Laura House (Live @ LAPodfest)

Laura House (Live @ LAPodfest)

The meditation teacher, standup comedian and writer (Samantha Who?) talks about her struggles with alcohol, food, weight, low self-esteem, relationships and what she gets from support groups and meditation.   Recorded live @ LAPodfest.   To watch this episode and all the other podcasts (lots of great ones) from LAPodfest go to www.lapodfest.com/live and use offer code Gilmartin to get $5 off ($25 is full price).   The episodes are available to view until Oct 17th.

And by the way, this is a picture of her bitter old granny.

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Episode:

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Episode notes:

To watch this episode and all the other podcasts (lots of great ones) from LAPodfest go to www.lapodfest.com/live and use offer code Gilmartin to get $5 off ($25 is full price).   The episodes are available to view until Oct 17th.

Follow Laura on twitter @IMLauraHouse   Visit her website www.laurahouse.com  and if you live in L.A., learn meditation from her!

Episode Transcript:

Host: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the third annual LA Podcast Festival. How’s everybody doing? It is my great pleasure to introduce your host for the mental illness happy hour - your host, Paul Gilmartin.

Paul: Ladies and Gentleman, Laura house, my guest. We thank you guys for coming to hear us. I’ve been meaning to have Laura on for a long time, and I was sitting at my little favorite coffee place stroking my chin -- hoping Rodin was going to sculpt me -- and I was thinking “Who should I get to be my guest?” and I swear to god Laura walks up, “Hey Paul! How you doing?” --

 

Laura: -- He secreted me. He was gluing pictures of my head to his vision board. I walked up with a cappuccino, “hello Paul. Did you need something?” We’re very incredibly connected.

 

Paul: Yes! I’m so glad that you are here, and I’m glad you guys are here! I really love doing live recordings because there’s just something so nice of having the energy of the audience being disappointed in person. It’s a special flavor that’s different than family! Family I expect it, but here you get my hopes up before you crush me --

 

Laura: -- “Ah, who brought cranberries …”

 

Paul: (Laughs) No, but I always enjoy doing live recording because you guys are so nice and supportive and -- and there’s something so cool about walking through the hotel and having people stop you and saying what they enjoy about the podcast. It’s really -- I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, podcasting is so fucking awesome. And how about a hand for the LA Podfest?

 

(Audience clapping)

 

Paul: -- They put so much effort into it, and every year it gets better and better and certainly wasn’t hard to make an improvement over last year’s hotel… but I’m diggin’ the food, it’s so nice and we’re at such a great area, we’re at the Hotel Sofitel [sp?] -- and I didn’t know that the staff doesn’t speak English, they only speak French. Which I think is a terrible oversight -- and they don’t like Americans! So it’s really French. But it’s nice. And we’re live video streaming right now, and if you’re listening to the audio of this regularly released -- episode from September 26th until three weeks after it, this is available as a video stream and you can go to lapodfest.com/live and it’s $25. You can see all the podcasts that are there, and $5 off if you use the offer code ‘Gilmartin.’ And there’s so much to see if you’re watching video of this. You can see --

 

(Audience laughing)

 

Paul: -- I’m not going to tell you what you’re missing! Not gunna tell you what you’re missing … It’s nice because you can see the crow’s feet on my face from the heavy e-mails that I read. This one right here is from stories of people being molested --

 

Laura: -- Oh boy…

 

Paul: This one is from suicide attempts, and this one is just from people who have no hope.

 

Laura: Just one?

 

Paul: Just one - just the one.

 

Laura: Like Hello Kitty up, but too high.

 

(Paul laughs)

Paul: So Laura, where would be a good place to disappoint?

 

Laura: well let’s just dive in here!

 

Paul: Yeah, you’re a comedy writer? --

Laura: -- What isn’t wrong with me?

 

Paul: (Pause) Well, should we start with that?

 

Laura: Yes. Self esteem --

 

Paul: -- What’s good about you? Let’s get the quick part over with.

 

Laura: Well first give me resume so people will know how impressed to not be.

 

Paul: What have you written on that people might know?

 

Laura: Emmy winning ‘Samantha Who?’ Mom, the Chuck Laury show that came out last year. The George Lopez show, Blue Collar TV. I starred in a show on MTV called Austin Stories. A long time ago -- thank you. It was their first fully scripted sitcom. and I’ve done a lot of standup and sold some shows -- I’m about to work on a Nickelodeon show.

 

Paul: Cool! You teach meditation but I don’t wanna get to that yet because I want to talk about the fucked up before we get to the things that help the fucked up --

 

Laura: -- It’s more of the happy ending.

 

Paul: Yeah. So what was your childhood like, where were you raised?

 

Laura: I’m from a suburb of -- this is so interesting to know where to look, split the difference? Just wall-eye? I’m like, “I should really connect with you, but look at all these people!” I just wanna talk to you. I’ll figure it out.

 

Paul: Make love to the camera, Laura. Those of us that are on the other side of the camera, that’s what we do, we make love to the camera.

 

Laura: Alright … First I’ll get the camera drunk. Then no problem. -- I grew up in suburb of Dallas, Grand Prairie, Texas, go Gophers! And, I don’t even know if it was normal or weird, it was, I guess it was both. Two parents, two kids, --

 

[sirens in the background]

 

Paul: Lots of sirens.

 

Laura: Yeah! I’m real used to this. I feel like they’re after something water main-related. There was a weird water main -- this is a town where like sirens go off because … there’s water flowing in the street.

 

Paul: For our listening audience, I don’t know if you could hear, but there were loud sirens in the background. Sometimes I like to --

 

Laura: I’ll bet they contextualize -- really put that together. “I can’t hear anything, but I’m gunna guess there were sirens. Oh, thank god Paul said something. Augh, thank god.” They’re mid e-mail, “Dear Paul, what was -- oh, oh no, he said it” --

 

Paul: Welcome to my brain, Laura!

 

Laura: -- “Just delete that tweet, I’ll just delete it. Glad he circled back on that one.” I turn into Brian Regan [sp] sometimes, I can’t help it. Stand up-wise I’m just “Oh, what are you, from the future?” -- but yes, I’m from Grand Prairie, Texas. I have a brother whos a year and a half older, my mom was a teacher -- was that blue collar or low upper or high middle --

 

Paul: -- Lower middle class? High-five?

 

Laura: -- Yeah! High-five class. My dad worked for city hall, he was a civil engineer. We lived in the same house -- you know like we had those normal things. I’m adopted and I --

 

Paul: Were your siblings adopted?

 

Laura: Yeah, my brother's adopted also.

 

Paul: I’m adding siblings. I’m saying siblings even though theres just one…

 

Laura: No we were all two of us were both .. mmhmm. Big family of four. We were both adopted. So we’re not related. So I guess --

 

Paul: -- blood related.

 

Laura: Yeah, I guess blood related.

 

Paul: You didn’t let him in the house, that’s why you didn’t consider him related?

 

Laura: [pause] if someone’s in your house you’re related to them?

 

Paul: [pause] I don’t know --

 

Laura: “I’ve been related to this dog for 11 years!”

 

Paul: -- I’ll be over here if you need me --

 

Laura: I’ve been writing about this lately, being adopted, and -- I don’t know if that’s where stuff starts, but for me I’ve never met someone I’m related to. I’ve never met anyone that the same blood flows through our veins.

 

Paul: Does that feel like a loss? -- On a certain level?

 

Laura: Yeah. It feels like I’m not connected, it feels untethered. And it always has. So that’s what’s funny to me. I’m sober, so you have time when you’re not drinking to get into all your nonsense, and the thought comes up and you have to wrestle with that for three weeks -- or whatever. But what I’ve noticed for me that I think is weird is I was in a home where I was loved, and I was told I was loved. Y’know, my dad was cranky, but he was born in the ‘30s. He wasn’t a mean person, --

 

Paul: -- He had a reason to be cranky.

 

Laura: Well I just mean he wasn’t raised -- like when I see my guy friends have kids and they’re just like “oh I’m crazy about my kid” and -- when that first started happening I would just cry. Guys my age would talk about their kids, because I was like ‘Did my dad ever talk about me like that? Did he feel it? Or did he --’

 

Paul: Were you crying because you felt sad for your childhood or because joy that men were changing?

