Episode 84: DC Pierson
The author (The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep And Never Had To), comedian (DERRICK Comedy) and actor (“Mystery Team“) opens up about the loss of his mother to cancer when he was in junior high, overachieving, cynicism, and the terrifying prospect of intimacy. Paul also reads an email from a listener who sheds light on being an identical twin, and reads the survey responses of a college-educated professional who is addicted to huffing.
Paul: Welcome to episode 84 with my guest DC Pierson. I’m Paul Gilmartin. This is The Mental Illness Happy Hour, an hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads. From medically diagnosed conditions to everyday compulsive, negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional, mental counseling. It’s not a doctor’s office. It’s more like a waiting room that hopefully doesn’t suck. As I’ve said before, I’m not a doctor, but I am a hypochondriac. The website for this show is mentalpod.com, that’s also the Twitter name you can follow me at. Please go check out the website. All kinds of good stuff there. Also mentalpod is the Google Plus name that you can add me to your circle for because in the future I want to start doing Google Plus hangouts and take questions from you guys via video chat. So seek that out. If you haven’t signed up for Google Plus it’s pretty cool.
Today’s show is gonna be a little on the longer side. There’s just so much I wanted to talk about. And the interview with DC ran a little longer than normal but I didn’t really want to cut anything out so those of you that send me emails sometimes and say the shows are too long, a healthy “Go fuck yourself” to you. And I mean that with the most British tip of the cap.
What do I want to kick it off with? I had a moment today, it is, what is it today? October 25th I think, and it’s that like week before you know you’re gonna set your clocks back and I don’t know about you guys, but you start thinking, holy fuck, in a week it’s gonna be dark, it’s gonna be this dark an hour earlier and you’re already feeling kind of melancholy. Cause I don’t know about you guys, but I like have like the different types of depression that sneak up on me, it’s like a rich person’s wine collection. It’s like there’s like 50 different kinds and my fall depression is like, you know, when my fall depression shows up, it should have a sidekick that takes its cape off when it enters the room. Because it just looks at like my summer depression like, ‘Oh, were we sad at 9:00 when the sun set? How about dark at five, grey, no leaves and the Moody Blues are on the radio? How about that? Suck on that pipe.’ So I’m just kind of, I’m feeling that fall melancholy start to creep in but I on a really fucked up level, it’s so a familiar it’s like a stinky blanket that I’m kind of like, ‘Yeah, you suck, but you’re also kind of cozy.’ I don’t know if anybody else can relate to that, but it’s—maybe because it gives me an excuse to curl up on the couch and take more naps or watch more documentaries.
I had a couple of good things about depression that I wanted to share with you. Good thing about depression – it’s hard to get injured laying down. Good thing about depression – to feel love and joy, you don’t need people, just pancakes. And the good thing about depression – you don’t have to diet to feel hollow and empty. So just putting that out there. I want to read a couple of surveys and an email. Actually, somebody had filled out the Shame and Secrets survey and this person goes by the name of Casey and one of the things Casey had said was can you please, please provide on “other” option for gender. I’m neither male nor female, “trans” would be appropriate but not when you limit the trans option to male to female and female to male, as I am neither, so none of the available options describe me. I want you to feel included, Casey, but I’m not sure what—God how do I say this without it sounding ignorant? But, would hermaphrodite be an option? Or—cause I feel like “other” is just too—I don’t know, not specific enough. Or is that just me trying—wanting to try to label things? But I want you to feel included, so if you listen to this Casey, shoot me an email and I’d love to know more about that. And I’d actually love to know more about your story and what it’s like living in between the lines that society draws up about what defines people.
This other survey that I wanted to read a little excerpt from, this woman calls her A Listener in France, and she—the excerpt that I just wanted to read, she said “I’ve been listening to the show for a long time and listening to so many people’s stories and to many women on the show who were either raped or sexually violated in some way gave me the courage to talk to someone about my experiences. So last night for the first time ever I told my boyfriend and it felt so amazing. I really want to encourage others to tell people if you feel or felt violated in any way because it’s such a great feeling to have finally admitted what happened to myself and to have someone else who cares about me.” That’s beautiful. I’m glad that you could connect and that you felt save enough with your boyfriend to tell him that because there are, sadly I have heard of some instances where women will tell their partner about that then it’s met with kind of a bad vibe and that, uh—so I would just preface that by saying make sure that your partner is somebody that you feel safe and you can share that with them because I think when we go back and bring that kind of painful, icky stuff back up again and somebody makes us feel bad about ourselves against it’s just like reopening that fucking wound and I’ve had that happen and it’s not fun. Not that what I had happen to me was as bad as what she had. I don’t think there was enough qualifications in that. I would like to flowchart all of that backpedaling.
This email that I want to read comes from a listener named Paul Vance. And thank you Paul for allowing me to use your full name. I love when people are unafraid to own their experience. And on the surface this email is not dramatic like the other emails or surveys but there’s something about this that just really touched me deeply and I wanted to read it to you. He writes, “Hey Paul, I apologize for the long message, but if you’re reading this, thank you. Ever since I listened to the Sklar brothers’ episode, I’ve been meaning to email you about this for quite some time. But really I just felt it wasn’t worth sending. But now though I’ve changed my mind. You might think it interesting. I’m an identical twin myself and I think that my experience being a twin isn’t typically thought of or even cared about. If I had to choose whether I would be an identical twin or not, I would definitely, definitely choose no. There are many reasons for this. Most people view you and your sibling as one whole instead of two wholes. When one is gone someone will ask where the other one is. When one likes chocolate and the other one doesn’t, it’s deemed weird. (We actually are both pretty indifferent to chocolate.) When one gets his braces off before the other, because the other has an overbite that requires him to have braces for a few more weeks, people don’t understand why. When people first notice you, some will look at you with awe and ask you several stupid questions like, ‘Do you have ESP?’ or ‘Which one is smarter?’ or ‘Which one gets the most girls?’ or the kicker, ‘Do you guys have the same birthday?’ These are only a few of the questions we are asked constantly.
“I know being a male I probably shouldn’t complain about this, but my brother and I have been objectified too. Once in middle school when we were in the same class, our teacher made us stand up in the middle of the room while him and the students could search and memorize our physical differences. What are you supposed to say to, ‘His eyes are spread further apart,’ or ‘One has a mole on his cheek and the other one doesn’t,’ or ‘His eyebrows are way bushier than the other one’s’ or ‘His face is fatter than the other’s?’ Because of this constant objectifying and being viewed as one whole, I have always resented being a twin. At a young age I would always try to set myself apart from my brother and would get so angry when we wanted the same thing. I would always make him order food in a restaurant first because I knew we would probably want the same thing and when that inevitably happened, I would suck it up and order something else on principle.
“But sometimes I think everyone is right, that we are the same person, that I’m not an individual. We like the same music, we like the same movies; we have the same taste in women. I’ll have a song in my head and I’ll hear him humming it an hour later. He once dated my crush in high school, talk about a confidence booster. We like the same foods as mentioned before. We always get the same type of candy. We’re both levelheaded, smart, and, at times, obsessive. We both have a deep, deep love for film. I absolutely can’t stand knowing these things about us. I want to be an individual so bad, but society and our similarities just seem to make it impossible. But there are times also when I wish we were the same person, or that I can’t help but think in those terms. I think I’ve been conditioned by everyone else’s behavior towards us. He had his first kiss before me. He had a girlfriend before I did. And now recently, which hasn’t helped with my depression, I’ll get into that later, he’s lost his virginity while I’m still stuck with mine. I can’t help but think, ‘Why not me?’ in all of these scenarios. I start to do the thing I hate most – I start to compare us. Why does he have what I don’t? What makes him so special? Why has he had all the luck? It must come as no surprise when I say I have self-hatred issues. And then I start to wish that we were one whole again. I suffer with depression and he does not. When I’m going through a bad time he can’t understand it. He will never really understand it. So at times like these where for several reasons he is having the best months of his life, and for several reasons I am having the worst months of my life, when I need someone to understand, like when I need someone to really help me through this, I don’t have him, someone who I have been told repeatedly is just like me. Can you imagine what that feels like; the never-ending identity crisis doesn’t help either. So I guess I’ll stop here. There’s way more that I could talk about but then this email would be so long you probably would move on to a new one, and I’m sorry that it was rambling and probably had no flow either. Either way, I hope you now know that being a twin is WAY more complicated than it seems. Thank you, Paul Vance.”
Thank you Paul. That was illuminating and beautiful. And it really touched me and it did help me understand more what it must feel like and I’m glad that you can see that it’s worth writing about and it’s worth talking about, because comparing our pain or how dramatic our story is to other people’s and waiting for that comparison to register as large or small before we have compassion for ourselves is insanity and I’m glad that you can see that you deserve compassion. So sending a big hug your way.
I feel like that is probably all that I want to read before we get to the interview. I was gonna read one more thing but I’m getting kind of anxious that you guys are gonna think that this episode’s too long and bail on me.
I want to end with something funny. But I don’t have anything funny to say. You know what I’m going to do? I’m gonna reach over to this book I have by Pema Chodron and randomly open it up and read a quote, let’s see, she writes, “Reaching our limit is not some kind of punishment; it’s actually a sign of health that when we meet the place where we are about to die, we feel fear and trembling. A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us. Things like disappointment and anxiety are messengers telling us that we’re about to go into unknown territory. There’s a pick-me-up.
Paul: I’m here with comedian, author, rapper DC Pierson. Do you ever chuckle when people refer to you as rapper?
DC: Yeah, I do, even though I guess I could have done less t-to earn th-the title, like—there’s like, uh, there’s kids out there that actually like me rapping that are like, “You’re my favorite rapper,” which is crazy cuz just about all the rap I’ve ever done was on my friend Donald’s like early albums, he raps under the name Childish Gambino, he’s actually a super successful rapper now among other things. And so it’s weird—
Paul: Is this Donald Glover?
DC: Yeah. That I’m actually this weird kind of like, cuz I love music and I love hip hop and I love stories so it’s just really interesting to me that like I’m this sort of almost footnote—like when you listen to somebody’s early recordings, or when to you listen to like one of the first, like, the roots records, you’re like, “We never heard from that guy again,” you know what I mean? And there are other aspects of my career and my life where I’m very concerned about being the guy that we never heard from again, but in this case since it’s never something that I wanted to do like professionally, it was almost kind of a lark, and something that I ever do again, which I have vague plans to, that it will also be as a lark, it’s kind of fun to be just like, well if nothing else I will be this weird footnote. You know what I mean?
Paul: Yeah, absolutely, yeah, I think that’s, I think that’s really cool.
You may know DC from his improv group Derrick Comedy; they did a feature film called Mystery Team, which was at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. That had to have been awesome.
