Kerri Kenney-Silver (Voted #6 Ep of 2012)

Kerri Kenney-Silver (Voted #6 Ep of 2012)

The comedian / actress / musician opens up about her childhood, the impact of her parents’ divorce, her obsessive worrying, her aborted engagement to a crack addict and what she learned about herself.  People know Kerri from Reno 911, MTV’s The State, the sitcom Still Standing, and the indie rock band Cake Like.

Episode:

Play

Episode notes:

Follow Kerri on Twitter @KerriKenney

Episode Transcript:

Paul: Welcome to episode 76 with my guest Kerri Kenney-Silver. 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. The website for this show is mentalpod.com. Mentalpod is also the Twitter name you can follow me at. And, uh, please go to the website. There’s all kinds of stuff there: surveys you can take, there’s forum you can, uh, post in, and, uh, you sign up for a newsletter. All kinds of good stuff. So please go, uh go check that out.

Uh, I wanna kick things off with, uh, a post that somebody, uh, put up in the forum. This, uh, poster, her name is, she calls herself Heart. And, uh, she was writing about the, uh—last week’s episode, the Todd Sawyer episode. She says, “ When Todd Sawyer said, ‘Don’t confuse accepting with understanding,’ to his mom, I broke down. It’s the line that I need to tell my parents but could never find enough compassion in myself to feel hurt for the abuse they put me through. I accept that they were broke. I accept that I was unplanned. And I accept that I came with mountainous medical bills since the time that I was conceived and I accept that they might make them resent me. But I don’t understand how you can push a five-year-old down the stairs to a basement and then lock the door and leave her there for hours and hours. And he also mentioned how his mother never apologized. How can you expect forgiveness if you haven’t admitted you’ve done anything wrong? It’s just everything I’ve been dealing with with my parents lately. I don’t know what I really wanted to say. Just that I connected so much with the absent father and the overworked mother, the abuse, the trying to look out for yourself at a young age. And this episode really helped me find compassion for myself as a kid, which I was never allowed to. I always felt embarrassed, like I shouldn’t really think what happened was that big of a deal and I’m just a pussy. But this episode helped so much. All of us deserve compassion, and to feel and express the hurt that we have felt at any time in our life.” Thank you, Heart for that, for that beautiful posting in the, uh, in the forum.

I wanna read a survey, this is from our Shame and Secrets survey, and, um, this one is filled out by a guy who calls himself Kinda Hoping for Cancer. So you know it’s gonna be upbeat. Uh, he’s straight, he’s in his thirties, was raised in an environment that he says was a little dysfunctional. Um, that’s a little shocking when you hear what happened in his, uh, his house. Um, “Deepest, darkest thoughts?” He didn’t really fill that out.

Um, “What sexual fantasies are most powerful to you?” He writes, “Funnily enough, sometimes the mind reacts in a very straightforward way to abuse. To whit, forced as a nine-year-old to perform oral sex on my father, I have found that the only sexual act that stimulates me is, well, forced oral sex. The other thing is that I was also abused by a female babysitter at a young age. My rational mind reacted by rejecting the sexual aspect of human life altogether until I was 33 or so. That’s when I first remember being sexually attracted to a female. I still remember the feeling of dread that overwhelmed me at the time. I’m 40 now and in the last seven years have probably seen 1000 prostitutes or so.”

“Would you ever consider telling a partner or close friend?” He writes, “Partner? Close friend? What are these things you speak of?”

Um, “Deepest, darkest secrets?” He writes, “I’ve managed to keep my alcoholism secret. How serious you ask? Three to four bottles of vodka a week. I have started to require makeup to conceal the effects.” Um, I don’t even know what to say other than my, my heart goes out to you and I hope that you get the help that you deserve. I hope you know that there is help out there.

And, um, I wanted to read another survey that somebody filled out, and, um, this was from the Shame and Secrets survey again. And this was filled out by, uh, a woman named Claire. She’s straight, she’s in her 20’s. And to the question, “Have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse, s-she checked, “Some stuff happened but I don’t know if it counts as sexual abuse.” And then she elaborates, “My stepdad used to drink me in with his eyes, as you would say. It was creepy. He started doing it from the age of 13, and I thought that was how stepdads looked at their stepdaughters until I saw my friend with hers, and he hugged her and it didn’t seem odd or sexual. It seemed normal. I realized my stepdad had been inappropriately looking me up and down and it made me uneasy if I hugged him, and used to avoid him, leaving the house dressed up. He once told me I had nice legs and nice boobs and he couldn’t imagine why my first boyfriend would break up with me. Um, I was 15 at the time. He mentioned how it was inappropriate for him to say it. But he did. And although I told my mother, she didn’t leave him until years later after numerous affairs and emotional abuse.”

And the reason I wanted to read those two surveys back-to-back is, no, not to bum you out, uh, th-those two, like on the sexual abuse spectrum, those two are kind of far apart but I think they’re much closer if you look at the effects that those have on the children that received that improper, uh, behavior or attention. Um, the message that both of them sent to kids is, “My needs are more important than yours and I don’t see you as a person. You are an object to me.” And that’s why I think it’s really important for instance in that second survey, with that girl, to not minimize what happened to her. To not minimize how much that affects our self-esteem. Because when an adult repeatedly treats us over and over and over again as a child like we’re an object, it pounds a message into our being which is that we don’t matter and that other people’s needs come first. And I think that’s a really important thing for people to understand about abuse, whether it’s as overt as that first survey or as covert as that second one. They both minimize us as human beings, so. That’s me getting deep. Did you like that? I had a professor hat on while I was saying that.

Uh, I want to, uh, wrap up this little intro with a quote from, uh, what’s her name, she is an author and a psychotherapist, her name is Miriam Greenspan, and this is an excerpt from an interview that she, uh, did in The Sun, and she says, “Emotions live in the body. It is not enough simply to talk about them. To be a talking head. We need to focus our attention on emotions where they live. This willingness to be present allows the emotion to begin to shift of its own accord. An alchemy starts to happen. A process of transmutation from something hard and leaden to something precious and powerful, like gold. This is a chaotic, non-linear process. But I think it requires three basic skills: attending to, befriending, and surrendering to emotions in the body. Paying attention to or attending to our emotions is not the same as endless navel gazing and second-guessing ourselves. It is a mindfulness of the body. An ability to listen to the body’s emotional language without judgment or suppression. Befriending follows from focusing our attention and it takes it a step further. It involves building our tolerance for distressing emotions. When I was giving birth to my first child my midwife said something that has stood me in good stead ever since. When you feel the contraction coming, and you want to back away from it, move toward it instead. The feeling in the body that we want to run away from, that’s precisely what we need to stay with. A simple way to do this is to locate the emotion in the body and breathe through it without trying to change or end it. The third skill, surrendering, is the spiritual part of this process. Surrendering to suffering is usually the last thing we want to do. But surrender is what brings the unexpected gifts of wisdom, compassion, and courage. Surrendering is about saying yes when we want to say no. The yes of acceptance. That is what really allows the alchemy to happen. We don’t let go of emotions, we let go of ego and the emotions then let go of themselves. This is emotional flow. When we let the dark emotions flow, something unexpected and unpredictable often occurs. Consciously experienced, the energy of these emotions flows towards healing and harmony. I found that unimpeded grief transforms itself into heightened gratitude. That consciously experiencing fear expands our ability to feel joy. And that being mindful of despair, really entering into the dark night of the soul with the light of awareness renews and deepens our faith.” That is such a great quote. And, what I would add on top of that, is these emotions that we always think of as negative, um, they really make life so much richer—I mean, it sucks when we’re going through it—but, like when I’m hungry, I-I like to think to myself, this is building my appreciation for when I do get to eat. You know, I’m unemployed now. And I like to think that this is building my appreciation for when I will have a-a-a job that supports me. And I like to think that when I see the trailer for Jack and Jill, I don’t—I’m gonna have to work on that one.

