exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Month: August, 2017

A Klass


Date of Interview: August 8th, 2017

Name: A Klass

Age: 28

Pronouns: They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to shower at least every day, but that doesn’t always happen thanks to– I feel like my mental health effects that a lot so sometimes it’s longer, sometimes it’s shorter. It just depends on how it’s going, but my goal is to every day.

If you were a underwater creature, mythical, real, whatever, what would you be?

Probably an angler fish, because I really like how they look. And I love that they have– I don’t know. I just love that their molecules can emit light, that’s wild to me. I also love the fact that their teeth are so big that they can’t close their mouth and that’s also wild to me. So yeah, I like them.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about art. I’m passionate about creativity. I’m passionate about people. I’m passionate about people knowing that they’re seen and loved because I feel like that’s a really important thing and something that not everyone feels, something not everyone has felt a lot, including myself. So something that I try to do in my work and in my creativity is have representation for people. Being represented lets people know that they are seen. That’s important to me. And something I still need to work much harder on.

How does that manifest for you?

I think it manifests itself in my work. In my photography, I try– I feel like I photograph almost exclusively people who identify in the LGBTQ+ family now. I mean, growing up, I had no idea that being nonbinary was a thing and I was so lost and so– I don’t know. There was no representation for it and so I had no idea what I was. So I feel like it’s important to represent all these people that I feel like growing up I saw little or no representation for. And I want to change that for future generations.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

I think I feel accomplished with my ability to care for others and to love. I have a lot of platonic intimacy with people and I feel like that’s really important. And I feel like that’s something that is difficult for a lot of people. It’s something that not a lot of people do or a lot of people I’ve noticed don’t understand. And so, I think I feel accomplished in that because I feel very comfortable in that. And I feel confident in my ability to do that and with those who are comfortable with receiving it, sharing it with them.

What are your thought on relationships, platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

Relationships are very interesting. I love the complexity of them. I mean, my relationships in all those categories are the things that have kept me alive I feel. So I have a lot of deep admiration for those relationships even though a lot of them are difficult and have caused me a lot of heartache and pain in the past and present and future. But I don’t know. There’s a lot of beauty in that. Because I understand very well the temperance of things and I don’t really have an issue with things being temporary. It makes sense to me for things to be temporary. And I think its beautiful because I feel like it makes me appreciate those moments that I do have. And it’s kind of funny because, actually, today one of the people that I’m sweet on told me that they decided today to be monogamous with their primary and so we had to stop our, I guess, romantic side. And so it’s interesting because after that happened and after I’d sort of processed and accepted that, I then thought about this interview coming up, and I was like, “That’s a perfect day for that to happen.” But yeah, I don’t have any– I don’t know. I guess I’m just not mad or sad about things being temporary. Relationships are very interesting and complex things. And I do love the fact that they can exist in so many different forms and a mix of all three of those. Each one separately. I don’t know. That’s very interesting. I have a lot of feelings about relationships.

What do you think about your relationship with yourself?

Oh [laughter]. Yeah. We have a long history. I mean, it’s definitely my most difficult relationship. I can say that. Yeah. That’s one where every day it’s different. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s difficult. I see a lot of good things about myself, but it’s difficult for me to fully accept those. It’s hard for me to, I think, appreciate myself in a lot of ways. A lot of times, I wish I didn’t have to spend so much time with myself. A lot of times, I– I don’t know. A lot of times, I wish I could separate and not necessarily be someone else, but just somehow be alone with someone else in that way.

What is something you still struggle with?

Unfurl scroll [laughter]. I still struggle with anxiety. I still struggle with depression. And I still struggle with wanting to live. I struggle with loving myself, as seeing myself as worthy of love, of seeing myself as worthy of generally anything good. Yeah. Well, it’s interesting because I don’t know if I would necessarily describe it as coping mechanisms. But one thing that has helped me immensely that I have both realized recently and discussed recently is my relationships. And these people, they allow me to see myself as they see me and that’s really hard for me to do. And yeah, I mean, like I said, those relationships are the things that have saved my life countless times. Yeah. So I feel like that’s definitely what’s helped me the most. And even though I still struggle with it every day, the people in my life help me to survive that.

Annie Baldwin


Date of Interview: August 3rd, 2017

Name: Annie Baldwin

Age: 23

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower?

God, okay [laughter]. So that for me is really based on my mood. So if I’m feeling really low, I’ll just say, “fuck it” and I’ll stop showering. Showering is one thing that you know you need but can’t easily bring yourself to do when you’re depressed. I’m trying to get a new habit of doing it everyday just to nourish myself and cleanse myself from the day.

Do mental health and bathing correlate for you?

Yeah. It’s an adventure to go to the tub and say “fuck it” and just jump in. I put on music, really soft, pretty music [laughter]–  Amy Winehouse or Lauryn Hill or something sexy, and I just take the time for me. And it’s really funny too because if someone interrupts me while I’m taking a bath [laughter] I get so frustrated. I yell at whoever it may be and tell them to leave. But it’s been a coping mechanism that I’ve come back to often I would say, for sure.

