exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Family

Lorin Elise


Date of Interview: July 29, 2017

Name: Lorin Elise

Age: 23

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower? Do you have any rituals?

Just about every day. And then sometimes I skip a day [laughter]. Yeah. I’ve tried to get into rituals, like just having habits, and suck at them, so I just don’t try anymore [laughter].

If you were an underwater creature, mythical or real, what would you be?

I’ve never thought about this. I don’t know a lot of underwater creatures. Dolphins, I guess. They’re the most recognizable for me. Yeah.

What are you passionate about?

People, art, and music. Probably in that order. No. People, music, then art. Yeah. I sing. I just joined a worship ministry, actually. So singing, I did it growing up, but never as an adult. So it’s my first time doing that. And then, I played trumpet for eight years from middle school through my first year in college. And then I stopped in 2014ish whenever I left my first school. I’ve tried to learn guitar over the years, here and there, I dabble. And then I had a piano growing up, because my dad played. So I can pick up a tune or two on there. And a friend gave me an electric bass. So I played at one service, and probably won’t again until I start practicing [laughter]. But yeah. I love music.

Are music, art, and religion all tied in together for you?

Not necessarily. I feel like singing is definitely a gift that God gave me, so I can use that to worship. But I mean, everything I do in life is worship, or should be. So, yeah. And I don’t know if I would call it religion necessarily, but yeah.

Were you raised in that way of being of service?

Absolutely. My parents are two of the hardest working people that I have ever come across. I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there that work as hard as them, but yeah. My dad, he just, no matter what, was– he was always there for people. And a lot of times, even my mom, she wouldn’t get frustrated, but she would just kind of be like, “You’re doing so much. We need you here, sometimes.” But then, if there was a way we– me, my brother and sister, my mom, could get involved with whoever he was helping, or however he was helping other people, we would often find a way there and make it a family thing. What does religion mean to you? Religion means bondage. [laughter] yeah. I mean, I actually looked up the word religion a couple years ago, and it’s defined as, to bind or to restrict. And I grew up in the Pentecostal Apostolic faith. Not even fully sure what that means, but it’s a charismatic denomination or whatever. And growing up in that, and then becoming an adult, and having to live on my own with something, having a foundation of something to pull from, I’ve realized religion is so not what relationship with God is, and that’s what I strive toward and try to practice and live out. So, yeah. Religion is binding, religion is death, religion is confusion. It’s not what Jesus came to die for [laughter]. And there are several religions on the earth, but what I have is not a religion, I would say. Yeah.

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

They are great, and they are challenging, and [laughter]– I mean, it’s one of those things, it’s like the best of everything and the worst of everything at the same time. Yeah. I love my family. I have a great relationship with all my family members and anyone that I’ve known since birth, which is most of my church back home. And friendships, I’ve had a harder time with I feel like, in life. Platonic more than intimate, or whatever. I’ve never had sex, so just throwing that out there [laughter]. So don’t have that relational experience to speak on. But I feel like platonic friendships are hard, just because people– everyone has needs, and not everyone knows how to express them, or fit the needs of others, so [laughter] it’s– unless you communicate about it, it’s kind of hard– and most people don’t communicate about it. So it’s just like, “Okay, this is dumb. We’re both being stupid right now [laughter].” So yeah. Friends, I have a hard time with. But I do love people. I try to make friends wherever I am, and however I can. It just mostly doesn’t end up in the kind of hard core, legit relationships we’re all looking for [laughter]. Most of the time.  

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Oh, my career. Because I knew since eighth grade, since I was about 13, that I wanted to be an interior designer, and now I’m an interior designer [laughter]. It’s just like, “Wow.” Neither of my parents went to college– well, my mom did a semester or something, but they never completed higher education. And my other family members who did, it was always the– what I would call typical fields, like social work, nursing, stuff like that. Nothing that was outside of a stereotype or whatever. So it’s kind of like, “Wow, I’ve arrived,” a little bit. And even when I graduated and I started working, I’m like, “Crap, what am I supposed to do with life now?” I only had a plan up to this point [laughter], so it’s been a process of figuring out what’s next. But yeah, I think that’s my biggest accomplishment [laughter].

