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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to photographer Rhonisha Franklin about finding your passion, pivoting careers, the beauty of brown skin and using photography as a healing modality.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today we're talking to Rhonisha D. Franklin, pronouns she and her. Rhonisha is a two-time graduate of Howard University, with a BA in international business, with a minor in marketing and public relations, which she earned in 2004, and an MBA in human resources, earned in 2010. Rhonisha began photography in 2007, opened her studio seven years later. She prides herself on her ability to create clean, classic images, that enable people to present their best selves, and she specializes in portraiture for people of color. Her most recent projects include Profile Noire, currently on exhibit, and The Subtle Strength of Kings, currently in production. In addition to photography and a few other pursuits, Rhonisha owns a logistics company in partnership with her sister. Thanks so much for coming on the show.
Rhonisha: Thanks for having me.
Erica: So, Rhonisha, when we... we picked this book for the last episode, and it's called “Along for the Ride.” It features this protagonist who spent years doing one thing that she didn't love, and then she decided to make a leap to do something different. I feel like that touches on your story. We all, just a little background for listeners, viewers, we all went to school together, same time, we know each other, that kind of thing. But I haven't been super in touch with your life. I've been seeing you've been on some whole other fabulous shit, and so when we were reading this, I was like, "I know who we can speak to."
Erica: So it just rings true from the outside looking in, you can fill us in on the rest. But before we even get there, what did little Rhonisha want to be when she grew up?
Rhonisha: Little, little Rhonisha wanted to be a teacher. Yeah, I wanted to be a teacher. I don't know what it was about the classroom settings, but I would always play school with my sisters and stuff. But yeah, wanted to be a teacher. Not anymore though.
Erica: And then you learned how much they pay teachers, and you're like... shout out to the teachers.
Rhonisha: I mean, shout out to the teachers, because I just had my niece and my nephew here. I don't have any children of my own. So shout out to the teachers, shout out to the parents. But my niece came to visit, and she was doing virtual school. Even in that setting, I could tell the teacher was just like, "Okay," trying to just take a deep breath and just kind of go through things. But I feel like even though I'm not in a classroom setting, that I'm able to still have a teacher type of feel with the things that I do, and different things that I'm involved in. So I think I feed that need a little bit.
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: Word. As you were saying, you made this massive leap. I'm wonder how the first leap, how did you get from little Rhonisha wanting to be a teacher, to doing all of these very business lady degrees in the School of B. How did you get there?
Rhonisha: Yeah. I didn't even start out in the School of B when I came to Howard. I started in, like probably 80%, 85% of kids that go to higher education, they start out in biology, or something, because that's what they-
Erica: Doctor, teacher, lawyer.
Rhonisha: Doctor, teacher, lawyer, and those are the things. In high school, I actually took a Health Occupation Students of America program, and so for the last two years of high school I was taking classes at the local hospital, preparing to be a pediatrician. And even in the last year, I was shadowing a nurse practitioner at a school that was... I want to say high risk school, I guess you could say. So there was-
Kenrya: Under resourced.
Rhonisha: Yeah. There was a nurse practitioner on site to do all of the things. So I was heavy into the sciences, heading into undergrad. And so, the natural progression for me was to go into biology. So I was a bio major, and then my, I think it was second semester of chemistry, took me out. I am not a math person, and me and numbers, we don't work well together.
Kenrya: You're not friends.
Rhonisha: We're not friends. So the whole chemistry component of things just really... I wasn't happy there, and my mom ended up pulling a test, like those tests that we do, and it showed that I was more inclined towards business. And so, then I started looking at business. But deep down inside, I was actually looking at the fine arts kids, and I just loved their freedom of expression. Even in high school, the kids that were in drama, or in choir, or taking all of the arts classes, I admired them. I admired how they presented, I admired how they were just freely doing whatever they wanted to do.
Rhonisha: One of the greatest classes that my dad made me take was typing. But I was reluctant to take it, and mad that I had to take it, because it was either jewelry making or typing course. And so he made me take typing. Now, I'm very grateful that he made me take it, because, I mean, life has been so much easier.
Kenrya: It's a valuable skill.
Rhonisha: Yeah. But at the same time, there was a missing piece of that artistic side of me, that was never being fed or filled. And so, I even took an interior design class my fifth year at Howard, just to release that need to be artistic. So the test that my mom showed, actually pushed me to the School of Business. I started business in my second semester of my sophomore year. International business was the thing, I was taking oral expressions for Spanish, so that's why... I don't know, you just choose something, and that's what I chose. And then marketing, of course, was the reasonable minor, and I coupled that with public relations. It sounds good.
Erica: Yeah. I feel like it's so... I mean, I don't know how there's a different way to do it, but I feel like it's so unfair to throw these 17, 18, 19-year-olds in college. You're paying $20,000, $30,000 a year, and they're like, "Pick something that supposedly sets the course for the rest of your life." Because, yeah, we all just, "Okay." I mean, at least your parents had the foresight to give you a test, I was just like, "Huh, well. Which teacher was nice?"
Erica: Yeah, that's really dope. You were in the School of B. I'm assuming after you graduated you went to work within the business realm.
Erica: And then I guess there was some sort of ah-ha moment, where you were like, "I've got to get the fuck out of here."
Rhonisha: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: So what was your ah-ha moment? What was the point where you was like, "Fuck this, let me go on my own"?
Rhonisha: Yeah. I wouldn't say ah-ha moment. It didn't come right out of undergrad. The test was right, I am a very business minded person. It's in my natal chart, it's all over the place. But there is also a side of me that's very artistic. And so, the way that I am composed is that there is always that need for balance between the two. And so, what I wasn't aware of, was that need for balance. And so, I graduate in '04, and I started in insurance risk management for high net worth individuals, so I had all these big named clients like the Marriotts, the Perdues, the Mars family, all of these people that I was digging into all of their personal risks, and seeing how the actually managed things.
Rhonisha: And so that was great. That has had so much impact on how I manage my businesses today, just being able to see how they operate and things. But the ah-ha moment that brought creativity or art into my life was constantly waking up, going to work, coming home, cooking dinner, going to sleep. Waking up, going to work, coming home, cooking dinner, going to sleep. Waking up, Wednesday night, going out, coming home, going to sleep. Barley waking in the next morning, for Thursday. But that constant, every day is the same. And I was laying in my bed, and all of my walls were tan and brown, and it was just very safe and very neutral, and there was nothing exciting about anything. And when I looked at my walls, I burst into tears.
Rhonisha: And so, within a couple of weeks, I got all this paint and painted my walls yellow and green and purple, just to bring some color into my life. But my mom always kept us in something that was creative. She had five Girl Scout troops, and so we were always working on an arts and crafts project. And so I was like, I need to get back to that. And so, I just started dabbling in everything, and then I dabbled in photography, and I loved it and fell in love with it. It brought me back to my father, who was a videographer, he used to do video weddings and stuff. He always had a camera. He would always have us standing there for five minutes, trying to get it perfectly in focus, because this was pre-digital so he doesn't like to waste anything, he's very frugal. Very frugal. Very, very frugal. So if he's going to click the button, he wants that picture to come out right.
Rhonisha: So I just remember all of those things came flooding back. And so, it was a space where I was able to release that side that had not been fed for so long. That was my ah-ha moment, looking at my walls and realizing everything was brown. At least for adding in the creative side.
Erica: It's amazing how something so small, yet so large, just creates this cascade of, "Okay, I'm changing my life."
Erica: So what was your transition from that, that you did, to what you currently do?