What are you passionate about?

There’s a lot. I’m an artist, and I think art is my first love. Specifically, I write spoken word poetry. It’s often improvisational. Usually, I just go to bars and ask musicians, whom I’ve never met before, to accompany me. I tell them, “Just get on stage, play anything and I’ll make up a poem.” I’ve been doing spoken word with music for about a year now. Although I’ve been writing poetry for years, adding music is a new venture I’ve really been coming into.

And so that is my main passion. I also have a self-care club called The Radiance Club. It has 80 people in it and we just, kind of, help each other [laughter] care for ourselves. We use our vulnerability radically to heal, connect, and build community… and we have self-care sleepovers. And it’s kind of– it’s those kinds of things [laughter] that I think my art work is– I feel like I’m just rambling, but self-care and art really commingle for me. It was always my outlet in high school. When I was really stressed out [laughter], I would just stay up all night creating, go to 7-Eleven and buy Slurpee, and just let myself write, paint things. I’ve just always been a maker, and I think that’s how the self-care club kind of naturally started itself. It felt intuitive. I wrote this really passionate Facebook status when I was stressed after my summer job and I said, “We need to get together and care for ourselves. This needs to be an actual club.” And so that’s how I really connected other artists together. Because my own subject matter of my poetry is really vulnerable, whether it’s about sex, gender identity, queerness. I talk about what I feel and I tell a lot of stories and I try to give voices to other people too while finding my own, right?

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Okay. I feel accomplished about today actually. I was really happy because I had been house sitting and doing all these side hustles and jobs. I still am, but today I got paid so I could really treat myself to nourishing food. You know when you’re broke, you just don’t eat enough. I’ve skipped many meals [laughter]. I kind of forget that I’m worthy of nourishment and goodness when I’m running around doing a million things. And so today, I went to the Heartland Cafe and I got a juicy nectarine. I got a lemon poppy seed cookie, a spicy ginger lemonade, just all this good food. And then I sat down outside under a tin roof while it was pouring rain and I ordered a chicken, avocado, applewood-smoked bacon sandwich with mashed sweet potatoes. And it was just amazing. So I think that I’m really proud of that today [laughter]. It’s important to let yourself have and eat good food. I slowed down. I let myself stop. And I like going out by myself. I have this theory that when you’re in the right place, the right music plays. And so I had a lot of that today, where even my favorite songs from high school played. It was just like, “Wow. Who’s speaking to me [laughter]?”  You know what I mean? It felt really magical.

What do you think of relationships, platonic, sexual and otherwise?

Ooh, okay [laughter]. I have been thinking a lot about this recently. So I have this line that I’m exploring in my poetry right now… “I want to love you in a way that makes me feel free.” And I just keep repeating that in so many different variations in all the poems that I’ve been writing recently. And what I’ve come to learn is the difference between conditional and unconditional love. I don’t know. I guess for me, I want something that’s reciprocal. I’ve spent a lot of time in unreciprocated relationships, chasing the unavailable, or really just not having my needs met in relationships. I’m always giving and I’m often the caretaker and I want something that comes back full fold.

Yesterday, I was facetiming my best friend Adam and we were talking and I hadn’t said much. And then it came out. I started tearing up as I said that I’ve just felt like I’m under a lot of pressure right now. I just had this moment of– this realization that there’s been a lot of pressure on me to perform, or be good, or be perfect. And even as an artist, right? I’ve felt insecure because I don’t have the professional, fancy shit- the expensive cameras, the education, or recording equipment that so-called “fine artists” have [laughter]. And I’ve just been putting out work that’s messy and wandering and biting and not clean. And so I’ve been working so hard to take care of everything in my life coming from a place with no conventional support. So, I was just crying and tired. I repeated, “I’m just under too much pressure.” It turns out that as I processed it more, I realized that I feel like if I make one wrong move in a relationship, it’ll be gone. It’ll be over. And that’s not a way to live. And I’m not giving myself any slack or any leeway.

I’ve been working to form relationships, all of which are mostly platonic, that cater to my healing, safety, stability, and grounding. I’ve been letting people in who give me slack. I think that if anyone hears this project, especially if they’re younger or whoever they are, just knowing that you’re worthy of people who give you slack [laughter]. You mess up– forgiveness. Let them meet you with an ocean of forgiveness. Meet yourself with an ocean of forgiveness. And I haven’t had– I haven’t experienced that much in romantic love. It’s something that’s coming into my life now which is really special [laughter]. I’m so excited and I am so ready for it.

Lorin Elise


Date of Interview: July 29, 2017

Name: Lorin Elise

Age: 23

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower? Do you have any rituals?

Just about every day. And then sometimes I skip a day [laughter]. Yeah. I’ve tried to get into rituals, like just having habits, and suck at them, so I just don’t try anymore [laughter].

If you were an underwater creature, mythical or real, what would you be?

I’ve never thought about this. I don’t know a lot of underwater creatures. Dolphins, I guess. They’re the most recognizable for me. Yeah.

