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Nice Things In 2018 With The Code Switch Hosts


The holiday season is in full swing, and this is a time for a lot of us to take stock of the year and express gratitude for the good people and the good things in our lives. So with that in mind, we wanted to chat with NPR podcast hosts and ask them this simple question - what gave them joy this year, especially if it was unexpected? So joining us are Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Maraji, hosts of the NPR Code Switch podcast. Gene, Shereen, welcome. Thank you so much for being with us.

GENE DEMBY, BYLINE: Hey, Michel. Thanks for having us.


MARTIN: So who wants to go first? What gave you life this year? Well, let's do ladies first.

MERAJI: OK. I have been working a ton. And I realized that I didn't have any work-life balance going on and that I needed more exercise. So I signed up for this basic dance fitness class which I thought was going to be like zumba. And the dance instructor comes out, and she goes, OK, everybody, you're in a dance hall class. And I was like, oh, I've never done dancehall dancing ever.

DEMBY: Ever, not even like at a party.

MERAJI: Well, like in the club.

DEMBY: Yeah. Right. Right.

MERAJI: But, like, not in a class. And I didn't know the moves.

MARTIN: And it was dark there, so...

DEMBY: Right. There's no mirrors.

MERAJI: Exactly. And I was not smack in the middle of the class.

DEMBY: Right.

MERAJI: And it was too late to walk out. And I took the most joyful and amazing dance class that I have ever taken.

DEMBY: You said this is your church now, Shereen.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

MERAJI: This is totally my church. It was so diverse. It was like women in their early 20s to women in their mid-60s. I kid you not. It was incredible, the community spirit, everything.

MARTIN: Gene, what about you?

DEMBY: February 4, 2018, my beloved Philadelphia Eagles - I'm wearing the Philadelphia Eagles hat right now.

MARTIN: He - you sure are. You sure are. You've got it tilted just so.

DEMBY: He's always wearing that hat.


DEMBY: So the Eagles, at that point had been, the - I think they were the oldest NFL franchise that had never won the Super Bowl. And it is the city's team, right? Like, it is the one team that everyone in the city roots for. I actually went home to Philadelphia to watch the Super Bowl with my now-fiancee. I guess that should be my most joyful thing is that I got engaged this year.

MERAJI: Busted.

DEMBY: She was like, look, if you - if the Eagles win the Super Bowl, who knows when that'll happen again? You should go home. Go back to Philly and watch it in Philly. And it was amazing. Like, as soon as Tom Brady got the strip sack in the fourth quarter - late in the fourth quarter and he fumbled, all these people just rushed out into the street.

MARTIN: It was almost a year ago now. It's almost time for the next one - almost, almost, almost. And this has given you joy all year?


MARTIN: That's awesome.

DEMBY: The big thing is like my mom and I have always shared this thing where she, like, taught me about football. She taught me about the Eagles, right? And it's funny just because like football and the NFL in particular is like becoming harder and harder to justify, you know? Like, it's a very fraught fandom. And I was glad I got to share that with my mom, you know, like, while she's still with us, right? And (unintelligible).

MARTIN: That's so deep. So is there's something that you can kind of pass on to the rest of us? Some people aren't football fans. Some people can't dance.

MERAJI: I think, for me, it was the challenge of trying something new that brought me joy. And I don't do that as much now that I'm getting older.

DEMBY: I think the thing that binds all communities - right? - is, like, is the sense of, like, shared something, right? And I think we don't have a lot of that in America right now in a lot of places. But I think there's something to having a communal experience that is joyful.

MARTIN: That's Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Maraji. You can hear more from them on the NPR Code Switch podcast. Gene, Shereen, thank you so much for joining us. Happy New Year.

DEMBY: Happy New Year.

MERAJI: Happy New Year.


SEAN PAUL: (Singing) Shake that thing Donna Donna, Jodi and Rebecca.

MERAJI: (Singing) Get busy. Just shake that booty nonstop. when the beat drops.

DEMBY: This is like - looking at this video hurts.

MERAJI: Everybody watch that video. That's what I was doing in that dance hall class.

DEMBY: Crazy.

MERAJI: (Laughter).


PAUL: (Singing) Let me see you get live from the rhythm when we ride, and my lyrics provide electricity. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.