[SHOW INTRO]

Paul: I’m here with Kerri Kenney-Silver. Who I’ve never met before, until, uh, five minutes ago. I, uh, I got your, your name, although I knew, certainly knew who you were, uh, Jamie Denbo was kind enough to, uh, refer us to each other because she you’d be, uh, you’d be a good guest for the podcast. So I want to thank you for, for, uh, allowing me into your home to, uh, to come record and, um. Uh, most people know you of course from Reno 911 and The State. People may also know you from, uh, the sitcom Still Standing. What would be some other things that people might know you from? Are those the big three?

Kerri: Those are the big three. We had another series, the same guys who did Reno, uh, we had a series, uh, Viva Variety that has its cult following. Um, we—I was in a band, a riot girl band in the late ‘90’s and we have, uh, you know a pretty devoted little following for that.

Paul: What’s the name of the band?

Kerri: We were called Cake Like. The hardest name in the world to say. Um, but that had some strange success, uh, as a hobby. Took off and was, uh, a really fun thing to do for many years.

Paul: And you play, uh, banjo and ukulele?

Kerri: No, I don’t, but that’s on my Wikipedia page which someone, someone mentioned to me recently, the same question. I said, “Wait? What? Where would you get that idea?” And they said, “It’s on your Wikipedia page.” I suspect Tom Lennon of sabotaging. And I’m leaving it because I think it’s hilarious. I love that it also says “avid”, like I don’t just play the banjo, I’m an expert. Um, I do play ukulele. I’m not great, I’ve played a couple little shows but it’s not something that’s Wikipedia-worthy for sure.

Paul: That’s hilarious.

Kerri: I know.

Paul: He seems like a really fun guy.

Kerri: He is. He’s like my brother. I’ve known Tom the longest of any of The State guys. We met at, uh, theater camp when we were sixteen years old.

Paul: Oh really?

Kerri: And said, uh, yeah, got together and said, “Oh, you know, I’m thinking of NYU. Me too. What dorm should we go to?” And then um, both joined the—we were called The New Group in college. Joined The New Group together and became The State and became all these other things, and ultimately Reno and lots of good stuff, yeah.

Paul: That’s great. That’s great. Well, um, I love the stuff th-that you do. There’s a vulnerability underneath all the stuff that you do that, um, that I love and it made me excited to come interview you because I had that feeling that there wouldn’t be a whole lot of walls to tear down.

Kerri: No, no. I lay it all out, I think. And especially when you consider that Reno was, uh, improv. And, um, everything that, you know, came out our mouths, I mean we would joke in interviews with people, they would say, “Oh, what a horrible person your character is,” and we would say, you know, “Unfortunately, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the character.” Uh, because, you know, you can’t help your real life spilling out into it. That’s what it’s about, you know.

Paul: And I think ultimately it gives it that detail th-that people love.

Kerri: I think so. I think people could—we didn’t expect that. We expected to be a sketch comedy show where we would do, you know, the jokes would be—people would relate to the sketches. And the crimes and the heists and the hijinks. And we were surprised when people started responding to these characters, and caring and, and wondering what was gonna happen, you know.

Paul: What are—the name of your character in Reno 911?

Kerri: She’s Trudy Wiegel.

Paul: And what are some similarities between you and her?

Kerri: Oh, there’s so many. I mean, the lines get crossed between, you know, my mother and me and elementary school teachers and, you know, it all filters through, um, but I would say that she’s a bit of a heightened version of myself, you know, a bit of a hypochondriac, um, you know, never shy to quickly look for the medication that fixes anything that’s happening. Or catch it before it happens. Um …

Paul: Are you a worrier?

Kerri: I’m a huge worrier. I’m an enormous worrier. I’m a nail biter. I live, I operate on fear. And it was so freeing for me for that many years, for six years, actually, was eight years, uh, but six seasons and a film, to be able to—it was cathartic for me. It sounds so silly, you know, in this, you know, world of fart jokes and, you know, crazy big underpants, but, um, you know, to be able to play this woman and just fully be all of my things that I don’t like about myself, and then somehow she ended up loveable in a sort of despicable way.

Paul: Y-you know, I’m glad that you brought that up because one of the things I-I stress in this podcast is that we think the path to safety is by impressing people and if anything I think we wind up distancing ourselves from people because who enjoys a perfectionist?

Kerri: Right.

Paul: But the people that touch us the most are the people that are vulnerable and are open about their flaws and don’t try to pretend that they’re something that they’re not.

Kerri: Right, but there’s a fine line, I find, and some one character trait that I don’t like about myself is the, you know, I’m not just an open book. I will, you know, barrage you with vomitous details of things that disarm you so that you have find your way into wanting to say, “no it’s OK, I like you, Kerri, it’s ok.” But I’m like, “Well, I don’t know, you know, I didn’t tell you about that I do this, I have this annoying trait.” “Well, no, it’s OK, I still like you.” “Oh, did I tell you? Oh there …” You know, I’m the kind of person that you say to me, you know, “Gosh, you look so great today, you look really pretty in that dress.” And I can—I’ve never in my time on this planet said, “Thank you.” I always will say, “Mmmm. You know what? You’re very kind but, you know, I’m three pounds away from my goal weight.” Or, “I’m a strategic dresser.” Or, “Are you kidding? This thing? This is from Target. I really wanted th-the real version, didn’t want to spend the money, so here I am.” I can’t just be. I can’t just take it, be OK with myself, I have to kind of, you know, show up with, here’s the list of reasons why I’m not good enough.

Paul: Y-you did it to me the first thirty seconds we met each other. You were texting your husband to let him know we were gonna be in a room doing this, and you were typing faster on your phone than I’ve ever seen any human being and I was like, “That is amazing.” And you immediately went, “Well, I make a lot of mistakes,” you know, “It autocorrects.”

Kerri: Yes. Yes.

Paul: I was like, “This is so perfect. This is so perfect.”

Kerri: Yes.

Paul: Uh where would be a good place to start i-i-in your story? W-w-what was your home environment like growing up?

Kerri: My home environment – I was, you know, it was, it was …

Paul: Where are you from?

Kerri: Originally I was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but we were only there for a minute. My father was in radio.

Paul: That was too long by the way.

Kerri: That was too long. I don’t know, I haven’t been back.

Paul: It’s fine. It’s a fine city.

Kerri: I haven’t been back. But, but, um, my whole family, my extended family, is from Illinois. Uh, two small towns: Macomb, Illinois and Pekin, Illinois.

Paul: Southern Illinois University and just outside of Peoria.

