exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Category: Interviews

Bashia Marion


Name: Bashia Marion

Age: 30

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

How often do you bathe or shower?

Twice a day. Yeah, it’s a lot. I know. I get up in the morning and I work out, and I shower after I work out. And at night, I come home and take a bath. Just to help me get ready for bed, and wash the day off. It’s self-care for me. It’s good.

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

A blue whale. I love blue whales, they’re so amazing. When I was living overseas, I was living in Tonga, a pacific island, and blue whales migrate through there. We got to see them crest, if we were sitting on the beach. We also got to go swimming with them.

What were you doing in Tonga?

I was a Peace Corps volunteer. My main role was to teach English and to train Tonga teachers how to use student centered teaching practices. It’s not common in Tonga. It’s usually lecture-style with the teacher up there talking. So I was training them to engage so students… can learn more… ::laughs::. Yeah.

What are you passionate about?

I feel like that is something I’m still trying to figure out. I think, the last year has been the hardest. Earlier this year I checked into a mental health program. It was really bad. If people… people who knew me or met me before January or before, they would be surprised by this person that you’re interacting with right now. So I do think, I’ve become more passionate about mental health because of my own process with it.

And then there are things related to social justice, specifically police policy reform and education reform. I’m currently trying to figure out what my place is, what my role is within police policy reform. The role I can take in that… I grew up in a family of civil servants, my brother is a deputy sheriff. My uncle was a part of that organization for his entire adult career. He retired early, went back for education and got his masters, and now he’s a trainer within the field. My dad is a firefighter, paramedic and my grandmother was a nurse. So, seeing all the things happening in the world with police violence, especially with black violence and other people of color… that impacts me. And there’s a conflicting thing because my family upholds the law, and they’re black men. And then, there’s stuff happening that is targeting black men. So the conversations I have with my family, it’s a little different. I’m more progressive and others in my family are far more conservative, so it would disturb me hearing their opinions on the things that are happening because it doesn’t make any sense. If they took off their uniform, they’re just another black man. No one knows they’re a police officer. It could easily be them. So how are people supposed to comply or operate just because someone is wearing a uniform? That makes absolutely no sense. We need to focus on the system and change how they interact with communities. The whole community policing and community engagement and connection. They’re police officers from this area, not someone who was brought in, expected to uphold laws and whatever.

When I was in undergrad in Columbus, one of my best friends, that was her whole focus for her dissertation. We would go to town hall meetings all the time. I felt like I was way more connected and civically engaged in Columbus, so now being home and being more settled this last year—I’m trying to get back into that. And know what’s where, who to talk to, know about events to go to or protests and stuff happening. I can easily see myself getting back into that stuff again.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Ummm. Honestly, I feel really proud of the fact that, the progress I’ve made in my education. Neither of my parents or my brother went to college. That just, wasn’t a path anyone took. It was something I wanted to do though, it was something I could do and was interested in. So, to have earned my associates then move on to my bachelors… then getting my master’s degree, and now I’m in the process of going back to school next fall to get another master’s degree… it’s huge to me. Through that whole process, there was doubt from my family. There wasn’t a lot of encouragement from my mom, my dad and my brother. I have other aunts and uncles who have continued education and I could go to them and get information, which was really helpful… but yeah. Even now, I’m working on being proud of myself and I did accomplish it. No one gave this to me, I really worked for it. I did the process, I did the work, I got the degree.

What is something you struggle with?

Self-doubt and low self-esteem. Sometimes it’s self-worth. Like, I sometimes I don’t think that I deserve good things or happiness and, with my anxiety and depression, it’s amplified of course. Those are fun things ::laughs::. But, I’ve been doing therapy. Talk therapy and earlier this year I decided that I was going to try and do medication. That was a huge thing for me, my family is VERY religious and for the longest time, it was “We will cast the demon out, you just need to pray and be filled with the Holy Spirit and it will all go away”. Then there’s me thinking how I’ve been trying this for 29 years and I hey, I still feel jacked up. Maybe the holy spirit is in this pill ::laughs::. SOO that’s where I’ve been at. It’s helped a lot. Yeah ::laughs::.

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

Oh man, we’re in all the stuff right now ::laughs::. It’s really funny, that’s what I’m working on with my therapist right now. Intimacy, big “I” and little “I” sometimes too because I do jacked up stuff and stupid things with people sometimes… ::laughs::. SOOO, my mom and my dad got divorced when I was four and a half and it was a very tumultuous thing. They had custody battles literally until I aged out of the system. They went back and forth for custody my entire childhood, for both my brother and I. He’s 18 months older than I am, so he aged out and the custody battles stopped for him but it was still going for me. Right off the bat, intimacy and connectedness that you’re supposed to learn from your family unit—those social skills were really lacking for me. I had attachment issues, I didn’t know who to trust because there was a lot of manipulation from adults in my life… my dad remarried two times and his second wife—to me, felt like she had a vendetta against me. So that was, really challenging. Now being older and thinking that I might want to get married someday, trying to build connection with people… I’m trying to do the heavy lifting right now so I don’t project anything onto others. I know I’m super jacked up ::laughs::. I think relationships are vital. We need human connection, being to being connection, whatever that looks like. It’s super necessary, I think relationships are a life source. 

