exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Month: July, 2016

Sam Jensen

Sam Jensen

Date of Interview: June 9, 2016

Name: Sam Jensen

Age: 25

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Location: Washington, DC


If you were an underwater creature, what would you be?

An octopus. So bear with me, octopi can change their outer appearance to match whatever, and they are also flexible enough to fit into small spaces, and when I was in high school, I was the weird kid. I was a mixture of like, a walking dope bag, and the columbine shooter. There was not a lot to like, and as a result, I didn’t have many friends. And after that I had to learn how to change. How to change myself, you know? To fit into groups and have friends. Which is not necessarily a positive thing, but once I got to know myself better, it enabled me to figure out how to get along with people. I can NOW get along with anybody. I mean anybody, without changing who I am now. because I know how to become different aspects of myself while still remaining me. As for the “fitting into small spaces,” I’ve been through a lot of tight spots in my life, and have made it through all of them.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

That is a tie between getting my life together, just in general, and quite frankly maintaining the relationship that I have. I have a history of really codependant and occasionally emotionally abusive fucked up relationships. And the one I have now is with the woman who is the love of my life. I’m going to marry her, and she knows this, we’ve worked really hard and have had our ups and downs, but we’ve never fought, never yelled at one another, never called each other names. We communicate openly and effectively at all times about EVERYTHING. I have stuck by her through her shit, and she has stuck by me through my shit. No matter what is going on in my life, if she is in trouble, I will drop everything to help her and that goes both ways. It’s not something that has happened naturally, it’s something that I’ve worked for. And she worked for it as well. In my mind, finding not just the love of my life, but having a healthy, open relationship given my history, is my greatest accomplishment.

Given your current relationship, what do you think of love within platonic friendships as well as intimate relationships?

Love is something that I feel like a lot of people misunderstand. Love, true love, cannot be one sided. You CANNOT love someone who does not love you back. You can obsess over someone, be codependent with someone who does not love you back, because love is a feedback. Love is when you… when your best friend… platonic love, when your best friend is in trouble, when he’s broke and homeless and you show up with a bag of groceries that he didn’t even ask you for. But you love him, so you give them to him. It’s a week until pay day, and you know he has nothing to eat. Love is when you give him a sleeping bag so he doesn’t freeze in February. And then coming back, is when he has your back when you get jumped at a show. This has all happened by the way, you get jumped at a show and he goes in and finds the motherfuckers who did it and he makes them pay, regardless to the consequences that he’ll have to face. Regardless to if he gets hurt or not. Love is when you go through a nasty break up and you call your friend and the first thing he says is “I’ll be right there”. Love is not unconditional necessarily because some things are impossible, but love is willing to TRY the seemingly impossible. I love my girlfriend, not because she is the most beautiful woman that I’ve ever met, or because she is sweet and kind, but because she loves me back and treats me with respect that I treat her with. Like I said, love is a feedback, it goes both ways.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

Finding myself unhappy. That seems a little, I don’t know, blase, compared to “being alone!” or “spiders!” cuz spiders… spiders are freaky… But uhh, I have gotten to a point in my life where I am happy. I just am. I am in community college, going to school part time, working two jobs for the past 6 months, I work retail and am a bouncer on the weekends and a lot of people, I think, would let that get to them. The fact that they’re working two jobs and don’t have a weekend necessarily, going slowly through school, it will take awhile before they get that 60K job if they even DO because the economy is shit. But every day I wake up, I have something to be grateful, even if it’s just that I woke up that day. My biggest fear is losing that. My biggest fear is being able to wake up and NOT finding something to be grateful for. And being unhappy

What do you think is one reason for unhappiness?

