exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Category: Interviews



Name: Alaina

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her

How often do you bathe or shower?

I don’t take baths really, I don’t enjoy baths. But I shower probably three times a week, not too often. I don’t like to wash my hair very much and as long as I don’t smell bad, I’m just trying to not use as much water as possible.

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

That is really difficult for me to answer, but probably a manta ray because I think that would be the closest to flying underwater. I think that’s what I would have to pick.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about a lot of things. I am passionate about people. I’m passionate about art, music, theater, just creativity in general. I think that that’s incredibly important. Creative expression. I’m passionate about the world. I’m an empath so I have a lot of feelings all the time. I feel a lot for other people and with other people, and so I think I experience emotion really deeply. I cry a lot, but it’s not out of sadness. It’s more out of a connection that I’m feeling or a shared emotion. I feel a lot of things for a lot of different reasons.

Are those feelings attached to your drive for art and the art community?

Yeah, and I think most of my strongest emotions come out when I’m witnessing or I’m present in some kind music or art or theater or dance or something that ties everybody together in the room. And I just get overwhelmed by that, of love and how wonderful it is. I’ll cry at anything that has that kind of atmosphere of fostering creativity and music and stuff like that.

When did your connection with that community start?

Really it started when I was born. My mom was a box office manager in Lexington, and was a theater major in college so she is the one that really introduced me into theater. She was taking me to shows when I was only months old. I became immersed in that life from a very young age, so I really have always had that connection to specifically musical theater. That’s just the medium that I preferred, but it’s been a lifelong thing.

What is something that you feel accomplished with?

I feel accomplished with a lot of things but I don’t necessarily think that it is– they’re not like projects that I’ve completed or physical things I have done. I think I’ve accomplished a lot as a person, and I think that’s probably one of my proudest things, is that I have grown into myself as a person and I’m still only 25. I feel like I finally accept myself, and I know who I am, and I can freely express who I am without fear of judgment — well, not fear of judgment, but without internalizing a lot of judgment. I have tried to take shame and judgement out of a lot of my feelings and a lot of my experience. And so I think that is my biggest accomplishment, is just feeling like myself.

When did that journey start?

Okay. Yeah. So recognizing it, probably four or five years ago, maybe even earlier. So probably like beginning of college. I had known I was always kind of — I just always felt like something was off about how I experienced things, not fully complete. And a lot of that was due to a lot of materialism that I was exposed to growing up, the push to be beautiful, and conform to this, and do that. And so I felt a lot of that, especially in the theater community. That superficiality is very, very present in that community. And so, once I kind of realized that that was what was holding me back, the fact that I hated myself even though I worked literally my ass off exercising, dieting, and dressing right, and ‘looking pretty’, and blah, blah, I was never happy, and I never felt full inside. And so I came to that realization and I was just like, “Fuck this! I don’t want to live this way anymore because it’s not fair. I deserve to love myself.” And so, probably five years ago, I started just doing a little bit more of that. And at that time it was very basic [laughter]. Yeah. It was very basic, like, “I’m going to stop dressing how my grandmother wants to dress,” or, “I’m going to start speaking my mind more,” and like not letting people walk over me. And then I started understanding my sexuality a little bit more, and because of that I’ve started uncovering other layers of my life, and just kind of it’s just spiraled out into this really beautiful journey of acceptance of myself. Yeah. It’s been great [laughter].

What is something that you’re struggling with currently?

I like to think that I am an accountable person. And I do really try to be an accountable person, especially in my actions and my words. But I am trying to be much more aware of the small actions that I am taking, maybe the stuff that doesn’t have a huge impact on others but maybe is in my head, or I’m thinking a certain way, or I notice a behavior this way. So I’m trying to be more accountable about those really small things that can be harmful to others or harmful to myself, and be able to call myself out and say something like, “No. I was wrong. I should not have handled that this way I recognize that that was not a productive way to handle things, that I’m going to do better next time by doing this, X, Y, Z..” [laughter].