 

Laura: Less about overall ‘men were changing,’ but that is just so sweet to see a man so emotionally involved in their kid. I think maybe a little bit of like I don’t feel like that, also I don’t know because your memory is so not clear. There’s pictures of my dad holding me and smiling so it’s not like I can say he never did. But if I were to describe how I felt as a kid, I remember my mom saying she loved me. I was like five or six and inside I was like “ … you don’t mean that.” There’s no reason for me to be -- I’m just made that way. There was no reason for me to be like that and now … okay, adoption works like this; you all know, but this is how I saw it and processed it. So people who can’t have kids go to the adoption agency they sign up for kids, and then at the adoption agency is people who have kids they don’t want sign up over here -- so you just get matched. So this couple is next in line for the next boy, you just get matched like that. When they go “oh you’re adopted, you’re chosen” you’re not chosen! There was no audition, they didn’t like bring home five babies and then go “you were the best baby from the very beginning …”

 

Paul: -- You’re a deli ticket!

 

Laura: Yeah! You’re a deli ticket! You’re absolutely are! If my parents --

 

Paul: -- Take that to heart, adoptees …

 

[audience laughing]

 

Paul: You’re a fucking deli ticket with legs. And you sicken me.

 

Laura: -- Yo, I’m the half pound of salami in the deli of life.

 

Paul: Being served by a bitter Mickey Rourke.

 

Laura: Yeah, they’re just like “26? Next? Baby?” Yeah, it was exactly as if she was like “Oh, I love you, half pound of turkey…” No, you were just -- whatever. That doesn’t hold up because that’s not what takes your number -- anyway. But I just felt even as a child I was like ‘If you had gotten a different baby, you would be telling that baby you love it!’ -- At six, at seven, at ten. And as a kid that’s not normal. That’s not healthy for a five year old -- so existential.

 

Paul: But don’t you think with a lot of kids, some version of that thought probably flashes through their brain? Because a little part of them, in their simplistic child brain thinks “Well if an adult could have given me up, how deeply could this adult really love me? Maybe that’s how adults feel about children.” Does that make sense?

 

Laura: I’m not sure -- I to this day understand it was personal, of an adult giving me up --

 

Paul: -- it was business.

[audience laughs]

 

Laura: It was all business. She was like [pause]. People without video will never know the hilarious thing I just did. -- but she had never met me either. It’s not like she had me for three months and then decided on adoption, that’d be somethin’.

 

Paul: That happens!

 

Laura: I’m sure it does! That’s gotta be very hard to get over!

 

Paul: Super, super hard. And a lot of times there's an addiction and I think the kid, yknow, until they understand the power of addiction, how could they not take it personally? It breaks my heart to think of how that must affect people's’ self-esteem.

 

Laura: Yeah, it’s also strange. And here’s what's interesting to me; I’ve had these feelings my whole life, and every now and then -- my mother was very sweet -- and she was a 7th grade teacher. My mom was a teacher at the school where I went, which … that’s not fun. But she’s a nice person. But one time around that age, like 13, when you’re going to say the most horrible thing ever to your mother, my most horrible thing was like ‘you’re not really even my mother.’ And I still feel bad about it and regret saying it and never said it again. -- She didn’t even want to think that we were adopted, it was just like “you’re my kids!” and she just wanted to have kids and her body couldn’t. She wanted to have a bunch of kids and this is what happened. My brother -- here’s what’s so funny to me -- for me it’s been a plague; ‘I have no one, I’ve never looked into eyes that were my eyes --’ it’s very dramatic to me. [pause] My brother has not asked about it one time. Does not bother him at all, if I brought it up it was almost like he was like “Ah, we were adopted!” He was just --

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: He’s completely well adjusted, went hunting with Dad, like not a problem. And I was like ‘Nobody understands me! I’m like an alien!’ -- When the Muppets go to space,

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: and -- spoiler alert -- but Gonzo, who’s always been my favorite, he was from another planet! He didn’t know! He was like, “what am I? Nothing else is blue with a thing! You’re a frog, you’re a pig, what am I!?” And there’s a whole planet where everyone looks like Gonzo, and they’re like “you can come stay with --” I mean, the Muppets are now his family, he stayed. But I watched that [pause] recently! I watched that within the past year and was just crying! ‘It does feel that way and you don’t know what you are and what if there’s a planet where everyone’s like me!’ -- I’m a Gonzo. And now I understand, now that I know other people, you know, who drank a lot … Anybody in addiction, it’s my understanding that they sort of find something, like, “Well, we were Irish” or “we were too rich.” Everybody has some -- you know like I was like “I was in Alaska, of course I did this thing.” -- But mine was adoption. So now I know it kind of doesn’t even matter. I’m sure I would have found something.

 

Paul: Do you feel like maybe it was a way of you trying to find a way to put that emptiness that most addicts feel by the time they’re, you know, four or five years old -- would it make sense that the emptiness and addiction is just genetically there.

 

Laura: Yeah it may just be whatever is around you, you’re just going to be like “well it’s the ‘70s! So of course I feel this way.”

 

Paul: “Why is my room off-white? I hate eggshell--”

 

Laura: Yeah, “everything was too eggshell in my house!” It probably was just to go ‘oh, I must feel this way because I’m adopted.’

 

Paul: So give me some seminal moments from childhood. Things that kind of were etched into your memory -- they don’t have to be huge. Sometimes it can be something where you’re just like, “why did that stick in my mind?”

 

Laura: [pause] I have a book due in December --

 

Paul: -- at the library?

 

Laura: Yes.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: I have a library, you can check it out for 6 months at a time. -- But a book that I’m writing. A lot of these personal essays and stuff. So I actually have been thinking about this stuff more than is good probably. One thing is I had a terrible grandmother. A really nice mother, but her mother was a real asshole. I didn’t have the word when I was little, but --

 

Paul: -- cunt?

 

Laura: I know that’s your word, and I don’t know if that’s because you love England and they just say it all the time there, it’s no big deal? And you’re like “Oh I’m just gunna drop that aspect of the English culture!” Do you like fish and chips? “No, but there’s a certain word that I just want to wheel around. It makes people real mad here!”

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: But she definitely was, she definitely was that. But I would also say anorexic, and I didn’t know that word at the time. I’m stocky, my mom is stocky, but she was normal sized, and me and my brother were all -- my family, we look alike. Which is weird, it’s even weirder if you see a picture of us and you’re like, “you cannot be adopted.” My brother and I absolutely look alike, and my mom just felt like, “Good!” Honestly, they just never wanted to think about us being adopted, and I brought it up constantly anyway. -- But we had this grandmother who would just sit, and we had a nice grandmother who lived a couple of hours drive away, and then the mean grandmother lived like three blocks. Which was the worst! And she would sit at the table, and she really just had this sweater hanging off of bones -- she would just smoke and have a very -- always trying to be very fancy, her hair always done and just read People Magazine. Just having a glamour complex when we’re just in Grand Prairie being normal people. My family is just normal people, but she would smoke on the end of a filter and she would just sit -- I was 8 years old -- I look at kids now and I was normal sized. Were there skinnier kids than me? Yes. But I was a normal sized girl. And she was like, “you know what you should do? If I were you I’d make a girdle out of an inner tube, and then the boys will like you.” If I were thinner, then boys would like me! I was 8 years old. And there’s so many horrible messages in that. When you’re told directly that you’re not loveable as you are, you must change, and it’s very important to have validation from men.

 

Paul: -- and don’t forget water sports.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: and it’s good to know a trade! Girdle-making might make a comeback. And there’s lots of old tires in the world, I’m looking out for your future!

 

Paul: You know, we make fun but that is fucking horrible. Do you remember what you thought or felt when she said that?

 

Laura: Upset! [yelling]

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: I’m not gunna lie to ya Paul! I didn’t like it! I felt like much nicer things had been said to me by other people, like, “you won the spelling bee! You’re very smart!” I prefer that information.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: I did not like this at all.

