exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Marjorie Lee


Name: Marjorie Lee

Age: 37

Pronouns: They/Them

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.


Doughnut Spanker

unnamed (1)

Name: Doughnut Spanker

Age: 28

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

How often do you bathe or shower?

Preferably, once every other day. If not, sometimes I’ll shower once a day. Depending. Depending on how gross I feel.

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

MMMMMMmmm. Oh man. What would I be? I probably… I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to be a crab. I kinda want to be a clown fish because I could swim through the anemones. It would be cool to be a horseshoe crab. EELS [laughter]. Eels. I would be an eel. An electric one. There we go, thought completed [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about baking, number one. I’m passionate about loving myself and other people and showing them kindness, being grateful for the humans who are in my life. Showing them as often as I can that I appreciate them. Music. Whole lot of music. I don’t think I could get through life without it. Sometimes it can drive people insane [laughter]. I’m all over the place musically. My coworker once said “You go from Gillian Welch to Death”. My music taste goes everywhere in between, so people don’t really know what they’re going to get from me. Hopefully, they’re getting me on a good day. Otherwise you’ll be listening to really sad, sappy music or heavy, hardcore deathmetal kind of stuff. I like dancing too. Dancing gets the positive energy flowing through me; making my day flow easily.

How did your passion for baking arise?

My dad would often bake when I was little, and I was always on the counter watching him put together recipes.I wanted to learn what he was doing. He was really passionate about it, even though it wasn’t what he did for work. He baked because he liked doing it. I saw the gratitude that he had when something would come out right, he’d get super stoked. Rolling up cinnamon rolls, pies, cookies. My favorite was when he’d make bagels. I wanted feel that same feeling that he had, the smile on his face, the way he’d learn if he’d fucked something up. The feeling is definitely there. I’m living on his life in a way. I’m carrying his passions with me and making them my own.

What is something you still struggle with?

Jeez. Putting out too much for people that don’t really care about me and not recognizing it at first. Putting myself in situations that are unhealthy for my being, my mental health. It’s gotten better on the physical health end, like with the drinking and drug usage. I’d say recognizing what people deserve from me. That is something i struggle with the most.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Accomplished? I’d say… I turned out to be a pretty decent human being despite things I’ve been through. I don’t know if I feel quite accomplished with anything particularly. Every day is a learning process in everything that I’m doing, there’s never going to be a final product. Every day I’m putting in effort to make things better. To feel more accomplished, so I wouldn’t say I feel particularly accomplished in anything.

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

I mean. I feel like, every relationship, you need to put in effort to make it what it is. Whether that be friendship, family member, sexual… Communication is definitely key in that. But there are people I don’t talk to for months and months at a time. And it’s like, because we’re so connected on some sort of level, it’s not entirely necessary to communicate with them all the time because the effort we’ve put in has laid out a platform. Showing someone that you appreciate them as a human being makes relationships so much easier. That we are on the same level, that I’m here to be a part of your team. Release expectations, take it as it goes. I feel like sexual relationships are a different kind of connection but they’re still the same. It’s different realm of communication. In my eyes in a sexual relationship, you’re with that person often because you want them to be your partner in life. To have a partner, or a teammate in life, means letting them help you, sharing yourself, climbing the mountains… but never quite reaching the top! [Laughter], I don’t know. it’s all… it’s respect.

What is something you appreciate about yourself?

I’m not good at appreciating myself. Self love! Self love! Ummmm [laughter]. I appreciate that I’m hardworking. That I can do what people ask me to do. That is something that I appreciate about myself. I feel like I appreciate a lot? I appreciate the fact that I’ve worked so hard to get where I am. And recognizing that it’s me that is doing the work. That I can see myself in a higher light than what I used to because I now actually care about myself. So I guess, just recognizing that I’m worth loving because I am a hard worker and someone can appreciated it.



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.

%d bloggers like this: