exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Underwater Creatures

Lex Standard


Date of Interview: March 26, 2018

Name: Lex Standard

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bath or shower?

I try to every other day. I don’t take baths as much as I want to.

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

Well, I’ve been told by a psychic that I was a mermaid in a past life, but I would totally settle with being a manta ray. They’re beautiful and they’re so majestic and the way they just glide through the water is hypnotic.

What are you passionate about?

Everything. Love, art, teaching, connecting with people, fucking improving myself, family, friends, expression. This doesn’t manifest as fully as I would like it to. I get stifled by being human a lot, but I will take breaks to play guitar and write music. I will take breaks to write poetry. I will call somebody and talk about how I’m feeling and then hope that jars something artistic. I’ve done performing my whole life. So when I was in kindergarten, I told at the National Storytelling Convention, told two stories that I made up and that was really cool. I was like 10.

What is something that you still struggle with?

I struggle with a lot, but a lot of it is stuff that I’m starting to learn everybody struggles with, so they’;re not unique to me. Like liking myself. Who am I? What is my purpose? That kind of stuff, but then I struggle with, I don’t want to put myself into a box, but I have– just for practical use, I have PTSD, I have bipolar  and I have just a fuck ton– I don’t even know, just a fuck ton of trauma. All right. I have a lot and I’ll try and wrap it up quickly. When I was in middle school I was bullied so badly. I was like the most teased kid and had no friends. I had maybe three friends but they never were there when the bullying was happening. I was cyberbullied. People told me to kill myself. Somebody made a screen name called KillLZSlowly and messaged me. Someone made a screen name like I Fucking Hate Lex and messaged me. I had a guy ask me out in front of a group of people and then break up with me in front of a group of people. I got punched in the face. I got canned food poured over my head. And I eventually had to switch schools because my parents were like, “You’re not doing this anymore.” And I didn’t want to leave because I was like, “This is the hell I know. Don’t give me something new.” Then I went to high school and the damage was done already from that, so I hung out with kind of a sketchy crowd because at least nobody would fuck with me if I hung out with tough kids.

And so then I met some boys, some really abusive men, and there’s nothing I can say that can paint a correct picture of what the abuse is like. But it was sexual, it was verbal, it was emotional, and with one of the guys, it was physical like choking, slapping. And then the emotional is crushing down into the size of a grain of sand and then leaving me with all of the pain that they had caused, mentally, then coming back when they felt like it. So I got really demoralized. And then I went to college and I stayed close because of the main abuser, David. And I started drinking, by the way, because I wanted to have fun. I was bullied. I had strict parents. And when my friends got to college, I was like,”I’m going to fucking drink now, all right.” And I partied really hard and I had a lot of fun, it wasn’t bad. Then one of my friends died of a heroin overdose, and that was the first time I had to see a 20-year- old dead body. The imagery isn’t as scarred in my head as it used to be. I’m close with his mom. But that was really hard because we talked the night before. I had a lot of friends die. I feel like that’s way too common.

So I dated this guy, Sunshine, and Sunshine was a damaged boy, but I was damaged too. So I thought maybe through love we could transcend our damaged-ness and become something great. But no, usually what happens is it becomes toxic. So it became very toxic. I put on some weight and he told me I look like I’m letting myself go. He ended up cheating on me. It was this horrible breakup. It took me two years to get over him, but he broke up with me and I was just devastated. My family and I– on Valentine’s day, he broke up with me two days before Valentine’s day. And on Valentine’s day, my mom and dad took me to Hackney’s and I just cried over my food. That was in February. And then April, I invited a guy over from my class to do homework with me, and he ended drugging me and raping me. And I was awake for it but I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t move, and I just had to– it was a battle. It was like a legit battle. And he had a knife and I had roommates that were really close and I could’ve yelled for help but I always think about that but on some level was feeling protective of them and I thought, well I’m kind of battling this guy in here, so I don’t want anybody else to get hurt. And that fucked me up.

After that happened, the way my brain worked kind of changed and kind of triggered like a manic thing. Like my thoughts were going really fast. And I tried to talk to people but we didn’t have the same MeToo culture back then. Back then, it was like, “You got raped. We don’t know what to do with you.” I lost a lot of friends because they couldn’t ride the lows that I was feeling and so I turned to getting high and drinking to make it go away and through that, I got raped more. One of them was my best friend at a Fourth of July party. Another one was at my birthday party I got stuck in a closet with a guy and I even told him, I had just been raped, I don’t want to hook up, and I had to literally grab his hands, pull them off of my body for three hours, and then eventually I was so beaten down I followed him to his place and the opportunity came for him to rape me, he didn’t have it in him so he let me leave. And then that night I pulled over on the side of the road and just started crying and a cop found me and he saw the state I was in, he saw my bruises, and he sent me to the hospital. And the doctor was a piece of shit. I had a torn nipple, I had everything, and he was like, “You know, I have people dying in here.” And that just created so much in me that I’m still working with. And then the drug use started to get more.

I remember listening to Lana Del Ray in a parking lot. There was like a firework show and there were families in this field but I just wanted to be away from everybody so I was in a parking lot and I had a convertible at the time, so I just laid back and I just looked at the fireworks and I just listened to this woman singing how broken her heart was and I just felt like I was resonating with her. And I had such a thing for Lana Del Ray. Like spiritually. Everyone else is like, “Oh yeah, flowers in our hair”. But it’s like, “No dude, Lana and me roll deep.” So I got abused a lot more. I started hanging out with shitty people because I thought, “Oh well, at least they’re not going to judge how low of a place I’m in.” I had a whole bunch of fair-weather friends. People that were drug addicts that I thought cared about me but they didn’t. I got raped by another guy, I was doing Xanax and there was this guy named Cole who got really close to me and I actually liked him as a friend and he started giving me drugs to put me in a state where he could have sex with me. So he started doing that to me. And I remember one day– I mean, I never told him about the rape. I wanted a friendship free of all of that. And he gave me Kolonipin one day and that really relaxed me so I told him about it and then we had made a fort and then I looked at him because he was looking at me kind of funny and I was like, “Do you want to have sex with me?” And he said yeah and he kind of overpowered me and I kept falling asleep and he kept waking me up and fucking me. And that continued because I thought that’s what love was. So he would do really bad stuff. He would do BDSM type stuff on me while I was drugged up so he would scratch me from the inside, snap his fingers in me, step on me, choke me.

And eventually I was so broken from it that I told him to fuck off and I started going into PHP programs and IAP programs and I was in PHP and I went to the psych ward for the first time. I had to move out of my parents house because I was so afraid of men I couldn’t be around my dad. I was terrified of him. I felt like– I was a little deluded and I thought that he was preying upon me. I couldn’t sit on a bed with my brother. I was in treatment struggling beyond what I could wrap up in those 15 minutes. And I ended up going to treatment for three rounds at TK – Timberline Knolls – and first time we went there, I was just a broken puppy, crying about trauma and I had a boyfriend at the time, so I wasn’t really dealing with it, I was just numbing out through him. And then the second time I went, I had a thing with a girl there and that kind of fucked up my whole treatment. And then the third time I went, I had to address my addiction issues and I had the support of a program and that actually really helped me make use of my time there. But I broke down. I went crazy in treatment. I didn’t think, “Oh, I’m going to rehab, I’m going to fix it.” No. I let shit hit the fan. And apparently that’s what you’re supposed to do when you go to treatment.

Have you learned positive coping mechanisms?

Yeah. I talk to people. I get out of my head. Because when I’m left alone with myself, I will torture myself and it’s not even me doing it on purpose. My coping skills are self-care like getting myself to the gym, doing esteemable actions to make myself feel like I have some self-esteem. I do distraction, but I don’t do that as much as I do doing the next right thing.

What do you feel like your narrative is like now? What is the narrative that you’ve written for yourself?

It only goes up from here. Still, like in the back of my mind, I feel like sometimes I should just kill myself, because it’s so bad, it can’t possibly get better. My narrative, under being all that my mind tells me, is I’m a badass warrior princess that has had her castle and comforts stripped away from her forcing her to face down the deep evil. I have gathered a cast of characters as companions on my travels to this great battle and each one has altered my heart to rejuvenate softness, humor, simplicity and strength back into it. What is my new purpose? To regain my peace to a deeper extent and free the land of an evil like the one I know.




Date of Interview: January 9th, 2018

Name: Beef

Age: 30

Pronouns: She/Her


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

Oh, God. I’d be the kraken [laughter]. Yeah, I’d be a famous squid octopus thing. Famous as shit. It’s the bigness, just the bigness. The big mythical-ness of that motherfucker [laughter].

How often do you bathe or shower?

Well, in the cold season it’s every other day but in the summer it’s twice a day because I bike and I’m fucking gross. I know. Because I have two pairs of pants so I’m wearing those a week at a time. You have to bathe a lot when you’re biking. It’s amazing I have a girlfriend.

What are you passionate about?

Nothing since the depression. Jesus Christ. Seriously, it’s a struggle. Going to work. I’m passionate about going to work and keeping my job [laughter], making money, yeah. But I mean, honestly, one of the things that– one of the only things that I give a shit about when I’m super depressed like this is using what little people skills I have to make a bunch of money and put it in some sort of cause. I bought one of my ex’s social worker Christmas list for the kids in her families and stuff and bought them presents, and I donated a bunch to Puerto Rico and stuff. Blah blah blah so.

What makes you want to give back?

I think just because I feel so shitty, and I’ve been in so many different positions in my life that I’ve had it really fucking terribly and I know that people can always and do always have it way, way, way, way, way worse. So not only does it put things into perspective but it gives me something to focus on and it’s doing better for folks that– their good day is my worst day, you know what I mean?

What do you struggle with?

The depression and anxiety. It’s crippling. I was just at a doctor’s appointment this morning for it. Got my meds. It’s been a thing my entire life but I’ve also had a whole bunch of really crazy shit happen. My half-brother’s mother was murdered when I was in the fourth grade. My brother drowned in a golf cart. I know that sounds crazy, I know it’s probably weird that I’m laughing but this is insane. My great-grandmother was 100 years old, in better health than I am, and then she fell down the stairs. My dad died in Costa Rica, just crazy shit nonstop so it’s just something I’m going to have probably forever and ever and ever.

What do you think is a good coping skill that you use?

I notice I pick up a lot of shifts when I’m really depressed because I just want to work. And, again, I’m a bartender by day so I get to focus on other people and their bullshit, and if I’m really feeling low I’ll collect their tip money because I work in a park and everyone’s wealthy, and I can give it to people that need it way more so that’s dope.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

God, I don’t know. I really like conning– not conning necessarily, but convincing people to give up their money, and fortunately I use my powers for good, donating these charities, but I own a traveling art gallery, too. I don’t do anything with it hardly anymore but I used to sell the dumbest shit. So, yeah, I realized how good I was at that. I’m like, “Oh, I’m going to get money for people that are in shittier situations than me,” and, yeah, I feel accomplished with that.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual, and otherwise.

Oh, God. They’re so complicated [laughter]. Jesus. I mean, I don’t know. My concept of relationships is so weird because most of my family is dead, I don’t have at all strong or even remotely conventional relationships with the ones that are alive, so that affects every part of my life. I’ll find myself searching for the wrong things in romantic relationships. It’s really weird. And I’ve also found that I like doing things like living alone and stuff like that because of it because I never had much family whatever life, home life. So I don’t know. I mean, they’re good. I’m not going to say they’re necessary because I’ve lived pretty isolated before. I mean, aside from social media, I would go months and months at a time without being on that at all, just traveling the country in my pick up truck, not living anywhere, not having a job, living off mountains and stuff, eating road kill, no joke, no joke. I’m sure you’ve seen the pelts and bones everywhere. That’s legit, that’s not some shit I got on Etsy [laughter]. Yeah. What was the question? Sorry. I haven’t had my coffee yet today.

Thoughts on relationships?

Oh, God, yeah. Yeah, like I said, they’re complex just like my train of thought. I don’t know, they’re great when used well. They can be really harmful. Keeping ahold of some of my familial relationships was a huge detriment to my life and so it was good to drop them but having friends and stuff has helped me but I’ve also had friends that have made themselves seem there and ended up being absolutely terrible for me so it can go either way. It’s just all how you handle it and it’s about being able to cut people off, too. As long as you have the power to do that, relationships aren’t so bad.

What is something that you are looking forward to this year?

I’m just like, “The sweet release of death [laughter].” Sorry. I do low key work in the funeral home industry on and off and stuff like that, I’ve done autopsies and shit in coroners offices and shit so I’m dark and depressed. I don’t know. Surviving into the year.

Hope Arthur


Date of Interview: January 5th, 2018

Name: Hope Arthur

Age: 30

Pronouns: She/Her


If you were an underwater creature, real or mythical, what would you be?

I probably would be a real one. But there are two that popped in my head right away. Well, no, three actually. So, the first one would be a sea anemone because I got really obsessed with the way they move for a while and I would only dance like a sea anemone. And then there are sea urchins because I think it’s really cool that they’re really spiny and crazy looking on the outside and they’re really soft on the inside. And then seahorses because I’ve been dreaming about them [laughing]. I don’t know. I just recently was dreaming about seahorses. Really gigantic ones flying outside my window and they’re floral. They were seahorse skeletons, but in my dreams they are not the typical exoskeleton you see on a seahorse. My dream seahorses have ribcages which are hollow. They’re gigantic floral skeletal seahorses. I’ve been thinking about seahorses a lot, so I would want to be one.

How often do you bathe or shower?

Several times a week. Yeah. Several times a week. I shower several times a week and I bathe several times a week because I love baths.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about music and art, I’d say. I started taking piano lessons when I was eight years old. And I fell in love with classical music when I was a child, but my brother would listen to heavy metal and rock and roll. So I was into both [laughter]. And I knew when I was really little that I wanted to be a musician. By the time I got to high school, I had already figured it out and wanted to do that. So I joined every possible music-related thing I could even if I hated it. I was in jazz band. I was in marching band. I was in theatre and choir. I was in– I mean, I didn’t hate any– probably I disliked marching band the most. But I mean, I did all those things because I was like, “Well, if I’m going to be a musician then I need to know everything I can about it.” So, yeah, I guess it was just an intuitive thing I knew when I was a kid. And then I went to really conservative schools. The conservative schools I went to weren’t as liberal in their artistic expression as I personally wanted to be. It wasn’t until I got out of high school that I really got to explore the arts fully, the artistic side. And I started meeting new people in college and going from there.

What type of art do you do now?

Well, so it’s mostly music. I play classical piano, but I also perform in a ragtime band, and I perform in an electronic band, and I have a solo project. And then in terms of art, I’ve been dabbling in visual art because I have strong impulse towards it and it’s a medium I’d like to explore. I do feel intimidated by it though, because I don’t know what I’m doing, so I don’t spend as much time on it. But I have a long-term project where I’m working on a series of large-scale sculptures, which are a physical representation of my own spirit. Initially, I was wanting it to be a general representation of a human spirit, but I think the more I get into the project, I’m realizing it’s my own. But I want it to be a thing where it’s sort of like a playground but it’s an art piece, and you can climb on top of it and through it, and there’s tactile stuff on the inside. I have a prototype of it. It’s made out of styrofoam and wood, so you can’t climb on it. But anyway I sort of do large-scale sculptures, but I need a lot of help when I’m doing them because I don’t know what I’m doing [laughter]. If that answers the question [laughter].

What does the term artist with integrity mean to you?

Artist with integrity. What does that mean to me? I guess I think it means… When I meet people who I believe are artists with integrity, I feel like they ultimately value the purest form of expression. So it’s not like a hierarchical thing or a judgey thing. The people who I respect and the person that I try to be is seeing the first moment of expression. Like when a person wanted to express something or process the world around them, and how they let it travel through their body and then manifest. And allowing space for that, and not judging the manifestation, and just allowing it to be. It’s not to say there aren’t skills or mastery involved. With classical music, for example, there are ways to do it, right? So if you’re a professional at it, there are accepted standards for how to do it because there are established styles within that framework. But at the same time, somebody who felt an impulse to create a really wild classical piece, that’s just coming from the same place as a child who is drawing stick figures in kindergarten. And seeing the oneness of those things, to me, is an artist with integrity.

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

I’m all messed up about relationships right now [laughter]. I’m really all over the place. I don’t really know. Okay. For my personal choices, I have a lot of trouble because of past baggage. But in terms of other humans and their choices, I just feel like everyone comes with their own life experiences that built them up to why they’re choosing to do things the way they do in the present, so I’m not there to judge. Same with me. I hope no one judges [laughter] why I would have some trouble forming relationships.

What is something you still struggle with?

In general, in life? Probably the relationships thing? [laughter]. Probably that the most. I’ve been really on top of my self-care game. Part of what got me into trouble in the first place, was that I had never really looked at myself and developed enough self-confidence or learned to set boundaries. That created a channel that allowed me to get into some really scary situations, which then created some traumatic experiences for me, which now play into why I’m having trouble forming relationships. So that’s probably, honestly, the biggest thing I struggle with. Otherwise, I feel like I’m pretty good [laughter].

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Something I feel accomplished with? So far, I feel really good about my career. Of course, I can always go further with it. I feel accomplished in my career because I didn’t compromise anything with that, regardless of the bad, unhealthy situations I found myself in. And if I died right now, I would feel pretty successful, even though I know I have a ways to go.

What does self-care mean to you?

Just being really generous with myself when I’m feeling confused about something. Being really generous with myself and allowing myself to feel all—absolutely everything. I used to definitely make myself so busy that I wouldn’t have any time to process my emotions, and I would find myself practicing piano and I would just be bawling my eyes out, because that was the only time I was alone and I could have any moment to process. And so at the bare minimum level, it’s for sure just giving myself time and space to let myself sort it out however I need to, even if people don’t like it or it doesn’t make sense to them. It’s just who I am and what I need to do. And then other things, like nurturing myself. I really like taking baths. That’s a big deal, right? Physical self-care. And then eating healthy. And then, also, if I have a wild idea, just going for it instead of being afraid or letting other people make me feel stupid about it. That kind of stuff.

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