Ace and Confused

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S1: Hello and welcome back to Big Mood, Little Mood, I am your host, Daniel M. Lavery. You do hear dogs fighting in the background. You will hear more dogs fighting in the background throughout the show. That’s just how it’s going to be today. With me in the studio this week, our two guests, Abby McEnany is a mainstay of the Chicago improvisational comedy scene and the creator of the Showtime comedy series Work in Progress. Celeste Pechous is a writer and actress who also stars and work in progress, portraying Abby’s best friend, Kamble, Abby and Celeste. Welcome to the show. I’m so thrilled that you’re here.

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S2: Thank you so much. Yeah, it’s wonderful. Thank you so much, Daniel. This are Danny. Sorry.

S1: Yeah, both. As long as it’s never Dan, Danny or Daniel are beautiful. Happy that we’re just

S2: a lot of

S1: sensitive and mentally ill homosexuals trying to be kind to each other for the next hour. Yes.

S2: I mean, I’m sorry I am so not allowed for this. I love it.

S1: And let’s just get so gentle. How are you. How is everything how is your getting ready for season two. Yeah, it’s good. Celeste you go

S3: first. Oh gosh. Absolute pleasure. Finally I am more than excited for well in the world but also myself because I have yet to see it for people to see season two. Because I’ll tell you what, shooting this season was beyond joyful and it was so wonderful. And working with Abby every day is a dream job and I laugh until I cry. And honestly, I’m I’m just very excited to see how this all comes together. It’s a gorgeous season. The scripts were incredibly written by the writers and I’m yeah, I’m ready.

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S1: I love the idea of reviewing the dailies and just be like guys. The show is called Work in Progress. You look too joyful. Everything was just a delight.

S3: I did get that note once from Lily. She was like, can you can you see that line? Just don’t smile or laugh.

S2: You and I. I would say I’m doing all right. You know, I think we’re just like rampant. We’re trying to, like, do post and stuff. But it’s really good. I’m just it’s really it’s been great. I feel so lucky that we actually got to, you know, make the show. And it’s certainly helped me like I was as many people were, like, terrified to leave the house last year. I hardly ever left my apartment. It’s very terrifying. And the fact that, like, I actually had a job at a purpose, leave the house and stuff, and it’s really it was really so wonderful to get back. And our our crew is just the best. And the folks working on the show, it’s really like such a gift. So, yeah. And then Celeste has a way bigger role this year, which is like a dream come true for me. And and yeah, it’s just it was great. It was really wonderful. And I just feel, you know, of course it’s nerve racking, you know, like how are you going to think about it? But then why

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S1: were small quere shows on TV? You don’t usually do.

S2: Well, you know, what did you know. I love the like. Well, you know, we’re never going to tell you what the numbers are. So I think that they’re about four people that watch the show. And one of them is and I have two sisters and a father and then like Celeste family probably watch on one one thing. So, like, I just think those are the four people. But really, after we wrap, like Lily, this lovely thing about like, well, how do you think it’s going to be? And she was like, let’s talk about the process. The process was beautiful, you know, and I think that’s a really lovely way to think about it. I loved that tweet. You’re the one that sent it to me because I don’t I wasn’t on there. Yeah. It was just so beautiful.

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S3: It was. We forget to enjoy the journey of creating with people that we admire and love and respect and to tell a really good, beautiful, raw story. And so let’s not think that far in advance yet.

S2: Otherwise we’re screwed. It’s kind of crazy. It can be very crazy making, you know, like. Yeah. And we have enough of that, Danny, you know. Yes. My mean we risk of

S1: showing my hands. I can count myself as the fifth person to allow me to be the fifth man. Any time that there is a show where there’s a character that’s one of those like Laboratoire Retriever, trans guys who’s just like beautiful, shaking his fur, just got out of the water just like ready to go. I watch it

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S2: like you

S1: want to be liked so much. And I think of myself more as like the the like pug kind. That’s like maybe some hip dysplasia and a little like your face. Something’s wrong with it. I don’t know what it’s nice, but it looks like something bad happened to, you

S2: know, and it takes all kinds. It does take all kinds. And also, like I have to say, like, you know, when I. I do not see you as a pug at all, and I do. Are your dogs pugs by any chance?

S1: They are not their little fancy fairies,

S2: OK, because I hate bugs. I was like, I don’t want to be bullying them. I know. No, I would I would have said that like anyway, whatever it does, it takes all kinds. Yes, it

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S1: does. I’m excited to move into our first letter because it’s really setting the stage as just a sort of straightforward it’s a common kind of question is one that I see fairly often. It just sort of has to do with. I haven’t been in therapy before. I’m starting therapy. I’m not sure that I like it. Am I supposed to like it? Do I need to like it? Is that an indicator that something unusual is happening or is that just how therapy is? Someone give me some sort of indicator so I can orient myself. So that’s the sort of way that we’re going to start. Wow, this first letter and then we’re going to get to move on to some slightly thornier topics. I think. So the subject is sad. And the Southwest, how do you tell if a therapist is right for you? I just started seeing one for the first time and I’m not sure if it’s a bad fit or if I need to just give this a chance. She’s solutions focused and has me doing some CBT stuff, by the way, that I think refers to cognitive behavioral therapy. Right. But I grew up with a life coach who always wanted to jump in to fix all of my problems when I really just wanted someone to listen to me. As far as I know, life coaches get a lot of their methods from therapists. So I’m worried I might find this just as annoying now as I did when I was a teenager. I already argue with myself constantly about whether I’m, quote, really depressed. So while the idea of stopping negative self talk sounds good, the idea that it’s this big thing I need to fix makes me feel like if I just been trying harder all this time, I wouldn’t still be having problems. But maybe those are issues I’d encounter with any therapist because starting therapist is hard. What do you think?

