exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Month: May, 2016

Emma Wulf

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Date of Interview: May 17, 2016

Name: Emma Wulf

Age: 23

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Washington, DC


What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about making things and making things at the intersection of beauty and utility. I think that nothing can’t… I don’t think anything… How can I say this… I think very little can be made less beautiful or less useful.

Are there any objects in particular that you enjoy making?

I’m a big fan of pottery. I really love food and cooking. That does the same thing, it’s art but also nourishing. Very tasty and beautiful. Music making. Feeds the soul.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment in life thus far?

Staying alive. It’s that simple. It’s that simple. Staying here. Staying in my body. Can’t do much if you can’t get that done.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

That’s something I’ve thought a lot about. My biggest fear, the dynamic that scares me the most is being trapped in my own head, Living a small safe life without actual connections.

What are you most afraid of for the world?

Distraction. It seems like there are all these things, and that people only pay attention to a crisis for a hot second, and then it dissipates for the next crisis. Like, things are sexy for a second and then they’re not… like the… shit, I’m going to show my lack of attention here… there were all of those African school girls who were kidnapped last year, and that was the biggest thing ever. For about a week. And then nothing was happening, so the next big crisis occurred and that concerns me. The distraction comes with so much entertainment, and not much content in much of the stuff. It’s all consumption.

What are your thoughts on relationships and dynamics within relationships, including sexual ones?

That is very complicated… I have so many thoughts about that ::laughs:: So when I said staying in my body, I truly meant that. I feel I should explain… I have Chronic Fatigue syndrome, which I’ve been living with since I was 13. And before that I was terribly depressed and anxious. So in many ways I wasn’t socially alive. Until about 18 months ago. I’ve just woken up enough to be present and to be able to grow socially. So there’s a lot in terms of relationships that I don’t know. But I’ve also been really interested in the heteronormative dynamics and their troublesome nature. I’ve had two relationships that were good in some ways and really complicated and bad in some ways. Whatever, who can’t say that, that’s always the case. With having chronic fatigue, it’s been a struggle staying in my body, because being there hasn’t always been pleasant, and to be tuned into my body was to be tuned into being trapped and uncomfortable. And of course when you’re being sexual with someone, in my experience, for that to be a nurturing thing you have to be present in your body and that’s really hard for me. And I think for a lot of people, when the clothes come off, the response is normally, “Ohh, can we turn the lights off?” You know? I think that’s pretty common. Even just the bodies are so complicated. The minds ruling the bodies, and there’s the question of if you’re really seeing the other person you’re with or is it the person you think of in your head? I’ve had good sexual experiences.

What was your first kiss like?

Ughh, oh man. I want to talk about my second first kiss, it was so much better than my first-first kiss. It was… it kind of… It gave me a lot of information about relationships that I didn’t know enough to know about to be aware that it was bad. This guy was just talking and talking and talking and wouldn’t shut up. I was bored out of my mind and he asks how I feel about firsts, if they are a big deal to me. I told him, “not really,” and he says, “COMERE” and he grabbed my braid and kissed me and it was NOT cute. ::Laughs:: I was like, OH DUDE, ALRIGHT. So second first kiss was with a friend who I was crushing on pretty hard and we went out to dinner and I paid, then he drove me home, and we were sitting in the car kind of like something was going to happen. Like, I’m not getting out to leave the car and, umm, ::laughs:: and he said, “was this a date?” and I got super turned on, which I was not anticipating really. And I got all quippy and said, “I just bought you dinner” and then he asked if he could kiss me. It was very sweet.

What are your thoughts on death?

I’m not ready for death. I sort of feel like I just got here. I would haunt the shit out of some people if I were to die right now. It would go down. Oh yeah, many ghost visits. My mom is a hospice nurse, and has been for around seven years, so I have these conversations about death and what that means, and what that looks like. Such as good deaths or problematic deaths, and that’s been slightly desensitizing, I think, and it’s interesting to me.

Elise Whitaker



Date of the Interview: May 14, 2016

Name: Elise Whitaker

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Washington, DC


When do you feel the most powerful?

I’m kind of a control freak about specific things. Not about everything but projects I work on like, whenever I’m organizing, especially if I’m on a film set. I like to problem solve, so I guess I feel powerful at those moments. Especially when it’s something useful, to people or an endeavor, or to a project. It feels really good when I’m in those roles successfully.

When do you feel the least powerful?

Kind of loss of control, or especially if I have adopted a problem and I see what, to me, is a very clear path forward and if that isn’t being heard. I don’t have a super, I mean I think I’m right a lot, I’m not like super emotionally invested in being RIGHT, but it’s really important to me that I feel heard. SO if I feel as if my voice isn’t being heard or my voice isn’t being respected or acknowledged, then I feel very powerless.

What are you most passionate about?

Stories. People. Community. Everything that I’ve ever done or that I pursue, it’s always been about finding ways to connect people. Like when I was a kid I did a lot of theater and was a voracious reader and started out acting and started doing a lot of tech stuff and I really enjoy all of the pieces of that. I don’t think I’m an especially good writer, but I think I’m getting better at it and better at finding my voice within, which has been really nice. So yeah, like, reading, theater, film, and it’s all about getting stories out. Even within organizing, getting narratives out, it’s all about the people’s stories. Organizing is really important to me. I think that human connections are really important.

