exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: People

A Klass


Date of Interview: August 8th, 2017

Name: A Klass

Age: 28

Pronouns: They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to shower at least every day, but that doesn’t always happen thanks to– I feel like my mental health effects that a lot so sometimes it’s longer, sometimes it’s shorter. It just depends on how it’s going, but my goal is to every day.

If you were a underwater creature, mythical, real, whatever, what would you be?

Probably an angler fish, because I really like how they look. And I love that they have– I don’t know. I just love that their molecules can emit light, that’s wild to me. I also love the fact that their teeth are so big that they can’t close their mouth and that’s also wild to me. So yeah, I like them.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about art. I’m passionate about creativity. I’m passionate about people. I’m passionate about people knowing that they’re seen and loved because I feel like that’s a really important thing and something that not everyone feels, something not everyone has felt a lot, including myself. So something that I try to do in my work and in my creativity is have representation for people. Being represented lets people know that they are seen. That’s important to me. And something I still need to work much harder on.

How does that manifest for you?

I think it manifests itself in my work. In my photography, I try– I feel like I photograph almost exclusively people who identify in the LGBTQ+ family now. I mean, growing up, I had no idea that being nonbinary was a thing and I was so lost and so– I don’t know. There was no representation for it and so I had no idea what I was. So I feel like it’s important to represent all these people that I feel like growing up I saw little or no representation for. And I want to change that for future generations.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

I think I feel accomplished with my ability to care for others and to love. I have a lot of platonic intimacy with people and I feel like that’s really important. And I feel like that’s something that is difficult for a lot of people. It’s something that not a lot of people do or a lot of people I’ve noticed don’t understand. And so, I think I feel accomplished in that because I feel very comfortable in that. And I feel confident in my ability to do that and with those who are comfortable with receiving it, sharing it with them.

What are your thought on relationships, platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

Relationships are very interesting. I love the complexity of them. I mean, my relationships in all those categories are the things that have kept me alive I feel. So I have a lot of deep admiration for those relationships even though a lot of them are difficult and have caused me a lot of heartache and pain in the past and present and future. But I don’t know. There’s a lot of beauty in that. Because I understand very well the temperance of things and I don’t really have an issue with things being temporary. It makes sense to me for things to be temporary. And I think its beautiful because I feel like it makes me appreciate those moments that I do have. And it’s kind of funny because, actually, today one of the people that I’m sweet on told me that they decided today to be monogamous with their primary and so we had to stop our, I guess, romantic side. And so it’s interesting because after that happened and after I’d sort of processed and accepted that, I then thought about this interview coming up, and I was like, “That’s a perfect day for that to happen.” But yeah, I don’t have any– I don’t know. I guess I’m just not mad or sad about things being temporary. Relationships are very interesting and complex things. And I do love the fact that they can exist in so many different forms and a mix of all three of those. Each one separately. I don’t know. That’s very interesting. I have a lot of feelings about relationships.

What do you think about your relationship with yourself?

Oh [laughter]. Yeah. We have a long history. I mean, it’s definitely my most difficult relationship. I can say that. Yeah. That’s one where every day it’s different. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s difficult. I see a lot of good things about myself, but it’s difficult for me to fully accept those. It’s hard for me to, I think, appreciate myself in a lot of ways. A lot of times, I wish I didn’t have to spend so much time with myself. A lot of times, I– I don’t know. A lot of times, I wish I could separate and not necessarily be someone else, but just somehow be alone with someone else in that way.

What is something you still struggle with?

Unfurl scroll [laughter]. I still struggle with anxiety. I still struggle with depression. And I still struggle with wanting to live. I struggle with loving myself, as seeing myself as worthy of love, of seeing myself as worthy of generally anything good. Yeah. Well, it’s interesting because I don’t know if I would necessarily describe it as coping mechanisms. But one thing that has helped me immensely that I have both realized recently and discussed recently is my relationships. And these people, they allow me to see myself as they see me and that’s really hard for me to do. And yeah, I mean, like I said, those relationships are the things that have saved my life countless times. Yeah. So I feel like that’s definitely what’s helped me the most. And even though I still struggle with it every day, the people in my life help me to survive that.

Seraphina Violet Cueller


Date of Interview: June 19, 2017

Name: Seraphina Violet Cueller

Age: 20

Pronouns: She/Hers and They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower?

I shower every day now, because I work as a maintenance person. But I used to not shower a lot, yeah [laughter]. I bathe when I’m really stressed out. My parents live in the suburbs and I go back there and take like an anxiety bath [laughter].

If you were a underwater creature which would you be?

I would be a cuttlefish. I love them so much [laughter]. They’re these weird squid things that are– they change color. They look like little squids and they’re just awkward. And I very much vibe with that personality. So they’re super cool. I saw a documentary on PBS about cuttlefish and I’ve been crazy about them ever since.

What are you passionate about?