DC: Yeah, it was, it was really cool. It was also, um, it was a really—getting in there was a really big vindication because we funded the movie entirely ourselves, we wrote it ourselves, we did everything by the skin of our teeth and so getting in was a really big vindication and going was really fun, um but they do kind of—you sort of have these dreams in your head of like—and they do sort of inflate you to think it’s gonna be like, and then you’re gonna be back in the cabin with Harvey Weinstein and it’s gonna be a bidding war, and we were there, not to make excuses for ourselves, but basically it’s like what I believe to be the agreed upon like worst Sundance ever for trying to sell a movie. Because it was like the real, just like complete nadir of the, of the recession, uh, and so, like, there were very few sales in general and our movie was just like a weird movie about like these G-rated characters sort of solving sort of on R-rated—these G-rated boy detectives solving an R-rated mystery, uh, people kind of didn’t know what to do with it but it ended up getting picked up and coming out on video and it has really continued to find an audience and it was in some theaters and we got to like go on tour with it so there were a lot of really fun experiences like associated with it.
Paul: And let’s talk about your book a little bit. You’ve got a book out called The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Didn’t Need To?
DC: Never had to.
Paul: Never Had To
DC: Yeah, exactly, if I didn’t want to screw it up I shouldn’t have put so many freaking prepositions in it, or whatever the part of speech it is that—there’s so many of them in there and no one ever quite gets it right the first time. Um, but, uh, yeah, which came out in, um, I wrote it right out of college and it came out in early 2010. Um, and I have written another book since then, it’s gonna come out of March and the book is having like a—the first book is having like a weird almost second life right now because I posted like a response to like a Yahoo! Answers request from a kid who had been assigned the book for their summer high school reading list, which I’ve heard about a couple instances of that happening and it’s always really cool to me because I never thought it would because there’s so—there’s like not a crazy amount, but like an actual teenhood’s worth of boobs and swearing and sex in it. So I—and drugs—and so I never thought that it would ever actually be assigned, especially in like a public high school.
DC: So I think the only—the workaround is I think they know that kids might actually really like it and connect with it, that’s my hope anyway, but I think the only way that they can get around it is going, this is on a list of list of books you can maybe read over the summer as opposed to just being like you have to read this.
DC: Yeah, so that’s been, that’s been pretty fun.
Paul: Yeah, because this kid—it said, can somebody cover this book for me, basically saying, “I don’t want to read it, I want to know what happens and in the book so I can write about it.” And you responded to this kid in a way that was so tactful and sly and funny and heartfelt and sincere. You responded to this kid, you went to bed, you woke up the next morning and 10,000 people had responded to that, had made notes on that on Tumblr, and all of the sudden it was all over these other websites and took on a life of its own.
DC: Yeah, it was, it was really cool. I expected that—I-I know that, cuz I took like a—I-I knew it was gonna be kind of a publicity stunt. I definitely responded to them just because I thought it would be funny for myself and I thought other people might enjoy it. But I did do it sort of—I wasn’t doing it as a complete, like, good Samaritan, I like took a screenshot of it and put it up on my own blog, because I wanted people to see it and I know that when—sometimes when you take like a screenshot of something, it does have an added level of voyeurism, cause like really, that’s like an interaction that happened. So I think kind of in the Internet age it’s like the closest you can get to like really overhearing something that’s like happening. So that was pretty cool. People really seemed to connect with it, which I was excited about. There was about, uh, I don’t know, just a ton of people being like, “I haven’t heard of this book but I’m gonna check it out now this person seems really cool,” which I obviously enjoy. There was a lot of people finger-wagging at the kid, which I kind of felt weird about, cuz I was like, “We don’t all need to gang up on this person.”
DC: I feel like I did an OK job of that interaction, why do 50 people need to pile on and be like, “You should read the book, you’re an idiot?” It’s like, no, that’s the—exactly the thing that I was trying not to do. And then there were, uh—we were talking about it before we got on mic a little bit, but there were a couple people that were like getting on me about like, “Why would you respond this? Why are you so defensive? Who is this author? He’s a loser. He has a Google alert out for the name of his book.” Which is like, if you had a book, you would put a Google alert out for it too, we all would.
DC: Like, you wanna know what people are saying about it, or more to the point, you just want to know that people are talking about it. You want to know that somebody’s out there reading it. But, um, I realized in the course of reading those particular takes on what I had done, people being like, “Why is he so defensive? Why is he doing this?” that people, I think, read things on the Internet in the same tone that they write things on the Internet. So if the things that they write are kind of like snarky sort of weirdly, that kind of like slap-happiness or like punch-drunkenness that you get when you spend kind of like all afternoon on the Internet and you realize, you’re like, “What have I done?! I just wasted a day?” You know what I mean? Whatever tone that you get when you do that a lot and you just live in that world. They read whatever you write thinking that you have the exact same approach.
Paul: Exactly, exactly. Where would be the best place to—oh, you have to share the joke with them, one of your favorite insults to people.
DC: (laughs) Oh yeah, this was inspired by—I don’t—I think seeing something about like, I think I tweeted something about like Chick-Fil-A, I think everybody did four weeks ago, you know, about the homophobia and stuff, and somebody’s response to me was, well I have—on Twitter, was, “Well I have lots of gay friends, but I don’t think that—that’s, you know, being gay is like a choice, and I know that and my gay friends know that, and like this corporation’s making a choice as well, and like, why do we need…” And like I wanted to write back like a five tweet tirade to this person being like, “I’m sure your gay friends love you, man. I’m sure that’s great. Enjoy being swept away by the inevitable tide of history.” And then I think I tweeted it and then like a coward I deleted it because I went to the person’s Twitter profile and I saw they live in North Hollywood and I live Hollywood, a mere five minute ride away on the 101 so I didn’t want to get—and I’m very visible. I do shows on the same block that I live on, so I was like, “I kind of don’t want to get like Hinckley’ed and so I—but I—instead I wrote a Tumblr post where I said, yeah, my favorite insult is uh, “Enjoy being swept away by the inevitable tide of history.” Cause I feel that very often as I shake my fist.
Paul: Well I read—I saw that you were following me on Twitter or you had tweeted about my show or something, and every once in a while I’ll creep on somebody who is following me just to see, you know, what my listeners are like or people that are following me, sometimes just because I’m curious, just because I’m looking for guests, um, and I don’t get out of the house much, so I was not familiar with you, and so I went to your Tumblr page, or your Twitter feed, and I read I think two of your tweets and I was like, “I have to get this guy on the show.” They were so funny and they were so smart and there was a, an underlying sense, oh, this person has been through some shit in their life, and has gained a perspective of somebody who has felt pain. And I don’t know how else to describe it, other than that, but does that make sense what I’m saying?
DC: Well first of all, thank you. I hope the two tweets that you read weren’t just like some dumb puns on like rap lyrics or something, you’re like, “This betrays a deep inner pain.” This play on like a Bel Biv DeVoe lyric that he tweeted while he was eating a sandwich at Whole Foods. But, um, yeah, I think—it’s interesting, I was really excited to—for you to ask me to do the show and I’ve been like a big fan of the show and I, um, I weirdly for the past, I don’t know, ever since I was in college or since I got out of college have just had this fantasy about having enough health care to be able to get therapy because eventually I went along and I realized, oh there’s some weird in here. And I just—it’s funny to do this show now cuz I just recently—I was on SAG health insurance and then I forgot to like pay the premium or something like that, lost my health insurance, which in a world full of people who don’t have health insurance for like, you know, legitimate reasons that would love to have health insurance, or obviously that should have health insurance but that don’t because of all the bullshit, that I had it and I just forgot to have it because of neglect, and then fell off the rolls for like six months, tried really hard during those six months to get back on, feeling like an idiot the entire time, and finally got back on and got my literature, it’s like, you know what? I’m gonna treat myself to a little therapy. Go through the little packet that they send you when you, when you sign up, and it was like, oh, you’re on plan two. Plan two is major medical and dental, mental is not covered. And then I look at plan one and of course, sweet plan one. That I’m sure all the—
Paul: If (indistinct) had only been major network
DC: yeah, exactly. Oh, man, if I was a principal on Rizzoli and Isles, I bet you I would be so mentally healthy right now. And—but I definitely have kind of over the years been fantasizing about that sort of like, been prepping my—what I would sit down in the therapist’s office and just kind of like almost like a first date, like here’s what I think it is. What do you think? You know what I mean?
DC: Like now, here’s what I’ve got, now you go ahead and tell me that that’s wrong or that it’s actually something else or whatever but I think what I’ve got is my mom, uh, was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was, I don’t know the exact age, when I was really young, like five or six, and she battled it for a few years, and I think she went into remission when I was like nine or ten. Again, these dates could be completely wrong, and then, uh, I was in a summer school theater class in elementary school. Not summer school, the kind you go to when you have bad grades, but the kind that you have when you’re an overachiever, you’re like, “I don’t want to sit around and be bored all summer. I want to do activities.” And my dad came to pick me up one day and that was kind of weird because he didn’t usually come to pick me up. And we got in the car and he was like just so, he was like, “The tests came back.” And I didn’t know that there were tests. I thought at first that maybe he was talking about some test I had taken in school. And he was like, “Your mom has cancer again.” And then we went back to the house and, like, all of my relatives were there, and that weird like, you’re happy to see everybody but it’s in like a creepy consolely way. And then she battled it for a few more years and then it was my birthday in, some time in middle school, I was in like seventh grade probably, and then, or maybe eighth, I should remember the dates better than I do, and it was a couple days after my birthday, me and my little—one of my little brothers had the same birthday, and there were still a lot of like relatives around the house or whatever, and I had known that she was bad because she—we had like a birthday party and she kind of like didn’t come out to say hello to everybody, she like stayed in the bedroom, which was pretty weird, but I didn’t think too much of it. And my grandma was staying with us and she went into some room where we were playing like video games or something, me and my little brothers and she was like, “You guys are gonna wanna go out in the backyard for a minute.” So I like take the paper, I’m in the backyard and kind of like reading, like looking at ads for movies and stuff and not thinking anything of it and then she comes back out again and she’s like, “Your mom’s in there. You probably wanna say goodbye to her.”
And I went back into the house and she was on the floor in the living room, and she looked really bad and there were like paramedics and stuff there. And I—she looked really, really bad, and I held her hand and I said goodbye, and then they took her away and I just went into the kitchen and started like doing dishes compulsively. Which was a chore that I had had that I had very proudly performed for several years but never to this degree of voluntariness or compulsion, and, uh, there was like—I remember there was some, like, teen grief counselor that was there. Like I don’t remember, his name was probably Mike, he seems like he would have been a Mike, and, uh, he came over and like tried to talk to me for a minute and I was like, “I’m good.”
A lot of people left. I went up to my room. I tried to read this big book about the history of DC Comics that I had gotten for Christmas. I cried my eyes out. I went to sleep. I woke up that night and when she was still alive, she and my dad had rented Everyone Says I Love You, which was new on video then, the Woody Allen musical, and my dad and I watched it that night and there’s a scene where all of the—there’s like a—it’s like a funeral, and they’re in a funeral home, and then all of the people come to life and like start dancing and stuff, and it’s like this sort of joyous musical number, and it seemed really funny to be watching that, and then I was gonna go to bed , I was like, “Oh good night.” And my dad was like, “You need to give me a hug.” And so I did and then I went to sleep.