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

Well, my initial thought is relationships are hard. And platonic, familial, romantic – any relationship – is hard work. Familial relationships are something that I have treasured a lot more as I’ve grown older. Just been understanding that yes, my mom is my mom, but she’s also a person, her identity is not only my mother. Her identity is an entire other human being, and then the same thing with my father, and grandmother and so on. And as I realize that, I’m like, “Okay, well I have to approach things differently knowing that they’re whole other people.” Their identity is not wrapped around my relationship with them. And then romantic relationships… whatever [laughter]. I’m what my mother calls a serial monogamist, so I have long-term relationship after long-term relationship. And so I’m kind of at the point where I’m ready to disrupt that pattern of my behavior because I– every long-term relationship that I’ve had, I’ve kind of lost myself in. And as I have ended that relationship, I’ve discovered more about myself. And so I’m at the point of like, “Look, I had like how many long-term relationships?” And now I feel like I know myself really well and I don’t need anybody right now [laughter]. I don’t need a romantic relationship right now at all.

What is something you’re looking forward towards?

Well, I’m joining the Peace Corps soon, and so the thing I’m looking forward to most is joining that- the Peace Corps [laughter] – and moving out of the country, really, and experiencing a whole different culture for two years. Joining a new community, finding a new way of life, and just kind of– bear with me, but I have this whole idea that I’m going to go to Kosovo and find myself. And I know that’s like literally the worst Eat, Pray, Love bullshit, and it’s not going to happen, but I think that there are certain things that I will be able to learn about myself through being there. And it’s not going to be some grand self-awareness awakening, or whatever, but I really hope, especially, that I can come back and center myself more around my environment and sustainability, and just be more eco-conscious in a reducing way, not simply recycling, but actually repurposing and reducing what I take in. That’s what I’m excited about, just going to grow in that way.





Date of Interview: October 25, 2018

Name: Daisy

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

How often do you bathe or shower?

Every other day usually.

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

Okay, I’ve been thinking about this and it would be a snail. I love snails and I feel that they are perceived as the ugly creature and I have a love for animals and creatures that people think are ugly.

What are you passionate about?

So many things. I feel like the things that I’m most passionate about, are usually the things that I feel like I can’t do anything about. I feel like advocating for people who are oppressed is something that matters a lot to me, but I feel sometimes my voice on the internet or the help that I try to give, even a small bit locally is not necessarily making a huge impact. I don’t really know how to make what I’m passionate about spread wider and actually reach the people who need help. Something I am also passionate about that is] animals. I love animals. I have three cats that I rescued, two of which have FIV. FIV is basically, the equivalent to feline Aids and much like Aids, there’s a stigma and with cats that people are afraid they’re going to get Aids [chuckles] from their cat. Which sounds ridiculous, because it is. And a lot of them sadly are in shelters for years and sometimes even die in the shelter because there’s nothing wrong with them. I remember when I was adopting my third cat at the local shelter here, the woman who was helping me adopt him said to me, “Do you have any other cats at home?” I said yes, I have two other cats they have FIV and she looked at me like I just said they have alien brains coming out of their mouth. She looked at me with such disgust and she was like, “Do you really think it’s a good idea to bring a cat home that has–” and I was like yes, he needs a home so he’s coming home with me.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

One thing is, that I recently had an art show where I sold my cross stitch. It was a two-month art show and I didn’t quite sell everything, but I sold enough that they were really impressed and they were happy with me. And I was happy because when I started cross stitching, it was just like a form of therapy for me. It really helps with my anxiety. I make funny stuff that people like, and that people are [almost] sad when it’s sold like, “Oh no, you already sold it, I really like that one.” It’s a really nice feeling. [It started when] I saw someone doing it and I was literally just like “Can you please teach me how to do that?” And she taught me how to do it and then I started looking up more stuff online at home. And I started making that stuff. I I never use any patterns, I just make stuff for and look for other people’s work for inspiration and get funny ideas. I realized how just doing that was, watching TV for hours made me feel so calm. It’s such a form of self care. 100% and I even wrote something about this because I know a lot of the tips out there about self care are really expensive, unrealistic habits, [like] go and get your hair done every time you feel bad about yourself or even using bath bombs because it’s really unrealistic for people to have $10 every time. But for me cross stitching is such an affordable habit. There are stores and other places that really cheap and I find it to incredibly peaceful to just pick a product to work on. And even if everything else in my life is going badly I’m like “Whoa, I made something. This is nice.” The other thing that I feel proud of is that I’ve been working in the same field for seven years, and I’ve been doing that full time for about four years and recently I just got a really nice acknowledgment from my work and it was just words but it really made me feel really good about the quality of work I’m doing and feel really appreciated. I work in copywriting so I guess that it’s like marketing or advertising. It’s basically when someone hires a company to make their website, they usually only really think about the design. But behind the design team is someone putting all the content in there. So I mostly work for lawyers, and doctors, and people in the blue-collar field, just basically trying to make them sound good, and trying to help them sell their services.

