do like a haunted attraction to like raise money for their programming or whatever. And they actually have this really cool system where you wear like a glow necklace. And so if you want people to touch you or you're okay with like actors touching you, you have a glow necklace on -
Liv: Oh!
Jasmin: Ooh!
Carmen: and then if you don't want it, you can just not take it, and also you can take it off. So like it's in the middle of it you're like, ‘I'm too freaked out.’
Jasmin: That’s cool, you can change your mind. 
Carmen: And I was like, I've never heard of like a model of consent in like a haunted attraction! But it's really cool. 
Liv: Wow!
Carmen: And so, yeah, so like a couple of years I didn't have the necklace on and then one year I did have the necklace and I took it off. And then finally, a couple years ago I like had the necklace on.
Jasmin: How'd that feel? 
Carmen: Really fun! I got to get like manhandled by like people in mask. I mean, it's was actually not that scary.
[All laugh]
Carmen: It's like really fun! Yeah. So yeah, for me, like the pleasure of like, you know, horror movies or like, you know, movies that are like unsettling or, or novels or things like that, like, there's create this sense of anxiety, but ultimately it's all in this like safe, controlled situation.
Liv: Well, I want to follow the thread of that. Cause one, one of my favorite things about your writing is that like, it's like the sexy and the monstrous at the same time. Like it's -
Carmen: Yeah, cause that's all I care about. 
Liv: It's like very embodied desire, but then also like horror and like being unsettled and it's like very atmospheric.Those things feel very married to me when I think about your work. 
Carmen: Right, well, it's all, it's all arousal, like the word in the most literal sense. Like, it's like, you can be aroused in like a sexual sense, but you also can be aroused in the hands of fear. I mean, again, it's like adrenaline, it's like all this sort of stuff, like flowing through your body. And like, ultimately that is like pleasurable and intense in its own way, because it is also about this centrality of the body. It's like, I'm really interested in like what the body can do and like what the body sort of offers us both in terms of fear and in terms of like sexual pleasure or like the - the body is critical. You can't untie those things from each other. 
Jasmin: Mhm. 
Carmen: Like, I don't know. It was just, yeah, it's like weird. It's like, I, I keep trying to like steer myself into other directions that I always just returned to fear and sex. 
Liv: I love it. There's something very essential about that. That moves me about your work.
Carmen: Thank you. 
Jasmin: So I want to talk about your process because I heard you saying on another podcast that you write when you need to, but not every day. 
Carmen: Mmhm, mhm, 
Jasmin: And I love that because it feels like the demystification of artistry - which is the title of my future TED talk - and I would love to hear you talk more about that, because artists, writers, we’re put on this weird, not even just like pedestal, but this other planet, like art happens this specific way and you have to show up. Crying, blood, sweat, and tears every day. And that's not true. So will you talk about that?
Carmen: Oh my God. This is like my one of my favorite subject. So I'm so glad -I will watch that Ted talk!
Jasmin: Thank you! 
Carmen: Yeah. Yeah. I am very much of the same philosophy and I feel like there's nothing that kind of makes me more crazy than when I like read like writerly advice. That I'm just like, why? Like, this is such a silly way of thinking about this process. I mean, it's weird because in some ways I do believe in this like a certain amount of like ineffable magic, not even literal magic, but like there is this like thing that you I guess you could think of as like spiritual, or you could think of is like the subconscious, but there's like, there is like a piece of it that you can sort of feed it, but you can't really like harness it. And like, in some ways it's like, you're always just like beholden to this like little piece of the magic - 
Jasmin: Your elusive creative genius. There's a Ted talk about that. 
Carmen: Yes! Yes! The Elizabeth Gilbert one!
Jasmin: It’s so good. 
Carmen: It’s so good! 
Liv: I love it. 

Carmen: I talk about it all the time, and I'm always like super embarrassed to admit it. I'm like, I'm going to recommend a TED talk.
Jasmin: No it’s so great, it’s so inspirational! It’s so true.  