What is something you still struggle with?

Where do I start? No, just kidding [laughter]. [inaudible]. Well, I was actually just talking to a friend about this last night. One intimate relationship that I had – healing from that I guess, is something I still struggle with. I guess I had a really deep soul-tie or something to this guy, and so I think about him more often than I want to, and we have mutual friends, so through social media, the devil keeps popping his face up in my face [laughter]. And every time I see him, it’s a problem for me internally. So, yeah, just dealing with– I guess lust, in a way. Because I want a person just to be intimate with, or just to have that relationship, like you said, a real, true relationship with. And it’s so hard to find. So it’s like, “But when you have that person, do you know?” So I guess that’s pointing me to God, again, though, because it’s like, “Yeah, you don’t have this relationship but here is the provider of everything you need [laughter], so just go to Him. Go to the source for what you need and stop trying to find it among other things (or people).” And then, I just recently kind of noticed this but I could say I struggle with self-image. I have some thoughts about myself that are not good all the time, and that affects how I interact with others and stuff like that. So yeah.

What is something you’re hopeful for?

The future, for sure because it’s– I don’t know. I know my future’s in heaven, first off, so that’s exciting. I’m looking forward to that, can’t wait for that. I’m hopeful for that. And I think the success of my siblings and just all my close family and friends who have stuck to their values, and really tried to be good citizens of the world.

Molly Brennan


Date of Interview: June 13th, 2017

Name: Molly Brennan

Age: 46

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers or any mistakes made without malice

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower?

These days I don’t take a lot of baths. I’m also not a huge showerer. I take a shower, maybe every three days.

If you were an underwater creature what would you be?

Elasmosaurus. It’s a water dinosaur. The Loch Ness Monster. Just classic long neck. I like dinosaurs a lot. I love the notion of a real creature still being alive. So the idea of the Loch Ness Monster is really cool to me [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about not harming. I don’t want to harm. That’s a core value. It’s a struggle. I am aggressive with a real fighty instinct. I fail a lot. So that’s one thing. In terms of how-I-spend-my-time passionate, I’m an actor and a theater maker and a performer and a clown.  

What got you into theater?

I grew up in a really story based legend and myth based family. My mother is an actress, and my father is a great consumer of literature and performing arts, so it was always part of my life. And I decided to do it as a living because I couldn’t think of another thing that I’d rather do. My favorite way to be with people is live performance.  

Do you think that there is community within theater?

There is community within theater yes, I think so. And it’s huge in Chicago. I mean, the Chicago community is huge. Within that are subsets of tribes that I have definitely found among the artists, the production people, the audience, –so, yeah. A larger culture and then subcultures, and I’m very happy with a lot of the values of some of the subcultures of theater and performing arts in Chicago.  

What does community mean to you?

Community is why we’re here. This thing about not harming being really important to me – taking care of each other – it’s very painful to be here for most people. It’s very painful to just live. Things are hard. Things are always hard. Things feel really hard right now. But you die eventually and you suffer a lot before that. Community is a way to keep ourselves healthy. Keep ourselves engaged. Take care of each other and find health and joy.

What is something that you feel accomplished with?

I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job sticking to my values as I’ve navigated an industry which often asks you to compromise. I’ve been able to do this work at a professional level while criticizing some of the problems of the system and fighting some of the problems of what happens everywhere and in the spaces of the little communities that I roll around in.

What is something you still struggle with?

I struggled with depression. I’m clinically depressed and suicidal. And it’s a daily exercise to keep myself in a functioning, generous, and productive place. My self-care involves exercise, eating well – I’m a healthy eater – and getting out and doing things for my friends or with my friends, doing things for other people, and committing. I’ve found over the years, and years, and years, the role of therapy, and medication, and treatments, and things, the thing that actually keeps me alive, literally keeps me alive is committing to something that people are depending on me for. If I commit to something, I will show up for it. If I have nothing to do, then I really fall off. So I get involved in a lot of stuff, commit to it, and often, have the needs of other people in there somewhere.