 

Paul: [laughing] was there something specific though that you thought, like, “this is a mean woman” or “oh my god I really am that way?” or some of both? Because kids a lot of times will just that all adults speak the truth and you take it all on.

 

Laura: Well there were a couple things. My brother and I knew we didn’t like her. It wasn’t like she was someone I loved and trusted and then she turned on me and said this horrible thing. We knew we didn’t enjoy her. I think there was a certain amount of like, ‘what?’ seemed unnecessary. And I think in some ways I kind of have always been a little bit funny, so I think I may have gone to the other room and watched TV, or something! But I definitely took it in because it’s 90 years later and I still talk about it. I definitely took it in. Here’s what’s horrible about that kind of statement, no matter where its coming from: The things that I took from it, again, “you’re not loveable as you are, you need to be smaller, you need to take up less space, no one will love you unless you’re small.” That was something that I got. “It’s very important that men love you, no one will love you unless you’re small.” There’s a lot of support in our culture for those thoughts --

 

Paul: -- you think?

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: I’m gunna go out on a limb here.

 

Paul: I love that we’re across the street from the Beverly Center.

 

Laura: We’re in Beverly Hills. -- Even if you wanna go, “I don’t like you so I reject what you say to me, I love myself,” you go to the grocery store and there’s a magazine that goes “Your granny was right!”

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: “‘Your Granny Was Right Weekly!’ ‘Your Granny Was Right Monthly!’” You go to school and its like “Steve is so cute, oh he likes her, ahh! She’s right everywhere!” And then when I was 10, building on this seminal moment, I would always have this push-pull of I don’t want to please her, I don’t like this person, she’s negative in my life, but I also want to be loved and accepted in the world, and I suspect what she’s saying is true in a way.

 

Paul: So is it fair to say that you believed her warped message but you just thought you’d prefer it come from a different messenger? It’s not that you wanted the message, but what I’m saying is -- you knew that she was a sick person but you still believed her? Is that what you’re saying?

 

Laura: Yeah I still believed the message -- and I also think this now as a grown up, that is true in a way? ‘You can be a reality star’ is one level of living. But a deeper truth that I think if my mom knew what that did to my head, I think she probably would have explained things to me better, which is: “Someone’s going to love you no matter what you look like. You absolutely do not have to change for anyone because there’s a lot of people in the world and you’re a fit for some. And you’ll love them, and they’ll love you and there’s someone for everyone.” Jackie Cation[sp?] says it so well when she’s like, “I’m not for everyone, but you only need one.” She says it better, but it’s such a great thought. But I think I had it in my head and I lived that way for a long of time. Like, ‘okay, it’s my job as a woman to make every guy in the world want to have sex with me. Then, I’ll choose some of them’ or something.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: I didn’t really understand it myself! But it’s such a weird message you get! You know you have to be desirable just overall! No, you find a few people in your life to enjoy…! One at a time. Or whatever, we all went to college.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Paul: I don’t think any of that --

 

Laura: -- right Paul?

 

Paul: -- Cheers. I don’t think any of us think about that profound thought that Jackie had. I think we all think about odds and probabilities and --

 

Laura: -- cast a wide net! and then, [pause] eh, they’ll stick around.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Paul: So clearly that must have affected your self-esteem and how you viewed yourself in the world? Was there a part of you that felt positively about yourself? So what it a battle?

 

Laura: What a great question. Yeah, it’s always been a battle, but I’ve never [pause] -- I thought I was smart and funny and cute, I knew I had good qualities. Also I have a mother that said nice things to me.

 

Paul: Your mothers a miracle, by the way.

 

Laura: My mother is wonderful, no, she is. This is our family tree; so granny -- Bernice -- had a sister, Pauline, and they were both dicks. Not nice. Pauline [pause] her daughter was not as nice as my mom. She’s cool now, she’s my cousin and she’s great but there was a bitchiness on that side. And my mom is absolutely --

 

Paul: -- Is she your cousin or your aunt?

 

Laura: She would have been my cousin because it was my great aunt’s daughter.

 

Paul: Oh, I was confused because I thought that you mean these ladies were grandmothers or sisters.

 

Laura: Yeah, they were sisters, so she would have been my mother’s cousin, she was my second cousin --

 

Paul: -- I’m so sorry I asked that question.

 

Laura: These are the kinds of questions everybody wants answered.

 

Paul: They wanna know the family tree. That’s not OCD coming in at all.

 

Laura: “It was Pauline--” “--she was who exactly? -- Now she was married to Uncle Dee you say?”

 

Paul: By the way, these are the moments I edit out of the podcast! That people that are watching the live version are getting treated to! Where Paul brings everything to a halt! ‘Cause he has issues! And he needs order to feel safe!

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: -- but my mom was really a nice person, and not so nice she was a doormat and not --

 

Paul: -- that’s amazing.

 

Laura: -- and she went out of her way to be like that.

 

Paul: Had she ever gotten any help or was it -- I mean, how does somebody like that in the absence of a role model or help break that cycle? Or was it just like she was like “I am gunna be everything that is the fucking opposite of that person that raised me?”

 

Laura: Yeah, I think it was maybe some of that. She certainly saw how we responded to Granny, but I think she had decided before that. Granny, she would tell me how attractive she used to be.

 

Paul: -- Maybe she was bitchy ‘cause you called her Granny.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: [pause] I didn’t invent that. That was somebody before me --

 

Paul: -- Are you sure?

 

Laura: What are we supposed to call her, “Maw Maw?”

 

Paul: Maybe you’re thinking of the Beverly Hillbillies. Were you thinking of an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies?

 

Laura: It was those times! Those were the times we lived in.

 

Paul: And it was Texas.

 

Laura: Yeah, it was Texas! We just said Granny! Supposed to call “Pop pop” and --

 

Paul: That always makes me -- “Mee Maw” and “Pap Paw”

 

Laura: That was one of the nicer things we called her.

 

Paul: -- Again, I’m bogging it down, this is something to be edited out.

 

Laura: You ask the weirdest questions. -- Yeah, I think my Mom would -- her husband left when my Mom was very young. So my Mom was raised by this single Mom in the ‘50s.

 

Paul: -- and a mean Mom.

 

Laura: Yeah, now here’s the thing. My Mom passed away years ago and I’ve become closer to my Father. We didn’t have a relationship most of my life, but after my Mom passed -- god bless him -- we met in the middle. It’s really beautiful, actually. So I hung out with my Dad and I asked him -- because I had a theory; well maybe Granny was cool, and then got bitter as she got older? And I asked him, and he goes, “Nah, I don’t think so …”

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: I was like, “Did she like you? Was she nicer?” and he goes, “Meh, I didn’t really think much of it.” [laughing] “I just think we just tried to stay out of each other’s way.” and I was like, ‘Well alright.’ Like, he didn’t have some sweet story of like, “well she had a tragic -- she was a wonderful person and then something very bad happened and everything changed,” it was like “Nah, just a jerk.”

 

Paul: [laughing] There was this neighbor that we had, they moved away a long time ago, but they had a Mother who was just the most unhappy looking human being you’ve ever seen. And she was kind of gaunt and very pale, and white hair, and she would just sit out in front of their house with just this glum look on her face every day. And just smoke cigarette after cigarette and never smile, and we [laughing] -- not to her face -- we started calling her “The Porch Ghost.”

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: “We only knew she was alive because it was real smoke.” “Are we imagining that person!?” “Nope, I can smell smoke!”

 

Paul: But your Granny, she sounds like The Porch Ghost.

 

Laura: Yeah, she would just smoke at us and I also got a weird message there of like, -- she’s telling me to be good-looking, and attract boys. --

 

Paul: -- hunched over, pale, smoking …

 

Laura: Yes, if you could have really high self-esteem when you were young you’d go, “I don’t think you’re one to tell me about looks! HA!” And skateboard away! “Mua ha ha!” and drinking Dr. Pepper, feeling good about yourself. “I’m beautiful! Someone will see it!”

