Kevin Allison on Owning Your Weirdness & Flaws

Kevin Allison on Owning Your Weirdness & Flaws

The podcaster (RISK!) and sketch actor (The State) talks about learning to “own his weirdness”.  From being a gay kid in a conservative town to being the black sheep in The State he has battled the paralysis and fear of not being perfect or even good enough.  He shares about his attempt at being a prostitute, the 12 year gap between The State ending and him starting Risk! and how he learned to find his authentic voice when he was at his lowest and how he still struggles to act and feel like a grown-up.

Follow Kevin on Twitter @TheKevinAllison

Check out RISK! at www.risk-show.com or follow on Twitter @RISKshow

Check out his classes www.thestorystudio.org

For info on Paul’s upcoming live podcasts in Oakland Feb 22-23 go to www.eastbayexpress.com/mental

To become a monthly supporter of The Mental Illness Happy Hour go to www.patreon.com/mentalpod

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online counseling.  To try a free week go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental  (you must be at least 18)

This episode is sponsored by MadisonReed hair color kits.  For 10% off your first kit and free shipping go to www.Madison-Reed.com and use offer code HAPPY

This episode is sponsored by MVMT Watches.  For 15% off plus free shipping and free returns go to www.MVMTWatches.com/mental

This episode is sponsored by ZipRecruiter.  To post jobs for free go to www.ZipRecruiter.com/first

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Episode notes:

Follow Kevin on Twitter @TheKevinAllison

Check out RISK! at www.risk-show.com

Check out his classes www.thestorystudio.org

For info on Paul's upcoming live podcasts in Oakland Feb 22-23 go to www.eastbayexpress.com/mental

To become a monthly supporter of The Mental Illness Happy Hour go to www.patreon.com/mentalpod

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online counseling.  To try a free week go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental  (you must be at least 18)

This episode is sponsored by MadisonReed hair color kits.  For 10% off your first kit and free shipping go to www.Madison-Reed.com and use offer code HAPPY

This episode is sponsored by MVMT Watches.  For 15% off plus free shipping and free returns go to www.MVMTWatches.com/mental

This episode is sponsored by ZipRecruiter.  To post jobs for free go to www.ZipRecruiter.com/first

Episode Transcript:

 

Transcription services donated by Accurate Secretarial LLC. You can find them at www.AccurateSecretarial.com.

 

Welcome to Episode 316 with my guest Kevin Allison. I'm Paul Gilmartin. This is the Mental Illness Happy Hour, a place for honesty about all the battles in our heads, from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas and sexual dysfunction to everyday compulsive negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. I'm not a therapist. It's not a doctor's office. It's more like a waiting room that doesn't suck. Or think of it as a three-hour parade led by a jackass, a three-hour parade of tears and trauma with occasional laughter.

The Web site for the show is Mentalpod.com. Go there, check it out. Fill out a survey. Maybe we'll read your survey on the show. You can support the show through the Web site. You can look through the archive of episodes. We've got 315 other episodes to listen to. You can search for a particular topic. You can, you can go fuck yourself.

Yeah, I forgot to mention that. I always forget that as an option for you guys, and I do apologize that sometimes I forget [chuckles] to put that out there on the buffet table. It's usually at the end of the buffet table, right after the biscuits and gravy, is the big crock pot of go fuck yourself [chuckles]. I'm in a mood. Am I in a mood? I feel like I'm in a mood.

I want to remind you guys in the Bay Area that I am going to be up there in a couple of weeks, February 22nd and 23rd. I'm going to be performing, not performing, actually, doing two live recordings of the podcast. And if you want more information on it, go to EastBayExpress.com/mental. Once again, EastBayExpress.com/mental. And if you forget what that link is, just go to our Web site and I'll have the links, any of the links I mention on today's episode, I'll have them on the show notes for this episode.

This is an e-mail that I got from a woman who, I read her e-mail a couple of weeks ago. She uses the name Naked Koala. And she had e-mailed me about her experiences with ECT, which stands for electroconvulsive therapy. It used to be known as shock treatment. And I had wondered, when I was reading her e-mail aloud on the episode, what exactly the long-term memory effects of it were, because I had heard some people experience memory loss.

And so, she wrote me back and said, although there is a small percentage of people who do experience long-term memory loss, mostly any memory loss is temporary. For the first month after the ECT, I felt like I had bad dyslexia. I was really struggling to read and understand instruction, which was a bit of an inconvenience as I was studying and undergoing end-of-year exams at the time. But that did pass.

I am, however, one of the few people who has permanent memory loss from the treatment. I'm not missing huge chunks of my life. At a guess, I'd say in total I'm missing about one to two years of my life. I still at times find it frustrating and rather annoying in the fact that I don't seem to forget any of the bad shit that happened.

But on the flipside of that, family and friends will say to me, hey, do you remember when we did this or that happened? And I will say, I don't remember, but I would like to know. Can you please tell me about it? And now I've come to appreciate those moments as a uniquely wonderful experience of having my memories given back to me, but they're seen through the eyes of the people that love me. Thanks and hugs, Naked Koala. Thank you for sharing that.

I have told you guys about the benefits of therapy, how it has changed my life, how important I think it is to understanding ourselves, understanding other people, healing, and I started working with BetterHelp.com, did I say dot-com, dot-com, a couple of months ago. They do online counseling, and I really love them. I love the therapist that I've been matched up with. She's really compassionate. I feel seen and felt and heard by her. She laughs at my stupid jokes. But she doesn't, she doesn't let me get away with trying to use humor when I don't want to deal with my feelings. And she's very gentle, and I, I’m just, I’m a big fan, and I'm proud to have them as a sponsor.

So, for those of you out there that want to try therapy, you know, maybe it's inconvenient or too expensive for you to get in your car and go someplace, give it a shot. Go to BetterHelp.com/mental. Complete their questionnaire and they'll match you up with a BetterHelp.com counselor, and then you can experience a free week of counseling to see if online counseling is right for you. You've got to be over 18 and there's four different ways you can correspond, and you can correspond multiple times a week with your therapist. You can do it through sending each other messages. You can do it through live text messages. You can do it by phone or you can do it by video. And, yeah, they have a wide variety of therapists with a wide variety of expertise, so BetterHelp.com/mental.

I want to also give some loves to MVMT Watches, and I'm a big believer that if you're passionate about what you do and you're not just in it for the money, people are going to dig what you do. It's kind of how I started this podcast and it's also how the people at MVMT Watches started what they do. It was started by two completely broke college kids that were frustrated because every watch that they liked was like $500, and they thought, they don't have to be that expensive. Can't anybody make a cool watch that's affordable? And so they started MVMT Watches, and they cut out the middleman and all the retail mark-up, and their watches start at just 95 bucks. That's a fraction of what you would pay in a department store.

It's got a classic design. It's quality construction. It's styled minimalism. They've sold over 500,000 in 160 countries, and they gave me one and I love it. It's cool. It's, the compliments that I've gotten so far have been, it looks like a piece of art, I love the contrasting colors, it's so sleek. To be fair, they might have been talking about my torso when they said it's so sleek. But, yeah, check it out, man, step up your watch game and see why people across the world love MVMT Watches, MVMT Watches, so go to MVMTWatches.com/mental and get 15% off today, plus free shipping and free returns. Maybe you grab one for Valentine's Day before it's too late. That's MVMTWatches.com/mental. Join the movement.

Okay, I just want to read two Struggle in a Sentence surveys before we get to the interview with Kevin, which we recorded, I think Kevin and I recorded his interview about six months ago maybe.

This is filled out by Adam, and he writes about his depression. Knowing anything is possible if you try, except finding the motivation to try anything. That might be hall of fame. That is [chuckles], when I read that one, I just love when you guys, I think I've looked at these issues from every angle and articulated every single way of looking at it, and then you guys find a way to make it even easier to communicate what it's like.

That's a thing that's so frustrating about mental illness and trauma, is it's so hard to put into words sometimes, because the very brain that has been wounded is the brain that has to come up with the sentence to describe it.

All right, this is a woman who [chuckles] calls herself Stupid Spoiled Whore. I don't know if that's on her driver's license. I'm going to say probably not, probably hasn't legally changed her name to that, but about her depression, she writes, recurrent depressive disorder, feels like I'm numb and raw at the same time. Sometimes I make people mad just to have something real to be sad about.

Man, the numb and raw, that is so fucking true. About her anxiety. Doing nothing scares me. Doing things scares me. Seeing people makes me anxious. Being alone makes me feel abandoned and afraid. The past is messed up, the present is unbearable, and the future is something I want to run away from. And then about being a sex crime victim, it wasn't bad enough to complain about it. Mutual friends can't know about it because he deserves having friends more than I deserve talking about it.

 

[Show intro]

 

PAUL: I'm here with Kevin Allison, who has an amazing, popular podcast called RISK! I'm sure a lot of you have listened to it. It's a storytelling podcast, similar in vibe, I suppose, to this podcast in that it's revelatory, there's vulnerability, there's humor, lots of good stuff. You probably know Kevin as one of the original cast members of the seminal sketch group The State in 1994 . . .

 

KEVIN: Well, 1993 was when we first went on TV, yeah.

 

PAUL: Okay. A bunch of big names from that cast.

 

KEVIN: Tom Lennon, Ben Garant, Ken Marino, David Wain, yeah, Kerri Kenney, lots of great people.

 

PAUL: Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter. You've acted in things. You've written in things. But having you here as the guest, I want to talk about your personal life, about things you struggle with, things you've been through that are painful or difficult or awesome and life-affirming.

Should we start talking about, talk about what your childhood was like?

 

KEVIN: Yeah, absolutely. You know, one of the seminal things in my life, I think that one of the things that kind of lays down the groundwork for the person I've become is the fact that the first thing I remember being conscious of was, I like boys.

I grew up in the 1970s in ultra-conservative Cincinnati, Ohio, one of the most Republican places north of the Mason-Dixon Line, very, very Catholic, very devoutly Catholic family, and just aware this, you know, I heard Mike Daisey once say that self-awareness, a really bright kid, that can be a really, just being a really bright kid can be a scarring experience, because, here's how I tell this story, and at this point, it's such a story that I'm not sure if it's accurate at all, but I--

 

[Chuckling]

 

KEVIN: --but I look at it kind of like a dream. I'm about three and a half years old. There's this little Hummel statue of a boy about my age, a toddler in a onesie, and the back door of his onesie has fallen open so that you can see his butt.

I see this one afternoon when I'm about three and a half or four years old, and I'm just like, to me, it's, it's several things at the same time. It's hilarious, and very exciting. So, I want to share the news, I'm so excited about how turned on, lit up I am that you can see his heinie, is the word that I had for it.

So, I grabbed a footstool. I got up there on the chest of drawers, got it down and started running around the house to my brothers and sisters saying, look at this, you can see his heinie. They're laughing. They just think it's a funny thing. And then I thought, well, I guess the neighbors [laughs] should know, too.

So, I start heading out the kitchen door, and then I feel, from behind, this tugging sensation and I'm all, I’m lifted off the ground, and I turn around and there is my mother, my mother, who prided herself on looking like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and that was her favorite movie, prided herself on being the perfect Catholic mother in our suburb of Cincinnati.

I turn around and I say to her, look, Mom, isn't it great, you can see his heinie? And her eyes are cold, you know, like a shark's eyes. There's no expression in her face, as if the blood's drained out, and I can see, oh, this is, this is a real problem [in a stern voice].

She takes it from me and she says, okay, I'll take it from here, and then it was thrown away. I didn't see her throw it away, but I just knew that I had really overstepped some bound, some boundary.

And the next memory I have is that I'm five years old when I convince the kid next door that we should take off all our clothes and run around. And then I could, because I knew I was so obsessed with boys' butts, it was mostly butts, and to this day I'm still crazy obsessed with butts.

But I convinced him to run around naked with me listening to Cinderelly, Cinderelly from the Disney movie. And then at one point, I said, wouldn't it also be funny if you bent over and pulled your cheeks apart and showed me, because I had never seen what was in between there. I didn't know what that looked like. So, he did, and when he turned, and to me it was almost like a Holy Grail moment. It was like, oh, [holy-sounding singing]--

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: It was like, oh, my God, that's what that looks like. It was so exciting to me. He turned around and we both looked down, and here I am, just five years old, but I had an erection. And neither of us really knew, we were like, what? We both found it hilarious and bizarre, didn't really know what that was all about.

Then his mother comes down, swooping down the stairs--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

KEVIN: So, there's these, you know, Jung used to use the term, there's an archetype of The Terrible Mother, and in fact, some people interpret Moby Dick as being about the terrible mother because Melville was gay and he had a very puritanical mother.