Carmen: Yes. A hundred thousand percent. And I remember like watching that when I was in  grad school or like right after grad school and being like, oh, this is actually an incredibly healthy and normal way to think about. The creative process. So, yeah, I mean, I think also one has to engage in the practice that works best for your life. Like, you know, if like you are a parent or you have a full-time job, or like, like there's all kinds of ways in which you have to sort of adjust your practice around the life that you're living and like, it's your, it's your practice. Right? So like, some people do write every day because it's helpful to them and that's fine. I do not write every day. Like I write in like fits and spurts. I do a lot of note taking, like if I have a thought, I always write it down immediately. I have like a centralized place for all my ideas, because they will come to me sort of like randomly. And I'm like, I can't bother with this right now, but I am going to write it down.
Jasmin: Right. It can be inconvenient. 
Carmen: Totally. 
Jasmin: Like I'm literally on I5 right now, please get out of my head. 
Carmen: [Laughs] Yes! I get ideas in the shower and driving constantly. And I'm like, this is not helpful to me because I'm like, you know, shampoo is right in my face or I'm driving a little car. So I just have like a system. And like, if I'm driving, like my spouse does not drive and I do, so I'll often say to her, like text me something, I'm going to little sites, something to you. And I'll like, recite this like weird sentence to her and she'll be like, okay. It's like, So I like have it somewhere so that when I'm like not driving a car, like 80 miles an hour, I can access it and like put it where it needs to go. I'm also like if I'm, you know, I've gotta take my daughter to the vet and I've got to like, you know, I teach, like I don't write on those days, cause like my brain is like occupied. You'd have to figure out what works best for you and for the life that you're leading and the goals that you have. 
Liv: I'm always a little suspicious of the like ‘write every day’ model, because it doesn't account for domestic labor or like a life outside of that, it feels very much like, oh, this is a model of practice that was come up with by like dudes who had wives.
Carmen: Totally. And like, obviously, every so often, like that mean goes around about Henry David Thoreau and how like his mom did his laundry -
[All laugh]
Carmen: - you know, all these thinkers who like all their, yeah. All their like creative intellectual work was being supported by like unpaid unacknowledged female labor.
Liv: Right. 
Carmen: And I think that there is also like a variation on this theme, which is like, oh, but like, if you're a parent, wake up and like write for 15 minutes every day. And like, if it's like, well, that is what you do. Like, you can't make the time in big chunks. So you like take little snippets where you can, and that's also like fine. But also I think the idea that it's, there's no universal truth.
Liv: No, yeah. 
Jasmin: Right.
Carmen: I feel like there's this real industry of like writing advice and it's like, there's so little advice I can think of like one piece of advice that is like universal in terms of writing, which is you need to read to write. Like that I feel like that's the only like piece of writing advice that like really truly applies across the board, but like in general, it's like, yeah, like you have to figure out what works best for you. Like, you know, you have to live the life you're living. And it doesn't have to be this like, holy rarefied, you don’t have to be in a garret, you know, typing on a typewriter and like, you know, like all these like weird ideas we have about writing that comes from these like romantic ideas. It's like, you have to just make it work for you.
Liv: Yeah. It's like, um, it's art is like a dandelion growing in a pavement, you know, it's fine. It doesn't need to be anything in particular. 
Carmen: Right. Precisely. 
Jasmin: So my follow-up question then is, what did you learn in the year that you took off to write?
Carmen:  Which - which year?
Jasmin: Oh, okay. Good question. I just, I was listening to you on a different podcast recently and you said you took off a one year specifically to write recently and I wonder -
Carmen: Oh, it was, uh, last year and it was when COVID happened and I got nothing done! [Laughs]
Jasmin: Cute. 
