Who are you?
My name is Ocean Pleasant. …Who am I?
Let me rotate my seat belt real quick.
I always ask two questions in the beginning and two at the end. The first I’ve asked. The second is, What do you do?
I am a singer-songwriter. I am currently pursuing a career writing music for film and TV. But I also have my own music project under my name. So that’s what I do.
I don’t think I knew that first part.
I signed a publishing deal last year.
I knew that, I think.
And since then, I think a lot of my focus has been on making music that I want to make, but also building a catalogue that my publisher can have to pitch for TV spots and all that stuff.
The second we got into this car, you put your seatbelt on.
Yeah, you were like, “Why? We’re just talking in this car.”
And then it went straight to talk of death. Sort of.
[We see a very tall male and a very short female walking together, holding hands.] Look at the height discrepancy. How would you feel? Is there a height that’s too tall for you?
Yes. I think anything over 6’4 is like, why?
Like, I’m not trying to have a neck injury; you’re not trying to crouch.
How tall are you?
Do you like being 5’8”?
It’s contextual for sure. I feel like, in a lot of ways, I’m just incredibly average, and my height is above average. It’s too short to be a model, but too tall to be like, “a baby.”
Do you feel tall when you’re next to me?
I don’t—I think there’s only an inch or two between us?
Are we the same?
Your personality adds 4 inches.
Haha, thank you!
In the best way possible. I’ve had that conversation with people before, where their personality makes them seem taller than they are.
Interesting, though, that you thought I was 5’7? Or 5’6?
I wouldn’t realize that if we hadn’t talked about it.
For a long time, I was 5’3”, and then it changed, I think, after yoga.
Stretched out like the Willy Wonka taffy stretcher.
Old Willy Wonka?
Old one. Always.
Someone in my art therapy group just referenced the recent one with Johnny Depp, and that is all they know.
That’s so strange to me.
They’re about your age.
Yeah, but it’s a classic movie. It’s like not knowing what The Sound of Music is.
Oh, they’re definitely not gonna know what The Sound of Music is.
Oh. Then I don’t know. I’m just a grandma.
I, too, am a grandma, which is why our age discrepancy does not get in the way of our rapport.
Because at heart, we’re both 85 or so.
Yeah. that’s the starting point for us.
Tell me the ways in which you’re 85.
I double and triple check any alarm that I set. And I love being on time, so me being 7 minutes late today, I was like, oh god. I’m always early or on time. I think old people are obsessed with time. They’re really early at the airport.
I have a ton of tea. I don’t even drink tea, and I have 40 boxes of tea in my kitchen.
You don’t drink it?
I do, but it’s more novelty than routine for me. It’s really weird. I want to be a tea drinker. I wanna be taken seriously as a tea drinker, but I don’t take myself seriously as a tea drinker.
All you have to do is drink it.
I know, but then you have to boil the water and pick a bag.
You don’t have to boil the water.
…What do you do?
You can fill a cup with water and put it in the microwave for 90 seconds.
Oh wow… okay, well.
Oh, another grandpa thing: I microwave potatoes instead of cooking them sometimes. If you poke a bunch of holes in a potato and you microwave it for 3 minutes, it’s completely soft. Isn’t that crazy?
I feel like that’s something my mom might have done since she’s not the cook in the family.
That doesn’t make me old, that just shows that I don’t know how to cook.
Oh, you don’t?
No, but I do know how to make specific things.
Vegan baked ziti.
Can we talk about how I asked you to meet me at Hooters? Somehow I forgot you’ve been vegan for how many years?
I’ve been vegetarian my whole life. I’ve been vegan for 3 years. But I’m almost glad you forgot, because I pride myself on being vegan, but only slightly annoying about it. So the fact that I have friends who don’t remember I’m vegan is a good sign, to me, that I’m not being annoying about it. Cause with some friends, you’re like, “Oh, that’s my vegan friend,” and I don’t feel like I’m “the vegan friend” in the group.
Thank you. But you texted me, and you were like, “How about Hooters?” And at first, I thought it was a joke, but you really do love Hooters. So I was like, Why not?
I went vegan for a few months and I KNOW I was being very conscious about not being annoying about it. But people still were annoyed with me. My friends were annoyed with me and they were like--
It’s a weird thing to unpack, because if you think about it, people get super threatened if vegans take up any social space, but it’s like, okay, there’s an animal holocaust happening in our backyards, and you’re the ones who get all the space, but the moment we’re like, maybe let’s not massacre billions of animals each year in a really inhumane way and pump them full of chemicals and then eat them and rip them apart from their families and grind baby chicks alive and also cut down on carbon emissions and maybe reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, they’re like, “Oh my god, stop talking about broccoli, Brittany,” and it’s like, no.