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S2: Holy smokes, that’s a big that’s those are a lot of questions in there and I think, you know, therapy isn’t what people are looking for and what people want from therapy. Are there infinite answers to that? I think you know yourself. I’m certainly not equipped to say if this person’s wrong or right for you. It sounds like you want if you want somebody to just listen so you feel heard and not come in and fix stuff. And maybe this one is the one that is right for you at the moment. Like, I was really lucky. Like my therapist had retired and I was in a really, really, really, really bad place. And I had a friend who was a therapist who helped me find someone. When I finally called them and we met up, I was in such a bad place. I kind of laugh about it. Now, there’s a really good thing about starting therapy when you’re at a really, really low point because you don’t have to be like, oh, I’m this old and I’m the youngest of three kids and my mom’s dead and my dad does this and it lives here. And then, like, you just get into that shit fast. So and my therapist right now is so awesome. It’s a journey. That’s a crappy answer. I don’t know. But it sounds like this one is having a solutions focus. And I don’t think that’s where you just want to be heard, I think. And something negative self talk is is important, but that’s that’s something that I anyways that I’ve been able to just like, oh, OK. I like often times I know from a rational Koivu what would make me feel better. And one is if I stop calling myself a stupid cunt every other minute in my brain, that probably be better for me. But being knowing that and like getting to a place where you can not do that is I don’t know.

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S1: I I’m really glad you mentioned that just because I think one of the things that can be so hard is the thought of. So it’s my job to stop all quote unquote negative self talk, like is my job to feel good about myself all the time. Because if so, that sounds kind of exhausting and maybe like not quite being a person anymore. And so I don’t know. Letter writer, if this is something your therapist has said directly to you, like the goal is the negative self talk, or they simply said something like, you know, my hope is that like using these modalities, we can help you identify it, counter it sometimes or like check whether or not it’s helping you. And you kind of interpreted that as, oh, I have to get rid of it now. And I know certainly for me at least sometimes I cherish negative self talk like it is my precious little baby. And if someone said we want to get rid of that, I would say, no, this is my thing. I love this. I love retreating into a corner and saying horrible things to myself. And if you try to take that from me, I will fight you with claws. So there might also be a part of you that feels very protective of that part of yourself. Like I cherish myself harming rituals, even if they’re not physical ones. And that is not something that anyone’s going to remove from you against your will. So just if that’s something that’s on your mind, letter writer, hopefully you don’t feel like that’s something the goal is to exercise completely.

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S2: Right. And I think that that’s a really good point, because, like, even if the goal was like, yeah, I mean, like it would probably at times like be better for me if I didn’t like I wouldn’t talk to a friend like this. However, I like the idea of that, like that the goal is that you never do it again. That doesn’t seem human. That doesn’t seem like an attainable goal. That doesn’t seem like that’s just setting yourself or setting me up for failure. I don’t know.

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S3: Gosh, I mean, I think it is all about the vibe that you feel when when you meet this person. I in my twenties, I went to a therapist and she was amazing. And literally the only thing she said, she goes, repeat after me. I go, OK? And she’s like, fuck off. And I’m like, Oh, dear. And I said, fuck off she goes. And now repeat after me. And I am like, All right. And she said, no and sing the word no was so hard for me at that time, but it was breakthrough. Never saw her again after that because I got what I needed. But but you know, I think you have to find the right person, the right match. It is like a relationship. Also, look at yourself as a relationship with yourself. And I think, you know, you don’t have to fix yourself. Your abs is perfect in every way. And there might be some things around you that might need a little polishing. But I think that you just need to be patient with that and don’t force yourself into anything that makes you feel restricted but a place where you feel safe and can just be you.

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S1: I think that’s so useful. I think a lot of people, if they’re going into therapy for the first time and don’t really have a sense of what options are available to me, is this like going back to school? Can I talk back to my teacher? Can I disagree? Am I supposed to complete the homework and do what I’m told? And it can actually feel maybe a little disorienting to think of it in terms of you’re allowed to do as you please and your therapist is not the boss of you.

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S3: Yeah, you’re not your employee. There’s no status, there’s nothing is just two people having a conversation.