Carmen: You know, so, yeah. So I mean, yes, when I say take off, what I mean is, I work really well in like a residency environment where I'm like, not distracted by other things, I'm not teaching. So I just sort of like work a bunch and then I like take time off. And then I like go to a residency. And that's usually where I'm being sort of fed and like I'm being supported in this exact way. And I'm like, kind of away from distractions and then I'm incredibly productive. So like my second book was almost entirely written in residencies because I had just like needed the space. And so I sort of took off 2020 ahead of time, like in night 2019 teams, like I have this new book I'm working on, like I need, I need the time I'll take off from teaching. And then of course COVID and I got like, literally nothing. I mean, it was like quite, quite terrible, terrible for a lot of reasons, but like - cause I was like too stressed out. I was like, I can't focus on anything. And I mean, everything just like shut down and it was just, yeah, it was, it was bad. I mean, it was really - 
Jasmin: It was a hard time to say the least. 
Carmen: [Laughs] Exactly. Yeah. So I guess for me, it's just like, I know that I needed the space and so I just like work until I can take a break and then I do the thing and then I come back and it's just like, this is like the way that I have figured out how to make my process work. And some of that came from like, because when I first started writing, I was adjunct teaching. I was teaching, but it was very low paid and very random, like, I would like have some classes sometimes and not others. And so it was just this sort of like the way my brain became accustomed to like the creative process. And I do write at home. I have been writing at home, but yeah, another year I took off was completely gone. [Laughs]
Jasmin: Yeah, it happens. I think most artists response to COVID were one of two things. It was either ‘I wrote that album or I finished that screenplay or, oh, I just started 10 new projects’ or, ‘um, no, I was too stressed out. I did nothing.’ And both are perfectly accepted. 
Carmen: Totally. 
Liv: And they both make complete sense. 
Carmen: Yeah. I mean, I'm a little bit, I feel like that's a, someone's like I did all these projects. I'm like, don't tell me that. I don't want to hear that, keep that private, [Laughs] but yeah, I definitely was more on the side of like, like I mentioned, I am a hypochondriac, like a pandemic is like literally my worst nightmare.
Liv: Oh, yeah. 
Carmen: I mean, it's like, it's like, you could not have crafted a more specific trigger for me. 
Jasmin: And you lived through your nightmare. You, you survived it, that's amazing.
Carmen: Well, I mean, living through, I mean, we're still, you know, like I'm still it's - 
Liv: Yeah, we're not done.
Jasmin: But I'm saying like, you know, that is awful and terrible and I'm sorry. And you survived and that’s fucking amazing. And you should be so proud of yourself. 
Carmen: That's true. That's true. I did survive it with minimal psychic trauma. I think. I think. I guess we’ll see. 
Jasmin:Oh I have a lot of that.
[Carmen laughs]
Jasmin: But I still call myself a survivor. Come on now. 
Liv: Definitely. 
Carmen: Yeah. I'm just like ready to tell my, I'm already like ready to be a grandmother until like children's story is big. Like you don't even know. The reason I buy hand sanitizer by the gallon is because [Laughs]
Jasmin: I want to talk to you about mentorship. It's something that I'm really passionate about. I try to find someone to mentor wherever I am. We're in Canada right now. We've been here for six months and I'm mentoring these two high schoolers who want to be actors. So I'm curious if you mentor anyone or if you had queer mentors growing up and the role that may have played. And if you have any queer mentors now. 
Carmen: So, growing up, no, I did not have, I did have mentors, but not queer mentors, which I think is just partially a symptom of, you know, I was a kid in the nineties. I was a teen in the early two thousands. Like it was just like a weird time to be queer. And as far as I know, I had one gay teacher in college that I knew of who was openly gay. And like, before that, like I didn't have any - there weren’t any kids out at my school that I was aware of or that I knew. I mean, the language for queerness was very limited to the point where I, as a queer person did not understand that when I thought about kissing my friends, freckles all over her face, that that meant that I was gay. Like I did not understand - 
Liv: Classic. Classic. 
Carmen: - that I was just like a thing you do. Like you just think about kissing your friends freckles. 
Liv: Everybody wants that. 
