exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time




Date of Interview: April 5, 2017

Name: Kate

Age: 27

Pronouns: She/Hers

Location: Washington, DC


How often do you bathe or shower?

I bathe or shower randomly. Sometimes I shower twice a day, sometimes I go a couple days without. But with baths, I never feel clean so I usually shower afterwards ::laughs::.

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

Hmmm. I like starfish, although I find it kind of disturbing with sand dollars and stuff, when they don’t get thrown back in. Or… I like jellyfish, but I wouldn’t want to sting things. Once I had a dream that I was a fish, a regular one that was yellow and blue and I could breathe through my gills. Since then I’ve been really into the idea of breathing through gills. I don’t really know the process of breathing underwater, but in my dream if felt wonderful to breathe that way.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about a lot of things. Kind of too many things, I have trouble focusing. Lately it’s kind of cheesy, but I’ve been trying to focus everything that I do on two things. Making a difference in some way, even though that sounds really cheesy, or making something beautiful. I like sharing or experiencing beautiful things. I try to focus more on creating than consuming. So that’s a roundabout way of saying that I have so many things that I focus on passionately, that I want to go with those feelings and they are guided by those two focuses and principles. I am passionate about art, which goes into beautiful things, also nature. I’m passionate about mental health. I’m into mental health reform. I’m passionate about sex and gender based violence, I’m passionate about the rights of women. I feel like I’m passionate about a lot of things, and I try to do small things to make people happier. Equality is such a vague thing, but I am passionate about it. Like, with mental health reform, people deserve a chance, you know? It’s messed up how people are abandoned. Same with sex and gendered violence advocacy stuff, I think that’s so important and it really upsets me how unequal that is. Sexual violence it makes us so unequal because of living in fear. It mostly affects women, so it becomes a gender equality issues because of living in fear and living life differently because of it which can affect so many things. Losing income or having to pay so much money in therapy or medical bills because of it. Or not graduating college, that stuff really upsets me when it comes to equality. This connects to mental health reform ’cause so much of this becomes a mental health issue for survivors, it tends to hold people back a lot. I’m passionate about those things, and that people have equal access to beauty. People having equal access to art and nature… those are human rights issues. People think that it’s frivolous, people think that art is a luxury and I don’t think that art should be a luxury. Of course safety and putting food on the table should be a priority, and those are huge things but what I mean to say is that we need to make sure everyone has those things and more. Like, making sure that people can do more than survive and have access to beautiful things and things that make life good.

What is something you still struggle with?

Right now I’m struggling most with direction. The idea that you have to choose A path, you have to make choices if you’re going to move anywhere. Like, anytime you make one choice, you’re sacrificing all the other choices… so it’s basically FOMO ::laughs::. But in the larger sense, not just going to parties, but if I become a physiatrist, will I have time for writing anymore. If I focus on a writing or publishing career, will I even have enough time or money to feel stable. So balancing different desires of life.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual and otherwise.

I think, of course, they are very important. I think that we don’t spend enough time thinking about them or how to make them good. I think most of us are often lazy about them and go through the phases without questioning things… I think to have good relationships, it takes a lot of work and effort. Most of the work can be fun, much of time. I think a lot of people prioritize romantic relationships to be the number one. It can be, but often it’s up to the other relationships in your life and we put too much pressure on that one person. It can be healthier to get from more than one place. I struggle with maintaining my own identity and not merging with other people’s identities or people pleasing in my relationships. That’s something that I work on. I think they’re all important and it can be healthy to view in different ways. It’s also really important for me to think of myself with a relationship with myself. It’s good to remember that I’m a person too, I should treat myself kindly as well.



Date of Interview: March 26, 2017

Name: Nate

Age: 36

Pronouns: He/Him

Location: Washington, DC


How often do you bathe or shower?

Every morning. Usually shower, I don’t bathe too often… I shower every morning.

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

Umm, I don’t know the names of them… But you know when you see nature shows when they go deep underwater with cameras… Those weird florescent things, some of the species they haven’t even identified… One of those. Yeah. The ability to explore parts of the world that haven’t really been explored before. I want that.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about art. Specifically music. That is probably the number one thing. I’m passionate about my job, which is strange to think about. Previously I wasn’t… I’m an archivist. I think it’s important that there is information available and accessible to people to make use of for posterity. For whatever purpose they see fit. I think that it’s something that I’ve been more and more interested in and it’s actually been way more of a political job than I had anticipated. Especially now, when there has been a lot of talk specifically about how the archives community is involved within the current political climate. Such as how archivists could use their positions to make sure that information is being documented and made accessible to individuals moving forward so that there is more transparency. And also collecting things to make sure that there is more than just one group or side represented. So that’s something of late that I’ve been more passionate about. But yeah, art and music, I could talk forever about. It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life. All of my free time is spent either making music or playing music in some capacity. It’s one of those things that I have to do.