What is something that you still struggle with?

Some days I struggle with a lot is my self-worth. I find that I often rely on other people for affirmation that I can’t just like look myself in the mirror and say “You did a good job. You look beautiful. You’re worthy.” I’m clinging to what other people say and how that made me feel. I’ve been working on it, but it’s really hard to get that with it. Because they’re so much negativity coming from a thing and it’s hard not to shut that down. That at the end of the day I  just want someone to tell me they love me and tell me I’m pretty and whatever else. And tell me I’m doing a good job.

What is your love language?

It’s so hard to choose just one. But I would definitely say that words of affirmation is my top one. I guess I think a little bit goes a long way and I’ve always felt that way. Just hearing just a little bit of, just for your own sake, “You’re doing a good job” or “You’re beautiful” or “You matter to me”. Whether it’s from a lover or even as friends, is like– that stuff impacts me so much. And I have a hard time with the five love languages with recognizing that someone else’s love language might be different than you, especially if you’ve never talked about it. They don’t know what that is, what that concept is. You’re wondering, “Well, why doesn’t this person ever say really nice things to me?” And then you realize they’re doing other things for you that they value, but you’re not really matching up.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual, romantic and otherwise.

Oh, I have a lot of thoughts. Oh, boy. So in therapy, I’ve been working with my therapist on what she calls “my bullseye”. And it’s basically if you picture all over relationships falling in intrinsic circles, how much importance and how much energy you put into things. So if you have your best friend, your partner, your mom, your dad in the middle and from there you build out. And people can move at any time. And that has helped me a lot. Because I’ve been guilty of sort of putting too much volume, too much energy on people who aren’t necessarily giving the same thing back. So that has helped me a lot to sort of gauge things. But I still find myself like– I tend to obsess in romantic relationships. I tend to get in my head, tend to not be able to enjoy it at all because I’m over analyzing things and wondering if someone– if it’s enough, and if it’s right and if it’s this and if it’s that. And I don’t even get to enjoy it. Where was I for all this? I got lost in that– and then the honeymoon state is over and then suddenly I’m like, “Wait, wait. But I wasn’t there for it. I want the honeymoon state back.” I think it ties back into self-worth. Sometimes I tend to stay or chase things that aren’t good for me because I’m too afraid to just remind myself that I deserve better. Because in my head it’s like, “But where’s better? So this is what I’ve got so–.”

What is something that you have learned this year?

That’s hard. I think that I’ve learned that sometimes – I’m trying to figure out how to word it – letting go of something doesn’t have to mean that you’re moving on from it. Because a lot of people, including myself, get really caught up in like, “How can I possibly fully move on from that situation? I can’t possibly. I’m not over it yet.” You don’t have to get over it yet, you’re healing. Granted it’s totally valid but you can make a step to cut something or someone out of your life. So when dealing with toxic people I kept feeling like I had to be all the way at my destination of healed. But I don’t have to be there yet. I just have to make that first step. And that’s been really powerful for me, really helpful.

Emma Casey



Date of Interview: Aug 31, 2018

Name: Emma Casey

Age: 27

Pronouns: She/Her and They/Them are also fine.

How often do you bathe or shower?

Every other day. I shower mostly at the gym right now.

Is it a better shower?

Yeah. It’s also just easier in transit. So yeah. And then I bathe when I’m at this house that I’m house-sitting maybe every two weeks just for fun.

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

A snail. Snails live underwater. They live under and above. And yes because I think they– I like them because anytime I’ve had roommates who have fish they get snails to help clean the tanks and so I like that snails have this janitorial purpose. And also I think I’ve been, the past few months, have been carrying a lot on my back… like carrying my home on my back. Feeling just a lot like a snail.