Carmen: Everybody wants that, but- 
Liv: I thought everyone did want that, is that what makes me gay? [Laughs]
Carmen: Yeah. Right. Exactly. Um, so I, I really like, didn't like have that framework. And it really wasn't until I got to college and like, one of my best friends in college was an openly like bi woman. And I remember her being like, ‘I'm bi, this is what this is.’ And I was like, like, and I were just, it was like that it was like just somebody explaining what she was and feeling like, oh, that's not like the language I use anymore. But like, it was just this moment of like recognition. And I felt like she kind of gave me the ability to like step into that place. So like, I didn't really, like, have a mentor who was like- actually I have a mentor who I like feel like in my soul is queer, but I don't actually know if she is, but I had like a, like a female pastor growing up who was like very special to me who like was really kind to me and like gave me a lot of like stuff to read. And she was like this very, like, really positive presence in my life. And like, as an adult, I do have like older queer mentors, like people who I've met and gotten to know who like, are very special to me and also getting to see and talk to older queer people is like such a special gift. Like, I mean, it's like, I always feel very emotional. I need - 
Liv: Oh it makes me cry. 
Carmen: Oh my God. Cause it's like, oh my God, like you, you did it. You're older. And you're like living your life. And like, it's really beautiful and really special. 
Liv: Let me sit on your kitchen counter, please. Like just let me stay for a minute. 
Carmen: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I feel like I've just always been a person who like, I have like lived in a lot of different places and I've always just like, kind of gathered like sweet, like tender queer or queer adjacent people who have like been a little older who like have their shit together and like take care of me very gently. [Laughs] 
Liv: We all need that. 
Carmen: We all need that. It's so important. It's like, there are like people in my life who then I feel like that person. And I'm like, ‘I will feed you. Like, what do you need? Do you need a trip due to plane ticket deal? Like, what do you need?’ You know? Um, and I also teach, which is like, I mean, it's a different kind of relationship. And I've had students say to me, like, you're the first out professor I've had. And like the fact that you just like, wow. Casually mentioned, and I'm like, that cannot be true. Like. In this day and age. Just seems like shocking to me, but - 
Liv: I think it can be true. 
Carmen: Yeah. And I think just like me, you know, I'll just like, be like, oh yeah, like my wife, like, it's always like a little bit, I think, strange. Um, and it's really important to me to like, be that person, especially in like a queer context where it's like, if you don't have anyone to talk to you, like you can come talk to me about queer stuff. Or like also I can talk about like queer art and like what it means to be a queer artist and what it means to be like a public figure who's queer or like a person who's like out in her everyday life. Like, you know, and all of that feels really important because I just did not have that. And I turned out okay. But like, I really could have really used an adult, [Laughs] like a queer adult in that sense, like when I was younger and I wish I'd had that.
Jasmin: Yeah. I'm just sitting with that for a second. It's such a beautiful thing.
Liv: That's just it. That is the dream. 
Jasmin: Yeah.
Liv: I want to ask you a little bit about your book in the dream house, which is about sort of being in and leaving an abusive relationship. And I was thinking that you must have had to talk about abuse a lot in talking about it and promoting it. And I was wondering if there was anything you wish you had been asked or had been asked differently? 
Carmen: Yeah, it's hard to talk about, like it's gotten - it's I sort of have this plan that like, after all of my press is done that, my plan is to like, stop talking about it at some point, because it is just like, so it's just like so intense. 
Liv: Of course. 
Carmen: Um, and I think, you know, the hard thing about it was like a lot of the questions I would get. I got. More than I thought about like the details of the relationship in the, at first I was not expecting it. Like the first interview I did for the book. It was like, before it came out, it was like, I like went to this interview, it was an NPR interview. And the question was just about like, I don't remember the question was, it was a very personal question. Like it was not, it was not like talk about the form of the book or talk about like, you know, what does it mean to write about trauma, but it like a very intense, personal question. And I burst into tears and I like cried through the whole interview. I was so embarrassed. I was like hysterical and I like left the interview and I like called my publicist and it was just crying, And I was like, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I like fucked up the interview. And I was like, really distressed.
Liv: It doesn't sound like you fucked up the interview.
