This week, Jake goes out with actor and writer Genevieve Angelson. The two bond over astrology, using hallucinogens for therapeutic purposes, Bethenny Frankel, and psychiatric blue balls. Tune in for more.
Content Warning: This episode includes brief discussion of drug use, addiction, and disordered eating.
Or Check Out the Conversation Here
Jake Cornell: This is the first time an episode has played out this way, which is why we met for the first time by going out together yesterday.
Genevieve Angelson: Yeah.
J: We had a very beautiful, quick little, not even lunch date because we didn’t eat. We had a coffee date.
G: We just had a coffee date.
J: I think you’re my one and only coffee date, Genevieve. I don’t think I’ve ever had a coffee date before.
G: Well, I think that we got there by both of us being really honest about our needs.
J: Our needs.
G: Well, because — should I elaborate?
J: Yeah, please.
G: I was like, “Listen.” Well, okay. You want to know what? I felt the mantle of knowing how much you know about going out, how much you care about going out, your taste for different restaurants or whatever, and I just felt like I needed to tell you right up front I’m not a big drinker.
J: Yeah. You were like, “Let’s either meet up for a drink before dinner,” because we also very much established that we both, schedule-wise because I’m leaving, there was no way a dinner was happening.
G: See, no, I didn’t get clear on that. I would’ve definitely done a dinner.
G: I’ve also been having dinner at 5:30 at night because I’ve been spending so much time with my nephews. I’ve truly never been such a boring person, but carry on. Then you came back and you had a huge weekend.
J: Yes. I had a huge weekend. I had a cousin’s wedding. It was all over the place. Then it was like — Oh, because we were originally going to meet up on Sunday and then that did not happen because I was very hung over and tired.
J: Then we moved it to a coffee on Monday. That was really lovely.
G: So lovely. I also think that it’s the perfect couch of safety, right? There’s two really curious people who can have the time and space to get to know each other, without the often, I think, terrifying duration of a meal. Particularly between strangers apart from the fact that I had listened to a podcast and I totally worship you. It’s just sort of this, let’s really sink our teeth into the added value of getting to know someone for an hour, without the commitment of passing the point of expiration.
J: I really liked it.
J: It felt very mature. Also, it was just very funny because I was like, I knew you had listened to the podcast so you knew some stuff about me. When Jeffrey reached out to me to put us in contact, I had literally just finished watching the first episode of “The Afterparty,” so I was like, “Wait.” When I say just ending, I mean sitting on the couch, it had just ended. I can’t believe I didn’t tell you this yesterday. I was like, “Wait, that’s her?” I was so confused.
G: So funny.
J: It felt like one of those moments where someone was watching you and orchestrated something time-wise. Other than having seen your work, I didn’t know anything about you personally. Obviously we had texted so I got in your tone that you were very effusive and we were both very direct about communicating, but I really appreciated that when we sat down, we just got to it.
G: We sank our teeth right in and this was how.
G: I said, “This is what I don’t want to talk about on your podcast,” and then I dived right in. You met me.
G: You met there.
J: I met you hard.
G: It was amazing. I made a very self-effacing joke about being from L.A. and so, referring to astrology, where you f*cking double met me and you were like, “What’s your moon and your rising?” We went into that.
J: I know. I kind of can’t believe that you don’t have Scorpio in your big three because, Marcia, my partner who I’m doing the Fringe show with, we both always joke about because we’re both Scorpios, there’s like no small talk. It’s just straight to the marrow. I feel like that’s where we went. There was very little small talk.
G: I mean, it does sort of beg the question of can you just find yourself in any astrology sign?
G: I’m in Aries, so I come in hot and effusive and I’m a leader. Yeah.
J: Well, whenever someone’s critical of whether or not you believe in astrology, I’m like, “Look, it is a tool through which I am able to introspect and that’s all it needs to be.” Even if it’s not true, I have found it very useful in terms of the terminology and the framework within which to self-analyze. I have felt it was very, very helpful. When my astrology app says that I’m going to have a bad week, do I get a little nervous? Yeah. Do I manifest a bad week? No. Do you know what I mean?
J: I’m not canceling plans because CHANI told me that it’s going to be a bad week, but I think about it. I just don’t do it.
G: Two things. One, it’s why I think practicing sun sign astrology is really just for ding dongs, which is like saying, “You’re Irish, you must love to drink and that’s your whole personality.” Then also, I have a friend who is like, “Here’s what astrology is for: good news.”
G: “If it’s not good news, I don’t want to hear about it and it’s just for entertainment. If it is good news, it’s science and religion.”