What are you passionate about?

People, art, and music. Probably in that order. No. People, music, then art. Yeah. I sing. I just joined a worship ministry, actually. So singing, I did it growing up, but never as an adult. So it’s my first time doing that. And then, I played trumpet for eight years from middle school through my first year in college. And then I stopped in 2014ish whenever I left my first school. I’ve tried to learn guitar over the years, here and there, I dabble. And then I had a piano growing up, because my dad played. So I can pick up a tune or two on there. And a friend gave me an electric bass. So I played at one service, and probably won’t again until I start practicing [laughter]. But yeah. I love music.

Are music, art, and religion all tied in together for you?

Not necessarily. I feel like singing is definitely a gift that God gave me, so I can use that to worship. But I mean, everything I do in life is worship, or should be. So, yeah. And I don’t know if I would call it religion necessarily, but yeah.

Were you raised in that way of being of service?

Absolutely. My parents are two of the hardest working people that I have ever come across. I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there that work as hard as them, but yeah. My dad, he just, no matter what, was– he was always there for people. And a lot of times, even my mom, she wouldn’t get frustrated, but she would just kind of be like, “You’re doing so much. We need you here, sometimes.” But then, if there was a way we– me, my brother and sister, my mom, could get involved with whoever he was helping, or however he was helping other people, we would often find a way there and make it a family thing. What does religion mean to you? Religion means bondage. [laughter] yeah. I mean, I actually looked up the word religion a couple years ago, and it’s defined as, to bind or to restrict. And I grew up in the Pentecostal Apostolic faith. Not even fully sure what that means, but it’s a charismatic denomination or whatever. And growing up in that, and then becoming an adult, and having to live on my own with something, having a foundation of something to pull from, I’ve realized religion is so not what relationship with God is, and that’s what I strive toward and try to practice and live out. So, yeah. Religion is binding, religion is death, religion is confusion. It’s not what Jesus came to die for [laughter]. And there are several religions on the earth, but what I have is not a religion, I would say. Yeah.

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

They are great, and they are challenging, and [laughter]– I mean, it’s one of those things, it’s like the best of everything and the worst of everything at the same time. Yeah. I love my family. I have a great relationship with all my family members and anyone that I’ve known since birth, which is most of my church back home. And friendships, I’ve had a harder time with I feel like, in life. Platonic more than intimate, or whatever. I’ve never had sex, so just throwing that out there [laughter]. So don’t have that relational experience to speak on. But I feel like platonic friendships are hard, just because people– everyone has needs, and not everyone knows how to express them, or fit the needs of others, so [laughter] it’s– unless you communicate about it, it’s kind of hard– and most people don’t communicate about it. So it’s just like, “Okay, this is dumb. We’re both being stupid right now [laughter].” So yeah. Friends, I have a hard time with. But I do love people. I try to make friends wherever I am, and however I can. It just mostly doesn’t end up in the kind of hard core, legit relationships we’re all looking for [laughter]. Most of the time.  

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Oh, my career. Because I knew since eighth grade, since I was about 13, that I wanted to be an interior designer, and now I’m an interior designer [laughter]. It’s just like, “Wow.” Neither of my parents went to college– well, my mom did a semester or something, but they never completed higher education. And my other family members who did, it was always the– what I would call typical fields, like social work, nursing, stuff like that. Nothing that was outside of a stereotype or whatever. So it’s kind of like, “Wow, I’ve arrived,” a little bit. And even when I graduated and I started working, I’m like, “Crap, what am I supposed to do with life now?” I only had a plan up to this point [laughter], so it’s been a process of figuring out what’s next. But yeah, I think that’s my biggest accomplishment [laughter].

What is something you still struggle with?

Where do I start? No, just kidding [laughter]. [inaudible]. Well, I was actually just talking to a friend about this last night. One intimate relationship that I had – healing from that I guess, is something I still struggle with. I guess I had a really deep soul-tie or something to this guy, and so I think about him more often than I want to, and we have mutual friends, so through social media, the devil keeps popping his face up in my face [laughter]. And every time I see him, it’s a problem for me internally. So, yeah, just dealing with– I guess lust, in a way. Because I want a person just to be intimate with, or just to have that relationship, like you said, a real, true relationship with. And it’s so hard to find. So it’s like, “But when you have that person, do you know?” So I guess that’s pointing me to God, again, though, because it’s like, “Yeah, you don’t have this relationship but here is the provider of everything you need [laughter], so just go to Him. Go to the source for what you need and stop trying to find it among other things (or people).” And then, I just recently kind of noticed this but I could say I struggle with self-image. I have some thoughts about myself that are not good all the time, and that affects how I interact with others and stuff like that. So yeah.

What is something you’re hopeful for?

The future, for sure because it’s– I don’t know. I know my future’s in heaven, first off, so that’s exciting. I’m looking forward to that, can’t wait for that. I’m hopeful for that. And I think the success of my siblings and just all my close family and friends who have stuck to their values, and really tried to be good citizens of the world.

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