Episode 36: Visiting with Angi Franklin of Urbana, IL, and her story, “Unplanned and Unwritten”
SSPP ep 36 ANGI FRANKLIN “Unplanned and Unwritten”
Kerry and Jenette struggle to keep a straight face while visiting with their guest, Angi Franklin in this week’s episode. Angi had the audience rolling in the aisles, during her 2020 performance of “Unplanned and Unwritten.”
ANNOUNCER: Raising women’s voices. One story at a time.
Welcome to The She Said Project Podcast.
JENETTE JURCZYK: Today’s episode of The She Said Project Podcast design is unplanned and unwritten in honor of today’s guest so thank you for joining us. I am your host, Jenette Jurczyk, National Director of The She Said Project. Kerry Rossow, my co-host. How are you?
KERRY ROSSOW: I am fantastic. I’m super excited for our guest today. One of my favorite humans on the planet.
JENETTE: Pretty great human: funny, delightful, a true giver. She really shared her soul with us on the She Said stage.
KERRY: Well she shared something!
JENETTE: She shared something! We are talking, of course, of the one and only Angi Franklin—who appeared on stage in That’s What She Said, live in February of 2020, where we all got to enjoy this incredible night of women sharing stories, just weeks before this crazy pandemic world hit.
And now here in our Zoom studio, we’re taking a moment to connect with Angi and see how she is doing after that experience. Hello dearest, dear friend, Angi, how are you?
ANGI: Good. Hi friends? How’s it going? I’ve missed you seems like ten years since we were together having a good time,
JENETTE: It was ten months that feels like ten years, right?
ANGI: It really does. It really, really does.
JENETTE: Let’s rewind back to before, you know, we were living in a pandemic world—when we were still having fun and getting ready to do a live show at the Virginia Theater in downtown Champaign. You, of course, joined this cast. We knew the moment we met with you, what story you were going to share and what you were going to talk about and we could not wait. It’s one of the best stories I think we’ve ever shared because it’s something that’s so unexpected.
KERRY: Yeah, we basically put you in quarantine before quarantine was a thing. Like, “you can’t tell anybody this story.” You had to put it in the vault until the night of the show.
ANGI: I know, you wanted to pimp me out. Like, pimp my story out. [laughs]
JENETTE: We hope we gave you a service!
ANGI: It’s all for a good cause. Like, I know. It’s all right. I took one for the team.
JENETTE: It’s about sharing those moments in life that are awkward and uncomfortable and unexpected and by being brave and sharing what you went through, you give other women permission to go, “Oh my God, it’s okay. It’s okay that life doesn’t go exactly as planned.” And before we give too much away, I feel like we really just need to share your story with our audience. Otherwise, we’re going to slip up and give away some of the juicy details… pun intended.
So let’s just go right to the performance. Shall we? For our listeners, this story… Get a glass of wine, pull up a chair. Just enjoy yourself because I know I’m going to. We are listening to the live performance from That’s What She Said, February 2020. This is Angi Franklin with her story, “Unplanned and Unwritten.”
ANGI: (recorded in February 2020) So I was like five years old when I realized that I really like to eat and swear so you’ve been warned. Am I the only one here that really likes pizza and pasta and bread and fried chicken and mashed potatoes and bougie wine and cheesecake and chocolate and margaritas and Taco Tuesday?
Where are my ladies who like to eat, can I get an amen? [audience responds]
And has anybody ever lost weight…and then just like gained it back? Can I get a hell yeah? [audience responds]
So I don’t really know exactly why I eat when I eat, and I’ve been on a diet like a hundred times, I mean food is just… good. When I lose weight, I’m good at it. I mean, I can lose the equivalent of an entire person off my body, but when I gain weight, I’m a total champ. I can also gain an entire person on my body too… like right now. But tonight, I’m up here to have fun talking about it and make women feel okay about it cuz we can waste time being sad, feeling guilty and having regrets in life or we can live today like there’s no tomorrow. Am I right? Who’s with me?
Alright. So a couple of years ago, I was on my diet A game. I was doing great—protein, water veggies, really low carbs, no sugar, no alcohol. Yeah, it sucked.