J: Do you know what I find? I find it the most helpful, not quite for good news, but when I’m feeling like, “What the f*ck?” sort of. I’ll text my friend David Odyssey, who is a, of course David Odyssey, he’s an astrologer, but I’ll text him and I’ll be like, “Hey, I feel insane.” He’ll be like, “Okay, let me look,” and he’ll be like, “Oh yeah, well this and this is going on.” Whether or not that’s real or not, I choose to believe it is, being told that there is a context for why I’m feeling a certain way, why things are feeling like they’re happening a certain way, is peace giving to me.
G: What I’m hearing is that it makes you feel attuned to.
G: It makes you feel understood by yourself and by some outside validating force. It sounds like it’s helping you to move your personal needle forward towards actualization. What could be harmful about that?
G: Also for the uninitiated, what I was referring to is that almost everyone knows, “Oh, I was born in the middle of April, therefore I’m in Aries,” but few people would also know that there are a ton of planets and a ton of houses and a ton of transits.
G: All of those things are interacting at once, just all of the chromosomes of your DNA.
G: That is sort of the way, for instance, the Chinese say that the most important sign to understand and befriend is your moon sign because it’s your underworld, it’s your subconscious, it’s your inner child, it’s your emotional body. For me recently, I’ve been grappling with this defining sign of my Gemini, which is that I am constantly litigating two sides of an issue without any kind of resolution. It’s a kind of torture. Knowing that about my chart, I’ve been able to reach out to other Geminis and say, “Hey, how do you handle this,” and get their advice and grow from that feeling of torture by my own shadow.
J: I’ve never heard of someone reaching out to someone with similar placement for guidance.
J: That’s so smart and lovely.
G: Isn’t it? Thank you. I was talking to someone about it and they were like, “Why don’t you talk to other Geminis?” I was like, “I’m going to talk to other Geminis.”
J: That’s really smart. I love that.
J: Yeah. You had mentioned that you don’t drink that much. We didn’t really talk much about that, we were talking about all the stuff that we’re not talking about today yesterday, which was great.
G: Do you want to know the etymology of that?
J: Of what?
G: Of not drinking that much?
J: Yeah, sure.
G: What were you going to say?
J: I was going to ask, well, I think my question will probably get answered and have better context if you go into the etymology of it. I was going to ask, do you still enjoy going out with people on a night out or to a restaurant or whatever.
J: I’m curious, let’s start with the etymology of it.
G: I will say on that, the only thing that begins to make me anxious is my very fragile relationship with sleep, which is the thing that rules me and in that way, makes me a f*cking loser.
J: No, but it’s good that you know that about yourself.
G: Well sure, but also in — oh, my God, there’s a dog in the studio. That is really sensational. In listening to your prior episodes, though, it’s like I envy what I’m going to just call the physical health of the people who are like, “Let’s make it a night.”
G: “Let’s go somewhere. Let’s not know who the f*ck’s attic we’re in at 4 a.m. Let us be new friends with 15 new people.”
G: I am so committed to the way I’m going to feel tomorrow morning, that it’s hard for me to live with that kind of abandon. However, oh, God, I’m reminded of my begrudging spirit animal Bethenny Frankel and how she says, “I’m 90 percent homebody, 10 percent animal, and you never know who you’re going to get.”
J: I’ve been loving her on TikTok, I have to say.
G: Because she’s a beauty influencer? As she would like to remind you.
J: It’s so funny, but the way she goes about it is so funny. She always talks like she’s mildly irritated, but also excited. There’s something about her that is… she’s enigmatic. There’s a reason she’s a star because there is something enigmatic about her.
G: If you get her, you get her. I’m constantly thinking about all the people who don’t, you must just feel like she’s just nails against a chalkboard.
J: Yeah. She does have that energy of sort of that aunt that you love, but you can’t handle when she’s like out in public.
G: “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.” Yeah. Totally. Bethenny Frankel is who I was before I did the work.
J: Oh, wow.
G: My unedited.
J: Do you know her big three?
J: Wait, I’m going to look it up.
G: She’s a Scorpio.
J: Wait, is she? I’m going to look it up.
G: I think she’s a Scorpio.
J: I’m going to look it up right now. Wait, but talk about the etymology while I pull up her astrology.
G: Talk about drinking?
J: Or yeah, I’m curious.
G: Okay. I think that my history of going out pretty much starts with being a completely boy crazy love addict in kindergarten and for pretty much from kindergarten to graduating from my all-girls high school in 12th grade, I would be in the dogged blood thirsty pursuit of finding a boyfriend, that sort of guided my every moment. What is she? Did you find it?
J: Yeah. She’s a huge Scorpio stellium. She has Scorpio in her sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Neptune are all in Scorpio.
G: And she doesn’t have any friends.
J: She is, I believe if I’m reading this correctly, a Capricorn moon and rising.