Basically, what happened was, I grew up this, the fourth kid, I was the black sheep in a family of five kids. I was the kid who tends to go off into his own universe, fantasizing a lot, while everyone else is playing sports or, it was very much the Dazed & Confused era, so my brothers were always listening to Zeppelin and getting stoned.

So, I was off, you know, in my own dream world, listening to musicals in the basement, but very, very, I remember after that incident with the kid next door when I was five, I was like, next year I'm going to have to go to kindergarten and what if people find out, because I knew what the words gay and fag meant, because kids used them all, you know, all day, every day. And I knew it meant someone, a boy who likes boys and, at the same time, it meant lame, defective, gross, going to hell, all that.

So, I spent years and years of my childhood just convinced that there was something that was inextricable in me that was absolutely loathsome and that if people knew about it, people found out about it, I'd lose them. I'd lose love in my life.

 

PAUL: Then we did our job as a society.

 

KEVIN: [Laughs]

 

PAUL: Mission accomplished, Kevin.

 

KEVIN: You know, [chuckles] but what they don't, what you don't know as a kid, you know, going back to that Mike Daisey thing, the curse of being the smart kid is, eventually everyone else is just as smart as you but you're stuck with that feeling of, there's something deep down inside me at my core that's inextricable that, if people found out about, they wouldn't love me.

 

PAUL: Even after you reconcile the issue that brought it to the table.

 

KEVIN: Oh, absolutely--

 

PAUL: That's the thing that's so fucked about it--

 

KEVIN: Yeah, yeah. Been out of the closet and happily out of the closet for years and years. I mean, I'm not just out of the closet about being gay now. I'm out of the closet about, you know, being tied up and drinking piss and stuff like that [laughs], I mean.

On RISK!, see, I consider RISK! a sort of, it's amazing that we're recording this on Mother's Day, but in my mind I've always considered it a little bit of a fuck you, not necessarily to my mother personally, but, at the very least, to my mother in my mind, you know what I mean, to that, because over the years what it became was that she was the person who was always saying to me, do you have to be such a non-conformist? Do you have to run up the stairs that way? You look like a girl.

Literally about, oh, this was only maybe 10 years ago, so I'm in my 30s at the funeral of one of our nephews, died in a drag-racing accident, 17 years old, she pulls me aside at one point and says, do you have to use so much facial expression? Like, it--

 

PAUL: What [incredulously]?

 

KEVIN: People are mourning in the room and she's still criticizing that I use my hands too much or that I use too much facial expression.

 

PAUL: Oh, she must be so filled with fear.

 

KEVIN: You know, after The State broke up, The State broke up in 1996, and I spent 12 years after the group broke up kind of letting my career go to shit, you know. It was kind of like having, you know, a precious prize, you know, having this very, very early success--

 

PAUL: And on MTV in its heyday.

 

KEVIN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: I mean, people who are young right now, who weren't around then, don't realize the power that MTV had back then. There was no really, the Internet hadn't caught on yet.

 

KEVIN: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. Yeah, it was, it was definitely a cult hit, you know, but it was very, it was very popular among kids in, you know, junior high, high school, college. And I was so fearful after The State broke up. In that group, I found myself becoming the black sheep in the group.

You know, they say that you will keep playing out that family dynamic when you're in a, I, I still consider myself not much of a joiner, and I still kind of pride myself sometimes on being an outlier.

For example, RISK! is a storytelling show, where people tell true stories. People are shocked when they hear that I have never set foot in a Moth show.

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: For people that don't know Moth, The Moth is another great storytelling podcast, where people reveal dark or poignant moments from their lives.

 

KEVIN: Yes. And the difference with RISK! is that because, The Moth is kind of aimed at NPR, they do like to keep things, you know, politically correct and okay that the kids could hear it when you're driving to soccer practice with them on the radio, whereas RISK!, it's completely no holds barred. I mean, there's, there's nothing that's too emotional or too graphic or too sexual or whatever.

And I think that it's a little ridiculous that I've never done a Moth show, but there is just that part of me that's like, no, I just want to be doing my own thing in my own little world, you know.

 

PAUL: I very much relate to that. I'm a cocoon guy. I find a cocoon and I work the shit out of it, you know, whether it's a video game or a hobby or Netflix and popcorn, and I'll go with one for months, sometimes years, and then I’m done with it and I'm looking for the next womb.

 

KEVIN: That, I've always said that The State was like a womb, because, to have graduated from college, you know, with these dreams of becoming some sort of performing artist or some sort of artist, and then all of a sudden to have this 11 people, you're in a group of 11 people, I mean, we would literally sit down with executives at MTV and kind of scare them. You know, if they didn't like a sketch but had 11 kids staring at them going, no, it's funny--

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: Sometimes they would be like, okay.

 

PAUL: And you guys all went to NYU. Is that how you knew each other?

 

KEVIN: Yeah, yeah. But when the group broke up, I felt like, oh, now there's no one there to catch me if I fall, because I, I had clung in denial while the group was together to this idea that we would be together forever, like the Rolling Stones or something, which was very silly to think because, you know, no one but the Rolling Stones is [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Yeah [chuckles]. Do you think there was a part of you that finally felt like you had some sense of family and that . . .

 

KEVIN: No.

 

PAUL: What do you think it was?

 

KEVIN: Well, I felt rather tortured in that group as well, because The State liked to roast one another as a way of like, it was incredibly competitive, a lot of rivalry, because you've got 11 people in what is supposedly a democracy, right, and whoever writes the sketch gets to cast the sketch.

So, people who have a great affinity for writing very quickly and well would just ultimately become a lot more powerful. I was the perfectionist and the weirdo who would come up with sketches that would get great laughs in the writers' room but that might be a little bit too weird or too abstract to put on TV, and I was way too much of a perfectionist.

I would come in with one a week, whereas other people were coming in with two a day, you know. So--

 

PAUL: And to people that haven't been around a lot of comedians, when comics who know each other get together, it's Lord of the Flies with jokes.

 

KEVIN: Yes, yes. Yeah, well, and I was incredibly fearful about that because I, the one thing that I did learn when I was a kid with growing up in the situation that I grew up in was, if I'm really, really friendly and polite, like my mother taught me to be, to be a good boy, then maybe I can get, you know, and I still use this on RISK!, for example.

If I'm going to tell, like I tell, one of my best-known stories is called Kevin Goes to Kink Camp, and it's me going off for four days to this camp where people are doing outrageously horrible things to one another, you know, tying each other up and electrocuting each other with cattle prods and all sorts of things.

 

PAUL: When you say horrible, you mean how society would view it as horrible or you view it as horrible--

 

KEVIN: Oh, I'm saying horrible--

 

PAUL: Oh, air quotes--

 

KEVIN: --like in a, yeah, right. But I'm able to tell that story to an audience that might not know anything about kink because I have this very friendly, fun, I don't know, kind of, well, Midwestern, polite, good-Catholic-boy voice [chuckles] going into it that makes people feel like, oh, okay, so this guy's, this guy's not dangerous, this almost feels like, you know, I don't know, Tom Sawyer or whatever heading into an adventure.

So, I still, that's still a part of my persona, that being a good boy. But throughout my whole life, there's been this whole idea of coming out of the closet, right. For example, when I was young, when I figured out immediately, when I started going to kindergarten was, oh, okay, there's a part of me inside that I don't want anyone to know about because it's weird and gross and lame and etc. and people will hate me, but I can be weird in a way that makes people laugh with my behavior.

So, I started becoming the class clown when I was a kid as a way of saying, I'm weird, I’m kooky, I’m a bit of an outlier, but it's nice and fun because you laugh, right? So, that--

 

PAUL: That makes total sense.

 

KEVIN: Yeah. And, but what the weird thing is that, you know, my mother really didn't like, for example, if anyone in our family ever takes a picture where they're making a funny face, that's just inappropriate. That's just like, why would anyone do that? Whereas I'm like [chuckles], why wouldn't you? You know, that's life, have fun.

So, she would get wind of, oh, I hear you acted out in a certain way. You know, in high school I was taking off all my clothes at parties. So there's very much this, throughout my whole life, this rebelling against conformity like that, and, at the same time, feeling guilt and shame about it.

I'm just very aware that [chuckles], and what people always say, like as an adult, I have all this awareness of all that and people are like, well, that's great that you can name that, and I'm always like, yeah, but that, that's all I do.

You know, like all I, like I will say, oh, my God, it's crazy how much guilt and shame I feel about, you know, being too lazy, being, not being a good enough adult with staying on top of bills, like all these things that I beat myself up about, and they'll say, yeah, but that's amazing that you can name them. I'm like, well, I'm a storyteller. Like, this is my job, to be able to talk about things.

 

PAUL: Yeah, I wish talking about it still opened the mail and got the bills paid. Wouldn't that be great?

 

KEVIN: Yes, yes [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Because I could talk about it all I want, but, you know, I've got three months of mail sitting on my dining-room table, maybe six months of mail.

 

KEVIN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: And the big ones, you know, the gas bill, the light bill, yeah, those get paid, but anything that doesn't have a red alarm on it flashing, I can't bring myself to . . .

 

KEVIN: I, you know, I was fortunate enough in, I started RISK! in 2009, and I started begging people on the show, saying, look, I am not a business person. I don't have an organized kind of brain. I'm a creative person and, you know, like there are a lot of things that I just never did, just assuming, oh, I won't be able to do that. I never learned how to drive.

And at this point, I mean, I've lived in New York City for so many years that it's kind of pointless now, you know, now there's Uber and, even though I had a hard time getting the Uber here today [chuckles], but no, I put out the word on RISK! about a year in, look, I'm desperate for a person who's business-minded.

And JC Cassis heard the show and was kind of in love with it, that's one thing I've found that I would say to any artist out there, is pay very, very close attention to when people express an interest in working with you and you can sense that they really and truly do get and love what you're dong, because she really did express that.

And so, I brought her on to be the business person, and so she literally has it set up so that I don't have access to the company's money. She makes sure that the bills get paid. And, you know, we go by it bit by bit. She does every now and then say, okay, but you are 46, you know, maybe you should learn how to clean your apartment. You know, like there are, maybe we should just pick a few things that you can start to learn to do for yourself [chuckles].

 

PAUL: That's so funny, I had such a different impression of you [chuckles]. Before we got together, I was like, okay, you know, he does workshops and he's got it going on different coasts and I was like, oh, he's one of these fucking people that make me feel like shit because [laughing] because he's--

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: --super motivated, he's up at 6:00 and in the gym while he's on the phone and he's having a protein shake and I'm eating a doughnut after jerking off and laying in my own drool.

 

KEVIN: Yeah. Well, I complain to her on a regular, see, one of the things that's interesting about the difference between me and JC is that she grew up on Central Park West and, you know, went to Harvard and went to, you know, a boarding school when she was, and so, she, like I grew up with this very definite feeling that there was scarcity, that Jesus said it's better that you not have money, and I grew up with just these feelings of, oh, God, you know, I'm not like everyone else. I’m creative and I've got things I want to express but I'm not sure how to express them.

So, yeah, I think that there's a lot of, I've heard this expression and I don't know if it's just an Oprah bullshit term or if it's actually in the DSM-V, but it's, the term is, executive function disorder, meaning someone who has a hard time just dealing with, you know, all the adult responsibilities.

And JC will make fun of me about it, but I kind of insist, no, it's really crazy hard to be just a functioning adult in modern society. Like, and the system really will trip you up whenever it can. You know, the bank really will charge you extra if you're not paying attention, and basic things like health insurance, dental and yada, yada, like really are confusing and difficult to set up for--

 

PAUL: And if you have depression, which makes it difficult to make decisions, you know, that's just another pail of gasoline on the fire--

 

KEVIN: Absolutely.

 

PAUL: --it's just like, well, why not take a nap?

 

KEVIN: I, [chuckles] I went into serious overdraft, I just did a trip to Seattle, Vancouver and Portland to do the show there, and hadn't realized that the Venmo money that JC had sent me had not actually gone through. I hadn't pressed the right button. So, all through that trip in the Northwest I was spending money that was not in my account, came back with huge overdraft fees, and it was a disaster.

And JC said, you really have to be getting on that TD Bank app on your phone like once or twice a day to check how much money is in there. And I said, yeah, but what I hear from that is, you really do have to take a little break each day to get on your phone and check something which is going to make you very anxious and feel crushed.

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: And it's not even, it's just looking at numbers sometimes is overwhelming to me, regardless of what the numbers are. Yeah, so, [chuckles]--

 

PAUL: I get it. I get it, man. You [chuckles] don't have to explain. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense. And I think that's why there's so much lack of compassion, such a lack of compassion in our society for mental illness, is that people think it's just a weakness thing. They don't understand that there's a lot more to it--

 

KEVIN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --that it's not, it's not a personal weakness. It's a real thing. It's a real thing. And that doesn't mean that those people don't have a baseline personal responsibility to do certain things.

