exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Month: June, 2018

Becca Brown



Date of Interview: June 25, 2018.

Name: Becca Brown

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her and They/Them

How often do you bathe or shower?

I shower every day at least once. Baths are not a thing that I regularly do, so thank you so much for letting me bathe.

Is showering every day part of your routine?

Yes. I shower to wake my body up. I have very complicated skin, so I also do– as a part of my daily ritual, I do a lot of skincare. And a lot of that is stuff that lives on my face and I have to let it dry on my face. And in my current apartment situation, there’s only one sink and it is in the kitchen, so I prefer to get all that off in the shower. So sometimes I shower twice a day. Yesterday, I showered thrice. I showered once in the morning, and then I went for a long walk, and I got really sweaty, and was going to the beach. So I showered before going to the beach, and then when I went to the beach, I got sand all up in my everything, so I had to shower it out [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about art. Creating. Doing. Making. I love making art. I love seeing art. Always looking for new, interesting forms of art to see or experience. I see a lot of plays and musicals, and read a lot of poetry, and go to different kinds of shows, concerts. Ever since I was a little girl, I loved going to concerts, and seeing theater, and going to fucking Disney on Ice. And any kind of performance, any kind of art museums, galleries, etc., that’s kind of been a huge thing for my entire life.

How do these passions manifest in a day-to-day practice?

Well, right now, I am doing School at Steppenwolf, which is, for me, one of the biggest accomplishments I could ever ask for. And I probably wouldn’t be here if– I don’t know. I am going through a bit of a spiritual reimagining of myself and realignment of myself. So right now, my passion is manifesting in getting to work for my favorite theater company that’s ever existed. The place that, ever since I started acting, was the place for me, that I’m like, “I want to work there. I have to work there. I must.” And now getting to study under these amazing professors who are like-minded and equally as driven as I am and as my classmates are. Artists who are working – directors, actors, casting directors, etc. – in my field is such a gift. And then when I get home, after I’m done doing my homework, I cook for myself, and that’s my one thing that I do that doesn’t have to do with art.

What is your favorite thing to feed yourself?

Right now, I taught myself recently how to make a biscuit in a mug. It’s also gluten-free. I found this recipe on the keto Reddit. And I put almond flour, and eggs, some cheese, baking powder, and a bunch of herbs in a mug. I whip it all up and microwave it for three minutes, and then out pops a little biscuit. And it’s so quick and so easy, and if you use the right amount of cheese, it can be comparable to the Red Lobster biscuits. It’s awesome.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is– right now, I’m going through it. It’s crazy and I never thought I’d be able to say this, but I have six months of continuous sobriety. Without that, I am fucked. Without sobriety, I am either in jail, in the hospital, or dead. So I’m very grateful to be able to say that I haven’t had a drink in six months. And getting sober has opened up so many doors for me, not only as an artist but as a person. It’s great. I feel like my inner child is so happy right now, and I’m getting to see people for the first time, and I’m getting to know myself for the first time. And I don’t know, she’s pretty cool. I like her so far [laughter]. Right now, I’m kind of still in the pink cloud phase of, “I love being sober.” And there are days where I’m like, “Fuck, I hate this. Fuck. I wish I could just drink or smoke a blunt.” But I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t. I just wouldn’t. I can’t. And a big part of getting sober that was scary for me was when I do stand-up, I would usually lubricate. So I was like, “I’ll be funnier if I’m a little loose, a little drunk, a little on my toes and able to riff.” And I was so scared that cutting out alcohol and drugs would make me not funny anymore, make me not fun, make me not a good artist anymore. But it’s actually made me so much better. The material that I’m writing now is much more honest, and it’s not about a boy who didn’t text me back. It’s about how wonderful the world can be sometimes. And it sounds so cheeseballs, but– it’s very cheesy, but it’s very real for me right now.

What are your thoughts on relationships, platonic, sexual, familial, and otherwise?

Honesty is the best thing, in general. Communication is so important in relationships. And for a long time, I think, in my addictive past, I would just do the opposite of the right thing all the time. And while I haven’t tried being in a relationship yet sober, the friendships that I’m making and the connections that I’m making with people in my family – my chosen family and my blood family – is so amazing. And I think that, yeah, it’s so much easier to be honest with people than to lie, than to have to remember, “Oh, what did I tell this person? What did I tell that person?” And having to correct yourself, or really think through what you said [laughter]. It’s so much easier to fucking tell the truth. It can be hard because sometimes the truth is really ugly or messy. But I’m kind of giving myself permission to be ugly and be messy for the first time because it’s so much easier to do that than covering it up and being fake.