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

I feel like we, as a society and– I lived in the United States my whole life, so I don’t know how it is everywhere– But here, I feel like we don’t actually know those things. I feel like I’m only learning about relationships now. And I’m almost 50 years old. But there are  marketed relationships in everything: through the entertainment that we consume, the products that they’re selling to us. There’s this kind of agenda of what relationships are. And I feel like I’m only recently discovering what a good relationship is, a healthy relationship, a valuable relationship. I mean, I would describe my relationship with my lovers as being largely problematic throughout my whole life mostly because of trying to make whatever was happening fit the narrative. And I think what I’ve discovered is that narrative is false. And so discovering with a romantic partner the reality is kind of where I’m at now, I think, with the person I’m with. We’ve been together for three years, and I feel like we’re figuring out what relationship is.

And then, outside of those kinds of relationships, I have great relationship with my parents and my sister. We’re very close. And then, I have some really good friends. And those, my family and my friendships, have all been well-cared for through the problems, through the conflict, through difficulty and with a commitment to keep certain people in my life that are important to me. And I’ve let a lot of people go, people I am and I’m not related, so yeah, yeah, making, kind of lifting the veil and realizing there is no way to match what you see and observe. This is not real: the kind of mass marketing relationship with anyone, your mother, with your kid, with your lover, with your lovers. And in terms of the discovery that it seems like a lot of folks are making now, especially younger people seems to be faster and more immediate, maybe. Then, people of my generation– I mean, in terms of the amount of people who are healthfully non-monogamous, for instance, seems like  in that area we’re evolving, and I really have a lot of admiration for that and have a belief in evolution and change.




Date of Interview: December 4, 2016

Name: Maya

Age: 22

Pronouns: She/Her or They/Them

Location: Washington, DC


How often do you bathe or shower?

I almost never bathe, I’m not a big bath person. Showering really depends, like almost everything else in my life, on how I feel that day. So it’s like, everyday, twice in one day, way too many days in between ::laughs::. It really depends.

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

That’s a really hard question. I love the ocean, but I’m not a huge fan of the things in the ocean ::laughs::. It’s ’cause they really freak me out, I had too many nightmares as a kid about things in the ocean. But I do remember, when I was at the beach when I was young, there were these jellyfish blobs and they’re called moon jellies and I loved that name! They’re clear and they’re squishy and soft so I feel like I would be a moon jellyfish.

What are you passionate about?

Oh my god, too many things. But all of them have one thing in common which is growing. I’m passionate about helping people grow and about relationships and the ways that things interact with one another and the way that things shift over time and how we make space for those kinds of changes. So I guess that roughly translates to… I teach. I make art. I make space for relationships. What am I passionate about… Yeah, growing.

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

They’re the most important thing to me. All kinds of relationships have equal value to me. Relationships are all about love and love is all about cultivation, so relationships are about growing with one another, tending to one another’s gardens and making space to be beautiful. I think back to this article my friend sent me a long time ago from Dean Spade, something that always stuck out to me is they said to treat your friends as your lovers and to treat your lovers as your friends. I think that sort of symbiotic relationship where everyone is getting the care and attention and investment that they deserve, that’s what relationships are all about to me.

Does that backdrop come from familial ties?

In some ways. I think family is so huge for me, I’ve got this big, huge family and it’s not just my mother and my sister, it’s my housemates, my soul mates, my teammates who are all there for me. All of those who have seen me grow and have grown with me. I’ve been really lucky to meet people who are committed to being there. And to sharing in whatever way they can share. There’s this word, compañerismo, and to be a compañerx to me means to be committed to love and to justice and to dignity. Compañerismo is this tie that holds you, as in a hug, but also holds you accountable to what you believe in and holds your community accountable to that and I think that is where my ideas of community comes from.

What does community mean to you?

Oh man, I just did a whole huge art project around that. I asked so many people what community meant to them and I still don’t know. For myself, what community means… community means… community means… all I have is this feeling. I don’t have the words big enough to explain this deep rootedness of what community means. It’s so within me that words will never bring them out. Yeah ::laughs::.

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