Kerri: Yes! Yes, exactly, exactly twenty minutes outside of Peoria. So, um, that’s where my extended family was, where my mom and dad both grew up. Uh when my dad got into radio and he started having success very quickly, we moved to many many places when I was little. We finally settled in Westport, Connecticut when I was six years old. And then I think it was around eight when my parents got divorced and my dad moved into the city. And so I would sp—I had, I had—as far as geographically speaking.

Paul: Are you sure you’re not thinking of Mad Men?

Kerri: Yeah, actually, I haven’t seen it, so … is there something about—is it like that?

Paul: It’s almost the identical thing of what happened in the first two seasons.

Kerri: Are you serious?

Paul: They were married and, uh, when the girl was around, I guess, about eight years old, he—they got a divorce and he moved into the city.

Kerri: Oh my –well, I like to think it’s cooler, like, I Love Lucy because they did live in Westport for a summer. And then they went back to Manhattan. But anyway my—I had—I now look back and realize how lucky I was to—I’m comfortable pretty much anywhere in the sense of, you know, climate and people and, uh, you know just the world around me because I spent my school days, school years in Westport, Connecticut, which was like J. Crew ad. Um, Martha Stewart lived there and David Letterman, and had a wonderful public system and it was safe and all that wonderful stuff. Spent the weekends in Manhattan with my dad, and had that wonderful experience in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, I mean, you know, Village People, and, you know, roller skating and whoop, whoop! Um, and then I spent my summers in Illinois in, you know, these—all my cousins live on one street, my grandparents and aunts and uncles and everybody, and it was flashlight tag until after, you know, bedtime and running around and drive-in movies and all that great stuff. So I didn’t realize until I got older how great that is. Um …

Paul: You really got to experience, like, a full sense of what the breadth of the United States has to offer.

Kerri: I really did. I don’t think you could have hand picked, if you could only pick three places, um, a better situation. Um, and, uh, yeah, I feel really grateful for that. But, you know, certainly parents getting divorced—it’s interesting, I have a six-year-old son now and I look at him and I think, “My gosh, you know, this is who I was, this is the age I was when, you know, my world fell apart.” When, you know, we sat down at the kitchen table and my parents said—I think it’s my earliest memory—my parents saying, you know, “We both love you the same, we just—we’re not gonna be living in the same house anymore. We don’t love each other the way we did.” I-I can tell you what the grain in the table looked like, you know, just you might as well have dropped a bomb on the house. It probably would have been easier. Um …

Paul: Do you remember, like, what you were thinking or feeling w-when they told you that?

Kerri: The air got knocked out of me and it stayed knocked out of me and it stayed knocked out of me. And it’s still knocked out of me in some ways. I’m not the kind of person, I don’t walk around saying, you know, uh, I’m an adult survivor of anything. We all have stuff. Everybody has stuff. I think the people that don’t show stuff have more stuff.

Paul: I agree.

Kerri: Um, you know, I think this business of acting sort of shows you that about people. Um, but certainly it was, you know, earth-shattering. And now I look at my son, where if he doesn’t have two matching socks, you know, o-or the Lego piece doesn’t match the one on the cover of the box, it’s a catastrophe and I think, “What if I told him right now that everything you know that is safety has now been taken away i-i-in one millisecond?” And I just think, “How can that happen? How can you survive that? How can that be?” And again, people have way worse experiences but at that time in my life, I knew no worse experience and I never knew that it was possible. I didn’t know that existed. And it’s funny because recently my son said to me, “What does ‘divorce’ mean?” And it was strange, um, because I—first it surprised me that he didn’t—that this is the first acknowledgement that he ever had of that word. I-I don’t know why I thought he would have heard it before, but I thought, “Wow, he’s just hearing that now.” And how wonderful that is. But also how sad it is at the same time because in explaining to my son that it’s never going to happen to Mommy and Daddy, but it does happen to some people, it happened to Mommy as kid, and he just was so confused. Like, “What do you mean your parents can, you know, live separate?” I mean, people—children live through deaths of parents and, you know, horrible abuse and, and things like that. But for me, at that time, you couldn’t have delivered more shocking news if you had said that, you know, Christmas would now be coming in the summer and Santa’s the devil and he’ll eat your face off in the night. I would’ve, you know—could’ve maybe made that register a little bit easier than, “Your family is now being torn apart.”

Paul: Yeah, I-I can’t imagine what, what that’s gotta be like to a kid. Because it’s your foundation. And kids don’t know that, yes, you’re going to survive, yes, your experience will be your own. There will be some pain but you’ll get through it. Um, but, yeah, I can’t imagine.

Kerri: But kids don’t know and, like I said, I get to watch my son now and through very different eyes, thinking that was the age, and I think it is the end of the world if they don’t have the chocolate cupcake, you know, when you back around through the grocery store that was there 20 minutes ago. What does it mean to say to him, “Your whole life as you know it is going to change and it will never be the same?”

Paul: Do you think you’re better prepared for life though when you go through something like you did as a kid th-than your son?

Kerri: Oh sure. Sure, I wouldn’t say better. I just think, you know, everyone—you know, I hear all these sort of Oprah-esque stories of people, you know, thank God my whole family was killed in that car accident, I learned this lesson that I never would have learned, and you just make choices, you know? You can learn from that, um, and, you know, move on, like people do from really horrific experiences, or you can sit around and make excuses all the time and say, “Well, I’m not capable of a real relationship because this happened.” You know, I mean, I also see people with, you know, seemingly perfect childhoods turn out to be total, you know, incapable lunatics in relationships and in life and in business. And, so, I think, you just—for me, I’ve made it, I’ve made it a positive, in a sense. I will, you know, my husband would pretty much have to stab me 30 times for me to, you know, leave him. I mean I just can’t imagine making that happen, you know, in turn to my son.

Paul: So as the knife came in on the 29th stab, you’d be saying, “We can still make this work.”

Kerri: (laughs) I don’t know, I take that back. I take that back. But, no, it would have to be—and it was horrific for my parents. I was the absolute right thing for them to do. Not hurt—no one was getting beaten, you know, I don’t, I don’t mean it like that.

Paul: Sometimes, yeah, people just—

Kerri: It was—they were young, my mother’s mother had passed away in a horrible accident and it was unexpected, obviously and they lived in a small farm town, they happened to be dating, and it’s what you do. Someone needs to take care of this woman, this girl. And it was, you know, it was the right thing to do. And, you know, when I was engaged to my now husband, I remember my mom, she was so excited and, uh, they—my family loved him from the instant they met him. And I remember saying to my mom, “How can you be so gung-ho about marriage when the only experience in marriage you’ve ever had failed? You know, I would be worried for your daughter.” And she said, “My marriage wasn’t a failure – it was a huge success. We met each other, we had you, then we went our separate ways. What a gift.” And I-I, you know, had never thought of it that way. I was also very lucky because my, again looking back now as an adult and imagining how hard that must have been for my parents, for both of them, my mother and father never, ever, ever, ever, in this 35 years, whatever it’s been, has never said a negative word about one another to me. EVER.

Paul: That’s amazing.

Kerri: I mean, my husband leaves his socks in the living room, and I’m, you know, giving a monologue to my son about why your father is, you know, should, you know, go to finishing school. Um, so I can’t imagine, you know? I can’t imagine through all the, you know, paperwork and, you know, history, emotional history with them, that they—my mother would just say, “Your father loves you very much.” My dad would just say, “Your mother loves you very much.”