But I dropped a lot of weight, and it felt great, but since the weight was gone, I decided that it was finally time that the grandma bras had to go. Ever since high school, I had always wanted ‘the girls’ to be just smaller. They just got in the way of stuff. Sure enough, I’d eat something and it would totally land on my chest for the world to see—like, “Nice ketchup,” or “Anyone want some chocolate ice cream for dessert?” I’d wanted it done since I was seventeen years old but the doctors always said, “You need to lose some serious weight first.”
“Well, duh, you ass hole. Give me the magic pill to lose some weight permanently and I’ll take it everyday, but can you do something about my bewbs?”
Well, January 2018 was the magic month where they told me that I didn’t have to wait any longer. I’d finally lost enough weight to qualify for a breast reduction. Yes!
So I went in for outpatient surgery, bright and early at 5:30 in the morning on a Thursday. I was so pumped. I went in the room and my surgeon had to use the special purple pen to draw all over my naked body, which looked pretty smokin hot at the time because I had been on my diet A game.
So my husband is watching as I am getting prepped by the female surgeon, whom we both adored, and as the doctor was drawing sections all over my business, she said, “Okay, I’m warning you, I’m getting ready to go down under,” and my husband, without missing a beat, said, “Isn’t that my job?” [audience laughter] Oh my God. So, it literally happened.
And so my husband and the doctor both start laughing hysterically. And at this moment, while they’re both laughing and making sexual jokes at my expense, I know that this adventure was not going to go as planned.
So, they gave me some sort of like happy-sleeping-cocktail shot and then I don’t really remember the next six hours of the outpatient surgery. This is probably a good time to tell you that at about a month before the procedure, I had a little conversation with my surgeon that I wanted to try out BOTOX for the first time during the breast reduction. But I totally couldn’t tell my husband about it—because he’s super cheap [laughter]—and he’s totally in the audience.
So this is how this went down. So I talked to the surgeon and said you know we can’t tell him, can we just roll it into the surgery bill? Because my husband is cheap and he drinks PBR and he will not think that Botox and fillers are fiscally responsible?
So, I wake up from the surgery to find my surgeon in my face giving me these prickly little shots. And I feel like I’m super high even though I’ve never actually been high before. I mean, I am not waiting in those lines around town. [laughter] So, anyway, my husband is walking into the room during the BOTOX and at that point, I know that I am mucking busted. [laughs] I say mucking because Kerry Rossow said that, I couldn’t say the big one and I found a way to trick her. Get it? (evil laugh) Ha ha ha ha ha. Gotcha! Alright. Cuz they totally know what I mean.
All right. Well, the doctor said that the surgery went well and I was excited and hungry because guess what? I’m always mucking hungry.
So at this point, I find out that I’m being transferred via ambulance to the hospital for post-surgical therapy. My husband made arrangements for the kids to be picked up from school and as my high is starting to wear off, I quickly find out that my ‘outpatient’ surgery is no longer outpatient. After five minutes in the hospital bed, a nurse comes into the room and asks me if I’m ready to start leech therapy.
I said I was ready whenever he was ready.
She looked at me funny and left the room.
About 15 minutes later, the nurse returns with two pee cups. Pee cups that had live bugs in the bottom. Oh yeah, baby leeches. There were mucking leeches. [laughter] Oh yeah, mucking leeches in the cups that they were going to put on my nipples… like it was the 1700s ... and you’re going to have to stop laughing, otherwise, it’s going to take a long time.
So I literally said, “Oh, hell no. What the muck is that?”
The nurse seemed a little confused and said, “You knew you were coming here for leech therapy, right?”
And I said, yes, with Dr. Leach.
I was dead serious.
I said, “I can’t do this. I will die. This is mucking disgusting. What’s the alternative?”
Well, they finally explained to me that if I didn’t have leech therapy, I ran the risk that my nipples would die and fall off. [laughter]
So I had a lot to think about. I think my husband likes my nipples. [laughter]
Okay, so for the next three mucking days, I had fresh baby leeches on my damn nipples. Every two hours. And these little muckers are the most unpredictable little shits you have ever met.
