Diary of a Nation
By Christina Zlotnick
Diary of a NationMay 17, 2023
E34: The Nurse
As a nurse practitioner, Karin Chen focuses on women’s health care. As a labor and delivery nurse, she has assisted children giving birth to children and women giving birth to babies they had to turn around and bury. Today, she practices in Lowell, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb. We discuss her career, her thoughts on the health care system and the path to healing personal pain.
This episode references Dr. Gabor Maté's book, The Myth of Normal. The documentary featuring him is called The Wisdom of Trauma.
E33: Sled Dogs to Ultra Runs
Can you run a mile? How about 200 miles? Ed Clifford can. He's a second-generation musher who transitioned to ultra running when he turned 50. When he isn't running, he's busy building a log cabin in southern New Hampshire with his partner, Dawn. I recorded this interview on the porch outside their cabin. Photo credit: Bethany Hoyt Photography.
E32: The Flight Attendants
E31: Criminals & Animal Cruelty
Over the course of his careers as a police detective and an animal cruelty investigator, Steve Sprowl has seen the worst of humanity. He's a retired detective from the Rochester, NH, police department, where Sprowl spent 25 years. Today, he works as an animal cruelty investigator at the New Hampshire SPCA. Be advised, we discuss disturbing crimes and cases of animal cruelty in this interview.
The NHSPCA receives no federal or state funding and relies entirely on community support. Paws Walk, the organization's largest annual fundraiser, takes place next month. To register or to donate, visit https://nhspca.org/paws-walk.
E30: Slava Ukraini
War causes so much needless suffering, and Russia’s war with Ukraine is one distressing illustration. New Hampshire resident Marianna Lundberg grew up in Ukraine, in the port city of Odessa. Today, her mother and grandmother remain in Ukraine. In this episode, Marianna shares stories of her country and its people as they live in the midst of the Russian invasion.
Photo credit: Leila White, Y'R Charm Photography. https://www.yrcharmphoto.com.
Here are several organizations that help the people of Ukraine:
https://razomforukraine.org. Razom means “together” in Ukrainian. Together, the organization works to build a better future for the people of Ukraine.
https://www.sunflowerofpeace.com. Sunflower of Peace is a Boston-based non-profit that provides medical and humanitarian aid for paramedics and doctors in areas of Ukraine that are affected by the violence.
https://www.sbcnh.org/welcome/en. For a resource local to New Hampshire, reach out to the Slavic Baptist Church in Londonderry to donate supplies or money.
https://ukraine.welcome.us. Welcome.US is a humanitarian group for refugee resettlement. Most people who live legally in the US may apply to sponsor Ukrainian migrants, as long as they can provide financial support.
E29: I Quit Teaching
The New Hampshire high school teacher I interviewed for this episode did something quite rare in his profession. He quit during the school year. After 17 years in the classroom. His story is one experience, but I imagine his challenges mirror what any number of other teachers across the country face today. Please be advised that some of the issues he describes may be disturbing to hear.
E28: What's So Funny?
Carolyn Plummer has worked as a comic for nearly 25 years, and she's in the process of filming a sitcom pilot, "Finding the Funny". Later this year, she's slated to perform in Boston at "Comics Come Home", the longest-running comedy fundraiser in the US. I recently lured her into my basement for an interview. Look for Carolyn's upcoming shows at carolynplummer.com. More information on "Comics Come Home" at: camneelyfoundation.org/comics-come-home.
E27: Frost Heaves, NH
Fred Marple is to New Hampshire what Garrison Keillor is to Minnesota. That is to say, Fred has a vivid imagination. Fred is an author, playwright, humorist, cartoonist, singer and songwriter. His most important role is serving as the official spokesman for Frost Heaves, a quaint New England town that flies under the radar, despite his half-hearted attempts to promote it. Listen as Fred and I share our love of his home state of New Hampshire and my home state of Oklahoma.
Learn more about Fred at fredmarple.com.
E26: The Coldest Man
James Osborne is one of the coldest people to ever survive dry land hypothermia. He watched his friend die of the same fate during a winter hike in the White Mountains, and then James went unconscious himself. He left the hospital with several amputations, but the accident also led him to find love again.