And so I went back to school when school started the next week. And that, I guess, like losing my mom that’s—and I didn’t come in here expecting to tell that whole story, I came in here expecting, “My mom died when I was in seventh grade or whatever”—um, and it’s not a story that I tell easily or readily.
Paul: I can’t imagine how difficult it’s gotta be.
DC: And yeah, so, I mean, if hat isn’t at the core of whatever is going on with me, I can’t imagine what else would be. Um, sorry go ahead.
Paul: I was going to ask what was your relationship like with your mom, what kind of memories do you have?
DC: My favorite, this is the only thing so far I’ve ever said about her on stage, but it’s one of my favorite stories about her and about me. I was in probably like fourth grade and they announced that there was gonna be a school talent show and I had not shown a particular talent for anything or a desire to develop a talent for anything at this particular time in my life but I really wanted to be in a talent show, that sounded pretty cool, and so, I like left school and she picked me up and I was sitting in the front seat of the van, I was like, “Mom! There’s gonna be a talent show at school, it’s gonna be great, I’m gonna the talent show, I don’t know what I’m gonna do yet, it’s gonna be great, I can’t wait!” And she’s really quiet and we’re driving along and you can tell she’s kinda like—now that I think back on it, she’s gathering her thoughts to try to like perfectly articulate this in the right way. And we’re at a stop light and she just turns to me and she’s like, “You know, sweetie, you know you can’t read in the talent show, right? It’s like you know you can’t just get up there and just watch—have everyone watch you silently read The Hobbit really fast.” Which was pretty cool.
But it’s interesting. I have, I’m sure I have tons of memories about her because a lot of them—things will come up sometimes and I’ll remember certain things, but I wish that I had more, more readily.
Paul: Or was it—is it with fondness that you remember your relationship with her? Was it tumultuous, was it fond, was it close?
DC: It was great.
Paul: Oh, ok.
DC: It was phenomenal. She like read to me every night until I was in like fourth grade, which is like pretty late to read to a kid but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Absolutely. Almost right up until I was in middle school she read me like To Kill a Mockingbird, like all these great—True Grit, which I thought of as being like the kooky Old West book that she—that got read to me when a kid, almost one that’s for kids and then going back and reading it as a grownup, and it’s like a humorous, like adult lit novel from like the ‘70’s, you know what I mean? Or like late ‘60’s, early ‘70’s. And so I have all these great memories of that. And I think that’s really where I got my sort of like love of like reading from. I think that like a formative experience that I had with her was, uh, there was in third grade, which was my like eating tangerines during silent reading, reading The Hobbit really fast phase, um, we had to do an assignment where we were supposed to make a hand turkey for Thanksgiving and decorate it at home with just whatever. And so I did that and then I had an idea, I was like, “Oh I think I’m gonna—“ I was like, “Wouldn’t it be fun to like write like a poem to go with it.” Just like classic precocious kid, overachiever stuff. And she was like, “Really?” And I was like, “Actually, no, I don’t want to do that. That’s silly. I just need to do the turkey, right?” I tried to like cop out. And she was like, “No you should do it. Why would you settle for just doing the thing when you could go like above and beyond?” So I did it for no reason, it was not like there was any amount of extra credit that I could have received. And the teacher was of course charmed by it, I think it was like a spoof of The Night Before Christmas but with like Thanksgiving. And then they had me like read it aloud on the loudspeaker at school, cuz like the teacher was so like impressed by it and, uh, it made not a ripple as far as my peers were concerned in their estimation of me. If anything, probably (indistinct)
Paul: I was gonna say I’m surprised you didn’t get your ass beat.
DC: I’m surprised I was not covered in like hand marks that looked like turkeys all over me. But that was pretty cool. That’s definitely something that she instilled in me a lot, was kind of like going above and beyond the call of duty and almost having that intrinsically, like why can’t you do more? Why can’t you do more? Not in a way of like, “If you’re not doing more you’re a bad person” or “you’re not doing enough,” but just like, “Why would you settle, which was pretty cool and then also I feel like sometimes in adulthood I mistake that instinct for like me telling myself I’m not good enough, if that makes any sense. It was a pretty cool thing.
Paul: It sounds like it was her way of saying, “You have gifts, you should use them.”
DC: Yeah, I think so. And there was a lot of stuff like that. There was a lot of like, I was complaining about doing handwriting homework, like having to learn D'nealian, which I don’t even know if they do anymore, I really hope not.
Paul: What the fuck is that?
DC: D’nealian was this standardized system of handwriting that looks like the way nobody writes but I think if you showed it to any kid that ever had to learn D’nealian, they would just immediately go into conniptions. And I honestly don’t know if they do it anymore. I hope somebody who’s been in elementary school more recently than I have will like write in and tweet at me and be like, “Yeah they still do it,” in which case we should organize an airlift to get people out of there because it’s the worst.
Paul: We couldn’t even adopt the metric system, why the fuck are we ….
DC: Standardized—I think it’s just a way of teaching—of trying to get people to have remotely legible handwriting. I remember complaining about because I really loved computers when I was a kid. My dad was big into computers and always worked on them and stuff and always had them around and I was like, “We’re all gonna be on computers in five years or ten years anyway, so why does it matter?” And I remember her saying like, “Well, a lot of things can be computerized, but the written word is still very important.” I was like, “Oh shit.”
Paul: And what was your relationship with your dad like, or what is it still like?
DC: Um, he’s great, like they were both, they were both great, and my extended family’s great and everything like that. My dad’s awesome, he’s an entrepreneur a couple times over, he was at AT&T in this ‘80’s and then he told his boss that he wanted to rent this like, basically this computer terminal that was gonna make the work that he did a lot faster, like it was gonna be—like it was like an early PC basically, whereas he was just working on his terminal that was like connected to his company mainframe. He was like, “I can do this thing so much quicker if you just let me have a couple hundred bucks to rent this PC, it’ll be worth it.” And his boss was like, “No, that’s stupid, that will never work.” And so he was like, “This place stinks.” So he quit and he and some people from that company founded a company that made like educational software. So he did that all throughout the ‘90’s and then, uh, they—he left that company to found another company that does a similar thing and now they make this software that is really big in like the digital signage space. And it’s really cool, he’s been a really cool role model especially for what I’ve tried to do so far in my life because he’s been his own boss for a really long time but he’s not his own boss in the way that like, there’s like—he has a private yet, or anything like that. It’s been a pretty like, upper certainly, but upper middle class existence my entire life, like it’s never—we’ve never felt, we’ve never wanted for anything, we’re always been super, super duper suburban and comfortable but by the same token there’s never been like a sense of like entitlement, which is pretty great. Um, and I think he’s always been like sweating it out, like he’s always kind of been, uh, for the past twenty years, like just that one little thing away from kind of breaking through and actually getting to like sell out and play golf. But he’s still sweating it out. And there’s been numerous times, he’s told me this only recently where it’s been pretty tooth and nail like almost close to like the company’s just done and he doesn’t take salaries for six months at a time sometimes and my stepmom has to support us and—but he’s always kind of like just, you know, almost there and, in talking to him recently, it seems like he’s really almost almost there, but as somebody that’s done stuff kind of independently and kind of been my own boss for as long as I’ve sort of been out in the wide world it’s simultaneously really encouraging and then really humbling because it’s like, you don’t—you won’t necessarily break through within the next year the way you think you will based on the way things are going today. It could take until you’re in your early 50’s, it could be never. You know what I mean? So that’s—it’s simultaneously really encouraging and inspiring and very humbling, but I did sort of grow up with a real affection for skin of their teeth building computers out of like, you know, orange boxes. Like entrepreneurs and stuff.
Paul: Yeah. It—what battles do you experience on a daily or weekly or monthly basis kind of within yourself? What are some of the negative thoughts that go through your head if any?
DC: I feel because I have, I don’t know, I have elected to do a lot of things and pursue a lot of different avenues in, you know, writing prose, in like trying to be an actor, and trying to be a standup comedian, in trying to write for other things and be like a comedy writer, and irons that I also have to kind of keep in the fire in order just to keep the lights on while I wait for these other, longer term things to—one of them to hopefully pay off. And so the negative thoughts that go through my head are like, “If you were just doing one of these, maybe you could be great at it. Are you just being merely good or merely ok in a lot of case at all of these things because you’re trying to do a lot of stuff and then recursively—“ I don’t think that’s what recursively means, then feeling like, “well, you have to do all of them because what if you didn’t do all of them? What if you didn’t do the one thing and that didn’t pay off or then you weren’t making the rent or then—you’re never gonna know what would’ve happened if you’d have stuck with that other thing.” So it’s this kind of self-recrimination about not being good enough that can really flare up after a not-so-great audition or a not-so-great standup set or something like that, or a standup set where people were like, “No, that was great!” And I’m like, “Yeah, but if I were—“ and being envious of standup comedians that only do standup, writers that only write, like people that the thing that they do is the thing that they do and feeling like I’m all over the place. Nobody knows me for the thing that I want them to know me for. I have this vision that the more things that I do and the more notoriety that I accrue the more that helps all of my endeavors but am I, am I lying to myself? And then just a lot of really, I guess I would say middle grade social anxiety. I have a friend, I was telling her recently, my friend Eliza who I host this standup show with, I went into our show and I saw her and I was backstage and I went up to her like, “Hey buddy!” and I went to give her a high five and she kind of recoiled, she was like “Oh no, I’m sick, don’t!” and I told her, I realized in that moment, “Oh, I think that’s how I always expect people to greet me, a little bit.”
DC: Yeah, and in just sort of a way where I’ve always felt a little too like—it’s one of my fears I brought for me fear-off a little bit, but I had like 40 so I had to slim them down, so one that I might not get to talk about is, yeah, the feeling that even, the nagging feeling that even people that like or even love me are secretly annoyed or grossed out or something by me if that makes any sense, like, just super common everyone here is normal and having a good time except for me. Everyone here at this concert, movie, bar, comedy show, party, is enjoying themselves in like a normal healthy way and there’s something in between me and that and why am I not enjoying it enough? Or are they all feeling what I’m feeling, you know what I mean?
Paul: I always think of the story of the Beatles, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this story, but Ringo wanted to quit because he was just—he felt left out so he just decided he couldn’t take it anymore because he—it was a clique and he was on the outside. He joined last, etc., etc. So he called up, I think it was John to say, “I’m quitting. I’m tired of feeling like I’m an outsider.” And John said, “You feel like—I thought it was you three and I was the outsider!” And they called George and George thought the exact same thing. And that just stuck with me because I was like if you can feel like you’re a loser in the fucking Beatles.
DC: No kidding.