Carmen: No, no. I don't think they did either. It's just like, I think I just hadn't prepared myself for like the reality of having to put this book out into the world and then having to discuss in essence the worst, or one of the worst things that's ever happened to me. Right. And like, that's a really tall order. Like for a person. And also a person who has written before exclusively fiction. And so like was used to just talking about like craft and like whatever. And I feel like there's also this thing that happens. And I think it happens if you read about trauma. I think it happens if you are queer or non-white, or a woman where like, people really want to zero in on like the autobiographical stuff and they want to zero in on like the trauma and the grittiness of it. They're less interested in the questions of like craft-
Liv: Yeah.
Carmen: and I'm like, I'll talk about craft all day. Like, I'll talk about like writing a book, which is like, what, I'm good at what I do until the cows come home. But like, I would rather not go into these like intense, detailed discussions.
Jasmin: For sure. Also I would argue, hello. I already gave you the book. Like that is everything that I want you to know. And my whole soul translated through this book. I don't need anymore. Like, you're fucking a welcome. 
[All laugh]
Carmen: Yes. I mean, I wish I had said that exact thing, um, but I mean, as it was, I was just like, ‘I'd rather not,’ or like, The trick that they teach you and not that I've had like official media training, but like, I think they teach you, which is like, answer the question you wish you had been asked and not the question that was asked of you.
Liv: Yeah, you're allowed to just say whatever. Right? Exactly. I remember finding that out. I'm like, wait, I'm allowed to say whatever?!
Carmen: Didn't you feel so powerful? I don't also like, remember that big, like, oh my God. That's like the best piece of life advice. 
Liv: Yeah [Laughs]
Jasmin: Which is actually kind of funny. It would have been funny if you're like, yeah. So my favorite food is in fact, the reason is …
Carmen:Right, right, right. Um, yeah, I don't know. And I mean, like I did all these other things sort of during the tour that would help me keep myself safe. So for example, like I… We did Q and A's like, we did written Q and A’s like on cards. So someone could sort of screen them, like the person who's interviewing me. So like, you know, we can sort of stay away from certain subjects and, you know, it worked out fine and it was, you know, fine, but, and I've like actually forgotten the question that you asked me that I sent me off on this tangent, but... 
Liv: Yeah, just if there was anything you wish you had been asked, I've been asked in a different way.
Carmen: I mean, people really covered it. [Laughs] I feel like we really ran the gamut of like…
Liv: I suppose they must've. 
Jasmin: Yeah. Thank you for sharing about all of that. 
Carmen: Oh yeah, of course. Yeah yeah yeah. 
Jasmin: We have a question and then we're going to play a little game. 
Carmen: Oh, Okay. 
Jasmin: Um, we want to hear about the first time you remember seeing a queer person and recognizing yourself in them and we call this ‘ring of keys.’
Carmen: Ah, mhm. 
Liv: It doesn't even have to be a person. It can be like, like a media image or like feeling of, you know.
Carmen: Sure, sure. ‘Ring of keys’ - first, it always makes me bawl my eyes out when I listen to it. And I think it's because it's such a beautiful encapsulation of this like concept of like you're a ghost touching someone else's ghost, which I think is like a really beautiful sort of moment of like human connection. My first moment of like, ‘huh,’ was when I saw Titanic when I was like 11. [Laughs]
Liv: Titanic!
Carmen: Yeah. Well, but it was really funny because my mom took me to see, my mom had seen it already and she said, she was a stickler about like ratings and movie content. And so she said, I'll let you see it, but only if you let me cover your eyes during, uh, there's a part I want to cover your eyes. And I said, okay, because I really wanted to see it. And what she did was she covered my eyes during the sex scene - 
Liv: Yeah.
Carmen: Not -  never occurred to her that like, she wouldn't need to cover my - cause I think in her brain, like I was not, I couldn't be gay, it's just like never crossed her mind. And so Kate Winslet’s breasts were like burned into my retinas and like my consciousness for like my whole, but I was like, I was like pre-sexual. Like I wasn't sexual yet. Like I was only 11, but I was like, ‘huh.’ 
Jasmin: Awokened something. 