 

KEVIN: Right.

 

PAUL: Just like the person who has diabetes has a responsibility to themselves to take their insulin--

 

KEVIN: Of course.

 

PAUL: --but that person can't cure their diabetes by just smiling harder.

 

KEVIN: Right. What I sometimes say is that, I think it would be very, very, very helpful if more of us recognized, if maybe we were taught when we were younger that everyone has gifts to bring to the table, but that it works better, you know, like when you have people like, for example, Walt Disney working with Roy Disney or Steve Jobs working with Steve Wozniak, like people realizing, oh, you're not so good at these functions and I am, let me help you out, you know.

In The State, I don't think, when I became a sketch comedy teacher many years after The State had broken up, I would always tell my students, listen, some of you are going to realize you're not the best writer. That's okay, because you work in conjunction with a team.

Some of you are going to realize, oh, you know what I'm better at is just organizing and keeping everyone focused, or being the guy that people bounce ideas off of, or I'm just a really great character actor. Whatever it is, let's value what everyone's bringing to the table and really try to help support each other.

 

PAUL: That's such a great message, because I think when people are young they think that to be successful means you have to do everything well and everybody has to like you [chuckles], and it is a recipe for disaster, and I think the only way you can even begin to become comfortable in your skin is to be comfortable with the idea that you have a wheelhouse that you may not even know what it is yes--

 

KEVIN: Right.

 

PAUL: --but there are definitely things that are not in your wheelhouse, and to be able to let those go without too much mourning.

 

KEVIN: Yes. And being, recognizing that it's absolutely okay to fail, it's absolutely okay to, you know, be out on stage and say something and have it land like, you know, people are looking at you like they hate you for a moment, you know what I mean, like--

 

PAUL: The worst mistakes you make are sometimes the best things that can happen to you.

 

KEVIN: Yeah. And, you know, it's trick-, like during, after The State broke up, I was kind of filled with stage fright for a while there. I became, my, I was in, the Luna Lounge was happening at that point in 1996 at, on Ludlow Street, and that place, everyone was there, Colbert, you know, Chappelle, you know, Louis C.K., like everyone was performing. It was really like the place to do alternative comedy, and one of the only ones.

And so I would, I would appear there maybe once every three months or something, and premiere a piece that I had worked on for weeks and weeks and memorized the crap out of, and I usually made a point of making it an ultra-confident character to combat the fact that, in that room, I felt terrified just being surrounded by so much talent.

But what I was failing to see was that folks like Maron and whatever who were there like every night were just completely allowing, they weren't memorizing, even, they were allowing mistakes and flubs and whatever they were going through, just all the warts and all to show, and I saw that but I couldn't, I couldn't conceive of how I could do that.

To this day, I mean, what I eventually found was telling true stories, you know, because I went for 12 years doing that hiding behind crazy, kooky characters. I ended up doing a show in 2008, after I had spent four years of just saying, that's it, I'm not a performing artist anymore, I spent four years trying to become, and I thought it was going to be go back to school and learn how to become an English teacher and just lock myself away in an ivory tower.

In 2008, I created a show called F--- Up, which was five characters who had f'd up their careers and lives. I was trying to be compassionate with myself at that point because everyone in The State, practically, had become multimillionaires in Hollywood at that point. I was the black sheep who hadn't stayed in good enough touch with everyone, hadn't made a point of getting up on stage every night and making new friends, had done a little bit too much isolation and drinking and procrastinating, and had kind of fallen off the face of the Earth.

So in 2008, I create this show called F--- Up. One of the characters was literally a jazz-age, Vaudeville Jewish comedian who had been in a duo and watched his partner go on to Hollywood to become super rich and famous. And I did this, and it just wasn't connecting. It just wasn't, there was, it was clear that I was trying to tell my own true stories but was still hiding behind these big sketch comedy kinds of characters.

So, Michael Black, Michael Ian Black came to see the show when I did it at San Francisco Sketch Fest in January of 2009. And afterwards, like they literally, it was about 15 people in a 300-person theater. The microphone isn't working so I'm screaming the whole show. It was a disaster, and I felt terrible.

Afterwards I said to Michael, what'd you think? And he said, I think you should, I think the audience literally just wanted you to drop the act and start speaking from the heart as yourself. I said, well, you know, and the reply that I gave him was my mother speaking. I was like, oh, but I'm too gay and too Midwestern and yet too polite and yet too absurdist and, I said, it feels like Hollywood agents wouldn't get that. And that's what was tripping me up for 12 years.

For 12 years I was going into auditions and pitching things to Comedy Central and whatnot, trying to guess what they might want me to be, and fearing that my own kinky, weird lifestyle was, and just like contradictory nature was just too much for anyone to understand.

And he said, if it feels risky to be talking about that stuff, that's probably a good sign. That's probably a sign that there's something electric there, juicy, that people would open up to, because you're opening up about it.

So, the very next week I went back to New York and I was like, I'm 39. I really felt that 39-going-into-40 thing and I thought, you know, look, it's been 12 years now of being in the belly of the whale, I've got to try something different because I'm penniless and my career is gone. Let's go for it. Let's try telling a true story like he's always, he used to encourage me to do that way back when we were in The State as well, because my check-ins at, I'm the one who suggested to the group, hey, can we take a half hour at the beginning of each day and be human beings--

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: --at 10:00, when we arrive at MTV, can we sit in a circle and say like what we're really feeling? And because I was the black sheep of the group, the guy who wasn't hanging out with everyone else at night but was going off on gay adventures to crazy dungeons and shit, everyone was like, oh, well, now Kevin's got the best check-ins--

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: --because he's always got these crazy stories that no one else was there for. So, that week I did, after that San Francisco show, I took his advice. I said, I'll take a risk. I'll tell a story live on stage that's true.

So, I contacted Margot Leitman who ran the show Stripped Stories at UCB at that point, all sex stories, and I said, okay, I'll tell the story about the first time I tried prostituting myself just before The State was picked up by MTV. And I--

 

PAUL: I love it already.

 

KEVIN: I called her that day and I said, oh, my God, I change my mind, I can't do this, it's too risky. And she said, oh, that's actually good news.

 

PAUL: That's fantastic--

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: That's what I always tell my guests. When they're nervous after they leave it and they're like, oh, I just, I couldn't even sleep, I was like that means it's going to be a good episode--

 

KEVIN: Yes.

 

PAUL: --because you went deep.

 

KEVIN: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: And you revealed a part of yourself. That's what's comforting to us, is when you reveal that part of yourself.

 

KEVIN: I did that night, and it was, and I could feel that electricity. I could feel like, oh, now I'm having a conversation with the audience.

 

PAUL: And you're connecting.

 

KEVIN: Yeah. I'm not just reciting some memorized--

 

PAUL: You're not talking at them.

 

KEVIN: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: You're talking to them.

 

KEVIN: So, I literally walked away that night, I was walking down Eighth Avenue, away from UCB Chelsea, thinking RISK!, I'm going to start a show called RISK!, and I knew two things.

I was like, if there's two things I've learned, it's that you have to force yourself to be getting up on stage on a pretty regular basis because you have to actually be amongst people reacting. And two, you have to find a platform to get it out to more people than just that small room, right, because that's the way it might catch on.

And so, podcasting had, you know, this was 2009, so it was, you know, pretty much a few years in and just really catching on, and so I decided, that's the way I can do this. I can continue to come out about all my own stuff, but I can encourage other people who do the show to come out about their stuff.

And at first it was tricky because my friends that I got to do the show were mostly comedians, and it's actually, I've found, a little bit harder to get some of them to talk about the really sensitive stuff on stage, because they want to go for a laugh.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

KEVIN: Now, RISK!, we do, on the podcast we'll mix it up, a funny story, then a, you know, tear-jerking story, and then maybe a horrifying story, so there is a mix going around there, but it wasn't until a young lady who heard the show wrote to me and said, oh, I, I really, really want to tell the story of the molestation that I experienced between the ages of five and eight by an older cousin.

And so now, RISK!, we do stories in front of a live audience, some of them, and some of them are one on one.

 

PAUL: In the studio.

 

KEVIN: Yeah. And when she told that story, it was so raw and so detailed, and some of the crying that she did in that recording was that sort of primal crying--

 

PAUL: Really?

 

KEVIN: --where you can hear like, it almost feels like an injured animal, and I realized like, all right, I've really tapped in to something here. Like, this is something they would not run on NPR because this is so, you know, it feels so raw.

And I also knew that some people would probably say, oh, that feels a little exploitative, you know, that feels more like you're sharing something that happened in a therapy session. But--

 

PAUL: I couldn't disagree more strongly to the people that would say that.

 

KEVIN: Yeah, we have--

 

PAUL: I would say if she had come to you that day and said, I just had these memories I recalled in therapy a half hour ago and you said, come, there's this great show where I think you should share them--

 

KEVIN: Right.

 

PAUL: --that would be exploitive, but her coming in of her own free will to share that.

 

KEVIN: The very first week we did the show, the episode was called Strange Sex, no less than two young women did exactly what you're talking about. They were like, oh, I can talk about a super-super funny blackout-drunk night, and they came in and sat down with me, and as they were telling me the story, I'm looking in their eyes, they're looking in my eyes, and I’m seeing they're starting to remember things right here, right now, that's a little too much.

And I said to each of those young ladies, I was like, I'm going to send you this recording and we can talk next week, knowing I wasn't going to use it, knowing that like that person had not processed that, and what they were talking about was--

 

PAUL: They had been raped.

 

KEVIN: --nonconsensual, yeah. So, with this young lady, the young lady that came in to tell the story about the molestation, she had been working on that in therapy for 10 years, and we actually re-recorded hers, we went through three sessions, you know, and one of them, I just let her do it on her own so that she could be, you know, without me even there, and then we edited it together to like be one whole thing.

And when it went out, she wrote to me, I have been in therapy for 10 years, talking about that damn thing, but I've never felt more on top of it, more like I had kind of like owned it, stood on top of the goddamn thing, than by putting it out there on that podcast and doing that work with you.

So, that's when I realized that there was something powerful, I mean, I knew the show was powerful, but that was when things took a shift. And it then, it was about a year later that my husband left me because I had suddenly decided to devote myself full time [chuckles] to something that was making no money at all.

And so, I don't blame him at all. I mean, we're still good friends. I really don't blame him for saying, look, I, it's me or this podcast at this point, because you're not bringing in a dime. I mean, RISK! is doing well now, but at the time, before I had a business manager, etc., etc., it was just, I was just like [chuckles] spending money I didn't have on the damn thing.

So, shortly after my husband left me, I went and did a storytelling show in Provincetown, off of Boston, very gay resort place, and fell head over heels, overnight, Madama Butterfly-style, for a 19-year-old Vietnamese boy. And the next day, I saw him at the pier dance that they have there, and he treated me like I didn't exist and I was absolutely devastated.

And I realized a few things. One, oh, God, now I'm a guy in his 40s who's into guys who are, you know, [chuckles] just legal, you know, have just turned into adults, and I just had my heart broken by one of them, which it's just embarrassing to be an adult who goes to a gay resort town and falls in love overnight and thinks that that might be real, right. And I came back to New York and I said, I've got no therapist to talk about this, because it was really acutely painful for me.

So, I decided, you know what I do have, is the podcast. So, for the first time, I sat down and told a story, not live. I was used to telling funny stories. I was used to telling stories about, oh, the time a guy made me tie my shoes to my balls and that kind of thing. Here, I was going to really delve into the thoughts and feelings that I had when I thought I had found the love of my-, you know, so naively at the age of 41 had my heart broken by this guy.

And so I really let that story flow out of myself in my living room, just speaking to a microphone and then added music and sound design, and that was a turning point for me. So, I had had the turning point of other people really opening up, but that was the turning point for me.

And I have to tell you, what's occurred to me in later years, and, you know, RISK! is about, what, seven years old now, is that I hit a writing block again. Like, that opened up, that story opened up a lot. It started with Kevin Goes to Kink Camp, and then me getting into some kinky relationships with some new guys and like exploring those, but then, I hit a wall, because I realized that I had created a persona, the persona over time of being a truth-teller, the persona over time of being the funny, friendly, kinky explorer, but you begin to realize, oh, my God, you don't run out of veils to take off, you know.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

KEVIN: Like [chuckles] you, we all have winning formulas, and I think it's very much like that Jung idea of actualization is, you know, pulling off one persona that's a little bit, you know, falser than the one underneath, but there's still more to pull away.

 

PAUL: So, what was it inside you that hadn't been revealed yet?