Paul: And another version of that I heard was Steve Case, the guy who founded AOL. You know what Davos is the big meeting every year in Switzerland, you have to be invited and it costs like $300,000 and 100 most powerful people in the world and it’s where they get together and they brainstorm and they hub up and they have little parties here and there and there’s different conferences going on. And Steve Case, somebody was interviewing Steve Case at Davos and he was standing at the bar and the said to the interviewer, “I come here every year and I don’t know why because whatever room I’m in I always feel like something better is going on in another room.” And I thought, “it never ends.”
DC: For sure.
Paul: Unless you decide to make it end, that feeling that something better is going on.
DC: Oh, for sure.
Paul: That you’re not in the right place at the right time.
Paul: And the way I describe my best moments in life is that feeling that I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, there’s no better place to be, and I’m completely at peace with who I am, where I am, and what I’m doing. And they’re certainly not consistently there, but when I find something that brings me that feeling, I have to remember that is an important thing to do even if it doesn’t make me money.
DC: Yeah. Absolutely. Cuz, I mean it’s something that I—and that’s another sort of big preoccupation or negative thought that I have where—and I realized a couple years ago like, “Oh you don’t have a personal life. Like you don’t have stuff that you do that is just—not even a personal life in the sense of—cuz I would go on dates and stuff like that. I hadn’t had a long-term relationship in a long time, I had kind of a, uh, three to four year drought in that department, but you don’t have things that you do that are just purely recreational. You can watch TV shows, but you want to write TV shows. You can go to the movies, but a crazy negative thought pattern that my girlfriend has had to deal with a lot recently is us going to some perfectly innocent movie and me afterwards being like, oh well, and she’s like, “What?” and me having this real deep just like self-loathing and realizing like I feel like I’m not part of the club. Cuz I like know certain people in the movie, like friends of mine, and it isn’t even, it’s not even the typical, “Oh I should be in that movie, in that part I would have been better in that.” It’s not that at all, it’s just kind of feeling like there’s a club and you are on the peri—sort of the outskirts of it but you’re not in the club. And oh man if you were in the club, or as William Goldman describes it, “If you were close to the fire,” as he says everyone in Hollywood wants to be close to the fire, then I would be ok. Then I would be at peace. It’s like you would be more miserable than you ever have, I feel like.
Paul: Denzel Washington won his second Academy Award and you could see him enjoy it for about fifteen seconds during his speech and then he talked about how he needs to get one more to tie or pass Sidney Poitier. And I was like this guy couldn’t even enjoy that moment for fifteen seconds. So if you were in that club—if we haven’t dealt with that part of our brain that thinks that more is always better, it doesn’t matter what life throws at us, you know, it is so much easier to control our reaction to things than to control what the universe exposes us to. Because I’ve lived so many years trying to control how the universe unfolds and driving myself to drink, and the few years where I’ve experienced just looking for what the silver might be or what might be positive in what unfolds, requires so much less effort but it requires a huge amount of trust. A huge amount of trust in the universe.
Paul: And that, that is to me where the crux lies. Does this universe hate me? Is it a punishing universe? Or is this a universe where there is goodness and there is positivity and there is comfort and gentleness and that’s, that’s the $64,000 question. And what I discovered is there gentleness, there is love, there is compassion, I just have to be calm enough every day and centered enough to see it. Because I miss it if I’m in that headspace of it’s not there, I gotta scramble.
Paul: Does that make sense?
DC: No, absolutely. And I have a friend of mine who since I’m not gonna say who he is, I don’t think he’d mind me saying he’s in recovery, has been for a long time, and I’ll talk to him about stuff, and he really helped me adjust to my transition in moving here, when I felt really alone. And we would just talk about various things and I was talking to him recently about something that had really been bothering me and bringing me down and he told me—it’s interesting because it’s kind of the converse of what you’re saying, but I think it’s just really the other side of the coin, I think it’s exactly the same thing, he was like in terms of talking about what—your thoughts, he was like, “You have more control than you think you do. I know that you think that because you’ve been stuck in this negative thought pattern or the shitty part of your mind is seeing these connections in these certain unfortunate events that are happening, I know you’re a storyteller, you see the narrative of these thoughts all conspiring against you. But what you have to realize is like you have so much more control.” And he was saying something that he had learned in recovery that he really—that had really helped him was the fact that you have these negative thoughts that just seem to pour out of you, that just seem to kind of like, just a crazy, just pile of demons and you’re just standing there trying to hold that hill in your brain. The reason that happens is you’re just in the habit of it. He said, “Think of it like a, like a path or something like that, or like a dirt road, how that forms,” or something like that, I forget the exact metaphor he used, but he’s like, “This track through your brain that’s been worn down and worn down by these thoughts, it’s so much easier for them to go so much faster than these positive thoughts because you’re so used to it. You’ve worn that pattern into the actual inner workings of your brain. But that is not destiny.”
Paul: It’s not.
DC: It’s not the world.
Paul: It’s not.
DC: Which is pretty great and that really—I was just like, once he said that to me I was like—cuz I do—because I am—I don’t think I’m a terribly controlling person, but I do have a lot invested in the idea of like sort of, this is going to sound lame and conservative, but self-determinism and you can do it, and you get out there are you work hard and things happen. And you can think your way out of certain problems or whatever and as you guys—an episode I heard of this show recently you guys were talking about you can’t think your way out of a thinking problem, you have to behave your way out of a thinking problem, which I love and is so true, and I always forget. But I was like, “Oh yeah, I can—these things are just things.” When I was writing my fears for the fear-off and I was working on them last week and I had put them all in this like Gmail draft just to kind of have them somewhere, so I could send them to myself. And I was getting really down. I got to like 32 and I was like, “You really carry this stuff around, all these preoccupations a-and fears. How could even four of them be true? Some of these are conspiratorial.” You know what I mean?
DC: Much less 40 of them. And then I sent it to myself, and I was just telling this to my girlfriend, as soon as I sent it and it just showed up on my phone, I felt better because I was like, “oh, all you guys are is a fucking email, and I’m a person.” You know what I mean?
Paul: Yeah! That’s great!
DC: It was pretty cool.
Paul: That’s, that’s beautiful. And to go back to your point about it being the flip side of really the same coin, I think maybe the way to articulate that is you have more control over the things you have control over, and less control over the things you don’t have control over than you think you do.
DC: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Paul: And so life really becomes about triage of what do I have control over and what don’t I have control over? Instead of living in the insanity of trying to control things you don’t have control over. And having these terribly negative thoughts that you can’t control. These things that in reality you can’t control.
DC: Absolutely. And my poor girlfriend has had to deal with this so much in the year that we’ve been dating. But what was interesting I would say just as a comment on our relationship, we started—she used to live in New York where I used to live and we started kind of seeing each other and hanging out when I would sometimes be there and we sort of realized we liked each other and so I would be around her in New York and we’d spend the day together while I was visiting, and I would walk around and after a while, once you’ve sort of gotten through just the immediate like, “Who are we to each other?” like layer of things, you’re just kind of walking around and so I would just like be giving voice to thoughts because you’re not used to having that other person there, and, well, I’m here with somebody else, I gotta say something, right? And I would just realize how much of them were just, just a really like fucking store brand, Costco fucking, Kirkland Signature brand of negativity or cynicism. How much of them were just like, just dumb, “Look at that dumb guy. Look at that dumb thing that that billboard says,” kind of stuff. And I was—and not in a funny way either, just in kind of a shitty seventh grader wearing a lot of black clothing way.
Paul: Almost like your soul and your brain are taking a shit.
Paul: And you have to call attention to it.
DC: But it was so kind of marvelous in a way. And I told her, I was like, “Hey, I’m sorry I’m seeming to be really negative. I don’t even feel that way necessarily.” I was just—it was—I’m not used to having somebody here to say these things to and it’s only now that I’m realizing how much of what goes through my brain is just kind of a, not even super hyper really high grade like depressed thoughts, some were just low grade like negativity for no reason. And she was like, “I completely feel the same way. I’ve felt the same way like the entire time that we’ve been doing it, like I’ve been saying these things and I don’t even necessarily really believe, it’s just kind of like once you start saying them, you realize like how much of your thinking is composed of that. I gotta get a handle on this.”
Paul: And how much joy killing it does.
DC: For sure.
Paul: And I think inherent in that cycle of thinking is the fear of being vulnerable.
DC: For sure.
Paul: Because the easiest thing in the world is to be cynical. Because you don’t expose anything of yourself. You’re behind the wall and you just criticize and—but you miss out on the joy of being vulnerable and that feeling when you’ve exposed yourself, you’ve collapsed and somebody’s caught you.
Paul: I mean that is the greatest feeling in the world, but it’s also the scariest, especially if you have a track record of being disappointed. And I imagine somebody whose mother was taken away from him when he was in …
DC: I guess like seventh, eighth grade.
Paul: Seventh, eighth grade, I mean that’s a, that’s a pretty big wound to go, “Hey, I’m gonna trust now. I’m just gonna let the chips fall where they may because the track record has been great.”
DC: Yeah, and it’s—and so it has kind of I think programmed my interactions with people in general and my interactions with expectation, and my interactions with women in particular. And I had a really interesting cycle seemed to almost come to an end recently where my first big relationship was with this girl who was two years older than me. She was a sophomore—I was a sophomore and she was a senior in high school. And we started fooling around when she was just my friend and she was my friend’s girlfriend. And I’m here to tell you it was great. You know what I mean? It was just sneaky and wrong and bad. And I started talking about it on stage and I’m hopefully building a one person show around it cuz on the one hand I do think that it is sort of entertaining to hear about it and it will be cathartic for me and be helpful to talk about but—and by the same token—and I never did anything wrong as a kid. I was always toe the line, always a straight A student, never got in trouble, didn’t want to walk through the cafeteria when it wasn’t lunch period because I was a afraid I’d get yelled at, and then having sort of I guess, to make it sound too much like a French movie, sexual awakening happened at the same time as all this stuff that was like really wrong, like actually wrong and bad, and I’m like betraying this friend of mine, I think really wired me a little bit weird for that stuff, where I got a great negative bang out of interactions, romantically that are like fraught or bad or one-sided or unrequited is a great big one, or long-distance where it’s all sort of in your head and you can kind of build in this perfect, uh, this perfect image of yourself through like emails and texts and stuff like that but never actually have it tested, perpetually have it be in the future. And now that I’m like in an actual healthy relationship with a person when who I met them they weren’t dating anybody, neither was I and then she—we sort of started kind of seeing each other but not really and we weren’t in a long-distance relationship because we lived in two different places and didn’t seem very realistic, and then she ended up moving out here, and we started going out under normal circumstances and for almost exactly a year now it has just been normal and healthy and great. And that is terrifying.