They compromise… They wanted… you can’t want to be a bohemian with an arts degree and drive a Jaguar. You can’t… you know? Maybe thirty years down the line but someone who goes to school for an arts degree or a history major, which I’m not knocking, I am a history major. “How would you like your latte sir?” ::laughs:: Someone who goes through that and expects the world to hand them success, you put yourself on a path. But at the same time if all you wanted to be is an artist and you go and get a business degree and you lose that passion in life, you’re going to be just as unhappy.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about people. I want to be a teacher. And not because I have such faith in our education system, no. When I was in high school, like I said earlier, it was hard. And I pissed off a lot of teachers and was written off by almost all of them. They thought I was a lost cause. But there was one and he’s actually retiring this year and he works at the Arlington Career Center within the culinary arts program and he made a difference in my life. Because he cared. Because he listened. Because he understood. Because when I would show up to class drunk and upset, when my mom wanted to send me to boarding school and leave what little friends I had behind he took me into his office and talked with me. And didn’t tell me I was right and that she was being a horrible bitch, or that she was right and I was being an ungrateful little shit, but what he did do was listen. And he shared his experience and he was able to help. I think that there are a lot of kids in this world, and it doesn’t matter where they come from or if you’re rich, poor, black, white, gay straight, it doesn’t matter. Everyone’s got baggage. And some people have more than others and some people need someone who will listen. And if I can make a difference in five kids lives, or even one kids life, I will have considered this life worth living.

Arin Jayes

Arin Jayes


Date of Interview: June 16, 2016

Name: Arin Jayes

Age: 25

Pronouns: They/Them and He/Him

Location: Washington, DC


Is there any part of your body that you feel is missing?

Is there any part of my body that I miss… It’s weird, I kind of miss my period in a weird way. I don’t know, I think that there was this sense of release that I got from my period that I’ve lost since being on T. And… I don’t know, I’m not necessarily thinking about being on T for forever. So that might be something that I might want to have again. Not really sure.

What are your thoughts on how gender is perceived?

Umm, I think that gender is a performance. And gender can be very creative. And fun to play with. But it can also be extremely constricting and suffocating for a lot of people. But I think as I’ve become more masculine, I’ve been able to kind of bring out the more feminine parts of myself, and embrace the queen that I am. Because I felt like, when I was perceived as a woman, that people would see me… I would walk down the street and people would see my, and like… they would think that “oh, this is a cis woman” and I was thinking to myself, “No, this is like a flamboyant gay man, who likes to wear blouses and glittery things in heels” But that isn’t what people see. But now that I’ve been able to pass more I’ve been more comfortable exploring those sides more, which is cool.

What are you passionate about?

I’m really passionate about art. I really like making embroidery and textile art. And I’m really passionate about gardening. I’m really passionate about social justice issues and helping people that are experiencing poverty. I’m passionate about my friendship and relationships.

Do you think the way you were raised impacts what you are passionate about, and how you live your life artistically and as an activist?

Yeah! Well, definitely artistically. My mom is a landscape painter, and I was always raised to appreciate the importance of art. And when I was little, there were always crayons and stuff, and art supplies for me to practice with, so definitely in that way. In terms of social justice, I kind of had to go out on my own. A lot of my beliefs are a lot more radical than people in my family, which is something we’re growing in, and being able to understand each other. But I kind of had to do that on my own.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

Well like, in the immediate future, I am getting top surgery tomorrow. So you know, I am afraid of discomfort and pain and all that. But part of it is trying not to cling to pleasure and feeling good, and to recognize that you aren’t always going to feel good. And that’s okay. And experiencing a little bit of pain is totally worth it to have an awesome chest. So I’m a little bit afraid of that. And in the wake of Orlando last week, I’m definitely feeling more scared in public. And feeling like having a gay club targeted is a punch in the gut to the queer community because, you know, it is a place where people can explore their vulnerability in a space where you are surrounded by queer people. And everyone is having fun and embracing who they are, and that’s a really important space for a lot of people. And so I think the fact that THAT was targeted as a space for queer people on a night with queer people of color was a huge blow to our community. That really scares me.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I don’t know. I’m kind of young, so I don’t think I’m that far yet in my life, with a lot of things, like a career and stuff. But you know, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot with figuring out who I am, and I feel like I’ve really gone out on my own, and grown up a lot. And I feel like I’m kind of living my truth right now. Which feels like a huge accomplishment.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, romantic, sexual, and otherwise?

Well, I’m polyamorous and so I think that’s it’s possible to love more than one person. And having multiple relationships exposes you to the beautiful diversity of people being able to be all your various selves around all these various people. And that’s really important to me. And recently, I’ve been trying to explore prioritizing my friendships and other sorts of platonic relationships as much as I prioritize my partnerships. Especially when you’re poly and have a lot of partners, you tend to give a lot of time to your partners because that’s really fun, but… you need to make time to make sure you can see your friends. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time with my friends, and making sure that a lot of people are on board with taking care of me during top surgery. You know, that kind of stuff.