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

An octopus. An octopus, for sure. Octopus is the only animal that I don’t eat because they’re so smart, and they are graceful and ferocious, and I feel like I identify with all of that. Yeah. And also, all those arms, they’ve got to be really good at multitasking, and I can relate [laughter].

LeCiel Nejema

LeCiel Nejema


Date of Interview: June 24, 2018.

Name: LeCiel Nejema

Age: 34

Pronouns: She/Her

How often do you bathe or shower?

Every single day. Every day. Yeah, every day [laughter]. Yeah. Yeah. I mean I love showering. I love taking hour-long showers, but the problem sometimes being out in California, I have to be more conscious of the water so I can’t take the longest showers that I’m used to taking. So ever since I’ve been visiting Chicago, I’ve been soaking in them hour-long showers [laughter]. Yeah, so I guess that’s my routine. It’s just getting up, taking a shower and making sure it’s long and it’s hot as it could be. Yeah.

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

I’d be an octopus. Yeah. Because I feel like there’s something interesting about octopuses and all the tentacles that they have and how sensitive their tentacles are and how their tentacles can be like extra sources of eyes for them and I think it’s pretty cool. I would be an octopus. Yeah.

What are you passionate about?

What am I passionate about? Justice. I’m passionate about seeing justice being served and holding myself and other people accountable and how that ties into justice being served. I’m very passionate about music, sound in general, because I feel like sound is an energy source that we just transfer and transfer and it can be a source that can be very powerful and empowering in the world if it’s used in a way that the frequency is vibrating on a much higher level.

How do these things manifest for you in a day-to-day basis?

Well, I work on music pretty much every day and when I say that, I want to explain to people that working on music is not necessarily what people think, like its not about picking up an instrument and singing in front of a computer or doing whatever all the time. It’s actually the entire process of my being, of living. So this conversation right now, this interview that we’re having right now, is me working on my music. Cause the process is the message. It ties into my value system and going back to how I’m passionate about holding ourselves accountable– everything you do becomes your message, it all goes into my music, all these experiences and processes. Sometimes this is what creating the music looks like. It’s just this.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

My mother told me a few months ago, “You’re living your best life,” and I never thought about it like that because I feel like I work so much, and– even if my work is what I love, it’s still work, right? So I don’t think I notice sometimes that actually, yeah, I am living my best life. Keeping in mind where I came from, the innocence of coming from poverty and also coming from the heart of oppression and injustice; and the fact that I somehow found a way out of that to be free on my own terms– I think that’s probably one of my biggest accomplishments.

What is something you still struggle with?

Surety, in a sense of like– I don’t know but sometimes it doesn’t matter how much work you put into it, you’ll never know what the results will be like– with that finished project. Even when you’re sure of your work, there’s still this unsurety of, okay, then what next after the work is complete and the work is released? And then what does that look like? So, I struggle with surety I guess.

What are your thoughts on relationships; platonic, familial, sexual and otherwise?

Relationships. Well, I am personally non-monogamous. There’s this misconception surrounding non-monogamy like, “Oh, you just want to be with multiple people.” And, for me, it has less to do with other people, even though that’s a perk. But it is more so about my independence and my freedom within myself. I want to be able to experience whatever on my own terms, whenever I want, with no ownership restrictions upon me. And I also think all those familial bonds can show up in intimate relationships, in romantic ways and it can be actually really, really good for you and healing.

What does the word intimacy bring to mind?

So much. It brings so much to my mind. A spiritual connection with someone, a soul connection with someone, this mental connection that you have with someone. And even this right now is an intimacy. You know like that consent and that choice to share ourselves with each other. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a sexual way, everything could be intimate.

Emilie and Peter



Date of Interview: June 21, 2018.

Names: Emilie and Peter

Age: 26 and 34

Pronouns: They/Them and They/Them

How often do you bathe or shower?

Emilie: I do not take proper baths a lot because I have a small tub and I get anxious. But if I need excessive self care, if I’m doing a spell, I’ll be in the bath. I try to shower, what? Like three times a week. Mental health is real. So sometimes basic self-care goes by the wayside.

