exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Romance

Sam Jensen

Sam Jensen

Date of Interview: June 9, 2016

Name: Sam Jensen

Age: 25

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Location: Washington, DC


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

An octopus. So bear with me, octopi can change their outer appearance to match whatever, and they are also flexible enough to fit into small spaces, and when I was in high school, I was the weird kid. I was a mixture of like, a walking dope bag, and the columbine shooter. There was not a lot to like, and as a result, I didn’t have many friends. And after that I had to learn how to change. How to change myself, you know? To fit into groups and have friends. Which is not necessarily a positive thing, but once I got to know myself better, it enabled me to figure out how to get along with people. I can NOW get along with anybody. I mean anybody, without changing who I am now. because I know how to become different aspects of myself while still remaining me. As for the “fitting into small spaces,” I’ve been through a lot of tight spots in my life, and have made it through all of them.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

That is a tie between getting my life together, just in general, and quite frankly maintaining the relationship that I have. I have a history of really codependant and occasionally emotionally abusive fucked up relationships. And the one I have now is with the woman who is the love of my life. I’m going to marry her, and she knows this, we’ve worked really hard and have had our ups and downs, but we’ve never fought, never yelled at one another, never called each other names. We communicate openly and effectively at all times about EVERYTHING. I have stuck by her through her shit, and she has stuck by me through my shit. No matter what is going on in my life, if she is in trouble, I will drop everything to help her and that goes both ways. It’s not something that has happened naturally, it’s something that I’ve worked for. And she worked for it as well. In my mind, finding not just the love of my life, but having a healthy, open relationship given my history, is my greatest accomplishment.

Given your current relationship, what do you think of love within platonic friendships as well as intimate relationships?

Love is something that I feel like a lot of people misunderstand. Love, true love, cannot be one sided. You CANNOT love someone who does not love you back. You can obsess over someone, be codependent with someone who does not love you back, because love is a feedback. Love is when you… when your best friend… platonic love, when your best friend is in trouble, when he’s broke and homeless and you show up with a bag of groceries that he didn’t even ask you for. But you love him, so you give them to him. It’s a week until pay day, and you know he has nothing to eat. Love is when you give him a sleeping bag so he doesn’t freeze in February. And then coming back, is when he has your back when you get jumped at a show. This has all happened by the way, you get jumped at a show and he goes in and finds the motherfuckers who did it and he makes them pay, regardless to the consequences that he’ll have to face. Regardless to if he gets hurt or not. Love is when you go through a nasty break up and you call your friend and the first thing he says is “I’ll be right there”. Love is not unconditional necessarily because some things are impossible, but love is willing to TRY the seemingly impossible. I love my girlfriend, not because she is the most beautiful woman that I’ve ever met, or because she is sweet and kind, but because she loves me back and treats me with respect that I treat her with. Like I said, love is a feedback, it goes both ways.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

Finding myself unhappy. That seems a little, I don’t know, blase, compared to “being alone!” or “spiders!” cuz spiders… spiders are freaky… But uhh, I have gotten to a point in my life where I am happy. I just am. I am in community college, going to school part time, working two jobs for the past 6 months, I work retail and am a bouncer on the weekends and a lot of people, I think, would let that get to them. The fact that they’re working two jobs and don’t have a weekend necessarily, going slowly through school, it will take awhile before they get that 60K job if they even DO because the economy is shit. But every day I wake up, I have something to be grateful, even if it’s just that I woke up that day. My biggest fear is losing that. My biggest fear is being able to wake up and NOT finding something to be grateful for. And being unhappy

What do you think is one reason for unhappiness?

They compromise… They wanted… you can’t want to be a bohemian with an arts degree and drive a Jaguar. You can’t… you know? Maybe thirty years down the line but someone who goes to school for an arts degree or a history major, which I’m not knocking, I am a history major. “How would you like your latte sir?” ::laughs:: Someone who goes through that and expects the world to hand them success, you put yourself on a path. But at the same time if all you wanted to be is an artist and you go and get a business degree and you lose that passion in life, you’re going to be just as unhappy.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about people. I want to be a teacher. And not because I have such faith in our education system, no. When I was in high school, like I said earlier, it was hard. And I pissed off a lot of teachers and was written off by almost all of them. They thought I was a lost cause. But there was one and he’s actually retiring this year and he works at the Arlington Career Center within the culinary arts program and he made a difference in my life. Because he cared. Because he listened. Because he understood. Because when I would show up to class drunk and upset, when my mom wanted to send me to boarding school and leave what little friends I had behind he took me into his office and talked with me. And didn’t tell me I was right and that she was being a horrible bitch, or that she was right and I was being an ungrateful little shit, but what he did do was listen. And he shared his experience and he was able to help. I think that there are a lot of kids in this world, and it doesn’t matter where they come from or if you’re rich, poor, black, white, gay straight, it doesn’t matter. Everyone’s got baggage. And some people have more than others and some people need someone who will listen. And if I can make a difference in five kids lives, or even one kids life, I will have considered this life worth living.

Kenneth Clayton Martel

Kenneth Clayton Martel


Date of Interview: June 4, 2016

Name: Kenneth Clayton Martel

Age: 23

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Location: Washington, DC


Is having the freedom to do what you want important to you in life?

Umm yeah, Yeah, I’m not good at motivating myself if it’s something I don’t really want to do.

What are you passionate about?

That’s a good question. I’m passionate about, like, people being able to live meaningful lives. And destroying the structures that make people’s lives harder than they need to be.

Do you think you’re able to incorporate that into your daily life?

Umm… not as much as I’d like to. But that is one of the biggest things about organizing. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Do you know the word missional? It comes out of radical priests who were trying to reform the Catholic church, or something, and thought that, like, the church should be the hand of God. And when you go to church, you should see God, and the church should be showing God. So it’s that your work and your vision are the same thing. So every time you’re doing work you can see what you’re doing in it. So I think organizing is like that. Or, it CAN be. It’s kind of hard to sustain. You’re just like… trudging towards a vision. It’s contexualized more than a lot of other work. Right? You are… or I’m trudging towards the vision of Democracy, but everyone is contexualizing it and the decision could end with a totally different world.

Are you religious?

No. ::laughs:: No. I did go to a Unitarian church for more than a few years, when I was a little kid. My parents were Unitarians for a little while. My mom was raised a Methodist and my grandfather was a Methodist preacher. And my dad was not really raised religious, and I think that when they had kids, my mom wanted the same type of community that she had growing up. But there was nothing that they could get down with other than Unitarianism. So they became members of the Unitarian church. They sort of became leaders within the church too. My dad was on a bunch of boards and my mom was like, the sex education teacher for Unitarians and they did that together or something. And it was great for a while, but then this new preacher came in, and my dad is very… umm… very missional and had no tolerance for anything that’s kind of shady or shitty. And so the new preacher was trying to get health insurance, and my dad was saying, “Great! You should have health insurance, but if we are going to offer YOU health insurance, than we will have to offer all the other employees health insurance.” And the preacher wasn’t down with that, and the treasury committee wasn’t down with that, like… It just blew up into this whole thing. And my dad was very much trying to follow correct procedures and everyone else was talking about how he was a “rebel rouser” and kicked him out of the church. It was crazy.

Do you have a Utopia?

Noooo… I don’t. I think I’m more like, in some ways more motivated by righteousness and anger towards all of the systems and infrastructures and people behind the shittiness of the world. And that’s what motivates me. It motivates me to fix things. Like, knowing it can be better than how it is now. It enables me to work to make things better when that’s the motivation, instead of trying to make something different that’s perfect, it’s different and better. That to me, is a little bit more pure. ‘Cause, you’re not trying to say that one specific vision is right. I can’t think of what could work for everyone. What that world would look like. But I know some things that I’m working for, that the world could include. And some things that wouldn’t work, that I’m trying to eliminate.

What do you think of death?

I think about it… I have thoughts on it… I dunno. I’m not sure… One thing that sort of like… titillates me is… Have you ever watched that documentary on DMT? You know what DMT is, obviously. Yeah, so DMT is called the spirit molecule, and it’s in ayahuasca, which is traditional medicine. They say that DMT is the thing that is released in your brain when you’re first born, and then when you die. It’s an experience that apparently takes you outside of your consciousness and it dissolves your understanding of self. Or can. So in this documentary, someone is describing how DMT could theoretically be the way the universe exists. Like, there are all these different frequencies, and radio waves, and your brain, and consciousness, and existence tunes into one frequency. And articulates it as life. So I think that this is one possibility. Yeah, it’s the one that makes sense to me.

What do you think of romantic love?

What do I think of it… What do I think of it… Umm… ::whistling:: I think I have… I think everyone has an interest in romantic love. I think I have an interest in romantic love. I have used it often to help me conceptualize myself. Sort of help myself be missional. I have had an urgency to conceptualize my life and to understand my life and my role and feel like I’m living a missional life. And romantic love sort of allows you to do that. Like, it gives you a role. You know? It’s like, here you are, walking through life and then ‘AHH, I’m this person in this giant ether and feel like I’m useless’ and then you get in a relationship, and then you’re so and so’s boyfriend. Perfect. Just like, do that! That’s your life! It’s horrible and shitty. And if it’s not what you intentionally construct what you want from your mind, into what it will be, you can fuck everything up and be horrible and fuck other people up. You can also fuck yourself over. Yeah, that’s what I think of romantic love.

What do you think is your biggest accomplishment?

Hmm… I don’t think it’s MY accomplishment, but something that I feel most proud of is… This one kid I supported at Perkins, who is amazing. Super nice, gentle, and sweet, and goofy. And would give high fives and hugs. And at the same time, very self interest. Like, not being able to do tasks that were even remotely frustrating without breaking down. Like, even getting off the computer and going to the bathroom without injuring himself. And when I started working with him, we did a new behavior plan. Which was kind of this amazing thing, mainly because he was unable to do anything without breaking down. The idea was to get him to do the smallest things possible. And also use, sort of like, a de-escalation practice. Like when you get upset, what you can do. Staying calm. He had his computer, which he LOVES. He would watch these YouTube videos, and literally right next to it at an angle, was his work desk. So 5 minutes on his computer, then he would get a little warning. And he would walk two steps, sit in this other chair, and do one simple task. Like putting blocks in a cup. Like, five of them. Then he would get up and go back, and have two more minutes of computer time. All day. Slowly standing up, doing self interest, and getting back in his chair and slowly counting to ten, then getting back to his task. And just slowly building up tolerance, and being able to do things that were frustrating. And it fucking WORKED. It was amazing. Over the course of eight months, he went from… he cut his self interest in more than half. He probably went from 60 or 70 meltdowns a day, to maybe 10 or less. It was WACK. And really awesome.

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