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Monstrous Agonies E89S03 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Eighty Nine.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-current wages-”, a voice saying “-were reported missing-”, choral music, and a voice saying “-it was incredibly emotional-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-the cold, wet fish of unlooked-for forgiveness.
It's almost two o'clock on Thursday morning, and time once more for our advice segment. This week's first letter is from a listener worried they're being unoriginal.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
I got turned recently. R-really recently. Like, two weeks ago? [laughs] I like it! I... I think I like it. It feels good, I think. It- It feels... right? Like, um. Like I-I feel more like myself? [sighs] I don't know, it- It's all still so new.
The problem is, um. Well, my best friend got turned recently too. She was before me, a-around, uh, December time so... [muttering] December, November, uh... [normal voice] About three months, give or take.
It's been really great for her, genuinely. She's so happy and confident and-and seems to really be taking it all in her stride. And she's been really supportive of me as I go through this too, she's- [sighs] Well. She's my best friend! [laughs] She's brilliant, obviously. Kind and thoughtful and... um... [sighs]
I feel like I'm copying her. Like I made this decision to be more like her. Like it's some stupid fashion trend or something, like that time we both got mullets or when we went together to get our ears pierced.
But you can grow out a mullet. Or let your piercings heal up, or-or whatever. I can't undo this. I mean, we picked different genuses, you know, maybe that's enough to kind of show that I-I wasn't just copying her? Or is that just like picking a different earring – just a gesture to show that, [mockingly] no really, no I'm so different, honest! [laughs and sighs]
The turn itself has gone well and at first I was really excited. I like my new genus a lot, and-and, and I think I chose the right one for me? Oh but now I'm worrying that maybe I was wrong! That I'm only convincing myself I like this because I've already made it this far.
How do I know I made the right decision, for the right reasons? How do I know I didn't make some kind of horrible mistake?
The Presenter (as themselves)
I hate to answer a question with a question, listener, but on this occasion I really feel I must. The letters which Station selects for me to answer on this programme are all, by necessity, written out of genuine need, and yours is no exception.
I don't mean to be dismissive of that need, but I can't help wondering – why is it such a terrible thing to have copied your friend? You clearly love, respect and admire her. It seems very normal that you might want to emulate her.
I wonder if some of your anxiety might have its roots in the ways that sapionormative culture tends to talk about being a member of the community. Specifically, the way liminality is rarely seen as something to aspire to.
When we talk about creature liberation, we often focus on acceptance. We talk about the creature community, and liminal bodies in particular, as neutral and natural, an ordinary expression of variation in our infinitely varied universe. But we deserve more than acceptance. We are supernatural, more than natural, more than neutral. We're beautiful.
If you copied your friend's kindness, people would understand. Kindness is an admirable trait, of course you want to be kinder. Why can't liminality be the same? Why might you not wish to be stranger? What is it that makes you uncomfortable with the idea of admiring liminality?
I don't believe you made this decision lightly. And I don't believe you needed to make tha t decision in a vacuum in order for it to be valid. You saw something in your friend, and in your chosen genus, that you wanted in your own life – an eminently reasonable way to make such a choice.
You were turned two weeks ago. Of course you're feeling unsettled. You've barely had chance to catch your breath. Give yourself time to get used to these changes, and to discover what being turned means for you. In time, I'm sure you'll find your way to the same confidence and joy you found so inspiring when you saw it in your friend.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
Sponsored by Hallowed Grounds coffee shop – radiant roasts for coffee that's simply divine. Not suitable for customers with ethereal intolerances. Hallowed Grounds – a little taste of heaven. Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.
[End background music]
Tonight's second letter is from a listener seeking better work-life balance.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
I recently switched careers, and I'm having a blast. I joined a museum's conservation department, and it's been really great to finally take the plunge away from engineering concrete plasticisers and cement additives, and working instead with cultures and histories from across space and time!
My work is satisfying, my team is helpful, and the department itself is surprisingly well-funded. This is by far the best opportunity I could've hoped for, and I don't intend to quit if I can help it.
However. [laughs and sighs] I have to admit, I was slightly misled about the job when I first applied. Nothing malicious, just a-a bit of miscommunication. It [sighs] wasn't explicitly clarified to me that the museum itself is located in a different temporal context – and time passes quite differently there.
