by The Bathtub Project
Date of Interview: August 3rd, 2017
Name: Annie Baldwin
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.