DC: Like—a-and it does, you know—it’s one of those things where—and it’s just like my experience with a lot different things that are just supposed to be joyous or nice or comforting – am I getting enough out of this? Am I doing this right? Am I experiencing this in the right way? Is there more here—I know I liked it. I know when I see this person I’m happier than when I’m not seeing this person. I know they’re great to talk to and stuff like that. Is there a higher thing that I should be reaching for here, am I doing this right, because the track that had been ground into my mind was the track of relationships that were, you know, shitty or one-sided or leading to some almost fatalistic guaranteed disappointment or something like that. So to be in a relationship with a person who is super nice and empathetic and smart and cool and honest and open is …
DC: And it’s great, and it’s great, and I don’t mean that to say like and—but it’s just one of those things where you have to realize, like—it—and a really neat sort of revelation that I had with it was like, “Oh, all you have to do is just be here tomorrow. And then after tomorrow all you have to do is just be there the next day. It’s not about, “But what are we gonna—in two years or five years or ten years or whatever?” Because like, I’m starting to get like weirdly antsy about like, “Wait, are we kinda maybe making plans for like two months from now, what’s gonna happen then?” It’s fine now, it’s great now, but don’t think about that. All you have to do is just like, you guys are gonna go to sleep tonight, you’re gonna wake up tomorrow. Then all you have to do is be here tomorrow and that’s it.
Paul: I think that there’s two—because I have thought that—those thoughts so many times in my life. I think one of that people think to themselves is, “Am I in the right relationship?” and I think you can be in relationships for long periods of time and still have those questions come up. I think that’s completely normal and healthy. And I think the anxiety comes from a couple of different things. I think one, when somebody is there and present and into you and you’re not sneaking around and there’s no shame, and there’s no secrets or any kind of drama to occupy your mind, you are left facing the thought that somebody thinks I am loveable. And that can be terrifying because we know all of our flaws and all of the sudden we’re thinking, “Does this person really know what they’re getting into? Do they really know?” And you’re forced to think one of two things, which is, “Boy they must be a fucking loser if they’re into me,” or “They’re gonna—they just don’t know and this is destined to go someplace not good because I’m, at my core, I’m so flawed. I’m so very flawed.” And the other thought is, the responsibility of whatever it is that that person does that gets on your nerves, is that you’re extrapolating that out for the rest of our lives together. When you’re cheating with somebody, you don’t have to worry about the things that that person does that are annoying, because you’re not attached to them. But when somebody is attached to you, all of the sudden it’s like a house that you bought. It’s like you can’t just go rent a different apartment, this is set now, and so this is your, for lack of a better word, problem or issue. And you can’t just ignore it. And then we kind of enter into this phase of, “How do I deal with this? How do I deal with this frustration or this anxiety or I want to—or do I bring up this thing that gets on my nerves or do I let it go? Am I being a pussy for letting it go? Am I being hypercritical by calling attention to it?” And nobody raised you to tell you when do you call attention to this and when do you let it go? There is no textbook for that.
Paul: Other than experience, talking to other people about it, making the mistake of speaking up when you shouldn’t have, and making the mistake of letting it go when you shouldn’t have. And I think they’re all good. They’re all ok. Relationships are messy. They’re not perfect. And I think the success is being able to laugh about their imperfection and love that person after you’ve both done the wrong thing.
Paul: That, in the 24 years I’ve been with my wife, I’ve made every mistake that you can make. And forgiving myself and forgiving her are the two most important things and having patience with both of us is the most important thing that I’ve learned and to not extrapolate what they’re doing out into infinity, just take it right here in the moment.
DC: Well for me, I—several things off of that. The first one, just off the last thing that you said, is that I realize that when somebody—and this is a way bigger problem with other people than it is for my girlfriend and I’s relationship because I do that largely she’s just all around great and she doesn’t do too many things that get on my nerves, but that’s not why she’s great either, that would be and idiotic thing to say or an idiotic reason to love somebody. But I have a problem where with somebody else’s flaws or something that they do that bugs me, I really need to—I am so uncomfortable with that feeling of, “What are they doing?” or “What are they—“ and this is friends, business associates, any relationships, any number of things, I can’t wait to have it turn back on myself. I can’t wait to turn it into my problem. That I’m doing something wrong, like that I’m so uncomfortable with the feeling that, “Hey, could you not …?” And I can’t wait for that conversation to turn into, “I’m sorry, that was my damage,” or whatever.
Paul: Is that because then you’ll avoid hurting their feelings?
DC: Oh, avoid hurting their feelings and I think also get evisc—I’m much more comfortable eviscerating myself. I can do that. I have a whole lab built for it inside me. Like I really, we have the equipment, it’s great. It’s great in here. We have great self-evisceration facilities that I’ve built up over a number of years. And I think too I was realizing recently, just recently, and I think it relates back to the mom stuff and whatever. This would be another thing where I would throw this out to my theoretical therapist, but I was realizing like, “Oh. I think that I have been secretly, subconsciously operating with the mission of trying to get someone else to agree that I’m a bad person.” Because if I can get somebody else to actually agree to that, not somebody that thinks I’m just a bad person anyway but they’re mistaken, I need them to see all the facts as I perceive them, lay them all out and have them agree with me. “Oh yeah, you are shitty, you are a bad person.” And then things that have happened to me, and I realize this makes absolutely no sense, but you can’t tell your brain that, that if it turns out I’m a bad person, as my demons are always trying to convince me of, then things that have happened to me, namely my mom dying, will make sense.
DC: Because, oh yeah, ok, for sure, you’re a bad person. Why do you think that happened? You know what I mean? Or, you’re a bad person as a result of that or you’re broken in some way or something like that. And that’s what I have been seeking in my interactions with women previous to this, that’s what I, you know, still am subconsciously seeking from my current relationship sometimes and I realized that and it’s like, “Yeah, but you’re not. Or you hope you’re not.” You know what I mean?
Paul: And I think—sorry to interrupt you, but I wanted to interject—I think that the belief that we have in our mind when we seek out that negative opinion being validated by somebody else is that we think that is going to end the battle in our brain about whether or not we’re good or worthy and the truth is it’s not. You have to decide to end that battle of how you feel about yourself. And that’s why I think spirituality and volunteer work and stuff like that is so important because it’s a louder voice to counter the one that tells you you’re not enough, you don’t do enough, and you don’t have enough. It tells you you’re ok. You’re ok right here right now. You have enough, chill out. Because I have experienced those moments, you know. I experience it right now—and I say this all the time on the podcast, I apologize for being kind of redundant about these moments, but these are the moments when I get that, when—oh, this is what life is about. This is what the feeling of meaning and purpose and everything slowing down is, and when you get that, you want more of it because you know it’s real and you know it has nothing to do with money, it has nothing to do with status, it’s about a genetic, chemical connection between you and other people that just reminds you we are all connected, we are not this separate entity that has to scramble to survive.
DC: And I come from a generation that is, I hate to make a silly generalization like that, but, that is sort of congenitally offended by responsibility or the idea of being held responsible for our actions. That’s why every serial killer or horror movie in like the late ‘90’s and 2000’s, and it’s not just, “Oh Michael Myers is coming to kill you,” it’s like, “Oh Michael Myers, you don’t get it, he had it really hard.” You know what I mean? And that’s not at all invalidate psychotherapy or psychology, all that stuff is amazing, it just so happens I was saying this to a friend of mine last night, it just so happens that the way a lot of people, I think, in my generation have interpreted certain psychological concepts and ideas, in a sort of culture of like guilt or victimhood, we’ve ended up with this buffet of mental health where all of the things are labeled wrong. And so you have people that really have a problem with something that really does deeply need to be addressed, and they’re just going, “But here’s really my problem and here’s why this is not my fault.”
Paul: And here’s why I can continue acting like this.
DC: Exactly, exactly. And that’s not to say that those people should not—or we don’t all need to address our own shit, it’s exactly what you’re saying, we do need to address the thing and stop doing the stuff that we keep saying, “Well what you need to understand is—here’s why I’m being really mean to you right now. And I’m not apologizing, I’m just saying go with it. Because my pain is more valid than yours.”
Paul: Right, right. And I think the mistake that people make is they think that’s just almost like a credit card you pull out to go, “Charge this to My Uncle Fucking Me in the Ass.” You know, it’s like, no.
DC: Really predatory organization.
Paul: But it’s a very low APR. Knowing that your uncle fucked you in the ass is important for you to understand the dynamic that you’re dealing with, not to use that as an excuse. You have a responsibility once you realize what your sick coping mechanism is, you now have responsibility to use the tools that are available to choose another coping mechanism. It’s good to understand why you want to reach for that old coping mechanism, but that does give you an excuse to hurt other people.
DC: For sure. And pretty early on in our relationship, I told my current girlfriend, I was like, “Just so you know, I’m not used to being the crazy one in the relationship. I am used to feeling like“ —and I even on a subconscious level enjoy that weird saviorhood or something or perpetual feeling that you’re not good enough, of really trying to fix somebody else’s damage and it’s always about them, cuz then you never have to figure your own stuff out, you’re always like in a little bit of a crisis mode, trying not to either step on one of their personality landmines that when you do it’s like, well, it’s not their fault, it’s your fault, you should have known better than to step on it, or try to address it or whatever, and then when you get hurt by them, well that hurt’s always really poetic, because you knew it was coming. You know what I mean? So it’s like, oh, well of course, I get to—I’m allowed to feel like this. It’s ok that I put myself through this because I saw it coming. I should have known better.
Paul: I would imagine too that, you know, having gone through what you went through with your mom, that having an intimate relationship with a female there would be something kind of intoxicating about being able to have some type of control over their sickness, even if it’s mental or emotional. That, oh, I can affect change in another human being, as opposed to all I can do is compulsively wash the dishes and have Mike want to talk to me.
DC: Right. Uh, yeah, wow. I, no, I know this is not supposed to be therapy, but I feel plan one right now I really do.
DC: I was—it’s interesting we were talking about it a little bit, um, before we turned the mics on and I assume you’ve talked about it on the show before but I just missed it, when you were talking about when you were a kid and because of the way your mom treated you, feeling like you needed to seek out like an old—just having this strange compulsion or fantasy about like seeking out an older female on the playground and like crying to her, I realized I would—basically my pattern in college was I—just like my pattern in high school, I would do just about everything I possibly could, just work really hard on a ton of stuff, do my schoolwork, and then just work on, you know, making sketch shows for the most part and all kinds of other pursuits, largely comedy-related, and then not really have much of a personal life, occasionally go out on dates, maybe sometimes have sex, that was really enjoyable, and then, but never really get too attached to anybody, and then just every six months or so kind of be in bed and then just have just a weight descend on me and then just break down in tears for some reason that I could not explain.
DC: And in one of those breaking down in tears in my dorm room bathroom moments, I realized, I was like, the thing that I want the most right now is to find a close female in my life, it could be a friend, it could be somebody I’m in a relationship with, like somebody in my sketch group, somebody that I just know relatively well, and just apologize to them. But I have no idea what I want to apologize for.
DC: It was a—distinctly, it was just them as a sort of avatar for women in general or something. But yeah, I realize that that is precisely what I wanted. And I have no idea why.
Paul: That’s fascinating.
DC: I think about it a lot still. And I still don’t know exactly what it was, but, um, yeah.