They bring them out in pee cups and they are the size of the tip of your pinky finger when they start out, they have suckers on both ends. Yep, it was bad. The nurses would arrange them on my nipples to keep the blood circulating to the nipple. So it wouldn’t fall off and die… like, literally, a nipple can die. So, the leech does his thing and gets as big as a middle finger. And then it just falls off when he’s ready. I say he because I refuse to call them shes.
So…the nurses are busy, so they can’t really wait to catch the leeches. So I held these pee cups up there and I can only demonstrate one. So I held these pee cups up there to catch them, cuz if these leeches would have landed in my bed, I would have died with my nipples.
We would have had a two-for-one funeral. A casket for me and one for my nipples and probably one for the nurse on duty. [laughter]
This happened for three days around the clock, twenty-four hours, day hours and night hours, leeches on and leeches off. And when they fall off, the leech, they put them in this pickup, put alcohol in it and then the leach bursts into a cloud of blood and is gone—no more leeches.
But they saved me. And if you seriously do not believe me, you can find demos on the YouTube.
Alright, so probably one of my best memories of this little leech vacation was with Joseph from Mahomet. Joseph was a CNA who was a bigger guy and wasn’t afraid of these leeches like some of the other nurses. He worked quite a few of the shifts and had to help me to the bathroom because I wasn’t allowed to walk alone for the first few days. In the hospital, you have to walk with those special hospital socks, so you don’t slip and fall and it kind of makes you shuffle. It’s it’s kind of like this. Let me show you. Actually, just let me show you the whole thing.
(Exits stage right quickly and returns in hospital gown.) [laughter]
Alright, I hope I have a job on Monday.
Alright, so, so, I’m in the bed and I I hit the call the nurse thing and here comes Joseph to the rescue. I say Joseph, “I got to pee like a mother.”
And he helps me get up and I’m getting up with this big gown on and I’m walking with my big white ass hanging out. Actually, my small white ass hanging out, for correction, and I can’t walk fast cuz I got these socks on. So I’m kind of shuffling. He’s over here, we’re going to the bathroom. So then I’m giggling. And then I start singing, “Every day I’m shuffling.”
And then he.. I really did this! And then he looked at me and then I do it again: “Every day I’m shuffling.”
And then he looks at me like this.. He’s probably like, is this b really going to do this? I’m like, oh hell yeah. “I’m sexy and I know it.”
I’m just so proud of my joke right there, I just—I was laughing so hard at the hospital. I laughed in the bathroom by myself. That was so funny.
Alright, well after the leech therapy ended, which took three days, I had to stay two more days in that hospital for blood transfusions, because the damn leeches stole so much of my blood. Yes, blood transfusions on top of this. I am not making this up.
So I had a five-day vacation at the hospital, watched all kinds of weird TV, including a show called “Botched.” Which was some reality TV show that I got addicted to about cosmetic surgery gone wrong and eventually made it home.
I am so proud to report today that my nipples are intact living their best life.
And I have officially gained back all of the weight that I lost to qualify for that surgery.
And the girls are big again. But what are you going to do?
So, I’ll leave you with this. Can I get an amen if you like to eat?
And can I get a “hell yeah” if you’ve ever lost weight and then gained it right back.
Losing weight and gaining it back has been the struggle of my life and I’m sure that there are many women in this audience that can relate. But guess what? It does not define us as women. [cheering and applause]
Tonight I’ve shared one of my stories, as have the amazing women on the stage, and we know that each and every one of you have a story to share whether it’s one of courage or just plain silliness, like I shared. February 22nd 2020 is where we are tonight in our lives and the rest?
Well, the rest is just unwritten. [music begins to play]
JENETTE: I just got chills!
KERRY: Me too!
JENETTE: That was like prophecy right there.
ANGI: I botched the ending. It was not what I had planned to say. Like, I botched the ending, but whatever.
JENETTE: But looking back…
KERRY: Oh my gosh, I got chills listening to that and knowing what was bearing down on us. That really kind of just freaked me out.
JENETTE: Did you know, Angi? Did you know? That was like.. prophetic.
KERRY: She knows everything, see?
JENETTE: I think so. But let’s talk about that story. Shall we?
KERRY: Okay, wait. I want to hear the fallout. Who…What… did you have anybody, like, “I couldn’t believe that.”
What was the response you got on Monday morning?
