exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Death

Brittany IRL


Date of Interview: Oct 8, 2016

Name: Brittany IRL

Age: 28

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Toledo, OH


How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to take a bathe at least 3 times a week. I shower sometimes every day, depending on if I go to yoga or no But yeah I try to take a bath 3 times a week, its really important for my mental health to be in water. In the past I lived in crummy college apartments that didn’t have bathtubs. I definitely felt like I was missing something from my life.

Do you feel like there is a ritual with mental health and bathing for you?

Yes. Even though I do keep my phone near, I find that it’s a good space for me to sort through whatever it is that’s bothering me. I also really like, you know, aromatherapy, essential oils, Epsom salts, that sort of stuff. I find that it’s clearing for me.

What are you passionate about?

Hmm… that should be an easier question than I’m making it. I’m passionate about embracing and reclaiming femininity as a source of strength. I think that when I was younger I did a lot of things to sort of cover up or ignore my femininity. I used to be very insecure and uncertain about my, you know, my secondary sex characteristics. And simple things like umm, I didn’t think it was cool to like flowers, to have long hair, or to like little things that because they were quote-unquote “girly.” I thought I had to sort of squash that part of myself to be cool and for whatever reason being cool equaled being accepted by the boys in the music scene or whatever. So I’ve become passionate about like reclaiming those parts of myself that I have previously ignored or shut away because of a fear of not being taken seriously. Femininity or being girly was seen as childish, which I think is unfair.

What do you mean by secondary sex?

Oh secondary sex characteristics? You know like when I hit puberty and got boobs. I used to be this really rail thin little stick-figure kid, so when I got hips and boobs I felt awkward like all teens to. But I tried really hard to conceal everything. I wore only boys’ clothes. I used to like essentially strap my chest down. I would wear like sports bras and really tight t-shirts and conceal everything and wrap everything up, partially because I was uncomfortable with it, and then partially because of reactions to it. I had a large chest when I was like 14. And people in my school spread rumors that I had like a boob job and stuff. It was really bizarre because I was this poor kid that lived in a trailer, but somehow I came up with eight grand or whatever to get a tit job. So I just tried to conceal that sort of stuff, because I wanted to be the like waif-thin 90’s heroin-chic model thing, like that was what seemed admirable to me and being curvy wasn’t really part of that ideal.

Do you think your passion for feminism and reclaiming spaces goes into your art?

Yes, because along with previously being uncomfortable claiming femininity in general, I used to also be uncomfortable embracing feminism and associating myself with feminist theory. When I was in college- I studied literary theory in grad school- I was really self-conscious about not being pigeon-holed as a feminist literary critic. Because that ends up being kind of like this ghettoized, like kind of you’re put in a corner with those theorists and you expected to only go to certain conferences, and like it’s not integrated fully into mainstream academia. So when I was creating stuff too, at that time, I was really careful and purposefully did not proclaim anything as “feminist.” I was really trying to be as androgynous as possible in my approach to everything. And that involved like, suppressing like emotional responses, and things that are like typically, traditionally, stereotypically feminine… So with trying to take all of that back and trying to be comfortable being femme, I really brazenly try to involve my feminist politics into the zines that I produce, my social media personalities, any art that I’m doing, and I mean daily life in general. I think of myself when I was 20 and I was so disinterested in feminism and I thought it would make me less interesting to other people, and now I’m like, what would 20 year old me think of what I’m doing now? And I don’t know, but 20 year old me was also very insecure and small. And I think that embracing femininity and learning what femininity is has made me more comfortable and I can exist and have a presence without feeling like I have to apologize for it.

What do you feel accomplished with in your life?

So I did this exercise, two days ago actually, where I was dealing with this like inferiority complex stuff. And I was thinking, “OK, if I wasn’t me, what are the things I’ve done that I would think are cool?” Because since it’s me I don’t think they’re cool, so like I started this as like a twitter thread and then some other people like jumped at it, they were like, “Oh this is a great idea”, it’s self-affirmative and you know it’s like a good perspective test. Because I’m afraid of bragging, afraid of seeming full of myself or whatever, and that all serves to make me feel bad about myself unnecessarily. So some of the accomplishments that I wrote were like, “I have a masters degree,” which I used to be really proud of, but now I realize that school isn’t really that… I mean I don’t want to lean on that. I self-publish zines, I travel for zine fest. And that is probably the most important thing that I’ve done in the past couple years. Because I think it getting over the hurdle of being afraid of someone else consuming your work without you there, putting out a finished product, that was like a big mental block I had for a while, so that’s like my most badass accomplishment. That was a really long-winded way of getting to that, but yeah.

