exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Month: November, 2016

Cullan Bonilla

Cullen Bonilla


Date of Interview: November 8, 2016

Name: Cullan Bonilla

Age: 21

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: West Chester, PA


How often do you bathe or shower?

I would say I shower once a day and I would also say I take a bath once a day ::laughs::. I hate that I use so much water but it’s the only thing that really helps with chronic joint and nerve pain. I think my life would be better if I was surrounded by hot water all the time.

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

I think I would be a manatee. I think I identify with them because they’re gentle and they move really slowly and they spend most of their time eating or resting… So, I’m going to go with manatee.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about a lot of things. I’m really interested in cooking and food and the cultural aspects of it. I’m very interested in social justice issues because I have a lot of intersecting identities and they impact the way I relate to the world around me. I’m very passionate about being a mom to everyone around me, basically, making sure that all of my friends are taking care of themselves and everyone is happy and healthy. I’m also passionate about animals, I really love animals.

What do you mean by “intersecting identity?”

Because there’s not just one kind of oppressed identity, you know, things can intersect on different levels. Different manifestations of oppression, in race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, etc., they can happen simultaneously and reinforce one another. So for example, for me, I’m a non-binary, queer, disabled/chronically ill Afroborinqueñx, and my experience is different from that of a non-binary white person or an able-bodied person of color. I am half white but I’m also half Afroborinqueñx, which is a big… Big issue for me that I’m focusing a lot on right now. But that’s what I mean, there are varying levels of oppression depending on your various identities and how they intersect with or reinforce each other.

How are you focusing on your heritage?

Well, with this election, it’s been almost a source of stress for me. Even the Afroborinqueñx side of my family, my father and his father, are voting for Donald Trump. They live in a pretty racist part of Maryland and that’s unfortunately, understandably shaped a lot of their feelings on their own identity. Neither of them will acknowledge or affirm that they are Afroborinqueñx and my dad isn’t really proud of being Puerto Rican, he subscribes pretty heavily to respectability politics. When I was 18 I took a month off from high school and lived in Puerto Rico with my family there, because I basically was told my whole life that my white half is the desirable half and that I should always act whiter and neglect the other side of my identity. No matter how hard I tried, I never was treated like the white people around me so once I started to smarten up about it, I decided that my Puerto Rican identity was something I really wanted to look into and connect with. I felt like I hadn’t had a chance to do that in my life before cuz no one in my family has taught me to do that or to be proud of who I am. My interest in cooking is a part of that, too, for sure. My abuela, my Puerto Rican mom-mom, she was an incredible cook. She actually died about… A year and a half ago at this point, but she took her cooking secrets to the grave. We all wanted her recipes and she purposely left out ingredients from her recipes so that she could go to the grave being the best cook in our family. So ::laughs:: I started learning about cooking after she died, that was another way for me to connect with her and with my identity.

What is something you still struggle with?

Ooooooh… I still struggle with being a mentally ill person and being a chronically ill person and trying to re-enter the work place now after two years of not having a full time job while in treatment for my illness and trying to deal with normal stuff that able-bodied people deal with on a daily basis when I never really know how I’m going to feel on any given day. I still struggle with dealing with that racism especially within my family, especially during this election, I’ve had to unfriend my whole white family on Facebook. I still struggle with feeling “less than” my white peers or my able-bodied peers. I still struggle with self-worth and self-love. I still struggle with existing in the world knowing that my abusers also exist in the world. So I feel like… I guess it could be narrowed down to me struggling with learning how to navigate the world again while taking care of myself and keeping myself vulnerable and soft and positive in spite of everything.

What is something beautiful that you saw today?

Something beautiful that I saw today… I saw a lady at the grocery store who looked exactly like Taraji P. Henson. She was drop-dead beautiful.