Rhonisha: It was a transition over some years. I started photography in 2007, right? I was still working in corporate America, but I became the girl with the camera, so I just had my camera around with me all the time. I ended up taking a course with Derrel Todd who teaches a lot of Black photographers in the Washington D.C. area. And after taking his course, he actually invited me along with him to Paris to second shoot for him on a job. He chose his top student to come with him, and so I was top student.
Kenrya: That's dope.
Rhonisha: Right. So when I saw that side of photography, I was like, "Oh, this can be a whole business thing, and I can travel and do all of that? Now you're talking my language." So I just started to do all of these things. I was shooting everything. I was taking picture of anything that someone wanted me to take a picture of, that's what I would do. But it wasn't until 2014, fast forward, where I was asked to move to Minneapolis with my job. I was doing philanthropic giving, and I managed the East Coast and the Midwest for Target, all of their law enforcement partnerships and emergency management partnerships. Side note, I can't believe I ever did that, but that's what I did. Anyway-
Kenrya: We change, and our politics grow.
Rhonisha: Yeah. What did you say?
Kenrya: We change, and our politics grow.
Rhonisha: Yeah. Definitely. They were asking me to move to Minneapolis, I'm like, "I'm not moving to Minneapolis. You know how hard it was for me to get outside of the Midwest? I'm not going back. And Minneapolis, they have an exposed skin advisory in the wintertime, you can't even have your skin out. No, I'm not going to do it." So it was me and the woman that ran the California, the West Coast, and both of us were like, "Nah, we're not going." So they eliminated those positions on the coast, and then brought them in house.
Rhonisha: And so, I was able to walk away with a severance, and so it allowed me time, space, energy, financial support, to be able to really hone in on photography, and that's when I built my studio in 2014. So in that time, I was really trying to narrow down my focus, because I didn't like photographing everything. I don't do new borns, I don't do babies. I was still doing weddings, I don't do weddings anymore. I never consisted myself a wedding photographer. I've shot weddings, and I can do them, but I don't like to do them.
Rhonisha: Portraiture spoke to me in a way that nothing else did. I would look at the back of my camera and tear up, and I felt that soul connection with that aspect of photography. And so that's it, I completely got rid of everything in my main area in my condo, and I converted it to a studio, and a functioning studio. And that's where 95% of the work that is out there, that you see online, or Profile Noire, the project that I completed, Subtle Strength Of Kings, the project that I'm working on now, all of that is still done in my one bedroom condo in D.C. so it's definitely... yeah, it was a 360 from like, "I hate these walls", to, "Oh, I love these walls."
Kenrya: Wow, that's beautiful.
Rhonisha: Did I answer the question?
Kenrya: In the book that we read last week, it's called “Along for the Ride,” and the main character's name is Jolene. She, outside of all the romance stuff, her other big thing is that she's keeping her passion for her work a secret. And it's because in the past when she's declared her love for her work, stuff didn't always pan out, and so she didn't want an audience to see if she fell down on her way to trying to make a new life for herself. Did you struggle at all with letting people into your decision to switch things up in your life?
Rhonisha: I don't know if I would call it a struggle. I would call it a testing of the waters, because I believe very strongly in making sure that you're sharing with the correct people, the people that are going to feed you, feed your vision that you have. Not someone that's a yes man, but someone that isn't going to just hear what you have to say and then chop it down. So someone who's going to ask the questions, someone that's going to be a support to you.
Rhonisha: I had to be very careful with sharing actually with my father. Not necessarily the photography part of things, but with leaving my job. My parents are very supportive of everything that I want to do, but my dad is very conservative when it comes to having a job and all of those things. And so, I knew that going into it, and so I would give him little hints, things here and there. But in 2020, when I actually left corporate America, I told him the day that I submitted by two weeks notice. I would say, "I'm working to leaving my job", but I didn't give him the time until I actually submitted it.
Rhonisha: Because you share with everybody. Sometimes that's family, sometimes that's friends, but you just have to protect your space and the things that you're sent here to do. Because you're the only person that is ultimately responsible for your destiny, and so you can't allow distractions in.
Kenrya: Yeah, that's real. So in 2020 you left. How did the pandemic, if at all, influence that decision?
Rhonisha: It didn't really, not for me. I don't know, I move in a way that is very thought out and strategic. So I had been planning for this for some time, and I just believe that the universe is abundant. And so when I walk in that knowing and understanding, then I can step on firm ground. Of course there is fear, there's questions that you have, but as I continued to put one foot in front of the other, opportunities would come... okay, maybe that's not the right opportunity, but it would leave. But I had that time frame that I was working towards. And so, as long as I knew that this was the ultimate goal, because that goal was set two years ago... I mean, in 2018, that I was leaving in 2020. So pandemic or not... it was happening.
Kenrya: You was out.
Rhonisha: This right here is happening.
Kenrya: Word. I heard you talk a little bit earlier about portraiture and why that's key to you. I was looking at some of the images on your site, and it made me think about something that has always really fascinated me about photography, and it's this history of exclusion when it comes to dark skin, right? Like the fact that back when I was using my momma's old... she had this lavender 110 camera that I used to put on my wrist and take everywhere and take pictures, but in every picture I was a little over exposed little dark spot, because I was always the darkest one out of my group.
Kenrya: Growing older and learning that that was really by design, that film was calibrated to better capture lighter skin. I'm wondering, if at all, how this legacy of bias impacts the way that you shoot your subjects?
Rhonisha: I love... my portfolio is of Black people. I've never been a photographer that's been, "Oh, I need to diversify so that I can have a broader range of clients."
Kenrya: For what?
Rhonisha: That's just what I do. I made it my mission, either consciously or subconsciously, to be able to photograph brown skin in a way that is seen and beautiful. And not everybody can do that, and I love to be able to have that focus on brown skin. If it's a lighter hue or a darker hue, to me, it's all beautiful. But when I get a really dark skinned, mother of the earth toned, goddess in my studio, I am transported, in a way, that I hope resonates through the work that I do. Profile Noire was set up so that it was a range of colors and textures and ages of Black women, and it's always those darker skinned, really luxuriously rich tones that I feel are actually, for me, easier to work with.
Rhonisha: So when I get someone that is more fair skinned, maybe had a little bit more colonization impact in their bloodline, sometimes it's, for me, I'm playing with the light a little bit more, I have to adjust more, I have to get the tones just right. So I think, for the work that I do, I think it's maybe more subconscious than conscious, because I'm focused on brown skin. But I can definitely tell the difference when I'm working with different skin tones. But they're all beautiful, but there is just something about a very rich textured, luscious brown skinned woman.
Kenrya: Yes, luscious.
Erica: Your Profile Noire project, you can tell in the portraits that you take that you love and appreciate Black women. It just comes through in everything that you photograph, and so I absolutely adore it. It's beautiful.
Rhonisha: Thank you.
Erica: But what's your favorite thing about what you do?
Rhonisha: I love that it is a healing modality. Not only for the people that sit for me, there's a level of healing that comes into play, especially when we do Profile Noire sessions or portrait sessions. Headshot sessions too, but people are usually in the studio, headshot sessions, thinking business and, "Oh, I've got to get this pose right." But still, there's still a level of magic that occurs even then.
Rhonisha: But healing for them, because they're going through a process of pampering themselves. They come in, make up is included in my sessions. Especially for Profile Noire, a lot of the women that are little bit more mature in age, may not have ever had their makeup done, a couple of them didn't. And so, I remember one woman, she started crying as soon as we got one lash on. It was like, "Hold on. Hold on now." Like, "Yes, have this moment, but we-"
Kenrya: We've got to make this lash stick.