The number of hours I actually work remains fair, but by the time I'm done with a shift, time back home has moved forward a few hours more than it has in the museum.
I initially thought I'd just plan around it and it wouldn't be a big deal. But the two passages of time aren't linearly related – it isn't as simple as 1 museum hour = 1.5 hours at home.
Instead, the number of hours that pass at home depends on precisely what time I left that temporal context for the museum's, and it differs for every extra minute either in this context or that.
I have been able to work out roughly how each minute either way affects the difference. At a push, I-I can at least work out what to expect. But it's been exhausting, all that constant calculating and rushing to make sure I don't accidentally take an extra minute here or there!
I can't take an extra moment to clear up a cluttered desk at work before leaving, or waste a single minute leaving the house in the morning. It's taken a toll on my personal life, too. I'm always missing group calls with my friends, and I very nearly missed my closest cousin's wedding when a meeting at work ran over slightly.
Asking my colleagues for help has proven fruitless. A few of them come from temporal contexts that are linearly related to the museum's, so they don't have this problem. And the others just shrug and tell me I'll get used to it.
But I don't want to “get used to it”. I'm happy about everything else in my job, but the cost at home is unsustainable. I don't know what to do. I don't even know where to start! I'm mean is-is this something I bring to my union rep or my local wizard? [laughs]
Any advice on what I could do would be greatly appreciated. Assuming, of course, that I make it back in time to catch the broadcast. [sighs]
The Presenter (as themselves)
Rest assured, listener, this is not something you simply have to “get used to”. I'm rather shocked that so many of your colleagues are willing to put up with this kind of disruption. Perhaps you will be able to inspire them to take a little more active interest in their own well-being.
Temporally divergent communities have campaigned long and hard to be allowed the same opportunities as those from dominant temporalities. One of the protections they've won has been the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of their temporal context.
As such, your employer has done nothing wrong in the eyes of the law. In fact, it would have been far worse had they refused to hire you because you were from a different temporality.
The relationship between your home temporality and that of your workplace is fascinating. It seems to suggest that the temporal context of the museum is far more subjective than most.
After all, what happens if two employees from your home timeline enter the museum's temporal context at different moments? Does time pass differently for each of them?
Unless the passage of time is somehow related to your contracted work hours – that would explain why a minute over or under should make the difference. But contract magic is notoriously difficult, combining it with temporal subjectivity would be-
Uh. [clears throat] Apologies, listener. You didn't write in to hear me waffle on about the intricacies of theoretical thaumaturgy. No matter how interesting it might be... I only meant that this is a magical problem and requires a magical solution.
I don't know if you were being flippant when you mentioned your local wizard. Terminology around magical practice is always rather fluid, but in general terms, a wizard is usually a practitioner who has undertaken significant amounts of study and research in a particular magical field. Think of them as the magical equivalent of a PhD.
A wizard would be able to help you, but be aware, their services do not come cheap. You would be better off reaching out at first to a more generalist practitioner and seeing what they might do for you.
They likely won't be able to resolve the time-slip situation itself – it does sounds remarkably complex... [sighs dreamily] Uh. But they may be able to provide you with a charm or magical object to help you navigate life under these circumstances rather more easily – a time-stopping watch, for example, or something to help you move at higher speeds and save those precious minutes.
As always, do ensure that any practitioner you do business with is operating under a valid license. With their help, you should be able to enjoy your new job to the full without it having such a deleterious impact on your home life.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
You're listening to the Nightfolk Network – the voice of liminal Britain.
[End of background music]
Next this evening, green thumbs are on the rise as more and more people discover the joys of gardening. But is this an exclusively diurnal hobby? We talk to horticulturist Lorelei Mossley about light and shade, scent and sound, and the art of nocturnal gardening...
[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice speaking Irish, a voice saying “-withdrawing from public-” and guitar music before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Eighty Nine of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Tonight's first letter was submitted by Vulpine, the second letter was from approaching-catharsis, and this week's advert came from an anonymous submission. Thanks, friends.
Hello and welcome to our latest supporter on Patreon, Sarah! Join them at patreon.com/monstrousagonies, or make a one-off donation at ko-fi.com/hrowen. You can also help us grow our audience by sharing with your friends and familiars, and following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.
This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.
Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.
[Fade to silence]