THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Friendship

Olivia Lilley

 

Date of Interview: September 6th, 2017

Name: Olivia Lilley

Age: 28

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Chicago, IL

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

Every day. I have a pool in my building, an indoor pool so I tend to get back from rehearsal and I will go and dream down there and play some dumb pop music and then shower. And that’s pretty much my showering for the day. I go down to the pool. I swim and then I immediately go upstairs and shower. It’s the routine since I moved into that place. Before I lived in a garden unit in Logan Square and we had a bathtub. It was kind of gross and one day the ceiling caved in so that was a hard week for showering. We thought we heard an avalanche and it was just like yeah. It was the ceiling into the bathtub. The scary thing was I was about to take a shower and I got distracted [laughter]. This could be a much sadder story.

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

I would probably be a starfish. I like the way they move. It’s pretty beautiful. They don’t really move a lot but they seem pretty content where they are and they look good where they’re sitting [laughter] in the coral reef or whatever.

Do you appreciate when people only move with meaning?

Yeah. I do. I live in Chicago, not New York. Like, in New York everyone’s just moving because they think–They’re moving, moving all the time, because they think that means they’re getting something done. But I think that’s kind of a myth and often if I’m moving way too much I’m just a total mess and I don’t know where I am. I like when I have a little room for being pensive in my life in order for my work to happen. Standing still in order to move.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about giving voice to other people but in a way that doesn’t shut out my own. I’m a theater director and maker and so often times as director, these weird negotiation happen and I often devise so I’m either writing literal characters with the actors. Asking them well, what do you think? What do you think they do here? Or and through their imaginings, it’s really great to be able to write something because it feels like a symbiotic relationship. But I have to be careful not to fully take away their voice and misunderstand their voice and when they say I’m wrong and I’m going in the wrong direction, I have to listen. I have to be humble like that otherwise they won’t be true. It’s a constant balance. It’s a constant trying to carefully understand the people I’m working with. I try to really hear them. I don’t want to misunderstand and then not have an opportunity to know I’m wrong.

How did you fall into that line of thinking?

Well, I think before I was the director. I was a composer. I wrote musicals in high school. And I went to music school for music composition. And I went to this kind of awesome boarding school arts academy environment. And I had my music composition teacher– I was coming from small town Illinois. And it was a miracle if there was one person in my class that was in the arts anyway. And now suddenly, I was surrounded by all these amazing people from all these amazing backgrounds. But the worst of it was my composition professor because I’d walk into his office. I always remember he had this picture, this picture of him and one of his former students, his former student that won a young arts or presidential scholar of the arts and for writing the most atonal bullshitty music and who had gone to Julliard. And it was some white man. It was his crowning joy and we were all supposed to live up to that. So I’d walk in. Because when I was a senior, I was working on this vast opera about the Bolshevik revolution. So I was constantly working out material. I wasn’t often going, “Here’s a string quartet. Here look at this.” I was working out themes and variations and harmonies. And so I would give him my notes and he would just refuse to look at them and not teach me anything and basically just be acting like what I was presenting him with was the worst thing in the world. And I think that comes from that very macho mentality of break them down so that you can build them back up. And really, that just made me not want to write music ever again. So when I went to drama school, something that I realized is that the arts don’t have to always be horrible and vindictive all the time. And there was one time– but I mean, that still existed, that breakdown mentality, that kind of stereotype with the Russian male director who’s just like, “You’re shit!” So there was one time in director’s colloquium where a girl was talking about a quote that Stanislavsky, he’s an acting forefather of the modern– Yeah, you get it. But he used to yell at his actors from the back of the theater, “I don’t believe you.” So I got this tattoo. I’ll show you. And it says [foreign] in Russian. And it means, “I believe you.” So to me, that means “encourage people and the way to get people to get better is not to tell them that they’re shit. It’s to let them know that there is something great within them and to break that open and try to get rid of all that bullshit that standing in their way. That’s my story [laughter]. While I’m simultaneously trying to help, I’m also trying to not let my voice disappear and trying to get all the stuff that’s in my way out of the way too.

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

I really like them. I am in a long-term relationship with a partner who I first met in 2011. And when I first met them, I knew they were the one and they didn’t. And it ended pretty badly. We were friends and I was like, “I think I really like you,” and he was  it’s like, “I’m confused. I’m still angry about some girl over there.” And then in the year 2015, we found each other across the country in a long-distance form. And then I moved out to Connecticut with him for like three months. And then I got him to move to Chicago. And that’s who I live with in a building with a pool. And so I always felt like Jake, my partner, we were supposed to be together. And there were definitely times in my life, after I met him, that I was like, “Okay, no. I’m just being crazy.” And I was wondering if the person I thought he was, was the person he really was. And so I kind of found out– all right. I’ll tell you a story [laughter]. In 2013, two weeks into us dating, he invited me to this mansion in the woods of upstate New York. So all of his friends from college have this thing called a shore party that they do every so often. They rent a giant mansion. They do a bunch of drugs. And they wear a lot of costumes and do lectures, and stuff. So Jake was like, “I’m going to buy us acid [laughter].” So he bought us acid. And we were sitting in a basement and we’re about to do it. And I was like, “Jake, we need to do this together.” Because he was like– because when we got to the party he started being a douche bag. He started being like, “Look, we don’t have to be together this whole trip. I can go this way–” And it’s like, “Asshole. You invited me to a party where I know no one. And you know everyone. That’s absolutely not fair at all [laughter].” So I got him to be like, “Okay. We’re going to do this acid trip together.” So we took the acid and it kicked in. And we went on this crazy journey where we worked through all of our subconscious bullshit. And he realized he was in love with me. And I also realized he was the person I thought he was. And then we kind of never looked back. Back to the monogamist and relationships. I feel like that’s been my experience. But I don’t think that’s like everyone is going to find that experience. I also feel like polyamory is completely possible and great. And if I ever found myself in that position then I would say yes to it. Yeah. I just think it’s all personal. But I think humans are not meant to do one or the other thing. It’s a completely unique journey. And I love working with people who, in creating theatre or whatever, or any sort of art, people who have a completely different experience. And then the challenge of how to work with them to render that experience on stage. And especially experiences that aren’t often depicted. And how to try to not make assumptions. And when I do make assumptions listen when they are correcting me [laughter].

