January 21, 2011

Slow To React

This week we have stories where people's reactions move very slowly, including the story of a wedding 17 years in the making, and what it's like when you have a terminal illness that's supposed to kill you in a year or two, and it decides to take its time. Note: The story in Act One isn’t suitable for children, and we’d like to note a trigger warning to survivors of abuse.


Ira Glass explains that, like the rest of America, we at This American Life are not tired of those stories of women who have no idea they're pregnant and then—poof—one day a baby pops out. Ira and several of our producers speak with Jennifer Lyne, who found out just a few days before giving birth and even appeared on the TV show I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. Ira also speaks with a psychiatrist named Dr. Nehama Dresner about patients who go a long time in denial about physical conditions. (8 1/2 minutes)

Act One

When I Grow Up

Back in 2004, a reporter named David Holthouse published a remarkable story in the weekly paper he worked for, Westword. It's about something he waited his entire life to do...since childhood. David now lives and works in Alaska. Warning: this story is not suitable for children. (23 minutes)

Act Two

Isn't It Slow-Mantic

In Sean Lewis’ family, there is a legendarily romantic love story. It’s famous in his family partly because the story unfolded over decades and across continents, but also because no one can quite believe that out of everyone in their family, the one with the epic, swoon-inducing love story…is Mark. Sean is a performer and playwright now touring with two shows, which you can learn about at his website. (14 minutes)

Act Three

I'm Still Here

"Slow to react" is usually an insult. But in this case the things that are slow...are cancer cells. Which is kind of how you want it. Producer Jonathan Menjivar tells this story about Katherine Russell Rich, who has lived with stage IV breast cancer for 18 years. Katherine is a writer whose most recent book is called Dreaming in Hindi. The discussion board that Katherine mentions in the story is online at breastcancer.org. (11 1/2 minutes)