THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Corlin Merddings

Corlin

Name: Corlin Merddings

Age: 29

Pronouns: He/Him/His

How often do you bathe or shower?

Every day, unless I’m camping.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

Mmmmm. Jellyfish or a cuttlefish. Jellyfish because they generally roll in larger numbers. People think that they are very simple. Some of them are kinda dangerous. I would also go with a cuttlefish, I like that both of them have fish in the name… cuttlefish because they’re kinda alien and they’re shape-shifters.

What are you passionate about?

I’m very passionate about food. Food systems. Very interested in the interplay between food culture and politics. I have a lot of smaller interests, but food and food systems—culinary things, which is a more defining interest. With food systems, how people come together to produce something that everybody needs. How the culinary culture of a place dictates what food comes in. The food that comes in, is affected by what’s grown and is affected by those who cook, what they can do with it. Then there’s the people who go to the grocery store, people who make dinner. How that all interplays with the environment, the economy, all of that is super fascinating to me. I grew up in Delaware, and that’s where Perdue Chicken is based. I don’t think that I ate more chicken as a result of being from Delaware, but Hoagies for sure. Honestly the water affects food too. Public water. 

When did you start being interested in culinary arts?

I was 22 and had just quit my job in politics and needed a job, ASAP. Restaurants are pretty easy field to show up and get a job in. My mom was always an avid cook, but yknow single mom, didn’t have tons of time to say “come learn how to do this”. It was more like, “dinner will be ready very soon” kind of thing. Make sure your hands are washed. I learned a lot by just watching.

What do you feel accomplished with?

Um, I really like what I’ve learned about food. I didn’t really expect to have a “non-professional” job. I really expected to go into lobbying or diplomacy in some way. Honestly, I feel really good about the relationships that I’ve made through the food and beverage industry. It certainly has a dark side, but I’ve really… I love the connections that I’ve made. It’s probably the most tangible thing that I’ve accomplished. There are little things, like, I take care of a cat with health issues. I’ve written some really cool haikus. But yeah, mostly the connections I’ve made with people, it’s sort of what life is about. How you share it with other people.

What is the “dark side” of the industry?

The dark side of the service industry is, a lot of it is… kind of a stereotype. That we’re a bunch of drugged up alcoholics. Anthony Bourdain was not far off… There is certainly a lot of that. A lot of it has to do with the fact that a lot of people who stay with it are passionate about it. The intensity it takes to be good at it, often times has a flip side of people trying to calm themselves down or have a release from the tension of being hyper-focused. It’s intense to deliver good experiences and good food to people. Yeah, the dark side, We’re fucking crazy ::laughs::.

What is something that you struggle with?

Ummm. Realizing that I actually enjoy spending time by myself. I don’t do it very often and, at times I’ve questioned if I’m incapable of being alone, because I don’t prefer it. But every time I do it, I’m like, “this is fucking great!” Like, it does get lonely if you do it all of the time. But, remembering that I don’t have to have fun and be spending time with people all of the time. I should just kinda retreat and do my own thing occasionally.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, familial, sexual, and otherwise.

Uhh, I have opinions on all of them. Family is really interesting because, you don’t choose them. Personally, I have a decent relationship with most of my family. I don’t have awkward Thanksgivings, I don’t live very close. I love my family but I also love the distance that I have between myself and them. I think that allows us to appreciate one another more. With friends, that’s the family that you choose and I love my friends. If you were to ask me who I admire most, top one or top two is my best friend, somebody I really admire. I feel like those relationships are really important to maintain and nurture. Sexual relationships, I feel like, don’t necessarily need to be friendships, but a lot of my sexual relationships are friendships. I’m poly and most of that is recognizing that one person can’t always be everything to you or you to them. And you need to make space in your life for all the people who are going to add to your life and all the people who are going to add to the life of somebody important to you. As far as relationships, they’re really complicated. But, I think despite having a really rough six months, as far as relationships go, I’m over closing myself off to them or being afraid to communicate exactly what I want. Even though, very recently I’ve felt gutted and nostalgic and angry, I’ve turbed a corner; things didn’t really go the way I imagined they would… but, all those relationships are important in life. Maybe to varying degrees to different people, but, it’s the stuff. The crux of life.

What is one of your main motivations that you want out of life?