Carmen: And like that really like, didn't forget that. Never going to forget that. And then, yeah, I feel like probably the first time I like saw a gay person that really need me. It must've been my friend Anne, the same person that was like when I was in college, because she was also very like, she was androgynous. So she, she sort of was doing this like thing that I had just never seen before and was just like… So Anne, she had like really like feminine hair, but then she, like, she had this like swagger and she like dress or vendor. And I was just like, ‘I'm picking up whatever you're putting down.’ Like I was, and I was wearing a sweatshirt and I was just like, I don't okay. I want whatever this is. I don't know what it is exactly. But like… 
Liv: There’s something magic about it. It's like compelling. 
Carmen: Yeah. And I mean, in retrospect also, like, I feel like I watch a lot of movies now that I watched as like a younger person and be like, ‘oh, got it. Got it. Okay.’
[All laugh]
Carmen: Now I understand my response. Like this is super gay. Got it. Got it. Got it. Okay. I mean, I feel like just any kind of. Even very gentle, like gender fuckery - 
Liv: Oh god, yeah. 
Carmen: Like I was always like, huh, what's that about? Or like, oh my God, what was the first one would be that Keira Knightley was in there where she's just like, also like, it's like she's Robin Hood and she's like super butch. 
Liv: Oh yeah, oh yeah. It's an underrated film, actually. God, she really like, and then Bend It Like Beckham. She was really- 
Carmen: OH Bend It Like Beckham! Oh my god!!!
Liv: Keira Knightly was walking the walk. 
Jasmin: I've actually never seen that movie. We have to watch it. I've never seen Bend It Like Beckham. 
Carmen: What?!
Jasmin: Isn't that weird? 
Carmen: It is the gayest non-gay movie I've ever seen to buy a title in life. Like it's like, it's not gay even slightly. And yet it like, it's just like dripping with it. 
Jasmin: But wasn’t it meant to be? I feel like I've read articles saying that it was gay.
Liv: I can't remember now whether this is an urban legend or not. I'd have to look it up, but I definitely remember as a teenager hearing whispers, like in the original version of the screenplay, they were going to get together at the end and then they, and then they weren't allowed to do that. So they added the coach character and like, yeah.
Jasmin: Yeah, so I did read articles about it. 
Liv:So I don't remember. But I always really clung to that. I'm like, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, they are I'm right! They are, that, that is how it's supposed to go, you know? ‘
Carmen: Yeah. So I'm like, not sure if that's, cause I do feel like I hear that about a lot of movies and I'm like, you want to believe that that's true. Like, I want to believe that this movie was supposed to be gay.
Liv: I fall for it every time, every time I'm like, ‘Yes! That's right.’
Jasmin: I'm going to do the research and I will report that back.
Liv: Please. 
Jasmin: Ok. We're going to play a game. 
Carmen: Okay. 
Jasmin: And this week we're playing. ‘How gay is it?’
[Segment music]
Jasmin: So I'm going to say something and you need to give me an exact percentage of how gay it is. I'm talking ‘68.1%’, ‘92.6%’. And here we go, Carmen, watching The L Word at 6:00 PM so you can be in bed by 8:00. 
Carmen: [Laughs] 73%. 
Jasmin: Liv, chai tea with coconut milk. 
Liv: [Inhales] 65.
Jasmin: Liv, loving Florence Pugh.
Liv: Ah, a good 79.
Jasmin: Carmen, not loving Zach Braff.
[All laugh]
Carmen: 89.
Jasmin:  Both of you, hating that Florence Pugh is with Zach Braff. 
[All laugh]
Carmen: Oh my god, 110%.
Liv: I love love. Like, I plead the fifth. I abstain. 
Carmen: I find it very upsetting. I also I’m like  obsessed with her. And I, I mean, it's like weird, cause I was a certain age. I've seen Garden State and I've seen all of Scrubs a million times, but also when I realized they were together, I got very upset.
Liv: I was raised on Scrubs
Jasmin: How gay is watching Scrubs
Carmen: Oh, like 24%
Liv: Yeah, like 32. It’s low. 
Jasmin: Liv, wearing multiple chunky rings. 
Liv: Oh, 43. You're going to have to take them off later. 
Jasmin: Hah, true. Carmen, doing mushrooms and really getting to know your pets. 