ANGI: Well, let’s… we can rewind even before that. So, at the after party at Neil Street Blues, I had a few women come up to me that I did not know and they were like, “Oh my God, I got a breast reduction too but that did not happen to me. But oh my God, oh my God…”
You know? And they were talking to me and then some women were like, “I want to get a breast reduction too but what if that happens?” and I’m like, “No, it will not happen. I promise it will not happen. Like, it was just a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I took the hit for us and so it won’t happen to you. I promise. Do it.”
So, on Monday, when I went to work, you know, ‘cuz I have a little bit of a higher-profile position in the community, and I didn’t tell any of my co-workers this story. And so several of them came, you know, there’s about fifteen of them in the office that I work in, and I walked in, you know, kind of like, like nothing had happened, and… [laughing]
JENETTE: “Good morning!”
ANGI: [laughing] ...and they just looked at me and they said, “We can’t look at you the same.”
And I’m like, “Yeah, I know.”
JENETTE: And you, you slipped in that line…
JENETTE: And you improvised that line, “Gosh, I hope I still have a job Monday morning” which was not scripted…but delightful.
ANGI: So you’re not supposed to talk about your body parts, but… or you’re not supposed to talk about other people’s body parts—so they’re my body parts and I decided that it was safe—I could talk about them. So I decided it was, it was okay.
JENETTE: It wasn’t gratuitous body talk— I mean it was a procedure that you went through that you were doing for your own health and wellness, and it just so happened to turn out that there were leeches involved, and thank you for owning it and then sharing it, because life is messy and awkward. I don’t think it gets any more awkward than what you’ve been through—God, I hope not—but by being bold and brave, like, you can laugh about it and let people know that it’s okay to have moments like that in life.
KERRY: Well, I have to tell you…There was someone who you know I work with but I was telling her how great Angi was and I sent her Angi’s clip and she now works with me but she was kind of like, “I really wish I’d gotten that job working for her, she seems like a lot of fun.”
KERRY: I’m like, “Jackie! I’m fun too!” I don’t have leeches on my nipples, but…
ANGI: No way! You showed her that video?
KERRY: Yeah. Sorry.
ANGI: Oh my God, that’s so funny.
JENETTE: “This is the person you could have worked for… but no, you get to work with me.”
ANGI: Well, you kind of stole her from us cuz we had a different thing in mind, but I let you take her because you guys knew each other first.
KERRY: I felt like again I’m second fiddle to Angi. She’s like so if I don’t get this one then I’ll come play with you and I was like, what? Again, like, for my first choice is clearly Angi…
ANGI: Oh, whatever!
KERRY: Hey, I’ll take sloppy seconds. I mean…
ANGI: Oh my God…
KERRY: We’re not in college anymore. Sorry, Jenette. Sorry.
JENETTE: No, it’s all good… I’m thinking about the leeches…
It’s so funny to think about how extreme your circumstance was—not everyone ever comes face-to-face with leeches but it really was a funny way to talk about actually a topic that affects so many women and that is, you know, body image and confidence in weight, and weight gain and weight loss, which you came out and addressed with such a beautiful confidence about you that you just went there. We’re just going to talk about the topic and you brought everybody in with you. You know, you had this shout and response, you know, ‘Who’s with me?’ ‘Hell, yeah,’ because it’s so true. There isn’t a woman alive who hasn’t faced some sort of diet, nutrition, weight gain, weight loss issue in her life. And, you know, you talked about the elephant in the room—in a great way.
ANGI: It’s still there. I battle it every day. It sucks. And so, it’s just something we all deal with, you know? Yep.
JENETTE: Did women come up to you and talk to you about that at all?
ANGI: No, I mean, not that I.. I mean after, afterwards it’s kinda like we all just went on lockdown, so…
JENETTE: So true. We missed out on a lot of opportunity to gauge the community’s response and impact because of the timing of the show and that’s why we’re here, you know, chatting with you on the podcast so that we still have that opportunity to reach more women, who need to hear that they’re not alone and that we all go through it.