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: But it was a weird message of her telling me to look good, but it didn’t do her any favors. So there’s a weird thing there of “maybe if you look really thin and beautiful you turn out like that.” So you’re like, ‘I’m trying to lose weight, I’m trying to be thin, -- maybe I don’t want that!” It’s really bizarre. The other thing that’s attached to that that’s kind of a big deal, and I think very sad now, now that I know kids this age, it’s horrifying to me. But I was 10 years old, and I went on a crash diet, and it was very much encouraged. Here’s to my Father’s credit, he never said anything bad to me about my looks, ever. He let me do this thing, but he wasn’t like “Oh good, finally” at all. In fact he kind of poked fun at me because it was -- I’ll tell you his joke later, it was funny -- but it was this 7 day cabbage soup diet, but at the time it was called The Dolly Parton Diet. Maybe because we were in Texas, give it a little flair. First I’d just eat fruit, and then vegetables -- then fruit then vegetables, milk and bananas -- you know obviously a nutritionist knew what the body needed. One day its beef and tomatoes, it really was like somebody wrote it in a newspaper on a dare. “Day 6, cereal and beets! Ha ha ha, they’ll do anything! Day 7, juggle shoes and eat chocolate!” I don’t know that it won’t work.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Paul: “On your last day, ride a turkey, but don’t eat it.”

 

Laura: “And that’s your test. If you can ride a turkey and not eat it.” What? -- Yeah, it was this thing. So, there was a really popular water park that we went to called White Water. And all my Dad said about this whole experience was -- because I went to White Water on the “just eat fruit” day or something, and he goes: “more like Brown Water.” ‘Cause he’s a Dad, and that’s a hilarious Dad joke. But even I look back at that as a gentle way of kind of not supporting this diet thing. I think my Granny supported it, and I think my Mom’s thing about weight was like “I think your life might be easier if you’re thin because that’s the world we live in, and I want that for you.” But it never came at me as like, “something’s definitely wrong with you and fall short unless you look a certain way” from her at all. But at 10 years old I lost 10 pounds in a week on this diet and Granny -- I’ve never seen her support me more. So that’s a really weird thing when you do this unhealthy, self-hating thing -- right? you’re depriving yourself and you’re a child, depriving yourself of nutrition and all kinds of things, do it in a self-hating way, and then you’re rewarded for it. Then, you go to the public pool and I remember some man -- didn’t touch me, but some leering -- I remember feeling very body conscious, and I just love to swim! I’m at the pool, but I remember feeling a danger I had not felt before in public of a man predator type --

 

Paul: -- looking at you other than a like a child.

 

Laura: Yeah, something like that. But also like, “I think that’s what's supposed to happen.” So it’s awful.

 

Paul: Sounds very confusing.

 

Laura: It's very confusing, because you’re like “I think men are supposed to -- but this is -- and I’m 10 years old!” You’re just supposed be coloring and reading Encyclopedia Brown, I don’t know. There’s probably been a couple of books written since then [laughing] Twilight I guess, just trying to update these. Judy Bloom … -- So I had kind of a normal home, and nice people, and we were provided for. But I had this inner turmoil, and specifically about looks and weight from these awful messages -- you know, stuff that came out of that.

 

Paul: I want to try and make sure that we leave enough time to cover all the big things and I do want to leave some time to talk about how important meditation has been to you. So what would be the next thing to talk about? The next area of your life or moment from your life or struggle?

 

Laura: I don’t know our time constraints, but if we want to just jump and go -- I kissed a lot of boys, and tried to get a lot of attention, I’m naturally sort of gregarious, I didn’t feel comfortable at home, my parents and my brother were all very quiet -- they’re quiet normal people. They don’t need applause. I really felt like an alien at home, but at school I felt funny --

 

Paul: -- were you popular?

 

Laura: Yeah, I was the funny popular. You know? There’s the beautiful blonde that’s instantly popular -- I was always amazed, it seemed like every other year or so there was just a girl who came from another school, and you know school politics, you’re supposed to start on the bottom. “Oh you’re from another school? We don’t know you.” But if it was a pretty girl? Straight to the popular table. And I was like ‘How does that work? Nobody asked me to sit over there! How does she know how to maneuver!’

 

 

 

Paul: She had an inner tube.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: That is one thing I never took with me, “Surprise girdle inner tube.” I never thought people who were successful were rockin’ an inner tube girdle.

 

Paul: So your sense of humor became a way for you to fit in? That’s kind of a cliche for comedians, but --

 

Laura: -- but if people are good at science or something, probably they get way better at science. You know, there’s a certain aptitude, I guess. I just remember, you know, when you’re young and whatevers on TV -- you’re going to gravitate towards something, and I just loved comedy. Steve Martin would do specials and I would go to school quoting them, and I don’t remember anyone else doing that. [laughs] In junior high school we had this stuff -- you know, our tapes and our walkman, -- I might as well just hand you my birth certificate.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: But I was listening to Eddie Murphy, and I was listening to Joan Rivers. I don’t think other people were -- I mean other people in the world were doing that but not in Grand Prairie.

 

Paul: I often feel that comedians -- we were funny because we had to be funny. I think there are people that choose to be funny, and yes, there’s a choice in deciding to be funny. But I think for a lot of us it was “oh the world is so much easier this way” as opposed to “I’m just a fan of comedy.”

 

Laura: But I wonder if it’s not just something you’re inherently -- like I’ve always been a good speller. -- I mentioned that spelling bee, you guys. I won from the whole school in fifth grade. -- Anyway, for example, but I never decided. I was never like “Oh i’m going to really learn to spell” or was more of like, I noticed other people were struggling with reading or spelling and was like “Nah, it’s real easy for me, I guess I’m good at it.” Then I just thought of myself as good at it. I think with comedy I don’t know if you go, “I have to be funny to deal with this” if you’re not funny. If something about you is into this thing, you grow in that direction or something.

 

Paul: Well for me I think the litmus test for it sometimes is: can you not be funny? When things get uncomfortable, can you be serious and be vulnerable? I think that’s the difference. For some of us we grew up having to be funny and then we learned a way to put that aside when we needed a real moment with somebody. So I guess what I’m asking is -- and I suppose I know the answer to this, because you’ve been sober a while, but are there times you find yourself going for the funny card but you’re like “oh no, this is a moment where I need to put that away and be vulnerable.”

 

Laura: Maybe. I actually like being vulnerable. It’s probably a recent development, I actually noticed that awhile back. I actually really like it. I like depth. I love when I hear somebody else say that thing that you’ve never heard anyone say but you’re like “me too” and the healing that happens there.

 

Paul: That’s the best.

 

Laura: Or vice versa. Saying that thing that people are like “I’ve never heard it put that way” or “I have that too.” I actually really like that. Also somebody told me really early on -- about sobriety specifically -- they were like, “I never try to be funny in there. I go there to save my life.” So really early on when it has to do with sobriety I don’t ever want to try to look good there, I just never did. So that was a gift I got, because I never feel like --

 

Paul: -- “Who am I, if I’m not funny”

 

Laura: Yeah! Also, I want relief. I want the relief that comes from healing, not the --

 

Paul: -- from attention.

 

Laura: Well, or not the putting it off that comes from making a joke out of it. I heard you talking on this to Aparna [sp?] and it was such a great interview, and you were like “is there anything you won’t tell a therapist?”

 

Paul: Did that make you uncomfortable?

 

Laura: -- Well I was just thinking in my own head, just made it about me [laughs] -- no, it didn’t make me uncomfortable, I love to go into my therapists and like, “this! Ugh, take it! It’s your job! I’m paying you!” [grunting sounds]

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: So when I go in I almost feel like she’s like “oh Jesus!” and I’m going, “and this, and this, and this, oh my hours up? Okay, okay … but there’s more!” “alright, come back next time.”

 

Paul: That’s why I’m always so blown away and frustrated on a certain level by people that hide stuff from their therapist, ‘cause I share everything.

 

Laura: I share most things with strangers! My therapist, she’s gunna get it. And then I laugh at myself, because then with a therapist, and I’ve said “I’ve never said this to anyone” and it’s like, “well that’s the situation.”

 

Paul: “That’s what we arranged!”