It’s so funny how the people we get the most angry at for taking up space is because they’re challenging our own beliefs.
People do not want to look at their own shit. Personally, I’m up and down, and on and off with going vegan, but when I was vegan, I felt, spiritually, a lot better: I wasn’t contributing to death. Although some could argue that everything is living, including plants, so we shouldn’t be eating anything.
But that’s just the argument of someone who wants to poke holes in everything to justify their own actions. Yes, technically plants are alive, but for me, a general rule of thumb is if something has a mother, I’m not going to eat it. So, it’s the sentience, or consciousness, for me. If something can create a bond—an emotional, familial bond with something else, it’s not my place to take their life.
And another thing, too, is, my going vegan was also kind of selfish, because I discovered I was lactose intolerant, and I get a stuffy nose when I have dairy, and I can’t sing. That’s kind of my whole thing, so that’s actually what was the final push.
But one last fun tidbit before this turns into a vegan interview… There’s something about cheese that’s scientifically addictive. I don’t want to misspeak if I try to quote it. It takes 3 weeks of not having cheese for your body to stop craving it. When I was switching to veganism, someone reminded me, “You are gonna crave cheese like you are dying on a raft with no water.”
And cheese is your water.
Yeah, and then in three weeks, it’ll be like, you don’t miss cheese. And I’m like, I don’t believe you, I miss cheese, I want cheese, give me all the cheese! And then 3 weeks later, I was completely fine.
Well, you know, they say it takes 3 weeks—21 days—to make or break a habit.
That’s true, too, and I think also getting something out of your system physically, and also mentally, takes a certain period of committed time. But I have friends who are freegan, which means they’re vegan unless the food is free.
And beegans are vegans who eat honey.
But the bees aren’t getting slaughtered for their honey?
Here’s the argument for honey and bees: If you’re vegetarian, it makes sense. But it’s still an animal product, so if you’re vegan, you technically can’t eat honey. So I was like, okay, this is kind of extreme, but when you research the kind of mainstream way that people harvest honey, it’s kind of fucked up. They use something that’s equivalent to toxic nerve gas to knock out the bees so they can get to the honey, and the gas they use is so powerful that it really disorients the bees, and it messes with their internal navigation system, and they can’t find their way home. So if you see a lone bee flying around…
…He’s been raped for his honey.
Bees create honey as their own food, and it’s like someone taking all of your life savings but leaving $50 for groceries so that you can just keep going to work and making more money for them to take. And I’m like, This is some capitalist honey shit.
They eat their own honey??
That’s why they make it. It’s their food. It’s what they use everything for.
…I did a report on bees in second grade, including a whole fucking cardboard presentation, and I didn’t know. Or maybe I forgot that they eat their own honey.
It depends on the kind of bee, maybe.
What about pollen?
They take pollen back to their little bee house in order to pollinate flowers. Now I’m talking like I’m a bee expert. I’m definitely not a bee expert.
This is just gonna say “Ocean Pleasant: Singer-songwriter, Bee expert.”
Okay. “Annoying vegan, bee expert.” You know what? Everyone is an expert on something these days…
What are YOU an expert on?
That’s the thing. Everyone’s an expert with no qualifications.
Yes. Exactly. Sure. We can mention names, but we won’t.
If I am a fake expert on anything, lately I’ve been really into big fruit. As opposed to big pharma or big oil.
Oh, I thought you meant, like, watermelon versus grapes.
Like physically big fruit… “Let’s debate cantaloupe versus mangoes.”
This is fascinating, but I have this really great National Treasure spinoff idea based on the banana industry. It stems from—and I’ve told my friends this so many times, they hate me because it’s the dumbest shit you’ve ever heard—but it stems from the fact that Chiquita Banana is one of the leading companies in the banana fruit industry, and the banana industry is almost single handedly responsible for destabilizing entire countries in central America.
I can see that.
And if I’m not mistaken, the US government has assisted in those efforts, because it’s such a huge industry, and it’s just really awful. They created a banana monopoly and enslaved people in their own countries to be a part of this system of dark fruit.
“Dark fruit.” It’s a real thing. So I watched this banana documentary about how in the Queen’s royal garden, in England, she has the original strain of banana because what happens is--
What do you mean “the original strain of banana?”
Monocrop culture is when you’re exclusively growing one type of fruit or just one of anything in one place. It’s more susceptible to disease.
Kind of like dogs that are pure breeds!
Yeah, right! So every 15-20 years, scientists have to kind of reinvent a strain of banana. We’ve gone through some cycle of 2 or 3 evolutions of banana, because they get wiped out by bacteria or disease, since it’s just bananas being grown. So apparently, it gets less and less sweet each time, so the original strain of banana is alleged to still exist in the Queen’s garden.
