exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Romance

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.

Emily Reeder and Cal McNamara

Emily Reeder and Cal McNamara


Date of Interview: October 24, 2016

Name: Emily Reeder and Cal McNamara

Age: 27 and 25

Pronouns: She/Her and He/Him

Location: Arlington, VA


If you were a sea creature which one would you be?

Cal: What’s the biggest whale? That big ass whale, that just opens it’s mouth…
Emily: The blue whale?
C: No… It’s huge…
E: Humpback whale?
C: Maybe… Whatever that biggest one that lives in the ocean because they cover the most distance and like, the ocean is huge so… You kind of need to be able to get around quickly.
E: I don’t really identify with the creatures so much. I have a really good relationship with the ocean and just, as it is… It revitalizes me on it’s own. So I think I’m comfortable with the ocean being itself and me being myself.
C: ::Whispers:: Choose a creature.
E: If I had to choose a creature I would be… I like sea urchins the most. I’m very attracted to their form and I’ve made them in art a few times. I don’t know if I would want to be one, but I like them a lot ::laughs::

What are you passionate about?

Emily: I’m really passionate about making art, making jewelry, teaching. Very… Very very creative. I paint, I sew, I make jewelry, basket weave. Whatever I am able to get my story out in is the media I choose at that time. And so it’s more about getting lost in that moment and breathing for the first time in two or three hours and being like… Woah. I got lost in that and it took me somewhere. And hopefully it will take someone else somewhere. That’s what my passion is.
Cal: My thing is music mainly. I’ve done some collage work before but it’s mainly been recording and writing music and playing guitar since I was 11 so… Then I introduced other instruments into my life so being able to be a one man band… It can be tough, not having the input from other people but I’m able to get lost in the tools that I have. It’s kind of like she said, coming out of that haze of a five hour session, literally forgetting what time even is, not even considering that time has passed to coming out of that and hopefully able to get other people to feel the way that other music has made me feel and what made me want to create in the first place.

Do you think emotion plays a big role for you creatively?

Emily: I know for me, I didn’t really understand art as a creative outlet until I stopped taking medication for ADHD, when I was 13 or 14. I used to want to be an engineer and I joke a lot that I am an engineer, it’s a joke around the house a lot. But when I stopped taking those prescription drugs I kind of realize that the sky was blue and that there are colors in the world and there were ways to do things… It was something that was kind of closed off to me for almost all of my development in childhood. And so it was this “WOAH!” Moment and that’s why I want all the things, whatever is the best way to explain a certain something, I want to find it. That just… Since it came to me, once I was already developed, I was past puberty and knew how to interact with others and had independence when it started so it just became a way to… Share myself.
Cal: I think for me it’s all emotional, because I’m such an emotional person, whether that means being overly happy about a certain thing to the point of tears or a panic attack- being able to turn that into music and knowing that the energy spent going into music versus a bad interaction with someone, or an embarrassing one, I can feel that energy leaving in the same way but it’s put into something I can repeat in my headphones and… It’s like having a conversation with myself. It used to feel like and can sometimes still feel like something that has to be drained. Like cycling new blood, it’s cycling myself through the shit that piles up and getting it into this pureness. I think it’s an important communication tool, to be able to communicate with myself and to those who are important around me.

Does your individual creativity go into your romantic relationship?

Emily: Hell yeah ::laughs::
Cal: Yeah ::laughs:: Like the other night, she was working on crafts and stuff that she’s doing for Halloween because we’re throwing this big party and I was remixing this song, and I could look over and see her working things out in her brain as it’s going on behind me and we both look up and make eye contact when we notice that the other person found a stride in their project and that was so cool. So we get that immediate feedback and she’s not just sitting there watching, she’s doing her thing and we get to ping pong that, that energy and experience.
E: Our relationship started long distance and one of the things that I found was we got so excited about telling each other what we were doing, so we wanted to do it more. So the conversation kept coming back to creativity and the process and you know, how we could do more as artists in our own fields. And that, it just became this snowballing of wanting to do more so we could talk more sooooooo now I do more! That back and forth has always been just… This really strong part of how we connect with our own things and it’s certainly not the same craft at all, but we can understand the concepts and how that relates to our lives.

How did the relationship begin?

