An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two)
Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Numbering: Issue 13.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)
Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada
Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal
Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com
Individual Publication Date: March 8, 2017
Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017
Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing
Frequency: Three Times Per Year
An interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, B.A., M.A. She discusses: the preference for developing in non-survival mode; graduate training and the explicit formation of the narrative; the refuge of pets; Montessori schooling and time with age cohort peers rather than adults; clinging to “the Saint” Miss Morgan; feeling of lack of control as a child; and Kelly’s dad in conversation with Jon Stewart on Kelly’s grandmother (paternal side) wanting to control her father’s life, and the lack of oversight and control from Kelly’s parents for her.
Keywords: Jon Stewart, Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall, Montessori, parenting, school.
*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*
*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*
7. Looking back, would you have preferred it to have been a different way in terms of how the bonding happened rather than in a survival mode?
Who wouldn’t? There’s a time in healing your personal story. Yes, you want it to be different. You wish it had been different. You’re mad that it wasn’t different. You’d do anything to have it be different. You cross your arms and don’t get on with life because you’re almost demanding it to be different, but it can’t be.
That’s not the way life works. Things are what they are. The past is the past. People did the best they could in that moment. So, you can’t live in regret. Otherwise, you’re not living your life. You’re stuck in the past. That’ll never change. You are kind of a zombie, if you’re living in the past.
That’s why in writing my book I knew telling one’s personal story, whether to a therapist over a certain amount of years, through art, through memoir, or whatever it is, is really healing. It is important to tell your stories to be able to put them down and walk away from them at some point.
8. Did your graduate training allow you put that narrative into an actual structure and then be able to put it down?
Yes, it was a couple of things. I had been doing deep work. I was in therapy for some time. I had perspective on it before I went to grad school. I began to get my hands around the narrative of my life with that. Grad school was a place to help me start from the beginning and walk through all of the developmental stages of my life as a psychologist, but then apply them to my own life – which is the thing you do in your first year of grad school.
You go through all of your baggage, work through the theories, and do the work around them. So, when you enter a room with a client, you are not bringing your baggage with you. If you do bring your baggage with you, you can see it. You can see how to separate from it. There was a deep healing for me in grad school around all of this stuff. A lot of my confusion and pain around the chaos part of my life was validated.
It was held up as, “Yes, this is what happens to little kids when their parents aren’t present emotionally or physically.” These are the ways in which that can manifest in your adulthood, the choices you can make, in your worldview, and how you see yourself. Your sense of power. Your sense of autonomy. Your sense of self-responsibility. It was very illuminating for me. I highly recommend it!
I think everyone should spend a year of their life learning this stuff, going through their life story. It would be incredibly healing for the world. There would probably be a lot less crazy people running things if we all did this.
9. Were pets ever a refuge for you? You had plenty of pets, named by your dad: “Squeezix the parakeet, Frick & Frack the hermit crabs, Bogie the Maltese terrier, and a black cat named Beanie, which came with the house.” (Carlin, 2015, p. 19) Was there any connection, from your perspective as a kid, with these animals?
Oh, yes! God yes! We always had pets, always had dogs and cats. We had birds for a bit too. We always had pets in the house. I think pets were a focal point of love in the house for all three of us. We could connect through the pets. We all did voices. My dad and I always did voices of the cats and dogs, and everything. I still do.
My husband and I do also. Yes, pets were always essential. They are a bridge for people. They hold for us our unconditional love and a way of connecting when intimacy, emotional intimacy not physical intimacy, is harder to come by in houses, especially where there’s addiction or mental health issues. Everyone is walking on eggshells. It is a place for everyone to come together and be loved. We loved our critters. We did.
10. Age 4, you went to a Montessori school. A school to learn at the student’s pace. The purpose was to take you away from time with adults, and to spend more time with more age-appropriate peers. Was the time there with age-appropriate peers better than, from your perspective, the previous times with adults?
Not for the first few weeks, I had horrible separation anxiety. I was terrified by the whole idea and experience. My parents wanted me to be around kids and saw how smart I was. I was a sponge. They wanted to make sure my mind had everything it could to soak in.
Once I settled in past the social anxiety part, in school, I loved school. I loved, loved learning. I am a sponge. I take it all in. I love to master things. I got friends too, but with my, as I think all kids feel, I worried about “Am I doing this right? Do I fit in? Am I cool? Am I popular? Am I going to make an ass of myself?” I was pretty normal that way in feeling I always belonged there socially.