Original banana of… life?
Yeah, hahaha. Like the OG banana.
And so apparently in that case, the queen has the sweetest banana.
[Hard LOL] That statement...
I didn’t even have that rehearsed. That’s funny, cause I’ve told this story a few times, but that’s never…
So that’s the sweetest banana. Yeah. That can be my pull quote.
Wait, when did bananas begin?
I don’t know their origin story.
I mean, are they billions or thousands of years old?
I don’t know those facts. All I know is that once they became commercialized, and we started creating this industrial complex in central and south America to support dark fruit, that’s when the banana started to evolve, because of this monocrop culture. So here’s what I’m thinking... Obviously, it’s no secret that dark fruit is real. But a lot of people don’t know, and I feel like there’s probably so much corruption, overthrowing entire governments to put into place people who allow for the destruction of entire forests to make a crop for Chiquita Banana. So I think a really great National Treasure spinoff would be… [Redacted for obvious potential screenwriting purposes].
I think he would sign on for it.
I think it would be really funny. And it could be the socially woke National Treasure.
When you create this, can I come on as one of your writers?
We have to go really deep into dark fruit research. When I was drunk, I googled dark banana--
Oh no, that sounds porny.
Right, that sounds super porny, but it’s just a bunch of banana bread recipes…
Oh I found it. “Dark facts on how Chiquita Banana Company operates.” This is just a quick--
And then! The fact that they put a woman with her tits out and fruit on top of her head to distract from the darkness of it.
Right! It’s not like this cute family harvesting bananas in their locally grown co-op. You are enslaving people in their own country.
…Using sex to cover it up…
“So the United Fruit Company, established during the late 19th century by ‘American entrepreneurs’”—sarcastic air quotes, daddy gave you a lot of money to go destroy an entire region of the world—“exhibited monopolistic dominance over the fruit industry in Latin and South America for almost a century, now known as Chiquita Brand International, the United Fruit Company”—which also sounds so evil, “United Fruit Company??”
Yes. It sounds like a lie.
It does. “They’ve had such vast economic control over Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, that it was an imperialist power in its own right, propping up military dictatorships and controlling lives and deaths of their workers, all in the name of financial gain.” So this dark fruit is only grown there.
Should we not eat bananas?
I don’t know. That goes back to the idea that if you look hard enough, you can poke holes in anything, and it’s really just, what decisions can we make to make the biggest impact? Not eating bananas isn’t going to stop dark fruit, but not eating meat on Mondays is saving the world like 60 gallons of potable water. It’s all about give and take, I think, so thanks for letting me go on my banana tangent.
[In unison]: The queen has the sweetest banana.
Moving on to your eyebrows.
Hahaha, oh my gosh.
They’re great eyebrows.
They’re my pride and joy. I’m not even going to try to play coy.
Is that your favorite thing about your face? What’s your favorite thing about you?
I kind of just have, like, mad love for my body. I don’t know if I can pick one thing.
I love that! The queen has the sweetest banana!
Hahaha. I just think my body rocks. I don’t know if there’s just one feature. I love my eyebrows, I love my eyes, I love my butt. I like my tiny boob game. Even my knees are great. I don’t know, I love my body.
You know what? Six months ago, I started going down this rabbit hole of radical self acceptance, because I found out that one of the reasons that shaving became popularized in the early 1900s—in France at least—aside from all the marketing campaigns and all that stuff, was that French sex workers started shaving their legs to look younger when they figured out that men would pay more for children.
Isn’t that fucked? And when I found that out… I always knew that, subconsciously, we’re all subscribing to a definition of femininity that’s created by and for the male gaze. Like that’s obvious, right? But when you look into the history of that, it’s so perverted. And I was like, you know what? I’m gonna stop shaving everything until I feel completely at peace with being the original make and model of who I am. So I have hairy ass legs. [She lifts her pant legs.]
Oh my god! This is amazing!
And these hairy legs... I’ve got hairy pits. I’ve got hairy pits, I’ve got hairy pits.
I love it.
So that was my thing. Because I was like, you know what? I’m not gonna subscribe to this. And it’s not even a political statement for me. I might be doing a campaign with a brand soon, and I’m pretty sure they’d prefer I be clean-shaven for it, and I’m happy to do that. It’s something that I would enjoy doing, to work with this company. I’m not like, “I’m never gonna shave again.” But my commitment was to get to a point where, hair or no hair, I felt absolutely comfortable with myself.
