Episode 64: How to Dive Into Fear


Jill: When I look back on my career, you know, would I have done it knowing that there'd be such a pile of bodies at the other end? I probably would have. But I really really was so entranced by diving and being inside the planet. Like, it was a mistress that, you know, I couldn't shake.


Cristen: Hey y’all, and welcome to Unladylike, the show that finds out what happens when women break the rules. I’m Cristen.

Caroline: And I’m Caroline. Today, we’re getting deep … with Canadian underwater cave explorer Jill Heinerth. Jill just published a new memoir called Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver.

Cristen: Over the past 30 years of her career, Jill has cave dived deeper than any other woman in history, from ancient sinkholes in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to the inside of shrinking icebergs in Antarctica.

Caroline: Jill’s clocked more than 7,500 dives. That’s the equivalent of spending at least a couple of years underwater getting to know our planet from the inside out.

Jill: When I'm swimming through an underwater cave I feel like I'm swimming through the veins of Mother Earth. Like I'm inside these tunnels that are like the beating heart of the planet. Like sending this beautiful fresh water through the earth to supply humanity and the environment and agriculture and every industry that, you know, we need water for. So it's a pretty amazing both technical and spiritual pursuit for me.

Cristen: Swimming through the veins of Mother Earth?! That truly sounds amazing, Caroline. But look, I’m a terrible swimmer, and cave diving would just scare the shit out of me.

Caroline: Um yeah. Same. And not surprisingly, diving into caves hundreds of feet under the ocean is tremendously dangerous! In her memoir, Jill writes that, on average, 20 people drown cave diving every year — that’s more lives than Mount Everest claims.

Cristen: But that whole fear factor is exactly why I could not wait to talk to Jill as soon as I read Into the Planet. I mean, yes, I wanted to know what it’s like to be a fucking underwater explorer, which is objectively badass. But throughout her memoir, she reflects on fear “as a positive catalyst” that literally keeps her alive on the job and feeds her sense of curiosity and adventure.

Caro: Yeah I mean, for Jill, in her line of work, avoiding fear is not an option. So today, y’all, we’re channeling our inner mermaids to discover what makes cave diving worth all that risk to Jill personally, how underwater exploration intersects with conservation and global climate change, and why Jill prefers to spend so much of her life underwater.

Cristen: It’s all to find out: What happens when we swim towards our fear, instead of away from it?


Cristen: So you have dived in some pretty incredible places and we want to kind of do a little lightning round. So how - how many continents have you dived in?

Jill: All of them.

Cristen: Longest time you've been on a dive.

Jill: Twenty-two hours.

Cristen: Deepest dive.

Jill: 460 feet.

Cristen: Most remote location.

Jill: Inside an iceberg in Antarctica or under the Sahara desert.

Cristen: Oh my gosh. I love those two extremes.

Jill: Or, actually, inside a volcanic lava tube in the Canary Islands. That was pretty remote. Underneath the seafloor.

Cristen: Okay, I love that you have have three tying for most remote. [Laughs] Most unusual wildlife you've encountered.

Jill: Remipede — it's under like one to two inches long. Kind of like a centipede, so a whole bunch of legs no eyes no color so it's whit translucent sort of and it has venomous fangs and pincers and it can attack something 40 times its size, inject venom into it and suck the life out of the innards of the prey to feed. So it's a pretty pretty evil creature.

Cristen: That was not what I was expecting!

Jill: I bet. Yeah. I always thought they should animate that like turn it into a monster movie. You know: Remipede.

Cristen: Yeah. I mean, Little Mermaid is coming back. So … get a remipede in there...

Jill: Remipede vs. Godzilla!

Caroline: Okay, Cristen, you can officially add remipede to the list of things I’m terrified of.

Cristen: Thank you, because I am keeping that list.

Caroline: OK, good, good. But also, seriously, that is one of the most spectacular resumes I have ever heard. Like, “Oh, how’s work going, Jill?” “Oh fine ... just tunneling my way through a volcanic lava tube per us ...”