S1: Yeah, so I would say, you know, it does sound like my my guess would be letter writer, if your primary interest is in kind of open ended, potentially nonjudgmental and non directive listening, that somebody who specializes in CBT, which is often more short term goals focused, might not be a good fit for you. But before you decide that, say these things to your therapist. I think sometimes people think like you can’t tell a therapist you’re skeptical or you’re not sure about something because then they’ll say, oh, that’s wrong. Let me explain to you why you have to sign on to what I’m doing. If that happens. I’m sorry. And that would be a great indicator of I’m not going to come back for a third session. But ideally, you know, if you were to say something like not really 100 percent sure what my goals are on therapy, I feel pretty confident that I don’t want someone to offer me regular solutions. Is that something that you can do? And if your therapist says no, that’s that’s I always offer solutions. You can say great things for your time and go look for somebody else, or maybe she’s open to it. But it’s really important, I think, to to cultivate an ability to tell your therapist when you disagree or when you’re skeptical or when you don’t want to try something because they won’t read your mind and they won’t anticipate your needs. And if that’s what you’re hoping for, you won’t get it out of therapy. And then you will have that horrible feeling, which is like I’m paying you money and you make me feel worse. And you don’t even know that you’re making me feel worse when we’re secretly becoming enemies. But only I know that we’re becoming enemies. And that’s a very unpleasant situation to be in. Yeah.

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S2: And like being able to be honest with that, that’s a that’s a big win. I mean, that’s a huge step of anybody, I think, you know, so that’s really powerful. Yeah. And also if they react well to that and they’re like, actually, yeah, this is what I do. But I understand. And then if they’re if I believe it, they’re a good therapist and they might have a good referrals for you. Like if they don’t get defensive, there’s a fear that maybe this I don’t know,

S1: I would encourage this letter writer to do a little just cursory reading on different therapeutic models. You know, not that you have to go up by a bunch of books and learn the entire history of, like, psychoanalysis. But just just do a brief study of, like, the different options that are available to you, you know, literally existential therapy. There’s humanistic therapy. There’s psychoanalysis, which is very open ended and long term. And and, you know, CBT is one very specific tool. But there are a lot of other types of therapy out there. And you will absolutely be able to find someone who says, my thing is nonjudgmental, listening and occasionally asking questions. That person is out there. There are many people like that out there. And if that looks good to you, you should pursue it beyond that. That’s sort of the bit about the life coach was really interesting to me. Yeah, kind of. As far as I know, life coaches get a lot of their methods from therapists. I don’t know where that idea came from, a part of the problem letter writer is like, you know, therapists have to go to school and get a degree and get certified and they’re bound by an ethical code and they can be reprimanded by the central board of various therapeutic or psychological associations. They can have their license to practice revoked and a life coach. Is often just someone with a great deal of enthusiasm and a website, and so they’re not bound to any of those same codes, they’re not required to undergo the same training. So maybe they get some of their methods from therapists. But I would be very surprised if if it were like replicating rigorous training and more like I heard a therapist say this one time and now I’m building a mantra around it and I have a website. So just again, if you’re thinking of it in terms of like, you know, the therapists are like the idea itself and then life coaches are the translation of the idea. And so I’m just eliminating the middleman. No, life coaches are not therapists at all. They are just people who want to tell you how to live their life. Some of them might be useful or not, but they they’re not in any way trained. There’s no no one’s like, oh, I got my life coach license revoked and now I can’t encourage.

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S2: That’s really good to bring up. There’s nobody there’s nobody keeping them accountable or ethical. Yeah. That’s really fascinating. Yeah. Yeah.

S1: I certainly don’t want to say that. I think they’re all bad across the board. I just mean there’s no external review. So there’s, there’s, it’s going to vary really wildly. So this is kind of an open ended question. I realized we could spend most of our time together discussing it. I do want to make sure we get to the other two. So I’m going to, you know, encourage this letter writer to write back and let us know what they’ve chosen to do. And in the meantime, we will tackle this next question, which I love, because it has to do with expectations of how you want your mother to relate to your sexuality. It’s a timeless classic. Celeste, would you would you mind reading it for us?

S3: Absolutely, ason confused, I’m asexual. I didn’t figure this out until my early 20s and the label has given me a powerful sense of self and the vocabulary to talk about the way I experience romance. My parents were outspoken LGBTQ allies. I always felt confident that if I was gay or bi or whatever, my parents would be fine with it. So when I first came to my mom to talk about a sexuality, I expected it to take some explaining, but that she’d have few issues. If any, it could have gone worse. But her reaction was basically, that’s not real. You’re describing sexual attraction the way everyone feels it, etc.. Later and prompted, she proposed that maybe my issue was fear of intimacy because my relationship with my dad was difficult and abusive as a teenager. Later, when I was casually explaining a sexuality to my dad, he seemed to take it in stride. She interrupted to ask if I was sure it just wasn’t a symptom of my chronic illness, which causes major hormone imbalances. I was stunned but said I didn’t think it was and didn’t think it would matter anyways, since I’ll always have that chronic illness. It’s been more than two years and I’m still floored by how she handled it. I avoid discussing a sexuality with her. Is there even a point to bringing it up now? I would like for her to understand if possible. And if I do confront this again now, how should I do it? I feel like she should have taken it better if I told her I was gay.