Paul: Th-th-that’s wonderful. And I can tell you, a-as a child of parents that had a terrible marriage and stayed together, uh, it’s—sometimes people need to get divorced. When my parents did finally separate, they never got divorced—but when I was 25, I think, they said, you know, dad’s moving out. We just to live in separate places. I said, “You should have done it years ago.”

Kerri: You were relieved for them.

Paul: Yes. I-I-I was.

Kerri: Yeah, yeah.

Paul: Cuz it—my dad knew he couldn’t stay sober if they continued drinking, and the reason I bring that up is I don’t want anybody that’s ever had to get divorced that’s listening to this feel like I’m a monster—

Kerri: No.

Paul: You know, I—no. Sometimes I think it’s best.

Kerri: No, it is—

Paul: But it’s still unfortunate.

Kerri: I don’t think you can know. I don’t think you can know what kind of spouse you’re going to be until you’re married. I don’t think you can know what kind of parent you’re going to be until you have a child. All these things—we go in, many people, we go in with the best of intentions. I don’t believe that your parents got married thinking, “Wink, wink, one of these days we are gonna mess these kids up. You know, high five. And then we’re gonna, you know, have explosive arguments.” I mean, no one goes into it thinking that. Everyone goes into it with the best of intentions, at least for that one day. Um, so absolutely not, you know. I mean, people change. Disease happens. Um, depression happens. Financial hardship, financial destruction happens. It all happens. And you can’t know and you can’t judge. That’s why I don’t judge people—well, here’s a choice I judge, this is something I do judge. I don’t, for me—it’s funny that I say I don’t—that I judge it, and then I say for me—but, I think it’s confusing for a child, and when I say a child I don’t mean 26, I mean six, to watch their parent date after a divorce. And I didn’t have to see that either. To a bizarre degree – my mom just did not date after my parents got divorced. She dated a minister for a hot minute and then just of said, “What am I doing? I-I-I need to parent th-this kid. She needs me and this is too confusing.” So now I look at friends—I’m in that sort of age group, I think that you are, where we’ve got young children and all of the sudden now divorces are starting to happen. You know, you’re like at the age where people start going steady, then you’re at the age where people start getting engaged, the age where people start getting married, now we’re at the age where people start having children and then start getting divorced, you know. And then we’ll hit the, uh, retirement and death. But anyway, uh, but, um, but when I look around at people, friends of mine that are—just look so painful to me. Because I was in the shoes of those young children and thinking, “Oh my God, it isn’t bad enough that you just took my world away from me, but now you’re gonna add this enormous confusion on top of it.” And that, I feel like, is something we have control over. So, you know, it’s easy for me to say because I’m not in that situation. You know, talk to me in 30 years when my husband’s exasperated and leaves me and I’m alone and wanting company. But I can sit here in my ivory tower and say, “I think that’s wrong, for me.”

Paul: Uh, where would be, uh, the next place to go to in your, in your story?

Kerri: Yeah, elementary school, I’ll say, I had a really hard time with, uh, self-esteem. I was not an attractive kid. And I think I was enormously depressed. I had major depression issues. My mom had me in therapy at a very young age. Thank God. I had, you know, great parents who, you know, were on it. Um ….

Paul: Was the depression there before your parents got divorced?

Kerri: I think it’s chemical. Because I still, I still struggle with it.

Paul: Do you take meds?

Kerri: I do, I take Prozac. I was on—I-I took Prozac since basically the week that it came out. And, uh, and, so, you know, I still continue to take it. At this point my doctor said, “You know, we’ve not raised your level since you were on it how many—20 something years ago. I don’t know that this is doing …” And I’m too afraid to mess with the system. But chances are that things are better now. But, but, um, as a kid, you know, I couldn’t find, you know—I was noticing it in my son the other day. We were at Disney World, and he—we bought him this little outfit, this little—he wanted this safari outfit. And I realized—and he wanted it so bad, more than Legos and all this other stuff. He said, “I need to put it on right now.” So, ok, so we go in the bathroom and we put it on. And then he says, “Call me ‘sir’ and pretend like you don’t know me.” He walks ahead of us and for four hours he’s pretending like he works there. And he’s got a little accent, and he’s pointing. And it brought back this unbelievable memory that I had completely blocked out, which was that any time we would go somewhere, a grocery store in a different town, a road trip, a vacation, I would pretend like I was someone else. I remember this – 6, 7, 8 years old. I remember pretending like I was blind. I remember pretending like I was deaf. I remember putting on accents. I wanted to be anyone but myself. Um, now, you know big surprise that I’m an actress, you know, I enjoy getting out of my body. I enjoy the performance of it. But I think there is something to be said for me not wanting to be in my own body, not being happy with who I am. So we’re trying to encourage our son to turn it into performance and not just, you know.

Paul: That’s interesting you say that because my friends have a kid, uh, who’s I think four, and the thing he does is he says, um, “I’m gonna walk up ahead and I want you to pretend that I’m a homeless child and you’re taken me in.”

Kerri: Wow. That’s deep. They say some crazy things. Wow.

Paul: Uh, so you didn’t, you didn’t like being yourself as a kid. Elementary school was kind of tough?

Kerri: What happened was, yes, it was very tough. Um, it was very tough. There were some, you know, mean girls that kind of thing. Um, I had one incident where I was—I just had been bullied for so long a-a-and it was so uncomfortable for me that I had this one moment of clarity on the school bus where I thought, “Well, the only recourse I have here, because I’m the lowest on the totem pole, is there’s one lower and she’s sitting right in front of me. So if I can get some kind of “we’re all on the same team” wink from the rest of the bus, I might get through this ok. So I started touching the hair of the girl in front of me, who was just sort of one rung under me. It’s like the wino lying on the street laughing at the wino down in the gutter, you know. And she turned around and hit me so hard that my glasses flew and broke. And I ran off the bus crying. And that was the last time it tried that method. It didn’t work for me. The “well maybe I’ll be a bully too and that will help,” you know.

Paul: (laughs) It’s so funny picturing you as a bully.

Kerri: Oh, just pathetic. It didn’t—luckily it didn’t go well for me. Cuz who knows what I would be like now. But, it didn’t go well. But about a year later, I was in class, and there was—this is embarrassing—there was a—we had a substitute teacher that day. And her name was Miss Mills. And I don’t know what got into me, I was probably seven years old, but I got up to the board when she wasn’t looking and I erased the “M” and I put a “P” and the whole class laughed.

Paul: O-on her first name or her last name?

Kerri: Her last name. Changed it to Miss Pills, like that’s any sort of—so what.

Paul: Your changing it to Piss would have been even better.

Kerri: I don’t know. That to me was so funny and I thought, “I-I’m gonna”—and the laugh that I got changed my life. And I thought, “This is powerful.” Now, granted it was at someone else’s expense. Luckily it wasn’t that clever and wasn’t that hurtful, you she just basically swatted me away and said, “Sit down.” But I remember that feeling of, “Oh this is a way to get power! This is a way to feel good about myself. People are laughing. It’s a response and it’s a positive response.” A-and I think from then on I kinda knew I was gonna be ok. And then, you know, fifth grade, um, yearbook voted, um, Class Clown, and then in high school I was voted, you know, class speaker, uh, for graduation and that kind of thing. And then, and then I was ok from there, in a sense, you know, just knowing that, oh this is who I am, this is ok. I can’t play a sport. I have two left—I can’t do dance, I can’t do cheerleading or any of these things, I’m not pretty, but I’m funny, and th-there’s a joy in that for me, i-in having that reaction in that shared experience. And it’s powerful.

