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Hey, all, I'm Catherine Burns, artistic director of The Moth, and we have exciting news for the first time in our history, we're helping launch a new podcast about ugly confessions from beautiful people.

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It's called The Confessional, and it's created and hosted by beloved moth storyteller and friend Nadia Boltz. Weber now describes the show as a car wash for people, shame and secrets, and it includes confessions, big and small.

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We're so proud to be a part of this collaboration between Nadya. Your producers at House of Cards in Denver and her longtime partners practice the confessional with valuables.

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Weber is available now. Welcome to Altogether Now Fridays with The Moth, I'm your host for This Week, game will burn this month. All together now is all about connection. What happens when we're truly honest with others and ourselves, which, while we're being honest, is easier said than done. So today, our stories are about the less than beautiful moments on the path to connection. Our first story is from Andrea Waldy. Adrian told this story at a Los Angeles story slam where the theme of the night was envy.

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Here's Adrian live at the most.

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So I don't think any of you know this girl, but trust me when I say it was ridiculous how rich Julia was, her gated community was so gated that there was like a gate around every house. It was ridiculous how many horses she had. And it was super ridiculous that I even cared about this in the first place because Julia was a 15 year old child and I was a 30 year old woman who really should have had my life together.

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I did not have my life together, and that's how I knew, that's how I knew Julia and the first place, because thanks to a divorce and the recession, I had been demoted from living life as a normal, respectable human being person and was now living life as a driver's ed instructor.

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I do not recommend living life as a driver's ed instructor. First of all, there is a uniform and not like a cool uniform like doctors or astronauts get to wear. This uniform is all khaki and it makes everyone who wears it, regardless of gender or body type, look like they have man boobs and lady hips.

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And the second worst thing about being a driver's ed instructor is that you are being a driver's ed instructor.

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And considering all that was going wrong in my life, I probably shouldn't have cared so much about Julias, except that Julio was both everything I wanted to be when I was her age and she was doing everything I wanted to do. Now she was a ballet dancer. I was a kid.

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I loved ballet so much. I want to be a ballet dancer. But when I told my mom they wanted to start taking ballet lessons, she told me pretty definitively that I was too fat to be a ballerina. But that's OK because black people don't get skinny anyway. And why don't you be an engineer like your dad and leave me alone? So not only did Julia get to take ballet lessons, she had a mom who liked her.

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Julia Julia also had like three cars at 15 and at 31, I had zero cars because my car had just been stolen. Rent controlled apartment. Pretty awesome. Being the only member of that apartment complex who was not also affiliated with the Canoga Park Alabamas Street gang came with some baggage. Julia's house also had heat. And at the time I was like all around my husband every night because I was the only utility I could afford to turn on.

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And I didn't think that I could dislike her any more until it was like December. And I made the mistake of asking her what she was going to do over the holidays.

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And she goes, Oh, we're going to Hawaii again. It sucks. And I wanted to be like, oh, my God, you're so right. Spending a week in paradise with people who love you. Sounds sounds absolutely horrible, you ungrateful little child who can't even drive a stick. But you can't say that to a kid. So instead I said, oh, Hawaii.

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Well, that sounds fine. What do you like to do there?

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And she goes, Oh, I have been so many times I don't even do anything anymore.

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And I wanted to say, you're a horrible human being, but you can't say that to a kid.

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So instead, I said, you're right, that does suck. What about the New Year? Any fun resolutions?

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And she goes, Oh, I just hope next year is better than this year.

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And I knew she'd broken up with the boyfriend. I didn't care because I was going through a divorce and she was going to be over this guy like next semester. But you can't say that to a kid, so instead I said, oh, is it because of Michael?

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And she goes that and I really hope my back gets better. And then she told me about how she was almost paralyzed. So, yeah, she was a ballet dancer. She'd been dancing at an elite level since she was a little kid. And she told me all and all on and on about all the practices and the shows and the competitions and all sounded wonderful.

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And then she started talking about how that year when she would get done with a practice, her arms and legs would feel really tingly and they started like burning. And then sometimes you can feel them at all. And how she started taking ibuprofen because it was so painful, shortening ibuprofen like candy and it was so painful like that wouldn't help. And now she started rapping icepacks to her body all day long. Now, that didn't help. And how one day she laid down after a show to, like, relax and she couldn't get up again.

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It was a stress fracture in two vertebrae. The doctor ordered her off of her feet and out of the toe shoes probably forever. And she goes, I don't really know who to be.

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And I totally got that because I was going through a big shake with my life, too.

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So we got back to her house and I looked at her giant mansion and our horses, our cars and stuff. And it was like it didn't matter how much stuff she had or how expensive it was, because if she couldn't have that one thing that made her feel awesome, it was pretty worthless.

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We probably shouldn't say that to a kid.

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So instead, I told her very honestly that I hoped that she had an awesome trip to Hawaii.

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Thank you. That was Adrià Walden. Since putting away her driving khakis, Adria has written for animated shows on Disney, Netflix and Amazon. She was also the host of the 2020 Nebula Awards and created the Webby nominated Jane Austen themed Web series Black Girl and a Big Driss. Next up this week, Katie Vaka Katie told the story out of Phoenix door slam where the theme of the night was animals. Here's Katie looking at the moth.

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I love to hate cats. I come from a family that doesn't particularly care for cats. In fact, my mom not only dislikes cats very much, but she has an actual cat phobia. And like any good old fashioned familial conditioning, that fear has been passed down to me. And despite my best efforts to avoid these creatures, somehow they have highlighted some pretty important moments in my life. The very first conversation I had with my husband was regarding cats.