Jill: Cave diving is pretty abstract to people but I'm literally swimming through water filled tunnels, passages that wind their way beneath the surface of the earth. So we're swimming into these places that are completely void of light like under a ceiling and going sometimes miles into the planet down branching conduits that are filled with water.

Cristen: So yeah, Jill’s career is pretty unique. And to get an idea of just how much she loves her job: In her memoir, Caroline, she describes cave exploration as “far more exciting than sex.”

Caroline: Oooh, okay! Maybe I need to check out a waterbed!

Cristen: You and me both! Although one of the things that makes underwater cave diving so orgasmic for Jill is the feeling of being weightless.

Jill: Oh, I've always said that gravity sucks. I'm not graceful on the surface. You know, I've crashed my van, I've gone over the handlebars of my motorcycle, I've - I've gone over the handlebars of my bicycle. I've - I've done it all. I'm - I'm, you know, I'm not the most graceful land creature, but - but underwater is a whole different thing. It’s … You get to transcend all of that.

Caroline: Cristen, I found this just so poignant in Jill’s memoir, like, her love of the physical freedom that comes with leaving gravity behind.

Cristen: That weightlessness in the water also makes her cave exploration possible. Like, if y’all think getting dressed for work feels like a chore, get a load of this: so, whenever she goes on dive, she’s lugging anywhere from 150 to 600 POUNDS of equipment with her — fins, helmet, lights, oxygen tanks, backup oxygen tanks … but of course, as soon as she’s submerged, all that weight evaporates.

Jill: Underwater every person can be equal. Like as soon as your head goes beneath the surface the sounds and the stresses and the distractions of anything in your life go away. And underwater everybody of every size, every color, every, you know, physical makeup can be as beautiful and graceful as a mermaid. Like, without gravity we're all equal.

Cristen: When was the last time you felt as graceful as a mermaid?

Caroline: Uh, probably when I was 6 years old in the public pool pretending to be one in the public swimming pool? But, listen, I mean underwater cave diving involves a lot more than just flipping your fins

Jill: Not only can you not just, you know, bolt to the surface if there's an issue, but there's also no mission control to call for help. You're really on your own to solve anything that could happen.

Caroline: It’s really easy to get turned around or lost ... and eventually run out of air. It’s not like you can Google Maps your way around.

Cristen: And in fact, Jill is the one mapping a lot these spaces for the very first time

Jill: So when I cave dive, you know, you can picture me swimming through this clear water and a river inland in Florida you know passing by the fish and the beautiful blades of green thick grass and seeing little turtles and things and then I get to this this hole, this dark hole and I dive down into that space and - and I'm running this thin braided nylon line into this - this cave and then I squeeze through that opening and then, boom, it opens up and it's like the size of an aircraft hanger. And the water is clear and untouched and obviously a place that nobody has ever been before. And I spool out that line into the blackness. And I travel off into this this space and inside me I'm like a little kid just going, “Woohoo! Nobody's been here!” And lay my guideline as that that first explorer. It's such a high. It might as well be the dark side of the moon. I mean, we know more about the dark side of the moon than we do about these inner earth spaces.

Cristen: So how did you come to fall in love with exploring inner space?

Jill: Well I wanted to go to outer space when I was a kid. I wanted to be an astronaut. But, you know, growing up in Canada and watching, literally, watching the, you know, Apollo missions on TV as as a kid — that totally inspired me. And then I was informed that, you know, not only did we not have a space program in Canada, but we certainly didn't have any women astronauts to look up to. So, you know, exploration was kind of in my - my DNA from the very beginning and having an opportunity to really use some of the same technology to explore like inner space ended up being maybe even better than being an astronaut.

Cristen: OK, Caroline, like, the earlier barriers for women who wanted to become outer space astronauts are pretty well known. But we don’t often hear about women aquanauts who trailblazed into inner space. Which brings us to a brief lowlights reel we're calling “10,000 Leagues Under the Sea of Patriarchy”


Caroline: It ALL starts when Jacques Cousteau invents the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, or SCUBA, in 1943. Then, diving quickly evolves from this exclusively military and commercial activity to a splashy hobby.