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S1: Boy, there’s nothing like hearing your mom give her theory of why you are the way that you are, like, unprompted. I just mean just wakes you up like coffee, doesn’t it? Gosh, I do have a couple of thoughts that I’d love to sort of have us all think about as we are guiding our answers here. If that’s right, one of them is this feels pretty important to me. Letter writer makes so much sense that you feel troubled and hurt by your mother’s reaction. That makes a great deal of sense. One thing that I would discourage you from doing is comparing it to an imaginary coming out where you were gay or bi or whatever. You know, there was this sort of implicit pairing of like, I need parity with the imaginary gay version of myself and I bet my mom would have been cool. And somehow there’s this implication that gayness took something away from me maybe, or is getting something that I’m not getting. And I think that that’s unnecessary. You know, first of all, because you don’t know what your mom would have said or done had you come out as something else, possibly she would have had something really dumb to say about that to some people are great about talking about queer people in general. And then when their kid comes out, all of a sudden it’s, you know, I don’t want to say anything but used to dress really well in high school. Another, that you’re in college, you wear a lot of pajamas. And I just wonder if that’s connected. So let that one go just because I don’t think that’s going to be productive. The problem is that your mom had a bad reaction to your coming out as asexual. Not that she might have been nicer if you had come out as a lesbian. And then I think, you know, I felt a sense in this letter of like there’s fear of a cause, like if for any reason this were connected to a hormonal imbalance or a chronic illness or relationship with my father, it would mean less than it does now. I would have to give it up. I might have to let it go. Somebody would would be able to judge me. And again, I don’t encourage you to go looking for causes. I don’t think that’s useful. I don’t think it’s useful for Transgenes or Gaynes. I think it’s much more productive and worthwhile and valuable to simply think about what kind of person you are and what kind of life you would like to lead. But, you know, if part of you is really scared of like, oh, no, that can’t be true. Like, I would just go with, like, so what? You know, like who knows. Like, maybe it is I don’t really know why you would go looking for a cause unless on some level you were hoping to eradicate it. So I think that might have been your fears, like your mom wanted to explain it away. And so I would just say don’t get defensive about that in response. Just go with a sort of gentle look. Who knows? Maybe impossible to know.

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S2: I think also it’s like her parents like are like, you know, LGBTQ allies, which is great. So they’re not ignorant about LGBTQ. People or maybe whatever. We don’t know what the reaction would have been, but it sounds like they don’t know much about asexuality. So we go back to the whole thing, like, why, why? Why? Like coming to the reason why, which is like a log like sometimes when people come out there, like, is because of this or you don’t often you get the reasons. It sounds like it’s more of an ignorance and not understanding what sexuality is. I just think it’s to me it’s very parallel to how when some people come out and people are like, no, you’re not, it’s a phase or is because of this or is because you’re you spend too much time with your cousin or you don’t understand yourself, whatever it sounds, just kind of everyone

S1: feels that

S2: way. Right. Right. Yeah, exactly right. I just think it’s to me it’s like, yeah, it’s unfortunate. It sounds just coming from an ignorance of what a sexuality is. And like I got to say, like, everybody’s relationship with their parent is different and every parent is different. So how you go forward with your mother, I think depends on a lot of things that I’m really not equipped to answer. I don’t know. I think this is a little like my dad now is eighty two. And we I work a lot in a relationship. He’s like, we have a great relationship, but it’s also like, OK, what are the battles worthwhile to fight? I want a great relationship with my dad and we love each other very much. But just like, you know, I got to choose my battles,

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S3: I you know, I feel like a lot of the shame that we carry really isn’t our shame. It’s been handed to us from certain people that provide responses like like your mom did, which which almost you know, I don’t know, I I always feel and when I came out, it was a very difficult process and time and things of that nature that we all kind of grew into this place where we can openly talk about it. Now, there was a time when I wasn’t able to, but I think Danny and Abby, I loved what you both have said, like, it is kind of needing to know what type of relationship you want to have without changing yourself, because you need to own yourself and love yourself and be proud of this. This is yours. Like, take a look at the relationship you want and and you can only control yourself. You cannot control another person, including our parents or but we can give them patients in time and unconditional love if that’s something that they need. Yeah.

