THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Month: August, 2016

Sean Estelle

Sean Estelle

 

Date of Interview: August 24, 2016

Name: Sean Estelle

Age: 25

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Location: Chicago, IL

 

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

My first go to is usually a seahorse because of their genders. Yeah, probably a seahorse. Seahorse or an octopus.

Do you feel like your gender effects your day to day interactions?

Yeah, I think in the daily. I think it’s like, a decision for me about how much I want to present. I think that when I first started thinking about my gender identity and unpacking it from my sexuality and realizing that I also have a lot of complicated feelings about gender and felt like I do not fit in the normal gender binary. That lead to me having a lot of conflicting internal feelings about my gender identity and I feel like that isn’t really present anymore and it’s much more stable. I’m so comfortable saying “yeah, I’m gender-queer” to a person and that’s it. And for me it’s questioning if I need to reflect that in my gender presentation and do I feel like it’s worth the battle of getting stares from people or like, having to explain myself or like, being confident enough or solid enough that if I’m going out in jeans and a t-shirt, that doesn’t mean that I’m not presenting femme enough to claim trans-ness.

Is being gender-queer the same to you as being trans?

Mmmm. I think it’s a part of trans-ness. I think it’s something that is definitely different than someone who identifies as a visible trans-women or trans-man. And I think, it sometimes feels like I… I go back and forth about how much of that is something that was developed in an academic context versus peoples lived experience and how much it actually matters when somebody does or doesn’t respect my pronouns… and how much it’s a part of the identity politics of my life. I know that for me queerness and gender-queerness is also about the revolutionary politics I have, and being an anti-capitalist and talking about the ruling class and fucking up rich people ::laughs::. Also, oppositionality but it still is an important part of it and to me being able to expand our definition of gender and like, honor the people who identify with historical trans-ness in the way of transitioning from male to female or female to male or things like that will also be able to have this in between space. It’s important.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

I feel accomplished that I was able to move to Chicago with very little money in the bank and no secure housing, no secure job and like, no real safety net and very quickly find a community of people and find a job and find stable housing and get my life on track. Start to come into myself in a really complete way. I feel like a much more complete person than I did a few years ago. I think that I like to tell myself that I feel accomplished in my organizing and I know that I hold a lot of power for how much organizing experience that I have. And I have the ability and the relationships to be able to move very serious things if I want to move very serious things. In a lot of ways that’s great and I can feel very accomplished in it but I think that I know, and I wake up terrified every day, that the fight we are up against with climate change and with everything else, it’s not moving fast enough. Sooo it’s very hard for me to feel accomplished when I also know what we are up against.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

For myself… I think that I’m most afraid of not being able to ever find someone or people that I can be in romantic or whatever, deeper relationships outside of friendships. I think that I’m very good at that and I’m able to put a lot of emotional labor emotional investment into friendships and that sort of thing, I’m very good at that kind of emotional labor. But I’m very bad at being able to find the people that I’m able to be my most vulnerable neurotic fucked up self with. And like, have those people to share that space with. I go back and forth between really valuing and appreciating the relationships that I have and really wanting that and being really scared that I won’t find more. For lots of reasons and I think that’s the biggest thing, and also being a part of me continuing to put other people in front of myself and all of my emotional, physical and mental energy out into the world and not taking the time or space that I need in order to survive.

If you could tell your fifteen-year-old self something what would it be?

Ohhh… lord. Uhhh ::laughs::. I would say that it’s okay to not feel like you need to buy into this story of like, asking the girls to prom and having crushes on other girls and fitting that box. And that a lot of the underlying feelings that you feel, you should go find other queer people and know that the feelings of shame that you feel about sex and sexuality are being manufactured by everything around you and there’s a larger world out there and you should figure out what that is. ‘Cuz you’re there. You aren’t here.

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Meredith Scherer

Meredith Scherer

Date of Interview: August 23, 2016

Name: Meredith Scherer

Age: 26

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Chicago, IL

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

Not often enough… Sometimes I’ll shower when I don’t swim in Lake
Michigan. Usually I swim in Lake Michigan after work so I don’t feel
the need to shower when I get home.

What are you passionate about?

I’m really passionate about sustainable agriculture and making good
food accessible to people everywhere, especially in large cities like
here in Chicago. I think that produce, a lot of times travels sooooo
far that it loses its nutritional value. For example, when you pick
things fresh, the vegetables have natural omega 3s that dissipate
within 48 hours so really, you get the best nutrition from plants when
you eat them in the first 48 hours. And with all of the science coming
out now with nutrition health and avoiding big pharmaceutical
companies and food as medicine, it’s more and more important that
people get their food from fresh places and I don’t want local food to
be something where only rich white people can afford it. It needs to
be something everyone can afford and we need to figure out systems to
take the unused space in our cities and use them as growing power to
feed people and have healthier life styles.

Do you think the way you were brought up impacted this awareness and passion?

Oh yeah, absolutely. My grandparents were farmers on my mom’s side and
my mom had a vegetable garden while we were growing up so you know,
one of the things I learned early on is the taste difference between
the store bought tomato and the tomato that you grow at home. And it’s
really incredible to see that and that also translates to things like
a carrot. When was the last time you picked a carrot and ate it versus
ate one out of a plastic bag. Cuz I bet you the one you just picked is
going to taste better.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

I really hate to say this… But I am a Capricorn and I know that I
work a lot and am concerned about money… But I’m afraid that I won’t
make enough money to feed myself or put a roof over my head sometimes.
And that’s always been a really real fear for me for pretty much all
of my adult life. Like, I wish that wasn’t my biggest fear ::laughs::.
I think there’s way more things to be afraid of than something as
silly as money but it’s really real to go hungry and it’s really real
to get kidney stones from eating only beans and rice. And then have to
deal with medical bills. I live a pretty unique lifestyle that doesn’t
always provide me with the most money. Yeah, that’s my biggest fear.