What are you afraid of for yourself?

Oh shit. For myself at my core, I am afraid of being alone. I mean even in physical spaces I don’t really like being by myself for long, and that is something that I’ve worked on. I do everything I do because I want to connect with other people. So my writing and my art, my goal is to hopefully connect with someone who’s felt the same way, and that makes me feel less alone. Even if it’s someone in Chicago who picked up a zine of mine at Quimby’s and wrote me a nice email like, “Wow you hit me with that line.” That makes me feel less alone, even though I’ve never met the person. But also I’m afraid of being alone in like, a long term relationship sense. The fear of dying alone, that kind of shit…

What is something beautiful you’ve seen this week?

So… Tuesday night, it was uh, I think we had a dense fog warning for the next day. And across the street is this community garden, and across the street from that is the river. I mean, it’s the port authority, but it’s the river. And I took my dog out at like three in the morning so there’s only moonlight and the fog was like creeping in from the river. And it was cool like the light play with the fog and the open space, it felt like kind of like… kind of like Silent Hill, but you know it was really quiet and there was a stillness, and it was beautiful

Jen Sanders

Jen Sanders


Date of Interview: September 21, 2016

Name: Jen Sanders

Age: 30

Pronouns: It

Location: Philadelphia, PA


What underwater creature would you be?

I am underwater and I am a creature. So I always try to put myself in water, so I feel like there’s definitely a history of something there. Like I’m getting back to a primordial creature. Yeah, I’ve lived near rivers a lot and the ocean a lot but I guess if I wanted to be another creature, I would probably be some weird looking coral spongy thing that would just chill and suck ::laughs::.

What are you passionate about?

Water. Plants. Love and connection too. I guess nature. So people and plants and the earth. It’s kinda, it’s depressing and sad when people try to, people that are in a position to own destructive materials, try to get more of those destructive materials and constantly fuck the earth without giving back to it. Just all of the taking instead of the give and take. So I’m very passionate about being completely pissed off about that ::laughs::.

How do these passions play into your daily life?

I mean, it plays a lot into everything, I have two kids so I’m constantly thinking about feeding them and feeding myself, and where that food is going to come from. Mostly, and we always hope that it comes in a very stripped down kind of way. You know, basic fruits and vegetables and grains. So, that’s the first thing that I think of but I also have a very deep relationship with plants where I feel like I do love them and they love us. Like there’s a lot of energy exchange. And I like to give that exchange and take that exchange, it’s like a gentle fucking. And I think that I’m always wanting to look at a plant, I always want to be near one and be touching one. But I guess that’s the same with people too. I have a lot of time by myself that I give myself because of my job and my life and the way that I put myself out to people, it’s good to have time and give time to yourself. So you can kind of restore that energy that you’re going to exchange, with whatever.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

Figuring out that I like to take baths. Figuring out that I genuinely do have a really positive way of connecting with people, and I really care about people and nature, and I’m really invested in life and the environment and the world. And you know, I’m also a huge hypocrite and sometimes I get my recycling fucked up and you know, I could go on about that guilt but I think accomplishing happiness is really important as you get older. And I’ve been able to find that through music and through art and meeting people that feel the same way. So accomplishing happiness in a really fucked up world is pretty impressive ::laughs::.

What are you most afraid of for the world?

I’m a little bit scared of death because I have two kids and I would be sad… I’m not ready to die and it sucks when things are dying and I see that in the world right now. I see water supplies poisoned and people still getting killed innocently and children in Syria that are parentless… it’s a worldwide stretch for something that is just not available and to me, it seems like the answer could be solved if we really look at greed as a factor in the unhappiness for most of the people in the world. But I think that people are starting to look at it, so maybe things are looking up. But I guess we’ll see.

What are you afraid of for yourself?