Carmen: [Laughs] Oh, that's like a solid, uh, I'd say like 75.
Jasmin: Liv, arm tattoos of trees. 
Liv: Oh God, 78.9.
Jasmin: Carmen, feminine studies in college. 
Carmen: Uuuuh, 16. 
Jasmin:  Both of you, writing essays for fun. [Laughs] I do that. 
Liv: 51. 
Carmen: Yeah, 51. I think that's correct. 
Jasmin: Liv, fresh fruit as a dessert. 
Liv: 87.
Jasmin: Carmen, Vivaldi's violin concerto number two in G minor. AKA the song in Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Carmen: Oh oh oh, I'm sorry. I was like, ‘I have literally no idea.’ Uh, oh, a hundred, a hundred percent.
Jasmin: Both of you, the most important one: How gay is it to abolish the police?
Liv:A hundred, 
Carmen: A hundred and ten. 
Liv: Yes. I agree. 75 to allow room. 
Jasmin: We don't want to keep the straits out, but we want to clear that 75 to 110. 
Carmen: Exactly, exactly. 
Jasmin: Final question of the day: What is everyone going to do this week to further the homo schedule?
Carmen: I'm… I’m going to have gay sex. 
[Liv laughs and claps]
Jasmin: Hell yeah! You’re the first person to say that, and I love you for it. 
Carmen: Wait, what?! Seriously? 
Jasmin: Yeah, no one has said it. Thank you.  This week I think, um, for my part of the Homo Schedule I'm going to clean out my apartment because gays should live in clean environment. 
Liv: Uh, we, we both have to, we both have to pack up our places and that's also what I was going to say. I'm going to spend some quality time with Jasmine's cat. I'm going to pat Zoa. 
Jasmin: My actual feline cat, let’s make this clear. I had one. Her name is Zoa.
Liv: Her name is Zoa and she's perfect. And I want to say hi. 
Jasmin: Anyway. [Laughs] Thank you for coming on to our podcast!
Carmen: My pleasure anytime. Thanks for having me. 
Liv: Thank you so much.
[Transition Music]
Liv: After every interview, there is still so much more for us to read and learn and talk about.
Jasmin: So we have citations we want to share with you!
Liv: So in this episode, Carmen talked about the importance of mentorship in her work. She was sharing stories about her mentors growing up and also talking to us about the importance of having older LGBTQ representation. So here's this link it's called “Generations of mentorship conversations with LGBTQ Elders” by Jamal Jordan for the New York Times. It's a photo story from 2019 and here's this quote: “As queerness starts to carry less and less stigma, will it be easier for young LGBT people to imagine a life where they actually grow old?” Which like hits so deep and, and is something I think about all the time and breaks my heart and like makes my brain fizz, and read the article. [Laughs]
Jasmin: During the episode, Carmen shared how it was for her to write about her personal experience with abuse and trauma in queer relationships, as it relates to her memoir In the Dream House. So the article is called ‘On writing about whatever you want’ by Carmen Maria Machado for the Creative Independent, it's an interview from 2017. She said: “I needed to approach it all these different ways and have all of these failed experiments in order to get to the place where I could feel like, oh, this is actually the way I want it to be doing this. Sometimes it takes a while to get there.” You can find all of these links and more in the episode description.
[Transition music]
Jasmin: This has been The Homo Schedule. I'm Jasmin Savoy Brown, your host, producer, and creator of the show.
Liv: And I'm Liv Hewson, your host and producer.
Jasmin: The Homo Schedule is produced by Multitude for Netflix. Our Lead Producer is Eric Silver, our Engineer and Editor is Mischa Stanton, and our Executive Producer is Amanda McLoughlin.
Liv: Be sure to follow Most, Netflix’s home for LGBTQ+ storytelling on Twitter and Instagram, @Most.
Jasmin: And the best way to help us keep advancing The Homo Schedule is to tell a friend about the show!
Liv: So post about us on socials or text someone a link to your favorite episode.
Jasmin: We'll see you next week!
Liv: This meeting has been adjourned.
[Gavel bang]