Mykalee “Mykie” McGowan

Mykalee McGowan


Date of Interview: November 4, 2016

Name: Mykalee “Mykie” McGowan

Age: 23

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Washington, DC


How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to do it like, twice a day. That’s showering, baths, I want to start doing that once a week and things of that nature with spiritual baths. So, alright, so I say that I’m a witch and I feel that baths are very healing and it’s very calm. And you know, sometimes showers just don’t do it for me. So I want to take spiritual baths once a week to unwind, get the stress out, relax as well as doing some witchy shit like setting intentions and doing spells. Yeah.

If you were an underwater creature which one would you be? Mythical or real.

Cool beans, cuz the first thing that popped in my head is a mermaid. I would be a mermaid! Yeah, I feel like the human form sometimes is not negative, but it’s whatever while still being cool. You can have the fishy aspect and the human aspect, I wouldn’t want to get totally rid of the human part.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about creating, I’m passionate about expressing myself as well as showing people dope shit. And dope events. And bringing dope people to dope people. I am kind of known as the person who knows everybody, that knows everything that’s going on. I have my friends telling me “GIRL! You should have told me about that event, what the hell!” Because I just like what people do and I just want to show that to the world and help people express that and help them express themselves. But right now I’m trying to learn to express myself cuz I’m dope too ::laughs::.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is starting my own business. My biggest accomplishment is starting my own business because I’m the only one in my family that has done that. I think about where I was in 2015, I was broke as fuck, my father had just passed away, dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety and stuff like that. To now, when I started my business in July, to know that I’m the only person in my family to have done that. It just feels really really good, it feels really sweet ::laughs::. Especially because I’m the black sheep of my family and a lot of times, my mom asks “what are you doing?”. It just feels good to have something that I own.

What do you mean by black sheep?

I mean I’m the black sheep cuz I’m the one… So my sister was in the army. My other sister graduated college on time and she’s the youngest, she’s a year younger than I am, she has a job and a car and a house. And here I am trying to figure it all out in this very small room, in this house in DC. When you’re raised by Jamaican parents, having a secure and normal career is what they want for you. But I can’t physically, mentally, or emotionally get a “normal” job. Whenever I try, It always backfires. Like, God won’t let me. So to be outside of a having a car/house/job, that’s me being a black sheep. Yeah. And I’m still doing okay!

What is something that you still struggle with?

Accepting myself, and all of myself. Expressing myself and all of myself too, I tend to try to form myself in the way that I think people will like me to be. I felt that my past self was like a parasite. When it came to lovers, when it came to friends, I felt like I would try to stick on to them because I think they’re amazing and that I wasn’t amazing enough. I would try to form to be like, the sassy side chick or the bomb ass lover and now I’m in a space where I have to be me. So I’m alone a lot of the time and I force myself to be alone to see myself and deal with myself alone so I can be like, “Mykalee, you are cool and you do have flaws but everybody has flaws”. And yeah. That’s how things are right now.

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

Oh my God. Ohhhhh okay ::laughs:: SO relationships! Oh my God, platonic ones. I’m actually learning to express myself and be out there more. A challenge I had in the beginning of summer was to see more people. Talk to more people and stuff, so I think that’s really good. But when it comes to romantic relationships I’m not the one. I’ve tried polyamory, I’ve tried monogamy, now it’s just plain old I don’t want to talk to nobody ::laughs::. At this moment in time, ya know, there are times because it’s people, times that it’s myself, it’s a way to protect myself. I haven’t successfully navigated romantic relationships at this moment. Gotta find my way, I know I’ll get there one day. And regardless of if I’m with many people or with one or by myself, I’m gonna be fine. Sexually, I love sex. I love sex, even though I’ve been celibate for a year to protect myself, and try to shed some energy that’s been old and needs to be moved, sex is good. Sex is alright by me. That’s it ::laughs::.

What are you afraid of for the world?

I’m afraid that people will just not… I feel like people already don’t accept each other. And if you say you’re something, I should just acknowledge it instead of being like, WELL this states or that states, you know, if I’m saying I’m a certain thing you need to respect that. Just do that! I don’t think it’s a hard thing to do. A lot of the time I do feel that, but there is such a division going on. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

What are you afraid of for yourself?

