by The Bathtub Project
Name: Marjorie Lee
If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?
Ooooo! Okay, so I either be a reef fish, I’m obsessed with Blue Planet, I cannot stop watching that show. So I would either be one of those really brightly colored fishes on the reef that live in community… basically. They warn each other about predators and that kind of shit. Or I would be one of those light up glow-y fish that lives in the deep, deep, deep ocean. I think that ideas of adaptability are really interesting. Especially, as far as the way that we live and what are norms are and what we get used to and what we can adapt to and all of that kind of stuff. So, thinking about living at the bottom of the ocean is terrifying, it’s like another planet… But, you’d probably get used to it, right? [laughter]
How has adaptability presented itself in your life recently?
In the past 5 years my life has changed very drastically. In good ways. I have lived most of my life as a very, very poor person. Of course, I had other kinds of privileges, family and that kind of thing. But was very cash poor, check to check, survival mode all of the time. In the past five years that has completely flipped. And I see myself back there soon [laughter] but, yeah, things have radically changed in that area of my life as far as my class privilege is concerned. You would think when you come into a lot of money, or you earn a lot of money, that you’d be happy and good. And that it’s amazing right? But it caused a spell of depression for me. That I’m just now, years into, starting to come out of. Severe agoraphobia. Just, severe depression. I can’t explain it, I don’t know why, when good things happen to me, I react like that. But I do. It’s been interesting, learning that part of myself. In this situation.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about art, creativity, music, expression and community and people. Justice, social justice is a big deal for me, like fairness. People having a chance to thrive. Those are things that I’m passionate about.
How do you engage with these passions while living your life simultaneously?
Yeah, it was my life for a long time, social justice, racial justice, specifically, I worked as an educator and I did that for a number of years. Then, when I left UC, I was like, I’m going to go and live in community now and bring all of myself, all of these things I’ve learned into this community space and have that experience. And I did. And now I’m leaving [laughter]. Yeah, I tried to bring those parts into all areas of my work. I am a working artist; I’m a musician and songwriter and it shows up in my music, it shows up in my art. We make face pottery, which is an ancestral thing for me. It’s about my African ancestry. Even within that, just being a person of color, it’s always present in everything that I do. Social justice, racial justice… Yeah.
What is something you feel accomplished with?
I feel accomplished with just… first of all, still being here. Being a survivor, being alive. So, that’s a big accomplishment for me [laughter]. For a long time, mental and emotional health stuff, dealing with suicidal ideation and all kinds of things… I made it! I’m here! So that’s an accomplishment. I also feel accomplished in areas of my expression, my art, my music. We just recently moved and I found this thing that I wrote when I graduated high school, it was with my high school diploma and it was talking about my goals. It was saying like, “I’m not going to go straight to college, I’m going to DJ,” I was a DJ at the time, “I’m going to keep DJing and I’m going to release a couple of albums”. I was reading it and was like, for a moment I was really disappointed in myself. I don’t know why, I think that’s something that we’re programmed to do around goals and aging, especially. Like, I’m sooo old now! Blahhhhh, just, whatever, but… I did! I released two albums, I have a wonderful band, they’re amazing people. They’re all my soul mates, I love them [laughter]. And, I’m making art and actually making a little bit of money and I have the potential to sustain myself and my partner doing that. So, that’s a huge accomplishment for me.
What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, familial, sexual and otherwise?
Relationships are everything. So, I’ve been married twice, Dustin is my second husband. I’ve been married to two cis, white men. So I have some specific thoughts on that… Which, revolve around masculinity and having to train men, literally, to be decent human beings. Which sucks, and is not my purpose in life. But then, so far, you get invested in that. I’m codependent and whatever, I’m working though it, but I defiantly come from a codependent dynamic and that has been my norm. Yeah! So, relationships are everything. Through my romantic relationships, I have definitely grown [laughter] and learned. A lot. But then, friendships are also super important. To me, boundaries are good, but again, these definitions that we have about relationships and even the words are really… colonialist, capitalist, and all of this stuff! So, in my friendships I’ve had a lot of trauma around group dynamics and friendships. I grew up with white people, and there’s a really specific dynamic there that I experience as a queer person of color [laughter]. Yeah! Just, relationships are opportunities to grow and opportunities to learn yourself better. But also, to be able to show up for people in ways that you need? That sounds really weird and selfish, but the relationships I’m building now are much less toxic than the relationships I’ve had in the past. I didn’t know what I needed, I did not have boundaries. Abuse was my norm and so I didn’t know myself, I didn’t know what I needed, I didn’t know how to ask for what I needed. So, that manifested in some really negative experiences with friends. Learning through all of that and getting older. Now, trying to manifest these relationships that are really mutually supportive and trying to get away from that stuff. I’m 37 and Cincinnati is very high school oriented, as far as the dynamics are concerned. There’s weird privileged old money dynamics here. Trying to get away from all of that, like, the alcoholism in the friend groups that I was involved with because again, codependency. And I’m an enabler, I don’t drink but I enable people to do that. So yeah, moving away from all the negative, gossipy toxicity mean girl kind of shit that I was pulled into and involved with in the past. So I’ve been really seeking out friends that are queer, and have things in common with me, so that we have a place to build from. That was so long and ramble-y! [laughter]
How do you support your boundaries?
That is a good question, and I am still figuring that out. Just, having them to begin with. Identifying them, what they are. They usually revolve around my PTSD and my triggers and that’s a really easy thing to set a boundary around, I think. For me, I’m still figuring out the rest of it. Learning my mental health and going from there. Before I didn’t have the privilege or time to think about that, right? I was in survival mode all the time. To be able to define boundaries, to think about what they are, getting in touch with my triggers, my mental health stuff, my emotional health stuff; all of that is a huge privilege and it’s something I’m still figuring out for sure. I think honesty, communication, trust, being able to have people in your life that you trust and can be vulnerable with. Yeah.