This interview is a follow-up to the previous episode in which New Hampshire author Ty Gagne details the mountain rescue and recovery effort in his book, The Last Traverse. You can order a signed copy of Gagne's book at: fullconditionsnh.com.
E25: Risky Business
A New York woman climbed four of the famed Seven Summits but lost her life in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The core body temperature of a New Hampshire man dropped to a record 76 degrees in an unrelated climbing accident that killed his hiking buddy on the same mountain range.
Ty Gagne is the author of two books that explored those winter climbing accidents. He's the CEO of Primex, the New Hampshire Public Risk Management Exchange. He's also a certified wilderness first responder. His risk management strategies apply to the outdoors, the office and everyday life.
Order Ty's books or read his essays at: fullconditionsnh.com.
E24: Ten in the Pen
The following episode contains explicit language and descriptions of disturbing incidents. My guest spent a decade in prison after he accepted a plea deal on drug conspiracy and gun charges. He went from stashing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash under his bed at home to earning a few dollars a day in federal prison while managing over $200 million in military contracts.
The United States is the incarceration capital of the world. We're home to just 4% of the global population but nearly 25% of the world's incarcerated. Do Americans commit more crimes than other people, or are other factors at play? Listen as we explore the issue together.
E23: Mushroom Enthusiast
In New Hampshire, this summer was a banner season for mushrooms. Enthusiast Christine Gagnon with the Uncanoonuc Foraging Company recently led me on a walk in the woods and schooled me on the science of mushrooms.
E22: Revolutions, Romance, Cancer
From opposing the death penalty despite the murder of his father to opposing nuclear power to defend the will of the people, the impact of Renny Cushing's activism reaches beyond the borders of his home state of New Hampshire. The state representative continues to dedicate his life to a wide range of social justice issues, but a diagnosis of prostate cancer is now making demands on his time. Photo credit: Jim Cole, Associated Press.
Update: Renny passed away on March 7, 2022. Obituary in The New York Times: https://tinyurl.com/uv2enbzm.
E21: A Suicide Every 40 Seconds
Worldwide, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. Steve Boczenowski's son, Jeffrey, died by suicide. So did my first boyfriend. Together, Steve and I share our loved ones' stories and discuss how to prevent more suicides. If you're struggling, help is available. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “home” to 741741.
E20: Pet Stories
A Saudi Arabian cat that immigrated to New Hampshire. A rooster that helped a teenager get to college. A dog that evaded cop cars and a helicopter. A raccoon that overstayed its welcome. A poodle with a Tinder profile. Through a series of short stories, this episode explores our bonds with our pets. Some stories are funny. Some are sad. Some aren't even appropriate for children.
E19: Escorts Enable Abortion Access
E18: First Black Family
Were he alive, Harold Ward would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. As the oldest resident in town, he was the recipient of the Boston Post Cane. As the first Black family in Lee, New Hampshire, the Ward family left a positive and enduring impression. On his deathbed, Harold recounted family stories and asked his son Michael Cameron Ward to preserve the memories in writing. The result is a collection of books titled "Sketches of Lee". Learn more at www.sketchesoflee.com.
E17: Mothering Autism
E16: IV Drug Use to Ivy League
The US has waged a $1 trillion war on drugs. Even though opioid addiction has faded from the news cycle, drug overdoses have surged during the pandemic, and millions remain addicted. This month, my guest Katie celebrates three years of being clean. Her story offers some solutions.
E15: Man on Mars
Massachusetts engineer Peter Degen-Portnoy made the news when the Mars One mission named him as a semifinalist in a competition that intended to establish a permanent human colony on the red planet. The father of five was prepared to die on Mars. This interview will give you a more complete picture of Peter as a man. Website: mars-one.com.
E14: Lessons from the Dying
Dr. Fred Grewe is a hospice chaplain, an author and a fellow podcaster. Over the past 15 years, he has served more than 3,000 people who have died. In this episode, he explains what the dying have taught him about living. Books: What the Dying Have Taught Me about Living and Time to Talk about Dying. Dr. Grewe's Podcast: Meditations 4 Misfits. Website: fredgrewe.com.