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In 2009, my sister's dog had a litter of puppies and his family took my favorite one. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I sent him a message on Facebook saying something along the lines of I'm so happy for you guys. She's the best I do have. I remember exactly what my husband said to me. It was one sentence and it read, I'm more of a cat person. And I thought to myself, this guy is rude and he's a cat person.

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That's two strikes. But my husband also happens to be tall, dark and handsome. So what are you going to do? A year later, we started dating and things got pretty serious and we started to spend a lot of time together. And as a result, I spent a lot of time with his cat, Frank. Frank was an indoor outdoor orange tabby. He was a really proficient hunter. And he would bring in sometimes living, sometimes dead lizards, mice, hummingbirds.

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And although I'm told this is a sign of love and affection, I did not care for having a half decapitated lizard dropped into my lap. And this was like immersion therapy for me. I was having reoccurring nightmares that thousands of cats were coming in from every window and door of my house, going to scratch off my face. But I had to make a decision.

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I was falling in love with this rude cat guy and friend came along with him. So I decided to learn about Frank. And as I learned about him, my fear started to lessen and we developed a bond. He would greet me at the door when I would walk in and roll around on his back. It was pretty cute. I would give him my shoes to indulge his weird shoe fetish. He would meow and scratch incessantly at my door at 4:00 in the morning to let me know he wanted his food bowl topped off.

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And as time went on, our bond grew stronger and he really became my first cat friend.

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In 2015, I got a call from a dear childhood friend of mine, Mac, and I don't have enough time to tell you all the things I'd like to tell you about Matt, but I'd like to highlight my favorite qualities about him magnetic, hilarious, intelligent. And I love to spend time with him and I'll never forget it. I was pacing around IKEA as he was explaining to me that he hadn't been feeling well and he went to the doctor and they discovered that his colon was covered in tumors and he was diagnosed with a really aggressive form of colon cancer.

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And I know there's many of you out there that can empathize with the feeling of your gut dropping and desperately wanting to do or say something to make something go away. And there's nothing.

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He had a girlfriend that uprooted her life in Los Angeles to be here with him during his course of treatment. And I started to feel real push and pull the push of wanting to spend all the time that I could with my friend and tell him everything I was thinking and feeling and the pull of not wanting to be intrusive during a sensitive time. I didn't want to take away time that he could be spending with other people, and I did not want to remind my friend that he was sick.

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So I was reserved to keeping it really light and checking in. Hey, how's it going? Thinking of you. Praying for you. Let me know if you need anything. And that was it.

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And in twenty seventeen, Matt died and I was devastated and I felt this deep feeling of regret not having had the opportunity, but more importantly, the courage to have told my friend how much he meant to me while he was here. I didn't tell him that I loved him. I didn't tell him that he had changed my life for the better. I didn't tell him that he was one of the best people I had the privilege of knowing. And I didn't tell him how much I would miss him when he was gone.

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Later that year, his girlfriend decided it was time to get her life back on track and move back to California, and in the process she couldn't bring her cat with her to the apartment she had found. And without hesitation, I said I would take him. And I immediately started having anxiety because while I knew and liked Frank, my husband's cat, I was not sold on cats. I was still really scared of them. And I had visions of this thing coming into my life and being really mean and destroying my house.

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But I did it without hesitation because it felt like something I could grab on to, something that I could do for my friend by lightening the load for someone that had loved and cared for him during his time of need. And luckily for me, aside from taking a massive dump on my brand new couch the first night he was in our home. Juan Carlos, the giant Russian blue cat, is one of the nicest animals you'll ever meet. He's a stage five clinger.

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He wants to snuggle me from head to toe and he's part of the family. In the fall of last year, Frank got really sick. My husband's cat, my first cat friend, and he was dying of kidney failure. And we had to take him to the vet for that awful vet appointment that I'd only ever heard about. My husband and I drove home with our empty pet carrier. We crawled into bed with Juan Carlos. I thought about my friend Matt.

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I thought about Frank. And I cried. I cried over a cat. I cried over one cat as I was deeply comforted by another. And now I hate to love cats. Thank you. That was Katie Beckett, Katie is an Arizona native and she is working on her master's degree in marriage in couples therapy. This was Katie's first story at the MOF, and she says telling the story was incredibly therapeutic. I was able to share it with Matt's parents and I can tell how much they miss their son.

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I hope they can feel how much he is loved and remembered by his friends, a testament to what an amazing person he was. As for Juan Carlos, Katie says Juan Carlos is living large and in charge. Well, he lacks the killer instinct. And Frank, he just caught his first lizard since we got him two years ago and he proudly delivered it just like Frank would. He still demanding snuggles every chance he gets. And he always cheers me up when I need it.

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Now, this story gives us the perfect excuse to show you all cat pictures. Head to our Web site to see photos of Juan Carlos and Frank, as well as Katie, Matt and her husband, Ricky, the moth dog slash extras. If you're inspired to think more deeply about our stories this week, here are a few questions to get you started. What is something you've grown to love? When was the time you did or didn't have the courage to tell someone how you felt about them?

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You can also find these prompts in the extras for this episode on our Web site, The Mongu Extras.

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That's all for this week. Until next time from all of us here at The Moth have a story worthy week.

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Dame Wilburn is a long time host and storyteller at The Moth. She's also the host of the podcast Dane's Eclectic Brain podcast production by Julia Purcell.

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The Mom podcast is presented by PRICK'S, The Public Radio Exchange helping make public radio more public. NPR, Riksdag.