Cal: We’ve been dating officially for like… 6 months?
Emily: Yeah.
C: But… This like, knowing that this was heading in this direction happened about a year ago around this time.
E: Talking everyday for about 11 months or so. It was something that happened really naturally. It kind of started off as a “hey, how’s it going” to constant contact even though there were hundreds of miles there, and thinking “what do we do… What’s the next step?” and to came down to closing the distance so we could have a relationship that felt like it was real.
C: The important thing to know, from my end of this, about how this started was that I was coming off of this coming of age feeling of like… I had moved away from home and then I moved back home and I felt like I was living in a ghost town and my mom was trying to get into the groove of her own life in her 50’s, to prioritize, and everyone was kinda getting into their own cove of life and then there was me just endlessly anxious for more and all the freedom to do it. I tend to spin my wheels a lot and I would go and talk to my mom and she didn’t have the energy anymore to deal with my repetitive life complaints with no attempt to change on my end and she told me that. So, with Emily, the first conversation over the phone after I saw her come back for the holidays because she grew up in Connecticut too, was her asking how I was doing and me telling her that I was in the worst way. And then we got on the phone and I knew she was… I knew it was gonna grow when I would completely unload about my life and my current mindset and she would just like… Be there. She never said to go get help, she was willing to take me on and that helped me open up in a lot of ways.
E: Yeah, that first phone call happened with advice from my Uncle ’cause he said that if I was really trying to get to the bottom of how my friend was doing, how that other person is, to just get him on the phone ’cause you can tell.
C: Always.
E: You can see right through it, you can see right through all of it. And I told him to just give me a call…
C: No better way to diagnose.
E: Yeah, we started talking to see if we could solve the issue at hand and then it became a constant conversation.

What do you think of love?

Cal: What do I think of love… Or what do we think of love…
Emily: It’s a heavy, wonderful, beautiful, scary, exciting, thrilling thing.
C: Yeah. I don’t think I ever had experienced it. I had tried to prop up my emotions to try to feel it in previous relationships thinking that it was a thing you do and try for the sake of feeling like you’re not wasting your time. But that’s not how it works at all. When I told her I loved her though… It blew my mind. It was a level of life that I had only heard people talk about.
E: For me, I had been in a long term relationship, I have been married so I was like… Over it, in a sense. And as our relationship started to develop, I started seeing and experiencing all these things that I never had. And holy shit… There is this feeling that this person is your safe space. Is your happy place. They want things for you, they encourage you. And you know when you’re there, in that space together.
C: We are able to retreat to each other.
E: To recharge and be there.
C: Being able to show the affection that we both need so we’re able to face the world.

Angela Lester

Angela Lester


Date of Interview: October 5, 2016

Name: Angela Lester

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Columbus, Oh


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

Oh man… I really love a lot of underwater sea creatures so that’s kind of hard. I’m gonna say dolphins because they’re very community oriented and they’re very smart and they don’t have a lot of natural predators. So I wouldn’t have to deal with being attacked or eaten which would be good ::laughs::.

Do you enjoy being in bodies of water?

Yes. Yes, actually when I was really young I remember my mom taking me to the pool or the beach and when it would be time for me to come in she would call for me and I would duck underwater to pretend that I didn’t hear her so I could stay in longer. When I’m in water I have this overall feeling of like, safety. It’s a nice, cool or warm blanket that makes me feel good and happy and I’m weightless. There’s not a lot of… I don’t know… There’s just this sense of serenity.

What are you passionate about?

Ooooo, lots of things. Umm, I guess I really love food. My long term goal in life is to be a pastry chef and have my own patisserie. So like cooking for people and making things for my friends or coworkers is a thing I really like doing. I’m also very passionate about people being treated fairly and properly so I try to be as active in the community as possible. Just kind of like, human rights and people’s rights. I think there are a lot of things that have been going on for years, especially with race and police violence and I think it’s very important to be active in that and getting together as a community and doing what we can to fight that or else nothing is going to change.

What are you most afraid of for the world?

That… well just… oh man. That Donald Trump will be president ::laughs:: and that people won’t put aside their differences and come together and I’m just afraid that something similar to WWII will happen and that we’ll use up all of our resources and society will collapse on itself. Which I know we’re already at a point where it’s almost irreversible… The future seems pretty bleak to me ::laughs:: nothing matters. Going to have an existential crisis in the bathtub ::laughs::.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

I’m… honestly not afraid of many things other than being attacked by a person at night. Which is something that I feel like most female bodied people or actually all female bodied people are worried about whenever they go walking by themselves at any time of day. Umm, that and also, this is so irrational and dumb but falling off of a roller coaster. I’m really afraid of heights so those are my two things.

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

As far as romantic relationships go, I have always been a hopeless romantic. I love falling in love. And I love getting to know people on a romantic level. But it’s also kind of difficult for me because I am a demisexual person, so that has had a lot of people turn themselves away from me because sex isn’t a priority to me unless I have a very strong emotional or intellectual connection to them. Which I guess is good in the long run because it turns away those people who aren’t right for me. I am currently in the best relationship I’ve ever been in ::laughs:: and my partner is really wonderful and we have great communication which I think is the most important, be it a romantic or platonic relationship; you have to talk about things with your partner or friend as soon as you can. If you let something go on and fester, it can become this weird passive aggressive thing and neither of you can grow and develop from that.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Oh man. I recently got published in Vogue International and that was a big step for professionally modeling. Also, I have now been to every state except for Hawaii through modeling and also a recent trip out west. I never thought I could travel for a month at a time due to finances but I was able to do that and spend time in a lot of states that I would have never visited and meet cool people so yeah.

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