What’s your biggest fear for the world?

Honestly I’ve been thinking a lot about the internet and our google
searches and our Facebook feeds and how everything is optimizing to
give us what we want to see. Instead of what we don’t want to see. And
I think in some ways, that’s true. I don’t want to see people
defending cops who shoot people of color in the street and so I’m
guilty of unfriending some people on Facebook but I think our google
searches, Google wants us to be satisfied with what we search for. And
I think that’s pushing us all into a really big internet and knowledge
bubble that we might not be able to break free of. I want people to be
able to persue information that might put them a little bit out of
their comfort zone. Obviously I don’t want it to trigger anything, but
I think that’s a different circumstance and I want to specifically say
that we need to look at information and facts that put us outside of
our comfort zones. And kind of bring us to another section of our
thought processes of our humanity.

What is your love language?

Ooooo. I think my love language is actually German. It’s weird because
I went to Germany during a time in my life where I didn’t have a lot
of confidence and I had to explore this new foreign place with a
different culture by myself and learn the language and do a lot of
things for myself and that was really empowering. And I think of
German as a different section of my brain actually. Like, I think
differently when I think in German than I think in English. And I
think that all of those positive things that happened in my life
around the time I went to Germany caused kind of a euphoric sensation
when I speak German with people, because I feel like I’m really
shining.

Is traveling important to you?

Yeah, traveling is really important to me, I actually just signed a
lease and that really freaked me out. Cause it means I have a
commitment to be in one place for a full year. But I really like my
job, so I guess that works out. But… I think that staying in one
place or even just one neighborhood in a city can kind of get you
stuck in your own bubble or own world and traveling is a really great
way to go out and reconnect with the world and reconnect with people
in a way that you probably wouldn’t at home.

Julie Outrage

Julie Outrage

 

Date of Interview: August 20, 2016

Name: Julie Outrage

Age: 28

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Washington, DC

 

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

I would be a shark. ‘Cuz they’re like, the king of the ocean and I want to be the king, ya know?

Do you feeling like having power and being in control of your life is important to you?

I don’t think that there’s any possibility of having control of your life. So I don’t really mind not having control over things. I’m not a very controlling person in general, but I do like having power. Yeah. Power is strength more than it is control, power is influence. I remember this quote, I was listening to this Kanye West song where the line goes, “no one man should have that much power.” And I was recently reading one of the Malcolm X speeches and I didn’t think Kanye took it from there, but maybe he did because the quote is in there. When the black Islamic group began with Malcolm X, there was a man who was arrested by the police and Malcolm X showed up at the prison with a TON of people and the police were freaked. They were terrified because the black people were mobilized. They were completely fucking horrified. The police were like, “What’s happening? Why are all of these black people here?” and they discussed what was happening with Malcolm X. Malcolm X decided that bringing the group wasn’t the proper way to handle the situation so he told all the people to leave the police station where they were protesting to have the man who was in jail out. Maybe more than 100 people, they all left. And what the white cop said was “WOW, no one man should have all that power”. They were terrified of him, you know? For being able to mobilize them, then to calm them down and make them leave. And I’m just thinking… power. That’s what power is. That’s not necessarily control, not controlling people in that sense, but true power is influence.

What are you passionate about?

A lot of things. I’m passionate about music, bougie intellectualism. I only call it bougie because you know, intellectualism is pretty bougie. I’m pretty theoretical and analytical and I’m really interested in theories of things and all that type of stuff. Also debating and discussing, hearing different people’s views and understanding where people come from. I’m also really interested in psychology and stuff like that. Neuroscience and stuff.

Do you think your upbringing influenced these passions?

Yeah, I think definitely. I was born in West Africa but umm, I moved to America when I was three years old. And my parents definitely encouraged me to do well in school and all that stuff, but I think that when you come from another country, your parents don’t come here to fuck around and you don’t come here to fuck around either. You’re already here chillin’, doing your thing. But I just got here, my whole family just got here, I’m first generation. We’re here to make money or educate ourselves. We’re here for a purpose. So we don’t fuck around, we have a purpose. Either you do something or you don’t.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual or otherwise.

I think relationships are great. They’re obviously extremely complicated and multifaceted. The structure of relationships are different, obviously between homonormative people and heteronormative people. There’s a big whole new free love movement that’s happening, that kind of happened in the 70s. Queers are taking over the free love movement which right now I think is manifesting itself as polyamory and open relationships and things like that. I think that’s cool. People can do what they want to do.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

Uhhh… I’m afraid of people I love dying. More so than dying myself.

What do you think of death?

Death doesn’t scare me all that much. Pain scares me more than death. When you’re dead, you don’t know you’re dead. I don’t want to die, you know. I got things I want to accomplish before I die. I think death is more horrifying and sad when you’re still alive and other people die. What scares me about death is more about the pain you have to go through to reach death.

If you could tell your fifteen-year-old self anything, what would it be?

Stop smoking so much weed. Yeah, probably. I started smoking weed when I was young. It was a weird time. I ended up still doing ok in school. It was a secret really, but really that was the culture I was in, growing up where I was.

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