Link to PDF:
Monstrous Agonies E02S01 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Two.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls past the sounds of people speaking French before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-had been taped over with the voice of God.
Up next on 131.3FM, our weekly advice segment where I answer your questions on all aspects of life in the creature community.
Our first letter tonight is from a listener finding it hard to make friends after a change in circumstance.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
I come from a big family. Growing up I was always surrounded by siblings and cousins, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and all those extra people you end up calling auntie or cousin even though you aren't related but at this point you might as well be. Some of my favourite memories from when I was little are of lying in the hatchery at night with my family pressed up around me, the flutter of their gills making a whispering background hush to fall asleep to.
Most sapio structures aren't a good fit for my people, so it's usual to stay at home during university. But myself and a few of my cousins were a bit more adventurous, and went instead to the mainland.
We managed to find a house near the harbour that would fit all fourteen of us, and lived together throughout our degrees. It was so much fun. We'd cook for each other in the evening, and spent most weekends visiting home – it's always someone's birthday or an anniversary or something, and in our family we never need much of an excuse to have a party!
After graduation, I had a big choice to make. My cousins all either had jobs waiting for them back home, or were taking time out to travel before continuing their education. But I'd received an offer for a research job in Aberdeen – an incredible opportunity, but all the way on the other side of Scotland. I talked it over with my family, and they encouraged me to go for it. I could always come home if I didn't enjoy it.
The thing is... I love it! I love the work. I love the city. I love so much about my life here, and I think I made the right choice by coming.
But I'm so lonely. I miss everyone at home, all the time. And I've realised, I've never had to make friends before. Everyone I loved was just there already, with things in common and shared memories and points of reference. Thinking back to my degree, I barely knew the names of anyone on my course, let alone made friends with them. I just spent time with my cousins.
Where do people go to make friends when they're an adult? What do you say to people when you want to be their friend? How do you ask someone to hang out without it sounding like a date?
I don't want to go back home – not yet. And I think I could be happy here – just, not like this. What do I do?
The Presenter (as themselves)
My dear listener, I'm so sorry to hear you're feeling lonely. It sounds like a big change to have to get used to.
In order to make friends, there are three ingredients your relationships have to have. These are: proximity, time, and vulnerability.
In friendships, vulnerability is a lot like salt in a stew – a little goes a long way. Risk is inherent in building relationships. Every time we tell a joke, or share something about ourselves in conversation, we're taking a risk – what if they don't laugh? Or worse, what if they do?
Don't let fear of failure get in the way of trying. Be yourself, and know that it's alright if you just don't click with someone. You just have to keep trying until you find the people you're built for.
But as you said, how do you find these people to begin with? Luckily, you're not alone. The world is full of people looking for other people to share their time with.
Like most coastal towns, Aberdeen has a very well-established creature community. There are plenty of mixed-genus groups you could join, from accessible movie nights to all-diets cookery classes. Search online or ask at your local library – they usually know what's going on in local scene.
You didn't describe your living situation. Finding suitable housemates when you have specific housing needs can be tricky, but if you aren't already sharing living space, please consider it. You grew up in a busy, sociable culture, and I think it would be a real boost to have that reflected in your home. Keep an eye out for co-operative nesting schemes, or reach out to nearby colonies about vacancies.
It takes a long time to build deep friendships. Right now, you just need to get the ball rolling. Contrary to popular opinion, sometimes quantity is better than quality. Get stuck in, meet as many people as you can, and trust that if you stay true to yourself, true friendship will blossom in time. I wish you all the best.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
The Nightfolk Network. Brought to you by HauntedSwords.com – they're exactly what you think they are!
[End background music.]
Next up, a listener asks an age-old question – how do you solve a problem like bridezilla?
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
My sister is getting married in the spring. Our family are all invested in sustainability and reducing our impact on the environment. When we heard she and her fiancée were going to have an eco-friendly wedding, we were fully supportive. They are each wearing second-hand dresses, have asked for charity donations in lieu of gifts, and are using a nearby farm-slash-campground for the wedding itself.
Part of their personal commitment to environmental sustainability includes veganism, a choice I respect but I do not share. One reason for this is that my husband is an obligate carnivore. He is physically incapable of digesting plant matter, and indeed doing so has an emetic effect.
The meat we eat is eminently local, given by consent or hunted as respectfully as possible when consenting sources are not available. We do not support the meat industry or any kind of livestock farming. We take no more than we need, and are careful to select only those individuals whose passing will have the least possible impact – never those with dependents or significant long-term commitments.
I asked my sister what catering options would be available for him, and she told me that she had no intention of serving meat at the event. I offered to bring our own food, and even eat it separately from the rest of the party since I know some people can be squeamish. She said I was trying to undermine her and ruin her wedding. I told her that her that she was being sapio-normative, she accused me of virtue signalling, and we have not spoken since.
Is there any salvaging this situation?
The Presenter (as themselves)
First of all, I would like to acknowledge your efforts to find a solution to the question of ethical eating. It's something many people find too difficult to even engage with, preferring to pick up something quick, cheap and easy from the supermarket or nightclub, and I applaud you and your husband's commitment to thoughtful consumption.
Unfortunately, regarding the wedding, the ball is firmly in your sister's court. If you were asking on behalf of a fly-by-night fling or if you had given no notice, it would be a different story. As it is, your sister has been made aware of your husband's requirements well in advance, and you have even offered the very reasonable compromise of bringing your own food. The choice is hers.
That being said, I do think you could make an attempt to talk to her again. It sounds to me like she has put herself under a great deal of pressure to create the 'perfect day', and is lashing out at a perceived threat to that goal. Her stress is not your fault, and you do not deserve to bear the brunt of it. At the same time, that emotional pressure is making her behave in a way that she will come to regret.
Reach out to her. Make it clear that you are as excited about her wedding as she is, that you are keen to share this special day with her, and that you love her. By approaching the topic calmly, and reframing the problem as something to solve together, rather than as opposing forces, you stand a far better chance of finding a compromise you can agree on.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
The Nightfolk Network – the voice of liminal Britain.
[End background music]
It's two o'clock on Thursday morning, and time for our monthly book club! This month we've been brushing up on our French with Le Roman de Melusine. The story begins, as so many do, with a human man failing to respect personal boundaries...
[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls past singing, French rap, and piano music before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Two of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
If you're a person of the night or otherwise identify as a member of the creature community, we want to hear from you. Submit your own monstrous agonies online at MonstrousAgonies.co.uk, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.
You can support Monstrous Agonies by leaving a review on iTunes, sharing the programme with your friends and familiars, or supporting us on Patreon at patreon.com/MonstrousAgonies.
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]