G: Oh, my God. What a f*cking nightmare.
J: Yeah. Wait, no, I’m reading this wrong. Where is her…? This one doesn’t have houses so I don’t know what her rising is. Let me look at a different one. Oh, her birthday is one day different from mine.
G: Oh really?
J: Yeah. She’s the fourth, I’m the third.
G: Jake and Bethenny have a lot in common because he’s also Scorpio with a Capricorn rising. For those of you who don’t know, a Capricorn is defined by being, it’s an earth sign, it can be known as very serious.
G: Known as being old when you’re young and hopefully getting younger and more lighthearted over the course of your life. You’re productive. You’re like, “If I don’t see the point of this, why am I doing it,” serious.
J: To a fault. To a fault.
G: Cold. Yeah.
J: Yeah. I relate. It makes sense why I relate to her now, she’s that level. Capricorn and Scorpio, that’s my whole identity are those two signs.
G: But you guys present completely differently, which is why you have to look at all the other planets.
J: Exactly. Wait. Okay. So you were a boy-crazy love addict when you were in kindergarten?
G: Boy-crazy love addict from kindergarten to 18. I mean, I think for me going out in high school, always just meant boys, “We have to find boys.”
J: I know. Yeah.
G: Then in college I went through this huge, I’ve been pretty candid about this before so I’m not really revealing anything in particular, but I got really into Adderall, which led to this really gorgeous zest for life that looks like being completely manic all day and then drinking till full blackout most nights.
G: I have a very healthy passion for drinking, that I think I just exhausted because of my limited brain cells. Something about that, I think there was a point in my early 20s where I was drinking all the time, smoking a sh*tload of cigarettes, and also kind of overweight. I was like, “Let’s be honest about this Adderall thing. I think I was doing this to be thin and I’m not. What am I even doing with it anymore?”
G: When I quit taking Adderall, I didn’t need to drink so much and I stopped smoking.
G: That’s an incentive to anybody who’s struggling with that. Then I went through this kind of, I would say where I was a problem f*cking partier in my early 20s. I went through this huge, huge reversal where I then became really unwell again with this obsession with being thin and fully did not leave the house for many years.
G: Where it is for me right now is, and that is now a decade ago, but I know so clearly what life looks like when I’m not allowed to leave the house because of a pandemic, or not allowed to leave the house because of an obsession that rules my body, that I’m now really f*cking interested in going out. I’m really interested in it. I want to be with people and have friends. I still am not a foodie. I don’t really care, but I want to be there.
G: Wherever it is, I want to be there. I just also want to sleep. Those are my conditions.
J: No. Okay, I’m going to be honest with you: It sounds like you are primed to make a return to going out in a way that I think would be really, really outstanding.
G: I’m doing it.
J: Yes, you are.
J: I believe in you because I think it’s like you know what’s going to work and what doesn’t on multiple levels. Sleep-wise, substance-wise, and socializing-wise. Do you know what I mean?
G: Oh, so this is where I left off about drinking. What’s funny for me about drinking is, having gone for some time without really doing it, it’s now where I have a glass of wine and I feel it the next day like I am a decrepit old woman.
G: Alcohol is too strong for me. Mind-bending hallucinogens, I could do those all day.
G: And frequently do.
J: I really respect it. I really respect it. I’m honestly moving towards it.
G: Let me help you, please. Let me be your Sherpa.
J: I’m going to come to L.A. once, I almost said once I graduate Fringe, it feels like I’m leaving for college. I don’t know why.
J: It’s only five weeks. It’s going to be fine.
G: Well, you’re a baby.
J: I’m a baby.
G: You’re going abroad.
J: But when I come back, I want to go do that because I’m similar. I drink often and I go out a lot and I’m not going to lie, I’m getting a little tired of alcohol.
J: I think it’s maybe just as my 20s wrap up and I’m moving into 30, I’m not like, “I need to cut it out,” and it’s a no- go like I’m changing my whole life. I went out last night to dinner with my friend who doesn’t drink. We had this gorgeous meal and, this is actually funny because I also think I was never in treatment for it or diagnosed for it, but I do think I had a lot of eating disorder tendencies when I was in my mid- to late teens into college. I think drinking intersects with it in a really weird way because I would’ve never ordered a soda because it was fattening, but I would order a beer because that’s okay, because it’s an adult drink that you drink and you get drunk.
G: Sure. You are a rising Capricorn and you see the f*cking function in everything.
J: Yeah. There was a functionality.
J: Last night I was like, “Oh, I can just get a soda and I don’t even have to get a Diet Coke. I can get a fruit soda and that’s not any more or less mature than getting a Margarita.” Do you know what I mean?
