I felt uneasy walking into the Center for Documentary Studies' "Making it Sing: An Audio Institute" in early August.
I hardly knew what all I even had recorded, let alone had all of my tape logged.
And when I started explaining this podcast to people during our first dinner as a group, my uneasiness didn't disappear.
"Do you have a name yet?"
"How many episodes will there be?"
"Oh wow, do you think you'll ever do X-Y-Z with it?"
Questions about the name were the most disappointing to answer. I had hoped that by the time I walked into the Institute in early August, I would at least have a name for the podcast I had been thinking about since March. I had hoped that while I was driving 14+ hours to and from North Country, a name would just appear. Sometimes I'm lucky like that, but this time I wasn't.
My phone is home to a note with all of the names I considered for this podcast:
- "Lost Connections"
- "Daddy Issues"
- "Becoming Native"
- "Becoming Mohawk"
- "Missed Connections"
None of them sat right, and none of them sat right with my go-to editors/friends. (Probably because they're terrible, but we'll get there.)
It was around revision three (hundred) of the script for my pilot episode on Day 4 of the Institute when the name "Good Grief" came to mind. I saw the humor I had integrated into the pilot episode, and finally took a look at how I had been telling the story of this podcast.
My grief propels this podcast right now — it's the whole reason why I drove to Akwesasne, NY and back alone; why I confronted family members about a part of our family history we don't talk about; and even why I had applied for grants, betrayed my Carolina pride and ended up at a workshop on Duke's campus.
The other names only focused on one chunk of the story: Either on my relationship with my dad or on my relationship with my Native ancestry. But the two aren't mutually exclusive, and each of them are motivated by one of the purest experiences: Grief.
This podcast is about that. It's not going to turn into a Maury-inspired show about an unconventional relationship and the "ramifications" of it. If that's what you're looking for, I suggest maybe just sticking with Maury (or I recommend Shameless, one of the A+ shows that have been on my summer queue).
Good Grief is a podcast is about reconnecting with the past and making up for lost time. Simple as that.