I can relate to that. When I went to India and I did my yoga teacher training, a week in—it was very fucking intense—we did this family constellation of our strengths, weaknesses, et cetera, and by the end, I was in a heap on the floor in tears and snot, but it was great. It was kind of this weird death of myself, but I wasn’t ready to die, so I was very confused. And in that confusion, I was like, I’m not gonna wear makeup for the rest of my time here. For three weeks. But it was more like, I didn’t wanna wear makeup until I can look in the mirror and be completely fine without any makeup, so that when I do wear makeup, it’s not coming from a place of “I need to wear this.” It’s cause I’m choosing to.
Yeah. That’s the exact, totally same page. I do like the feeling of smooth legs, and I wanna figure out if I’ve been socially conditioned to think that, or if I actually like that. Because I prefer the feeling of hairy full grown legs than prickly legs, without a doubt. If you date a guy, he’s gonna have hairy legs, and you cuddle with him all the time, and you’re not like, “Ew, hairy legs.”
Yes. J just started—I don’t know why, I think it’s because he’s been cold, but—letting his hair on his chest and stomach grow to the fullest extent, which he’s never done. And it’s not even the kind where it’s bushy and it trails off into thin hair. It looks groomed and he hasn’t even done anything, and I happen to love it. There’s something about it…
Right. So we have this weird relationship with body hair as a culture that men kind of feel the extent of, but it’s mainly just at women.
Did [name redacted] feel your legs?
No. But here’s the thing. Here’s why I’m also nervous. I haven’t dated anyone since I started growing out my body hair, and so now I’m really being put to the test about how comfortable am I in my own skin, because it’s easy to be comfortable as this hairy wooly mammoth when I’m alone, but when you introduce some hot guy who thinks your rad, and you take off your pants and you’re like, “Here’s a bush fire under here,” or something, that’s my concern, that I’m really having to put these ideals to the test and walk the walk. My instinct to just go and transform into a smooth baby seal before he comes over…
That instinct to just groom the shit out of yourself until you’re a svelte dolphin/feeding into a 2-century-old perversion of children?? Anyway… that was really hard for me. I posted a few pictures, because my friend came over and documented my body hair, and I posted it on Instagram, and I was like, “Just a friendly reminder: body hair is genderless.” And it shows my armpit hair and my leg hair in these photos, and the person in question liked that picture. So I don’t know if he looked closely enough to see my hair in those photos, but it’s fair to say that he’s aware because--
I would think he would have seen that.
Right. And he liked it. I know that he saw it. It hasn’t come up. I’ve only worn pants when I’ve seen him. I think there’s also the private grooming, too. There’s so much expectation on women, all around, to be these perfectly groomed creatures, and I’ve definitely played into that, and it is fun to--
I just epilated my legs this morning.
What does that mean?! What’s “'epilated my legs’??”
It looks like an electric razor, and it twirls and catches the hair and rips it out.
Ah!! That sounds like a medieval torture device.
The thing is, I had been growing my hair out for weeks, but I had epilated before that, and I’ve done it a few times, so my hair has become sparse. I basically took off the remnants of what was there. I don’t know why, but I had a moment where I was thinking, What’s the point? But what made me feel better—now that I’m talking about it—is that it was for me. I’m not doing it for anybody else. J’s seen me with my hairy legs, and he doesn’t give a fuck.
But it’s so weird, if we hadn’t been exposed to a culture where women felt that, would we feel the need to do that at all? So that’s why I feel weird about it because--
I would like to say no, but I don’t know.
White women co-opting the body hair movement is also something that needs to be addressed. And I can kind of touch on it as a white woman. It’s socially a lot more accepting for a white woman to grow out her hair than a woman of color, because we’ve naturally, as a culture—or white culture—we don’t have a culture, but white people…
Hahaha. I don’t wanna say white people don’t have a culture…
What do we have? Hamburgers and racism? And slavery?
I mean, white people who came from – okay, I don’t wanna get into that. There’s a lot to unpack there, but I will say that African American women who are asked to not wear their hair naturally to work, or dreadlocks being sometimes associated with being smelly, or even when that talk show host said that some actress must smell like patchouli because she wore dreadlocks on the red carpet…It’s these kinds of connotations around historically African hairstyles that we still… There’s still so much work to be done, and I recognize that white women have co-opted these body self-love movements, because it’s inherently easier for white women to be accepted. So, I know that, in terms of public perception, I have it easier, because my leg hair is pretty much blond. You couldn’t really tell unless you’re feeling me up. And so, girls who grow up with really thick, dark leg hair feel more pressure than anyone else to not have body hair, from what I’ve assumed and researched. But every case is different. And it’s something I want to recognize, that it’s probably a lot easier for me to do this whole self-love, radical change thing.
It’s nice that you’re aware of your white privilege.