Cristen: But in the early ‘70s, science got a lot more serious about underwater exploration. Oceanographer Sylvia Earle led the first all-female aquanaut team that spent two weeks in basically a glorified submarine conducting research on marine life and ecology.

Archival Announcer: For the aquamaids in Tektite 2, like the astronauts in Project Apollo, the mission begins with a preliminary period of intensive training. Dr. Sylvia Earle, Alina Szmant, Peggy Lucas, Dr. Renate True and Ann Hartline — these are the female aquanauts in the pioneering project

Caroline: Technically, it was the first NASA mission that included women, and folks were blown away that women could live underwater in such a high-tech habitat all by themselves. But that didn’t exactly normalize women in daring or dangerous fields

Jill: Well, ask Google. Type in female explorer and you'll be a little bit shocked, you know, you might get Amelia Earhart right? But you'll also get about 100 hits of cosplay women in like pirate outfits. Fortunately though you do get a lot of hits from Dora the Explorer and I probably identify with her and Amelia Earhart more than anybody else. Yeah.

Caroline: Whether for work or play, diving remains a dudely sport. According to industry data, women make up just over a third of open water recreational divers and less than 20 percent of diving instructors.

Cristen: And even though explorers like Sylvia Earle proved long ago that women are plenty capable underwater, sexist myths are still floating around. It’s a lot of the typical bullshit — like, oh, well, women have less upper body strength, and lung capacity, and all those wacky hormones. Like basically the argument is that women are too fragile to kick it underwater.

Caroline: And apparently we’re too witchy to even invite on boats?

Jill: Boat captains said that having a woman on a boat was bad luck. You can't have bananas and you can't have women on a boat. There was all this you know perception that you know oh well women bleed so they're going to attract sharks you know. Well that's crap. And oh well women bleed. So they’re more likely to get bent - you know, decompression illness. Well that's just flat wrong too.

Cristen: Yeah, there’s zero evidence that women are physically less capable of cave diving; plus, staying alive is way more about brain smarts than muscle strength.

Jill: there's no reason why a woman can't, you know, achieve the top of the sport equally or maybe even better than a man. Because women are really in touch with their limitations, they're risk averse, they're careful, they're good team workers. So women are great divers.

Caroline: As online cave diving communities began forming in the 90s, they confirmed that, yes, women divers like Jill existed, and no, not everyone was happy about it.

Jill: It got ugly. Like a friend of mine Annette Long stood up and spoke about this one particular guy and he gets back on the Internet and says, “oh you know and Annette's got her size 42 panties in a wad” and that's only the that's only the start of it. I mean the same guy sent me body bags and asked me to clean up the cave after myself.

Cristen: Now, Jill says that any sexism she's encountered during her cave diving career has usually been a lot more subtle than being sent BODY BAGS, but she constantly felt a need — especially when she was starting out — to prove herself as the rare woman on dives and high-level expeditions.

Caroline: Yeah, and at the hyper masculine intersection of exploration and adventure, you know, women are often relegated to sidekicks and explorers-by-marriage.

Cristen: But sometimes, Caroline, being the lone woman on the boat makes for some especially memorable moments.

Jill: We're shooting out of a canoe, okay. We're in the Arctic and I'm doing dives with polar bears, right? So I'm in the canoe and I'm about to go diving with a polar bear. But I've got to pee before I finish putting on my dry suit, right? So it's a 24 foot canoe and I'm in there with like four men — many of whom are now filming me with cameras.

Jill: So I throw on a poncho and then drop trow and stick - stick my butt over the side of the canoe. So I'm sitting on the gunnel taking a pee off the boat in the best way I can can. And the director’s like interviewing me. And he's like, “What are you doing?” And I'm like, “I'm peeing.” He's like, “Oh my God.” Like, he was horrified and I'm like, well, you know, this is the reality of being the woman on the boat.

