This week’s guest is a writer who first came to my attention when she performed at The Moth StorySLAM in Louisville (producing that monthly event is my other job). Tasha Golden seemed a bit nervous as she told a story of living next door to a couple who were obviously going through some domestic violence, and she didn’t know what to do. She ended up winning the competition that night, and I wanted to know more about her.
As it turns out, she had spent plenty of time onstage at previous times in her life, but usually as a singer, touring with the band Ellery. A few years ago, an episode of severe depression led her to get off the road, get an MFA in poetry, and pursue a public health degree, studying the effects of the arts and health. She also teaches writing workshops for young women who are incarcerated, and Ellery has just put out a new EP, their first release since 2010.
Our conversation about the objects that are precious to her was funny and touching, and ultimately, it was about resiliency. Listen in the player above.
On an album that blew her mind when she was a college freshman:
“As a songwriter and singer, Patty Griffin’s been just an enormous influence. But that record in particular, [Living With Ghosts] it’s just very raw, it’s just her voice and a guitar. And I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anything so unproduced and so vulnerable and maybe a little bit angry.”
On the scar on her neck from thyroid surgery:
“I think that scars are beautiful stories, and I think it’s been a metaphor for me in some way, the ways that we work to cover up what’s happened. Sometimes that story is just integral to who you are, but also a way to connect with other people. There’s no shame in having something that represents a history.”
On starting to take Cymbalta after an episode of major depression:
“I was so scared of medicine, and I now know that I shared that with hundreds of thousands of people. I was so scared to admit that maybe I was facing something I couldn’t intellectually parse out. I’m very cerebral, so I thought that I could just figure it out and put all the puzzle pieces together and then I’d be fine. It felt at the time like admitting some kind of defeat if I needed something besides my own brain power to make myself feel better.”
Five Things is available wherever you get your podcasts.