What are some things that you are hopeful for before you turn 40?

Hmmm… Trying to think of the most important thing, but I feel like that’s a lot. I think by then I would like to feel like I’ve started a family… But not necessarily the way one normally thinks of starting a family. I may live in a family with multiple couples in it, or may share the raising of a child with someone, or something. I don’t know what that’s going to look like. That family might include one person or two people or three. I don’t know, but at that point, I want to feel like I have a family.

Lauren Dove

Lauren Dove


Date of Interview: June 15, 2016

Name: Lauren Dove

Age: 27

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Washington, DC


Do you enjoy living in DC?

I want to stay in DC. I do, I like DC. I moved here around August, and with how things have turned out I’m planning on staying for awhile.

Where did you move here from?

I moved here from Seattle. I was living in Seattle for a year. So… my partner, John, is in the military and got stationed here, so, yeah. And I knew somebody in the Lamont Street Collective, and got in touch with them saying. “look, I’m here in this area.” Came down here and started hanging out, now I’m working in Mt. Pleasant.

Are you passionate about art or activism?

I am passionate about both! I have an art degree. I try to be active where it matters. where it counts. I’ve been kind of active since I’ve been in DC. Medical marijuana activism and marijuana legalization activism. I use substances often, I use marijuana daily and then use other substances… uh… “as needed.” Kind of like recreationally. Mostly like, acid and mushrooms. I use them to understand myself more. And uhh… marijuana I use mainly to treat my bipolar disorder. Any kind of, anything that alters my mind, I try to use substances accordingly. In concurrence with my bipolar disorder, either using it to bring myself down, or to balance myself out in some way. I try to do it in some responsible manner, and from a deep place or self-awareness. No willy-nilly using.

Have you ever had a breakthrough, using substances with mental health?

Oh absolutely. I think that the first time I used LSD was a life changing experience. And that was three years ago, probably. I was in Colorado, and it was negative 25 degrees outside, and I tripped in my house by myself. And I ended up going on the most incredible walk. Like six good hours by myself of just tripping in my house. And most of it was spent looking at things, listening to records, internalizing a lot. It was really beautiful and hard to explain. It was one of those things… I’m not spiritual at all, or religious, but if I could say anything was remotely spiritual in my life, it would be that first LSD trip.

What do you think is one of the most prominent things you’ve learned about yourself?

I’ve learned that… that I can’t quite do what other people do. Let me give you some context. A couple years ago, I was living in Philadelphia and had some really great opportunities working in design and had a career kind of going for me, but I learned from that, and the immediate post-college graduate experience, trying to find a job, trying to make a name for myself, umm… ’cause that’s what you’re supposed to do… You’re supposed to graduate, get out, do what you went to school for, and be successful… And instead of that happening, was actually I was on prescription medication for a long time with my psychiatrist and I had a COMPLETE break. And one of the things I’ve learned about myself in the past couple years, is that I can’t DO things the way that normal people do. I understand my limits in a much better way. And I realize that, you know, sleep is important. Umm, that an office job is just certainly not for me. I’ve suffered a couple mini mental collapses to be where I am at the moment, and whether that involves drugs or not, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. But what I have learned is that I can’t do things the way that other people can do. I can’t drink. Drinking will send me into the hospital. Drinking will actually give me a really bad mental response. So I avoid alcohol. It’s been weird, my life has been really weird. Sequence of trial and error. And a lot of the errors that most people do in their everyday life, but for whatever reason I fucking can’t, so… you know, it’s fine. I’ve learned what works, and what doesn’t, and I’m much happier for it. Instead of trying to force something, which is what I was doing for a long period of time.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

I’m actually afraid, or mildly afraid, of success. Career success, typically. Because I won’t know what to do with myself. I feel like that might be the nail in the coffin. If I actually succeed in my career… then I’ll be miserable. That’s actually my greatest fear. Everything else, I feel like I’ve dealt with before. So basically, fear of the unknown. So maybe it won’t happen, and I’ll live fearless. I don’t know.

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