Cristen: Yeah. That is a skill set. I thought I was good because I could like change clothes easily in a moving car. But if you can pee off the side of a crowded canoe...

Jill: While being filmed.

Cristen: Yes. Yes.

Jill: Yeah. I actually did a video on YouTube about how how how to pee discreetly, like if you're an adventure girl. “Adventure Girls Guide to Peeing,” I think it's called.

Cristen: I will definitely be googling that.

Jill: Yeah.

Cristen: OK Caroline, you know I have a bladder the size of a thimble, and no, there was not a film crew around, thank god, but I was once on a boat in a Louisiana bayou with gators around and I had to pee into a Mardi Gras cup and then dump it overboard. Are you impressed yet?! Huh?

Caroline: I’m impressed that you were able to use just a single cup, but also why didn’t you have a pee funnel with you, Cristen??

Cristen: I know, I think I know what our next Unladylike merch should be.

Caroline: Yes! After the break, Jill talks fear and how it’s actually a good thing.

Cristen: Stick around


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Jill: You have to have the shit scared out of you to learn how to deal with fear, and you're not good at it the first time because it's it's shocking. You get better and better when frightening things happen.

Caroline: We’re back with cave diver Jill Heinerth, author of the new memoir, Into the Planet. Ironically, Jill's earliest underwater memory was when she almost drowned as a child. She didn't immediately take to swim classes either, but throughout her life something about the water just captivated her.

Cristen: It wasn’t a straight line to her diving career, though. Jill went to college for fine arts and then started an ad agency in Toronto. Business was good but she couldn’t shake that childhood dream to get in the water. She started taking diving classes on the weekends and became a certified SCUBA instructor on the side.

Caroline: But it got harder and harder to go back to work after weekends in the water. And suddenly, Jill realized she felt trapped in her conventional career. She was afraid that pursuing a diver's life would disappoint her parents and defy expectations that she should settle down and make a family.

Jill: So literally one day I thought I’ve gotta turn this around. This can't be my hobby. I need to do my creative work underwater and find a way to create a career to do that.

Caroline: Jill said fuck it and decided to swim toward her fear.

Cristen: In 1991 at 27, Jill went all in, which meant getting scrappy to make money. She started writing articles in diving and SCUBA magazines and took up underwater photography and film. And she joined diving expeditions and started collaborating with scientists of all stripes.

Caroline: But as her cave diving expertise grew, so did the risks.

Cristen: So fear is such an underlying theme of Into the Planet, and in fact you welcome people to the book by inviting them to find humanity in the sensation of terror.

Jill: Yeah

Cristen: So what do you mean by that?

Jill: Well I think that we should all be afraid. I think it's a good thing. When you're afraid that's - that little tingling sensation is an indication that you're doing something new, right? Something you've never done before. And so if you're doing that — if you're having that sense of fear — it's an opportunity. The fear’s just telling you that you care about the outcome. So, we want to move towards fear to experience moments of opportunity and discovery in our lives. You know for me that's a very literal thing you know I go into these doorways that are filled with blackness that would terrify most people and yet I would invite people to go into their own cave. You know, in the figurative sense and say you know, step into the darkness, allow your eyes to adjust to the light. And in that space where you're looking forward to something that terrifies you take a small step towards that because that's where the opportunities lie for you. So I think fear is a good thing. I think we should all skin our knees and face the consequences.

Cristen: Well and what you're describing also sounds distinct from. Being fearless.

Jill: Yeah. People think I'm fearless and I'm not I'm I'm risk averse. You know I am aware that what I do is inherently dangerous. I’ve lost over 100 friends to diving accidents over the years, and and that's that's tough. But I think about that every time I approach something that's difficult and I want to you know be aware of the risks, assess them. And it's a problem solving puzzle for me to figure out how to how to do things safely, as safely as possible. I mean I'm still willing to take on a risk if it's worth it for the sake of science or discovery, but I'm going to walk very carefully into that situation.

Cristen: Cave diving is you know one of the most dangerous kind of pursuits imaginable, so in that context what does safety even mean?

