THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Hope

Aim Ren Beland

 

Date of Interview: October 10th, 2017

Name: Aim Ren Beland

Age: 26

Pronouns: He/Him

Location: Chicago, IL

 

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

Any underwater creature? I’d be those little crabs that have no eyes that live next to the ventilation ducts in the ocean, the little white ones, you know, that feed off the weird phytoplankton. Maybe that one. They’ve adapted to live so uniquely to their environment, and they are so a part of their environment that if you remove them from that context, they literally cease to exist. And not just in that it kills them kind of way like a fish out of water, like a very literal– they can’t live in any other water or in any other space. It’s a very unique situation. I like that [laughter].

How often do you bathe or shower?

I shower twice a day, once in the morning to wash, once in the evening to rinse off from the day, and then in the winter, I bathe more because it’s like a warm comfort, a fetal womb kind of feeling, but otherwise I don’t bathe [laughter]. The wash-off and rinse-off is my way to decompress. I have a lot of anxiety, and I like to find little tactics to manage it that aren’t destructive to other people or myself. So I shower at the end of the day. You usually shower alone, so it’s your own space. You can’t do anything else besides just be in the water, so you have to tune into your head and your body, and then you have the good sensation of getting clean so that when you go to your bed or wherever you go to next, you’re really coming there fresh and revived.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about the arts and whose voice gets represented in the arts. I’m from up north, and there’s a lot of focus about the environment and the arts there, but the arts community there is predominantly white, middle-class, and straight. I intentionally moved away from that community to Chicago because I felt there were no voices but the stated prior being represented in the kind of art I was seeing around me. So I came here to experience more narratives and grow and see the world through lenses of other people and hope it helps me and my work mature. To find missing pieces of my voice in others. I’m mostly a visual artist, so a lot of stuff I do is drawing or print. I’m really involved right now in the comic scene, so a lot of zines, and I love zines because they’re accessible. They’re usually extremely inexpensive to produce and buy. Almost anyone of any class, creed, whatever can partake in zine making, buying, sharing, so I find that’s a good way to get art into the masses and to spread various messages of not only the current things that are taking place in the world but also the human experience.

What is one of your main thoughts or memories when it comes to human experience?

Things that stand out in my mind about the human experience… I’m still young enough that my childhood plays a large role in my perception of the human experience, so a lot of it is the different things like nature versus nurture that impact you as a person, whether from your parents or the community you grew up in, or the academia that you become a part of– so that’s a significant role. Going into the larger role as an adult and taking on other narratives, I am always more conscious of the ways that the universities and the other infrastructure around us impact other people’s narrative, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

How do you think you impact your community’s narrative? If you do.

Yeah. I think everyone does, whether they intend to or not. And right now, I am still coming into this particular community, which is Chicago– queer Chicago, as relatively an outsider. I’m still kind of a newcomer. I’m queer, but I’m definitely not from Chicago. I don’t know the infrastructures as well as other people, so right now, I’m kind of taking a step back and trying to listen to other voices, especially those that came here before me who understand the infrastructures at hand. And most of my work right now is purely introspective because I feel like I can speak on myself. But as I become more part of the community, I feel more comfortable taking in the various narratives I’ve heard, and with the guide and consent of those voices– putting that back out into the community.

What does the word community mean to you?

Community, to me, means a large group of people working together for a common cause. And as a queer person living in Chicago, those roles are mostly– just having the rights to various infrastructures [laughter]. Just having rights to infrastructures with the acknowledgment of the various privileges we all hold, I am white and I am from a predominantly upper-middle-class background, so I’m aware of those privileges. And using those privileges for good, and not just feeling guilt because guilt doesn’t make change. So using the privileges I do have to foster the voices that are otherwise not heard or not seen. You know what I mean? Just taking it in and listening, and when you mess up, apologize.

What are our thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual, and familial, and do they overlap?

Yeah, tying back into my thoughts on community, I feel like community is built through those relationships, whether it be sexual, platonic, familial, I feel like the backbone of a community is good relationships of varying scales. And my current social circle, I try and build that sort of effect. I have this large circle of friends, lovers, roommates, coworkers, collaborators, and they all sit in this very misty area where they kind of switch roles in my life, from one to the other. But the people never disappear. Do you know what I mean? Other than an event of moving or some other grand thing, the people stay in my life no matter what space they’re occupying, and I like to manifest conversations and communities that help build those bonds instead of tearing them down because they don’t fit whatever need it is at the time.

What are you looking forward to?

What I’m looking forward to– it’s a mix of apprehension. So I’m young. I’m 26. The future is so way ahead of me. The world is a really scary place right now, so that means a lot of changes happening very quickly and it’s really easy to feel powerless. But at the same time, I feel very fortunate to be in a city like Chicago because the communities that do exist know their power and they know their worth, and they know what actions they have to take to see what kind of change they want to happen, and it’s not just talk it’s actual action. So that makes me super excited, and I feel super fortunate to be a part of that community in an artistic sense, and welcomed into it, and to be able to take a part in it.

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.

Fabiola Christina Maria Rondon Delgado, AKA Fa

 

Date of Interview: April 28th, 2017

Name: Fabiola Christina Maria Rondon Delgado, AKA Fa

Age: 27

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Washington, DC

 

Why are you in bubble wrap?