 

KEVIN: I think that some of what may, there were years there in RISK! where I was kind of making fun of the fact that I was drinking too much and smoking too much pot. I would literally host the podcast stoned and kind of make fun of it, right.

I'm now at a place in life where, you know, I have given up drinking and I've given up marijuana, and I'm really, really, you know, there is some of those things, like a lot of friends say, well, marijuana, you always had a little more control over that than other things, but the way I'm seeing it now, at 46, is no, I really am at that midway point and there are decades ahead of me and I've got a really, really good thing here.

I’m helping people share really profound stories, and I still feel like there's a lot I haven't come out about yet, a lot of exploration to do, but in order to do it, I really feel like I should be as clear and clean and present as I possibly can be.

 

PAUL: I agree, because I think a lot of times the, you know, there's an inherent drama to getting loaded and doing crazy things when you're under the influence, but it's really kind of, it's not a meal. It's a little dessert of a story.

 

KEVIN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: The real meal is the stuff like when that woman broke down and cried about the thing, or you talking about the Hummel, the Hummel experience, that, to me, those are the meal stories that people want to hear.

 

KEVIN: I think, and this is difficult for me to--

 

PAUL: And so, are you a totally sober person or just sober from alcohol and weed?

 

KEVIN: In the past year or so, I, I found myself a kinky therapist. People out there who are kinky in any way should know that there's something called kink-aware professionals, which is a Web site that lists therapists, mostly, in your area that are, that won't pathologize whatever kinky thing you might be into, I mean, as long as it's, you're not harming people.

 

PAUL: Right.

 

KEVIN: And so, I found this therapist, and he, along with him, I started exploring transcendental meditation and just became clear that it was time to leave the alcohol behind, the pot behind. Now, I love altered states, and I'm a, I really have this seeking thing in me, this spiritual-seeking thing in me.

You know, there is a part of Catholic-, of being like such a devout Catholic boy that I still love. Like, to me, as a boy, what I loved about Catholicism was Michelangelo and Beethoven and Mozart and, you know, some of the stories and just the art of it, you know, the transportive art that I got so moved by.

When I went to a Jesuit high school, the emphasis became on, oh, yeah, all that [chuckles], all that hoggledy-boggledy is fine, but it's really about doing things for other people.

So, there's a story I have called Man at Hawaii, about going down to Peru to help the poor, and then finding myself kind of helpless [chuckles] of, wait, what do I, you know, being terrified of them rather than actually being useful. But then, coming home, telling the story and finding it had a huge impact on people. And that's a typical example there of how, another thing we do is, we learn the same goddamn lessons over and over and over.

Like, sometimes I worry about it as a storyteller, because I'm like, oh, wait, the controlling idea of this story is essentially the same as the last three that I've told. But you know what? We have to learn the same goddamn things. I mean, it's no wonder that some artists are, you know, like Van Gogh or Scorsese or whoever it might be, are just revisiting terrain because they've just got to go and work with the same complexes and dreams and [chuckles], they just got to once more back into the breach.

 

PAUL: Absolutely, absolutely. So, what are the things, well, let me ask you this. Give me the greatest hits of negative self-talk.

 

KEVIN: Hm. Oh, my God, I have them here. I literally was on the way to the--

 

PAUL: He's opening his phone right now.

 

KEVIN: --to the therapist the other day, there's 20 of them.

 

PAUL: Hit me with them.

 

KEVIN: Few gay men would ever find my body attractive. Now, a myth, because [chuckles] I have slept with a lot of, you know what I mean?

 

PAUL: Yeah [chuckles].

 

KEVIN: That doesn't go away, and yet, the evidence is insane. And, you know, I myself know, just from friends and from just being a gay man myself and having very specific tastes, people have very, very different, you know, what you see--

 

PAUL: There's somebody for everybody.

 

KEVIN: Yeah. What you see as the kind of Nazi image of how a man is supposed to look is, it's just, it's not that way.

I'm too stuck on fetishes, habits and preferences to have flowing, surprising, connected sex. Now, that's another thing. The alcohol and the pot and poppers, poppers are you sniff amyl nitrites that give you a quick, heady rush, were very much a part of my sex life for, oh, 25 or so years. And at a certain point, my therapist said, you know, you're really having sex with alcohol, pot and poppers a little bit more so than you are with that person who's in the room with you [chuckles].

And it was so clear, because the thing with poppers is, they only last for 60 seconds. So, I found myself just constantly, you know, rooting through the comforter on the bed, where are the poppers, where are the poppers? You know, and that, that feels so like, oh, my God, that feels like an addict, you know.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

KEVIN: You can't maintain eye contact with someone or, you know, when you're constantly, yeah, so, that was a very good thing to give up. And the thing of it is, is you get to a point where you're like, oh, I don't, I don't know how a person has sex without those things, and then, then you just do and you're like, what was I ever thinking?

Like, a lot of these drugs have effects on us that are, yes, very powerful, very wonderful. I fell off the wagon maybe three months ago and did get, have some marijuana before having sex with someone, and I have to admit, he even said himself, he was like, whoa, you are much more into things tonight. So, yeah, they do turn up the volumes in ways that aren't so easily accessible for us.

But I have to say that I do believe that we are capable of things, of going to some of those places in sobriety if we just gave ourselves enough room to breathe, air to like get there, you know.

I mean, the sages all say that. They all say that, you know, the happiness and everything that you can experience if you put enough work into getting centered to the good stuff, is beyond all that shit, you know.

 

PAUL: Give me some more.

 

KEVIN: Life without alcohol and drugs is no fun and repressive. I mean, today, I still have people who write in, were you stoned when you recorded today's episode, because you were hilarious? Again, never needed the shit.

I can't keep up with all the responsibilities and executive functions of adulthood. I'm only interested in Asian boys in their early 20s. Now, that's interesting. Like, in my 20s, I became obsessed with just guys of color, because I was from Cincinnati, ultra white, very, and when I came to New York City, I was like, oh, my God [chuckles], there's different kinds of people here. Then in my late 20s, I kind of started narrowly focusing on Latino guys.

Then I got married to a Filipino guy for nine years, and when I came out of that, all of a sudden I was like exclusively obsessed with Asian guys. And I don’t know what, not completely exclusively, and let me say, I've gotten some real feedback for admitting this.

You know, for what I'm saying right now, that I seem to mostly, at this stage in my life, be attracted to Asian guys, and in their early 20s, I mean, that's very offensive to some people to be said aloud because there are racist, there are objectifying, there are fetishizing tones to it, and a lot of people really get upset about the whole idea that men get away with, older men get away with being allowed to be attracted to people half their age. You know, I mean, I guess women do, too, but it's just not as common, that it seems very predatory.

I explore it all the time, and I wish it wasn't true. I've literally gone to hypnotists [chuckles] to like, okay, let's try to get this getting-attracted-to-guys-my-own-age-of-any-race thing going, I would welcome that. In fact, if I liked guys who looked like me, who were bearish, that would be such a relief because there would be that commonality and that, you know, oh, we're both [chuckles], we're both not going to the gym.

 

PAUL: Have you ever had sex with somebody older than you?

 

KEVIN: I have.

 

PAUL: When was the last time?

 

KEVIN: Ah, not very long ago, but in both cases, they were Asian men. One would not tell me his age, and I was, well, I think he might have been 60 or something, but I was really struck by how peaceful and calm and strong and flowing the sex was, as opposed to kind of a hurky-jerky, you know, like the wild horse coming out of the [chuckles], so, that was really, really nice.

I think that, I think that my own little myth in my head now is, oh, but older men might be a little too freaked out about how much growing up I still have to do.

So, I think when it comes to the realm of sex and relationships, like there's so many myths in my head that I have to like constantly try to, to get out of my head in order to let there be possibility for whatever.

Healthy eating, exercise and meditation are too much for me to stay consistent with. Now, that, you know, the whole TM thing is you're supposed to do it 20 minutes twice a day, and, you know, David Lynch is like, oh, I've done that for 40 years, never missed a session [chuckles]--

 

PAUL: Yeah [chuckles].

 

KEVIN: --and I’m like, what the fuck?

 

PAUL: Yeah, it's, I used to do it twice a day and I haven't done it twice a day in five years.

 

KEVIN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: And I'd say I do it six days a week, sometimes five.

 

KEVIN: Yeah. But it really, the thing about meditation is, I think that it's, I think that, well, I think that where I'm at with it now is, I'm kind of getting, turning a corner. I've been doing it for about a year, and I'm finally coming to a place where, oh, am I doing this right, is not the first and foremost thing in my mind, you know what I mean?

 

PAUL: Yes [chuckles].

 

KEVIN: Worrying about that I'm not doing it right is not taking up most of my mental space.

 

PAUL: And the important thing about having that period of meditation of questioning yourself is a layer that can't be gone around. It has to be gone through. You have to experience that questioning whether or not what you're doing is right. That's the first settling of your brain--

 

KEVIN: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: --is to question your brain, and there's no way to go right from, I've never meditated before to om. Wow, 20 minutes, I was in another plane--

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: It fucking doesn't happen.

 

KEVIN: Right, right, right, right.

 

PAUL: It doesn't happen.

 

KEVIN: I'm not entirely like with TM because I have read up on it a lot, and I think that David Lynch is actually a slightly, maybe not the best person to listen to about it because, you know, he describes like the very first time he did it, he says, it was as if I was in an elevator and the cord had been snipped and the car was just traveling into infinite bliss. I'm like, okay--

 

PAUL: Fuck you, David Lynch--

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: Just go fuck you and your movies.

 

KEVIN: I'm like, okay, if that's what it's supposed to be like, maybe I'll be there when I'm 70--

 

PAUL: Go film something weird, you fuck face.

 

[Chuckling]

 

KEVIN: Ah, you want some more myths?

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

KEVIN: Anyone who dated me would think I'm too messed up by childish habits and lack of discipline. You know, that's, I, I think that is a real stumbling block, and I think that part of what I, the reason that I have to explore that one more, as you hear me stammering here, is that I think that my, and my ex-husband, you know, kind of felt that way about me, you know, too many childish, messy ways for him to handle.

So, [sighs] I, you know, I, I do remind myself, we are all capable of growing, but you, you can't beat yourself up and expect too much of yourself. You know, like, like there, we are all capable of taking on a little bit more responsibility, you know, weaning ourself off of that habit, taking on, you know, but we're not quite capable of, you know, doing all that we would hope, you know, so you have to find a way to be easy on yourself.

 

PAUL: I've never found, I've never witnessed somebody beat themselves into the person they wanted to be.

 

KEVIN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: I've never, I've seen people beat themselves into doing things they wanted to do but the doing of that thing they wanted to do never led to them becoming the person they wanted to become.

 

KEVIN: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: You can do it to achieve things, but you can't do it to become. I've found the opposite to be true, that you often have to let things go and you have to be more gentle and more compassionate with yourself to become the person that you want to become. The problem with that sometimes is that maybe you don't achieve in that period the things that you want to achieve, but maybe the good thing is, is you realize, maybe I didn't really want that thing. Maybe that achievement was something I thought I needed to do for society to validate me.

You know, for instance, I used to think that acting was going to be the route, being on TV was going to be the route--

 

KEVIN: Right.

 

PAUL: --that I was meant to do. And I was in TV for a long time, but I realized, at a certain point, and I couldn't realize this until I got sober, that I didn't really like it. I didn't really like being on TV.

 

KEVIN: Ah, yeah.

 

PAUL: There was a lot of things that I was doing creatively that I didn't like, and it wasn't until I discovered podcasting that I found who, what my true voice was, and it didn't involve, like you, making any money from doing it. It stirred my soul.

 

KEVIN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: And so, for me, I could have kept beating myself up into going to auditions, auditioning badly for shit I didn't like, and living with a stomachache, or I could have said, okay, let's not go on auditions anymore. As scary as that thought is, you don't like that. Listen to your gut. And it was the best decision I ever made.

 

KEVIN: That's amazing. And I--

 

PAUL: That, and the fact that the industry intensely dislikes me and thinks I have no talent--

 

KEVIN: [Laughs]

 

PAUL: Those two things have made it easy for me to make that decision.

 

KEVIN: I so totally relate with everything you just said--

 

[Chuckling]

 

KEVIN: --and it's very comforting to hear it, too.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

KEVIN: Like I've told a story, and in fact, I think I just said it a moment ago, that for--

 

PAUL: And let me just interrupt you for one second. For anybody listening, going, oh, God, they're talking about show business so much, this applies to any--

 

KEVIN: Oh, yeah.

 

PAUL: --any field of--

 

KEVIN: Oh, yeah, trying to--

 

PAUL: --field of work.