ANGI: Yeah, I thought it was a great opportunity to talk about it. You know, a lot of people don’t want to talk about it because they feel ashamed and really sad and I mean, I have those feelings, too. But then it just, it affects so many people. I mean, if you look at the average size of a woman and, you know, and if you don’t look at, if you stay off of social media so that you don’t feel bad about yourself. I mean, you see so many different women out in public that are not super tiny. So it’s not like we need to shame ourselves. Social media does do that to us, or just media in general, and so, but now I’ve got to a point in my life, and just with my age, is that I have to, I do need to worry about it for my health and not to be thin by any means, but just to get a little bit of weight off so I don’t die early because I want to like, you know, have fun.
JENETTE: I’m sure COVID made that so easy for all of us too.
ANGI: Oh yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. And I’m such a foodie. I love, I mean, you know, and I talked about that—I still love to eat. Oh my God, it’s so good.
JENETTE: Food is good stuff.
ANGI: It is so good and wine and my margaritas and all kinds of stuff. It’s so good, yeah. I make a good Cosmo, too. No, I mean, I loved being in the show.
I really want to give Kevin props because he spent so much time with me, where something that I never thought I would do…
JENETTE: Just so our listeners know, that not only did you share a story in the 2020 production you were the finale—You were the final story of the night and went right into singing a song and that inspired the title of your piece, you sang “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield.
And to those who don’t know, Kevin is our musical director and our stage manager of That’s What She Said.
ANGI: Yeah…so, I spent many times, you know, in his house with him and he has so much patience and is just a really kind-hearted human.
KERRY: We don’t want people to do things that they’re known for and you’re known for many, many things in the community. But you know, being a stand-up comedian or singing, those are not two things that you would typically be known for. And so I loved that, you know, you put in all of these hours and blood, sweat, and tears in your work role, but it was so fun to see you just bring down the house with the laughing and then when you sang, you just killed it and knowing what you and Kevin had gone through leading up to that. It really.. That was pretty fantastic.
ANGI: It was fun, like people that are in my inner circle, like, know how I am—I mean, like I have my little, my f-bombs like none other.
KERRY: No mucking way!
ANGI: Yes, but my outer circle, you know, I gotta, like, I gotta be all my professional person. But my inner circle know the real Angi Franklin.
JENETTE: And you know what? Thanks to That’s What She Said, we all got to take a peep at the inner circle Angi—like you really did take chances that night to share what it’s like to, you know, be in your shoes for a day.
KERRY: It’s one thing to hear from somebody who’s going through it and it doesn’t feel patronising, it feels real. It feels authentic. It isn’t… It just doesn’t feel like, “And for $9.99 you can have my book” or “Join my workout group,” you know. It felt like I am only saying this from a place of love and (not) only do I want to make you laugh but I also want to have that connection so that you all know, you know, we all are going through this wherever you are. And I really appreciated that you were willing to talk about it, and it’s a lot easier, at least for me, to hear it when you’re in the middle of that journey.
ANGI: I know like I feel like I should have kept my clothes, it would be like a store. All the things. But what I do, is I just get rid of them and then I’m like, I’m just going to buy new.
JENETTE: Well we love you wherever you are in your journey and you are funny and charming and you make people feel comfortable wherever they are and that’s such a gift.
ANGI: Aww, thanks.
JENETTE: Thank you so much for joining us today, Angi Franklin from the 2020 That’s What She Said live show. It’s been, you know, a year that felt like ten for so many people and it’s so good to get back together and laugh together and just remember why we do what we do, you know, to connect women and share their stories.
So thanks so much for joining us and we’ll see you next time on The She Said Project Podcast.
ANNOUNCER: Thank you for listening to The She Said Project Podcast in partnership with Illinois Public Media. All materials contained in the podcast for the exclusive property of The She Said Project and That’s What She Said, LLC. For more information on our live shows go to http://shesaidproject.com
This podcast was made possible with support from Carle and Health Alliance and presented by Sterling Wealth Management, empowering women to live their best lives.
Hosts Kerry and Jenette struggle to keep a straight face while visiting with their guest, Angi Franklin, in this week's episode. Angi had the audience rolling in the aisles during her 2020 performance of "Unplanned and Unwritten."
The She Said Project Podcast is recorded in partnership with Illinois Public Media. All materials contained in this podcast are the exclusive property of The She Said Project and That's What She Said, LLC. Learn more at shesaidproject.com.