Jill: Well it means you know in a very small microscopic sense, right before a dive I'll sit down close my eyes and I’ll literally think of the things that could possibly kill me on this dive and I'll work through that list and go, “Okay. Yep that could happen but I've practiced how to solve that.” OK. “This could happen but I know what to do if that breaks.” OK. You know, “this could go wrong but you know I got it.” I'm willing and able to self rescue I'm willing and able to take care of a buddy. So by the time my head goes under the water I'm rehearsed. And then if something happens I can just deal with it very quickly and easily knowing that I already know the answer to the problem.

Cristen: What is the answer to the problem? Like what do you do when you find yourself in a scary situation?

Jill: In the actual moment of being terrified I focus on breathing. So I take a deep breath and tell myself that the emotions won't serve me right now and that I have to focus on really small pragmatic steps towards success and survival in my case. Cause sometimes the big picture the you know getting out of that doorway of the cave or solving that huge life problem is too much to figure out in the moment. But we can all figure out the next best step. And so I really concentrate on that.

Caroline: Jill's ability to stay calm in a crisis would be tested time and again throughout her career. Like this one time 20 years ago, Jill was doing a super deep dive off the Yucatan Peninsula. It was this place called the pit. And to safely depressurize, she was gonna have to make a slow, progressive return to the surface. On her way back up, though, Jill knew something was wrong.

Jill: When I was underwater I started to feel it. I started to feel like there were ants crawling around my thighs inside my dry suit that I was wearing and I recognized that that was basically the bubbles the bubbles coming out of my tissues and now starting to wreak havoc in my body. So I knew I was bent.

Cristen: The bends is basically a sports injury for divers. So, when you descend, otherwise harmless gases just get really pressurized in your tissues. Slowly ascending lets your body safely depressurize. But if you’re bent, those bubbles come spraying out of your tissues way too fast like a soda bottle as you come back up.

Caroline: Yeah, it’s super painful and can be deadly, and it’s why divers can’t just whip back up to the surface. But sometimes, no matter how careful you are, it happens anyway.

Jill: People go home and and the symptoms slowly creep up. So there's a little bit of pain there's a niggling, Oh there's some tingling. Now I can't feel my toes. Holy crap. Now I can't move my leg. So the symptoms are progressive and people often don't report until the symptoms really build up or they get very serious. So in my particular case I didn't want to admit it because I I kept hoping it would go away. It's like is this DCS? I don't know maybe? Maybe it'll go away if I stay down longer.

Cristen: After resurfacing — and ditching her denial — Jill made it to a doctor. The depth of her dive meant she needed multiple rounds of compression treatments. But even after that, the diagnosis was not good.

Jill: I was told by the doctor that I would never dive again.

Cristen: What went through your head when the doctor told you that.

Jill: Oh, I I remember being in so much pain and so, on the one hand, it didn't surprise me like even before he said that I thought, “this is the end of my career” and I was already thinking about what will I do? Who will I be? This is - this is what identifies me you know? So it was devastating, it it it didn't just seem like the end of a career, it seemed like the end of my - my self image and I was like rudderless you know, where where would I go next? But I also knew that when I admitted to the community that I got bent that I was going to I was going to be you know looked at nine ways to Sunday over the Internet. Well what did she do wrong, you know?

Caroline: Those fears weren’t unfounded. A lot of divers don’t want to admit they’ve gotten bent, and Jill writes in her memoir that “getting bent inevitably brings shame [on] the diver.”

Jill: The community has created this situation where we're embarrassed to fess up because people will say “well you made a mistake.” You swam up too fast you fucked up whatever it's your fault. It's like we actually used to label decompression sickness. The medical doctors labeled it a deserved hit or an undeserved hit right. Like, you know who deserves any illness? Is there deserved cancer and undeserved cancer? Like, is lung cancer deserved cancer if you're a smoker? Like - like that's a horrible way to look at like illnesses right?

Cristen: Well you do mention though that you when you were open about it happening that you also received messages of support.