 

Laura: “That’s literally the only thing that’s happening here.” [laughing] Like, it’d be weird if I was saying “this seems weird but maybe you should just give me a back rub, that may be weird. But I just really feel like I could open up …”

 

[audience laughing]

 

Paul: [laughing] It’d be so funny to go see a therapist and go, “Can I talk to you about something?”

 

Laura: “Hey, you might think this is weird, but am I crazy!? Or, was my Grandmother a lil’ mean.”

 

Paul: When did getting loaded become a problem? -- How long have you been sober?

 

Laura: Just over seven years.

 

Paul: Congratulation.

 

Laura: Thank you --

 

Paul: -- “smattering of applause.”

 

Laura: [inaudible audience impression] -- The term “get loaded’ we don’t say in Texas, I’ve only heard it in Southern California, and it sounds so old timey to me. You might as well have just said “So, when’d ya meet old John Barleycorn?” [laughing] “Hey uh, did ya ever smoke a doobie?” It just sounds so funny to me. We just said “get drunk” and stuff, so “get loaded” sounds like the ‘50s, like what they do in Pleasantville. “You wanna get loaded? We’re just at the Malt Shop, me and my cool friends are gunna get loaded and ride motorcycles …”

 

[audience laughing]

 

Paul: For me I use that term because it encompasses both drinking and doing drugs, whereas getting drunk --

 

Laura: -- it just sounds like --

 

Paul: -- it does. “Horse punch your kidney?” “Butt fuck your liver?”

 

Laura: … Wow. You really hit it hard.

 

Paul: “Did you ever smoke any grass? Any tea?” I’ve never heard - remember that list they give you in like sixth grade of the names for marijuana? “tea” was one -- I’ve never heard anybody once -- even old people call it “tea.”

 

Laura: How hoity-toity is that. [British accent] “Would you like a bowl of tea?”

 

Paul: So when did it become a problem for you? You know they say theres three stages of addiction; fun, fun with problems, and problems.

 

Laura: Oh! Alright.

 

Paul: -- Your grandmother told me that.

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: She had all the answers. “You know Paw, you’d be better looking --” What if she just gave terrible advice to everyone on how they’d be better looking? “If you’d make some shoes out of a canoe … “ Wouldn’t that have been great if I could have just been like “You’re crazy.”

 

Paul: It’d have been nice.

 

Laura: I love Garfield!

 

Paul: What if she had said, “You would be more attractive, Paul, if you did--anything.” Do you think that would hurt?

 

Laura: Oh Paul.

 

Paul: Aw. That would hurt.

 

Laura: It hurts right now, just you imagining it.

 

Paul: Do you feel like your getting sober is an important thing to talk about -- because maybe there’s other stuff, maybe you find it boring to talk about, and we certainly do talk a lot about addiction on the podcast. If there’s anything you want to share about--

 

Laura: I don’t know, do you want to talk about meditation and stuff?

 

Paul: Yeah, I do want to talk about this.

 

Laura: I mean, I drank for 20 years even though I look very young. Right, video people?

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: But it was a problem for me well into my adulthood, you know what? It actually ties into what we were talking about, so here’s what I’m gonna say that’s relevant, is I stopped drinking -- I had a food issue, that I got help for -- I actually reached a point, one year, of like, “I feel so good,” like I was eating well, was doing this program that was suggested, I was like, ‘oh this is great, I’ve got it, I feel great, I feel connected to love, and the world, and I feel in my own strength, and I feel great,’ then I (and it ties into meditation actually) after doing that for a few months, I like slipped a few times, every time drinking alcohol. Because this food thing, it’s like that’s empty calories -- nobody says ‘oh, food issue? definitely drink a lot of alcohol! It’s gonna clear it right up!’ So I didn’t identify as having a problem with alcohol, but anyway, getting into this thing and I was feeling so good and I was like, ‘maybe it’s time I learned how to meditate’ because I was really wanna, like ‘how well can I be?’ which is also a funny alcoholic thing -- ‘I wanna be SUPER well,’

 

Paul: Yeah, yeah, I want to change everything

 

Laura: I wanna be VERY unique, ‘why don’t you just be well,’ and it’s like ‘NOOOO I’m green juice forever!’ so I learned to meditate, and the same weekend I signed up to learn to meditate, I met a really cute boy. So. and uh, he liked to drink, and get high, and smoke, but he was so cute, and here’s how it ties in with what my grandma -- and oh my god, I might -- I really might cry--because it is so sad to me, but from doing this getting wellness food thing, I had--I say this because probably other people see the world this way, because I am not so unique, but I had thinned myself down, or let’s say up, to a cuter level of guy. Do you know what I mean? I had lost a certain amount of weight, and this guy was like ‘hey, you’re cute,’ and I knew that would not have been the case at the weight I was a few months before, or if that’s not true, that was my thinking, ‘I’m in a new class of cute now, how exciting.’ So I learned to meditate, and I hung out with this person, and I was like ‘meditation, this feels great,’ and this guy would get high every day and drink a bottle of wine or two a night, you know, really good stuff that I needed in my life, and I remember thinking ‘you know what? why am I working so hard with this program, this food thing, and this meditation - isn’t getting high basically the same thing?’ and all the things I told myself, ‘I’ve got it, I’m fine, I look fine now’ and I walked away from healthy stuff and really it’s like I was just at a crossroads and I said ‘I wanna do this,’ and basically that hit a bottom a year later, almost one year later to the month, I hit a bottom of one night where I was doing anything that came my way, really anything--like cocaine, this is how I was - they were like, ‘do you wanna do some coke? and I was like, no, and they were like, are you sure? and I was all OK!’

 

Paul: [laughs out loud]

 

[audience laughing]

 

Laura: Don’t twist my arm, I don’t wanna be rude--so I was like, yeah, ok, and there were beers, and then we were in a bar, this was in Oklahoma City, which is a great place to hit a bottom, because you’re probably already close to a bottom, if you’re in Oklahoma City--I’m sorry, Oklahoma City listeners.

 

Paul: You’re from Texas

 

Laura: There’s a rivalry, yeah. So anyway, I was like, my friend was djing at this bar, it was a Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, but I had to have an epic night for ol’ Housey, and they were pulling down Red Bull and vodka in an ice sculpture luge so I just put my mouth right on it--which I think you are not supposed to do, but I didn’t care about hillbilly germs, and I was talking to this guy and was like, ‘let’s do this,’ and he walks away, and now I’m talking to this guy, and we were going to go outside and smoke, and I don’t smoke, but I was like, ‘yeah, I’m gonna do that too,’ and it was to the degree that, and even things to do with food, like somebody brought by Taco Bell at 3 in the morning, and I was like, ‘this too,’ and it was the next morning, that it hit me, deeply. Because I had felt so good a year before, and I thought ‘Oh, I’m gonna keep doing this,’ like that was my bottom - no matter how good things get for me, this is what I will always do. I’m gonna come back to this place, every time. So, I got help. That’s when I really got help, and it was just over 7 years ago.

 

Paul: with the drinking

 

Laura:Yeah, I was like, this is not good, and it also got so bad, even for me, there were ages in my life when a night like that wouldn’t have bothered me - like when I was 19, I wouldve been like, ‘I’m 19, I’m having the time of my life,’ then you’re 25 and you’re like, ‘well, I think it’s still ok,’ but if your age starts with a 3, or 4, or 5 [audience laughs], I was like, ‘if I’m going to be doing this at 50, and 60..literally, I am never going to stop doing this,’ so that’s when I got help and stopped drinking.

 

Paul: So just to clarify, about the food, you would change the way you eat, to, not because necessarily you wanted to change how you look but because it was healthier?

Laura: I think that’s what I told myself, but it’s always been to change how I look. It’s always been to change how I look too, because, there is a, and the feeling is deep and awful, of a - now you’re my therapist, I’ve never said this to anyone Paul - but why not to anyone who chooses to hear,

 

Paul: or anyone who pays 20 bucks on the internet

 

Laura: you know, you’ve earned it, listen up! [audience laughs] I, um, the feeling that’s horrible, and it’s only been recently I’ve been able to acknowledge it, or deal with it, is that I have to change how I look to be acceptable to other people. And that’s horrible.

 

Paul: It is.