Rhonisha: Yeah. Yeah, okay. But it was beautiful to have that release. Or one woman sat down, and the way that I have my setting set up is that I have music playing in the background, that doesn't have words, it's just very soft, but it causes you to go within yourself. So I create a safe space, and she was in this moment of feeling herself and seeing herself. Even though she couldn't see herself, having this moment of just being... maybe it was being seen by someone else, and she just burst into tears. That happens very frequently in my studio, and so I like that it's healing for them.
Rhonisha: But this is all very healing for me as well, because it's been very recent that I've felt comfortable in my own skin, and that stems from... a lot of people have the same story where they were one of one or one of three Black kids in their class growing up, or living on predominantly white side of town. I went to predominantly Black church, so having those conflicts and not really knowing where to fit. It's a common story, so I'm not saying that I'm special to anyone, but it's my story. And so then coming to Howard and being exposed, and really having a sense of self, helped catapult me over the years into this space.
Rhonisha: But it was photography that really helped me to see me for me, because I'm seeing my insecurities, I'm seeing my beauty, I'm seeing my strength, I'm seeing my power, through the women that I photograph. So even though I'm behind the camera, the healing process still translates through me, because I feel like you photograph what you are. You photograph how you feel, you photograph how you express. And so yeah, I love that it's a healing modality.
Kenrya: I'm curious about what books, and don't leave out your own, you think that our listeners should read? We talk about books here. What books should folks read?
Rhonisha: “Profile Noire” is a coffee table book, so I think that it's a great piece to have in your home. Great conversation starter. If you have children, especially young girls, it's a great way for them to be able to see themselves through the images and the women that are a part of that initial part of the project, because the project is still growing, it's still adding more and more people. But it's on an online basis, not just the print. So, of course, “Profile Noire.” And then I think a lot of people are hip to “The Four Agreements.” I read that probably six years ago. It's definitely an easy read, and something that you can go back to every time that you need a reminder of different things, of those agreements that you make with yourself and other people. So I really love that.
Rhonisha: The Capricorn side of me, the business person, highly recommends “The 5 AM Club,” and that was recommended to me by my PR coach. I love that book. It's written as a story, but it's something that you should take notes on and try to incorporate different aspects of things. But it talks about waking up every day at 5:00 a.m., and it gives you a layout of what an ideal day should look like. Now, everybody's not going to fall into that same process and things, but if there's certain things that you can pick out... because I have a lot of friends that are not 5:00 a.m. people, right?
Kenrya: Yeah, listen.
Rhonisha: But there are different-
Kenrya: If I see 5:00, it's because my insomnia's kicking my ass.
Rhonisha: Maybe it's the flip side of that. Maybe you flip all of the nuggets and things that they have inside of the book, and just put it at different time frames that work for you. Because we're not all the same, and so we operate differently. But I know that it works for me. I am a morning person.
Rhonisha: Waking up at 5:00 a.m, that's when I'm my sharpest. It's when I'm ready to go, it's when all of those things. So “5 AM Club,” I love it, highly recommend it.
Erica: Yeah, like 10:00 a.m. is like 6:00 p.m. for me. By 10:00 I am dull.
Rhonisha: Yeah. I'm like, "Oh, look, the whole day is gone."
Kenrya: I legit start my workday at 10:00 a.m. That's when I start work. I like a slow morning.
Erica: I do the autopilot stuff by late morning, afternoon.
Rhonisha: I like a slow morning too.
Erica: It's horrible when we're trying to schedule things, Kenrya, because I'm like, "Let's do it early," and she's like, "10:30."
Rhonisha: Yeah. But at least, Erica-
Kenrya: It's funny though.
Rhonisha: ... by then, you can have all of your major things done, and it's just kind of like, "Oh, let me just close out the day after this."
Kenrya: That's true. I do do my major stuff first though. I call that eating my frog. I do the hardest parts and the things that require the most concentration, like writing, first thing in the day, because that's when my brain is sharpest. It's just that my first thing in the day is later than y'all's.
Rhonisha: Yeah. I agree. And that's the process that I was talking about, like how they lay it out is like what you're focusing on, your top three things, or your five little tasks, making sure that you schedule time, like an hour out of your day, to do whatever it is that you need to do. And hour out of your day to have some type of other education. So maybe it's an hour of you reading a different book that has nothing to do with work, or 15 minutes where you go and you take a walk outside. So it helps to structure things, and if you're a Capricorn or an earth sign that needs that foundation, then it'll work very well for you.
Kenrya: Word. I know you have a special code for our listeners. They can use the code Profile Noire, P-R-O-F-I-L-E N-O-I-R-E, when they purchase a copy of the coffee table book. Where would they purchase it, to enter that code?
Rhonisha: You can go on my website, www.rdionefoto, it's R-D-I-O-N-E F-O-T-O.com/shop. You can order a book, and just type in the code there, and when you order the book you'll receive a complementary Profile Noire coffee mug with it.
Kenrya: Awesome. And that's through the end of May?
Kenrya: How many days in May? May 31st, 2021.
Kenrya: So if you're listening to this after that, sorry. But go buy your copy anyway, because it's dope.
Erica: We like to ask here, at The Turn On, what is turning you on today?
Rhonisha: Well, today I'm out in Arizona. My logistics company is out here, and so I'm bi-costal between Arizona and D.C., and right now it's blue skies. My mom's actually visiting, so we're going to go by the pool. I think the weather, right now, is a huge turn on. In general, in life, I am feeling very free. Free spiritually, I feel free emotionally, financially, romantically, all of those things. I feel like things that I have been working towards over the past five years, I would say, specifically, are coming into fruition. I just turned 40, on January 19th, and so I feel a sense of self and strength that I... it's a new space for me, so I'm still trying to get used to it, but life is turning me on.
Rhonisha: All of the juiciness of life, all of the things that I'm able to experience though the things I've been able to manifest over the years, it's just turning me on. I love it.
Kenrya: That's awesome.
Rhonisha: I want more of it.
Erica: The sweetness and delectable-ness of life. I love it. Okay, so we like to do a rapid fire.
Rhonisha: Haven't done one of these before.
Kenrya: It's never really rapid fire.
Erica: Yeah, it's never really, because we answer and then we blah, blah, blah. Anyway, beach or mountains?
Rhonisha: Beach. I'm a daughter of Yemaya so I love the ocean.
Erica: Yeah. I can't swim.
Rhonisha: But I am also a daughter of Obatala, so he's the mountain. So when you said beach or mountains, I was like... but yeah, I'm going to go with my mama, with the ocean.
Erica: Okay. Cake or pie?
Rhonisha: Pie. I don't like cake.
Kenrya: Oh, I love cake, I just like pie better.
Erica: So what's your favorite pie? Now I need more answers.
Rhonisha: I love pecan pie. I think I got that from my dad.
Erica: That's what I thought. When you say a pie, that's the first thing that came to mind. I like a good apple pie. But pecan pie-
Rhonisha: Oh, apple pie with a little crisp on it, and then a la mode, with some vegan ice cream.
Erica: Yes. The hot, the warm and the cold. Yep. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay, books or movies?
Kenrya: That's an impossible choice.
Rhonisha: I don't know. I'm going to say movies. I'm going to say movies.
Rhonisha: I'm a visual artist.
Erica: Exactly. Following the theme of the book that we just read, would you rather be the driver or the passenger on a long road trip?
Erica: I'm like, "I'm a DJ."
Erica: All right, that's all I got for you. See, it was quick and easy.
Rhonisha: Thank you.
Kenrya: My last question is, what's next for you?