It’s just a conversation to be aware of. I don’t ever wanna seem like a fake woke white feminist who’s just like, “I’m growing out my body hair, and I, like, don’t eat meat, and I’m really like changing the world.” It’s like, No, you’re just kinda doing the bare minimum. But for me, it’s a personal thing. I will say I’m very nervous to be with someone intimately, with body hair, and that seems so weird to say, cause no man in the history of ever, probably, most likely, was like, "I’m just really nervous for them to see me with body hair.” And that pisses me off. It stoked this fire inside of me of, I’m self conscious of showing up exactly the way I am. I don’t wanna be self conscious for being exactly who I am. Because I do have so much love for myself, and I really have grown into someone with a very strong sense of self, and I wanna eliminate, as much as I can, any of that imprinted toxicity that I don’t want and I didn’t ask for. So that’s me, in my little own act of self-love, is having these furry little legs. My cute little red bush. It’s fine.
And it keeps you warm on these cold, cold Los Angeles winter nights.
I’ve also been embracing the fact that I’m a redhead recently. People made fun of me for having red hair as a kid, so I’m always like, “I’m auburn.” I’m not really a redhead, but then people will take pictures of me, and then I’m like, “Oh. That’s kind of red.”
I guess I wouldn’t have considered you a redhead.
It’s weird. It’s more so how it photographs than in person, because I feel like I’m more auburn in person. But it photographs red. But my bush is red. And that’s funny to me because I was like, “Oh, look at you go!”
In high school I had a friend who was blond—well, we’re still friends—and she would get made fun of for being blond, and privately to me, she was like, “I’m not blond!” And she pulled her pants down, and her pubes were brown. And I was like, “Oh… you’re really not fully blond.” Is this your natural hair color?
Yeah. I’ve never dyed it. Also, the hair that’s on your body, as a form of protection, is usually darker because it’s thicker, so your head hair is the lightest because it’s exposed to the sun. But pubes and leg hair and stuff, that’s why leg hair grows back darker when you shave it, because something is threatening the natural order. So it’s growing back stronger, therefore thicker and darker. I think pubes are the thickest hair on your body. That’s why they’re darker. I’m so glad were covering all the bases here.
I wanna discuss when we met. You were 16.
I was 17, I think. I definitely had a crush on a boy who was 19, so I had to have been 17, cause I remember thinking, there’s 2 years between us. I might have just turned 17.
You were 17, and on a tour with fuckin’, I don’t even know how many people there were. It was pretty intense. Tell me your favorite and least favorite thing about all that.
Oh, my gosh. Well my favorite thing--
Aside from meeting me.
Well, obviously meeting you. I feel like experiences that throw people so far outside their comfort zone where you’re kinda in survival mode, but it’s also a party, but also work, is such a weird environment.
It’s hard to have boundaries.
It’s hard to have boundaries, but also the relationships that occur, they’re either combustive or they’re for life. Because it’s like summer camp for adults on steroids. It’s just insanity. There’s a reason why you and I are still friends six years later. Because we bonded through that experience. But some of my favorite things are the people I met.
We didn’t kick it a ton, but we definitely had a few moments, I think.
We didn’t but we vibed each other. Cause I was still 17, and like a baby tagging along. I was there to help out with the sponsorship and production stuff. One of the highlights of that tour was definitely the people I met. It was serendipitously getting to perform with Soja, and him asking me to sing with him at a certain point. That led to a bunch of crazy stuff. Like, I performed with them at Bonnaroo for 70,000 people the next year.
Is that what you were wanting to do at that age?
At that point at that time, I had just started my magazine, or was about to. So I was in a spot where my life was set up in a direction to go into tech or business, because that was already kind of what I was doing. When my mom founded her magazines, I was 14, and I was really involved in that process. Since I was homeschooled for high school, I was really involved in the company as a teenager, so I was primed to start my own magazine. And that’s around the time that I did.
Is it still going?
No. I stopped the magazine probably two years ago now.
That’s crazy you had a magazine at 17.
17 to 19 was the prime time.
And this magazine was majorly out.
It was in Whole Foods and Barnes and Noble. Nationally, it was the only youth magazine that Whole Foods had accepted at that point. And so that was crazy, because I felt like I was at this point, when I was 17, where I was looking at two distinctly different life paths: to keep doing what I knew, which was magazines, and what eventually led to me getting a very prestigious fellowship program that was a two-year long program with Peter Thiel, where I had to skip college to grow my company under the guidance of this program.
Or... It didn’t even seem conceivable that I could do music as a career. It was something I was incredibly passionate about, but I didn’t grow up in a musical family. I wasn’t classically trained. No one was like, “You can do this!” I even distinctly remember a family member being like, “You know, I just don’t really think you have a voice for singing.” I had this uncooked passion for something, and I didn’t know how to make a meal out of it. And so, it just kind of stewed on the back burner for a while, until I went through the entrepreneurial route for several years: Forbes 30 under 30. I did TEDx talks. All this crazy stuff.