S1: That’s, I think, lovely, you know, emotional foregrounding, I think the thing that I’m the most curious about and unfortunately the letter writer doesn’t go into much detail. You know, you say letter writer that your mother at least acknowledges that your father abused you as a teenager. But I don’t know if you’ve ever talked about it besides that one time that she said, oh, gosh, maybe that’s why. And so I’m so curious, like. Has she ever acknowledged it outside of that conversation, has she ever asked you about how that affected you? Has she ever talked about it with him? Has he ever acknowledged it? Has he ever tried to make amends? Does he behave differently now? You only say just that you had told him casually what asexuality was some kind of going on, some guesswork here. But I wonder if part of the reason that you didn’t talk about it again then for the next two years was like this real sense of, oh, gosh, it’s not just that they were like kind of dismissive or unkind about my coming out about being asexual. It was also this real reminder of we don’t talk about the fact that my father used to abuse me. And I wonder if some of the fear here of I’m still floored by how she handled it comes from maybe one of the ways that I made my peace with having a father who abused me and a mother who potentially condoned or excused or facilitated it was by putting it in the past and saying, well, I was a difficult teenager and that’s over now. And then you had this flare up and this moment where your mother kind of threw that abuse back in your face and used it as an excuse to dismiss you and the seriousness of your orientation, of your of your way of facing the world. And that kind of brought you back into. You know, full awareness of right. My dad abused me. And that’s not really something that we’ve ever talked about or he’s ever really, truly apologized for. And so that’s part of why there’s the protectiveness there of like, I’m not going to go back there again. And, you know, if that’s part of what’s going on, then I think Celeste, you know, a reminder to think carefully about what kind of relationship you think might be possible with your parents is a good one. And that’s not to say, by the way, preemptively decide it’s not worth bringing up. But I think to think seriously, like, does this raise questions about kinds of conversations I’d also like to have about that abuse? Are there safe ways I can imagine having that conversation? What might I need from them in terms of like assurances or patience or not interrupting me or contradicting me before I could consider having that conversation? And if I can’t have that conversation with them, can I trust them with an intimate conversation about my sexuality? And if not, maybe I just want to say something quite briefly. Like the one time we talked about my sexuality, you were really dismissive. It really hurt my feelings. I don’t need you to perfectly understand it, but I do ask that you respect it and not like speak about it dismissively. So please stick to that. You can’t say anything nice. Don’t say anything at all role. That would be, I think, a reasonable thing to say to your mother if you decided not to go in on the big emotional conversations. But absolutely. You also have the right to say, I feel weird bringing this up two years later. It’s been a long time, but it’s lingered. It was really upsetting when you said that I wished you had responded with openness and curiosity so I could tell you about something important to me. I don’t need you to be my number one cheerleader or jump on the bandwagon, but I would love it if you would give that conversation a little bit more space next time.

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S2: That’s really lovely. Yeah. And also that way, that day that you just explained why or like describe the way that the letter writer can take care of herself by setting up those boundaries, which I think is so lovely. I think it’s so important to work with people that don’t often understand things about you that you still love and want it, but you just set up boundaries like I need this from you and I cannot have it be dismissed or vilified or whatever. It’s beautiful. Yeah. Yeah.

S1: And I think that line, you know, I’d like her to understand, if possible, is a really good one. It seems to me really reasonable. It seems realistic, like if she could understand it, that would be great. I would love to try to explain it to her. If that’s not possible. I’m not going to try to move mountains.

S2: Exactly right. I think she’s in battles. It’s like I’m

S3: with you at that point.

S1: Yeah. And maybe even to preface it with like you may decide, even after you ask me questions and you read a little bit more about it, that you continue to hold the opinions that you previously did. That would be a shame. I would be sad about that. But you may very well. And if that is the case, all that I ask is that you do not share dismissive thoughts with me. Can I ask that of you? Because that I think really holds the line like you’re not trying to win hearts and minds here against all odds. And if she’s not open to it, she can at least give, you know, more of the like. Well, we all feel that way. And it’s also I feel like you could kind of push back like, you know, Mom, if you feel that way and you think it’s an important and universal feeling, would you perhaps like to try on this nice little asexual hat and see how it fits? Maybe maybe you don’t want to start trolling your mom just yet,

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S2: but, you know, to go do what you are. Is that the follow up to that?

S1: Anyone who would like to show their mother? I encourage them to write something very happy to to tweak that relationship forever. Oh, yeah, gosh, that feels like a good place to to move on from that letter and spend a little time talking about I know we spoke briefly about how excited you are for season two to come out in the world. I would love to hear just a little bit more about either what filming has been like or what you’re most excited for about the premiere or what exciting new maladaptive reflexes you developed in quarantine that are embarrassing and painful. Take your pick.

S2: I think for me, filming was a lot of it was very difficult, right, because everybody was we were in masks Celeste and I were lucky because since we were actors on the show, we were the only ones, only actors could take off their masks. At least we were able to breathe and not have fiber in their mouth, the whole. I felt very safe on our set and that was a really hard thing. Lily and I were very clear, like, if it’s not safe, then we’re not coming back. Like nothing is worth the health of our cast crew and our family members and people in our pod. Right. So I just I don’t know. It was a very lovely gift to be able to work and be back together. And like, again, I think I said earlier, like, our crew is so great and it is really a labor of love. Like there’s just a lot of community on set. And it was less of it this year because we couldn’t hang out. And like, you lose a lot of communication. If you can’t see people’s like only you only see their eyes. But I don’t know, it was a total gift to be part of a community again. And I think there was certainly nothing but isolation last year. So I just I don’t I don’t know. So being back on set was great and it was way better than season one for me. Like, I think season one was just like, you know. Very difficult in that like, yeah, I mean, it’s hard to say because, like, my dream came true, right? And it was it was an amazing experience, but like I think I really like I’d never been on a set before. I never had, like, you know, everything was brand new. So this season I just felt like, OK, now I kind of have an idea of what I’m doing. I’ll never say I know what I’m doing, Danny, just so you know. But I don’t know. And I really feel if I wasn’t if I didn’t have that gift to go back to work and be around this group of folks that really come together and collaborate to create art, I’d still be on my couch like I would have left my house yet. So I don’t know. I feel I feel very fortunate. So that’s how feeling it was for me, I think really scary to be out in the world. And we had to shut down and thirty seven of us went into quarantine, but nobody from that ill like. So, you know, like it just showed that we were doing stuff right. I don’t know if that was my experience.