 

Laura: It’s horrible, like, no matter if I’m funny, or compassionate, or if I’ve taught you to meditate, or if you were feeling down and I was the one saying ‘come over, let me care for you,’ does not matter if I don’t look, if I take up too much space with my body. That’s the feeling, of probably a lot of people dieting-related--

 

Paul: a ton of people

 

Laura: how dare you say a ton of people!!

 

[audience laughs]

 

Laura: everybody! cheap shot, Paul!

Paul:If you are not watching this on video, you are missing so much of the charm of Laura House. there was a horror movie in the 70’s, The Charm of Laura House.

 

Laura: you know, I was named after that movie

 

Paul: yeah, yeah

 

Laura: I do want to say this, which is on the up side, to be able to talk about it, for me to identify that thought that I just shared with you, means I can shine a light on it and it’s going to dissipate. That’s why stuff like what you do is so important, like therapy, but also this podcast. Odds are you are hearing very personal information from other people that you are not going to hear otherwise, because there’s something about you that brings it out, and you broadcast it, and that’s very special, but like, when you can go, Oh, I mean, otherwise, maybe two months ago, I didn’t know that was the thought. I was like, ‘maybe I should be smaller, so I can be healthy,’ and that’s what that is, what society tells you on the surface level, but on a deeper level what it’s telling you is that you are not good enough to exist how you are, and that’s horrible, and that was under everything that happened to me, under every experience I had. You know, like I was talking to Paul Gilmore, and I run into him at a conference, and he probably wishes I was smaller--not consciously, because intellectually you go, ‘that’s crazy, Paul is not even thinking about that,’ but that’s what was in every moment, every exchange..I’ve had the same boyfriend, and he tells me he loves me, for four years, you know we live together, every moment of every day, there’s been an undercurrent of like ‘yeah, he loves me, or he says it, but of course he wishes I looked different, of course he wishes I was smaller, of course,’ and I had no idea that was infecting every moment that I had.

 

Paul: it’s gotta be terrible

 

Laura:well it is, it is really like, well it’s painful. And to say it, it’s freeing because it’s like, yeah, that’s a good thing to acknowledge, and get out from under, but also it’s like when you heal a little bit, and feel bad for that self, that Laura that lived with that for decades, how horrible. But you just do it, and you actually said in that last one (podcast), maybe it was in the letters or something, that you are depressed now because you didn’t acknowledge it - that was one of the things I didn’t have the tools to acknowledge, it took me seven years of sobriety and whatever therapy to get to that thought. Jerry Stahl wrote a book about Fatty Arbuckle, and it’s called “I, Fatty,” and I bought it at the bookstore. I love Jerry Stahl, and I was going through his books and reading them, not the books in his home [audience laughs], but the books he’s written for the public, and I went--this is funny--it’s ok now, because I was just vulnerable, right? I don’t want you to think I am just blowing it off, this really was a big moment--so I bought the book, “I, Fatty,” and I was walking around reading, “I, Fatty,” and you know how much mental recovery I have to have to walk around carrying a book called “I, Fatty?” Like, a lot--then I’m not going, ‘oh, everybody’s thinking--’

 

[audience laughs]

 

Paul: what a terrible name for a book

 

[still]

 

Laura:Yeah, but it’s really like, well like you said in the beginning, maybe I just had messed up thinking and I attributed it to adopted, or maybe if it wasn’t the weight it would have been something else. You know, a lot of women who are like they’re too skinny, I remember reading some article when I was in high school, some dumb interview with Demi Moore or something, and she didn’t like her elbows or something, and I was like ‘elbows--boy they’re way down the list for me’ but then you’re like, ‘well mine are weird, kinda,’ [audience laughs]. It’s insidious, you just feel like you don’t have value unless everyone wants to have sex with you, and that’s bizarre.

 

Paul: and it’s amazing how deeply we will bury truths that we feel about ourselves, you know if you would have asked me for the first 20 years I was--probably until I got sober--why do you do stand up comedy? and I would be, ‘well, because I enjoy making people laugh, and I feel like I have a talent for it, and I love the craft of comedy,’ but now that I have a little bit of distance from it, because I don’t really do it anymore, I think the biggest reason is because I wanted love. I wanted to be heard, I wanted to be seen, and doing this podcast, I’ve never felt as heard and felt as I have doing this podcast, and I realize, ‘oh, this is the feeling I’ve been looking for my whole life,’ and while part of the podcast is yes, I do want to help other people, I do this for selfish reasons as well. 1:02:11 It helps me feel less alone, but the reason I mention this, is a) I like talking about myself

 

Laura: we know

 

Paul:that truth was buried so deeply, the way that we can lie to ourselves--but if you think about it, we bury shit in layers, so why wouldn’t it come up in layers?

 

Laura: absolutely

 

Paul: We bury it in such a complicated way, it’s not gonna come up simply. So that makes sense to me, but you know I was sitting here as you were talking, and I’m like she’s one of the loveliest guests I’ve ever had,

 

[audience claps]

 

Paul: she’s I mean truly, I was just like thank you, I mean there was a moment of about five minutes into it, when I was like, ‘I don’t have to do anything, I can..she’s..she’s…

 

[audience laughs]

 

Laura: she’ll never stop talking…

 

[audience still laughing]

 

Paul: no, it was like, I don’t have to pull anything out of her, she knows when to lighten it up, and she’s being vulnerable, she’s--I just felt like, thank you, universe--thank you universe and that you as that person could yet have that same thought about yourself, just goes to show how awesome therapists are, that they’re there for us when we’ve got these unnecessary wars in our brains, and I don’t think there’s anybody that doesn’t have some kind of war, in their brain. And, talk about the if you would the fallacy that if we can cure this one thing, then we’re gonna be ok

 

Laura: oh, oh, well and it takes a long time to get there. A week from now, I could be on the celery diet. That’s a weird thing to think too, but it’s true. I could run into you six weeks from now and be like, ‘oh, I just ate marshmallows’ and ‘oh, it’s good for you, it’s a thing’, and you’re like oh, she’s alright, she’s doing her thing, You know like, it’s insidious, that you reach these epiphanies, and go oh, I get it, I’m ok, I’ve been ok the whole time. Ok, great, and then I’ll run into somebody who’s like, oh, have you read this, you know Four Hour Body Book, and I’m like no, what’s that? Like, you know I love that guy, who wrote that, and then it’s just eat turkey chili ever day for lunch, I’m like, do I like turkey chili? ‘cause people are like, oh, I feel good, you know it’s insidious but yeah it’s you get to feel like you don’t have any value unless you look a certain way as a I didn’t know that that was something that was reflected back to me in this my friend calls my therapist my friend who I pay,

 

Paul: and there’s a difference too between a lifestyle and a diet to change how people look at you, to wanting to feel good about yourself, because I don’t think there’s anything unhealthy with wanting to feel attractive but I think if it’s coming from a place of I’m doing this because I can’t bear how people look at me as opposed to I want to feel good about myself. Does that make sense?

 

Laura: yeah, it makes sense. It absolutely makes sense. I guess here’s what’s super crazy about the mind: is that, I’ll say this one thing, and I’ll think it, and intellectually, I’m operating as a healthy person, and underneath it is, I’m not acceptable, you know, like, able to tell the difference, but it’s only maybe a point of self-discovery. People can go to the gym, and be totally mentally healthy people, and people can be--look really lean and fit, and be sick, mentally and physically, I can be fat inside, like there’s a lot of--it’s insidious

 

Paul: there’s a guy who I know who’s--I’m jealous of the way he looks, he’s my age, and he looks like he’s thirty years old and he’s and he goes to the gym, and he bikes, and he swims, and he has all the dedication that I could never--

 

Laura: he sounds like an asshole

 

[audience cracks up]

Laura: guess who I’d never hang out with, Paul Gilmartin?

 

Paul: But I remind myself that he is a deeply unhappy person 22:30 left! he has trouble connecting to people, and I say to myself, ‘well you have that.’ you’re able to connect to people in a deep way, and everybody has their thing, that they lack, and I know this sounds like 70’s cheese-ball stuff, but embrace what you do have, and try to take baby steps working on the stuff that you don’t, but don’t wait until you cross a finish line to say, now I’m here, now the party can begin. That’s the struggle that I have to remind myself of.

