Can You Account For Your Actions?

Do you know exactly where you were last Tuesday between 2:00 and 2:21pm? What about where you were on Wednesday at 11:42am? What if those details suddenly became incredibly important to your life….to your innocence?

A week ago, I started listening to the spin-off podcast to This American Life called Serial. It is blowing my freaking mind.

Let’s back up. I’m not a music person. I don’t think I enjoy music as much as others do and it does not distract me or entertain me. Most of the time I listen to podcasts instead.

So back to Serial. It’s definitely the most entertaining podcast I’ve ever found. If you’re a This American Life fan, I feel the same about Serial as I felt about the Harper High episodes of This American Life. I could not stop until I had finished them.

Serial is different from This American Life in that each season revolves around one specific case. So far there are 6 released episodes and a 7th will be released on Thursday morning.

So what is Serial about? Here’s the description, directly from the Serial about page:

On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

Each episode goes in to elaborate detail about what actually happened the night Hae Min Lee was murdered, where every one was, what their alibi’s are. It also delves in to the two trials that took place to convict Adnan Syed as well as the police investigation. Adnan himself is interviewed frequently via the prison telephone.

I’ve been stunned by how challenging it is for people to remember what they did on a specific recent day. Most people the police interview share details like “I was probably at…” or “I usually…” but it’s actually amazing how difficult it is to account for your own actions. To corroborate your own version of the truth. When I really think about it, I can’t remember what I had for dinner on Thursday. Or what I did directly after work last Monday. But what if suddenly you were asked these kinds of very specific questions? What if remembering was the only thing standing between you and life in prison?

I’ve listened to the first six episodes and I cannot contain my excitement for the next episode to be released. Basically, I really hope I’ve convinced you to listen and if you already listen, I’d love to know whether you think Adnan is guilty or innocent. Leave a comment below and I’ll give you my thoughts too (I’d do it here but I don’t want to ruin it for others). I have pretty strong feelings in one direction.

Do You Listen to Podcasts?

One thing I’ve discovered when I talk to folks about the podcasts I listen to is that I hear a lot of “what are podcasts?” and “how do you find them to listen to?” It’s surprised me because it seems so normal to me but I realize there are lots of people who may not realize that there are tons of FREE podcasts and they are super easy to access.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is basically a radio show that is broadcast on the internet instead of on a radio station. Most podcasts are like TV shows in that they are about a specific subject matter and then release daily or weekly episodes.

How to download podcasts

1 // Go to the app store and download the Apple podcasts app on your phone. It looks like this:

Apple Podcasts App

2 // Open up the Podcast app and click “Top Charts” at the bottom. It’s a good place to start. While you’re there, you’ll notice that Serial is the #1 Podcast right now and that This American Life is #2.

Podcast Top Charts

3 // Click the podcasts you’re interested in. You can subscribe to a podcast and it will automatically download all of the new podcasts as they are released, or you can download individual episodes of a podcast. It’s a good idea to download the podcast instead of streaming it, as it will save you data usage.

4 // Listen and enjoy!

Here are some of the podcasts that I subscribe to:

Podcast Subscriptions

I actually purchased the This American Life app for $3.99, as it has every episode that has ever aired so I access that through the app directly.

Do you have any podcasts that you’d recommend? Are you ready to give podcasts a try?

  • This sounds really interesting! My commute is less than 15 minutes so I don’t think I’d have enough time to really get into it, but I might have to listen to these anyway.

  • Super excited to listen to this! I love podcasts too and am always looking for more.I also love Nerdist and also Sean Wes (super designy/businessy but I feel like anyone could benefit from them) and Show me Your Bits for comedy. Thanks for sharing this!

  • kim

    the only podcast ive listened to is a big brother discussion podcast, but i really love it! my bf listens to podcasts alllll day long, errryday. he will know some random fact and i used to ask him how he knew that, but now i just say, ohh did you hear that in a podcast? haha gonna check out this serial app though bc i have a long drive this weekend and that’s perfect!