Jill: Yeah. In fact a lot of people who I knew and knew well started telling me their stories like oh well when I got bent I'm like I didn't know you'd been bent. Well I never really told anyone. You know. So everybody started confessing. And it was weird.

Caroline: So what makes all that fear, risk, and death worth it?

Cristen: Helping save the motherfuckin planet, that’s wut!

Caroline: Stick around


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Jill: If I die it will be in the most glorious place that nobody has ever seen. I can no longer feel the fingers in my left hand. The glacial Antarctic water has seeped through a tiny puncture in my formerly waterproof glove. If this water were one tenth of a degree colder the ocean would become solid. Fighting the knife-edged freeze is depleting my strength, my blood vessels throbbing in a futile attempt to deliver warmth to my extremities. The archway of ice above our heads is furrowed like the surface of a golf ball carved by the hand of the sea, iridescent blue, Wedgwood, azure, Cerulean, cobalt and pastel robin's egg meld with chalk and silvery alabaster. The ice is vibrant, bright, and at the same time ghostly, shadowy, the beauty contradicts the danger. We are the first people to cave dive inside an iceberg and we may not live to tell the story.

Caroline: That was author Jill Heinerth reading from the prologue to her memoir Into the Planet. She’s describing a harrowing diving trip she took in Antarctica in 2001 when she became one of the first people to ever explore caves inside of an iceberg.

Cristen: In her memoir, Jill explains how a massive crack had formed on the Ross Ice Shelf, and the scientific community was really concerned about whether this was a sign of global warming and polar ice caps starting to melt. So with funding from National Geographic, Jill and a diving team set out for Antarctica to document what was going on …

Jill: Climate change and sea level rise were things that we were barely talking about in those days. And at the time we saw that as an opportunity to see like a piece of ice the size of Jamaica and go swimming inside that to see you know what it was like, what was there, and nobody had ever done that before. So it was a huge opportunity for me, amazing, amazing diving experience.

Cristen: Jill isn’t just in it for the personal glory either. Scientists depend on the discoveries that divers like her can make.

Caroline: Yeah so 20 years ago, Jill worked on one of her favorite projects. It was with the United States deep caving team and they were mapping a cave system in Florida to figure out the location of drinking water underground. This was the expedition when Jill went farther into underwater caves than any woman in history.

Jill: We created the very first three dimensional map that had ever been made of any subterranean space dry or wet. And it was groundbreaking.

Cristen: That map was such a big deal because it allowed scientists to find aquifers hidden underground — which is super helpful, sidenote, since currently less than 1% of the Earth’s water supply is usable.

Jill: Up until that point I had really been perceived as some adrenaline junkie out to get herself killed and after that point like the data that we brought back from that project was so valuable to scientists and hydro geologists and urban planners like to really understand where the drinking water conduits were beneath our feet. It also kicked open the door for a lot more scientific collaborations in other areas of science and cave diving.

Jill: I work with biologists who are looking at these cave adopted animals that live in the darkness of caves. I work with physicists and geologists that are interested in global climate change and the evidence that we find inside rocks in the cave. I work with archaeologists. We find the remains of civilizations that are no longer with us on earth and also the remains of extinct animals that are are no longer around. So there are so many different aspects of of science that's done in underwater caves. It's they're real you know museums of natural history.

Caroline: Museums that deserve to be protected. One of Jill’s biggest motivators in exploring and documenting our planet is to help educate folks about their impact on the environment — particularly our waterways.

Cristen: Could you explain the term water literacy.

Jill: Oh yeah

Cristen: And why unladylike listeners could probably use more of it.

Jill: So I think of myself as someone that can communicate about our water resources, like like I'm swimming in the beginning of the pipe where the water comes out of the ground and fills a river that leads to an estuary and out to the ocean and serves the ocean the oceans as well. And I think we all need to get better connected with where our water comes from, how we use it, maybe how we unintentionally use too much or unintentionally pollute it. Because if we're all more connected with those water resources and understand how important they are, I think that's one of the most most critical issues of of the next decade really. Water issues and global climate change. So that's water literacy really is is understanding our interconnections with our water systems.