Robert Stagge


Name: Robert Stagge

Age: 30

Pronouns: He/Him/His

How often do you bathe or shower?

Every day, sometimes twice a day. I like to be clean. I get dirty from my job, I’m a Journeyman Pipe Layer, so, I lay sewer main and water main and I’m covered in mud from the time I start work from the time I leave. So, when I’m not at work, I like to be clean. Saturdays and Sundays, when I’m not at work I’ll take a shower in the morning and in the evening. It’s nice. ::Laughs::.

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

I wanna say a shark. I don’t know, seems cool. I like their teeth ::laughs::.

What are you passionate about?

Couple things, really. I’m passionate about my sobriety, I’m also passionate about my job. And most important, I’m passionate about my kids. I have two, Alaina who’s six and Levi he’s three. Typically, I see them every other weekend. I’m on the typical divorced dad schedule. We like to go skateboarding together, so I’ll take them to the skate park sometimes. We just recently started going on hikes, it’s just fun to be outside with them. Watch them experience the world.

What drives your passion with work?

With work, it’s hard labor, so I sleep well at night. I enjoy working with my hands and doing something that matters. Like, if I didn’t do what I did, you wouldn’t be able to flush your toilet. Or turn on your shower and things wouldn’t operate the way that they do. It’s kind of a thank-less job, but at the same time, I know the importance of it. The infrastructure… That’s one of the big reasons why I’m passionate about it, the other reason I like it so much is that there’s a little bit of a danger aspect to it. It’s a dangerous job, there’s something about that, which attracts me to it. I’m proud to do it.

Does your work and children support your sobriety?

Ummmm… No. I’m sober because I want to be sober. You know, if I could have found a wife and sat in church and been sober, I woulda done that a long time ago, but I couldn’t. I was married with kids and obviously, I’m not married anymore but… the sobriety thing is for me. Does it make me a better father? Yeah, absolutely. Does it make me a better employee? Yes. Even when I was in active alcoholism, I’d still show up to work every day. I was still passionate about my job, they’d just make me rake asphalt until I’d sweat it all out. Then I’d go lay water main. But uh, I do the sobriety for me. It’s a me thing.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

I guess, I just bought a rental property. So I feel kinda accomplished with that. I’m still in the uphill battle stages of it where I’m about to start tearing stuff out and fixing it up. I feel accomplished with it.

What is something you struggle with?

Self-love. Self-love and intimate relationships in general. I’ve had a really hard time being vulnerable. Especially with women in relationships. I don’t know if that stems from my first marriage. Maybe it stems from childhood, I don’t know. I’m currently going to therapy to try and figure that out.

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

I think they’re good, it’s what makes us human. My friendships are extremely important to me. Without my friendships, I don’t know where I’d be. My friendships play a part in my sobriety, a fellowship has grown around me. That’s what comes to mind. I’m going out to eat with friends just about every day of the week.

Is there anything you would tell a younger version of yourself?

I donno. I have no idea, I’m happy with where I’m at. A part of me wants to say, the damage that alcohol can cause, but… the other side of the same coin, I wouldn’t be who I am without going through what I went through. I wouldn’t be the same father that I am today. I wouldn’t be the same friend that I am today. I guess that’s it though, the damage that alcohol can cause. I’d have probably still done it though ::laughs::.



Name: Emily

Age: 29

Pronouns: She/They

How often do you bathe or shower?

::Laughter:: it varies! I can often get away with every other day. I’ve been more active lately, so I probably shouldn’t be doing that… but I usually bathe after doing something super active. In the winter I bathe like, twice a day because I get super cold.

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

Oh, man… I would be an angler fish. They’re really scary-looking ::laughter:: which I vibe with. They have these huge lights on their heads and big teeth everywhere and the females are way bigger than the males. They also have this really weird, really intense mating mechanism where the males latch onto the females and become parasitic or something? Which is a scenario I relate to on a deep, personal level.

What are you passionate about?