I’ve been asking myself a lot lately because I’m trying to get to the root of it. I’m very passionate about helping people, which is just such a generic thing that everyone’s like, yeah, I want to help people. And it really is something that’s at the core of my world. I’m very passionate about theater and that’s what I’m in school for, but I want to be able to take art that is not only just about putting something on a stage, but how you actually use art form to relate to other people. There’s a super cool thing called mirror neurons, and they’re the neurons that when you’re watching somebody else, like dribble a basketball, your neurons are firing like you’re dribbling a basketball. And so I think there are things that you can learn through actually watching something happen on stage or through film, that if you don’t have the experience going through it, then you can’t understand. So that’s why I’m so drawn to that.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Ugh. I get out of bed in the morning, and that’s an accomplishment sometimes. That’s something I have a lot of trouble with because I have really bad depression and anxiety, and so it’s hard for me to do things. I have a lot of ideas. Like, my accomplishment is having ideas, but other than that, it’s really hard to feel accomplished about things. The thing I accomplished lately, I did a two-hour performance art piece on Kanye West, and that was my most recent– it was about exploitation, and mainly about me but using all of Kanye’s weird words and songs. And this is somebody that I vibe with. I know he’s like a super hard figure for a lot of people to vibe with, but he talks about struggling depression, in music, and a lot about fake celebrity culture. And it’s something about the isolation that I felt a connection to.

What is something you still struggle with?

Trying to stay in an art mindset, because it’s really difficult to actually keep doing things day-to-day. It’s something that’s hard to describe because it’s weird being like, “Yes, getting out of bed is difficult.” And if I don’t have somewhere to be in the morning, it takes me two hours to get out of bed. And that’s a normal thing of me laying in bed for two hours, just trying to do things. And I have a lot of social anxiety, and it’s hard to be around people because I love people so much, and I have this really intense curiosity about how people work and what people are thinking about, how to study their bodies. And especially through the acting training, you see so much about how bodies work. But it’s just being in a group, and knowing all those little things, and being sensitive to that, and then also having to be a participant, is exhausting to me. Yeah.

Do you think you’re more of an introvert, or extrovert, or introverted extrovert?

I am an extroverted introvert. I come off as somebody who– and it’s amazing to me. I come off as somebody who’s very confident to people, and I’m like, “Oh, no. I am not.” I mean, I’m really hard on myself. And it’s hard because I’m very friendly, and I try to smile at everyone, just because I know that I’ve been ignored so many times. And so it’s difficult. I want to be able to smile and be nice to people because I know I was brought up with that experience a lot, so I try to make people… comfortable, happy.

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

I think I’m not ever going to get married. And that’s something that’s so– all these things I say I feel like come off as like, “Oh, typical millennial, thinking all these things.” But for me, it’s like I am somebody who lies on such a broad spectrum, it’s hard to find people who relate to that broad of a spectrum. Like if I’m in my quiet mood, the party people who I vibe with aren’t going to get along with me when I’m in those moods. And it’s just hard because I need a lot of alone time, and I also need people to know that they don’t have to take care of me. And it’s hard because every time I’m upset, I’m very honest about that, and I will say I’m upset, and people think that they have to take care of me. And I’m like, I’ve been taking care of myself emotionally for so long that I’m like, “No. Just sometimes I need a hug, and that’s it.” But I am very much influenced by whatever little wind that blows by me, so I tend to run with the current. And that’s really bad in a marriage. Most of my sexual relationships are actually just with my friends. And yeah, it’s a little less pressure because I intensely love people, and I understand that they don’t feel the same way about me because I’m somebody that’s very wild, and  a lot of times, people are enticed by this idea that I’m somebody who’s wild and never feels any sort of guilt or anything about myself. And then when they find out that I actually have this fragile side, and I am really self-conscience about myself, they get freaked out because I’m not this confident dream person. I’m like the dark version of a manic pixie dream girl. That people like the intensity and the fire, and then they find out how tired I am all the time, and how really like– I keep getting to the phrase, broken woman, and then being like, “I’m not broken. This is just how I am. I’m just different than how most people function,” and kind of trying to vibe with that. And I don’t think that’s quite conducive to ever being with anyone else in a full-time thing. But I still, in my sexual relationships, like to find the love in there. But often I’ll love them, but it’s an understanding of getting my heart broken over, and over, and over again, and being okay with that. And now I’m so good at getting my heart broken because I can’t stay mad with anyone, so I’ve become an expert in heartbreak [laughter]. I get so excited about people and finding out who they are, and then I want to get deeper, but there’s always this stupid social restriction that keeps me from reaching– there was a moment– I was drinking on my college campus a few days ago because it’s summer, and why not have some drinks in one of our buildings? And I have this urge to touch my friend’s forehead and be like, “I’m here with you,” but I felt like I couldn’t. There were other people there and I was like, “That would be weird.” There would be this weird depth that I would feel I have to take care of then. And I know I am ready for that, but I don’t want to push anyone into an uncomfortable zone where it’s too intense for them.


Crisely Melecio-Zambrano


Date of Interview: July 8, 2016

Name: Crisely Melecio-Zambrano

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Washington, DC


What are you passionate about?