  • Myia

    I am so glad I read this! I also get bored by music on long trips and usually listen to books on tape. But this is such a great and easy other option! Free and no trip to the library. I have started serial and it’s very interesting already, I love mysteries!

  • Kim

    I’ve recently started getting into podcasts.

    You should try “You’re the Expert”. Its comedy and knowledge all in one podcast. I think you’d really like the one about Dog Cognition.

  • I loooove this Podcast too! So interesting! There’s no way I could account for where I was after school in 1999!

  • Kim

    If you haven’t listened to it yet, you should try Moth Radio Hour. Each episode is built around a theme and various people tell their stories that pertain to that theme. I like it because their focus is “building the art of storytelling,” so they have various live events around the country that are essentially open mics for people to go in, and tell their story live. Snap Judgement is also in the same vein.

  • I love podcasts. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ll have to look into this!

  • I am like you that I do not really get into music. I would much rather listen to talk radio or a book on tape than music when I am driving. I will definitely have to look into this podcasts…mysteries are always my favorite!

  • I’m very similar when it comes to music, I have to be in the right mood or I just get bored of listening. I’m a big fan of audiobooks for my commute, that way the 2+ hours I spend in the car every day don’t seem like such a colossal waste of time. I got an audible subscription for christmas last year and it’ll be up next month so this will be a great free solution for filling the gap!

  • I love Serial. I only wish they would release two a week because I enjoy listening to the episodes so much.

  • I have never listened to a podcast but hell this sounds interesting, I am not one to listen to the radio in the car instead I prefer to listen to audio books…………… to the question of what I was doing last Tuesday between 2-2.21pm easy I was in the car driving to pick Leo up from school…….Wednesday at 11.42am I would have been home blogging again easy but honestly most if you were to ask me where I was on say Monday 5th May I wouldn’t be able to tell you I wouldn’t even know if the 5th of May was a Monday…………

  • Katherine

    Since you’re a book fan, I highly recommend the podcast Literary Disco. Besides being hilariously awesome and a great way to find out about new books, Rider Strong (Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World) is one of the hosts. It’s fantastic!

  • I read this this morning and I’ve been listening to the podcast all day! I’m on the last episode and I’m so torn because both Adnan and Jay have such sketchy stories.

  • OMG you are the second person to post about this podcast. I can’t wait to listen to it!!

  • I’ve been trying more podcasts lately. My sister LOVES What You Missed in History Class and I’ll listen to that with her in her car. I’ve been listening to more comedy ones by Grace Helbig and Tyler Oakley. They make my commute to work more entertaining!

  • Jessica

    I listen to podcasts semi-regularly because I have a long commute, but this is the first one that has hooked me and has me looking forward to the next episode. The story occurs near where I live- I’ve been to that Best Buy several times- so that adds to the intrigue as well. Some of my job requires cognitive psychology and memory knowledge and as a result I have long believed no one remembers anything- human memory is terrible and so influenced by things other people say and other things that come to light after the initial memory is made. I want to know more about Jay and Jay and Adnan’s relationship. At this point I really can’t decide.

  • I. am. so. addicted. Serial is riveting!

  • Shannon

    It’s so funny you posted this today. Yesterday, I had a 5 hour drive and listened to all of the Serial episodes! Overall, I do think he is innocent. There are some things that are not in his favor and I do think the narrator wants you to believe he’s innocent. My thought is that maybe Jay did it on his own and framed Agnon. And I’m surprised that is not mentioned ever (so far). It’s hard to believe he was convicted because there is obviously reasonable doubt! Oh, and I do believe that his aliby in the library with Asia is legit. Clearly I could go on and on about this..I love it too!

  • Val

    I listen to podcasts while I file at work because I just get so dang bored. Right now, I love Nerdist, You Made it Weird, and WTF.

  • I listen to podcasts ALL THE TIME. Serial is one of my faves. Another podcast I love listening to is Elise is Crafty as well.

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  • I actually love Serial. I’ve been obsessed. i listen to podcasts quite frequently, especially Star Talk with Neil Degrasse Tyson and The Nerdist.

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