 

KEVIN: --force yourself as a round peg into a square hole.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

KEVIN: The story I've told is that, oh, my greatest regret is that I didn't stay much, much closer to all the guys in The State and worked those connections and find myself on a sitcom or whatever. I mean, it's a real, it's a real, almost like a Jungian dream.

My first meeting with James Dixon, who was the talent manager for The State and who is now the talent manager for, or agent for, you know, Colbert and Jon Stewart and yada, yada, yada, he sat me down after, when The State was breaking up and he was like, kid, you're going to be perfect for sitcoms, you're going to have so much pussy you wouldn't believe it--

 

[Chuckling]

 

KEVIN: And I just sat there thinking, have you ever seen the, I mean, I was totally out at the age of 24, on our sketch comedy show--

 

PAUL: That's like a Martin Short character.

 

KEVIN: Yeah, yeah [laughs].

 

PAUL: Kid, put down the Judy Garland records, we're going to go get some pussy.

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: So, no. I've told the story for years, oh, my God, if I had only stayed closer to everyone in The State. But you know what? If I had, I might not be doing what I'm doing now, you know what I mean?

Like, some part of me thinks, no, those 12 years after The State broke up were brutal and you were impoverished and you were this, that and the other, but some part of your psyche might have compassionately been taking you away and saying, you know what, you were pretty scarred from that way of communicating with people for eight years, and you need to, even if it's rough for just as many years, you need to kind of find your own way.

So, yeah, definitely having compassion about, oh, maybe, maybe my, the potential that I can live up to, the potential that would be best for me to live up to, would not have the sort of prestige that I ordinarily think of. I mean, it's hard to look at Twitter and Facebook and see what's going on with so many of our peers--

 

PAUL: Yes.

 

KEVIN: --because it kind of instantly activates that, oh, my God, I guess I, I should be doing something like that, shouldn't I, you know, it's hard not to go back--

 

PAUL: It's high school. It's digitized high school.

 

KEVIN: Yeah. I'm too eccentric and insecure for anyone to fall in love with me. That's just nonsense. If I fall in love with someone, I will instantly become petrified they will reject me. I mean, that didn't happen with Ariel[sp?], with my husband. So, why is it back?

I don't have enough natural talent or attractive traits to make it in the bigger entertainment industry. Well, as far as the bigger entertainment industry goes, I, you know, I think both of us have found that by going with our guts, you know, like people have come to me now because they love, and the same is true of like, for example, Maron, like he wasn't doing all that well for a while there.

 

PAUL: No. He was ready to get out of the business. I remember he and I were performing together. We were in San Francisco, working with Janeane Garofalo, and he and I were walking down the street and he was like, I'm just, I’m going to, I'm just, I'm done, I’m fucking done, I'm going to move back to such-and-such and I'm going to, and I was like, dude, you're overreacting. Stick with it. You've got, you know, and then the next time I saw him, he was like, yeah, I started this podcast and it seems to be going pretty well--

 

KEVIN: Yeah [chuckles], yeah, yeah, yeah. And yeah, so it's [sighs], sometimes you've just got to like go with your gut, and if you believe in it, just stick with it. Like, it's really weird for me to be at this place with RISK! now because, you know, we're making decent money. We're going to all kinds of places with the show, lots of traveling and all.

But there's still a part of my habitual brain, and people will say to me, in conversation, they'll be like, okay, so what else, what else are you doing? It's like, wait a minute [chuckles]--

 

PAUL: I always get such a stomachache--

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: --because I'm like, that's enough for me. That's, I've never said that, but I should say it, why is that not enough? Why is that not enough? That's the tone I want to say it in, is, why is that not enough [in imperiled voice], I'm just one man.

 

KEVIN: [Laughs] I mean, in reality, they're just having conversation with you--

 

PAUL: I know, but I panic--

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: All I have is the podcast and hockey and going to dinner with my wife. That's it. And the dogs. Oh, and the other, I wanted to mention, I want to mention one more thing.

It sounded a little contradictory when, you know, what I said about saying to Marc Maron, oh, just stick with it, because it almost seems like the opposite of what I'd said before--

 

KEVIN: Right.

 

PAUL: --with go, if, you know, the acting thing isn't working for you, go find something else. But what I mean is, if the creative endeavor that you're working on isn't working for you, continue to be creative but maybe look for doing something else--

 

KEVIN: Oh, a different, yeah, absolutely--

 

PAUL: If you're an accountant and you don't like the firm you're working for, maybe find something else that involves what your wheelhouse is but doesn't take the form that you're--

 

KEVIN: And we really are, I mean, I don't know if this is true or not, but it kind of seems like we're at a stage in the history of employment in this country where there is a little bit more leeway, especially via the Internet, for being a little bit creative about putting a career together that is a little bit like off the beaten track, you know.

I think that a lot--

 

PAUL: It's like those degrees in college where you would make up your own degree.

 

KEVIN: Yeah. Right, like, I mean, it's much easier said than done, because the process is kind of like, it's a seeking process. It really is. It's like a spiritual growth thing of, like RISK! is so many, I can see so many places in my life that, like I used to make radio dramas on a little Radio Shack tape recorder when I was a kid, and I first told a personal story in high school in front of all my classmates about that trip to Peru.

So, there are little things you look back at like, oh, yeah, that was a eureka moment and it's not all coming together until much, much later. But you can, like Steve Jobs said, you can look back and start connecting the dots of, wait, wait, I do like this, oh, yeah, and this goes with this, yeah.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm. As opposed to what's going to make me the most money. Those are the least present, most miserable people I know, are the people that say, what will make me the most money, as opposed to the people that are like, I enjoy doing this.

 

KEVIN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: You know, one of the most valuable things my parents told me when I was growing up was, do what you love and the money will follow.

 

KEVIN: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: Because you'll do it with a passion, and if you're doing something with a passion, you will, even if you're not amazing at it, you'll probably be really good at it, and really good at something is usually enough to make a living.

 

KEVIN: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I mean, granted, well, recognition is another thing that is a, you know, it trips me up a lot. I wish that I could, and I think that these habits of thought are, there's something to be said about any kind of habit.

I've been reading this book called The Little Book of Big Change, which--

 

PAUL: That's so weird. I’m reading The Big Book of Little Change.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Go ahead.

 

KEVIN: The idea is that being aware of a habit really is super important because seeing that, oh, I’m having that craving, or, oh, I'm starting to think those mythological thoughts, or, oh, I’m starting to feel that feeling in my gut and spiral down that emotional place, that just seeing that, you can then become aware, wait a minute, this is passing phenomena. This is not necessarily reality. This is a perception that is not necessarily going to be there even five minutes from now.

So, just being aware of that can give you enough grounding to not get caught up in the tidal wave of it--

 

PAUL: Absolutely.

 

KEVIN: --to kind of just like stand and watch the parade go by a little bit. The way she puts it in the book, because she was a binge eater. She was, you know, she was the kind of person who would just get a bunch of Oreos and stuff them all down her face, and then throw it up.

 

PAUL: Which I think is, it says on the package of Oreos is how you're supposed to eat them.

 

[Chuckling]

 

KEVIN: You made me hit the microphone. No, she says that she thinks of it sometimes as like she's driving in the car and all of a sudden the person behind her and, you know, there's someone in the back seat who's screaming, go through that red light, go through, go through, go through, go through, and she realizes, oh, there's that person screaming at me in my head again.

It doesn't mean I have to get worked up. It doesn't mean I have to go through the red light. It doesn't really mean anything. I can just observe, okay, that's happening, and I know that going through the red light is not going to serve me. You know, so it's an interesting way to just start to be, you know, the growth through these habits, the reason I'm saying this is because my habit of thinking, why isn't RISK! getting more recognition, you know what I mean?

 

PAUL: It's getting a huge amount of recognition--

 

KEVIN: I know, I know [chuckles], I know. I know, but I can't help that habitual way of thinking.

 

PAUL: His podcast gets over a million downloads a month.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: That is the nature of the human brain.

 

KEVIN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: That is, and I love that analogy of somebody sitting, that's such a great one. And for me, that's what meditation does, is it helps you separate yourself, your thoughts from, it allows you to hear that as the person in the back seat instead of reality.

 

KEVIN: Yes.

 

PAUL: It allows you to observe instead of buy in to the drama.

 

KEVIN: Right, that the, there's a, they say the seat of the soul or something, that, you know, you recognize, oh, I have a separate self from even my thoughts, yeah, right, right.

 

PAUL: Yes. You know what, before we finish with that, I have to hear the story about being the prostitute before, right before The State--

 

KEVIN: [Laughs]

 

PAUL: I mean, how do you throw out a, hey, when I prostituted myself, and then so . . .

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: It's just the casual prostitute aside.

 

KEVIN: [Laughs] Oh, my God. Well, I'll tell you, it was, I was 23 years old, I guess, either 23 or 22, and at that point I really felt like--

 

PAUL: And where were you, in New York?

 

KEVIN: I was in New York, and The State was together. We were, you know, functioning as a sketch comedy group, but we weren't sure if we were going, we were pitching ourselves to MTV. I think we had done You Wrote It, You Watch It with Jon Stewart but we weren't sure if we were going to have our own TV series after that was cancelled.

And, you know, MTV paid virtually nothing--

 

PAUL: Nothing.

 

KEVIN: Right.

 

PAUL: Still to this day, I don't think they pay anything.

 

KEVIN: Yeah. I mean, we would get unemployment checks when we, you know, when we were fired or whatever and look at them and be like, oh, this is the same amount--

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: But so, yeah, I remember one week the rent was due on Monday and I just did not have a dime. And I remember feeling like, well, I'm not competent at anything. Like, I can do this sketch comedy stuff where I pretend to slip on a fish or whatever, but [chuckling] otherwise, I'm just literally kind of walking around looking for change on the ground.

 

PAUL: Oh, if only laying about paid good money.

 

KEVIN: Right [chuckles]. So, one night, my roommate, his name was Ray, that's what I call him in the story, he came up to me and, now, Ray was this gorgeous boy. He was much younger-looking than he even was. He looked like a 1950s Disney character of a boy, you know, like he's going after Old Yeller or something like that.

And I was never quite sure how he made the rent, but he was clearly concerned this weekend that I didn't have it. And he sat me down and he said, Kevin, you know, a lot of people don't realize this, but prostitution can be fun.

So I was like, I couldn't believe this conversation was happening, but I'm looking at him like, oh, that's the way that Ray makes the rent. Ray loved older men, right, and I've always loved, you know, guys in, you know, their early 20s. And so, I was like, ah, this is what's going on here.

But he started to explain it to me in an almost self-help-y way, like [chuckles] he was giving like life-coaching advice for the downward--

 

PAUL: Because I have such a clear picture of the sketch of the guy on Disney's, The Wonderful World of Disney, the prostituting can be fun--

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: Oh, my God, you have to write that. You have to write that.

 

KEVIN: He literally said, you have to keep in mind the seven laws of successful whoring, which was his, you know, he had come up with these phrases. And, in fact, they were super snappy and useful.

They were very cute. They were things like, money before honey, which is like a transactional advice. What was one, oh, ET-, no, sweetie phone home, which is based on ET phone home, but what it means is, now back in that day, there were hustler bars, right, that's how it was done, before Giuliani like turned New York into a place where sex practically doesn't even happen anymore. He got rid of the hustler bars and all the sex clubs and all that sort of thing.

But back then, there was a place called Rounds, a couple of places, but this particular one was the most David Lynch-y, like right down to the blue velvet and the smoking and the weird, you know, someone singing, you know, [chuckles] Stormy Monday. It was a really weird place, but he said, no, when you get there, to Rounds, and you decide to go somewhere with someone, make sure to call me or a loved one in their presence so they can see you're saying, I'm going to 765 Park Avenue right now--

 

PAUL: So that you don't get killed.

 

KEVIN: Right, exactly. And then the third one was, hard to get is an easy bet, which I always joke it kind of sounds like the plot of a Jane Austen novel [chuckles], but I couldn't remember the rest of them, and off I went that night to Rounds.

 

PAUL: What was the, hard to get is the best bet?

 

KEVIN: Hard to get is an easy bet. In other words, don't throw yourself--

 

PAUL: Don't come on too hard--

 

KEVIN: --at men, yeah, yeah, be a little like coy and like they're going to have to fight for your attention, you know, like it's a meat market.

 

PAUL: I see.

 

KEVIN: So, I got to Rounds that night, and I instantly noticed that the room was very evenly split half and half. Half were men who looked like as Repub-, like everyone looked like Rush Limbaugh. You know, they looked like bankers the shape of bison [chuckles], you know what I mean. And the other half were kids who looked like River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves in My Own Private Idaho, but those kids, those boys, were clearly very savvy about what they were, you could literally watch them giving each other little hand signals across the room, like in The Sting, like this one's mine, that one's, you know, cheap and avoid him, you know, that kind of thing.