What are your thoughts on familial and platonic relationships?

I would say I have a lot of friends. But sometimes I’m closer to some at certain points. And then some go away and then others come back. And then some people, it’s like you’re friends with them and it’s great. And then you realize there’s something fundamental that’s not going to be reconciled here so then you stop being friends. And I value those people as much as I value the people I talk to every day. Because even though maybe we crossed and didn’t– I don’t think that person is bad for not being able to be a good friend to me or me not being able to– it’s just that we don’t click. That’s something I guess I’ve learned since school: That most people are not really manipulative or bad. Everyone’s just got goals and sometimes they don’t align. And sometimes people go about things in totally different ways than you and that’s okay [laughter]

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.

Annabel Wheeler

 

Date of Interview: July 3, 2017

Name: Annabel Wheeler

Age: 26

Pronouns: She/Her and They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to shower every day, and I wash my hair as needed [laughter]. And baths? When I’m sick or feel like I need to relax.

If you were an underwater creature, what would you be?

A living organism [laughter]. Oh, gosh. Maybe a starfish. I could regrow all my little ends [laughter]. Haven’t thought about that. That’s a good question.

What are you passionate about?

I believe I’m passionate about a few things, like that Sylvia Plath kind of thing where it goes, “If you have too many figs, they’ll die.” And I’ve realized this year – mainly over the past six months –I’ve needed to weed out some of those. And I’ve narrowed things down to two, which are basically education and self-care, which go a long way. It’s not just me here [laughter], but the world at large, whether that be in hospitality in coffee, or working with children and people with disabilities, both are art and language in the community at large. I think there’s a lot going out there needs to be done, and there’s not only one way to do it. Guess I’m trying to figure how I can give [laughter]. My parents are both architects. And so when I was growing up, people would always be like, “Oh, Annabel. You can draw. So you’re going to be an architect, right?” And I, of course, being the little bitch I am [laughter], would reply, “No, I’m not.” And so I grew up saying, “No, I’m not. No, I’m not.” And now I’m thinking, “Maybe I should have gone with those [laughter], ‘You’re going to be architect.'” But I do appreciate growing up in that way because I learned a lot about the city, started drawing right away. And it’s one of the only things that – one of the few things that – gives me some kind of point of relaxation as well as a point of reflection. I do a lot of illustration internally, not necessarily caring about what the drawing “looks” like. More for myself in time. And if I don’t draw one day, it tells me that I was either really busy, sick, or really happy and just forgot.

Does art go into mental health for you?

Totally. Also. I think about art and educational system within STEAM.  With art programs being cut left and right, STEAM allows students and educators to implement art in history classes, or mathematics, etc  AND not everyone is learning the same way!!

What is something that you still struggle with?

Struggle is a hard word for me, but in 2008 I went to my first AA meeting. It was not until about four rehabs, institutions, and, detoxes later that I got some quality sober time. It was me who had to want it though. Now sober since February 17th of 2015. Still – almost two and a half years later – on a daily, hourly, second basis I have to make sure I have reasons to be places where drinking or drugging is going to be happening and that I have a plan B. Not the other Plan B. I don’t think I need that one. Yeah, it’s something that I’m proud of, as well as it’s a good reminder to myself and my growth.

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

What do I think of them? You know, I’ve only been in monogamous relationships and I have never been in a poly relationship. I’ve dated cis men in the past. My first year of college, almost ten years ago, came out as queer.  Also – dating? It’s hard. It’s really hard, you know? I’ve tried dating multiple people at once. That’s exhausting. Don’t do it. Tried it. If it works for you, great. Seriously. I feel like once I have a better grasp of who I am and what I can bring to a relationship, I can be a better partner – I want to be my full self. Platonic relationships? Love my friends. Family is kind of included I guess, in a way. I think that within social media and stuff like that, we see people moving across the country or internationally it’s hard to stay in contact. But. I think that even a letter, message, anything can just bring back something so great. Just say you had seen a leaf on the ground with a friend 15 years ago, and you found a picture from that moment and you just…send it off to them. You haven’t talked to that person in 15 years. And even if they don’t respond, it’s not about that.  They’ll receive it – perhaps – and that feels good. Just into space. I don’t think platonic relationships are just with people. I think relationships are being one within this crazy fucking universe and learning how to exist with the people walking down the street or buying a cup of coffee.

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