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S3: Celeste. Oh man. I was just I was just so thankful to to be able to feel like you said Abby kind of alive and working. I was so thankful for this opportunity and thankful that we have smart people like Lillian ABS at the wheel, that they made sure that our health was their priority and took it very seriously. But, man, it was a joy. It was a joy to shoot this season. I mean, and listen, I get the easy part because I’m just Abby best friend in the show. So it’s it’s a joy right for me. But, yeah, it’s a dream job.

S1: I have been I have developed this like, fervent wish in my mind, which is that for every new season of the show, there’s a different, like, weirdly memorable recurring SNL like sketch that you deal with, like that you grapple with. And the one that I was hoping for, season two is remember when Chris Caton did Mango in the 90s?

S2: I do.

S1: I was I was just like fantasizing. Apparently, by the way, he’s claimed in interviews that he based that character on Marlina Dietrich’s character in The Blue Angel, which, if true, makes that the worst Marlene Dietrich impression I’ve ever seen in my life.

S2: You know what? No, I actually don’t feel so bad about my real life. Isn’t that worth Celeste?

S1: It’s it’s it’s not that Mango’s not like an interesting character to to grapple with. It’s just like getting Marlene Dietrich from this. I’m getting a lot. But yeah, that would that would just be my hope is like different moments when this long-running show sort of remembers something about like gay or trans people. And then just you guys kidnapped Chris Caton for a season ticket under advisement. Consider kidnapping

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S2: him. Thank you. Thank you very much.

S1: This feels like an indicator that maybe we should go into our last question.

S2: No, I love it. I like. Do you have any other characters?

S1: I was mostly just afraid that I was telling you to commit a felony. Don’t worry. I think it would. You do have to kidnap him. I’m sorry that you can’t just run into him. It does have to be a crime.

S3: Get the van and we’ll make Van. Danny, if that’s what you want, then we will make that happen.

S1: I am one fifth of your audience.

S2: I hope that’s true. But also, I have to say, we don’t know if we get to season three and Celeste is it in the writers room so you can you can take your problem. All right.

S1: I will I will take us into our last question, because it is intense and long. And I want to make sure we give it some of the intensity that I think it deserves. I love this letter writer. I think this letter writer is doing altogether too much and needs to scale a lot back. But I feel very fond of this type of I’m taking someone else’s life personally. The subject is I’m thirty one single without babies and ready to scream. I can’t sort out why I’m so angry at my pregnant best friend these days, we met in college and we’re now in our early 30s. Her life plan always involves being married with kids by twenty seven. Her parents married relatively young and held it up as an ideal. She’s just fallen pregnant at thirty one and she’s engaged. I know that it means a lot to her now, but instead of being upfront and excited and honest, everything is couched in humble brags. Or at least that’s what it seems like. She would love to go to the movies, but she’s just so tired now. She would love to eat the food we have prepared, but she just has to look it up first. Being pregnant is such a chore. Everything is this cute, self-deprecating joke, but it’s not a joke. It’s fine that it means a lot to her and she’s being pedantic. It’s also painful for me because I’ve never had a partner. I’m thirty one single and unlikely to have kids or anything at this point. When she talked about getting engaged, she said it’s just the next step because they had been together for seven years. I don’t have seven years to suss out whether a partner is the right fit. It’s a grim view of heterosexuality that after seven years, you just might as well be married and have kids, so why do her self-deprecating jokes drive me up the wall? I don’t know if I want kids, but it still hurts so much to address it. If not, how do I make the pain go away? I’ve always known I wasn’t going to have a conventional life, but as I enter my 30s and more of my friends settle and go through these conventional life steps of engagement and kids, I start to feel so unattractive, so left out and so alone. It’s not my path to hit these life milestones, but it’s still really painful not to hit them. Wow, did you have a sense Celeste reading this letter, like, did you feel like this letter writer would have more productive results having some of this conversation with her friend? Is it more, you think, internal work? How how much of this do you think needs to be filtered out and how much do you think could be shared?

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S3: You know, like I said, maybe in the last one, you can’t change another person, but you can. But you have every right to voice how you’re feeling, especially if if you’re hurting, that it’s also to make sure that, you know, because I don’t want to speak for either party, but to make sure that she’s really the reason why you might be hurting. Because to me, it just this is the place that she’s in. She’s in a first pregnancy and a lot of unknowns are going to come. And it’s kind of like, hey, you know, OK, that’s her patch on right now. But everything this is going to continue on through life. We bought a house. We’re having our first grandkid. It’s like we either jump on and continue our friendship with them or we need to surround ourselves by people that that kind of match what we need right now. And I feel like it might be a moment to put yourself out there and not just depend on this person. For allowing your feelings to feel almost betrayed or hurt, you’ve got to protect that stuff. I’m just not sure, Danny. I don’t know if I communicate. I don’t know if I would probably what I do. And this is and I’m not saying this is what you should do, because what I do is usually not right.