Paul: It’s very powerful.

Kerri: It’s powerful.

Paul: It’s, uh, it is its own drug.

Kerri: It is, yeah, yeah.

Paul: But in some ways too i-it can, I think, keep us emotionally, uh, stunted.

Kerri: Oh, course, it’s a shield for me too. I mean, it’s certainly th-the way for me to distance myself from you. You know, if I’m not comfortable, I can, you know, slide out with sarcasm a-and, uh, protect myself.

Paul: Yeah, a-and when we use humor as, like, our primary coping tool, um, i-it’s so hard to let people know that we’re scared, or, that we’re in pain.

Kerri: Not me because I-I, at the same time I over share.

Paul: Yeah.

Kerri: Like I’ll meet you at a cocktail party and I’ll be like, “Hi. Oh my gosh, here’s the deal.”

Paul: That’s great then.

Kerri: I guess. I don’t know. I’m definitely an open book. B-but people do say to my husband all the time, genuinely, will say to my husband, “Oh my gosh, you must have the most fun life ever. Living with her must be …” And it’s just not, like, I’m just pretty boring. I’m kind of whiny, I’m pretty naggy, I’m totally type A, I’m always worried we’re gonna be late. You know, so it’s, you know, the humor is, uh, is uh—we’re not always yukking it up around here.

Paul: Right, but it’s good that you don’t keep it all bottled up inside. And I-I don’t know if it’s a classically female thing, but my wife is a worrier, and s-she tends—sometimes i-it’ll start to wear on me, but in many ways it makes our marriage work because a lot of times I can be thoughtless.

Kerri: Right, right.

Paul: And so it’s nice to have the person who’s always thinking and being, uh, considerate, but yeah, sometimes in an amount th-that might tend to get on your nerves.

Kerri: Oh I can completely take the joy away out of any situation with worrying, or my, you know, planning, or my whatever. And yet it’s the last thing that I want people to see in me. I-I-I want to be that kind of person that’s like, “Oh, we’ll just throw that together.”

Paul: Well, I can tell you, there is nobody easier to spot than a worrier. Th-they are so bad at hiding it.

Kerri: Right. Well, yeah, I’m classic—

Paul: Now you’re worried.

Kerri: Now I’m worried. Now I’m worried that people are spotting it. I’m gonna stay in my house for the next year.

Paul: So what would be the next seminal moment from your life that you want to share?

Kerri: Uh. NYU. Meeting The State guys. Um, it was pretty, um, unbelievable th-that we met. I-it feels like, sometimes I can’t believe th-that, uh, a bit of, you know, divine intervention, just in my small career, that I met this group of ten guys, and that we just became obsessed with one another. We were together every minute that we weren’t in class. And sometimes we’d skip class to be together. And the same drive, the same—many similar personalities of you know, outcast-ish people, you know, no total lunatics, but, you know, some of us didn’t have the best high school experiences and weren’t the most popular. But met each other and it was just electric.

Paul: It must have felt pretty special to you too because weren’t you the only woman in the group?

Kerri: I wasn’t in college. In college we had other women come in and out. You know, it was a club in college, but the core group really were—we stuck and it made more sense. Other people sort of meandered in and out. By the end of college, when we went to, uh, start, um, when we got our show on MTV, when we changed our name to The State, um, there were, it was myself and ten guys. But, you know, it didn’t, uh—I have a pretty, I guess, male, um, sense of humor, you know, if that’s what people call it, I don’t know. I’m not girly, I-I, you know, there were guys in the group that were more girly than me, if that’s what you want to call it, you know. So, um, it was never an issue for us and it always kind of confused us when people would say, you know, “Are you gonna add more girls?” or networks would say, “How about more color?”, you know. This is just who we are and, you know, it’s working for us. So, it wasn’t, uh—it didn’t seem any different to me.

Paul: I want to try to, um, find any moments in your life that were particularly painful or embarrassing, um, or, where there was some type of epiphany, like your previous ones. What …

Kerri: Oh, well, I think m-my probably next big epiphany moment was, um, I was engaged prior to my husband—then I went and had a very busy great career. You know, I got to be in a rock band, we signed with Neil Young, we travelled all around and played the Horn Festival with him and played Europe, and you know, we did three albums.

Paul: What kind of a guy is he?

Kerri: He’s ver—a wonderful man. Like super caring, beautiful man. Yeah, he’s very quiet and, um, you know, it’s like being in the presence of a prophet, he’s—it’s—he’s an amazing person. And, um, just was kind of digging our sound and he started a new label off of Warner’s called Vapor Records and he said, “I want you to be my first band.” And so we were, we had a strange amount of success. And that was wonderful. At the same time I was doing Viva Variety and The State and I was very busy. I had a great, you know, time, and dated people off and on. And the same little dramas that everybody has. But, uh, when we were doing Viva Variety, our third season, we decided to move it out here, to Los Angeles. Because we all wanted to move and that seemed like a good way to go with the show.

So we brought it out here and I met this guy out here who, uh, was in recovery for crack addiction. And, you know, you can only imagine how excited my parents were that I’d now moved to Los Angeles and, uh, I’m hanging out with a recovering crack addict, who had—I believe it was only a year under his belt. And it wasn’t marijuana, it wasn’t wine coolers, it was crack cocaine. Um, but I don’t know, I thought, you know, this is exciting. I don’t know. I don’t know what I thought. I look back and I honest to God don’t know what I thought.

It manifested itself into a sad nightmare. And I watched this person relapse, and I did the best I could to b-be there for them with my lack of understanding of this, um. At one point I was drinking so much and was with this person who was in and out of, you know, relapsing, that I thought I had a problem w-with alcohol. So I went into a support group with him, and which is, you know, hilarious to me now, that, you know, you’re gonna go in there and help this person get person, you know. He’ll need my help to fix it. I then I realized that I was basically in the wrong room. I needed a different support group, which was to, you know, stop supporting and fixing these other people.

Paul: And enabling and obsessing.

Kerri: Completely, completely. And this, you know, this poor guy is like, “Jesus, just let me have my addiction and go away.” Um, but it got dramatic. It got, it got ugly, it got scary. Um, I had never seen that drug on a person before. I had never seen what that did to somebody.

Paul: Can you, can you be more specific?

Kerri: Well there was one night when we were asleep in our house and—or I thought we were, I was asleep, and the phone rang. And it was in the middle of the night and I thought, “Oh my God, something’s happened to my mom.” Because who’s call me at this hour? You know, I just knew it was an emergency. So I picked it up and it was him. And I was like, “I thought he was laying in bed next to me.” And he was saying—he had this dark creepy voice on and was saying, “Sarah, Sarah, I see that you’re sleeping in there with him, you whore. I’m gonna come in there and kill you!” Or, you know, something to that—some creepy, weird—I don’t know if he said, “I’m gonna come in there and kill you.” But he was losing his mind, and I said, “Where are you?”

Paul: And who’s Sarah?

Kerri: And who’s Sarah? And I look out the window and he’s outside our window, at our home, talking through the window at me.