Do you think that where you grew up had an impact on this?

I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and I don’t know if where I grew up did, but I think that some of the circumstances maybe did. Growing up, I always envied people who had some really big families or were super super close with their extended families. Or also felt what is that problematic white American thing of envying people who have really strong cultural identities within the american landscape. Because there were, what ever it was, big gatherings or big weddings, you know like, weekly or monthly get togethers with their whole extended families and I was really envious of that. My family, it was just my mom and my brother growing up and my mom was sick a lot so that could be really isolating and NOW a lot of my family lives closer within the same area. You know, within the Indianapolis area, and my mom is now pretty good at organizing get togethers for my aunts and uncles and cousins and everyone goes and brings all their kids. So I’m getting that now, but I didn’t as a kid and I think that I missed out on those connections that I wish I had. Support maybe, that I wish I had.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

I don’t know… I have to think about it… Maybe loss or failure? I’m afraid of people feeling unsupported by me or like I’ve dropped the ball. Yeah, stuff like that.

What are you most afraid of for the world?

Apathy. And it’s something I’ve struggled with a lot because there are so many problems. Environmental stuff is just insane, and the world is going to end. We’re going to hell on a hand basket, and things are closing in on so many fronts. And in terms of just like the state of our country, and the world, and war, and racial injustice, and migrant refugee injustice. There are all these things. But what is so frustrating to me is that I feel as if I can see so many clear paths and I can see how to solve all of it, but like its frustrating to not be able to get people engaged around it. Like when I was home last week and I really appreciated this but one of my friends said, “That’s amazing, please, keep doing the stuff you’re doing so we can all stay at home and be lazy.” I appreciated the sentiment and everything, but my immediate thought was WHAT IF ALL OF US WEREN’T LAZY AND WE FIXED IT!, ya know? But it’s just like, the injustice of all of it too. I am really afraid of how disconnected people can be and what kind of psychopathology that has to manifest for people to feel okay. Living in and perpetuating the social ills that we have from whatever you want to call it; class, welfare, sexism, and racism… One of my exe’s always used to… So I used to have these really deep funks and he would always say, “Listen… Just try and remember that the world is in an empirically better place than it’s ever been. Every day it’s the best. Like, the best living conditions so far in history. Everybody is doing better than they ever have.” and my response always was, “THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.” We have the technology, we have the fucking information, we have the knowledge, and we should just make a world that’s GOOD. Good for everyone and we don’t. Better isn’t enough, you know?

What are five things you wish you could have told yourself when you were 15?

It gets really hard, and it gets better.

It’s okay when you don’t, but strive to love yourself, because you’re worth loving. And the more you can do it, the easier it is for other people to as well.

Don’t pay attention to any of the fucking magazines, or body image bullshit, or your mother, or anybody, who makes you feel any type of way about your body other than pure love. Because it’s not worth it, and it’s not worth feeling awful about all the time. You should also tell your 25 year old self that, umm… a lot.

Don’t waste time being afraid. Don’t let fear paralyze you or stop you. Which, I don’t think it did a ton of times, but you know, lean into it.

You don’t owe anything to anyone. Not time, or energy, or your body, or excuses, or explanations. Like you can just be unapologetically authentic. Get therapy sooner.

Do you have any thoughts you would like to add?

Interviews should be in bathtubs. I feel so relaxed. Art matters. No gods, no masters, no dads. Strive to be happy.

Sophie McTear



Date of Interview: May 13, 2016

Name: Sophie McTear

Age: 21

Pronouns: They/Them/Their

Location: Washington, DC


What did you want to be as a kid?

Okay, this is really funny, but when I was a kid I told my dad that I wanted to be Darth Vader. Uhh, then I chose that I wanted to be an astronaut. And then for a while when i was a little bit older I wanted to be a fashion designer. For like, a long time. I had dreams of going to FIT in New York City and I watched A LOT of Project Runway. Uhh-ummm, yeah I think that’s about it.

How often do you shower or bathe?

I bathe more often than I shower, probably. Mainly since I work at Lush and bath bombs are a real thing. Every couple days usually. Maybe every other day? Yeah.

What are you passionate about?

Umm… Yeah, I mean I am pretty passionate about my job at Lush. I mean I love the ethics behind the company. But, as far as what I’m super passionate about… My art. Umm, I’ve been pretty bad lately because I haven’t been super passionate about, like, causes. I feel like I used to be a lot more when I was younger, but I think it’s that I haven’t had the time to devote myself to causes. I’m really passionate about music. Music and art are probably my biggest passions. Go figure.

Since creating work is one of your big passions, are there any projects that you’re really excited about currently?