S2: But I probably would back

S3: away a little bit if I was not feeling good about myself. I don’t really want to take I know she sounds like she’s complaining a lot like this this soon to be mom. But for me, it seems so exhausting to be like, hey, listen, you know, when you say this and you do that and like and things like that, it brings me down like. I don’t know what her reaction would be,

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S1: you know what I mean? Yeah, I I’m glad you said that because I think that helps distinguish something important to me. One is I think what the letter writer is feeling is huge and important, and it makes a great deal of sense in the big scale, the sort of like, I don’t know what my life is going to look like if I don’t hit all these milestones. I don’t have hardly any friends who aren’t very invested in hitting these milestones. So I feel really isolated and left out and like, I don’t have room to discuss them. That’s big. And that makes a lot of sense to me to feel any number of things about. But the stuff about my friend who’s pregnant for the first time says she’s too tired to go to the movies even though she would like to go. That makes sense to me, I would take her at her word, I think pregnancy can be really exhausting. I would believe her when she says that she would love to go to the movies, but she is too tired. That just sounds kind of straightforwardly true. I don’t think she’s doing like a kind of cutesy bit. You know, it’s maybe a little precious to Google a sandwich every time you have lunch. But, you know, it’s her first pregnancy and there’s a lot of unknown factors there. So that didn’t feel like, wow, she’s really laying it on thick pregnancy is I think for her, it sounds like a combination of sometimes a chore, sometimes exhausting, sometimes exhilarating, and then of what the letter writer has described actually sounds like she’s really behaving unreasonably so much as the letter writer has this huge kind of gaping wound on her heart. And that’s the thing that’s not getting addressed. Does that make sense? Abby, you’re looking at me like I’m nuts.

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S2: No, I don’t think you’re nuts at all. I think I think that does make sense. I think also like I think that’s a really good point. I think that’s all reasonable. Like, yeah, they’re they’re too tired. They can’t eat what they want, but like the fact that they’re using cutesy and self-deprecating and humble brag, I don’t understand the tone. Like like I need to hear the way that

S1: I didn’t see Humble Braggs in that I’m with you

S2: there. But we but we don’t know that, like, we might be missing a lot of the story. Right. Like we or the intent or the tone. But I love that. Like, when I read this, I was like, well, I don’t have the evidence of it. But the fact that you’re going back and saying this stuff like, oh, I feel so, you know, it’s all about tone. I think if this is really her best friend, who knows the letter writer so well and seems to be so oblivious about how their experience is is affecting their best friend, that to me is like a red flag. And I think that, like, if this is your best friend and that you want to do a relationship, I would like eventually you could talk to this person. But I don’t think now is the time while you’re still feeling, like kind of angry and you’re not sure. You’re not sure or it’s probably not the right time, I think. I don’t know. I’ve never wanted babies. I’ve never wanted to get married. So, like, I don’t have this, like, oh, no, they’re doing this and I’m not like it’s never been like so I’ve never had any of that. I’m always happy for folks that are doing what they want to do and like fall in love with the people that they love and having babies if they want or not having babies that they don’t want. I love that. However, there are several people that I am friends with that become like now the relationship is with me and their baby and not me. And this friend is like, where have you gone? Like you, you’ve gone away. And I’m like, I will always like love you and stuff. But but like our relationship has changed because you lost yourself and God bless you want to lose yourself. I’m not. I’m not I’m not down to clown for like you know what I mean. I just think that like if you use

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S1: that expression so many times today, that makes me so happy

S2: to see. But downtown. Oh, but

S1: normally it’s on this podcast. No amounts. And then so you don’t have to do

S2: a chart right off the charts. That’s hilarious. But anyway, so I don’t know. So like and I guess, you know, that’s hilarious because you’re right, there’s nothing in there that we can read from the the letter that we know of. Self-deprecating. I just have to say, I have had friends that have gone through this and it becomes like I’ve met them for coffee and they they talk to me and baby talk about what their kid did. It’s like, I have zero fucking interest about your kid and baby talk, asking to have some pizza or whatever. It’s just like this is not really so objective. Right, exactly. So I, I think just because I think I’ve had a lot of experience and that I was just like thinking about the people that have like kind of like become less close with me because and also I’m not angry with their choice. It’s just like that’s not. I’m not interested in it. That sounds like and I also I love kids and my very best friend has a child who’s six and I love this kid. We do we do each other like I my relationship. By the way,

S1: Dylan, I don’t hate you. You’re fine.

S2: Like listening to this. I wish you well. I don’t even mean that. I just mean and like but but my and my friend Kate and I, we have our own relationship and also I love their child, but we don’t get on and talk about, like, everything that Thomas did that day. I often ask, but like, our relationship is not based on our child. I don’t know how much I can. I don’t know. I know I’m back. I love kids. I just I have no interest in, like, not having a relationship with somebody that I had a very good relationship with. And I don’t. You know what I mean?