Paul: I think therapy obviously would be great to get to that.
DC: I think so too, for sure.
Paul: Boy, that’s such a strong image of you just laying in bed after doing all these things. You know, the—my dime store opinion on people that overachieve is that we use it to avoid feeling some type of feeling that’s overwhelming to us, which of course, you know, the one that comes to mind would be about your mom. But the thing about wanting to apologize that—the—that’s really curious.
DC: It’s really strange. And I always—because I think I’ve had enough of trying to amateur psychoanalyze other people, that my amateur psychoanalysis of myself is exactly what you’re describing, that I really throw myself into work. And I really enjoy it. I absolutely—I randomly had a really busy week this week when I didn’t expect to and I’ve just, on the one hand, um, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and tired about it, but also just feeling like, oh sweet, I really miss this when it isn’t here. Running from thing to thing and whatever. And I like had this really big revelation when I was in high school where I was in this—there was a really great theater program in my public high school, and there would be like five main stage plays a year and a musical, which no public school ever does that many plays, they do like a play and then a spring musical. There were these student-directed one act, there were always like four of them going on at a time, and like as soon as I got into high school I was doing like four plays within a month, like all after school. It was thrilling. It was the best. And I really do love it. And I really do love doing a lot of stuff. And then I read this biography of Orson Welles, who has since become a fixation of mine, and they were talking about how when he was in sort of like his Mercury Radio days, how he rented an ambulance, because it turned out you could just an ambulance, there was no law against it, with like a siren and everything. And he would be doing his like Mercury Theater production. He would like—oh no, this was it—he would be doing like his Voodoo Macbeth or be doing like some Shakespeare production like up in Harlem, he would get offstage, he would take the ambulance downtown, do like 15 minutes like on the radio, on his like Mercury Radio show, take the ambulance back uptown and then go do—
Paul: With the lights on.
DC: Yeah. And then go do the next act of the play. And I was like, “Oh, that is it!”
DC: That is just it for me. And something about like the old New York and the glamour of it, but also—and just the showbiz of it, but also the gravitas of it and everything like that. And I was like, “Oh that sounds so good.” And I really have that sort of pinned as an image in my mind of what it means to like overachieve in like the perfect way.
DC: And then he would just go eat huge steaks and he didn’t get fat until he was 40, I think because he was just was like, I don’t know, he was on speed or something, but like—or just pure force of will, never actually—until he slowed down, and when he slowed down, boy howdy, did he slow down.
Paul: Boy did he slow down. Although as you were talking, I realized you were, you were an overachiever before your mom even got sick.
DC: For sure, for sure. And I, I got to do the audiobook of my book, really recently, like, uh, in the first recording session a couple weeks ago, I sat down with the guy and—who was gonna—who was the engineer, and he was like, “So, when you’re in there reading, just read slow, even a little bit—like one stop slower than sounds right to you, it’ll probably sound a little bit too slow—“ and I talk really fast anyway. And he was like, “Let me just tell you a story real quick.” Now I don’t know if this is something he heard from a colleague of his or something that’s been on like This American Life or whatever, I’m not sure, but he was like, “In the Army, they were losing a lot of men when they were like taking doors in like apartment buildings and villages and just homes and things like that because—as opposed to like out on the great field of battle—because when you come in to a door to place, everything’s moving really fast and everything’s changing really fast, and there are men behind walls with guns and you never know what’s going to happen and a lot of people get killed that way. And so they started training their guys to just go slow.” And he was like, “They came up with sort of a mantra for them, which is, ‘Slow is smooth. And smooth is fast.’”
Paul: Oh wow.
DC: And I thought, “Well that’s really cool.” It’s really cool, and I kind of carried that into the session and it really kind of helped me in that, and then I kept thinking about it, like throughout the week, and there was a morning last week where I had woken up late and I was gonna go to this really big audition for this thing that I really wanted that I, of course, had gotten up just late enough to feel disappointed in myself for not having given myself exactly as much time as I miraculously think I will allow myself one day but I never do, and I was sort of going into my constant loop of like self-recrimination, and it was hot outside and I was getting sweaty, and I was just like, “You’re a piece of shit.” And I just thought that to myself, I was like, “Well, you have this amount of time. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” And just mystically the rest of that morning, I like seemed to get all the things I needed to get done, learn the lines well enough, get to the place ten minutes early, which never happens for me, sit in my car, just go in perfectly on time, get in on time, do the thing, it went really well. I don’t think that I got it, but it doesn’t matter. What kind of mattered to me was just the way that I felt for that entire where I was, just even in my car, I just felt like just a little bit lighter. You know when you get in your car and you’re in that really negative headspace and you’re always like three minutes later than you think you should be?
DC: And you’re like, “How did it take three minutes for me to get from my couch to my car just right outside? I’m already behind! Oh god, this is terrible.” When I got in my car that day when I was thinking that, I’m sure it’s the exact same time that it would have been anyway, but for some reason I just seemed to have like—I just saw the time on the clock that I wanted to see, not the one that I needed to see in order to feel bad about myself.
DC: And it was pretty cool.
Paul: And you just described exactly the benefit of meditation. Exactly. That is what meditation gives me. And other people, I’m sure, would concur. I can’t get inside their skin and tell you what they feel, but from what I’ve heard them describe, and from what my meditation teacher described to me, that’s what—the first time I did meditation, I went and did the dishes and I was like, “I don’t have to race through these dishes.” And it almost felt like I was moving through water, like it was just—there was a flow to it that just felt—my limbs felt different, and it felt like I wasn’t—the way I described it to my meditation teacher was I said, “I always feel like I’m three steps behind the universe and I felt like I was in sync with the universe after meditating.”
DC: That’s great.
Paul: So that’s what I got. And there was just one other thing that I wanted to touch on, talking about the achievement is, I think one of the myths that we get into as human beings is we think that achievement is life, instead of a part of life.
Paul: And most successful unhappy people I know, they cannot see that achievement isn’t life.
DC: For sure, and I—there’s—so I mean one of my idols, unfortunately because he, you know, killed himself, is David Foster Wallace. And I think he more than anybody, at least in our like really contemporary time, actually mapped out like in prose, like how it feels to be alive and be in your head and be compulsive about certain things, or just anxieties that we all have and really, really captured that. And the thing that I think was so cool about him was he really seemed to have this through line where he wasn’t trying to get to, “I’m gonna win the Pulitzer and sell a bunch of books,” or whatever. Seemed like what he was really trying to do was sort of just be a canary in the coalmine about irony and cynicism and how that kind of poisons us as people and as a culture if we let it. And he could not have been more right. Just, when you read him talk about it, whether it’s in sort of digressions in his novels, or in his actual essays, which are just tremendous. Like, you’re like, “Oh man, that was it, he was about something.” And what an important thing to be about, because nobody else was saying it. No one was saying it. Everyone was going, “Well, it’s either the plastic thing I see on TV, or it’s my ironic stance on the plastic thing I see on TV.” It’s like don’t you see how poisonous that is?
Paul: They’re both poison, you know.
DC: Absolutely. And that’s so—it’s so cool that—and it’s such a shame that he died. But I think it’s such a cool thing to try to emulate. A, that is definitely a preocc—a thematic preoccupation and a thing that I think about a lot, and even try to root out of myself, like when I was walking around in New York City just saying a lot of dumb, negative bullshit with my now girlfriend, that’s—what a cool thing to have to say about your career, that it wasn’t you trying to get something more out of it from people and from yourself than just like, “Well, I achieved. I sold a bunch of books.”
DC: “Everyone agrees I’m a really great novelist.”
Paul: I had meaning.
DC: Exactly. That is super cool.
Paul: Yeah. Do you feel like doing a fear-off, or did I cut off another thought?
DC: No. Not at all, no, no. Let’s—yeah, let’s do it. I think some of these will come as no surprise given the subject matter previous.
Paul: I’m gonna be reading fears from a listener named Laurel. Do you want to kick it off?
DC: Sure. I’m worried I’m going to hit someone with my car, like when my foot slips off the brake accidentally, or that I will give into a grab a cop’s gun impulse and run down like a baby in a stroller in an intersection where you sit there and you go, “What would that feel like?” and then …
Paul: I have a fear that I’m going to pull up to a crosswalk and instead of hitting the brake, I’m gonna hit the accelerator and know I’m hitting the accelerator and still be unable to make my foot come off of it because I’ll be so panicked that I’m going forward.
DC: Yeah. Oof.
Paul: Laurel says, “I’m afraid that I smell bad and everyone is just too polite to mention it.”
DC: Oh yeah, no—I have all of my fears are like that with different specifics, where it’s just kind of like I’m afraid x thing and no one’s telling me cuz they’re all like, I don’t know.
I’m afraid—and this one stands in for any number of fears that I can’t say for fear that I will call them into being through the magical power of irony.
Paul: “I’m afraid that my house will catch on fire and kill my cat while I’m at work unawares.”
DC: I’m worried that I will be considered “the other guy” in a group of successful people, be it my sketch comedy group, or my general class of comedians or anything like that. Like I’m worried that history will remember—like you know when you—there’s like bands or there’s scenes of artists that you read about, you’re like, “Whatever happened to that dude? He never quite—“ but everyone’s like—but he was the—but then they talk to those people, “But he was really…” I don’t want to be the guy where like he was the comic’s comic or the whatever. Like I wanna be like, you know, I don’t know. That’s a big preoccupation.
Paul: More than a footnote.
Paul: “I’m afraid that my dad will die of a heart attack soon.”
DC: I’m afraid my girlfriend will cheat on me secretly and for a long time, a fear that is dramatically amplified by the fact that it seems like something she would never, ever do.
Paul: Laurel says, “I’m afraid that I’ll never get married and have children.”
DC: I’m afraid of heights and sometimes if I’m lying in bed at night, I will become preoccupied with the notion of falling from a great height, and am unable to free myself from the mental falling sensation loop.
Paul: That’s awesome. “I’m afraid that I appear aggressively alone and/or desperately seeking friendship when I’m out in public by myself.” That’s a good one.
DC: Hooo. I’m afraid I will lose my hair and everyone will think I’m ridiculous and ugly but no one will tell me.
Paul: “I’m afraid that my nephew will only know me as his crazy aunt, the one with cats and a parrot named Billy.”
DC: That sounds like a cool aunt, I don’t care. I’m afraid various financial obligations I’ve failed to live up to over the years due to being in my 20’s and a life in the arts, and just generally being a fuckup will come back to bite me right at the moment I’m achieving my dreams and stop me from achieving them, and I know I should take care of them now, but I feel like I’ll only be financially capable of doing that once I’ve achieved said dreams and every other paycheck just seems to be permanently in the “getting by” category.
Paul: You are fucking good. Laurel says, “I’m afraid that instead of being able to size people up succinctly and instinctually when I meet them, I am in actuality pushing everyone away from me.”
DC: Hooo. I’m afraid that I didn’t fuck up enough when I was a kid and something will be triggered in me somewhere later along in life and I’ll destroy everything in my life on purpose.