Rhonisha: What's next? That my next question too. Right now I'm just getting settled in to this situation that I have between logistics and photography, in Arizona and D.C., and enjoying this new relationship, and experiencing and learning, and just being in that space. Understanding who I am going to be, who I am entering into my 40s, and then where I want to be. So right now I feel like I'm trying to still figure that out, but for what's next, I guess I would just say that I'm open to a flow of things, whatever comes my way.
Rhonisha: I would love to, for photography specifically, I would love to have more museum exhibits. I actually have one that's coming up in the fall. More museum exhibits, artist talks. I love to have those. So I think that is what's coming up. Finishing out this project of Subtle Strength Of Kings, so on that, on the photography side. For logistics, just making sure that I'm able to take care of my 40-some employees, and provide benefits and all of those things, and encourage them to pursue their dreams, and hopefully being a foundation for them to be able to do that.
Rhonisha: And then, personally, really digging into myself and exploring more of my spiritual side of things, becoming a little bit more in tune and aware of my spiritual power that I possess, that I have. Like learning more about myself, digging more into my astrology chart, just doing a lot of self exploration on the road to self actualization. And then just loving on my love, and my family, and my friends that are in my life.
Kenrya: That's awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us. Let's, before you go, let folks know where they can find you. I know you gave us your site earlier, but where are you on Twitter, and IG, and Facebook, and all those places?
Rhonisha: Sure. Twitter, not so much. I mean, I have a handle, but I don't even know the last time I posted it. Instagram, I'm @RDione, R-D-I-O-N-E. I also have a little... I don't want to say exposure. It's Melanated Exposure, but it's where I talk about Black things, and try and give Black businesses and Black artists a platform. I also try to bring together people of color to have certain experiences. It's definitely been something that's been just on the burner a little bit, just sitting over there, but's still active. But it's Melanated Exposure, @MelanatedExposure, for Instagram. And then on Facebook, you can find me either RDioneFoto, Foto is spelled with an F, or you can go to my personal, which is Rhonisha Franklin. And then website is RDionFoto—Foto with an F—dot com.
Kenrya: Awesome. Thanks so much for letting us know. Y'all, go and find her and follow her. That's it for this week’s episode of The Turn On. Thanks, y'all, for listening.
Erica: Thank you.
Rhonisha: Thanks for having me.
Kenrya: Thanks for saying yes.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Hit subscribe right now on your favorite podcast app, and at YouTube.com/theturnonpodcast, so you'll never miss and episode.
Erica: Then, follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, transcripts, guest info, what's turning us on, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com.
Kenrya: Don't forget to email us at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com, with your book recommendations and your pressing sex-and related questions.
Erica: You can support the show by leaving us a five-star review, buying some merch, or becoming a patron of the show. Just head to TheTurnOnPodcast.com to make that happen.
Kenrya: Thanks for listening, and we'll see you soon. Holla.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya read "Along for the Ride" by Mimi Grace and talk the joys of road trips, rewriting the stories we tell ourselves, the consequences of taking on too much responsibility as children and what it really means to have your stuff together.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Erica: (singing) Sunny days, everybody loves them. Tell me baby, can you stand the rain?
Kenrya: That's not where I thought you were doing with that. I thought we were about to-
Erica: Oh wait. Hold on.
Kenrya: ... hit some Sesame Street.
Erica: (singing) Can you stand the rain?
Kenrya: Why was it right there, though?
Erica: Because, bitch, it has a carrying case.
Kenrya: Is it there from when we were-
Erica: I fucking carry this bitch.
Kenrya: ... shooting pictures the other day?
Erica: I literally keep this thing everywhere. I carry it in my purse, in my backpack.
Erica: My friends are like, "Look, nigga. Stop."
Kenrya: My kid has taken mine.
Erica: Welcome. Because she's really my kid. Welcome to this week's episode of The Turn On. It's a little rainy outside so I thought I'd serenade us a bit with some good tunes.
Kenrya: Yes, that's what that was.
Erica: This week we are reading “Along For the Ride,” which was written by Mimi Grace in 2019. Sit back, relax, get your wine, get your weed, get your whatever you need, which may be a second mic, and enjoy.
Kenrya: “Along for the Ride” by Mimi Grace.
Kenrya: Abruptly, as if finally making up his mind, he made a detour toward the desk and grabbed his phone. He plucked away at it. Jolene squirmed in the silence, trying not to stare at the way his dick pressed against his pajama bottoms. Eventually he looked up from his phone. The intensity of the moment had not abated. He placed the shiny mobile device in front of her face. “My current STI test results.” She studied the report, and everything was in order. She quickly pulled up hers, fumbling with the login information as the WiFi made things take longer than she appreciated. With each passing moment however, she could feel the imaginary dial of her anticipation tick higher. She similarly placed her phone in front of him. He gave a nod when he finished reading.
Kenrya: The desire between them moved in uninterrupted waves, pulsing and flowing in a way that made her feel lightheaded, and just as she got ready to do something to alleviate the buildup and ease the palpable tension, Jason eliminated the distance between them and pressed his lips to hers. Their first kiss had come unexpectedly and had been initially tentative, explorative, but this one was bolder and insistent. His firm lips pried hers open. There wasn't any teasing this time, just urgent clashing of lips and tongues. His hands cupped her face and she clutched his trim waist, feeling a solid muscle underneath. He pressed his body into hers and she felt his erection up against her. Her body responded to it with the begin of a low thrum all over.
Kenrya: "Jolene,” he moaned her name against her mouth, and it honestly sounded like a prayer, a benediction, and she wanted to be all that and more for him. His hands traveled down her body without breaking the kiss. She desperately wanted to feel his touch without the t-shirt hindering the experience. His hands found a home on both of her breasts, and he gave them an appreciative squeeze before he broke their kiss.
Kenrya: He played with the weight of her breasts, filling his hands with them, gently teasing and toying with her nipples through the shirt, drawing them to aching buds. She bit her lip so she wouldn't shout out, but then he lowered his head and took one T-shirt covered nipple into his mouth. The combination of his hot mouth and the abrasive fabric of her shirt took her to an edge she'd never gone before with just nipple play. She needed him inside her. He played with the nipple until the fabric became completely soaked and then gently blew on it. He did the same with the other nipple, then finally released her.
Kenrya: "Take your shirt off,” he said, his voice rough. The desire she saw in the depths of his brown eyes took all the air from her lungs, and with shaky hands she removed her T-shirt. His harsh intake of breath turned the pulse that had begun in her core the minute he kissed her into an ache that needed to be taken care of. “You're so beautiful,” he whispered. His voice had morphed into something unrecognizable, and his words, even spoken through a lustful haze, made a home in the back of her mind. He dipped his head and caught one of her already hard, wet nipples in his mouth and rolled the other between his fingers. “Please, Jason,” she whimpered. Wetness had already built up between her legs and she throbbed. He released her nipple with a pop. “What do you want, Jolene?” he asked and moved to her other nipple, giving it a tender bite. “I want you inside me,” she said, boldly. “Which part?” Jason asked as he sucked harder on her nipple. The new pressure made her throw her head back, submitting to the sensation. “Which part?” he repeated, and with the back of his hand he caressed her mound. “You know what part,” she said, breathy and frustrated. “I want to hear you say it.” God. They would not have a fight right now. Unable to resist she defiantly said, “Your steel rod.”
Kenrya: He let go of her nipple for a moment and stood to his full height. He looked down at her and he saw the smile that tried to press past his lips. “Or your dick or cock if that's filthy language you prefer,” she said flippantly. He did smile then, a crooked and devilish smile, and he followed it up with deliciously painful tugs on her nipples. He lowered his mouth to her ear. “I suspect,” he said, guiding her hand to his dick where it strained against his pants, “You'd have no problem screaming for my dick when it's buried inside your tight little pussy.”