Paul: He’s on the cell phone?

Kerri: He’s on a cell phone. And then, you know, he—I can’t remember what happened that night. Believe it or not, I blocked out the rest. Um, somehow he, you know, sobered up and the next morning, bawling, crying, “Please take me back to rehab. You know, I need help. And this will never happen again.” And that was scary. That was really scary for me. Um, just that, you know, the day before we were at dinner with my mom and, you know, at Islands Restaurant having burgers and drinking lemonade and then hours later my life is, you know, upside down.

Paul: Like a, like a horror movie!

Kerri: Literally like a horror movie. And, um, I was never hurt physically, I, you know, I’m very lucky. I’m very, very, very lucky. Um, I later heard, years later after I met my husband, who is—who, you know, my friends and I laugh about it now, how wonderfully normal my husband is. And where in the world—how in the world did I make that choice, like what was I thinking on that day? Um, so incredibly lucky. So lucky. I mean, I was thinking of having children with this other person, you know. And now that I have a child with my husband, who’s so delightfully normal, and how hard it is, when everything’s going well, I think, “My God, I dodged a bullet.”

Paul: S-so what happened years later?

Kerri: Years later I got a call from this person’s mother. And she said, “I thought you should know. Um, he’s in jail and he’s i-in Intensive Care, uh, in the, in the prison.” And I said, “Well, thank you, you know, I don’t know what to say to you. I’m sorry.” And she said, “He, uh, he had been running down a street in the valley, in Los Angeles, with a baseball bat or a golf club, and he was bleeding, and he was saying, just mumbling things to himself. But they didn’t know, you know—cops picked him up and what’s going on here? Did he hurt somebody? Did he hurt himself?” Um, and he ended up in jail and he had a heart attack when he was in jail. This is a thirty-something-year-old beautiful man. Just, you know, and he was an ex-athlete, professional athlete.

Paul: Really?

Kerri: Yeah, and …

Paul: What was his sport?

Kerri: Baseball. He was a professional baseball pitcher.

Paul: He played in the major leagues?

Kerri: He played for a minute in the major leagues. Um, but, his cocaine addiction, which started when we was apparently very young, very, very young, from some coaches. So, you know—

Paul: Did he die from a heart attack?

Kerri: He did not, he did not die, um, and I still don’t know, uh, how he’s doing. I hear from people from that circle once every couple years and I’ll say, “Have you seen him?” And they’ll say, “Yeah, you know, he came—he showed back up and he’s pulling it together.” And so I-I, you know, pray for him sometimes that, uh, that I’ll hear through the grapevine, you know, good news. But it was, it was very sad, very scary, um. It was a side of the world and of people that I only saw on the news and, um, I really feel for him.

Paul: Uh, and so how did you eventually leave him? Was it difficult? Was it easy?

Kerri: We had a dress, we had a wedding cake, we had a deposit on a place, and I was sitting, on my cell phone, in the car, on the phone with my mother, shaking and crying. And she had been begging me not to do this, and I-I just had a moment of clarity and I said, “I can’t do this, will you help me go. I can’t do this.” And uh …

Paul: Will you help me go …?

Kerri: Get out.

Paul: ok

Kerri: And, and, uh, she did and I-I, you know, here I am with this—several successful television shows under my belt, major motion pictures, I have three albums, two are with Neil Young, you know, I have this great life. And here I am hiding at my mother’s condominium, you know, just broken and in fear, and, and, uh, really sad. And then I met my husband—no, no, not right then did I meet my husband, then I—

Paul: He was also hiding in your mother’s condo.

Kerri: He was hiding—that—it was my mother’s boyfriend, which was perfect, um, cuz nobody had to move. Um, no, I-I then had some time alone, thank God, and sort of got my bearings.

Paul: And had you been in a support group at this time?

Kerri: I had been, yeah, I had been. It was enormously vital to me. Those people, that world.

Paul: W-what are some things that you learned there, because I haven’t talked to many people, uh, on this show about—who struggle with enabling or who have been drawn to people who have too much chaos or drama.

Kerri: You know what I learned? I learned something that I need to remind myself every day in my perfectly normal, mundane life that I have now. Which is mind your own damn business. And I do it all the time. It’s a fine line when you have a child. Because you don’t mind your business at the right time and they fall off the edge of a bridge, or they get hit by a car, or they choke. So it’s a tough struggle when you’re a parent because you can’t completely mind your own business, um, but, you know, certainly, uh, y—the—because you really are responsible for somebody’s life.

Paul: Right.

Kerri: You know, when you’re in this program and you’re talking about, you know, let this person go, detach with love, let them have their experience, you can’t—you have no control over them, that doesn’t apply when you have a child. You know, it doesn’t, um. If I took my newborn and just let him be, you know, then I would be in prison and we would be nowhere. But, um …

Paul: He would be raised by wonderful supportive wolves.

Kerri: Wolves, yeah, which, you know, he may be better off at this point, I don’t know.

Paul: But as far as a relationship w-with other adults, um, you know, you talked about detaching with love, um, letting them have their journey, uh, learned something—when I first got sober, you know, you meet a lot of people whose wreckage is awful and they need money, and I wanted to save people. And I was working in television then and I had money so I started lending all of the people money.

Kerri: Oh, how smart.

Paul: And people were like, “You shouldn’t be doing that.” But I had to learn my own lesson. I had to lend out too much money, not get paid back, and see a lot of these people relapse because their bottom had been made easier. I had softened the pain of their bad decisions.

Kerri: Well you kept them from their ultimate bottom.

Paul: I did. I did.

Kerri: You were doing a disservice. And that’s hard to believe when I person you love is looking at you in the eye and saying, “Please, please, I need this money.”

Paul: I have no place to stay.

Kerri: Where am I gonna eat? What am I gonna eat? And for you to have to look somebody in the eye and say, “I’m sorry, I love you, no.” that is—

Paul: I’m here emotionally for you, I love you.

Kerri: Not even, to a certain extent. And there’s even a line to that. That’s, you know, Herculean. And I wasn’t always good at it, clearly. I mean, my boundaries were all over the place. But that’s mostly what I learned there. And it applies so beautifully to the rest of life. In fact I’m glad we’re having this conversation today because it’s, it reminds me. There’s all kinds of fun little sayings, you know, um, that, uh, apply, that are not just about addiction, they’re about everyday life, you know. Just mind your own business and let go of the result, you know. Talk about, you know, worrying and, you know, I have no control. I have no control of you. I have no control of tomorrow. I have no control of ten minutes from now. Um, I just show up, I do the next indicated thing that’s expected of me that I said I would show up for, and I leave the results up to the universe. It’s all we can all do.

Paul: And it is hard to know when to help somebody or when to detach. And could you, could you elaborate on when you know somebody—you should help somebody or when that help is actually hurting them? Where it looks like help but it’s really not.

Kerri: Yeah. I mean I don’t, um, have the solid, you know, be all, end all answer for that. My experience has been, if I am helping someone to, and I have, to get to rehab, or to, um, make it to a meeting on time, or to, um, you know—you don’t pay people’s bills, um, that’s not helping. Y-you don’t clean up their messes. You don’t apologize to people for them. It’s just like having a child, you know, if I jump in every time my son has an issue on the playground, I am not giving him the opportunity to learn how to walk through that situation. I’m doing him a disservice. And just, you know, addicts have, you know, we all do, moments o-of immaturity.