 

Laura: yeah I get and also the thing is like, you know something I’m working on is like, what do I think about that, like it had never occurred to me

 

Paul: how do you feel about yourself you mean 1:07:51

 

Laura: well or like, this is the--this is what I ate for lunch. There’s been a part of my head, and I only realized this recently, of like alarms going off, I shouldn’t have the--like I ate--here’s a really specific example. I had tacos for lunch you guys, and, but what I noticed, because the thing I am trying now, is just to notice these thoughts in my head. so the thought that came up first is, ‘oh I’m hungry,’ ‘oh you’re always hungry,’ da da da da, then I was like, ‘oh, real negative - just looking, interesting,’ and (laughs) this is my new training, and thenit’s funny to me because in 6 months I’ll be on to something else. ‘I was doing what? I can’t believe that was recorded! The taco conversation, this is insane.’ But then I was like, oh, you know, I want this, and then I notice the other thoughts that come up from training, and you know, like weird, you can’t..you should get a salad because of this, but don’t get this, and any dairy, and fat--and then I was like, exhausted, and these are thoughts I don’t usually notice, like I just am recently able to notice these things, then I notice too - I got what I wanted, it seemed healthy, it was fine with me. And this is something I never ask myself, is this fine with you? It’s fine with me, it’s healthy, there’s vegetables, and it’s satisfying, and I feel nurtured, and nourished, and good - it’s fine with me. I realize after, I would have been spinning of ‘everybody thought.’ And I don’t literally think, in an arrogant way, people are at restaurants thinking, oh what is she eating? I know nobody’s looking at me. But that ghost “everybody,” that’s grandmother, or magazine, or whatever

 

Paul: yeah

 

Laura: you know, ex-boyfriend who said the shitty thing, you know that ghost everybody, that was too much, shouldn’t have done that, I should probably eat lettuce until I look different, and you know whatever, all these shoulds, and I got to quiet it by just you know ‘it’s fine with me,’ --is this what I’m going to wear today? ‘it’s fine with me,’ as opposed to like years of getting dressed and (big sigh) I guess just this, until I look different, cover up, or I look pretty good in this, or is this thinning? The level of self-hate that’s buried in stuff is staggering, it’s staggering to like look at it, and part of it, you wanted to talk about meditation, that has helped me look at this too, because before I could meditate, you’re just your thoughts, and your not even just noticing your thoughts necessarily

Paul: you think it’s just reality

 

Laura: yeah, it’s just these are thoughts and you feel like you are are made up of thoughts, and then I meditated, and what happens when you meditate, I teach a method that there’s a very specific way to do it.

 

Paul: the cabbage soup method

 

Laura: the cabbage soup method, we call it the Dolly Parton meditation

 

[audience laughs]

 

Paul: [laughing]

 

Laura: in Texas--we call it Shotgun Mantra, I took a yoga class, a few weeks ago when I was home visiting Grand Prairie. I was like the only one in there and there are people in this room traveling--there’s not a yoga class in LA at noon that is not like super crowded, I mean everyone is jammed in there, and I was like, ‘I’m the biggest yoga enthusiast in Grand Prairie, TX, I’m the yogini of Grand Prairie, I’m the best one in here!’ But what was I talking about? Oh - meditation - so with meditation, you are watching your thoughts, and the technique I teach is very specific, but mindful meditation is very easy and free, and I’ll explain it to you right now - all you do is close your eyes, and you notice your breath, and you just notice it

 

Paul: this is while you are driving

 

[audience laughs]

 

Laura: only while you are driving

 

Paul: ok

 

Laura: so good luck everybody--but the point of it is so you know, there’s less road rage. Meditate while you are driving--if there’s any message you should take away

 

Paul: sounds unsafe, but it’s actually increases safety.

 

Laura: no, but anywhere you can sit comfortably and relax, and it’s all very comfortable, natural, and if you have an itch scratch it, and if your legs are crossed, and midway you are like ‘that’s uncomfortable,’ you can move them, it’s not like “I am meditating…” it’s not supposed to be anything negative

 

Paul: but you don’t want to be in a position like where you would fall asleep

 

Laura: no, just sit up

 

Paul: but you’re fairly upright

 

Laura: You’re making it sound awful

 

Paul: No, this is what my meditation teacher taught me, she’s like

 

Laura: yeah, you want to have your back support, you’re sitting up, but you’re like comfortable, as opposed to frozen statue, so you close your eyes and you just notice your breath, it will probably slow down..oh I heard a sigh, that’s nice..it will probably slow down, once you start noticing it, or whatever - and now here’s the thing, that I was not told, previously, and that I’ve gotten a lot of benefit from, in the meditation I do, which is different from the one I am explaining, but it’s similar in a way. thoughts will come. Thoughts will come. And what I’ve learned, as a meditation teacher, and I’ve taught for five years now, trying to get thoughts out of your mind is like trying to get wet out of the ocean. Why would you do it--it’s probably expensive--and then what do you do with a dry ocean? [audience laughs] So, your mind will stop thinking, one day, right at the end-- but that’s not what meditation is for. So I think a lot of people are like, ‘I can’t get thoughts out of my mind, I can’t meditate’--it’s really the opposite, if you can think, you can meditate. Well when you get this thing, it’s oh thoughts are here, I’m not focused on the breath, I’ll put my attention back on the breath, ok breath, thoughts come, how do I always have three loads of laundry to do, oh not on the breath, I’ll go back to the breath, ok, breathing, breathing, and you’ll like just notice your body kind of settle down, and even just the experience of oh I’m not worrying about my life, I’m not actively engaged in being upset right now, I’m just relaxing, ok, this is nice, even if it’s just for five minutes, once a month, you go oh this is my five minutes once a month, to just--I’m just not involved in anything, oh, I’m having thoughts, and you go back to the breath, and inevitably you’re going to ask the question, who’s noticing my thoughts? Some other part of me is noticing, oh, I’m having thoughts, I’m not focused on the breath, I’m going back to the breath, then you start realizing, I’m this thing over here, and I just point to my chest, because you know it’s very attractive, if you get nothing else from this podcast [audience laughs] but yeah, I just I live--these thoughts are these other things, and you’re not involved in your thoughts while you are meditating, like the cars out on the street, they are going by and you’re not like oh is that a red Mazda? they’re just going by, or if you are in a plane and there are clouds going by out the window, and they’re like your thoughts when you meditate, you know I’m not involved in them.

 

Paul: seeing them isn’t a bad thing, actually it can be enlightening, because sometimes when I am meditating, ill find myself going from my mantra back to going oh, who, about that thing, and I find myself like the 4th time I’m going back, clearly I’m very worried about this thing, that keeps popping, so it introduces me to my thoughts

 

Laura: oh, absolutely, yeah, and then there’s just this separateness, this thing, this consciousness, back here that isn’t having the thoughts, it’s like not bothered by any of it

Laura: it’s almost like, oh look, part of my head is worried about that thing Friday, and hmmm, oh, back to the mantra, or if you want to do a mindful meditation, back to the breath. You don’t have to have a mantra. That’s what I use, but you don’t have to. You’re just like, ‘oh, breath, breathing, in and out, and then you come out of it and there’s a stillness, and the reason meditation is so interesting to me, is that before I only had my thoughts, I only had whatever upset, I only had whatever anxiety, and I didn’t have a place to, it’s like if you never turn your phone off, or your computer, its just running running running, and it just freaks out and breaks down, and so it’s like oh for just this little bit of time, I’m just, yeah, I’m just unplugged. You know, I have club meditation this is not enlightened, and it’s not going to sound spiritual, dog park for the mind. Like it’s just a time when the mind - my brother has a labrador, and he, my brother works in Dallas but he owns property a couple hours’ drive away, because he’s very successful. I don’t feel bad about that. [audience laughs] maybe a little, no he’s . so he likes to hunt & fish and he has a big dog and he will drive in the car a couple hours and then open the door and the dog gets out at this 300 acre (my brother’s very rich) ranch with oil wells, and the dog is like, oh wow, I can do anything, I can go anywhere, kind of like, that’s meditation. I’m not controlling my mind, I’m not harnessing my mind. The rest of the day, I need my mind, I need my mind on a leash, but this whatever, five minutes, it’s dreamy, it’s chill, it’s easy, it’s like oh, having thoughts, whatever, breath, it’s very simple and easy and relaxing. So what it gives me outside of the practice, I have a thought, oh I have to lose some amount of weight, let’s say it’s something like that or whatever, or say I don’t look right, or whatever, I can have some distance, and these thoughts come up and I get to go oh, that’s so interesting that I thought I shouldn’t eat that for lunch, or that’s so peculiar, or I thought there was some invisible voice that was upset over what I had or did, or that I should feel shame for something that I wouldn’t otherwise, because there’s some phantom judgement somewhere you know or whatever, and you go, oh, I guess I can just get off of that thought.