Paul: “I’m afraid that I’m so starved for male attention that I am no longer capable of not acting like a psychopath when I’m around a guy I’d like to get to know better.”
DC: Been there. I’m afraid of dying of some undetectable disease and I will eventually find out I’m going to die because I wasn’t tenacious enough about going to the doctor because I was scared of finding out about the undetectable disease.
Paul: Yes. I have that one too. “I’m afraid that I’ll die of a heart attack at a young age.”
DC: I’m afraid that I got into any of my chosen professions too late in the game for said professions, but anyone but the most craven of sellouts can make a decent living at them and I will be perpetually just getting by.
Paul: “I’m afraid that my increased rate of anxiety attacks are a symptom of an adrenal gland tumors, and I’m just so disconnected from my body that instead of feeling panic and flight or fight, I’m just uncomfortable and periodically consumed with self-hatred and will not realize that I’m terribly ill until I find a lump in my throat or start limping and drooling for no reason.”
DC: Yeah, all of the good ones have a real Oral Burroughs sort of snake eating its own tail quality.
Paul: You guys—I would love to hear you and Laurel do a fear-off live.
DC: I would do it, she’s gotta fly out. I’m afraid I’ll realize that some unanswered email that got mixed up between reading it on my phone and answering it later at home will have been the key to my success and I will have missed it.
Paul: That’s great. “I’m afraid that I’ll run into someone that knew me when I was skinny and mock me behind my back.”
DC: I’m afraid that I’m secretly an alcoholic and because I don’t drink that much or really make mistakes with it or let it affect my work or life, that it is just a higher level of delusion hiding what an alcoholic I am and this will of course be revealed in some giant, cataclysmic awfulness later in the life, the way it does for the high-functioning alcoholics I read about in a three-year-old New York Times article I dug up last week when I was trying to diagnose myself as a secret alcoholic.
Paul: Laurel says, “I’m afraid that salespeople think I’m an asshole when I have a hard time making eye contact and small talk.”
DC: It’s so hard though, that’s the hardest thing in the world. I’m afraid somebody from one of my true stories that I tell onstage, particularly about relationships, will come forward and accuse me of being a lying dickhead and I will realize that I have crafted the events in my memory, and then in the story, to fit my picture of how it should have gone, not how it actually did. And I’m afraid that the certainty that I have, that I try really, really hard not to do that, is just a deeper self-protective layer of delusion.
Paul: “I’m afraid that my occasional lack of coordination and difficulty articulating is not due to disruptive sleep patterns and not paying attention, but to a tumor or hormonal imbalance that is slowly killing me.” Boy she is good.
DC: She’s really good. I feel for a lot of these. I’m afraid I will strike an imperfect work-life balance and either fail professionally because I’ve spent too much time living life and being a person, and then take that out on my girlfriend/wife/kids, or just the plain old work too much and be neglectful of my girlfriend/wife/kids.
Paul: Oh my God, do I relate to that one. “I’m afraid that I’m not as badass as I imagine I am.”
DC: Your fears are. I’m afraid of being abandoned by people I love, either through death or plain old them leaving. And a sub-fear that I have is that—this either manifests itself as neglect, i.e., not wanting to get too involved for fear of being hurt, or clinginess or jealousy and that either one of these will ultimately result in driving those people away.
Paul: Oh boy, that’ll be good to get into in therapy. That is a good—that is a rich one. “I’m afraid that with a large part of my day spent listening to podcasts, I am forever out of touch with the majority of humanity and will only be able to relate stories I’ve heard from people my friends don’t know.”
DC: Oh, I’ve been there. I’m afraid that everybody is capable of enjoying things more than I am or that preoccupation or second thought, that my enjoyment valve is broken and when comforted by thoughts that maybe everybody experiences joy in the refracted, preoccupied, “Hey, enjoy this now, you idiot” kind of way that I seem to, that brings up a sub-fear that everyone is like me, is pretending and how sad that is. I would like there to be a higher experience of joy that I could strive for. I hope this is not the ceiling.
Paul: I would say there is a higher, I would say there is a higher. “I’m afraid that I’ll lose my job for poor work ethic.”
DC: I’m afraid that I’ll marry and have kids with the wrong person and they will contain hidden personality explosions that will ruin my family and children. I’m also afraid of being that person for someone else.
Paul: “I’m afraid that I’ll never find a real-world outlet for my desire to be a hero, and I’m afraid of how powerful that need is.” That’s a good one.
DC: That’s a great one.
Paul: She can always light a building on fire and then go rescue people.
DC: That’s great! Yeah, exactly, or be like an angel of death nurse or something. I’m afraid that in interactions with people who genuinely appreciate my work, by trying to be modest, I actually come across as haughty, disinterested, or unappreciative.
Paul: Well from the little that I’ve known you, you couldn’t be further from that.
DC: Oh, thanks.
Paul: Everybody else says you’re a dick, but I don’t find that to be true.
DC: That’s another one of my fears I decided not to read.
Paul: “I’m afraid that my current normal ranges of mental disorders will keep expanding until they become true illness.”
DC: Hooo. I’m afraid that calibrating myself to a healthier state of mind will rob me of insight or competitive edge or lower my standards for myself. A sub-fear is that I will convince myself of this, fail to seek help, and end up becoming super-depressed some day, possibly ultimately committing suicide. This fear is dampened by the thought that I will die great, and heightened by the idea of dying mediocre. I don’t think I’m actually going to commit suicide, aunt of mine who will definitely listen to this, it’s all good.
Paul: You may be the first guest whose fears have to be flowcharted.
DC: (laughs) But I was realizing that—I was realizing they’re all—the reason they stick around is cuz it’s not just the one thing, it’s the thing and then the thing.
Paul: I’m glad you can see that because there’s a thread to fears, because they usually all connect. And I find that when I spiral out of control it’s because I’m just feeding that one fear. It’s like, you know, just a big long piece of spaghetti and they’re all just attached to it.
“I’m afraid that I will have a mental breakdown and wind up living with my parents and then they won’t let me keep my cat indoors.”
DC: I’m worried that the tan, pretty, well-dressed people have the right of it, that the world is actually theirs, not mine, that they are enjoying things on a much deeper level than I am.
Paul: (laughs) That’s good.
“I’m afraid that people feel sad for me.”
DC: I’m afraid that the general jumble of day-to-day life that I fail to take care of will rise up, crush me, become insurmountable. Which is why we couldn’t do this at my house.
Paul: We should just end the podcast on that and play a song by the band America.
DC: Horse With No Name?
Paul: Let’s do—no, This is For All the Lonely People.
DC: Oh, ok.
Paul: Let’s do a love-off. I’m gonna be reading the loves of listeners and Facebook friends.
DC: I love the smell of old paperbacks, like from the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. And I also—I love like everything about them. I love like the yellowed pages on the sides, and I love the like crossed out prices that when you buy them from a used bookstore they will have had from various used bookstores throughout the life—their life, and I love the lists of other books by that author or just—you go in the back and you see like the other books that they were putting out at that time. Oh it’s just—and it’s like such—books that were supposed to be like for men.
Paul: Yeah, it’s like a time capsule.
Paul: Robin McDonald says, “I love that my niece has taken up a diary because of me and that she feels free enough to write when she feels sad and angry and that I’m able to heal my inner child by offering her the emotional support that I never received as a kid.”
DC: Oh, that’s super cool of that person, that’s amazing. I recently got all my dad’s old records out of his garage, because my girlfriend had gotten me a record player for Christmas, because I talked about it enough, and there are these writings on a lot of his old records, just like his name, or like the name of some friend of his that he borrowed it from and then never gave it back or whatever, so I’ll take iPhone pictures of them and like send them to him, and we’ll have to play like a weird guessing game to try to figure out like what they are.
Paul: Oh that’s fantastic.
DC: Oh, it’s so good.
Paul: Emma Keefe says, “I love commuting to work by bike.”
DC: Oh here’s one off of that, I really like walking. Time and weather permitting, I would walk just about everywhere. I get scrutinized for it in LA and I definitely did in Phoenix when I walked places, but I definitely—I really like leaving the house, I like coming back to the house, I like memorizing like lines, or listening to podcasts or something, or just like when you don’t do what your normal routine is of whatever you’re listening to when you walk and you just like—silence seems kind of new to you. Oh, it’s so great.
Paul: Yeah. Donna Bruno, my very first girlfriend, uh, fifth grade, says, “I love running through sprinklers.”
DC: Yeah. I really like—I was realizing in watching the Olympics, those Olympic like documentaries that they do, like where they’re going into the race, then they’ll like flash back to give you some context about a particular person and this adversity that they had to overcome or whatever, the way that it really boils down their like lifetime of struggle into this one kinda thing. It always starts with like the morning, and like the running on a track, and then it’s like, “But things were not so easy four years ago.” And then they flash back to them dropping a baton in Beijing or something. Oh, it’s just so good.
Paul: Close-up on a wheelchair. Uh, Claire Lafar says, “I love four minutes and sixteen seconds into Kashmir by Led Zeppelin.” That’s not specific enough, Claire.
DC: No. My girlfriend did just kind of turn me on to Led Zeppelin. It was a long time coming.
Timing a playlist or album just right to the end of a car trip so that it ends right when you pull into your driveway.
Paul: Oh, that’s great. Claire also says, “I love dancing to Jumpin’ the Line by Harry Belafonte while washing the dishes.”
DC: I really like reviews of any kind, like I can read reviews of like albums that I never play, songs that I never plan on listening to, or movies I never plan on seeing. I just read that forever, like I just really like the wealth of detail of it, where it’s like, “Why am I reading about this Iranian director and his actress girlfriend whose movie I’m never gonna see?” Oh, I just love that stuff.
Paul: Yeah, I find that too. It’s almost like a little movie in itself.
DC: Exactly. For sure.
Paul: Deanna Denna says, “I love a warm Krispy Kreme glazed donut right off the conveyor belt.”
DC: Yes. I really like—I like rap in general, but I was thinking about it and a thing that I really like about rap is when you can kind of hear them like doing something in the booth, like if they have a moment before they actually start recording that they leave in, or like afterwards, or like there’s a Jay-Z song on the Black Album where it’s sort of theatrical, you know he’s doing it like very willfully, but he says like, you know, “Fuck it.” And throws down the headphones at the end of the song. Or this song recently that I was listening to where this rapper finishes his verse and he kind of runs out of breath and he’s like, “That’s it.” And then you hear all the other people in the session kind of rip up the applause. Like that’s so good.
Paul: I love that stuff. Nikki B, love Nikki, she says, “I love the feeling of finishing a book and knowing I can pick up absolutely anything next.”
DC: Oh, that’s great. But then I get really paralyzed by choice sometimes. Because I’m like, “I wanna read this but I’ve been meaning to read this.”
Paul: What should I read? What do I want to read? I should read War and Peace but I want to read Nikki Sixx’s autobiography.