[Laughter]  Yes. Bubble wrap. You use it to wrap something that’s very delicate, that can break. Something that’s important. Since I was a little girl I’ve always battled the idea of being saved and having somebody help me in any way because I thought I could do it myself (whatever ‘it’ it). I’ve been thinking the way I think since I was at least four years old, which is really strange. My dad was very abusive. He was an alcoholic; or is? I don’t even know if he’s still alive. he tried to kill me. He tried to kill my mother may times. He had guns, put them on her head. And I never felt like a child, wondering, “Oh what’s happening?” I knew what was happening and I knew that I had to take care of myself. And take care of my brother. And take care of my mom. So it wasn’t until last year – you know I’m 26…27, shit [laughter], that I started mentally proclaiming, “No, actually I am worthy of being protected. It’s not a negative thing.” And as good as feminism is, sometimes you can go too radical and be like, “NO I don’t need a man. I’m super independent and don’t need anyone.” Now I’m more like, “I’m a human being and every human being deserves nourishing and care.” And we’re all delicate, so that’s why I’m wrapping myself in bubble wrap: to very physically feel I am delicate and worthy of protection and being taken care of.

What are you passionate about?

People [laughter]. I like people. Yay, people! I really love talking too. I love engaging in meaningful conversations with strangers. Not just strangers, it could be my roommates and others I know, anybody! Since moving to America it’s been hard to create a family, cause DC especially is so coming-and-going. So I’m passionate about getting to know people: What are their stories? What superpowers they have? [laughter]. I’m passionate about culture in general, and about my own specifically. I’m originally from Venezuela. I miss the Venezuela I grew up in. I saw the change between old Venezuela (where there was a future and it was just a normal country where people lived, and ate, and drank) to the decline. Dictatorship taking over, Chavez taking over. And it was a very visible change, like one day not having electricity, not having water, and not having food. I’m proud of my country, but I miss what it used to be. And it’s scary to think of going back. They kill you for protesting and for the regime it’s legal. I’m actually requesting asylum because it’s really dangerous there, especially for me because of my work in human rights. It put me on the spot, made me a target of the government. I was basically an enemy of the state for wanting basic rights for our people. Have been attacked, harassed, held hostage, almost killed several times, and if you’re an activist, you’ll likely get killed. So I came here seeking political asylum. I’d be terrified if I get sent back.

Do you think that feminism here is different from in Venezuela?

Yeah, it’s a different branch [laughter] mostly because of race issues. Let’s say wage gap: in Venezuela wages are dictated by law, so there is no “Oh, you get paid less than a man for the same job.” No. “This is the law, and you must pay this amount” simple. And everything is upfront. Nobody’s sneaky about how much they make. Over here it’s such a taboo, and I still have issues with it, like how am I going to get ahead if you don’t tell me how much you make, so I know if what I’m making is good or sufficient? And yeah, the racial issues! I can’t say there’s isn’t racism in Venezuela, it exists everywhere. But we’re so mixed so it’s not as blatant, not “black and white” (laughter) Being called black is actually a term of endearment; my grandma calls me “negrita” (little black girl) and that’s cute, not a bad word. What’s bad is if you’re against the government. What we have right now is political apartheid. You’re with the government: you can have food. If you live in a certain neighborhood, you’re probably against the government because it’s an area with protests and marches, so they’ll cut your electricity, water and shut down the metro. That kind of stuff happens there. Anyway, feminism! We suffer more about sexual harassment and the macho culture. Latinos are flamboyantly sexist and they take pride in that, it’s not a bad thing at all. Even some women want to be sexually harassed because it’s like a status symbol. It means you’re beautiful, you’re hot. I’ve seen it and felt it myself.

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

I love them! I love relationships. I think they’re important. They’re necessary as well. The plutonic, the friendships, the romantic ones, the family ones, everything, as long as they’re healthy. That’s what I think we all desire: to have a good relationships with other humans because we need them and I think that’s also the bubble wrap. I don’t want to be “kept” as in the whining need of ANYONE, I battle internally the idea of needing a man to take care of me, but hey! We all want and need to be taken care of. By ourselves and by lovers, and by a community. I’m sweet and kind and awesome, why wouldn’t I be loved? We all should be loved.

What is something that you’re hopeful for?

Well, I’m hopeful for Lyla Rose. I’ve taken care of this four-year-old magic girl since she was one. Now she’s in school and I babysit sometimes, but it’s kids like her that give me hope: in the future of politics, and feminism, and racial reconciliation. I feel as though all these issues are gonna be in good hands. This kid is amazing. She’s white and has blue eyes and when she asked for a baby doll, she got a black doll. That’s what she liked and it didn’t make her feel anything other than just happy with her doll. It was pure. I love how kids don’t see threats and biases and sexualized versions of anything. When they grow up is when it gets shitty, cause history and culture and ignorance pour poor ideas into our brains. But kids give me hope. I asked Lyla what she was going to be when she’s a grown-up and she said President of the United States. I say “okay, cool and who’s gonna be your vice-president?” (Hoping it’d be me) And she said so decidedly “My wife.” And my only concern was a possible conflict of interest. Then she goes “Yeah, my wife will be my vice-president. Or my husband. I mean you can marry whoever you want, as long as you love them that’s fine!”

 

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