I want to enjoy the things that I do, I want to work with my hands and I want to pass on my ideas. So, to expand… I’ve had jobs and have been a variety of different things. Before I was a cook, before I was a bartender, before all of this… I didn’t love what I did, I didn’t love who I was while doing it, and that’s ok—but that’s something I’m working towards. I want to work with my hands because that helps me be less stressed. I can point to something tangible at the end of the day. Even if it’s something insignificant like a plate of food or a drink, it’s something that connects to people which is meaningful. So, I don’t necessarily want to be a biological parent, but if that were in the cards for me, being a parent. Ideas are not genetic and you can pass those on regardless. Even if I don’t become a parent in some way, I want to influence the people I know and love in some way. I want my perspective to hopefully mean something to somebody.

Bashia Marion

Bashia

Name: Bashia Marion

Age: 30

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

How often do you bathe or shower?

Twice a day. Yeah, it’s a lot. I know. I get up in the morning and I work out, and I shower after I work out. And at night, I come home and take a bath. Just to help me get ready for bed, and wash the day off. It’s self-care for me. It’s good.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

A blue whale. I love blue whales, they’re so amazing. When I was living overseas, I was living in Tonga, a pacific island, and blue whales migrate through there. We got to see them crest, if we were sitting on the beach. We also got to go swimming with them.

What were you doing in Tonga?

I was a Peace Corps volunteer. My main role was to teach English and to train Tonga teachers how to use student centered teaching practices. It’s not common in Tonga. It’s usually lecture-style with the teacher up there talking. So I was training them to engage so students… can learn more… ::laughs::. Yeah.

What are you passionate about?

I feel like that is something I’m still trying to figure out. I think, the last year has been the hardest. Earlier this year I checked into a mental health program. It was really bad. If people… people who knew me or met me before January or before, they would be surprised by this person that you’re interacting with right now. So I do think, I’ve become more passionate about mental health because of my own process with it.

And then there are things related to social justice, specifically police policy reform and education reform. I’m currently trying to figure out what my place is, what my role is within police policy reform. The role I can take in that… I grew up in a family of civil servants, my brother is a deputy sheriff. My uncle was a part of that organization for his entire adult career. He retired early, went back for education and got his masters, and now he’s a trainer within the field. My dad is a firefighter, paramedic and my grandmother was a nurse. So, seeing all the things happening in the world with police violence, especially with black violence and other people of color… that impacts me. And there’s a conflicting thing because my family upholds the law, and they’re black men. And then, there’s stuff happening that is targeting black men. So the conversations I have with my family, it’s a little different. I’m more progressive and others in my family are far more conservative, so it would disturb me hearing their opinions on the things that are happening because it doesn’t make any sense. If they took off their uniform, they’re just another black man. No one knows they’re a police officer. It could easily be them. So how are people supposed to comply or operate just because someone is wearing a uniform? That makes absolutely no sense. We need to focus on the system and change how they interact with communities. The whole community policing and community engagement and connection. They’re police officers from this area, not someone who was brought in, expected to uphold laws and whatever.

When I was in undergrad in Columbus, one of my best friends, that was her whole focus for her dissertation. We would go to town hall meetings all the time. I felt like I was way more connected and civically engaged in Columbus, so now being home and being more settled this last year—I’m trying to get back into that. And know what’s where, who to talk to, know about events to go to or protests and stuff happening. I can easily see myself getting back into that stuff again.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Ummm. Honestly, I feel really proud of the fact that, the progress I’ve made in my education. Neither of my parents or my brother went to college. That just, wasn’t a path anyone took. It was something I wanted to do though, it was something I could do and was interested in. So, to have earned my associates then move on to my bachelors… then getting my master’s degree, and now I’m in the process of going back to school next fall to get another master’s degree… it’s huge to me. Through that whole process, there was doubt from my family. There wasn’t a lot of encouragement from my mom, my dad and my brother. I have other aunts and uncles who have continued education and I could go to them and get information, which was really helpful… but yeah. Even now, I’m working on being proud of myself and I did accomplish it. No one gave this to me, I really worked for it. I did the process, I did the work, I got the degree.

What is something you struggle with?

Self-doubt and low self-esteem. Sometimes it’s self-worth. Like, I sometimes I don’t think that I deserve good things or happiness and, with my anxiety and depression, it’s amplified of course. Those are fun things ::laughs::. But, I’ve been doing therapy. Talk therapy and earlier this year I decided that I was going to try and do medication. That was a huge thing for me, my family is VERY religious and for the longest time, it was “We will cast the demon out, you just need to pray and be filled with the Holy Spirit and it will all go away”. Then there’s me thinking how I’ve been trying this for 29 years and I hey, I still feel jacked up. Maybe the holy spirit is in this pill ::laughs::. SOO that’s where I’ve been at. It’s helped a lot. Yeah ::laughs::.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual, familial and otherwise.