And I woke up one day, and was like, "I’m living somebody else’s life. I’m wearing somebody else’s skin. I’m not happy." I was also in a really serious relationship at the time, and I was like, Why am I living the life of a 45-year-old woman right now? I’m 19, living in New York City, I can’t even go legally buy a drink.
I had a really low moment. I ordered a fake from 21clubids.com, and it arrived in the middle of an Ikea handbook. I used it to get into a bowling alley, and it got taken away from me. I got brutally humiliated by this massive bouncer. And I was like, “I didn’t even wanna drink man.” He was like, “You think you getting away with this? Not today, lady.”
I was living in New York, in Soho with my boyfriend, who was also in tech and had a very successful company. And I realized, at what point did sign up for this life? I felt like I was just kind of in the passenger seat, and someone was doing all the turns. And I feel like I woke up, and I was like, I need to be driving this car. I don’t know who’s driving this car. Maybe expectations were driving the car. I don’t know what it was.
By other people’s standards, your life would have been enviable.
Yeah, and it was also terrifying, because that had kind of become my entire identity. When people heard I made music, they thought it was no more than a hobby. I’d been giving talks at Microsoft to like 600 employees and speaking at the largest TEDx youth in the country…
What did you speak about at Microsoft?
I don’t even remember, but my website at the time got banned, because they had a porn blocker, and I used the words REAL and TEEN on my website, and they automatically thought it was a porn website. I was trying to give this demonstration to all of these Microsoft employees in Seattle, and this lady comes up to me afterwards and is like, “I just want you to know none of us were really able to follow along because there was porn block on your site on our devices.” And I was like, “For fuck’s sake.” That was hilarious, actually. But my whole identity was Magazine Girl, overachieving, under 20-something, and it was this insane culture of young people who felt like they had to compete for the most accolades at the youngest age. It was just really toxic, but I was a part of this incredible community. I was in the Thiel Fellowship--
And that was for your magazine?
Yeah, and I made some of my best friends through that program. The program inherently was really amazing, but it just happened to be in a world of young people feeling like they had to… I can’t tell you how many friends I had who would just break down because they were worried that they weren’t gonna raise their next funding round before Time made their selections for 21 under 21, or something like that. That’s the kind of pressure we were dealing with, and it was more self-imposed than anything else. I just woke up one day, and was like, “I don’t wanna do this anymore.” And my partner and I were going through some weird stuff at the time anyway, so it just seemed like, if there was any time to prioritize my potential, it had to be in that window of opportunity.
when you realize how easy it is to stay the same, but how important it is to do anything but that, and all it takes is just opening your mouth and having the courage to tell someone that this isn’t what I want.
I realized I had even, in a sense, stayed in that relationship longer than I should have, because I thought it was what I was supposed to be doing. And I knew that six months could turn into 2 years, and 2 years could turn into 10 years, into a lifetime of settling for…it’s not even settling. It was a very amazing life, and I’m very grateful for everything that came out of that. But it wasn’t…
My biggest fear in life is unrealized potential. That’s probably my deepest, deepest fear. Missing out on all the things that I could be. And that’s why I was like, “You know what? I’m packing everything up.” Booked a one-way ticket to LA. Literally had no idea where I was gonna stay. Broke up with my partner. I spent the summer just traveling and shooting the shit, and then booked a one-way ticket to LA to focus on music. I crashed with a friend who was staying with a friend at a sorority at UCLA, and I crashed on their floor at this sorority, and I was like, “Whoa, this is not for me either.” And then I just found a room to rent and walked dogs, and it was really humbling to go from “Forbes 30 under 30, raising VC at a tech company,” to cut off from all of that, and I’m just out here.
But you know what? It was the most liberating thing that I’ve ever done. And now, I’m actually making money off of my music, and I’m living a life by my own design where I feel like I’m an active, willing participant. I’m behind the wheel, even though I don’t know how to drive in real life. So it’s a funny analogy. It’s really amazing now to think of all the people that I’ve met here. The people who have changed my life who I would have never known existed if I didn’t have the courage to say,
it’s okay to give something up, even if it’s all people know you as.
Damn. I feel like I’m a bit in that unrealized potential place. More than a bit.
The fact that I’ve been at one of my jobs forever. There are good things about it, of course. But I feel like the life I should be living is not the one I’m living currently. There are parts of it where I’m like, Yeah, this is for me. Those parts feel good. But, living a more creative life. I feel, too, being a therapist, a reason I don’t have a ton of clients is because—and I’ve said this many times—I probably don’t really want to have a ton of clients. I’m glad I went to grad school. I feel like it made me a better person. I’m able to be “a Leo and not just an asshole.” Before, I was kind of an asshole. Maybe. It taught me how to connect with people better. But I definitely don’t—a career as a therapist full time? Fuck no. But I do enjoy it. It’s weird. When I facilitate my groups and I see clients, I don’t regret it. It’s kind of like working out. I go in thinking, I don’t know about this. But then I leave going, I’m really glad I did that; that felt good. I just feel I have a lot of potential doing more creative shit.