G: It’s a pleasure.
J: It’s like pleasure, and it was just realizing, leaving those sort of notions of my 20s. Maybe I’m also just deciding to tie it onto my 20s so that I can leave it in the past, that notion. I was like, “Oh yeah, I don’t need to.” Not that I ever really feel like I need to drink. I don’t really think that’s what I feel. It was something specific about a soda, was really interesting to me last night. I was thinking about it a lot. Also, the person I was having dinner with was 20 minutes late so I had time to think while I waited for him.
G: How dare he? Also, I think it’s this thing where I don’t know what exactly compelled this, but I’m so glad that it happened where there’s a point in my life where I was just like, “I want to feel really f*cking sexy without being drunk.”
G: I want to feel really fun without being drunk and I want to feel really present and honest and transparent without being drunk. I just kind of demanded that of myself.
J: Good for you.
G: It really is not because I have any judgment about alcohol. I actually do think maybe it’s time I give it the time that it always deserves. Alcohol and cigarettes, I never really gave them enough of a chance. I need to go back to them. It’s just that it made me feel sick. It’s not anything bigger than that.
G: Here’s the thing, if I’m going to do MDMA, ayahuasca, mushrooms, f*cking ketamine, whatever it is. Not ketamine, there’s no hangover with ketamine. It is a f*cking gift to mental health. I’ll circle back.
G: The other ones, I know there’s going to be a huge hangover, but I’m so committed to awakening and to the therapeutic point of it. It’s like you and the soda.
J: Well it’s the Capricorn thing.
J: You’re talking about, yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s an achievement to it.
G: Exactly. Exactly.
J: Yeah. That’s so interesting, because I really love mushrooms and I think it’s a similar thing where there’s-
G: Do you binge with mushrooms or is this just an eating disordered thing? Circle back to that. I didn’t mean it.
J: Binge on food or take a lot of mushrooms when I take a lot of mushrooms?
G: I want to know the end of your sentence, which I’m sure you’ve now forgotten because I just steamrolled it.
J: I think I was actually finishing, I don’t think I had more to say.
G: You said something about mushrooms.
J: Oh, just that when I take mushrooms, I feel weird in a way. It really brings me to the present in a way where I don’t have to think about, “Where are we going next? What are we doing?” It brings me to a place of contentment that I don’t think I’m able to achieve on my own a lot of the time. I find in the weeks to months after I’ve done mushrooms, it is easier for me to achieve that state without them.
G: Well, that has been clinically proven.
J: Right? It has, right?
G: Okay. I kind of have obliquely referenced this, but basically the 90 percent/10 percent that I referred to earlier, has to do with the fact that, I was sharing with you yesterday, I’m in this community in L.A. where we use plant medicine as a growth modality, right? It’s like group therapy. A lot of the time it’s really fun and it feels like a party, and a lot of the time it’s really hard work.
J: How often do you guys meet? Sorry. I didn’t mean to cut you off.
G: That’s okay. There are ceremonies that are not all-inclusive. I’ve been shooting in Toronto for a couple months, I’ve missed a bunch, but I don’t know, every six weeks.
G: Pretty much.
J: Okay, cool.
G: My involvement really started from a place of pain.
G: “I’m not satisfied with this part of my life or this addiction or whatever,” but I f*cking fixed all that. Now it kind of is just that I’m a cosmonaut and I’m like, “What else is out there? What else is possible? Let’s blow the lid off.”
G: I want to take it to an 11 in the container of therapy, but I’m not really up for getting drunk at a party. I feel checked out rather than checked in and I’m obsessed with checked in.
J: Yeah. I really agree with what you’re saying, but I think you can be checked in at the right party. Well, because I guess it’s also just maybe what you think of as a party. What you just described to me could be called a party, right? A bunch of people getting together and taking hallucinogens and talking.
G: Some people might call that a party.
J: I would say many people might call that a party. I think maybe what you’re clarifying as a party is something where innate to the fact that it’s a party, is that people are checked out, that people are individually chasing whatever and it’s not connective.
G: You’ve just revealed something to me, which is that I have been such a Capricorn about this drug use and I need to just do drugs for fun.
J: Yeah. You can just do drugs for fun. It’s funny, it’s like you and I are similar, but on opposite sides of it sort of. It’s very funny.
G: It’s funny because I do sort of feel like at the end of many of these ceremonies, that is what’s reflected back to me, which is that fun is God. That is. That is the highest spiritual lesson is joy always.
J: Yes. I think it’s hard to accept that because it’s liminal. It’s impermanent. We want it to be this thing that comes and stays, but the fact that what makes it intrinsic to its existence, is the fact that it is fleeting and ends in an instant, or ends without our control.