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S1: You heard it here first, Abby. Hey, kids,

S3: how dare you. Friendships change like nothing is going to stay the same. And that’s right. And it’s like, you know, and we change. I think you also this is a wonderful opportunity to allow yourself to change, you know what I mean? Or kind of just look to see like what else is going on, you know? Yeah.

S1: And here. Sorry, go ahead.

S3: I was just reiterating that Abby does love kids

S1: even when I see it.

S2: I that figure of Thomas up on my wall, I

S1: my thought here. Yeah. Is, you know, the issue here is I am entering my 30s and more and more my friends are settling down and getting engaged, getting married and have kids. So what that says to me is you need more load-Bearing friendships with people who are not doing that and who are consciously not doing that, who can talk about the the joys and the struggles of those unconventional lives, of which there are many different kinds. You know, we just heard from somebody who’s been coming out to their parents as asexual, queer people often, but not always fall into that category. You know, antenatal lists often fall into that category. Sometimes they can be a lot, but sometimes they can be fun. There are many, many people out there who are committed to building their life around something other than engagement, marriage and children. And I think the more that you seek those people out and add them to your life and I’m not saying replace all of your old friends the less intensely personally, you will take up an individual friend’s decision to have a child because like right now it’s like all resting on her, like she is the last one. And now she’s going and that’s my best friend. And once she’s gone, you know, it’s the end of duck, duck, goose or musical chairs. And I’m by myself.

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S2: That’s just. Yeah. And also, like it sounds like they’re in a very self loathing place right now or like sort of like I don’t have this, I’ve never had a partner. I want this. And everybody it’s like it’s like so again, there’s a lot of it I think you address, like how can you become happy with your life or happier with your life or more settled with. If you really believe that. I can’t tell you that’s just like oh I’ll never have a partner or like that’s not I don’t know what the path is. Yeah. But you know, I’ve had again, lots of friends that get married and stuff and our relationship, our talks aren’t always about the wedding. And also I love weddings. This bitch loves the wedding. I don’t have to say like I just think that, like, when people change and they become this thing that I don’t recognize anymore, that it’s like I don’t know. Yeah, but I know that on a daily

S1: I think this letter writer right now is like, I know what I don’t want and I know what I don’t have and what other people are getting. And it doesn’t look that good to me. But I don’t yet know who my people are and I don’t know yet where my community is. And I think the more you can do that, the less fraught this relationship will feel. I think right now, the most you say is something like I’m feeling really sensitive these days about not being partnered and not having children. It’s not necessarily that I want those things, but I do feel some complicated sadness around what my life will look like. So if sometimes I back off the pregnancy talk or getting together, please. No, it’s not because they don’t love you and support you. It’s because they need a little space. And that way you don’t have to have a whole big heart to heart about whether she’s being too self-deprecating or not. You don’t have to, like, venture into deeply, deeply intimate, vulnerable territory when you’re already feeling so on edge. But she knows. So if you like, absent yourself from Felicity a while or you, you know, leave a party a little bit early, she’s not like, did I say something to piss her off? Like, is she mad at me? She knows, like,

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S2: you need a little space, but it doesn’t mean that they’re not even hanging out like the like the letter writers reaching out and the person is never available

S1: if they’re talking a lot, maybe. So we have to get together. But maybe it’s like I need to I need to be less

S2: available for that kind of

S1: talk also. Now, I desperately wish that you and I had CB radios and we have been doing this whole thing in nineteen seventies style truckers. Like, why is that. Because you just copy that and I just remind the women I

S2: don’t even see them. I don’t even realize like why I don’t

S1: like to point out to you everything that you say. I’m just like that convoy stuck in my head, OK.

S2: I’m down, up and down, boy, for that. I said I got myself

S1: Abby Celeste, thank you so much for being here. I realized this is the hour you have given me an hour of your time. You’re busy and important. You have great glasses. I’m so grateful to you, though. He seems centered and wise, and I just hope everything in your life goes swimmingly forever.

S2: This has really been a treat. It’s so nice to meet you.

S3: Yeah. Thank you so much, Renee.

S1: Thanks for joining us on Big Mood, Little Mood with me, Danny Lavery, our producer is Phil Surkis, who also composed our theme music. Don’t miss an episode of the show. Had to slate dot com slash mood to sign up to subscribe or hit the subscribe button on whatever platform you’re using right now. Also, please leave us a review on our podcast. If you get a minute, we’d love to know what you think. If you want more big mouthed little mood, you should join Slate. Plus Slate’s membership program. Members get an extra episode of Big Mood, a little mood every Friday, and you’ll get to hear more advice and conversations and interview questions with our guests. And as a Slate plus member, you’ll also be supporting the show, Go to sleep dot com forward slash mood plus to sign up. It’s just one dollar for your first month. If you need some little advice or big advice and you’d like me to read your letter on the show, had to slate dot com slash mood to find our big mood, little mood listener question form or find a link in the description of the platform you’re using right now. Thanks for listening. Celeste, where did you get your glasses? I have to know,

S2: these are people’s.