Peter: I don’t really take very many baths unless I’m in a rough mental state. And then I will do that as a ritual for myself to try and ground. But I probably take two showers a week.

Is bathing a source of self-care and stability for both of you or either of you?

Peter: Yeah. I learned a few years back from someone drawing a bath for me, actually, that I need it to be by myself and with myself, and to be sort of intentionally taking care of my own body in a way that I allowed to fall by the wayside because I’m more of a– I tend to focus on other people more than myself. So, yeah, I would say yes.

Emilie: I think showers are more of a necessity for me and baths are more for self-care, grounding, being okay with being quiet. But I have to shower before I take a bath because I don’t like being in dirty water. It makes me nervous [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

Peter: Food and storytelling. Cooking food for other people.

Emilie: Food can be storytelling.

P: That’s true. But that’s not how I use it. I use it to nourish people.

E: Like me.

P: Yeah.

E: I’ve started eating a lot better food since Peter has lived here [laughter]. It’s a lovely thing about you. And it feels like care. It feels like love as a verb and physical nourishment.

P: What are you passionate about, Emilie?

E: Good question [laughter]. Healing through art, and reiki, and tarot, for myself and other people. Also family.

How does that manifest itself for you on a day-to-day basis?

Emilie: I call my mom every day.

Peter: Right now we’re all on a text thread.

Emilie Yeah. My mom just started a text thread with me and Peter, which is really sweet to me because she’s really coming around to the reality that I have a life partner and a fiancé in two different people. So that’s really sweet. But I try to do Tarot every day. And I do it for a lot of other people. But it’s emotionally, pretty draining. And I try to incorporate art into things as simple as my wardrobe. Art as a lifestyle instead of just a practice. What kind of art do I do? I do a lot of art because I can’t decide what my favorite is, which I think is okay.

P: How do I work it into my day-to-day? I am a performer. I’m trying to be a performer [laughter].

E: You are.

P: So I think storytelling is naturally wedded to performance. That’s what performance really is. And so I would say, yeah, with my art and storytelling, I try every day to teach myself and the world empathy.

E: I also wake up to a story every morning.

P: That’s true [laughter].

E: Because Peter’s brain works so quickly, I either hear a crazy story from the past or a full plot from a movie.

P: A plot of a movie, before we get out of bed usually [laughter].

E: Yeah.

What do you feel accomplished with?

Peter: What do I feel accomplished with?

Emilie: Do you want me to go?

P: Yeah. I’d love if you would go [laughter].

E: Hard to say. I’m hard on myself. I guess I’m proud that I’m constantly creating. It’s easy to say you’re an artist, but having a daily practice takes determination. But, my biggest accomplishment is getting sober, for sure. Yeah. Especially at 20– I got sober when I was 24.

P: Yeah. That’s legit. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up [laughter]. But I feel that I have driven myself to learn and hone skills that I didn’t ever think were possible. I started doing carpentry six years ago and I had been working in restaurants since I was 14. So that was a huge switch for me and I made a job out of it for five or six years. And I’m back in the kitchen again and I’m working on honing those skills, but I feel that I’m– what am I trying to say exactly? I don’t know. You want to answer for me?

E: I would hesitate to answer for you. But speaking from my perspective would say that you, more than a lot of people I know, work on self-improvement.

P: I’m trying to find a way to feed my body and my soul together. I think that what I feel accomplished in is that I’m turning 35 this year and I recognize that there is a disparity between the jobs that I take that feed my body and the work that I do that feeds my soul. So I’m trying to find that balance. And I feel good about that, that I’m trying to do that. That’s an accomplishment for me.

E: Can I be really gross for a second? This relationship feels like, personally, an accomplishment. Coming from being a serial toxic monogamous to actively working on being a partner and less selfish than I have been before. I think we work really hard in a way that’s not a burden, in a way that’s really lovely. I love you [laughter].

P:I love you. [kissing noises]

What are your thoughts on relationships, platonic, sexual, romantic, familial, and otherwise?

Emilie: Platonic love is so important.