Paul: Moments?!

Kerri: Where they don’t know because t-they’ve never walked through those things before.

Paul: You’re very kind. You’re very kind. Yes, they’re children. They’re children in adult bodies.

Kerri: We all do. We all do in many different situations.

Paul: B-but addicts, it’s, it is, um, a strung together, uh, life of immature moments. And they can’t see the immaturity in that.

Kerri: Right.

Paul: B-but by drawing those boundaries, you are helping them awaken to the fact.

Kerri: Oh well the other thing is, you know, that it often comes with a large ego. And I’m certainly guilty of that. You know, that’s part of it, I can’t say that, you know, I certainly have an addictive personality. There’s no doubt about it. I’m not drawing the line in the sand and saying me and them, me and you. Because it’s not that way.

Paul: And it’s its own drug, helping people, being a codependent is certainly its own drug.

Kerri: I’ve got a billion of them, you know, I—they’re—some are larger than others. I think, I think a lot of people do to a certain extent. Um, i-it’s certainly in my blood. I’m capable of—you know, there’s reasons I haven’t tried certain drugs in my, in my college days because I have a feeling, you know, there’s that little thing in the back of my head that goes you’re—you could be one of those guys, you know. Um, but, you know, I don’t judge in that sense and say, you know, you people have this problem. I have that problem, yeah, of being a fixer, being a planner, being a worrier. All of those things. Those are addictive and are—you know, can be as well.

Paul: And there can be an arrogance to that too. Because …

Kerri: Hugely! It’s disgusting and at times when, you know, that’s why it’s important to me to point that out. Because it’s just, it’s so gross, you know, I-I am guilty of that thing which they often say about addicts, which is, um big ego, no self esteem. I mean, I, you know, I’m the first one to say, “Why didn’t I get in …?” Or you know, “I wish I, you know, I wish I could have been invited to that party, you know, but I get why they didn’t invite me, I’m probably not good enough, you know. But how dare they! You know, what is wrong with you that you …” It’s like, ugh, it’s so exhausting.

Paul: It’s just another way of making it all about you. Even if you’re the piece of shit in it, it’s till about you.

Kerri: That’s right.

Paul: And the fixing of people has its own arrogance i-in that they can’t make it without me.

Kerri: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it was fun, I’m sure it was fun for the old timers to watch me come in and go through that, and then once I sort of got that, it was fun for me to watch new people come in and think, you know, “Wait till you realize what it is that you’re saying.” It’s pretty fun.

Paul: Yeah, and you—and they have this exasperated kind of quality to their vomiting up what their life is as if nobody has any idea. And you just want to go, “Sit down. Shut the fuck up. Keep your ears open, you’re gonna hear your story.”

Kerri: Right, right, right. I had—there was an old timer who told me that. Just sit down and shut up and listen, that’s it. And I remember thinking, “What is—how dare you! I have a story! My story!” And meanwhile then you do, you sit down and you shut up and then the woman next to you, you know, her husband killed their baby in a drunken accident. It’s like, you know, the arrogance is, it’s part of it all. It circles around all the, you know, it’s a family disease. It’s a family disease.

Paul: Do you want to do a, uh, a fear-off?

Kerri: Yeah, sure!

Paul: Are there any other moments that I’m skipping over? Any other seminal moments?

Kerri: No, I mean, uh, then my life gets pretty boring and wonderful, you know. You’ll hear in my fears what my, my current, you know, fear world is like, but …

Paul: And, uh, the way we do it is we just kind of bounce back and forth with these.

Kerri: Ok

Paul: We don’t necessarily have to comment on each other’s unless you feel like y-you want to.

Kerri: Ok.

Paul: Would you like to start?

Kerri: Sure. Uh, about an hour before they call wrap on a film or TV show that I’m shooting, I will begin to fear that I will never work again.

Paul: Uh, I fear I will die feeling ignored, in pain, uninsured and invisible. That’s not dramatic.

Kerri: I love uninsured.

Paul: I should really read that with my—with the back of my hand against my forehead.

Kerri: (laughs) I fear idle time. I dream of having nothing to do when I’m working but the second I’m finished I’m terrified into numbness and inactivity.

Paul: It’s amazing how the brain will just make you fucked no matter what your situation is. Unbelievable.

Uh, I’m afraid I’m making this podcast too serious and self-important and it’s turning more people off than it’s attracting.

Kerri: I’m afraid of snakes. I think they’re the devil. My reaction to them, even just a photo of them, is primal. When I was a kid and had my first babysitter, my mom said, “There’s a surprise waiting for you on your bed.” My dad jokingly leaned over and whispered, “It’s a snake.” And it scared the hell out of me for the rest of my life.

Paul: Wow, that’s funny. Uh, I’m afraid that some of my favorite guests will never come back to be guests again.

Kerri: Mmmm. I’m afraid of not being invited to things. I’m more afraid when I have been invited.

Paul: Really?

Kerri: Yes. That I won’t be a good guest. I won’t live up to the image of the good guest.

Paul: Wow.

Kerri: They’ll regret having invited me.

Paul: Oh, wow. Uh, I’m afraid people are going through our garbage stealing our identities and all the damage has been done, I just haven’t out yet.

Kerri: Mmm-hmmm. That’s true, it is happening. You don’t have fear that, it’s real. I fear the day that my son gets his heart broken for the first time. I fear that I may hunt the girl down and publicly humiliate her.

Paul: Uh, I am going to go to some listeners’ fears now, uh, since I’ve probably done a couple hundred of my fears on this show and I don’t want to repeat any. These are the fears of Jonah. He writes, uh, “I’m afraid that I’m squandering my potential and being selfish instead of helping the world to be a better place.”

Kerri: Hmmm. I think if you just have an awareness of that, you’re in the—a lot of people don’t even feel—don’t have an awareness of that. Um, I fear being arrested for something I didn’t do. I’ve never stolen anything in my life and yet every time I walk through a sensor at a store, I can’t breathe. I’m sure I’ve put something in my pocket without thinking or left someone on from the dressing room.

Paul: That is so common. I go through the same thing. I can breathe when I do it, but I think that same thing. And a lot of times I’ll walk out of the store extra slow, like to say, “If I had stolen something would I be walking this slow?”

Kerri: I do the same thing. Make eye contact.

Paul: Uh, Jonah writes, “I’m afraid that I’m wasting my energy by typing these fears.”

Kerri: (laughs) I have a fear of closed in spaces. I am claustrophobic. Add water to the equation and it’s less of fear and more of an obsessed terror. My idea of hell – a submarine.

Paul: Oh, God. “I’m afraid that I’m a narcissistic egomaniac and that’s the reason that I’m typing these fears, in the hopes that they will broadcast around the internet.”

Kerri: I’m afraid sometimes that I’m not good at what I do. That the Acting Police are going to tap me on my shoulder one day and say, “Excuse me, ma’am, you’ll need to return that costume and wig. We’ve found you out. Nice try.”

Paul: (laughs) Uh, Jonah writes, “I’m afraid that I’ve destroyed my brain with pot.”

Kerri: I have one more. I’m afraid for the day that my son finds out I’m just a regular powerless human being like everyone else.

