Date of Interview: July 3, 2017
Name: Annabel Wheeler
Pronouns: She/Her and They/Them
Location: Chicago, IL
How often do you bathe or shower?
I try to shower every day, and I wash my hair as needed [laughter]. And baths? When I’m sick or feel like I need to relax.
If you were an underwater creature, what would you be?
A living organism [laughter]. Oh, gosh. Maybe a starfish. I could regrow all my little ends [laughter]. Haven’t thought about that. That’s a good question.
What are you passionate about?
I believe I’m passionate about a few things, like that Sylvia Plath kind of thing where it goes, “If you have too many figs, they’ll die.” And I’ve realized this year – mainly over the past six months –I’ve needed to weed out some of those. And I’ve narrowed things down to two, which are basically education and self-care, which go a long way. It’s not just me here [laughter], but the world at large, whether that be in hospitality in coffee, or working with children and people with disabilities, both are art and language in the community at large. I think there’s a lot going out there needs to be done, and there’s not only one way to do it. Guess I’m trying to figure how I can give [laughter]. My parents are both architects. And so when I was growing up, people would always be like, “Oh, Annabel. You can draw. So you’re going to be an architect, right?” And I, of course, being the little bitch I am [laughter], would reply, “No, I’m not.” And so I grew up saying, “No, I’m not. No, I’m not.” And now I’m thinking, “Maybe I should have gone with those [laughter], ‘You’re going to be architect.'” But I do appreciate growing up in that way because I learned a lot about the city, started drawing right away. And it’s one of the only things that – one of the few things that – gives me some kind of point of relaxation as well as a point of reflection. I do a lot of illustration internally, not necessarily caring about what the drawing “looks” like. More for myself in time. And if I don’t draw one day, it tells me that I was either really busy, sick, or really happy and just forgot.
Does art go into mental health for you?
Totally. Also. I think about art and educational system within STEAM. With art programs being cut left and right, STEAM allows students and educators to implement art in history classes, or mathematics, etc AND not everyone is learning the same way!!
What is something that you still struggle with?
Struggle is a hard word for me, but in 2008 I went to my first AA meeting. It was not until about four rehabs, institutions, and, detoxes later that I got some quality sober time. It was me who had to want it though. Now sober since February 17th of 2015. Still – almost two and a half years later – on a daily, hourly, second basis I have to make sure I have reasons to be places where drinking or drugging is going to be happening and that I have a plan B. Not the other Plan B. I don’t think I need that one. Yeah, it’s something that I’m proud of, as well as it’s a good reminder to myself and my growth.
What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual and otherwise?
What do I think of them? You know, I’ve only been in monogamous relationships and I have never been in a poly relationship. I’ve dated cis men in the past. My first year of college, almost ten years ago, came out as queer. Also – dating? It’s hard. It’s really hard, you know? I’ve tried dating multiple people at once. That’s exhausting. Don’t do it. Tried it. If it works for you, great. Seriously. I feel like once I have a better grasp of who I am and what I can bring to a relationship, I can be a better partner – I want to be my full self. Platonic relationships? Love my friends. Family is kind of included I guess, in a way. I think that within social media and stuff like that, we see people moving across the country or internationally it’s hard to stay in contact. But. I think that even a letter, message, anything can just bring back something so great. Just say you had seen a leaf on the ground with a friend 15 years ago, and you found a picture from that moment and you just…send it off to them. You haven’t talked to that person in 15 years. And even if they don’t respond, it’s not about that. They’ll receive it – perhaps – and that feels good. Just into space. I don’t think platonic relationships are just with people. I think relationships are being one within this crazy fucking universe and learning how to exist with the people walking down the street or buying a cup of coffee.