Photoshop alone, very impressive.
I was having a conversation with someone recently about developing a side hustle, or, at the very least, realizing your time is valuable beyond what you’re using it for and figuring out whether or not that’s something you want to monetize or just bring awareness to. That it has worth somewhere else. And the baby steps that are along that process, figure out how far you wanna take it. So, just an hour a week of creative stuff. And then a month later, someone’s paying you to do that stuff, and then maybe a year later, that’s your business. I think there’s this illusion of overnight success and people magically having this whole shtick and they’ve just made it, and that’s just not true.
I just feel like I could be doing more, but come to think of it, I have been doing more. This interview, for instance, is part of that. When I was in Greece, I was interviewing people who were working there, they were like, hey, you should do this. And I was like… you’re right! It feels good.
You’re great at it.
Thank you. And to photograph the people I interview. I took one that looks like it could be in a fucking magazine. At least that’s what other people say. I have all these Instagrams, one for my art, one for photography, one for this blog, so a part of me feels like, okay, I’m doing more of it. I’m putting it into motion. It can’t be overnight, solely living a creative life. But the fact that I’m working on all these things, I think is that’s all I can do at this point. Because I can’t—or maybe not—I’m sure I could be doing more. But that’s not really in my nature to fuckin’ hustle like that.
It’s about being satisfied with yourself. I think that’s kind of the root of it. Not everyone needs to be like, “16-hour workdays, all about the hustle, bro.” Some people just wanna live a good life where they feel like they wake up with a purpose, even if it’s just talking with one person or finding creative expression.
Having a purpose doesn’t have to mean a Fortune 500 company. It just means, at the end of the day, feeling good about it. And getting to that point, to me, is kind of like the pinnacle of success. Because that point looks so different for everyone, but it’s the same feeling. That feeling of “I have fulfilled my potential today.”
I think that’s why, every day, the things I have to do to feel like my day is complete: Meditate and make art. And that’s it.
Those are all my requirements. And neti potting.
That scares me, because what if mold gets in your brain?
I don’t know. That’s just something I heard on Reddit.
From neti potting?
Like if the water’s dirty, then a brain infection. Or maybe that was in a cartoon.
Funny, because I don’t use distilled water. I use water out of my faucet. When I’m abroad, I don’t do that. I’ll be like, I don’t know about this fuckin’ water. But I used to think about that, too. I also feel like, if it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go. And if it’s because of brain mold from my neti pot, then…
I was just curious if you heard anything about it, because I used to do neti pot when I was little, and I loved it. And then just my paranoid, inner 85 year old kicked in, and was like, I don’t know… the brain mold.
I could have brain mold. That could explain some things: why I’ve been tired recently. But yeah, I’m working on it. What you did scares me, in the sense that I think about what that would look like to me.
The fear is: Is what’s next gonna be better than this? And that’s a really scary existential fear, cause it’s the ego. That transition would have been a lot easier if my ego had just gotten out of the way. But it’s not fear of the unknown. It’s fear of failure. And it’s like what’s next?
I feel like I’m sort of on your trajectory, but way slower. I’m moving towards it, but I’m super tentative. I think, too, what scares me is debt, and how am I gonna pay that off if I quit everything and just travel and write? I’m annoyed that I’m not getting paid what I feel I’m worth. And it’s not even that. It’s the fact that I have not even thought about it enough to bring it up. The fact that I’ve been ignoring it, I guess.
Then it also becomes a frustration with yourself that you haven’t addressed it.
Sometimes that’s the best motivation: getting sick of your own bullshit.
I haven’t felt annoyed upon waking up in a long time. I was like, Oh, I feel weird and off, and a sense of unfulfillment. Nothing is gonna help, it’ll just tell me when it’s ready to tell me what the answer is.
I do have this weird grappling with spirituality, because I know that a lot of manifestation and this kind of, like, white girl spirituality is just repackaged Christian prosperity theology.
Hahaha. “Give a man a fish” or whatever.