Paul: Oh that’s beautiful. I think w-we’ll end the fear-off on that one and go right into, uh, into loves, unless there was a fear that you wanted to expand on or talk about.

Kerri: No, I’m afraid that’s it.

Paul: (laughs) Uh, I am going to—I’ve got a couple of—why don’t you, why don’t you kick it off with, uh, with your first love?

Kerri: Well you can’t start it off without saying that you love your child and your husband, but, um, that’s not all that interesting, but it’s true. But I, uh, I’ll go right into, even though I’m a baker, I love anything with processed sugar: Nerds, circus peanuts, cotton candy, anything that could last through the Apocalypse and live longer than a cockroach.

Paul: (laughs) I love, uh, golfing with my friend Jimmy Pardo and us making fun of each other and how bad we are.

Kerri: I love falling asleep to the sound of other people talking in the next room. It reminds me of being a little girl in the summer in Illinois listening to my grandparents and aunts and uncles playing board games after my bedtime. It feels safe.

Paul: Uh, I love when my friend Mike Schmidt is on a roll telling a story.

Kerri: I love rainy days where I can stay in bed with my entire family.

Paul: Uh, I love when my friend Pat Francis says something that is both stupid and genius at the same time.

Kerri: I love New York City. It’s where my heart is. Sometimes I watch the live webcams of New York streets and imagine I still live there. I imagine what I’d be wearing that day, what I’d eat that night, and what I would do the next day.

Paul: I love when I think I have to return something but then just by changing, uh, a switch it works and I don’t have to.

Kerri: I love Christmas and I am a Christmas fanatic. I listen to Christmas music in my car in August when I’m feeling depressed.

Paul: I love having lunch with a friend.

Kerri: Uh, I love looking into people’s windows at night. Not in a creepy sexual way, but in a very mundane daily, slice-of-life kind of way. I love walking down the street and seeing snapshots of people’s lives. It’s like a short play. Someone pouring coffee, changing the channel on the TV, reading a magazine. I love the movie Rear Window for this reason.

Paul: Oh that’s beautiful. Uh, I love watching my wife enjoy a new dish that makes her happy.

Kerri: I love the smell of plastic. Shower curtains, three ring binders, fresh new plastic.

Paul: Really?

Kerri: Fresh new plastic.

Paul: Oh my God, I can’t stand the smell of new plastic. Well, certain—like new car plastic is OK, but, uh—

Kerri: You’re specific about your plastic, yeah.

Paul: I love when my dogs look like they’re daydreaming.

Kerri: I love the sound of my son’s laugh. It’s the best sound in the world to me.

Paul: I love ice cream sandwiches when they’re just starting to melt.

Kerri: Mmmm. Ok, this is my last one. I love watching my son discover things for the first time and how his face lights up. The first time he saw a tiny umbrella in a drink it was like Santa had just walked into the room. It reminds me to appreciate the little things.

Paul: That’s beautiful. Uh, and I’ll finish with this one. Uh, I love making something in my workshop and just as my energy starts to sag, my iPod plays some salsa by Hector Lavoe, and I start shuffling my feet and laughing at myself at the same time.

Kerri Kenney-Silver, thank you so much for being a guest on this and for opening up, and, um, is there anything you want to plug for the six people that listen to the show?

Kerri: Um, what do I have next? I have a movie—I’m gonna be on Chelsea Lately, but I am every few weeks, but I have a movie coming out in October called Fun Size.

Paul: Cool.

Kerri: Ana Gasteyer and I play lesbian moms. It’s a riot.

Paul: Awesome.

Kerri: Yeah.

Paul: Thank you so much for coming on.

Kerri: Thank you.

Paul: Many thanks to Kerri Kenney-Silver for, uh, for a great episode, being so, uh, so nice as to, uh, come on my podcast having no fucking idea who I am.

Um, before I take it out with a couple of surveys, wanna remind you guys that there are different ways to support the show if you feel so inclined. You can support it financially by going to the website, mentalpod.com and either making a single or a monthly recurring, uh, donation via PayPal. I love the monthly donors, thank you so much. And, uh, you can also support it by, uh, the next time you buy something from Amazon, do it through the little search box on our front home page, it’s on the right hand side about half way down. That way we get a couple nickels, doesn’t cost you anything. You can also buy a t-shirt on our website. You can support us non-financially by going to iTunes and giving us a good rating. That, uh, boosts our ranking and brings more people to the show. And you can support it by, uh, spreading the word on social media. Uh, I’ve noticed, uh, quite a few of you have been saying nice things about it on Facebook and we’ve been getting some traffic from that and that makes me really happy. So thank you very much, I appreciate that.

Um, I think that’s about it. I am going to read a survey, this was filled out by, uh, a guy who’s straight, he’s in his 40’s, he calls himself Any Man, he was raised in an environment that was a little dysfunctional. Has never been sexually abused. “Deepest, darkest thoughts?” He writes, “I can’t think of anything.”

“What sexual fantasies are most powerful to you?” He writes, “I often fantasize about kidnapping young women who are about 18 to 21, who are wearing swimsuits or some clothing where their legs are exposed. In these fantasies I usually carry them off in my arms, usually from the side of a pool or sometimes I carry them off from their beds or just after they’ve come out of a room. I inform them that I am kidnapping them and I will pick them up and carry them. As I’m carrying them away, I ask their name and tell them how they feel great in my arms and how nice their legs feel. They go willingly and usually ask me where I am taking them. I tell them I’m carrying them off to make love to them, and a woman as beautiful as they are, and wearing what they are wearing needs to be carried. Of course I’d never actually act on these fantasies unless I was with a woman who was into role-playing as I was back in college. She enjoyed acting out kidnapping fantasies just as I describe above.”

“Would you ever consider telling a partner or close friend your fantasies?” He writes, “Yes, my wife knows. During sex I’ll even tell her how I’d kidnap her. It really turns her on and she’ll even act like she’s tied up although we never have actually done that.” I don’t know, that just makes me smile. That this guy has, he has thought, that were not, I’m sure, planted there—in there by himself, that’s—he didn’t choose that that’s what turns him on, but that’s what turns him on and he’s found a healthy way to deal with it. He shares it with another person and it sounds like that brings them closer together. And, um, and if his wife ever decides that she doesn’t like to do that, he can pick her up and carry her to the basement and lock her down there. I don’t like how that turned out.

I’m gonna, I’m gonna take it out with a, uh, this is from our Happiest Moments survey, and this was filled out by a guy who calls himself David R. Johnson (fake). Uh, “Share one or two of your happiest moments.” He writes, finally accepting that life is finite. That some day I’ll die. Just not having the worry that I haven’t lived enough, done enough good, has changed my life. Everything is better. Not thinking it’s a race to be the best. Also, finally finding out that high school really didn’t matter in life. And knowing that I’m the only one that remembers my most embarrassing moments. Everybody is way too involved in their lives to even remember that place. Joy.”

Thank you for that great, uh, that great memory. Thank you guys for listening. And, uh, anybody out there that’s feeling stuck or hopeless, there is hope. If you’re just willing to get out of your comfort zone, and ask for help. Those are the three most important words in my life, I truly believe I would not be here today if I hadn’t said, “I need help.” So, um, it’s not the end, asking for help. It’s usually the beginning. So thanks for listening. And you are not alone.

[SHOW OUTRO]