For myself… I guess, maybe starving or getting the wrong treatment that I don’t deserve with death. Like, I don’t want to be shot or raped or killed to early. I feel like there’s a lot of living left to do so I worry about having a shortened unfair death.

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

Oooooo relationships. I’ve been in relationships, relationships are really tough, I’m in one right now. They’re great and I like having a lot of fun with people and sometimes I extend fun into showing sexual… like showing and maybe sharing to much. When it gets physical and intimate it’s hard treating the primary partner, it’s hard being exclusive when you want to extend the fun into other ways where you’re physically expressing love instead of vocally. So that’s where I’ve found difficulty with relationships, but I do enjoy having friends I’m not attracted to and don’t think about sleeping with. I think that closing it off and saying that it’s one thing kind of makes things awkward. Yeah, relationships are difficult for me ::laughs:: I want to flow. I want water… clean water ::laughs::.

What is something beautiful that you’ve seen today?

Your hair.

Julie Outrage

Julie Outrage


Date of Interview: August 20, 2016

Name: Julie Outrage

Age: 28

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Washington, DC


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

I would be a shark. ‘Cuz they’re like, the king of the ocean and I want to be the king, ya know?

Do you feeling like having power and being in control of your life is important to you?

I don’t think that there’s any possibility of having control of your life. So I don’t really mind not having control over things. I’m not a very controlling person in general, but I do like having power. Yeah. Power is strength more than it is control, power is influence. I remember this quote, I was listening to this Kanye West song where the line goes, “no one man should have that much power.” And I was recently reading one of the Malcolm X speeches and I didn’t think Kanye took it from there, but maybe he did because the quote is in there. When the black Islamic group began with Malcolm X, there was a man who was arrested by the police and Malcolm X showed up at the prison with a TON of people and the police were freaked. They were terrified because the black people were mobilized. They were completely fucking horrified. The police were like, “What’s happening? Why are all of these black people here?” and they discussed what was happening with Malcolm X. Malcolm X decided that bringing the group wasn’t the proper way to handle the situation so he told all the people to leave the police station where they were protesting to have the man who was in jail out. Maybe more than 100 people, they all left. And what the white cop said was “WOW, no one man should have all that power”. They were terrified of him, you know? For being able to mobilize them, then to calm them down and make them leave. And I’m just thinking… power. That’s what power is. That’s not necessarily control, not controlling people in that sense, but true power is influence.

What are you passionate about?

A lot of things. I’m passionate about music, bougie intellectualism. I only call it bougie because you know, intellectualism is pretty bougie. I’m pretty theoretical and analytical and I’m really interested in theories of things and all that type of stuff. Also debating and discussing, hearing different people’s views and understanding where people come from. I’m also really interested in psychology and stuff like that. Neuroscience and stuff.

Do you think your upbringing influenced these passions?

Yeah, I think definitely. I was born in West Africa but umm, I moved to America when I was three years old. And my parents definitely encouraged me to do well in school and all that stuff, but I think that when you come from another country, your parents don’t come here to fuck around and you don’t come here to fuck around either. You’re already here chillin’, doing your thing. But I just got here, my whole family just got here, I’m first generation. We’re here to make money or educate ourselves. We’re here for a purpose. So we don’t fuck around, we have a purpose. Either you do something or you don’t.

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

I think relationships are great. They’re obviously extremely complicated and multifaceted. The structure of relationships are different, obviously between homonormative people and heteronormative people. There’s a big whole new free love movement that’s happening, that kind of happened in the 70s. Queers are taking over the free love movement which right now I think is manifesting itself as polyamory and open relationships and things like that. I think that’s cool. People can do what they want to do.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

Uhhh… I’m afraid of people I love dying. More so than dying myself.

What do you think of death?

Death doesn’t scare me all that much. Pain scares me more than death. When you’re dead, you don’t know you’re dead. I don’t want to die, you know. I got things I want to accomplish before I die. I think death is more horrifying and sad when you’re still alive and other people die. What scares me about death is more about the pain you have to go through to reach death.

If you could tell your fifteen-year-old self anything, what would it be?

Stop smoking so much weed. Yeah, probably. I started smoking weed when I was young. It was a weird time. I ended up still doing ok in school. It was a secret really, but really that was the culture I was in, growing up where I was.

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