And so I looked around and I was like, first of all, I thought just being 23 was going to be enough, but, A, I'm [chuckles] much less sexy than anyone, any of these guys, and B, I don't know what all these hand signals are.

So, at one point, a guy grabs my hand, an older man grabs my hand and I flail around, and it is one of these Rush Limbaugh-looking guys. He puts my hand, the back of my hand, up into the light and he shows a friend of his the back of my hand and he says, see that? Hair on the back of the hand means there's hair on his ass, too. And they dropped my hand and walked away, like literally--

 

PAUL: Oh, my God.

 

KEVIN: --looking at cattle at the fair [laughs].

 

PAUL: Oh, my God.

 

KEVIN: It was, I, I, at that moment, I was so flustered that I was like, I don't think I can handle this, I don't think I can handle this.

 

PAUL: And does that mean hair on your butt or your butthole?

 

KEVIN: Oh [chuckles], I just took it to mean hair on the butt, period, you know, anywhere, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: All right.

 

KEVIN: And it's so funny because I'm like, yeah, I always have had hair all over [laughter]. And, you know, I just felt, at that moment, like I'm in over my, I can't even afford a drink, and no one seemed to be buying me one, so I was like, I'm out of here.

But as I'm heading toward the door, there is this guy who was, he looked younger than most of the men there. He looked like he was maybe, you know, 39, 40 years old, and yuppie, gave off a very like, you know, like well-dressed yuppie, kind of Bright Lights, Big City kind of guy or, you know, Bonfire of the Vanities kind of guy, and as I'm, he approaches me, and I'm like, oh, wait, okay, now something's happening, but he kind of gave off this jerky vibe.

And he said, what are you, brand new, like you look like a deer caught in the headlights [chuckles], and I said, yeah, I've never done this--

 

PAUL: What gave it away, the overalls?

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: Right. I'm like, that's one thing, like this happened over and over in my stories, where someone will, I'll think, oh, I should just be acting a certain way and people are like, that ain't working. I'm like, maybe I should not be an actor [chuckles].

But I said, yeah, yeah, I'm brand new. And he said, well, you're not supposed to admit it. So, I was like, oh, I don't like this guy. He's not nice, you know.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

KEVIN: But he said, look, kid, I'll be brief. Why don't we do a half session, I'm kind of pressed for time and money, we'll go down to my place, we'll do it for $75.

Now, I had never heard of the concept of a half session, and $75 was much lower than anything Ray had ever mentioned. I was like, am I going to have to come back to this bar like 10 times for the rent?

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: So, I was like, ah, wait, wait, wait, how do I feel about that? But the guy is pushing me out the door. And I am just, you know, it was always my failing in The State, of just kind of being the nice or more submissive or more agreeable kind of guy. I'm like, oh, wait, I guess we're going, we're going here.

So, he pushes me into the cab, and I'm trying to get my seatbelt on and he's trying to get his seatbelt on and they're kind of sticking and, and I said, you know what, we haven't really talked about the terms, like I need to be clearer on the terms. And he said, what? I said, you know, like the terms of the transaction, where we're going, what we're doing, etc. And he was like, kid, you're supposed to be acting like you like this.

 

[Chuckling]

 

KEVIN: And I was like, ugh, I so don't.

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: So, I'm still struggling with my thing, and the next thing I know, he's going for my belt buckle, he's taking my pants down in the back of the cab. And I said, whoa, whoa, whoa, what's going on? I said, hold on a minute, sir. And he kind of starts making fun of me, like, [in a mocking tone] hold on a minute, sir.

I'm like, I don't, I'm not com-, eventually I'm like, dick out in the cab, and he's trying to like kind of bob for apples down to get his face down, but having a hard time with his seatbelt and I'm having a hard time, and we're going over potholes, and there's this driver, there's this like--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

KEVIN: --Indian driver with a turban on who's kind of looking at us like, like he's seen this before almost--

 

PAUL: Oh, my God.

 

KEVIN: --like, oh, yeah, here it is, dick out in the cab, like [chuckles]--

 

PAUL: It's Friday.

 

KEVIN: So, eventually I'm just like, no, this is not working, and we end up in a little bit of a fighting match, a shoving, we're like Laurel and Hardy in the back of this cab. And then finally, I realize that, oh, my gosh, we're downtown again, we're near where I live. I saw the Waverly Theater and I remember just yelling to the driver, driver, just pull over here, I've got to get out. And the drive didn't seem fazed by that either.

So, the guy says to me, what the hell are you thinking? And I'm like [chuckles], what, you didn't get that this wasn't working here? Like, I don’t, you know, it was, it, there was just such I think a sense of entitlement and such a sense of, oh, I don't know. I think some people just like to scare you sometimes by acting like they know how things are supposed to be happening.

But I'll tell you, the moment I felt my feet on that pavement again, then I felt powerful again. And I wanted to lash out at him. I wanted to humiliate him the way I felt like he kind of did me.

So, I screamed at him, I said, the next time you want to suck my dick you can pay for it first, and slammed the car door, and then realized, as the car is zooming away, I didn't really embarrass him because, it was me that I embar-, because there was a crowd gathered now on Sixth Avenue--

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: --like, what the hell? So, the crazy end of this story is that I get home that night and I say to Ray, Ray, I don't know if I am cut out for that. First of all, like all of the seven laws flew out of my head [chuckles]. There was no phoning home, no nothing. And second, I just felt like I, the two of us were kind of like cons conning cons, you know, and I felt like that's not acting that I'm capable of.

And he said, well, listen, don't worry about that right now because there is a call on the voice message machine that you should hear right away. I listen to the voice message machine, and it's the manager of The State alerting me that we'd been picked up for a series by MTV--

 

[Laughter]

 

KEVIN: So, the very next week, I'm in rehearsals, you know, acting like someone who's slipping on fish and everything and thinking, all right, this is the kind of act I can do.

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: Well, how do we not end on that story? I mean, that's, that, I kind of want to hear some more of the things that you have, but that's such a, that's such a great way to end this--

 

KEVIN: Oh, yeah, for sure, for sure.

 

PAUL: We have to end on that. That's so perfect. It's so perfect.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: If people want to check out The State, or RISK!, is it RISK-Show.com?

 

KEVIN: Yeah, it's RISK-Show.com, and the school is TheStoryStudio.org, but RISK! is, you know, it's also on iTunes and--

 

PAUL: Okay. I'll put all those, when this episode goes up, I'll have you send me links and I'll put all the links up to your Twitter and all that stuff.

Anything else you'd like to share or plug before we wrap up?

 

KEVIN: Well, The State also has a new book out. It's called The Union of The State. It's an oral history of the group from all 11 of our perspectives.

 

PAUL: Oh, that's awesome.

 

KEVIN: Yeah, it's pretty damn interesting, especially to hear people's memories of how certain creative decisions came about with certain sketches, but also, totally, totally divergent ideas of how certain things went. Like, you couldn't believe how much contradiction there is [chuckles]--

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

KEVIN: --in that book about what our lives were.

 

PAUL: Wow. Kevin, thank you so much for coming by and sharing this.

 

KEVIN: Thank you. This was a pleasure.

 

PAUL: Many, many thanks to Kevin. And if you haven't checked out his podcast yet, do. I'm pretty sure you guys would really like it, if you like this podcast. If you hate this podcast, then maybe that's not your cup of tea, but if you hate this podcast, why are you still listening to me 102 minutes in? Because you're an asshole, that's why, because you are a masochist.

I don't know why I had to create a hypothetical person and then go after them. But it felt kind of good. It felt kind of good. I think my nipples got a little bit hard.

I want to tell you guys about Madison Reed. They do hair coloring, and they have hair-coloring kits and I gave one to our listener, Kat, and I said, Kat, try it out, give me your honest feedback, don't bullshit me, and she wrote me back and she said, instructions were easy to follow, the second pair of gloves for rinsing is genius, the cap was also appreciated. Since the set time is 45 minutes, so I didn't have to worry about color transfer while doing a few things around the house to pass the time. The color itself was easy to mix and apply. I’m particularly sensitive to strong chemical odors and was surprised by the pleasant fragrance. The color is rich, with good depth and coverage of those stubborn grays. I would suggest ordering two kits if you have longer hair. It made my hair actually feel healthier, thick and smooth. The package included coupons for future purchases and information about their companion products, like the root touch-up powder, which I'm definitely going to try. Many thanks to Paul and Madison Reed. I'm a big fan of both. Cheers, Kat.

So, go to Madison Reed, I'm sorry, Madison-Reed.com and take their quick color quiz by answering a few questions about your hair and they'll find your perfect hair-color match. And they ship it directly to your door, complete with goof-proof step-by-step instructions. Find your perfect shade at Madison-Reed.com and get 10% off plus free shipping on your first color kit using promo code HAPPY. That's Madison-Reed.com, and promo code HAPPY.

I want to also give some love to ZipRecruiter. Are you hiring? Do you know where to post your job to find the best candidates, because posting your job in once place isn't enough to find quality candidates. If you want to find the perfect hire, you've got to post your job on all the top job sites, and now you can. ZipRecruiter already has nine million résumés you can search through in their database. You can add multiple people to your account to make it the most efficient for your team and find the best hire.

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Right now, listeners can post jobs on ZipRecruiter for free by going to ZipRecruiter.com/first. That's ZipRecruiter.com/first. Third time is a charm, ZipRecruiter.com/first.

And of course, we can always use help for the podcast. If you go to our Web site, mentalpod.com, you can become a one-time PayPal donor, or my favorite, and we need it very, very much, become a recurring monthly donor starting at as little as a dollar a month on Patreon.

I would suggest, if you're going to sign up for monthly donations, on your choices between PayPal and Patreon, I would do it through Patreon because then I can give you guys little rewards and they're kind of tiered on the level that you are a monthly donor at. And it's, the interface is much easier for me, but anything is appreciated.

Spreading the word about the podcast through social media, shopping at Amazon by entering through the link on our Web site, all of those things chip in little bits of money and help keep this going, because this is my full-time job and I, I have many ideas for expanding the podcast and it would be nice to be able to realize some of them.

Okay, enough begging, let's get to the surveys. This is a Struggle in a Sentence survey filled out by Anomie Combatant, and he writes about his depression. It's like the clock hands are spinning faster and faster, and I’m just sitting there. That is so good.

Snapshot from his life. As I’m filling this out, it's a sunny Saturday afternoon. I'm in my apartment with the shades closed. All I've done so far today is move from the bed to the computer. I didn't take a shower yesterday, so it's day three for my underwear. I have unanswered texts on my phone that I don't want to respond to because they could lead to social obligations. I spent 15 minutes trying to think of a clever nickname to use on this survey because, if I can make someone smile or laugh, then maybe I'm okay.

Well, you did make me smile, and laugh, and you are okay even if you didn't. Any comments to make the podcast better? New surveys, please, and maybe more listener interviews.

I did put two new surveys up there. One is for you guys to pick your top 10 episodes of 2016. And the other one is about misophonia, which is a sensitivity to certain sounds, and I’m going to be reading some of those misophonia responses a little later in the show, so hopefully that will shed some light on misophonia. And I have recorded a guest with misophonia and it hasn't, we haven't put it up yet, but be on the lookout for, her first name is Charlynne[sp?], and, yeah, it's a good one. Oh, we're already into the misophonia survey. I hope I didn't catch you off guard.

Just a couple of words before I read the misophonia ones, to just kind of condense it, here are some trends that I have seen in the dozen or so that I've read so far. When asked, is your relationship with the person making the noise that irritates you, is it affected by their noises? People usually say that, yes, because they feel somewhere usually between irritation and rage at that person making the noise.

Most people with misophonia say that they are not comfortable sharing about it. A few say that it feels good to let other people know that they have it, but most feel guilty when they share that they have it, they feel guilty for having it. Some of them, after they share it, they feel judged or misunderstood, or sometimes even made fun of by the person, you know, who then launches into the noise and thinks it's funny because it, it's triggering.

Very few, I've not actually come across a survey yet where the person can trace their misophonia to a loud noise or ear trauma, and most people have not tried or found anything that helps with it.

And now I'm going to read individual, this individual one. This was filled out by a guy who calls himself Low Point, and he's in his 30s. The sounds that trigger him, sounds involving skin, especially scratching, clearing throat and eating sounds. Do you have any other sensory sensitivities? Not really. How long have you had this? As long as I can remember. How many times a day do you get triggered? Four to six.

Have you been diagnosed with a mental or physical health disorder? I've only officially been diagnosed with major depression, but I'm 99% sure I have borderline personality disorder, although I've never talked about it with a health care professional.