Kenrya: Dear God. Hearing those words come out of Jason's mouth had Jolene battling a wave of dizziness. This couldn't be real, but it had to be because he continued to lazily move her hand up and down his length. The thick vein running on the underside of his dick pulsed, seemingly intent on drawing every last article of air from Jolene's lungs, but unfortunately, he removed her hand from him. “Tonight, I won't get to hear you beg for it. We don't have any condoms.” She desperately clutched his biceps then and tempered a wail of disappointment.
Kenrya: She must've been some sort of ruthless mercenary in a past life. What other explanation could there be? The universe had decided to punish her by denying her an orgasm she knew in her gut to be one of the best she'd ever had. He couldn't leave her like this, needing, so desperately needing. He gave her collarbone kisses and chuckled against her skin. “Don't worry. I'm still going to make you cum. It just won't be with my cock,” he said, “That will have to come later.” “Later?”
Kenrya: "He gently guided her to the open door of the bathroom and pushed her up against the doorjamb. She almost made a tepid joke about them not using a perfectly good bed, but then he removed his shirt. Words evaded Jolene as her hands automatically skimmed the slabs of muscle on Jason's arms and she briefly traced his tattoo. He dropped to his knees. “Spread your legs.” Any obstinacy she had previously wanted to display fled away the command. She did what he said and a harsh sound escaped Jason. He moved his fingers along her folds. Those damn fingers worked her wetness up and down. They lightly teased her clit until she deliriously moaned his name, “Jason.” “Is your pretty pussy wet for me, JoJo?” Soft, airy sounds escaped Jolene's mouth before Jason hooked her right leg over his left shoulder and pushed her other leg to the side. She couldn't hide here. She was completely and utterly exposed to his gaze, his touch, and she shivered with anticipation as he breathed on her just before his mouth finally pressed into her sex. She almost collapsed, but his hands held her fast. His tongue parted her lips and twirled or her clit, lapping her wetness. He moved his tongue in and out of her opening before he finally took a hold of the sensitive button and covered it with his entire mouth, sucking and toying with it.
Kenrya: Jolene held onto the door frame and focused on her body falling apart. That was all she could do. She was thrown, however, when she caught the image of them in the cheap, full-length mirror that hung against the front door on the opposite side of the room. She barely recognized the desire she saw on her own face, so blatant and raw. Jason kneeled at her feet and did the things he did to her, and at some point along the way, he had also released his erection from his pants and now jerked himself off with long, lazy strokes.
Kenrya: Energy coursed through her, and when he added a new dynamic by sliding a finger inside of her, it pushed her dangerously close to the edge. “Cum for me,”he moaned against her as he added another finger. The simple prompt did it for her. Jolene screamed and grabbed his hair as he continued to pump his fingers in and out of her until she was hurled into an orgasm that was all light. Her body shook, but he refused to let go of her clit. The two fingers that were inside of her continued to move, and before she could recover from her first orgasm, another one came calling. He released her clit once she came for the second time, gently blowing on and caressing her as she recovered. “I,” she said, trying to formulate words after an orgasm that she was sure shifted the tectonic plates of the earth.
Kenrya: “Only after a couple breaths did she notice that Jason still stroked himself, but this time faster and harder. He stood, bracing himself against the doorjamb behind her, caging her in as he buried his face in the crook of her neck and moaned inarticulate words. She didn't want to disrupt his rhythm by attempting to take over, so she rolled his nipples between her fingers and ran her fingernails down his back. He hissed as she made contact. “Just like that, baby,” he said. He went still as she increased the pressure with which she touched him. “Fuck. Fuck, Jolene, I'm cumming.” He quickly snatched up the pajama bottoms that had pulled against his ankles and released against the fabric, and Jolene pouted, someone disappointed that he hadn't finished somewhere on her body, but she wasn't about to complain about something like that after what she'd just experienced.
Kenrya: Jason hunched over for a few minutes before he straightened and looked at her and smiled. Her breath caught. She assured herself it was the residuals of her orgasm and watching him come. “That was great,” he said. A shiver passed through his body as Jolene continued to lightly skim his back with her fingertips. Jolene could only muster a weak laugh.
Erica: We are back. Thank you, Killa, for that lovely reading of a good scene. I was reading it and was like ...
Kenrya: Here's the thing. First of all, that scene is amazing, and it's really, really well written. Mimi's writing, there's never a false step. Everything flows really well. That's not always the case. You don't necessarily understand that when you're reading something just for yourself. When you start trying to read that shit out loud and you start stumbling and bumbling, because the sentences or too long.
Erica: Oh okay, because I'm like, "Ah."
Kenrya: Also I feel like there's some things we didn't think through that well.
Kenrya: In moving to video.
Erica: As you were recording?
Kenrya: Yeah! Me reading these things where no one can see me, because you're not even with me when I record these at this point, because your ass used to fall asleep and be on your phone. Listening to the soothing sounds of my voice.
Erica: I would literally fall asleep. You all would hear me breathing heavy on the mic.
Kenrya: I would be like, "Bitch, we can hear you snore. You've got to stop." It hadn't occurred to me that people would be watching me read really steamy-
Erica: Good scenes.
Kenrya: Yes. Trying to keep my face together, because there's so much acting that goes into this, which I never really thought about until I got into it, and just the fact that people can see me as I'm doing it is-
Erica: Maybe we'll just put a book cover up or we can get around-
Kenrya: No, it's fine. I'm going to push through. It's just I hadn't thought about that.
Erica: This was a good scene. This was their first time, right? No. This was their first time.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's their first. There was a kiss, but this was their first-
Erica: Yeah, but this was their first time where they was like, "Let's get down to it."
Kenrya: Touching genitals, yes.
Erica: I guess, you know what? It is really well written, because it was just the little nuances of their ...
Kenrya: There was never a false word. It's fantastic.
Erica: It was hot down in my cooter.
Kenrya: I'm like, what are you doing? You're looking at your cooter?
Erica: I was waving at my cooter. I was doing this. I was fanning it off.
Kenrya: We couldn't see your hand. What's up?
Erica: Give us a little synopsis of the story. First I will say that the main character, that the female main character is Jolene.
Kenrya: And I'm constantly hearing Jolene in my head every time.
Erica: I'm so happy that they reference that in the book, because I could not stop hearing that. We have one friend that absolutely loves Dolly Parton and loves “Jolene.”
Kenrya: Who loves Dolly?
Erica: The one that has the absolutely adorable baby, that just had the absolutely adorable baby.
Kenrya: They all have adorable babies.
Erica: The one that just had the adorable baby and we see pictures of her and we're like, "Why is she just so absolutely adorable?"
Kenrya: Oh my gosh. She's so cute and fat. I love her.
Erica: I got a video of her crawling yesterday. I'll show you later.
Kenrya: She's a doll baby.
Erica: She doesn't crawl. She just ...
Kenrya: [inaudible 00:17:51] along the ground.
Erica: Tell the story. The synopsis.
Kenrya: The story opens on Jolene and Jason, and their best friends are married. They're moving to another state and they have enlisted their-
Erica: Wait. Sister, right? Jolene is the sister.
Kenrya: Jolene's sister, is her name Nikki or Nicole, and then Jason's best friend. They're married. Yes, you're right. They're moving out of town. They've asked them to be responsible for transporting their things. They are driving the truck across several states to get their shit to them. They hate each other. We find this out very, very early on. They can't stand each other. They've known each other for years because of proximity with their people. He thinks that she's flighty and unfocused and she just thinks he's an asshole and they hate each other. They're thrust into this very small space together.