There are so many Bible verses bejeweled into quotes on Instagram that woke white ladies post. And so my thing is, the idea that you can just manifest something positive is a slippery slope, because there isn’t really an acknowledgment of privilege there. Two people manifesting, and one happens to manifest a lot more. They also happen to be middle class, high income, with resources. That, I’ve always kind of dodged. But I do think, whether this is scientifically proven, you kind of attract the energy you put out. Or maybe I’m thinking of quantum entanglement: the idea that things can be connected even if you can’t see the connection. And in the very sense that, if you go into a bar and you’re sitting all alone, and your body language is saying that you don’t wanna be fucked with that night, no one’s gonna come up to me. But if you’re going and your intention is to socialize, you’re gonna attract people who are gonna want to socialize. So if you scale that principle out wider, its like, okay, I’m showing up in the world the way that I wanna be perceived, and the way that I wanna be met. And in that sense, I believe that we attract what we put out.
That’s kind of my loophole of my not wanting to be believing some repackaged Christian woo-woo stuff. But I do believe that you attract what you put out, so if I wake up, and I’m like, today I’m gonna have an incredibly creative day, and I’m going to be loved and supported and just embraced with this incredible abundance and divine alignment that I trust where I’m meant to be, because I know that I’m showing up at my fullest capacity, then whatever happens is meant to happen. Because I’m showing up the best I can. And it’s not about god or the universe or anything like that.
It’s just: I’m showing up as best I can, for me. And if that’s not enough, what is?
I feel like that’s maybe a less woo-woo way of saying it, because I grew up, as you know, in a very spiritual environment, and reading Eckhart Tolle was part of my high school curriculum being home schooled.
That part is dope.
Yeah. So, The Power of Now, all these things were all ingrained in my mind to the point where I’m now so deeply questioning them, to where I’m like, Am I having a spiritual identity crisis? I was raised by the most hippie mom, so it’s like when a kid runs away from religion, but I’m running away from body choir, which is just a bunch of adults dancing with each other on Sunday mornings.
That’s a real thing? With music?
Yeah. They dance to music, but it’s just a bunch of adults doing free-form dancing to music. For a couple hours. I remember it was in this weird parking lot in Austin, Texas, and I would kinda sit in the hallway and wait for it to be over.
Oh, my gosh.
Sometimes I would dance, but there was also this old man who would give everyone flowers, and I didn’t really like that, so…
[LOL] Why not?
It was just creepy to me. I don’t know. So I just sat in the hallway.
While your mom was in there.
Just dancing. Wigglin’. One thing that’s really great about that community, which is a really weird side note, I went to this thing called The Global Youth Peace Summit from 11 to 17. I went almost every year. There was this organization called the Amala Foundation, which brings together youth from over two dozen countries, with an emphasis on kids coming from war-torn backgrounds to create a container where they can have a retreat outside of technology and social norms, and just practice empathy and compassion-building techniques, and ways to relate to one another across cultures. And they can then take those skillsets back home and implement them. So I raised money to go and do that by just sitting outside body choir with a bucket. I made a little poster board that explained the whole principle, for a non-scholarship, cause I’m white and I live in Austin, Texas. I wasn’t gonna apply for a scholarship to this organization. I had just this poster board from CVS, and it said something like, “I’m trying to get world peace.” And everyone was really nice, and I raised $600.
I feel like you and I grew up so fucking differently.
What were you doing at 12?
I was listening to r&b and fantasizing about love.
[Lol.] That’s your pull quote. That was me last night.
Trying on makeup and taking it off before my mom could see it.
I love you so much. That’s so funny. I think that’s what I was doing, too. I was just in a jungle sometimes. The day I realized eyeliner wouldn’t work, I was 13.
What do you mean?
Eyeliner just doesn’t work on my face. I don’t know why.
Inside or outside [the waterline]?
Anything. Just makeup in general.
…I don’t believe that’s--
I swear. Even recently, I’m like, I’m gonna go out tonight--
Should I put some on your eyes right now?
No, because it won’t be off in time for my date tomorrow. Literally, I look like Avril Lavigne if she didn’t have a makeup artist. But early Avril. Emo. Straight, blond hair and--
You know what you need? A bronze, shimmery eyeliner, not black.
I don’t know, man. I have a bronzy, kind of copperish eyeliner, and… I don’t know. Maybe I’m just so used to seeing my face very natural.
Are you wearing any makeup right now?
A little blush. That’s it.
How do you wanna die?
How do I wanna die? Oh gosh. Like you said earlier, when it’s my time, it’s my time. That’s just one of those things I don’t wanna necessarily think about. Not because I’m afraid of it, but because I don’t feel like that’s my business. If that make sense. Cosmically, it’s not my business.
If you could choose, you wouldn’t have an answer? An ideal way? Or is that not a question you’d like to answer.
I’m not sure. I feel like the instinctive response would be, “Peacefully, painlessly, in your sleep at a very old age, once you’ve accomplished and done everything you wanna do in this life.” So that’s the ego-driven response, “How can I get the most out of this and also not feel anything?” Definitely nothing scary. I don’t think that’s it. That’s it for me. What about you?