Is there a history of trauma in your family? Trauma from childhood, yes. Alcoholic, schizophrenic father who attempted suicide, older sister died from illness when I was seven. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Keeper of All Boundaries, and he writes, I am gay. My extremely liberal parents gave me a pile of books about coming out, acceptance and gay relationships when I was 11. I know it came from a place of love, but I was way too young to have that stuff forced on me. They frequently nudged me for years to discuss my sexuality with them. It was too late. The 11-year-old boy that felt so invaded and humiliated had built a steel wall that I doubt will ever come down.

Fast forward 25 years, my nephew is now questioning his gender identity and my parents picked up on it. My parents asked me, how do you think we should support him in this journey? Without missing a beat, I whipped around and said, butt out. God, that felt good.

Our family is so liberal, accepting and open-minded that, if he really needed support, I know he will ask for it and receive it in abundance. Until then, I hope that, quote, supportive families like mine can learn to let their flowers grow organically and stop fiddling with the unopened buds demanding to see its colors to strengthen their own politically conscious egos that can also cause severe emotional trauma.

I had never even thought about that, but, you know, I have heard stories of, you know, the well-meaning hippie parents, or maybe not, maybe not well meaning. Maybe they're kidding themselves, who think that nudity around their children is never, ever a bad thing, and don't ever stop to consider, is the child comfortable with it, is this, you know, is the sexuality we're talking about, is this too early to be talking about it with the kid. And I think a lot of times people who are left-leaning can make the mistake of believing, you know, nothing is too taboo or whatever to be talked about, and yeah, I think it's an important topic to talk and think about.

This is a Misophonia Survey. This was filled out by 100% Dorky, who is a trans female, straight, in her 50s, and what noises trigger her, subwoofer, snoring and tuneless whistling. Oh, my God, tuneless whistling. I don't have misophonia, but I want to fucking punch people that whistle.

Any other sensory sensitivities? Very sensitive to smoke and perfume. How long have you had misophonia? For as long as I can remember. How many times a day do you get triggered? Once. Any other issues? Gender dysphoria, but I don't think it's related, and I was, experienced some molestation at eight years old. Thank you for sharing that.

This is an e-mail I got from Kristy, and she writes, I'm 28 years old and I was raised in what I thought was a pretty functional home. It wasn't until about five, six years ago that I realized my mother is bat-shit crazy. She is a hypochondriac. She is a hoarder, and it's gotten progressively worse as she's aged. She never contributed to our family financially, emotionally or in any way, really. I grew up to believe that her behavior was normal and just how women are.

When I became an adult, I started putting it all together that I'm not the crazy one and that her behavior is indicative of mental illness, and the way my home was ran as a child was not functional and was actually incredibly destructive.

I'm almost 30 and pretty much now realizing that I have mommy issues. I can accept that she has these issues, and I can accept that these issues aren't necessarily her fault. I can also accept that the way these issues have affected me were in no way intentional on her part and I do not hate her for it.

But I cannot accept that she only ever contacts me to tell me about her latest ailment and to ask me when she can baby-sit my kids. My reply is always some form of the same words, I'm sorry to hear that, and we are super busy but we're home on Tuesday and Thursday nights if you'd like to come by and visit. I'm not taking my kids to her house because it's filthy and riddled with dog shit, and I'm not going to buy in to her made-up illnesses and justify them for her.

How do I avoid being overcome by anxiety when I get a text or phone call from her without cutting her out of my life completely? Your thoughts are appreciated.

Well, as I like to preface often, I’m not a therapist, but you asked for my opinion, and I think the way you're handling it right now is great, because you are, you're setting boundaries and you're not letting her come over when you don't want her to come over, and you are, I think you said that you try to change the subject? Oh, you say, I'm sorry to hear that.

So, yeah, I think you're handling it pretty well, but, you know, the other thing with having somebody who is kind of emotionally sick or a handful in our life is the emotions that we experience around it. You know, we can even be setting boundaries with someone, taking all the healthy actions, but inside, we're fucking fuming, you know, or may be triggered for days, with having trouble staying present or being depressed or angry or snapping at other people.

And for that, for me, going to therapy and support groups really helped, because it helped process the feelings that were underneath not being able to be at peace with other people being sick around me, you know, especially feeling guilty about setting boundaries with people.

This is another Misophonia Survey, and this was filled out by Chew With Your Mouth Closed Like a Fucking Adult [chuckles]. And he is gay and he's in his 20s, and the noises that trigger him are loud chewing and lip smacking, and those seem to be the two most common ones. Other sensory sensitivities? Even the slightest smell of garbage makes me gag or dry heave. It can be really embarrassing. He's had misophonia since at least high school, possibly earlier.

How many times a day do you get triggered? When I'm with my parents, two to three times a day at least. When I'm not, it barely happens once a week. That's interesting. I wonder if other people making the same noise triggers him as much.

He's bipolar II, or I should say, has bipolar II, and he believes it's connected in some way but he's not sure. History of trauma? My parents were pretty emotionally distant throughout my childhood. I've since moved out of the house but every time I go home we fall into the same dynamic.

And he's the only one of the surveys I've read so far, and I've got a bunch more to read, but he's the only one that says that he found something that helps a little and he started taking lamictal, but not for his misophonia specifically, but once he started taking it, he says he noticed his symptoms becoming much less severe. Thank you for sharing that.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey, filled out by Mave, and I just want to read a couple of excerpts from it. She's straight, in her 30s. She was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. She's never been sexually abused. She's not sure if she's been physically or emotionally abused, and she writes this.

My father was an alcoholic, so he was more verbally abusing when he was drunk, and sometimes when he was sober he would say things like, why are all my children so fucking stupid, and sometimes grab our arms and pull us in when he was yelling at me and my siblings, but that was about it.

I'd say saying out loud, why are all my children so fucking stupid, I'd say that's abusive, but again, the categorizing of it isn't as important as giving weight to it.

Any positive experiences with the abuser? The confusion of healing one day how proud, confusion of healing one day how proud, or maybe she meant feeling. The confusion of feeling one day how proud he was of me and then the next day asking why I can't do anything right. That would be a mind fuck. That is gaslighting, I guess, I guess we call that.

Darkest secrets. When I was nine, I began going into the kitchen late at night and take out the large knives and point them at my heart or chest and wonder about pushing the knife through and dying. Sometimes I would push the knife tip just a little bit into my skin to see what it would feel like. It always hurt, so I never went further than that.

The thought of me bleeding to death on the kitchen floor never really fazed me, although I knew it should. What did disturb me was the thought of one of my younger siblings, particularly my then-three-year-old sister, finding my body and what that would do to them.

Oh, that is heartbreaking. What, if anything, do you wish for? I wish for my father to have admitted his alcoholism and apologize for his actions and words before he passed away. He denied he had a problem, other than he, quote, drank too much, or that he ever said the things he said right until the end. Denying it, in some ways, is more painful than the actual words and actions.

Have you shared these things with others? My therapist knows most of this. How do you feel after writing these things down? Everything looks much worse written down, but I might need that realization.

I think it's a super-healthy thing to do. It's painful, but yeah, getting those thoughts either out of our mouths to another person or onto paper, even just to read ourselves, can sometimes give us clarity on the weight. I mean, the fact that you were doing that at nine years old is a pretty good indication of how that, those family dynamics were affecting you.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Mocha Mamma, and she writes, it's Friday night and I'm absolutely exhausted after a long, stressful week at work. I'm vegging out in front of the TV. My boyfriend asks me to give him a buzz cut. I say I'd be happy to give him a buzz cut but can we please do it tomorrow when I’m well rested. He insists that I cut his hair immediately.

We go back and forth arguing, until he takes my wrists and yanks me off the couch and pulls me to the back porch where he's placed the hair-cutting tools. He takes his seat, plugs in the electric clippers and hands them to me. Typically I insert the number four attachment, but this time I was so tired I forgot to insert any attachment. Five seconds later, I gasp once I see the fresh-cut road of bare scalp.

My boyfriend runs his hands across his head and accuses me of purposefully scalping him to make a point. Since the reverse Mohawk is not a good look, I do the only thing that makes sense, that is, to shave his whole head. It's 10 years later and he's never asked me to cut his hair since.

And I hope he's listening to you, because that's pretty fucked up, that you're saying no and he's picking you up and dragging you.

This is a Struggle in a Sentence filled out by Still Here, and her issues are depression and anxiety, and this is a snapshot from her life, and she's a teenager. She writes, I had just told my sister I wanted to kill myself. She told my mother, who came to me and said that the answer might be me getting my hair done. So, I am shaving it off.

What exactly is the hairstyle that wards off suicidal ideation? Is there, [chuckles] is there like a big fashion book that has happier moods in the front and then bad moods towards the back? Fuck, it's just every time I think I've heard it all, it is just mind-boggling, the ways that people will put their head in the sand.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by Bee Bop, and she's in her 30s, raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment, and I just wanted to read one thing from this. Have you ever been physically or emotionally abused? She writes, not sure. My husband can be really mean, saying things that are hurtful about my weight, and when I ask why he would say whatever it was, he says, I'm just being honest.

And, you know, there's so many things I want to say about that, and the first thing that I want to say is, if you had asked him, give me your opinion of my weight and I want you to be honest with me, that would be a different story.

But telling somebody something that you know is going to hurt their feelings and it's not necessary to tell that person that thing, you know, he's telling you as if you have no idea what your body looks like, that you have any opinion on what you'd like your body to look like, whether or not you're okay with your body, as if it's something that he owns, you know, like the two of you have joint custody of your body and, you know, he wants to talk about the weekend visits with it.

You know, I always like to think of something that the person should have said, because in my life, when somebody says something that cuts me, I usually freeze. I feel shame, and I can't think of anything to say and then, five minutes later, for the next month, I’m thinking about what I should have said to the person.

And so, I would have said, when he said, I’m just being honest, I would have said, and you're also being selfish and hurtful and inconsiderate and, if you don't like my body, leave, and I'll find somebody whose honesty doesn't come from unsolicited advice and who appreciates me as I am.

And the other thing I would like you to have said was, but if I lose the weight, wouldn't you still just be an asshole? It's actually kind of a rip-off of a thing that Winston Churchill said to a lady at a party one time.

In my experience, most of what helps a relationship is focusing on how you can show up as a better partner, not how [chuckles] you can tell your partner to be a better partner. Yeah, expressing your needs sometimes is definitely important and communicating it, but not in a way that belittles your partner or puts them on the defensive or is not helpful in the long run. And I don't know if your husband thinks he's being helpful, but there, there you have it.

Ashley H gives us a snapshot of her anxiety. One time I was checking out at a Walmart. My mom had to leave the line to grab another item and the checker was getting impatient. I could feel the eyes of people in line trained on me as my breath gave out and tears streamed down my face. It was only a few minutes, but it felt like eternity. Sending you some love, Ashley.

I think all of the listeners on this podcast get those moments when we just say to ourselves, why can't I handle this like other people handle this? And you know what, I think, while there's differences, I think so many of us feel the same thing. We just have different abilities to conceal it.

Kels shares an Awfulsome Moment. I was sexually abused by family members for a period of seven years as a child. I finally had the courage to tell my mom when I was 16. Her reaction was, and remains to this day, I don't think so. You were never alone with them. I think you're remembering it wrong.

I don’t know why her reaction surprised me since my family's policy on anything hard or controversial is always to deny and ignore. On the other hand, it was also a very freeing moment for me.

I always felt guilty for not talking to my mom about my life, my beliefs, my fears, my depression, even though she was subtly invalidating from the moment I began to have independent thoughts. This instance was finally big enough for me to acknowledge that all the things I experience and the way I feel about them are real and valid, and she didn't get to make me feel bad about that.

That is so fucking beautiful that you found the beauty and the positivity in that moment and used it to free yourself. Like, that just fucking fires me up, when people, when people do that, when we stop trying to drink from a well that's dry and say, okay, it hurts to say this [chuckles], this well on my property is dry, but at least now I can move on and, yeah. Good for you, man. That just, I love that.

This is an e-mail I got from Marisha, and she writes, hello, everybody, exclamation point. I want to get something off one's chest. I am a fully, I am fully a stinking-rich wife. I'll be honest, I was not aware of partially stinking-rich wives. Apparently they are out there.

I'm fine, but there is no edition of a fellow with whom I could just have sex. You speak with conditions is the stretch and money that would maintain to stint I have no meter because dates and meetings that would moral talk. I think we all know what she's saying.

I barely penury choleric shafting without commitment. I don't know how she knew that one of my sexual fantasies is choleric shafting. That's spelled c-h-o-l-e-r-i-c, which, for those of you that aren't hip to it, is fucking people who are dehydrated by the runs.