G: Well, I think that the value is in the contrast, right? It’s the yoga between the time where you are feeling exaltation and then kinda when you step away from that and you go back into the shadow so that you remember to come home.
G: One can’t really exist without the other.
J: I guess I’m just so curious. Through all of these different sort of phases you’ve gone, have you been an actor through those times?
G: With humble mortification. I mean, how have I been an actor through all of those times? I mean, I’m not sure how to answer that. What is the question behind your question?
J: That’s a good question.
G: I’ve looked a lot of different ways. I’ve been a lot of different kinds of depressed or not depressed. All of that stuff has been going on in the background of my field when I’m working.
J: I guess to be honest, it’s coming from a place of, I find when my mental health is low, I lose almost all touch with my creative ability. I find it very, very hard to write. I find it very, very hard to even be excited to do something. I find it very hard to connect.
G: It’s the one thing I don’t struggle with.
J: Really? You can show up to acting without?
G: My sister said to me something once that I found to be really profound, which is that she was like, “You make things that most people could never dream of handling, like being the lead of a TV show, look so f*cking easy, and you make things that most people don’t even have to think about like eating dinner, look f*cking impossible.” She was a hundred percent right.
J: What is behind that you think? I guess that’s me asking you the key to your entire self.
G: I mean, I don’t know. I don’t struggle with acting and it’s not because it comes to me naturally. I am obsessed with mastering this thing. I am constantly in class. I am constantly coaching other people and being coached. I don’t care if I am alone in my parents’ living room, putting on a play for one person. I did “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in suburban Illinois because I am constantly in pursuit of that click of, “I got it.”
J: That was it. Yeah.
G: That was it, you know what I mean?
J: That is what you’re chasing every time you try to act.
G: Of course, of course.
G: For me, most of the time it’s a relief from my personal service. It is a relief from my ball of yarn that my mind is always looking for in idleness. I don’t love being on set even a little bit. It is constantly downtime. It is constantly-
J: It’s so hard.
G: It is constantly open f*cking season at the buffet. It’s just powerlessness, trapped, it’s a lot. To actually be in the work, is usually just a relief from my bullsh*t.
J: Yeah, it’s like a relief when they call action.
G: Yeah. The thing about it that is tricky in a way that I really have not solved, is that I do have insomnia. That is a thing that I live with all the time. It’s why I started this thing that has now come to haunt me, which is in the pandemic I started in ASMR channel. I was listening to ASMR every day and feeling so much gratitude for these innocent tweens who didn’t know any better than to ramble on about the boys that they had crushes on in high school.
J: It’s so fascinating.
G: Listening to it just put me into a coma and I started feeling like, “You know what? An adult really should be getting in the fields here.” There aren’t that many adults talking about adult subjects that aren’t eating.
J: A lot of food?
G: A lot of food, which I also really like to watch, but I was like, “All right, I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it.” Then I did it and I did it for a while, and then I just started feeling, “What the f*ck did I sign up for?” I felt so-
G: I don’t know how to make this worthwhile if I’m not. If I’m just doing another, this is what’s in my purse video, that exists so why would I be doing it?
G: Then also, if I want to get more specific and interesting, I have to start talking about people who have not signed up to be a part of this. That feels kind of gross.
J: Yeah. That is an interesting line to have to toe.
G: I don’t remember how we got here. Insomnia.
G: I’m constantly at work at 5 a.m.
G: It makes me feel like a goddam goblin, gremlin, suicidal, homicidal.
G: I look like garbage in a way that’s almost impossible for any professional to fix. It is very hard to feel connected to any kind of inspiration. I’ve never been able to get through that. I have plenty of good days, but those bad days happen on every job and it really breaks my heart.
J: Yeah. Do you just have to know, “Today is going to be a bad day and I hope that I sleep tonight and tomorrow’s better?”
G: It is a really powerful dance with the me that sees the bigger picture, that knows that this is a moment in time that my one sweet life is not going to hinge on how perfect or imperfect this scene is. There’s a kind of heartbreak between the idea of what I think might have been possible if I had felt well. It’s a chronic illness.
J: Have you always had insomnia at that level?
G: When did I really start having insomnia? I have to say, I think it started in my mid-20s.
J: Oh, okay.
G: It’s been a while. I have a very, very good routine with it now, but I don’t want to jinx it. It’s in such a good place at the moment.
J: No, yeah.
G: To shoot a TV show or a film is to constantly be jet lagged, right?
G: On a Monday morning, you’re there at 5 a.m. On a Friday night, you’re there until 5 a.m. and then it starts again. They make this thing that is for me, just this missing piece of my life, it’s like the crown on my mental health is this acting thing. They make it so f*cking hard to enjoy.
