Aug 23 - 2016

19: I’m Obsessed with Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Steve Almond, and my Spin Instructor

About the Episode

This episode is about obsessions.

Andrea Askowitz, the teacher of the class speaks to Allison Langer, co-producer and student in the class. They discuss what she learned from the Tim Ferriss podcast when he interviewed Tony Robbins. Allison heard Robbins say, “Rejection breeds obsession.” And, ”The parent whose attention you were trying to get is the person who shaped you.” Andrea talks about how at the dinner table growing up, her dad would tell her to cut to the chase. That led to her obsession with getting her dad’s attention and everyone else’s. Basically old rejection-wounds create obsessions. And obsessions create our best stories.

We asked our listeners what they’re obsessed with: Karen Tolchin said, “Mermaids. I think it’s about wanting a girl. Or to be a girl again, in a different, glitter-spun way. Carol Coombes said, “Philately.” Which sounded dirty so we looked up. It means stamp collecting. Carol’s particularly obsessed with stamps about film, children, flowers, architecture. Not dirty, but everyone’s entitled to their obsessions. Emily Isabel Arauz said, “My hopefully-future wedding.” Rabbi Jamie Aklepi said, “I am obsessed with Dairy Queen’s vanilla cone dipped in chocolate shell. For 45 years I have ordered only that at Dairy Queen. I try to order something else – but I can’t. Why? A vanilla cone dipped in chocolate shell is the best ice cream to cone to chocolate ratio.” Now we’re also obsessed with the vanilla, chocolate dip.

Steve Almond is a special guest on today’s show. He’s one of our favorite teachers. He’s the author of at least 10 books, including Candy Freak and Against Football and co-host along with Cheryl Strayed of the podcast Dear Sugar Radio. Andrea sat down with him to talk about his obsession with obsessions. He says obsessions are just our way of paying close attention to our desires. So, rather than view our obsessions as some sick, unhealthy thing, Steve thinks of obsessions as expressions of who we are. He also says you are the right guide to lead us through your obsession. Which is to say, you’re the only one who can tell your story.

Allison Langer tells a story that takes place in her spin class. She is obsessing over her spin instructor, until she realizes she’s still obsessed with Gerald, her ex-boyfriend, who died two years ago. Allison met Gerald five years ago in a spin class. They became friends, reserved bikes next to each other, and fell in love. Now when she sees a man who wears sneakers without socks or a bald man, she thinks of Gerald.

One of our listeners, Melanie Merriman, a long-time student of Andrea’s and a participant in Steve Almond’s class about obsessions, shares a story about a childhood fear.

Another listener, Jennifer Dertouzos sent in a voice memo of an obsession that calms her the way only yoga can calm her.

Writing Class Radio is a podcast where you’ll hear true personal stories and learn a little about how to write your own stories. Writing Class Radio is equal parts heart and art. By heart we mean the truth in a story. By art we mean the craft of writing. No matter what’s going on in our lives, writing class is where we tell the truth. It’s where we work out our shit, and figure out who we are.

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Writing Class Radio is co-hosted by Allison Langer ( and Andrea Askowitz ( Writing Class Radio is produced by Diego Saldana-Rojas, Andrea Askowitz and Allison Langer.

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