 

Paul: and I think it just gives you a chance to go, oh, is that the negative voice that was wired into me in childhood, because there was somebody negative in my life, or sometimes - and I’m sure you’ve had this experience - you’ll get insightful thoughts pop into your head or ideas, actually the idea to do this podcast, and the name for it, came into my head when I was meditating, and I think, um, David Lynch has a book called--about the--

 

Laura: Catching the Big Fish

 

Paul: Catching the Big Fish

 

Laura: such a good book

 

Paul: and the premise of it is, the more you can quiet the mind, the more you can access, the, really, beautiful kind of un-egotistical thoughts

 

Laura: it is, I mean, that’s really simply what it is. It’s going past the ego, the ego is a thought, the ego is ‘I don’t look right,’ ‘I should have more money,’ more stuff, Laura House has to be more exciting than she is right now, and better, and everything better better I need something and it’ll obsess, I did something in the past I shouldn’t have done, or this thing won’t happen in the future, or it will, and that’ll be bad, and the mind is casting out that kind of thought, and it’s all ego related, and then you just go oh, what am I without all that, and you go, oh, everything is real fine--oh, I know what I was gonna say, is that I didn’t have any relief from that, but for me, I meditate twice a day, so it’s like I visit the place in me, where everything’s fine, twice a day. so, there’s stress release, it actually releases stress from the body, but it gives me the experience instead of going oh I wish I didn’t feel bad anymore, oh well whatever I do, it’s like, oh you know what, right now I don’t feel bad, and you can go back into life, oh you know what, meditating right now, and you can go back into life and just visiting that place twice a day, it bleeds over.

 

Paul: and you physically experience it

 

Laura: yeah, you have a physical experience of ‘I feel fine’ so then even if I’m like at 7-11, where everything makes me crazy, I don’t know why, just one person in line and I’m like LET’S MOVE, [audience laughs], I’ve completely lost the ability to wait for anything anymore, thanks Amazon! [more laughs] but seriously thanks, Amazon, because I’m so glad I have a Prime account, I don’t ever have to leave the house. But anyway, so, you just get this ‘oh, I visit this place,’ and it just starts to melt, and oh, I’m doing all my life stuff, but I have a sense of what I’m getting from meditation, it’s just so valuable. You can learn it online, you can learn it for free, you can get a CD, like any kind of meditation is valuable

 

Paul: and as you were talking, I was just struck by the irony that by focusing on your breath, focusing on this part of your body, you wind up getting relief from the very thing you struggle with

 

Laura: from the horrible thoughts about my body

 

Paul: about your body

 

Laura: I also have some pretty sexy thoughts about my body

 

Paul: you wanna share

 

Laura: I don’t want you to think I don’t

 

Paul: we have five minutes left, so what do you think would be good, did you want to do some of your fears & loves?

 

Laura: oh, I did bring you a list, I shoulda given it to you beforehand

 

Paul: no, I don’t like to hear them

 

 

Laura: this is my valet

 

Paul: you pulled up on horseback, which I found very pretentious, you valeted your horse

 

Laura: what? I’m Texan

 

Paul: ?

 

Laura: don’t be racist. I have my horse, I know how to take care of it, and that’s what I’m going to ride to a podcast. [audience laughs] let me be me. what are you, my grandmother? ha ha! I’m free! You asked me to bring a, you want me to read them? Oh, I thought if things got boring, you would look at them and be like, ‘oh, so you love tattoos?’

 

Paul: No sometimes we do a thing where we trade fears & loves, back & forth.

 

Laura: oh, you said hates--you didn’t say fears & loves, you said loves & hates

 

Paul: I did? what kind of a fucking day was I having?

 

Laura: because I wrote--I don’t FEAR Mariah Carey’s music…

 

[audience laughs]

 

Laura: but number one on this list--but it’s not a fear--

 

Paul: well I think you need to read those as “I don’t fear,” and then read us the next one

 

Laura: I don’t fear people stating the obvious, like ‘that pie looks good,’ but I get real mad. Oh, does the pie look good? Did this place figure out how to make pie delicious? Oh, tweet that, that’s a real--we found the ONE place,’ my friend really did that, we were eating, and they were like, ‘oh, the macaroni & cheese here is really good,’ no!

 

Paul: they stopped serving that shit macaroni & cheese, that they were embarrassed by

 

Laura: I could make macaroni & cheese in my bathtub and it’d still be pretty good because it’s macaroni & cheese

 

[audience laughs]

 

Laura: but I’m not afraid of that

 

Paul: you ever had a batch of hot bathtub mac? they made that in the 20’s when it was illegal

[audience laughs]

 

Laura: when it was prohibited, yeah--also that Fatty Arbuckle book was really good--Harry Stahl it was probably the best thing he’s written, it was so good, yeah, and then I said ‘I love being flown somewhere,’ yeah, I think fears & loves would definitely have brought out a different list, but you said ‘loves & hates’ [laughs]

 

Paul: that’s so funny

 

Laura: and I was like, I don’t know what he does--

 

Paul: because this podcast is so much about hate

 

Laura: well probably a good place to land, is, one of my fears has always been for a long time, which is, basically to talk about the stuff that we just talked about, for an hour, or two, I don’t know how long we’ve been talking, the thing we’ve been talking about for six, seven, eight, hours, no but to talk about weight, or food issue, or to admit to a person like I hate myself, all these feelings of, well i don’t hate myself in fact, I don’t actively hate myself, I think I’m pretty cute--right everybody? [audience claps] you know what, I really forced you into that, but I don’t care. What if it was like this [makes face? audience reacts]--’I don’t see it’ but I’ve had a fear of things that I’m insecure about - just that, you’re fat, having a real sensitivity about, the one thing you can’t hide, you’re like, ‘I hope nobody sees this,’ and there is something funny about that. I used to have a hope that I would walk into Lane Bryant, and they would be like, ‘you don’t belong, get out of here, what are you, here to mock us?’ but they don’t, they’re like, ‘oh, there’s a sale in the back,’ [audience laughs] at least ask if I am shopping for someone else, how dare you?

 

Paul: well, we’re out of time, so we gotta wrap this up

 

Laura: so I love myself, good night!

 

Paul: Laura, I couldn’t be more please, I mean I--you’re so goddamned lovable it, uh, I’m gonna punch you.

 

[audience laughs]

 

Laura: there’s no other way to handle it, there’s not one other option.

 

Paul: thank you guys so much for coming out

 

Laura: thank you, you’ve been an amazing audience

 

Paul: how about a hand for Laura House

 

[audience claps]

 

Laura: but it’s incredible what you’ve started, thank you

 

Paul: and if people want to get a hold of you?
Laura: laurahouse.com

 

Paul: laurahouse.com, go check it out, she’s thinking about starting her own podcast, what do you think?

 

[audience claps]

 

Laura: maybe I should just call it How to Hate Yourself and it’ll be a look at that

 

Paul: and by the way, I don’t encourage anybody to start podcasts--well very few people am I like, that’s a great idea, you should start a podcast, but you, you should start a podcast.

 

Laura: I’ll do it with my granny--she’s dead though

 

Paul: call it Porch Ghosts

 

Laura: Porch Ghosts! Coast to Coast!

 

Paul: thank you guys--