I think my biggest passion is connecting with other people. I’m a huge people person, I love people and making new friends. I’m really big on fostering connections with others. I’m studying to be a social worker right now. I feel like it’s the right field to be in if you’re a very people-oriented person and love to make connections. I want to be a helper of some sort and it’s the right field for that. Also, I belong to a bunch of different communities in the city. I do a lot of networking. I could talk forever about the things I’m passionate about, but that’s a big one.

How do you engage with self-care while being extremely social?

Yeah, I don’t know… living alone helps a lot. I think that, if I had a roommate, I would have a lot less energy to socialize. I also go long stretches without socializing and stuff. I have a bunch of things that fill my time. Like I said, I’m in school, working on a Bachelor’s in Social Work. I sing in the May Festival Chorus, which is the official chorus of the Cincinnati Symphony, so that keeps me pretty busy 9 months out of the year. I climb once a week and do physical therapy 3x a week. Yeah. It’s a lot.

What do you mean by “climbing”?

I go to a climbing gym in Sharonville called Rock Quest and I have an instructor there who belays me, which means she’s the person who controls all the ropes and makes sure that I’m safe up there. It’s all indoor…if you’ve ever seen a rock wall with those funny looking, different colored shapes—it’s that kind of thing. But a whole room of it, with different levels of difficulty. You can do bouldering in the middle, which is climbing without any kind of equipment… there’s rocks on the celling, which I think is really insane… maybe someday ::laughter::.

How did you get into rock climbing?

I had done it a few times as a kid, at summer camp and stuff like that. I went a few times in high school and I tried once, shortly after high school and just could not do it. At all. And then, I lost a large portion of my mobility in my mid-20s and I have struggled with needing to feel strong. Climbing makes me feel really strong; it makes me feel, for the first time in my life, that I’m athletic. There’s finally something athletic that I’m capable of. Which is a really amazing feeling. I feel like it has bolstered my confidence a lot. I also struggle quite a bit with being in the moment—I have a lot of anxiety and am often dwelling on either the past or the future in some way—and climbing literally forces you to be in the here-and-now, and I really appreciate that about it.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

That’s a hard question for me to answer. I have a tendency to hold myself to able-bodied standards, which is a huge trap and something I should absolutely not be doing because I’m not able-bodied, never have been, never will be. So sometimes I have to sit down and remind myself: “HEY! You can drive a car. You live on your own. You have all these different groups of friends, you can take yourself to your appointments, and you take yourself to class. You’re doing it.” It’s a pretty cool feeling when I’m able to stop and recognize what an independent life I’ve created for myself. Independence is really important to me.

What is something you would like able-bodied people to know about you?

Oh Jesus, that is so hard to answer. There are so many things!! ::Laughter:: Ummm… It’s hard. It’s hard to know how to answer that because… I feel like people either constantly under-estimate what I’m able to do, or in a weird way, over-estimate me. I think a lot of people look at me and think “Oh, her legs don’t work. Whatever, that must be it”. But it’s a lot more complicated than that. I have spina bifida and hydrocephalus, which means I was born with my spine coming out of my body, and my cerebral spinal fluid—there’s a blockage in my brain, so it doesn’t circulate properly. I have a magnetized valve in my brain that keeps me alive. I’ve had roughly 30 hours of bladder work done, four brain surgeries and it’s so much deeper than people understand. But at the same time, I’m pretty “high-functioning” for someone who has been through all of that. So it’s tricky. I find myself wanting to tell my entire medical history to everyone I meet so that they’ll understand. I don’t know if people are afraid or don’t know what questions to ask, but I don’t feel like I get enough questions, and I LOVE getting questions. Questions, to me, show that people want to understand the way I work. Which is really import to me.

What is something you still struggle with?

Oh god. So many things! I have always really struggled to navigate academia. Which is why I’m still in it ::laughter::. I’ve dropped out twice and this is my third time, in undergrad. Third time’s a charm, I’m hoping. I have a lot of learning disabilities, but not ones that are super well known or clear-cut. I struggle a lot with motivation, planning, focus, processing. All that sort of nebulous stuff that is what it takes to be a successful person in the world ::laughter::. That’s all stuff I have a really hard time with. It’s been really difficult, knowing how to navigate that.

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

That’s a good question…I’ve been single for five and a half years, so my love for platonic love has strengthened more than I ever could have possibly imagined. I would love to be in a romantic relationship, but I could probably get by on platonic love for the rest of my life.

How has your understanding of platonic love changed?

I didn’t have friends for a really long time. Growing up, it was really challenging to form lasting connections with good people who had my best interest at heart, and weren’t going to fuck me over. I do have two really close friends, one from elementary school and one from middle school, but they’re major anomalies. Most of my current friends, I’ve met in my 20s. I always thought romantic love is what has been missing from my life, but then I made friends and it was like… “OH! This is what has been missing from my life, this is what I needed. Awesome.”

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