I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid to be homeless, I’m afraid to succumb to my depression and anxieties. I think about that a lot. But I’m also afraid to succeed because success draws more responsibility and I’m someone who is easily overwhelmed and I don’t want that to take over.

What did you see today that was beautiful?

I saw a couple at my favorite cafe. They were just… So sweet together. I thought about my mom and my stepfather, it was just those candid tiny moments, those beautiful moments.


Sasha Fried-Snoad

Sasha Fried-Snoad


Date of Interview: November 3, 2016

Name: Sasha Fried-Snoad

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her

Locations: Washington, DC


What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about music. And the way that music… Just what it evokes in people and how people come together around music. How music is a language that feels simpler to me than words. I’ve been getting into my own musical self a lot lately. I play piano and I sing and I’ve been writing songs and playing with some other musicians lately which has been so, so good.

What do you write about?

All about my ex girlfriend. Literally every song is about my ex girlfriend, like, my recent ex girlfriend ::laughs::. It’s sad, you know?  Not bad, just, making sense of it. I feel like some of the ways I’ve been able to write things have actually brought a lot of closure around things that I’ve been feeling that I didn’t know how to articulate. When I sang these songs for my friend who I know really well for the first time, she said to me “Oh my god, I get your relationship so much more now. I didn’t really understand before.”

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

Oh man. I feel like we just got to the core of it. That’s all I think about – I think. Is relationships. Human connection is so high on my list of experiences that I want to have. I value it so highly that I find myself in relationships a lot. And I just love… That common reality, that co-created reality. It’s so special. The bad is that I think that we can use relationships in all sorts of ways. That the connection, and deep fulfillment that comes with that connection and that affirmation of your life, of somebody else affirming your life… While that is so beautiful, and this is so cliché, but you really need to find that yourself to be able to get the extra from someone else. One of my yoga teachers said “when there’s no space, more is not more”. I love that so much and I think about that a lot. So yeah, more is not more, it can actually stress you out. So I’m in a very single place right now. I think platonic and familial relationships are amazing. Big fan ::laughs::. WAY less stressful but kind of stressful sometimes, you know? I’m super close with my parents and I’m an only child. Even though those relationships are so complicated, at their core they’re very simple.

What do you think of spiritual relationships?

Yeah, I’m good with them. I’m a pretty spiritual person, I’m not a religious person. I’m a yogi and I’ve been on that path of studying the things that you study when you’re in yoga training. And before that too, I think a lot of my personal healing journey and evolution has been through studying yoga stuff. I’m connected to my spirituality and this… I don’t even know how to define it… Trying to stay connected to the goodness.

What are you afraid of for the world?

That the illusion of separateness will become so strong that we won’t be able to, or be too fearful to, come together.

What is something you still struggle with?

Relationships ::laughs::. I think it’s kind of a theme for me at the moment, in this particular place I’m at in my life. When I moved to DC I came out. I was in a sorority in college and it was something that I really attached to my identity. Like the, party going, femme, badass bitch ::laughs::. But totally unhappy. So when I moved to DC I was at a party at The Jam Jar and kissed my first girlfriend and have pretty much been in relationships ever since with women or non gender conforming people. I’ve kissed one dude since then. But I felt like it was this homecoming to something that I wanted for so long. This bevy of feelings I had never been able to access because I wasn’t letting that part of myself get what it wanted. So I have sought that out over and over again and the relationships have ended. I think I still have this soul searching, don’t have my shit together yet thing in me. Just wanting to dive deep into everything, so I have. But now I’m in this space of comfort with my sexuality and how I’m doing my romantic life. There’s no need to have somebody fill a spot. I think I’m most afraid that I’m too judgmental to love people ::laughs::. I think part of it is judgment and part of it is sensitivity, I think the two go hand in hand. But I find myself so affected and so at the mercy of the ebb and flow of the relationship and not being able to kind of… Feel sturdy on my own. My mental health is so much better when I’m not in relationships which is why I keep ending them but then I keep seeking them out because they’re so beautiful.

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