When did you start playing music?

I started playing drums when I was maybe… 12 years old. I got a drum kit when I was 12 years old and joined my first band when I was 14. I have been in bands since that point. Like a lot of people I was forced to take piano lessons when I was younger and I think when I was in 5th grade, the school that I was in had band as a class and you could choose an instrument that you wanted to play. I ended up choosing drums because it was also a percussion instrument. It was totally irrational as to why I chose that, but I did… Yeah, there was no feeling that “I am meant to play drums,” you know, it was kind of a misplaced illogical decision. And the more I played it, the more I loved it. The more I started to play with other people in a non-school setting, that’s when it became really important to me.

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

I, personally, if you’re asking what my thoughts and preferences are, I’ve always been in monogamous relationships and the ones I’ve been in have always been really important to me. Right now I’m not dating anybody and not in a long term relationship and I’m very much accustomed to my independence and the lifestyle that it affords me. I’m not the kind of person who wants to be around a partner 24/7. In that regard, when I’ve dated women who are also artists, who are also doing their own projects that they are passionate about, there’s been an understanding that it’s important to give each other space. I think it’s about finding that balance. But at the same time, it’s not the end all be all– being in a relationship. I’m not somebody who feels it’s the end of the world if I’m not with someone. If it happens it happens. If not, I’m content.



Date of Interview: March 3, 2017

Name: MJ

Age: 29

Pronouns: Your Choice

Location: Baltimore, MD


How often do you bathe or shower?

Like, if it was a work day I definitely showered. If I’m sick I like to bathe.

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

A crab. I think that crabby is an endearing quality in some people ::laughs::.

What are you passionate about?

Well. This year somebody asked me earlier what my theme for the year was going to be, and I sort of decided it was going to be brutal honesty. It’s not just for myself, but it’s also for the people I engage with and the things I’m trying to do with my life. So, I guess that extends to career stuff and I fucking hate the term “career” but life, geographical places, just… Not buying into the expectations that are put on you generally by your place of life and career. What everyone is expecting of you, for what you should be doing.

How do you live that out?

Well… I’m in the middle of a lot of legal stuff right now. And it’s sort of felt very liberating for me that I feel a lot less engaged in the workplace and that’s okay, I’m making space for myself. Before all this happened, I thought that I would be on my way, moving out of Maryland right now. But I’m pretty stationary right now, for at least another year. I think becoming more open in the way I handle interpersonal relationships, I’ve also thought about with moving state, if it’s a realistic thing or long term, should I think about leaving the country because I don’t know if I could live in the United States to be an old person without being in jail again ::laughs::.

What led you to this point in life?

Umm. I think it’s a lot of timing of things. I can’t say I was necessary doing anything different. I remember, after the elections, some friends were talking about how we think this new era is going to be impacting us on a personal level. And I was serious when I said it, but I was kind of joking, “I think over the next few years we’re going to see a lot of our friends go to jail” ::laughs::. It turned out to be very real ::laughs::. Yeah. And having problems with renewing my work licence because the governing board will see my charging documents and stuff. I don’t even know how my… Like, if I’m going to be able to keep my career and thinking more about workplace agitation and what it means to be a productive member. Like. How I’m going to live going forward after this.

What do you feel accomplished with?

My first few years out of college, I worked my ass off and I saved up enough money that even though the future is frightening, I don’t feel an immediate sense of scare if I lose my job because I have this cushion of being able to figure things out. I want to be able to take care of the other people I was with so we can all be in an okay situation. I got out of a crazy relationship in 2014 and I definitely built up some coping mechanisms. And when you think of coping mechanisms, you think of unhealthy but it’s really been serving for myself. I’ve reached a point where, all of a sudden, I’m poly and it seems super natural to me. I thought I was gonna be an old spinster before ::laughs::. Now I’m realizing that the love I have for somebody, or that somebody has for you is not diminished by simultaneously loving another person. And I feel safer and I rely on dangerous things and self destructive behavior a lot less.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual and otherwise?

I have love for everybody that I’m involved with. We might not be actual relationships and stuff, but everyone that I’m involved with has a place in my heart. An endearing place. But I really love being independent and I really get off on that. I finally am wielding that. I’ve lived alone for a very long time and I am mostly alone all the time. But I definitely love intimacy. A lot. I guess I’m shy to talk about sex stuff ::laughs::. But yeah, it’s my favorite, I love it, it’s great. Everything’s great. ::laughs::.

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