J: Yeah. That’s a challenge.
J: Okay. I’m curious when you’re not working, because obviously we just said it really f*cks everything up, how do you tend to socialize? Are you out a lot? Are you seeing a ton of different people? I know we’re not at parties, but do you love a lot of the dates we did yesterday?
G: I also do love parties. I do. I don’t know. I really front like I am. No, you want to know what, I feel shame, I think. I feel ashamed about the number of years I spent as a homebody because it was just anxiety and that hasn’t been true in so long.
G: Now, it is a point of pride to be at your birthday party, to be at your wedding. I fly across the country to show up for my friends. It is important to me, more than it is important to them, to prove to myself that I’m giving myself the life I deserve. I really do that. Most of my friends in L.A. are a part of this plant medicine community.
G: We all share the same values, which is we just love each other. We’re kind of obsessed with each other. Coming back from what was just a very long period of shooting in Toronto where I didn’t really have any friends, I’m actually voracious about going out. I want to go out to dinner. I don’t want to be eating meals at night by myself anymore.
G: Yeah, I want to know where the hang is. In L.A., that typically means it’s happening on the earlier side. People probably aren’t drinking as much because they’re driving.
G: I happen to be friends with a group of people who are really doing both recreational and professional drugs.
J: When did that start for you, this journey? You were talking about it yesterday, you’re talking today, and it does sound really beautiful. Honestly, it feels like it’s been very healing for you.
G: It didn’t come from 12 Step. The people that I got into it with were not 12 steppers, but I was in 12 Step when I was getting into it. In doing so, I’ve met a bunch of other people who are in A.A. or whatever, and it’s a part of their 11th step. The 11th step is when you really deepen your relationship with higher power. I think, whether that higher power is love, or my highest self, or it is the divine or whatever that is, I think, that’s a big element here. I would say it was my dissatisfaction with my addiction and my curiosity about how much bigger life could be that got me into it. Now it’s just my friends.
J: In your experience with that, this exploration and expansion and being a cosmonaut, do you feel like there’s any sort of edge to it? Do you feel like you could keep exploring endlessly with it or do you feel like at some point it’s like, what am I trying to say?
G: Well, I think what you’re saying is… No, no, I understand what you’re saying.
G: I think that the most important thing to remember about it is a couple things. First of all, I describe it as though it’s this kind of utopian love fest and it is in a way, but also it’s really hard work. I see a lot of stuff about myself that I have to handle and it’s scary. It’s meeting the parts of myself that I run from.
G: That’s a thing that doesn’t make me want to do it every day. The other thing is that I’m also very aware of the reason that I do that stuff, is for the life and that the living and the integrating and the relationships and the sobriety and the Tuesdays at 3 p.m.
J: So you can come back to your life and have it be better?
G: Right. Actually, that is kind of a concept I think I got from 12 Step, which is like, you don’t go to 12 Step meetings in order to get good at going to 12 Step meetings. You go to 12 Step meetings, you can get good at your life.
G: Yeah. It’s integrating so that when I meet people who don’t do that kind of work at all, I’m the person who doesn’t have to drink in order to feel sexy, have fun, and be really checked in.
J: I’m very impressed with the level of self work that has gone into it.
G: I started by telling you that before self work, I was Bethenny Frankel. If you were Bethenny Frankel, frankly, I can’t say that because it doesn’t seem like she’s really working on herself, but I found that state to be total agony, which was like, “How do I relate to her?” I mean, I just see the level of, in any given room, she’s clearly the smartest person and that has awarded her nothing. She’s not the happiest person in any room that she’s in. She’s constantly suffering, that woman. She lives in an unending spiral of obsession. She is a beast that will never be fed, it feels like. She’s also clearly got an eating disorder.
J: This is the thing, I think what I’m relating to so much about what you’re talking about and I think it comes back to the Capricorn thing and then I also tend to then really kind of extrapolate it to, what is a product of us being raised within capitalism is, I’m so goal oriented and also feel like everything I’m doing has to be for an end, to get something to the next place.
G: You gamify it.
J: I gamify it, but I constantly put pressure on myself. It’s funny because people don’t get this. I was a terrible student. I didn’t do homework. I never did homework in high school. I never did homework in college. I got good grades. I learned how to maneuver the system. I was talking about this last night, I couldn’t bring myself to do a worksheet in math where it was the distance formula, where I’d be like, do the distance formula in these 16 different problems. I’d be like, “I know for a fact I’m not going into math and I already understand it to the level I ever will need to. I cannot bring myself to do this worksheet of paper. Why? So that I can get a grade on it tomorrow that I don’t particularly care about?” Therefore, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, but I constantly felt like I was wasting time not being an artist because that was what I wanted to do.
G: I absolutely understand you. I think it’s just that I have applied a kind of capitalist consumerism to my spiritual growth. Which is that I’m like, “Okay, I already know what life looks like if I don’t leave the house tonight and I binge-eat sugar-free mints in front of ‘Real Housewives of Orange County.’” That’s great and there’s no problem with that. There’s nothing wrong with that lifestyle. For anyone who wants it, I want you to have it. I think it’s great. It’s just that I actually already know what that looks like. I think that I, not you, I don’t mean this prescriptively for anyone, am supposed to have a f*cking enormous life. I don’t think my life is going to get any more enormous by doing that.
G: I have put the point on pretty much every experience being like, “How is this going to make my life bigger?” I think that that is almost most visceral for me when it comes down to meditation and breath work. If this is going to reveal some part of me or what’s bigger than me to me, then that’s the point. I don’t know what the point would be of doing a math worksheet, except I think at that point I had the unbelievable fear of God in me that if I didn’t go to an incredible school, my father would end me. There was a point to that.
J: Yeah. It’s interesting. I think that people would stereotype how you’ve been talking about this stuff, as a very West Coast demeanor.
G: I’m born and bred in New York City.
J: That’s what I’m saying.
J: It’s just interesting to see.
G: That also is the West Coast. No one who lives in L.A. is from L.A., they’re all recovering New Yorkers, pretty much.
J: Here’s something I’m really interested in. Do you view New York and growing up in New York as something you had to recover from?
G: I think I will always be recovering from a level of taking myself too seriously. There was just a way in which the intensity of New York enabled that.
J: That’s so real.
G: People in L.A. struggle, but they don’t suffer. In New York, it’s like the rent is too high, you can’t leave your house because it’s freezing or because it’s boiling.
G: My parents are here. I have brought a life-or-death level of stakes to what pants I wear when I leave the house, and everything about that is somewhat alleviated in Los Angeles.
G: Also, everyone is a ding dong, dumbo dumb, so that there is a payoff for that. That’s not at all what I just said, but true.
J: No, but I get what you mean. There are conveniences that come from living in a place where everyone is under an enormous amount of stress all the time.
J: The efficiency with which a checkout at a store happens, I think is one of the more prime examples.
G: You’re correct.
J: I was in Vermont the other day and I ran into the store to buy something and I was like, “Oh yeah, I have 10 minutes before I have to get on this train. It’s plenty of time.” The leisure with which people were moving to the store, I was like, “I’m never going to get these headphones before I get on this f*cking train.”
G: I also just say, backing up three minutes, I can’t remember another moment in my life than when I felt more pressure to be getting it f*cking right than your age.
G: I’m a couple years older, just one or two years older than Jake. I think that I really felt like every single day, something about me, my beauty, my value, something life-giving and worthy about me was expiring. I’ve just found the opposite to be true.
J: I know. I truly feel, and I don’t even know, it’s not about those things, but I do feel right now is the part of my life where everything is on the line.
G: You’re in your male fertility window right now. There is a thing, there’s a pressure on, yeah.
J: It feels like right now, I’ve never had more of an opportunity to f*ck it all up and I’ve never had more pressure to get it all right than right now. It’s a thing I do feel internally. It’s refreshing to hear you say that, because that tells me it’s maybe not true.
G: Yeah. It’s just not.
J: There is a pressure there that is really intense. I think also what you’re talking about with the New York pressure of taking yourself so seriously and feeling that pressure, there’s a release I find in being in New York, staying in New York, and figuring out how to exist without that, to be like, “Wait, I can exist among all this hustle and bustle, but not absorb it, and then it becomes fun.” That has, I feel like, been the past two years for me. A transition into that.
G: That’s so beautiful.
J: It’s been hard, but I’m getting there.
G: I think a lot of people take a lot longer to get there.
G: Or have to move to California.
J: I feel like a lot of what you’ve been saying, it sounds like you’re kind of envisioning this next phase of your going out journey a little bit.
G: The simple pleasures of my going out life today are, I f*cking love a raw bar. I want naked fish.
G: I’m not talking about a couple. I want a tower to myself.
G: I want a gorgeous, crisp, basic f*cking white girl glass of sparkling rosé. I want there to be a dance element. If it’s someone’s house party or someone’s wedding or someone’s whatever, I live for a dance element. I want someone to leave something on the table without breaking their dignity. I want someone to leave some blood, sweat, and tears on the table. Something to get opened, something to get transformed, or revealed, or unloaded, or something, without embarrassing themselves. That’s what I want out of a night.
J: I think that specific grain is what I connected with you most yesterday. I do feel like we were like, we’re meeting up for an hour, hour and a half. We were not planning to meet up all day. We both had plans after, but there was no small talk.