Umm, let me think. Yeah, I mean, I did the 9:30 Club poster which was pretty cool. I got to go to the event for that at the Lincoln Theater and the executive producer shouted out my name in front of a full audience which was super awesome. umm, yeah I did a poster the other day for this band, Brnda, for a show at Comic Ping Pong and it’s actually of this photo of me when I was in Richmond last year, of me trying on pigeon head masks. And I used that picture for this template and drew on top of myself and made it a poster. Which is pretty cool. A water color pigeon head, it’s awesome. ::both laugh::

So the opposite of what you’re most passionate about. What are you most afraid of for yourself?

Oof. I’m afraid of a lot of things man. You know, I’ve always been afraid of financial stability. I think, like, financial instability I should say. I think that that’s a huge trigger for my anxiety. I think that growing up, that’s always been the biggest sense of turmoil for my family, and I’ve had a lot of bad things happen to me because of money and it always is nerve wracking for when my bank account is really low and the fear of not being able to make it… I always do, but yeah, I guess the think I’m most afraid of is not being successful, financially wise. I think I know I’m going to do well, but it’s always hard to like, feel like you’re doing well and being rewarded fiscally for it. It’s kind of shitty that that’s what it comes down to, but to be secure and safe, you need it. So it’s always been a balance of working and doing my art and things like that.

An offshoot of the prior question, what are you most afraid of for the world?

Oh god man, Donald Trump. Umm, i mean yeah, i guess intolerance. And you know, sometimes I feel like we’re coming up and getting better as a society. You know there’s things we’re improving upon, but there’s so much more that we have to do. Look at the bathroom bill that’s happening and everyone is saying, “Oh, gay marriage is legal, so everything is fine. We no longer have to fight for LGBTQ rights.” Like, I have to fucking fight for my right to use my preferred gender pronouns. I’m also pretty scared about global warming. For me that’s less tangible, I understand it less I think, but through working for Lush I have more of a grasp on what the implications are with what we’ve been doing to the earth.

Who do you love?

Whoooo do I love…? I deeply and profoundly love my friends. I think that’s like, I had to learn a lot of ways that I’ve had to build my own family. Um, and I surround myself with people who make the most of my life and make me happy and keep me positive. My close friends, my roommate, my brothers. I also care about my brothers a whole lot. They are some of the most important people to me. They are actually who I thought of first. I have two brothers, and they are amazing and I love them very much. Yeah, I think that’s the most important.

Who loves you?

I would hope the same people that I listed ::laughs:: I also think my coworkers care for me a lot. It was really unique for me to find a place that was so caring and understanding of the things I’m going through. I’ve had a lot of jobs where I was either sexually harassed, or… things just weren’t understood, and I had to suck it up and put a smile on my face. Which is a life lesson, I guess. In some aspects, i guess. But I love working in a place where I feel safe and cared for, and respected. And my coworkers are really trying hard, every single day, to improve themselves, and like, I am too. I am looking to understand them and better understand myself, in the ways that we think and the ways that we work which is pretty cool. I also know that my family loves me, and my friends.

What do you think of death?

ohhh-hoooo, loaded question. I don’t like to think about it very much. Yeah, I mean I get really scared at the idea that things are finite and get really afraid that, kinda tying back to what we were talking about before, that what I’m going to do on this earth won’t matter and I’ll be forgotten or something like that. I know it won’t matter, I’ll be dead… Like nihilism and stuff like that. i don’t know. Nihilism always scared the shit out of me. Whenever anyone would say, “It doesn’t matter, we all die anyways.” I would say, “FUCK THAT, uncool.” That just gives me even more reason to do something, you know what I mean? We only have so much time. I guess that’s… ::soft chuckle:: I’m scared of death. I don’t like that idea. I haven’t had that many people who are close to me die, only a couple of people who really matter. The rest of the ones that died didn’t really matter. Nooo, just kidding. Uhh, my grandfather who I was very close to passed away about four or five years ago. I was really close with him, and ended up getting a tattoo for him and everything. Which, he is really the only person that I’ve gotten a tattoo for. I’ve gotten tattoos with people, but that was really a memorial piece for me. I had a couple friends from high school who have passed away. One overdosed on heroin, which was really scary and kind of like… a wake up call, I guess. In the way it can happen to anyone. It’s hard to think about, but it’s one of those things.

What are your thoughts on sex?

Sex. I love it. yeah, i like sex. Sex is great. Sex is great if you have it with someone who is supportive and very attracted to and compatible with. And I think that’s something that I’ve learned recently, is that you’re not always sexually compatible with everyone. I’ve had the worst experiences with that shit ::laughing:: it wasn’t that it was bad, like the sex wasn’t great but this guy was super transphobic. He kept calling me “she” and “her” and “lady” and I told him, “this is something that I’ve talked to you about and I don’t like being called that, and I don’t appreciate that.” He said, “Well we just fucked, and you have a vagina, so fuck you. You’re a girl.” It felt so unreal. So yeah, the moral of the story is don’t let strangers into your apartment. I guess what I’ve had to learn is that you’re not always going to be compatible with everyone, and you should be sure to take care of yourself. You’re doing things that make you happy. Things that make you happy sexually. Things that make you feel good because you feeling good is what matters.

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