However, from my perspective looking back and talking to teachers I had in the past, they said, “You were the most popular. Everyone loved you. You were a leader.” I never saw myself that way. I guess I was, but I felt like an outsider. Also, I had to manage this dual life with my parents, for quite a few years from age 7-12, who were hopped up on drugs. It was tough to go to school and pretend everything was okay all of the time. There was a dualistic life that was part of that false pretend life being fed by that too.
11. Also, you went from clinging to your mom to clinging to Miss Morgan. The woman you described as a “Saint.” (Carlin, 2015, p.25)
Yes, that’s what you do when you’re looking for a transitional object. That’s what they call it in psychology. You can’t have your mother, so you have to have your blankey or whatever it is. Thankfully, this teacher was lovely, and let me stay on her lap and stay right next to her. Until, I felt comfortable enough to trust my surroundings.
12. You mentioned this as feeling, with respect to wanting to master school, “the charge of having power over something” (Ibid.). Between the transitional object of clinging to Brenda, to then clinging to Miss Morgan, and then wanting to master school to have power over something, both of those speak volumes to a lack of control you felt in your own life up to 4 years old as well as not knowing what to attach to – other than another caring object or person, in this case Miss Morgan.
Yes! Yes, we moved to LA. My mom was falling apart. You need a safe place for the storm. School became that for me. Having a good mind, and being able to master school, and soak it all up, it was a sense of control and power. Thank God! Thank God I had that, who knows where I’d be without that? All of us have to find some sense of stability internally in order to develop into adults. Without that, there can be some serious mental health issues. Attachment disorders and all sorts of things.
I had this true foundation. I knew my mother deeply loved me. I knew my father deeply loved me. I didn’t have a sense of being thrown out on the curb and not loved, but things felt very unstable at home because dad was on the road so much and mom was having intense anxiety and panic attacks. She was self-medicating with alcohol. Thank God, I had 6 hours or so a day with a stable adult to connect to, and an environment that fed me.
13. Your father, in an interview with Jon Stewart, described his mother as wanting to control his life. ([George Carlin Official YouTube Channel], 2016, 3:00). You describe your father controlling whether your mom worked or not, and heavily leaning towards the latter option.
Yet, what I am getting from you a little bit is there was almost the opposite, a lack of control, but that might be because he was on the road and gone so much. I want to get your perspective on if you felt as if there was a lack of oversight and control of you from your parents.
My mother had to be both mother and father because he wasn’t home. She resented that. My dad really didn’t know how to be an adult, let alone a parent. He didn’t have a father himself. He was raised by a single mom and rebelled against her authority. He didn’t want to impose her controlling nature on anybody.
The only thing he asked my mother not to do was work because his mother worked and he had no one around, so he wanted to make sure one parent was around the home with me. My parents were busy getting screwed up on drugs and alcohol. My father was busy with his career. Because I was very precocious and a good girl, there didn’t have to be a lot of parenting.
I didn’t create a lot of a challenge around that. I was great at school. I was a great student. I did what I was told. When there is a lot of chaos in your environment, at least as a kid, my reaction was needing to be in charge of myself. I needed to figure out the rules by myself and live by them. I could discern the rules pretty easily. I was pretty smart. I knew what it was to be a good kid, so I was. My mother used to say, “Thank God, we didn’t have a boy.” She didn’t know what might’ve happened if I’d been a boy.
Because in some ways my dad didn’t know how to father, but he did. He did the best he could. He did it his way. He didn’t know how to father like the regular run-of-the-mill guy. He might’ve been great at it if I’d been a boy. But who knows? But that laissez-faire parenting became more dramatic and more of an issue around my adolescence, when I really did need parenting and guidance.
My parents were pretty hands-off with me. That was the circumstance of it. They were always there in the end. They were there for lots of things. They protected me, in some ways. They paid for everything. They put me in good schools. They made sure I had what I wanted, but they weren’t good at setting limits with me. That would have been helpful in adolescence, but it didn’t happen with me.
- [George Carlin Official YouTube Channel]. (2016, August 16). Jon Stewart Interviews George Carlin. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCGGWeD_EJk.
- Carlin, K. (2015). A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
Appendix I: Footnotes
 Actress; Internet Radio Host; Monologist; Producer; and Writer.
 Individual Publication Date: March 8, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.
 M.A., Jungian Depth Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute; B.A. (Magna Cum Laude), Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.
 Photograph courtesy of Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall.
American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two) [Online].March 2017; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.
American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, March 8). An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.
Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A, March. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two>.
Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.
Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A (March 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.
Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two)‘, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two>.
Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two)‘, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.
Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 13.A (2017):March. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two>.
Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Kelly Marie Carlin-McCall (Part Two) [Internet]. (2017, March; 13(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-kelly-marie-carlin-mccall-part-two.
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