Kenrya: They've got to make it work. They set out on a trip. It's very quiet. Then eventually they start to open up to each other. A whole bunch of shit happens along the way. Then you know what I love is it doesn't end with the trip. Then they've got all this other stuff that happens after.
Erica: You're like, "Wait."
Kenrya: "Oh, it's not over."
Erica: "Here's a whole bunch of pages after this."
Kenrya: Yeah. There's all this other stuff that happens and you really get deep into their relationship and the rest of their lives. It's just beautifully written. You see their relationship or non-relationship evolve over time. This particular scene happens while they're on the road. Honey, you going to have to put that somewhere, because it keeps vibrating.
Erica: I apologize.
Kenrya: We can totally hear it. It's funny, I just realized my child calls her best friend honey all the time. I was like, "Aw, she got that from me." She be on, she be like, "Honey, I can't hear you," or, "Honey, you going to have to go around the other way."
Erica: Long as her best friend ain't calling her bitch like I call you, we're good.
Erica: Something that I was thinking about as I ... Stepping back from the story. I think about the fact that I think the reason that they don't like each other is because he has his shit together, I use quotation marks, and she doesn't, and he just can't stand ... Not that I ever had my shit together, because bitch be flying by the seat of her pants. People that are a hot mess express bother me, and in the sense of like how do you do this?
Kenrya: How do you focus?
Erica: Exactly. I can see how they didn't even give each other a chance, because it was like, oh, she a hot mess, and he was like, "Oh."
Kenrya: The thing is she's not anymore.
Kenrya: He's got this view of who she used to be, her younger self who did go through some things who had a really short and tumultuous marriage. That shit was over, and took a while to land on what she wanted to do with her career. It's like he's punishing her for-
Kenrya: ... who she used to be. Yeah.
Erica: He had so much shit happen to him in his life where he-
Kenrya: He was forced to.
Erica: He was forced. Actually, that's a little bit further down, but I might as well talk about it right now. One of the things in this is how the loss of a parent affects how you move in life after that. One of the things that you mentioned was that Jason's dad died early, and so he always idealized him. Is that a word? Idolized him, whatever.
Kenrya: It's both, actually.
Erica: You all know what I'm saying.
Kenrya: Both of those words are correct in this instance.
Erica: I identified with that so much, because Kenrya knows. I had to do a significant amount of therapy around getting the 10-year-old idea of who my father was out of my brain, because not only did it affect how I saw people, how I saw myself, how I moved in relationships, that shit really, really ... Past just the general my mom pretty much had a mental break and I was forced to do things that were much older than I should ... I was doing shit a 10-year-old shouldn't have to do.
Kenrya: You had to take on responsibility-
Kenrya: ... that you normally, hopefully, wouldn't have had to take on.
Erica: Yes, which turned me into a little adult. I'm reclaiming my time as a 10-year-old. Even bigger than that, it's just like when I think about what's an ideal relationship, I search for absolute perfection. I think there's a difference between perfection, what's perfect for you and what's just perfection. I was searching for perfection and not realizing I should've been searching for what's perfect for me. Share as much as you want, Killa. Both of your parents are here, thank goodness, but you've noted on the show that you were raised by your father. Can you explain, although it wasn't a loss of a parent, how did that ...
Kenrya: Now I see why you said share as much as you want. Raised by my dad, because my mom wasn't really ... Go ahead.
Erica: More than anything, it's not that we're trying to ... We're just trying to keep [crosstalk 00:24:33].
Kenrya: I want to tell my story and not everybody else's story.
Kenrya: Exactly. That's something that I struggle with a lot, honestly, in my writing, is what parts of the story are mine to share and what parts are theirs to own. I tend to talk about just how it impacted me. My mom wasn't really able to take care of us. At that time there were just two of us. Now I'm one of five. What the fuck?
Erica: I know. I'm like, yeah.
Kenrya: How many are you all?
Erica: There are.
Kenrya: There were just the two of us. My dad was it. I was, fuck, five when I started letting myself in the house. I have been taking care of myself in inappropriate ways for 35 years. I think I didn't really realize at the time how impactful that was or how inappropriate it was. It took therapy and it took having my own child and realizing that there were things that I had to do, making dinner for everybody, washing all the clothes, cleaning the house, looking after myself for several hours at the age of five every day, that I would never ask my child to do, never, ever, ever, because it’s not safe, and traumatic in a lot of ways. You see that in Jason, where it's not necessarily that he felt like he had to take care of himself, but with him it was like he had to take care of his mom. He's got these two things going on. One, he feels like, "Oh, now I'm the man in the house. It's my job to make sure my mama is good." Then the other part of it is that he had a child's vision of what his parents' relationship looked like, and so then no other relationships can measure up to this rose-colored vision that he had of a relationship that he was on the outside of. My nigga, you don't know.
Erica: That took a lot out of me, because after my father passed away, my mother went through some things. She was in relationships after that. I always compared them to what she had with my father, because in my mind it was this tragic love story. They were together for 10 years and then he died, or 11 years and then he died. I remember one time I was talking to my therapist and I was like, I didn't say it as casually as I'm saying it right now, but essentially I was like, "My mom was perfect. Everything was perfect before my dad died. She'd come home from work, she'd cook dinner." She was like, "Your mama could've been crying while she was cooking dinner, you just not know it." I was just like, "Whoa," because now as an adult, you see there's so much shit going on. Even if you had the most perfect relationship, there are outside external forces that are going to affect your relationship with that person, so breaking it down.
Kenrya: People can think that the relationship is perfect from the outside, and then you find out. How many times have you been surprised by somebody's divorce? Shit, everybody was surprised, for some reason, when I left mine, but that's because I didn't tell nobody nothing.
Erica: You know what?
Kenrya: Of course you thought it was okay.
Erica: I actually think that now that we have aged, looking back we're not surprised.
Kenrya: You're like, "Oh, that shit was a little fucked up."
Erica: Yeah. I was talking to a friend and we were talking about this program we used to do. I remember when you first had your daughter, she was with us every single weekend.
Kenrya: I was driving from an hour, hour and a half away with a newborn, every fucking Saturday.
Erica: At the time we just looked at it like, "Oh, Kenrya wants to be ... She don't want to leave her baby." Yes, there is a point to that, but also, every mama, she lying to you if she don't say it, has a "fuck them kids" moment, and you weren't allowed to have that. Even now I think as an adult looking back, you thought you were keeping it from us, and we were just dumb enough to not see it. Does that make sense?
Kenrya: Yes, absolutely.
Erica: Okay, you all. I jumped ahead to talk about the loss of a parent, how it affects our relationships. That was something I was going to talk about a little later. What I wanted to start with was Jolene may have had a reputation for being a hot mess express. It was just a reputation because she was young and trying to figure shit out. Can you hear my stomach?
Erica: Oh, because my stomach was like, "Hey, motherfuckers." One of the things that you, when you first sent this book to me, was that you touched on, you said this touches on vulnerability. I think it is so difficult being vulnerable with someone who appears to have all their shit together in the ways that you don't, and because we just went through this whole thing about how Jason really don't have his shit together in all areas, whereas Jolene, she's pretty secure with her relationship with her family, right?
Kenrya: Yeah. Mostly.
Erica: She's still trying to figure herself out professionally. She been through some shit. I can feel how if I were in that position, I would've felt so ... It would've been difficult for me to truly be myself. With Jason, because it's like, "Damn, here you are with all your shit together and here I am falling apart." I have felt that in relationships in the past. Obviously they didn't work out. I think that part of the reason that I married my ex-husband was because I felt like he accepted me not having my shit together. Does that make sense?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Even the guys that I dated that had their shit together, I was counting the wrong things, because yes, on paper they had their shit together, but they were fucking mama boys, they were trash.