E13: Teen Who Swam the English Channel
Vera Rivard was just 16 when she swam the English Channel last year, nearly a century after her idol did the same. Vera's 13-year-old sister Margaret and her mother Darcie supported her along the route as they traveled with a crew in a pilot boat. Listen as the New Hampshire family discusses the trip and their love of swimming.
E12: Part 2: 6.5 Years as a Vietnam POW
Photo credit: David Vogt.
E11: Part 1: 6.5 Years as a Vietnam POW
The content in this episode is graphic and may be disturbing for some listeners. Former POW Capt. Hubert Buchanan was an Air Force fighter pilot when a Vietnamese fighter ace shot down his F-4 Phantom in 1966. He was quickly captured and moved among half a dozen POW camps over the next 6.5 years. Capt. Buchanan was held captive one year longer than the late US Senator John McCain.
In part one, Capt. Buchanan recounts the dogfight that ended with his capture. He describes what happened to his aircraft commander, Major John Robertson, the pilot who flew with him that fateful afternoon. To this day, Capt. Buchanan remains in contact with his captor.
E10: Pray Away the Gay
A handful of landmark rulings over the past 25 years significantly advanced gay rights in the US. Despite that, institutions and individuals continue to discriminate against gay people. My guest Fausto Di Ianne even tried to pray away the gay.
E9: I'm Sorry, You Have Breast Cancer
Breast cancer dramatically changed Irene Alton. Today, she's a 5-year survivor. Listen as she describes the events leading up to her diagnosis, her cancer treatment and her life today.
E8: Whose Land is America?
Abenaki Native Mali Obomsawin is an activist. She's also a member of the folk band, Lula Wiles. In this interview, she discusses her activism on behalf of land rights and social justice. Photo credit: Lokotah Sanborn, Penobscot Nation. "Shaking As It Turns" song used with artist permission. Band: lulawiles.com. Articles referenced in podcast appear in Smithsonian Folklife and Boston Globe.
E7: Part 3: Hidden in the Hay
Part Three: In the final part of the interview, Kati Preston discusses her associations with Israeli government officials and fellow Holocaust survivors plus her current interests and her take on American politics. Autobiography: Holocaust to Healing: Closing the Circle.
E6: Part 2: Hidden in the Hay
Part Two: After the Holocaust, Kati Preston emigrates to Israel. She eventually becomes a highly-successful fashion designer, interacting with Christian Dior and Harry Winston while in Paris. She learned eight languages, moved across seven countries, married three times, and gave birth to four sons. Autobiography: Holocaust to Healing: Closing the Circle.
E5: Part 1: Hidden in the Hay
The content in this episode is graphic and may be disturbing for some listeners. Holocaust survivor Kati Preston was just five years old when a Hungarian soldier pierced the floor of a barn attic with his bayonet, missing her hay-covered head by an inch. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp where 28 members of her family and 50 of her kindergarten classmates were exterminated. In part one, Kati shares her memories of the Holocaust. Autobiography: Holocaust to Healing: Closing the Circle.
E4: My Transition to a Woman
The US is home to approximately 1.4 million transgender adults, yet most of us don't know anyone who is transgender. NH State Representative Gerri Cannon is a transgender woman who also serves on the school board in her community. This is her story. Photo credit: Deb Cram.
E3: Four Paws, Countless Adventures
Randy Pierce knows life with and without eyesight. He's a husband, a dog lover, a runner, a mountain climber, and a motivational speaker. Yesterday, he ran the virtual Boston Marathon. Two days earlier, his guide dog Autumn passed away. This episode is dedicated to her memory. Memoir: See You at the Summit: My Blind Journey from the Depths of Loss to the Heights of Achievement. Charity: 2020visionquest.org.
E2: The Politics of Makeup
E1: Call Me American
Were it not for his incredible luck in winning a visa lottery slot, there's a good chance Somali immigrant Abdi Nor Iftin would instead be fighting on behalf of the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab. Abdi discusses his memoir as well as his complicated experience living in the U.S. as a Black man while the country reckons with its history of racial injustice. Memoir: Call Me American. Photo credit: Portland Press Herald.
Introduction to Diary of a Nation
Diary of a Nation is produced and hosted by Christina Zlotnick. Follow the podcast on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at diaryofanation. Comments and story ideas welcome.