DC: That kind of ties into this next one, which is I really like those moments where you kind of let yourself off the hook in like a good way, like I really like that moment where like maybe you have plans with somebody and then you realize like, “Oh, yeah, we gotta go to that thing and we’re running late,” and then you realize that like neither of you wanna do that thing anyway. And then you just, “Can we just stay in and watch TV?” And then you do and it’s great and it’s way more fun than that thing that was gonna be a lot of work was gonna be.
Paul: I totally relate to that one. Nancy Orjala, I think I’m pronouncing her name correctly, says, “I love watching a classic movie for the first time and loving it, such as Marty.”
DC: Oh that’s such a great like timelessness thing. Oh it still holds up and it’s been here the entire time and I got to it at the right time because I saw it whenever I did.
I really like being a regular somewhere, like when they know you and they know what you want and there’s just this frictionless interaction, it’s great.
Paul: Wendy Cooper says, “I love the smell, texture, and taste of perfectly toasted really, really good Jewish corn rye bread with lots of butter.”
DC: Oh that sounds good.
Paul: That sounds awesome.
DC: I really like girls’ names in songs, like if the name of the song is the name of a girl, there’s a 100% chance that that song is great, and as a side note I really like that have like “whoa, whoa, whoa’s” in them. Anything non-word, any like onomatopoeia. Whoa, whoa, whoa’s you can’t lose. Put them in there.
Paul: Jeremy Claybaugh says, “I love long drives with no particular destination.”
DC: Oh man. I really like hanging out with my friends before this improv show Shitty Jobs that we do. It’s really like—I really like doing the show with them, but I like just that hanging out part beforehand even more.
Paul: Jeremy also says, “I love listening to podcasts while driving alone so I can hear and think in peace.”
DC: Yeah. I like reading books and listening to records on the balcony at my house, like with my girlfriend, and it was kind of—the first day that we did it, it was one of those things where we had some other bigger plan, and I was like, “Do you want to just like read on the balcony and like listen to music?” She was like, “Yeah.” And then we did and it was almost like we remembered that we could just do that.
Paul: Oh that’s great.
DC: Like it didn’t have to be a bigger deal.
Paul: That’s great. Tracy McCray says, “I love hearing that my favorite author has written a new book.” I’m sure you can’t relate to that.
DC: I’m out of loves. I had way more fears than loves, I don’t know what that says. But the fears all kind of like came out in one big gush and the loves, I kind of had to sit there and look around my living room for.
Paul: Oh they great though.
DC: Thanks man.
Paul: They were great. Anything else before we go?
DC: I think that’s it. I had a blast, thank you for having me.
Paul: Yeah. People can go to your website dcpierson.com and Pierson is spelled P-I-E-R-S-O-N. And they should definitely check out your Tumblr page, follow you on Twitter @dcpierson, really funny tweets and anything else you want to plug? You’re got a new book coming out.
DC: I do have a new book coming out in March and I’ll be putting up information about preordering that on my website pretty soon. And I really would appreciate it people preordered it.
Paul: What’s it called?
DC: It’s called Crab Kingdom. And it’s about—it’s actually kind of like—ties in with what theme of the show has been about a little bit. It’s basically about this guy who—he’s a kid who’s really obsessed with Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter and stuff, like any sort of fiction where it’s like there’s a kid in the real world, and then he goes and he’s the chosen one in this other world, and he’s got a destiny there or whatever. And then that actually happens to him. Somebody actually comes, he’s like, “Come, there’s this other world where, you know, you have to find your destiny.” It’s sort of about a big preoccupation that I know I’ve had in my life where you don’t want something until you don’t have it anymore and it’s sort of, I guess, secretly about my journey towards wanting the things that I already have, instead of—
Paul: And I would think an intense fear of making the wrong choice.
DC: For sure.
Paul: Yeah. DC Pierson.
DC: Thanks, Paul.
Paul: Thank you.
Many thanks to DC Pierson for a great episode. And I also want to thank people that helped make this show possible, we’re not quite done yet, we’ve got a couple of surveys that I want to read before we take it out. But I want to thank the spam patrollers in the forum: John, Michael, Manny and Dan. Thank you guys so much. The audio clip selection team: Megan, Gary, Tim, Zach, Debbie, and Matt. Thank you guys so much. And the transcribers. You know who you are, too many of you to list.
What did I want…? Oh, there’s a couple of different ways that you can support the show if you’d be so kind as to do that. You can support it financially by going to the website mentalpod.com. You can make either a one-time PayPal donation or, my favorite, set up a recurring monthly donation and that brings me a little closer to my dream of being able to support myself being able to do this fulltime, which I’m pretty close to doing to it time-wise already and probably put in about 30 hours a week in between answering emails and reading surveys and recording people and editing and stuff like that. But nowhere near being to support myself from it. And that is my dream, so $5 a month or more may not be much to you, but it means the world to me. So at least consider that.
You can also support the show by—when you shop at Amazon, do it through the little search box on our homepage and that way Amazon gives us a couple of nickels, doesn’t cost you anything. And that also adds up. So I appreciate those of you who have been doing that. You can buy a t-shirt at the website. And the ways you can support the website non-financially, is that you can give us a good rating and write a nice review on the iTunes page, and you can spread word through social media about the podcast. That’s another way you can help it.
With that said, I’m gonna read this first survey, is from a woman who calls herself Dina Marie. She’s straight, in her 20’s, was raised in an environment that was a little dysfunctional. Some stuff happened but she doesn’t know if it counts as sexual abuse. She doesn’t specify what it was. “Deepest, darkest thoughts?” She writes, “I think about cheating on my husband all the time, with people that I don’t necessarily even find attractive.”
“Sexual fantasies most powerful to her?” She says, “I fantasize about taking advantage of an older man, the mailman, a delivery man, sometimes even my father-in-law. Men that are old enough to be my father.”
“Would you ever consider telling a partner or a close friend your fantasies?” She writes, “Never. I’ve never written this down or spoken about it. I try to block it out or not admit to it. It seems sick like I’m demented or perverted.”
“Deepest, darkest secrets?” She writes, “An older neighbor stalked me when I was a young girl. I remember always feeling like someone was watching me. My parents never believed me. One morning when I was 15 we caught him peering into my window as I was getting ready for school. This is another older man I fantasize about having sex with.
“Do these secrets or thoughts generate any particular feelings towards yourself?” She writes, “I feel like a pervert, like I’ll have to find someone as fucked up as me to have a relationship with. My husband is very normal, nothing like me.”
You are not a pervert. You are not a pervert. You are a normal person who experienced abnormal trauma and our brains do inexplicable things sometimes when they’re overwhelmed by emotion, and we feel that our survival is at stake. And I think that’s what’s happened to you and I think you were worth sticking up for and worth going to therapy, and worth processing this stuff. Because you’re not broken. You’re absolutely not broken. Maybe just unhealed and I say that because I know, because I’m a living example. I’m a living example of that and it is possible. It’s one of the reasons why I do this podcast. So sending a big hug your way, Dina Marie.
This next one I wanna read is from a woman who calls herself Maybe Sparrow and she’s straight, she’s in her 30’s, was raised in a stable and safe environment. Never been sexually abused. “Deepest, darkest thoughts?” She writes, “About a year ago I went to rehab for addiction to Klonopin and inhalants. Specifically I was huffing computer duster on a daily basis. Lately I’ve been getting the urge to start huffing again but I’m afraid my husband would find out and leave me.”
“What are the sexual fantasies most powerful to you?” She writes, “My most powerful fantasy is going to a lesbian bar, picking up a random stranger and taking her back to my house so she can have her way with me. I like the idea of being intensely sexual with a woman and then never having to see her again.”
“Would you ever consider telling a partner or close friend?” She writes, “No. Basically I feel like this is a very vanilla fantasy and my partner or close friend would find it silly.”
By the way, I don’t think anybody’s fantasies are—I don’t know if silly is the right word, but not worth considering or talking about. So many people feel like their—valid. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.
“Deepest, darkest secrets?” She writes, “My husband has no idea the extent of my addiction. While huffing I would often lose consciousness, urinate on myself, miss work, fall down and hurt myself, and vomit on myself while passed out. One day about a year-and-a-half ago, I spent a few hours huffing in my parked car in a random neighborhood in town. I woke up to cops and an ambulance pounding on my window trying to wake me. After convincing them that I didn’t need to be hospitalized, I took a taxi home. When I got home I told my husband that I was at a bar with a friend and lost track of time. I’ve never told anyone what really happened.”
“Do these secrets and thoughts generate any particular feelings towards yourself?” She writes, “I feel deeply ashamed but also strangely puzzled. I am a college-educated, professional woman who, from most people’s perspective, looks like she has her shit together. I am still trying to figure out how the huffing got so out of control and what exactly I was trying to escape from.”
It’s possible that you’re an addict and addiction doesn’t make sense. That’s the thing that is so fucking baffling about it, and thinking your way out of addiction is an impossibility. You have to act your way out of addiction, and that involves asking for help and taking help on a daily basis. And so if you are an addict, which it sounds like you are, that’s the direction to head. And not beating yourself up. Nobody ever got someplace better by telling themselves that they were a piece of shit.
I want to take it out on something positive. This is from the Happy Moments survey. And this was filled out by a woman who calls herself Fifth Sonata and I know that she’s a poster in the forum as well, active in the forum. So I’m already fond of her. And she writes, one of her happiest moments, she writes, “In high school I was an active musician. I was a natural musician, excelling in performance without much effort. However in my senior year I decided to audition for the all-state band.” Not the insurance company. “I made the group. For about a week I played nearly eight hours a day. It was intense. I had never played that much. Throughout high school I had played in many, many a group. But it was not until this event that I realized the true possibility that I had before me in this art. We were playing a slow, beautiful piece written by the conductor, David Holsinger (sp?)” I think that’s how you pronounce it, Holsinger? “We reached the high point and suddenly I had chills running through me. I could barely breathe and tears were streaming down my face while I was playing. I had never felt such an intense moment, an emotional climax to a piece of music. I looked up from the music and I see Mr. Holsinger crying. I look around and so many of my fellow band mates where crying. In a group of nearly 40 high school students, we were sharing such a raw, beautiful moment. Pouring our hearts out, creating a piece of time that everyone understood without having to say a word. At the end of the concert, all of us were completely exhausted and we sat there on the stage not moving and not saying a word. The audience sat in an emotional stupor, unsure of what was coming next, but emotionally spent as well. The lights come up, I look out into the audience and so many of them were crying as well. A silent, calm cry. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my measly 18 years of existence. It was at that moment I was sold. Ten years later I have a master’s degree in music and I’ve dedicated my life to sharing music with other people.”
That is fucking beautiful. Thank you for that. And to anybody out there that’s feeling stuck, you’re not alone. None of us ever have to be alone. There is always help if we’re willing to get out of our comfort zone and ask for it. And so I encourage you to do that. And just remember you’re not alone. Thank you so much for listening to all 18 fucking hours of this episode.