Kenrya: What does it really mean to have your shit together?
Erica: That's the bigger question, what does having your shit together really mean. I think that I would always look at the things that I don't have and say, "Hey, they have their shit together because they can do X, Y, and Z, and I can't," whereas I'm looking at one piece of a whole. in that person, and judging myself on one piece of who I am, as opposed to the whole thing.
Kenrya: The totality.
Erica: The totality of the situation. I just found that very interesting about how we deal with ... This all brings me to how we deal with our insecurities in relationships with people as we think about what makes someone have their shit together. I think now that I'm dating, I have realized that there is less focus on the stuff that I used to believe, had a guy's shit together, and more on the shit that really makes a difference, really means something.
Kenrya: That list will help you do that.
Erica: Bitch, I got the list.
Kenrya: I know!
Erica: There are things on the list that is the whole job conversation. Remember we had that job conversation. It's like, okay, I think I'd rather have a guy that was a medical coder, no offense to medical coders, but you get what I'm saying, just comfortable doing his little basic job, as long as he's emotionally healthy.
Erica: Basic. I'm using problematic language. I'm sorry.
Kenrya: That sounds super judgy.
Erica: It does. I'm sorry. I'm trying not to be, because I want to make it clear that I'm not ... Again, I'm a hot mess. I have been a hot mess express. I understand the ideas of being a hot mess express, how it happens. I don't want to make it seem like I'm judgy. I think I would be willing to discount the whole career area of a guy's life if he's emotionally healthy and can fucking tell his mama no and set some boundaries and is emotionally intelligent.
Kenrya: You've done some rethinking around what's important there.
Erica: Yeah, which is very interesting, because my therapist told me that. I need to reevaluate my-
Kenrya: Who told you that before that?
Erica: You know what? Whatever.
Kenrya: Pat myself on the motherfucking back. That's fine.
Erica: Whatever. I'm assuming it is. Tell me, what has changed as you have worked through relationship sobriety? What once was hot that ain't that impressive?
Kenrya: I'll tell a story, and I think that that illustrates it. I really used to just fall into relationships. I would think someone was attractive. That was really my main criteria that I liked they face. If they liked my face, then we would build garbage castles in the sky.
Erica: (singing) Garbage castles in the sky. Flying high. Sorry.
Kenrya: The way that I got married was that I was telling my ex-husband about a friend in my grad school program who was in the country on a student visa, and she'd met someone while she was in New York. They had been planning to get married, but their wedding was, I don't know, maybe a year off. Because they knew her visa was going to expire, because we were going to graduate, they went to the courthouse and they got married. Then they were still planning their big wedding or whatever. I was telling him about it, and he was like, "Yeah, we should just do that." Now it was not in my plan to get married at that point. I had this whole timeline in my head, and that was not it. Literally, the way I tell the story, I'm like, he said we should do that and I was like, "Okay." That's how I got married 11 months after I met that nigga.
Kenrya: I think that that sums up the way that I approached relationships back then. It was like, "Oh, we like each other. That's cool. Let's do this." There was no real thought. There was no checklist. There was no intention. It was just, "Okay, now I'm with this person." Because I was a serial monogamist, which really at least in my case was code for “didn't want to be alone,” I would fall into these relationships and be in them for years before I realized that they were not for me and then moved on. I was always the one who left. It'd be like I'd fall in and then I would wake up and have an epiphany and then I would peace out. That was really the way that I carried it for years. Go ahead.
Erica: Keep talking. I didn't want to lose it, but I'll write it down.
Kenrya: I think the contrast now, and I think you've used this word in describing the way that I approach things, is that I'm very intentional. When I decided, "Okay, I want to get on the apps and try to find somebody," at first it was that same thing. I was just swiping and whatever. Then my trauma came in. I had a panic attack after what I thought was a decent date, and it turned out to be somebody who I had to block in all the places, and started back to therapy and had to go through the whole sobriety situation and no texting, no whatever. In that time it wasn't just cutting myself off from any type of a romantic situation. It was about really understanding what it was that I wanted and what I needed, which I honestly had never really asked myself before until things went bad. In being able to do that, it allowed me to be intentional about searching for what I wanted instead of just falling into things. That's the difference.
Erica: Two things that I wanted to note. Serial monogamist, I think that we tend to get that term twisted, because I think that there's a difference between being a serial monogamist and just a person that doesn't date around. Does that make sense? I keep asking does that make sense.
Kenrya: I don't quite get the distinction.
Erica: Jumping from one relationship to one relationship-
Kenrya: For me it meant that I was in one-
Erica: There's no break. Soon as you're out of one, you're into another. That is very different from, "I just don't like dating a lot and so I'm intentional about who I find. I'm not going to have five guys on the roster and see who shakes out. That's just not how I operate."
Kenrya: Which is what I did. The roster would shake out in a couple of weeks.
Erica: I just think that sometimes people will label people serial monogamists, not recognizing, no, they're just really, I almost said luck-
Kenrya: Intentional about the way they're going.
Erica: They're good at figuring out what they want and sussing that out-
Kenrya: [crosstalk 00:39:55].
Erica: ... and picking it.
Kenrya: That was not me.
Erica: Exactly. I think I was less of a ... I just ended up in a relationship. I had lists in my mind. They were just fucked up lists. I was just looking at the wrong things. We always say, "You looking at them shiny niggas." In college we was looking at them shiny niggas. Them shiny niggas ain't got no hair. They're like Neanderthals. They got beer bellies.
Kenrya: Oh no.
Erica: Whereas the niggas that we wasn't paying attention to, I'm like, "God. Oh. Dang. You shined up. You look good." I was looking for the shiny niggas. My list was full of shiny shit, when it should've been full of emotionally intelligent shit that would equip you for a motherfucking, I was about to say job, a relationship.
Kenrya: An actual relationship.
Erica: Again, I keep looking at this word vulnerability, but the idea of being vulnerable and exposing yourself. Also, I've been watching “Married At First Sight,” mainly, which it's an interesting show. There are trash people inserted in it. Does that make sense? It's like a Hot Pocket. The concept is great, but-
Kenrya: It's just they introduce people and you pick someone? I've never seen it.
Erica: The concept is great. The Hot Pocket shell, the concept of a Hot Pocket is great, but do you want a pepperoni and cheese Hot Pocket or a ham and cheese Hot Pocket? You don't want a ham and cheese, because it's just ham and cheddar. You want the marinara and the mozzarella and the pepperoni. What they do is-
Kenrya: This entire metaphor goes over my head.
Erica: Oh gosh.
Kenrya: You got to school me.
Erica: What they do on the show, they take people, they have them do a battery of tests and psychological exams and are you a morning person, are you a night person, do you eat with the sheets on or sheets off, stuff like that. I don't know how that came about.
Kenrya: Did you say eat with the sheets on?
Erica: I don't know. They take all these people, and then they have these psychologists and I think it's a pastor. They have all these people match them. Literally they plan a wedding. You show up and you're like, "Hey!" and y’all get married.