She continues, breast expanse three athletic seductive despondent growth. Again, we can read between the lines, Marisha. You don't have to be [chuckles] so on the nose. She writes, there is machine and she can come decent compel ought to an apartment where you can come. Oh, I know what she means there.

If you are married, you can be your mistress. Now, that was news to me. I knew that people had mistresses. I never knew that you could save money by being your own mistress. I got to say, that is sexually awkward but frugal. If nothing else, that is frugal.

And then she finishes with, if you are interested, then opt make a little of or call. Marisha, I'm going to be honest. I'm going to make a little of and I’m not going to call, but God bless you, wish you all the luck in the world, and get a new spellchecker.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by Olive, who's in her 20s, was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment, has never been sexually abused, not sure if she's been physically or emotionally abused. And I just want to read this one response. What are your darkest thoughts?

I'm embarrassed about how much Adderall I take. I'm a petite young woman but take 40 milligrams a day. I have fibromyalgia, ADD, anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. It's hard to understand why I take it. I often don't know which emotional ailment I’m trying to treat. Am I taking it for my ADD, or for the brain fog and fatigue that comes with fibromyalgia? There is so much overlap in my symptoms that it confuses me.

I am so scared of what I am doing to my body, but I fear that I don't have an alternative. Without the medication, I would sometimes need to take up to four naps a day. My fatigue is overwhelming. I'm so embarrassed of being dependent on a drug that so many look down upon. It has really helped me become functional in life, but I am ashamed. People say Adderall is nothing more than speed. Does this mean I’m a speed addict? What if there's no other way for me to live? It's so confusing.

Olive, I am so glad I found your survey. I, too, take 40 milligrams a day. I take 20 milligrams twice a day. I had been searching for that last piece of the puzzle for my meds for years. The meds that I was on, and I'm still on, felt like they got me about 75% there, but I was still needing to nap every day. I would wake up with a feeling of dread. Getting out of bed was hard. And I lost the passion for some of my hobbies, and conversation felt like lifting weights. Actually, [chuckles] now that I think about it, I wasn't 75% there. I was maybe 50% there.

I hope that you can get to the place where I am in terms of acceptance with the fact that I need meds. And I've tried going off them, and I become suicidal. I tried going off Adderall, actually, I didn't try going off them. I went off them because I needed to sleep when I had the flu, and I could feel, I could feel, you know, the depression coming back.

I didn't want to take them. My psychiatrist had recommended them. Or he had recommended us trying it, because we've tried so many things, and when I bumped into somebody in a support group who was also sober, like me, and she said that she had tried it, at the request of her psychiatrist, and she said, and it wasn't addictive to me, she never takes more than the recommended dose, doesn't even think about taking more. And it has helped her treatment-resistant depression, which is what I have, and I tried it and it has been a game-changer.

And I was worried that some of the people in my support group might judge me for it, because it is, it's an amphetamine. It's not, but what you label it doesn't matter. If you're not abusing it in how frequently or how much you take of it, if you're doing it as prescribed by your psychiatrist, you're not a speed freak, and it's helping you. Fuck what other people think.

Other people don't know what it's like to be in your body, Olive. You do. You are the only expert on your experience. I really hope, I real-, and this is why stigma of medication and mental illness has to be overcome, when you see people like Olive suffering for no reason, for no reason. Fuck them, Olive. Fuck them. It's working for you, and you are not a speed freak.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Midnight Sun, and she writes, my dad is an alcoholic and is truly committed to it [chuckles]. He stayed drunk for three years while I was in high school, and this is one of his shorter relapses.

So, about two years into this drunken stupor, I couldn't take him seriously whatsoever. So, the morning of 9/11, he comes running into my room. It's like, you know, barely 6:00 or 8:00 or whatever in the morning, and he's naked, yelling, they're bombing us, they're bombing us, to which I replied, get the fuck out of my room and get some clothes on. And I roll back over and go back to sleep. A few minutes later, he comes running back in with his tighty-whities yelling, you don't even care about this country, you're a horrible fucking person.

I got up, told him to leave my room, locked my door. He finally gave up and I tried to go back to sleep. Sadly, when I got to school, I learned he wasn't just being his normal lying, drunken self and making shit up. I sat in disbelief at the computer screen. We had been attacked. And probably for the first time in a while, my dad hadn't lied. That is so fucked up [chuckles]. That is so awfulsome.

If you guys are new listeners and you haven't filled out Awfulsome Moments, it's a moment that was awful at the time, but looking back on it in hindsight, there was either something positive or something that was kind of fucked up in a funny, funny in a fucked-up way about it. Those and the Happy Moment surveys are like Christmas to me.

So, that's another way you can help the show, fill out surveys. It helps me get to know you better. It helps us get to know each other better. And those two surveys just, they just lift my skirt? No, spirit. I always get those two mixed up [chuckles].

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by Drama Queen, and she's 16. She is being raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment. She identifies as bisexual. She was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it. She writes, I was molested while I was on holiday with my family.

I was nine years old and left in a car alone with a taxi driver. He pretended we were playing a game and got me to play with the car steering wheel while he touched me. I knew something was wrong, so I ran away with the excuse that I left my jacket in the house. He begged me not to go. I told my uncle straight away and he made me promise I wouldn't tell anyone, including my mother. Why, I don't fucking know.

Continuing, that broke me, because I trusted my mother more than anyone. My uncle made me feel like it was my fault and that I should feel ashamed of myself. He spoke to the taxi driver right in front of me and, when the taxi driver denied everything, my uncle just shook his head at me as if I was a liar and he told me it was all just a misunderstanding.

I remember sitting in the taxi on the way to the beach that we were going to, puffing out my stomach so the driver would find me unattractive. I feel disgusting, as if I'm overreacting, as if so many people have had it worse than me.

Your survey touched me. You were abused three times. You were abused by the taxi driver. Then you were traumatized by your uncle. And then, I have to share this before I say you were also traumatized by your mom.

Apart from my uncle, I've told my mum. I told her when I was 14. She comforted me, but she also begged me not to tell anyone, which made me feel even more shame, as if I had done something wrong. I shouldn't blame her, though. She's from a different culture where sexual abuse can completely ruin your reputation. She told me to just stop thinking about it and she's never brought it up again.

I've also told one of my best friends while I was drunk. She just held me while I cried. She was perfect. She asked me when I was sober if I wanted to talk about it, and I just cried in response. She hasn't brought it up since, but I know I can talk to her when I'm ready.

It doesn't matter what the, if it was somebody rubbing against you or penetrating you or, you know, there are a gazillion different ways that somebody can sexually dehumanize us and make us feel like an object that is not a person with feelings and needs, and that was done to you. That was done to you, and you are not making too big of a deal.

And you were traumatized three times, by the driver, by your uncle and by your mom, and actually four because you are not having compassion for yourself. You are not giving weight to your pain, and the only one that you can change is that fourth one. And I encourage you to open up.

I mean, look at the way, your darkest thoughts. I'm now 16. I self-harm, and on my way to school nothing is more tempting to me than jumping in front of a car. I don't even want to die. I just want a break from the world. Everything is so overwhelming. I have so many amazing friends, but I still feel so lonely. I feel like the laziest piece of shit in the world.

It sounds like you are in pain and probably depressed. You're living in an environment where emotions don't matter, where appearances are what matters, and whose soul wouldn't be feeling crushed and lonely, who wouldn't feel afraid of the world outside? But there are people like your friend, your friend that held you while you cried, and as I like to say, you know, our job is to find them so we can heal and feel better. And sending you some love.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Real Dad Paul Dad. And he writes, Paul was there on a more regular basis on Dinner and a Movie than my own dad. Then I grow up and on a podcast Paul and all the listeners are teaching me to be a better me. So, what I'm thinking I'm saying is, Paul, you're my dad. Thanks.

And I guess the only thing I can say is you're welcome. Now clean your goddamn room, you spoiled fucking shit.

I wonder what kind of a dad I would be. I'd like to think I would be a good dad, but, man, in my days when I was drinking, oh, fuck. You know what I would have been? I would have thought I was a good dad back then, and I would have been a fucking dick. I would have been a dick to my kid, and I wouldn't have even been able to see it.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, son, you're lucky I stopped drinking. You wouldn't have the life that you have if I hadn't been able to be there for you sober these 13 years, and I expect something spectacular for Christmas.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Virgo Space Unicorn. And she writes, a couple of months after my second rape, I was suffering from terrible nightmares and trouble sleeping. I was isolating and my anxiety was through the roof. One day an acquaintance from an organization I work with was hugging me good-bye after a meeting. They noticed that I was uncomfortable with the physical contact and said it was okay to not hug if I didn't want.

At first I was shocked that they had noticed. Later that week, I had a horrifying nightmare about my rapist looking for me and threatening to rape me again. In the dream, this acquaintance was protecting me, shielding my frozen body from my abuser and telling him off when I couldn't. It was beautiful. But even more beautiful was the friendship that started between me and the acquaintance.

I later told them everything about the rape and they supported me through filing a police report and my many months of fear and PTSD. They are now one of my closest friends, and it all started with them acknowledging my boundaries with the hugging and being a badass in the dream world as well as in real life.

So, that is, those kind of people are everywhere. They're everywhere. And the more conscious we become through talking about this shit, the more of those people there will be. I'd like to think so.

This is a Happy Moment, and we're going to end on this one. Filled out by, oh, Mocha Mamma again. Hogging the surveys. And she writes, at dinner last night with my father, the subject of woodworking came up and I mentioned how much I struggled with woodshop in sixth grade.

I reminisced how my shop teacher, Mr. K., was mean to me for the first three weeks of class, harshly criticizing my woodworking abilities. I've never been good with my hands and my sixth-grade self was an absolute wrecking ball in woodshop. At dinner, I mentioned to my father that I never could figure out why, after the initial three weeks of shop class, Mr. K. turned into a complete sweetheart. All of a sudden, Mr. K. was speaking to me softly and kindly and asked the talented boys in my class to help me with my projects.

As I said this, my dad broke out into a big smile and confessed that he had placed a call to Mr. K. and explained that, unfortunately, I was an anxious, sensitive kid who wasn't good with her hands and had been taking woodshop class a little too seriously and that I was a bit of a nervous wreck over it. Even though sixth grade is decades ago, I feel extremely grateful that my father cared enough to make that difficult phone call. As Dad told me the Mr. K. story, I knew that my father loved me.

It's amazing, amazing, the simplest ways that parents can show love for their kids, and so often we think it's, oh, I've got to, you know, buy them this fantastic thing. I've read thousands of these Happy Moments surveys, and I have not read a single one where somebody describes a moment when their parent bought them something. It's usually about their parent connecting to them emotionally, seeing them for who they really are, not trying to change them, and just listening.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you heard something that brought you comfort or made you laugh. I hope you heard something that made you think less of me. Yeah, because, honestly, I think, I think I'm becoming a little too magnificent, and you need to, you need to bring me down a peg. I'm going to try dressing down. I'm going to try not wearing a top hat and tails around town.

I am so hating where this bit is going, which is nowhere. I have no idea where this bit is going. So, [chuckles] join me as we pull this bit into the designated parking spot I have when I bail on jokes I should never have started [chuckles].

I think I’m having separation anxiety from you. I'm not ready, we're 150 minutes in, and I'm not ready to let go. That's weird. I’m needy. All right, it's time to let you go.

I hope that if you're feeling stuck you realize you're not alone and there is help and, through that, there is hope, and so many of us know how you feel, but we didn't realize how we felt until we talked to somebody else who was safe and it changed my life.

I would be dead if I didn't, and I'm so glad I did because then I get to do this, and then I get to do bits that have horrible endings, and then dwell on that after I stop the podcast and go eat ice cream and eat a little too much, and now I'm doing another bit that I don't know where it's going. So, let's just, let's part. Let's part ways. Let's not ruin this delicate friendship that we've created through these 316 episodes. Let's say our good-byes.

I can't say good-bye yet. I think I have an attachment disorder to you. I think I'm going to need to work through this with my therapist. Are you guys around Friday at 5:00 so you can jump on the call with my therapist with me? I don't know if you can videoconference in 40,000 people, but I, I'm going to look into it. I'm going to look into it.

The screen that each of us will be on will be very, very small. But maybe all together they'll look like pixels and it'll make a picture that will depress one of us. Again, this is the third bit that felt like it was good to start to go into and now I'm stuck in a cul-de-sac and people are shooting arrows at me--

 

[Closing music swells]

 

Let's just, let's leave it at this. You go your own way. I'll go mine. We'll meet back here next week. And you're not alone, and thanks for listening.

 

[Closing music]

 

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