Peter: Yeah, and I think that’s a huge thing that I’ve been learning, When I first came out as poly when I was 25, I got messy. I made a lot of mistakes. And I confused a lot of different types of love, I think because I was putting the option on the table for me to have sexual relationships with people who I was feeling intimacy with. I took that as, “I got a get-out-of-jail-free card. I’m going to run with it [laughter].” And then I started to learn that what being poly means is learning to be responsible to all the people who you are intimate with and learning to recognize that platonic love and intimacy are just as important as sexual intimacy, and they don’t always live in the same body, and that’s okay. And my thoughts on family are complicated [laughter]. My biological, my blood family and I have very strained– my father’s side and I have a strained relationship. My mother’s side and I are just getting to know each other. So I feel like family is important. But for me, it means something different than it might mean for Emilie. My family are my chosen family, my queer family, the people who actively work to stay in my life, who I actively work to stay in their lives. And we are trying to learn and grow together, and are excited to see the new changes that we’re growing, instead of trying to force some identity or whatever on one another.

E: I have a different experience. I have a very traditional family situation. I have a younger brother, who’s also sober. I have a mom, and dad, and a really large extended family. And they’re my whole world. It was really rough for a while when both my brother and I were active in our addictions. But I’m really lucky to have a family that decided, instead of internalizing that and being toxic, they decided to take care of themselves and become better. And now, it’s pretty great. I see them a lot. I call them a lot. I’m in a band with my brother. And I know how privileged I am to have that. I’m very conscious of how privileged I am to have that. I think my parents have been married like 35 years. Monogamous as fuck [laughter]. Yeah.

P: Can I clarify my answer a little bit? Is that okay? I came to envision my queer family, all my intimate partners, the ones I’m platonic with, or otherwise– I started to envision it as a– yeah. Like an aspen grove or a cottonwood grove where– for me, I like cottonwood better because they grow in the desert. And they just pop up in these little oases of trees that are all connected at the roots. And as I have met people or come close to people in my life, I get the feeling where I recognize that someone is in my grove. And once I recognize that, you’re it. You’re there.

E: I also came out as poly when I was 25. It’s not been that long at all for me. I think it’s been consciously in there. But I grew up in a place where I didn’t know that was a thing. So when I found out, I grappled with the idea of do I want this because this is who I am, or do I want this because I’m a bad monogamist? And I very quickly came to the place where I realized that wasn’t the case. But I think coming out as poly has made me work on myself more than I thought it would. I date myself first. Do you know what I mean? I have three or four partners including myself. And for the first– I guess I came out when I was 24. The first year, I was single and celibate. Still fucking poly. But I had to do that for myself in order to figure out what I needed and wanted in all sorts of relationships so that when I finally got back into potentially dating, I wouldn’t fall back into those toxic patterns that I had for 10, 15 years.

What’s something you still struggle with?

Emilie: Clearly, addiction to substances, behaviors and people. Control, and pretty intense self-loathing, though I publicly preach radical self-love, and empathy, and softness. I’m a pretty big hypocrite in that sense.

Peter: I think everybody is a little bit.

E: I agree. I agree. But I really don’t want to be like that. It’s a bad feeling– or I do want to be like that, but I want to be able to sit in it and work past it instead of vilifying myself for that, I think. Does that make sense?

P: Yeah. I struggle with all sorts of things [laughter]. Saying no, saying no first as opposed to realizing after saying yes that I should have said no, sitting with my own needs and trying to suss them out, instead of sort of backwards sussing them out by saying, “I’m feeling this from you right now, but what I really mean is, what I’m feeling is this thing [laughter].” Yeah. So that’s a big one.

E: We have a phrase. The story I’m making up in my head is–

P: Yeah. We got that from Brené Brown.

E: Yeah. We did.

P: That’s a really big one. Recognizing what is a fear and what is a truth, and also recognizing that I can’t get out a truth by myself. I have to come to it with someone else. And that doesn’t mean that we have the same truth. It means that we’re able to tell each other what our truths are, and then figure out what our shared narrative really is.

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

Emilie: A sea otter.

Peter: A seahorse [laughter]. A sea otter?

E: Yeah. They hold hands when they sleep!

P: Do they?

E: They’re the puppies of the sea. They fucking hold hands when they sleep.

P: Oh, I would definitely probably be a puppy. Some puppy. A sea otter? They’re the puppies of the sea. I guess I would definitely be a puppy.

E: But why did you say seahorse?

P: I like them. No other reason except that I like them.

E: That’s valid.

P: They have cute little noses. And the seahorse daddies carry babies.

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