Cristen: If you had been fully aware of you know just the inherent risk of cave diving and even the fact that you know down the road you would have lost you know dozens of friends to this pursuit. Do you think you still would have gone after it with such abandon.

Jill: You know it's interesting as as much as I understood the risk. You don't. It's not real until there's a dead guy on the on the boat deck. You know? When when somebody dies it's a whole different thing and you every time somebody dies you reassess. Why am I doing this. And you sit down with your spouse and you go here's why I'm doing this.

Cristen: So in those moments then — what is your answer?

Jill: Well I'm doing it for myself. I mean you know you can't put a butterfly in the jar and expect them to live, right? Like I'm doing it because it gives me joy because I love being in the water and I love the act of exploration and going to a place where no one's been before, but in the bigger picture of things, every dive that I do has to matter in some way. And so I feel like I'm contributing to a better awareness of of our planet and some pretty important issues like global climate change and water issues. So. So I feel I feel a passion for my work and that and that it matters.

Cristen: Okay, Jill, what would be your final advice for Unladylike listeners?

Jill: Know in your heart that nothing is impossible. Problems that you want to solve might seem too great, too big, whether it's global climate change or rising to the top executive level at the business that you work at. Those can seem way too big. Just break it down. Know that nothing is impossible and if you work hard and you take one small step, take the next best step every day that you will achieve things that are far greater than you ever imagined. And I like to think that I'm. I'm living proof you know. Chase your dreams. They're achievable, and you can create a career and a life that is truly meaningful to you.

Cristen: Well are there any places that you're looking forward to exploring in the future.

Jill: Oh yeah. I have a very long list of places I'd still like to go … yeah there's a lot of the planet left to explore.

Cristen: I mean do you still want to go to space.

Jill: Oh I would yeah. Given the opportunity. I mean I've written letters to Richard Branson on an annual basis never gotten a response.

Cristen: Really.

Jill: Yeah. Yeah you know since he announced Virgin Galactic I was like, Oh my God I want to go, I can't afford a ticket, but I need to go and need to see this big blue planet from outer space so I can communicate to people about it.


Caroline: Tell us your thoughts: What fears have you swam toward recently? Where have you gone exploring, and how many times have you peed off the side of a boat? Let us know on social @unladylikemedia.

Cristen: You can email us at hello at unladylike.co OR comment on the episode thread in our Facebook group.

Caroline: Head on over to our website, unladylike.co, to find this episode’s sources. While you’re there, sign up for our newsletter to get good-news updates about women in the world every Wednesday.

Cristen: Unladylike is produced by Sam Lee and Nora Ritchie. Abigail Keel is our senior producer. Gianna Palmer is our story editor. Shruti Marathe transcribes our tape. Our music is by Flamingo Shadow, Amit May Cohen and Sarah Tudzin. Mixing, sound design, and additional music is by Casey Holford. Our executive producers are Chris Bannon and Daisy Rosario.

Caroline: We are your hosts, Caroline Ervin

Cristen: And Cristen Conger. Next week…

Desiree Akhavan: I was so fucking aware of my body and my desire and everything I wanted. Like, I was raging. I felt like I had Angelina Jolie style Gia in my pants. And the body of like Jack Black.

Caroline: [laughter]

Desiree: There was just so much … desire?

Cristen: We’re talking with director/producer/actor/writer/proud bisexual Desiree Akhavan about her show The Bisexual and what it means to be seen both IRL and on screen.

Caroline: Make sure you’re subscribed to Unladylike so you don’t miss our conversation with Desiree. Find us in Stitcher, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Cristen: And remember, got a problem?

Caroline: Get unladylike.


Cristen: 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea of Patriarchy

Caroline: [Singing] Under the sea. Under the sea.

Cristen & Caroline: [Singing] Under the sea. Under the sea. Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter, take it from meeee.

Caroline: Anywho, there’s your Blooper.

[Stitcher Sting]

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