G: I want to know you.
J: I want to know you.
G: I love you on your podcast and there are some people who I really only want to know on their podcast. I was like, “I want to know this guy. We can do this. Let’s get into it,” but not be those girls who in back in the day when we would audition in rooms, be opening up in a seeming way that was very unbounded about the abortion that we’d just come from. It’s that thing of, “Let’s not use intimacy as a currency.”
J: Whoa, yeah.
G: Let’s actually just be, I don’t know.
J: It’s sort of being like, “Hey, here’s where I’m at,” and then I’m being like, “Oh, here’s where I’m at.”
J: Then we sort of shared back and forth until we explained. It made me very excited for the next time we hang out that’s not recorded and spread publicly.
G: Me too.
J: I think that, yeah, it’s that thing of wanting. I like that, something being left on the table walking away. I feel if I have a night out with a group of people, we went to dinner, we just got drinks and no one ever went deep. I sort of leave feeling a little crazy.
J: If it was just surfacey talk for three hours, it’s almost like a psychiatric blue ball. There’s a lack of release where I’m sort of like, “What the f*ck was that?”
G: It’s the kind of extraversion that I find depleting, when this isn’t about-
J: When you can sense someone doesn’t want to go deep and they’re like, “Don’t ask me those questions.”
G: That’s right. It starts to feel kind of, you know what, being around people right now is kind of a cipher where if I were on my own, I could be in an authentic experience. This is actually keeping a lid on my humanity.
J: Yes. Yes.
G: Other people’s discomfort is just kind of getting enabled and we’re keeping it at this hum.
J: Yeah. I truly loathe that.
J: Now that is the sort of party that I will leave.
J: If I’m like, “Oh this is all just for us to be in the same room, but we don’t want to do anything else more than that,” I will remove myself from that.
J: I find it beyond depleting, I actually find it depressing. It makes me feel sad.
G: A hundred percent. I cannot wait for you to come to L.A. and sit in a circle and just open up about your childhood.
J: Okay, because I actually think when you do comedy in New York, all people do is talk about how bad L.A. is, that’s what everyone wants to talk about. I went to L.A. for the first time — oh, I guess it was 2018 so it’s been a minute — but it was only for a weekend. Then I spent a full week in L.A. earlier this year and I started hanging out and becoming close with people that live in L.A. I was like, “Oh this is the good side of L.A.”
G: You’re a thousand percent right. I mean, if you think about L.A., it’s really just a beautiful backdrop against which you can cast whoever you want because you never f*cking have to see anybody you don’t want to see. If you don’t get into the right group, you’re really at a loss. If you do get into the right group, those other people don’t exist. You go from your apartment into a car, to another person’s apartment. It’s not like you have to interface with anyone.
J: That’s so interesting. You’ve done a good sell on it for me. I’m excited to come visit and talk about my childhood.
G: You’re welcome.
J: Okay. I like to end these episodes — this was very fast but time goes by fast when you’re connecting. I’d like to plan on our next night out together.
G: Oh my gosh. Okay. Well, are you coming to L.A.?
J: I’ll come to L.A.
G: Okay. I think you’re coming to L.A.
G: I’m going to bring you over to my friend Melissa’s house.
G: Melissa has the most gorgeous, it’s not a Frank Lloyd Wright house, but it’s unbelievable. It looks like it’s a spaceship out of the 70s and in her backyard there is a fire pit. There is a beautiful ranch with beehives and stuff and we’re going to go over there.
J: Oh, my God, that sounds amazing.
G: We’re going to go over there at 7. They’re going to put the hot tub on. There’s going to probably be 10 or 12 people there. You and I are going to have our own time on the drive over, where we really get into it and catch up. Then I’m going to let you fly among this group of people that you can’t believe are not actors. They are so beautiful, it is severely humbling. You’re going to taste 14 different kinds of wine that are going around and eat Melissa’s unbelievable cooking. We’re just going to see where the night takes us.
J: This sounds like my dream. This sounds like a perfect night. I can’t wait.
G: Yeah. Yeah.
J: Thank you so much for doing the show.
G: You’re so welcome.
J: This was so fun. We did it.
Thank you so much for listening to “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” If you could please go and rate and review us on whatever you’re listening to this on, that would be really gorgeous for me in a huge way, so thank you.
And now, for some credits. “Going Out With Jake Cornell” is recorded in New York City and is produced by Keith Beavers and Katie Brown. The music you’re hearing is by Darbi Cicci. The cover art you’re probably looking at was photographed by M. Cooper and designed by Danielle Grinberg. And a special shout-out to VinePair co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for making all of this possible.