THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Monogamy

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]

Liz and Abrina

 

Date of Interview: June 12, 2017

Names: Liz and Abrina

Ages: 20 and 21

Pronouns: They/Them and They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL

 

How often do you both bathe or shower?

Abrina: I shower usually every three to four days, just because I grew up with acne issues and stuff. Skin care is a really, really big part of my life and I also use it as a self-care thing. Obviously, I don’t always enjoy showering. It feels more like a job than I want it to. But I feel like it’s important to shower more often, for myself at least.
Liz: I’m usually like two, and maybe if I’m feeling extra cleanly, I’ll do it three times a week [laughter]. But that’s about it. And I’m a bath fan over showers, always. Like baths over showers, forever. So, that’s just for me. I took only baths until I was in fifth grade and people thought it was very weird.

Is bathing a self-care act for you?

Liz: I think so. Yes, it’s a lot more relaxing for me. And it’s also, you just get to sit down [laughter]. The idea that I’m standing up just makes it feel less relaxing for me, and then once I’m sitting in the bath I’m like, “Now I can chill [laughter].” But when I’m in the shower I’m like, “Oh shit. I’ve got to go.” I don’t know. Just the body language of showering vs. bathing.
Abrina: So I have major depressive disorder, and I have anxiety. And when I was 12 I experienced a really traumatic episode. So I was diagnosed with PTSD really early on. And it was always really hard for me to deal with my mental illness, and just find effective ways to handle it and cope with it. So I think that, with also struggling with acne issues, got me into makeup and skin-care. So I started using makeup and skincare as a way to not only help my skin, and make me feel better, but also as a way to make me feel better about myself.

If you were an underwater creature, mythical or real – whatever it could be – what would you be?

Liz: That’s a good question. I have to think about that. Probably a turtle. A sea turtle. I feel like they just live forever, but then they also have their own thing going on. They know how to form a group effectively, and travel well. And I respect that. I’m a social person. I’ve got my own thing going on. Also, they live a very long time, which I was always like, “Fuck that,” but now I’m interested [laughter] to live a long life.
Abrina: I think that I would be an octopus. I just really like them. I think they’re really weird and I just really like very weird looking animals [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

Liz: Everything? I feel like that’s cliche to say, but I feel like there are so many things that I love and care about. My friends, the people that I love. And creating things. Helping other people. Love. I could go on. But I’m not going to [laughter] because that would take forever. I would be here listing things that I love and it would just be midnight immediately.
Abrina: I agree. I definitely am passionate about people that I love and my relationships and kind of bringing good energy to the world and always trying to keep a really positive outlook. I’m really passionate about Andrew W.K. [laughter] because I really love his Facebook status post because he’s always– I don’t know, he just has this idea of partying, but partying in a way that’s positive and just bringing good energy and vibe to the world and like loving people and taking care of yourself. I just really, really love that and I really respect that. And I think that’s a big motivation for me.

Do you think social media and community are intertwined?

Liz: Oh, yes. I think absolutely. Social media is part of how I maintain my sense of community. It’s very easy to keep in touch with people when they have social media, and I have friends that don’t and it is more difficult. Of course, I’m totally willing to do that, but there are certain things where I’ll be like, “Oh, I want to invite you to this Facebook event,” and then I can’t. But being able to share things like that on the internet, where I know that we can all interact with each other with such greater ease, it’s just easier to interface with the people that you want to interface with.
Abrina: Yeah, I think social media community is really important, honestly, because I think it gives us a wider range of access to people. And also, I feel like, especially if you’re a person who’s a POC or LGBTQIA or any combination of different identities, it gives you an outlet to see and meet other people who are like you and who can share similar experiences to you, whereas you might not always get that depending on where you are.
L: Yeah, if it wasn’t for social media, we wouldn’t have met.
A:Yeah, we wouldn’t have met, because we met on Tumblr.
L: Yeah, I followed Abrina on Tumblr for a long time.
A: It was a thirst follow.
L: It was a thirst follow [laughter]. But I realized how similar we were from the things that we would post, and the things that we would say and care about. Of course, that’s not all that there is to a person, but I got a really good sense of who you were.
A: Yeah they sent me– I reblogged this ask meme at night [laughter], and then it was like, “Oh, tell me something about yourself, but don’t be–”
L: On anonymous.
A: On anonymous, yeah. And they sent me something like, “I’m really bad at taking care of plants but I’m really good at smoking them,” and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I need to–
L: Now they were like, “Oh my goodness.”
A: –to talk to them in person [laughter].”
L: I was like 17. Oh my gosh. But yeah. And then I started Skyping with Abrina [laughter].
A: Yeah. And now we’re here [laughter].
L: Shit is so wild.

So the two of you are engaged?

Liz: Yes.
Abrina: Yeah
L: As of June 21st. Oh my gosh, what, a year ago? We took a vacation in Portland with my family, and that’s where we got engaged.
A: Yeah, we got engaged at a ramen shop because ramen is my favorite food. But their ramen sucked. But they gave us free alcohol, so it was okay [laughter].
L: That’s true. We’re doing long-distance now. It’s definitely hard sometimes. I remember just before you were here, I was like, “Okay, I have no physical touch outlet in my life, because you’re not here.” But then also, I don’t want some people who want to do that in their life. But also that you’re the only person I really want to touch, so then it’s like I just got to wait around until you’re here to sensually touch you. But it is hard though because I feel like– of course I’m an affectionate person, I get affectionate with my friends, but that’s not the same thing. And also, for my friends, I want just to have friendships. I don’t want to have a different element to that relationship personally for me. And, as much as I’d love to be like, “Monogamy is overrated. I hate it. It’s stupid,” I don’t feel that way. I want to be with you. I like being only with you.
A: I want to be only with you, too! And yeah, I mean, I’ve always been an openly sexual person and I have been in open relationships before, but they just never really worked out for me. And I feel like I can get affection from my friends, obviously not in the same way as I do with my partner, but I feel like that affection is able to hold me over, basically.
L: Right. And there’s a lot of power in a hug. Hugs are a powerful thing.
A: I think that, as a society, we are made to crave affection in a specifically sexual and romantic way and we demean affection in other ways. And I think what we need to focus on is how important just small acts of affection are from any person that you’re in a relationship with, whether it would be a romantic, or friend, or familial, or anything like that.

What are your thoughts on relationships – platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

Liz: Relationships are basically one of the number one things for me. And even a relationship with yourself is important; how you relate to yourself. Relationships, I feel like they’re one of my favorite things [laughter]. No, but I love people so much and I love sharing the experience of being a person with another person because that’s, I feel like, one of the most unique things we can do as humans, with each other, is share what it’s like for us to be a human because hey, we’re the weirdest animals there are [laughter].
Abrina: Yeah. I think that having a relationship with yourself is definitely the most important thing and should always be your top priority because I feel like it’s really hard to have effective relationships with other people if you can’t have a relationship with yourself. And obviously, I don’t mean that in a way to demean people who find it hard to have relationships with themselves for other reasons, but I feel like any effort you put into having a relationship with yourself, first and foremost, is really the most important.

Nate

 

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.

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