Is that where the comparison for you and snails ends is carrying the home on your back or does it continue?

I don’t know too much more outside of that and their janitor services. I think that’s what I– I think in my mind I would like an occupation or a life that is like that simple. Yeah, for some reason, nuns also occupy that space in my mind. They get to go live away and they’re not at all concerned with romance or any of these– well, maybe some nuns use social media. But a lot of the sort of things that can make days really cluttered in one’s brain. And then they get to do lovely things like farm, so. Farm and make cheese and have a regular schedule and stuff like that. So I think I like the idea of just having an occupation that is enough, which could be anything but– yeah. Nuns, and janitors, and firemen, and stuff like that.

What are you passionate about?

Oh gosh. If I knew, I would be a nun. Right now I don’t know. Yeah, I think I don’t know what passion means. But right now I– I don’t know what passion means. I’m really enjoying the beauty of Chicago. I feel like this summer I’ve spent a lot of time just reveling in how much I enjoy the look and the feel of the world around me. And that we have assigned that to be the city of “Chicago” is fortunate coincidence or something. It’s so much land and it’s so big and I have just been biking around a lot and really enjoying that. And then just been thinking a lot about, “Why bother enjoying how this looks? What purpose does that serve?” It’s also been just like an interesting summer as far as just spending time with people which is something that I don’t think I’ve done as purely before, just hung out. So I wouldn’t say that that’s a passion but that’s definitely a new thing to be excited about yeah, is people and just being able to spend time.

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

Yeah, they’re good. They’re necessary. I don’t think I realized how necessary until maybe this past month; I was like, “I want to disappear,” not in a– that’s the flip side I suppose of hanging out is I felt like I was just around a lot and not for any purpose. And there are a few areas of the city that I can go, where just walking down the street I’ll run into people and I’ll greet people and I’ll go into the coffee shop and talk to people and know the baristas —– so that was starting to feel like, “Has this become my occupation?” and I think I need to back away from that. I need to literally move away from that and put myself into somewhere more unknown.  So put myself into somewhere more unknown and just see how that feels, and it’s felt really quiet. I’ve realized that I’ve been really quiet. And that’s good but I also just don’t know how to talk to myself right now and that’s something that I didn’t know I had maybe lost a little bit because in my mind, I’m very much a loner. But I think I accidentally became — worked my extrovert muscle too hard and now I’m just having to swing back, which I’m excited about. Oh, yeah.  So relationships with others. I like them. I think it’s exciting. And then I also think that that’s a lot of how I want to show love [laughter] is showing up and talking to people. Going to events and providing support for when people are being brave and vulnerable and skilled. So. Yeah. So I like people and I like relationships, but then I was starting to feel out of sync with myself as well.

What do you feel most accomplished with?

Well [laughter], last night was the first night of The Fly Honey show of this weekend and I get to be a performer in that. And that is amazing [laughter]. That’s so many people. Yeah. Last night was a weird night of co-workers in the audience for me, both past and present. And then people tangentially who work around where I work. And somebody did come up to me and was like, “You serve coffee and you can say poems like that?” So I don’t know what to do with that other than it felt good, because the answer is, “Yeah. I do [laughter]. I do serve coffee and I did write that poem.” So I think that, yeah, writing is definitely, I guess, what I’m most accomplished at. Though that feels a little “good for you” to say right now, because I definitely feel like a writer with no sort of active writing practice at the moment. I’ve also received a couple of really encouraging sort-of angels on the streets in preparation for this performance. A couple of times when I’ve been really, really nervous – before the dress rehearsal and before another event where I was sort of sharing a rough draft of this piece in particular. It happened twice, where I was in my own quiet strange head, hadn’t talked to anybody that day, and somebody just walked up to me, was like, “Hey, I like your work. I’ve seen you perform before [laughter].” And that was kind of flabbergasting. That hasn’t happened in that kind of concentrated way before. Because it was these two instances, it really did feel like something sent me a little encouragement angel. So that was really cool. And I guess I’m also aware that I’m defining the word accomplishment as an outside sense of accomplishment, of people giving me validation or affirmation. But it also feels really good to get that and know that you’ve touched somebody three years ago with a poem that you wrote [laughter].

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