A lot of things. Sometimes I think too many things, but that’s not the case. I’m passionate about people. And loving people with my whole self and a few weeks ago I wrote a mission statement and the basis of it, I don’t remember it word for word, but the basis of it is that I am loved and most importantly by God and that roots me to love others around me, especially the “other-ed” pieces in other people around me. Something that I feel really passionate about, is loving the broken parts of people and allowing that to teach me how to love the broken parts of myself. And that coming from a place of being first loved by God. And experiencing that love through the people around me. And I think out of that comes all my other random passions of like, yeah, music and dance and being outside and being… myself. And helping others be themselves. I think comes from that place of wanting other people to know that they are loved for being who they are.

Do you think that your upbringing impacts that?

Absolutely. I think that that is where I was first loved. It’s where I first experienced being accepted. That shaped me tremendously. I come from an extremely tight knit family. I am one of six kids and I grew up Catholic and continue to call myself Catholic, most of the time. And I love the word Catholic because it means universal and I think that my parents and my family helped me see it that way. Faith has a way of inclusion and a way of seeing goodness. They were the ones who really helped me see that. And they also… My parents are really gifted at teaching me through their actions. Not very much of like… “Here’s this doctrine” even though, it’s funny, my parents are seemingly very different people. My mom is VERY heart centered, and loving and generous and it’s very evident as soon as you meet her. People over and over again tell me “I’ve never met anyone like you’re mom! She’s so open and this angel!” And you know, the way that she shows her faith and her love in God is through that. And she says that herself, that she has always seen God as love and that was it for me. And the other pieces of religion and spirituality helped root her in that. And my dad is someone who, when you first meet him, seems to be more distant and more intellectual. I’m not sure if that’s actually the case, but it seems like that when you first meet him. And he’s also someone who we could go to if we ever had a question about our faith. Especially the teachings of the church. He knew them back and forth and would tell us, “yeah, okay, you have a question about this, look it up, ask it”. It really encouraged us to be curious about what we were experiencing. Or like, “We went to mass today and there was this reading and it made me really upset. Tell me about it! What do you think of this?” I really loved that those conversations were encouraged in my family. They also, it was so much with how they loved people and loved on people. They were so generous. Everything that they had… and first and foremost loved us, so well. They showed us over and over again how important we were to them. I think we’ve grown a lot in that as a family and we continue to learn from those experiences.

What do you feel is a struggle for you?

So many things… Hmm… I think one of the biggest struggles and learnings for me is, and probably this is true for every human being… but of accepting myself. When you said that, I was thinking of external struggles, but I think so much of that comes from, yeah, I think if I’m having trouble accepting someone else it’s probably because it’s striking a cord with something I haven’t accepted in myself so ends up being “RAHHH! This person!” but really it’s like “Ahh, this piece inside me that I can’t wrap my heart or head around!” You know? And I have learned sooooo much about accepting who I am through a lot of ways, I think as a kid, was very much loved and accepted by my family and I think at the same time, I really struggled because I couldn’t see myself in it. I have always been really observant, a really observant kid, always watching everything and trying to take everything in. So I had a really good picture of everyone else, and could never understand my part in that. I knew I was a part of it, but I just couldn’t… And so I, I think because of that, struggled to see my importance. Yeah! I think that was the main part of that. Asking, “Am I a part of this, do I have a role in this? I know I am, but am I actually?” I think that’s a part of being human, sometimes not being able to see yourself.

What do you think of relationships, platonic, romantic, sexual, or otherwise?

What do I think of relationships…? What life IS about. Or what I see life as being about. It’s relational. We don’t make sense isolated, because we’re not. As much as we could feel that, or try to be. We are so connected to everything. Relationship, it’s life! It’s like this breathing thing. I think we see it all over the place. I’ve been thinking a lot about… so I grew up near the ocean and the ocean to me is a heart place, that’s where my soul is happy, and where I understand things the best, I think. I’ve been thinking a lot about how life is so much like that. I mean, the waves are always coming and going. And that’s the seasons there. You know, you see… I like trees too ::laughs:: but when you see the relationship with nature and the way that we as humans connect with each other, I think that so much of that is this learning, and then learning and then relearning that we are connected. And then living out of that, in whatever way we need to and in whatever way that connection is for us… For me it’s such a daily thing, since relationships are constantly ebbing and flowing. Like this person is my friend. This person is my partner. This person is my parent. This person is my cousin. It’s this constant ebb and flow and in daily moments it changes, and in these daily moments and being in the present and saying like, where is it that we are called to be with each other right now? It could be as simple as a smile walking down the street to a stranger, or it might be a conversation together in a bathtub. ::laughs:: And I think that’s hard sometimes because it’s never clear… Or maybe as defined. Like, This Is How You Are Supposed To Act In This Particular Situation. Like, noooo, there’s not a book on that! And even pressures from upbringing or society or expectations… It’s so lived in the moment by moment. Timing, and if we’re open, or if we’re not, or if we can’t be open and figuring out what that comes from. I think relationship is the STUFF. The stuff of life. I think this is also why faith for me is so important. I experience God as a relational God. We are in this together. You are suffering with me, you are rejoicing with me and with my people. Like we’re in THIS. And that’s it.

%d bloggers like this: