Eli Poole


Chicago, IL

‍ELI :  “ I was born and raised in the suburbs. When I was a kid no one could watch me on a day I had to stay home from school. My half-sister brought me to school with her. She was in nursing school at the time and she brought me to all her classes. Everyone was paying so much attention to me and I felt so cool being in this big school and getting to sit in these cool science classes, it really sparked an interest for me in the life sciences. Growing up I wanted to be a medical illustrator, I think because of those experiences with my sister.

I just turned thirty-nine and I’m a printmaker, starving artist, and I’ve got a lot of side hustles.

Currently, self-improvement is the goal. I don’t drink and that’s a relatively new thing for me, I’m working on that…lots of therapy.

Transilient: I can relate..what made you decide to stop?

You know that bottom they talk about…I hit it. It’s been on and off in recovery. Currently, I’m at a month plus sober… I’m doing the twelve step thing and all that. In Chicago, there’s an AA meeting for people in the arts. There are also some at unitary churches that a very queer friendly.

Transilient: Have you noticed changes since being sober?

Yes! The most obvious one is, well, like, remembering what I did the night before! I’m aware of the present more. I’m trying to stay focused on the things I can do and letting go of what I can’t control. I’m trying to be more kind to the people around me. The experience is an emotional rollercoaster and I’m kind of emo to begin with.

I’m also developing more confidence. I started off with a lot of confidence. I came out really young and had a lot of battles young in life and then I sort of lost that along the way…it was a decade of fun drinking and then a decade of not so fun drinking. Now I’m trying to figure out who I am at this point in my life.

I tried to come out when I was fourteen but I didn’t have the word for my identity. My family was not supportive, my catholic school was not supportive and I thought I was an alien. I didn’t know the word transgender, I didn’t know there were other people who felt the way I did.

I’m not so close with my family now. My mom is just now slowly coming around. They asked me to come home for 4th of July but I said, “I’m newly sober and you make me want to drink, so I can’t do that.” I’m not there yet.

I’m also OCD diagnosed so that complicates things sometimes. In AA they talk about the compulsion of the mind. The alcohol I can stay away from that because I’m stubborn, and I like proving people wrong but the compulsive thinking is still something to overcome. So, that’s kind of where I’m at right now.

Transilient: Do you still want to be a medical illustrator?

No…it would be a good job for me though, the artistic side and the OCD side of it! ”