Oh man, we’re in all the stuff right now ::laughs::. It’s really funny, that’s what I’m working on with my therapist right now. Intimacy, big “I” and little “I” sometimes too because I do jacked up stuff and stupid things with people sometimes… ::laughs::. SOOO, my mom and my dad got divorced when I was four and a half and it was a very tumultuous thing. They had custody battles literally until I aged out of the system. They went back and forth for custody my entire childhood, for both my brother and I. He’s 18 months older than I am, so he aged out and the custody battles stopped for him but it was still going for me. Right off the bat, intimacy and connectedness that you’re supposed to learn from your family unit—those social skills were really lacking for me. I had attachment issues, I didn’t know who to trust because there was a lot of manipulation from adults in my life… my dad remarried two times and his second wife—to me, felt like she had a vendetta against me. So that was, really challenging. Now being older and thinking that I might want to get married someday, trying to build connection with people… I’m trying to do the heavy lifting right now so I don’t project anything onto others. I know I’m super jacked up ::laughs::. I think relationships are vital. We need human connection, being to being connection, whatever that looks like. It’s super necessary, I think relationships are a life source. 

Robert Stagge

Rob

Name: Robert Stagge

Age: 30

Pronouns: He/Him/His

How often do you bathe or shower?

Every day, sometimes twice a day. I like to be clean. I get dirty from my job, I’m a Journeyman Pipe Layer, so, I lay sewer main and water main and I’m covered in mud from the time I start work from the time I leave. So, when I’m not at work, I like to be clean. Saturdays and Sundays, when I’m not at work I’ll take a shower in the morning and in the evening. It’s nice. ::Laughs::.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

I wanna say a shark. I don’t know, seems cool. I like their teeth ::laughs::.

What are you passionate about?

Couple things, really. I’m passionate about my sobriety, I’m also passionate about my job. And most important, I’m passionate about my kids. I have two, Alaina who’s six and Levi he’s three. Typically, I see them every other weekend. I’m on the typical divorced dad schedule. We like to go skateboarding together, so I’ll take them to the skate park sometimes. We just recently started going on hikes, it’s just fun to be outside with them. Watch them experience the world.

What drives your passion with work?

With work, it’s hard labor, so I sleep well at night. I enjoy working with my hands and doing something that matters. Like, if I didn’t do what I did, you wouldn’t be able to flush your toilet. Or turn on your shower and things wouldn’t operate the way that they do. It’s kind of a thank-less job, but at the same time, I know the importance of it. The infrastructure… That’s one of the big reasons why I’m passionate about it, the other reason I like it so much is that there’s a little bit of a danger aspect to it. It’s a dangerous job, there’s something about that, which attracts me to it. I’m proud to do it.

Does your work and children support your sobriety?

Ummmm… No. I’m sober because I want to be sober. You know, if I could have found a wife and sat in church and been sober, I woulda done that a long time ago, but I couldn’t. I was married with kids and obviously, I’m not married anymore but… the sobriety thing is for me. Does it make me a better father? Yeah, absolutely. Does it make me a better employee? Yes. Even when I was in active alcoholism, I’d still show up to work every day. I was still passionate about my job, they’d just make me rake asphalt until I’d sweat it all out. Then I’d go lay water main. But uh, I do the sobriety for me. It’s a me thing.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

I guess, I just bought a rental property. So I feel kinda accomplished with that. I’m still in the uphill battle stages of it where I’m about to start tearing stuff out and fixing it up. I feel accomplished with it.

What is something you struggle with?

Self-love. Self-love and intimate relationships in general. I’ve had a really hard time being vulnerable. Especially with women in relationships. I don’t know if that stems from my first marriage. Maybe it stems from childhood, I don’t know. I’m currently going to therapy to try and figure that out.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, familial and otherwise.

I think they’re good, it’s what makes us human. My friendships are extremely important to me. Without my friendships, I don’t know where I’d be. My friendships play a part in my sobriety, a fellowship has grown around me. That’s what comes to mind. I’m going out to eat with friends just about every day of the week.

Is there anything you would tell a younger version of yourself?

I donno. I have no idea, I’m happy with where I’m at. A part of me wants to say, the damage that alcohol can cause, but… the other side of the same coin, I wouldn’t be who I am without going through what I went through. I wouldn’t be the same father that I am today. I wouldn’t be the same friend that I am today. I guess that’s it though, the damage that alcohol can cause. I’d have probably still done it though ::laughs::.

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