Erica: There are some people that are like, "I did this because I'm tired of dating. I want a marriage. I know that I'm showing up to a nigga that ... " There's no, "What does he want? He says he wants ... " No, we both signed this marriage contract. The great, the Hot Pocket shell of it, is that they are forcing these people. Yes, it is super sped up, but they're forcing them to do things that I think that most people, I don't want to say don't do in relationships, they're forcing them to do things that you should do when you're trying to find someone, a lover. One night they had the couples sit on the couch and they just asked a bunch of questions. They were really tough questions. They're questions that may be answered over the course of getting to know someone over two, three years. They're compacting it all into a six-week experiment. They have to be very like ... You can't have subtleties at this point. We need big ass glaring signs, "How do you feel about this?" I like it, I like the show, because they are really doing those big ass glaring signs of like, "This is something you going to have to think about if you all being married. We going to throw you in the situation and see how it happens."
Erica: One week it was like, "We're focusing on families. We're going to have your family and their family come together and you all do some shit together." It's not like a “Flavor of Love,” because I do love some shit like that, and there are some trash bag people, Chris, that's making it very difficult. How they're doing it makes it so great, because it is literally in your face, "These are things you need to be thinking about and being intentional about." I like the show because, and I'm thinking about vulnerability, because literally the episode that I just watched was about it. There was this couple, and they are just the cutest couple. It's a little Black couple. They were adorable. One of their issues is that the husband gets all in his feelings and not acts a fool, he be huffy and shit when things don't go well. They went salsa dancing. He had a attitude when it was over. He was like, "If I'm being honest, it's because I look like a fool. I gained weight. My shirt was too tight. I just didn't want to embarrass myself in front of her." She was like, "Bruh."
Kenrya: “Could've just said that, my nigga.”
Erica: She was like, "I like the quirks. You don't have to always be perfect." A lot of their conflict comes from him wanting to put on this perfect shell for her, because he likes her so much, and that kind of thing. It was just cute. Again, the show itself, concept, I actually think it's great, but they then insert ham and cheese in it when it should be marinara and pepperoni and mozzarella. I think that's what I look forward to in a relationship. I'm talking my ass off. I was trying to give you a chance to talk, but [inaudible 00:46:18]. I think that's what I look forward to. I want to be vulnerable. I want somebody to be like, "It's okay, girl. I know you are addicted to buying T-shirts on Instagram. I love you in spite."
Kenrya: I guess. Being vulnerable is hard as hell.
Erica: For you. Sorry, I'm having hot flashes, so I'll put you all on mute and fan myself.
Kenrya: For me it is difficult. I always feel better after I do it. It is definitely the kind of thing where it takes practice to be better and better at it. I work really hard at doing it. It helps that my partner makes it easy. He doesn't throw things up in my face. He doesn't make me feel silly for being vulnerable. He takes it seriously. That's all I can ask for and keep trying.
Erica: I think the reasons we feel this way comes from the same point, where we were carrying big shit on our backs. See, I think this says a lot about our working relationship, how we work together, I'm like, "Fine then. Fuck it. Take it." That's me taking off the backpack of shit and handing my vulnerability to somebody like, "Fine. Take it," whereas you're like, "No, I'm not sure what you're going to do with that, so I'm going to hold onto it."
Kenrya: Is that how I approach work?
Erica: This relates to how we approach work, because Kenrya's like, "We got to do it. It got to be right." I'm like, "We can wing it."
Kenrya: No, ma'am.
Erica: I know. It works, y’all. I don't know how, but it works. They were on the road again (singing). I need you to be more excited for my singing, bitch. You be like, "Are you finished?"
Kenrya: I'm going to wait for you to finish.
Erica: I love a good road trip. I love a good road trip. I love a good road trip.
Kenrya: I like to get places. My daughter and I talk about what superpowers we wish that we had.
Kenrya: Teleportation is mine.
Erica: I want that.
Kenrya: I would like to be able to do a hard blink and appear where the fuck I want to be.
Erica: Me too, because what's fucked up is by the time, when teleportation becomes an option, even if it's a billion dollars, it exists, you can do it, but it's a billion dollars, I will only travel by teleportation.
Kenrya: So your ass will be in the house.
Erica: Yeah. They going to be like, "Erica, come out." "I can't afford to teleport there." "Bitch, nobody can!" "Guess you don't need me," because I do hate airports and flying and all that. First it's got to be a specific time, four hours max. That's D.C. to New York. Four hours max. Good people. I don't have to be required to drive. Good music. Then I love a good road trip.
Kenrya: Those things can make them fun, but it's not my favorite. Two hours is about what I want to do. On the way there it's always good. The music is cranking. Got the window down. My kid is not being bothered or bothering me, whatever, but the way back-
Erica: Excited to go see what's on the other end.
Kenrya: Exactly. It's that coming home, my nigga. That's the part I hate. Because of my fatigue issues, I be struggling, pull over at a rest stop and close my eyes for 30 minutes sometimes. It's just too much. I be tired. Getting there is always fine. Coming home is bad.
Erica: I love a good road trip. I love a good road trip.
Kenrya: It's been so long.
Erica: With snacks.
Kenrya: [inaudible 00:50:47].
Erica: Sour straws. When we drive to Ocean City or when we do our family vacays.
Kenrya: That's not too far. I drive. That's part of why you like it, because I'm driving. See, that's only a couple of hours. It's not bad. It's going to open itself up to five days on the beach. Like I said, on the way there it's good.
Erica: On the beach.
Kenrya: On the way back I'm like, "Ugh."
Erica: I think it was our last trip when we came back from Ocean City, and on the way the entire time the weather was beautiful, and literally soon as we hit the Beltway it got hot and oppressive. We just like, "Mm."
Kenrya: Then there was that traffic, remember? We were trying to eat.
Erica: "This trip is over."
Kenrya: It was rough.
Erica: It was just no.
Kenrya: We ended up getting off and eating at Cracker Barrel.
Erica: We always eat at Cracker Barrel.
Kenrya: It was the traffic then. We were like, "Fuck it, let's just go eat."
Erica: I feel like I should not enjoy Cracker Barrel as much as I do, because everyone says-
Kenrya: I know.
Erica: ... it's racist, and it feels like racism, but it's not.
Kenrya: It's the name. I always felt that way growing up. One of our good friends always wanted to go there.
Erica: That fucking hashbrown casserole, bitch!
Kenrya: I ain't never had that. I get the catfish.
Erica: I got to go tonight.
Kenrya: I think tonight is going to be the night. Normally I try to make it to Friday. I been doing really good at cooking all our meals, but I'm tapped out. I ain't got shit in there to cook. I got to go shopping.
Erica: I think I'm cooking tonight. I think I'm cooking tonight.
Kenrya: I think we getting Chinese food. I'm over it.
Erica: I haven't had good Chinese in a minute. Love a good road trip. I take lots of road trips. I think my favorite road trip, it's a tossup. The one we took to our girl friend's wedding, the mother of the cute kid, that was a fun one, going there. Coming back, it was horrible.
Kenrya: You all had an incident on the way there too that should've made it horrible.
Erica: Wait, you were with us on the way there.
Kenrya: Uh-uh (negative). I didn't ride with you all. I flew in right-
Erica: No, you rode with us there and flew out.
Kenrya: I did not.
Erica: Didn't you?
Kenrya: I did not. I flew in and I flew out.
Erica: Somebody did. We left somebody and they flew back.
Kenrya: I don't know. I did not ride with you all. It was too far. I do not like riding in the car for that long.
Erica: I thought you were with us.
Kenrya: No. I met you all at the hotel. I came in, I flew with my hair-
Erica: Wrapped up, yeah.
Kenrya: ... in Bantu knots or something, because I wanted to be able to take it down for the wedding. I came in on my own, because I had a little baby at that point. It was definitely one of those, "I can't just be gone all of this time," situations.
Erica: That's why it was horrible getting back, because I had to get back for your child's dance recital. It was traffic.
Kenrya: Another reason why I couldn't drive with you all. I had to get home.
Erica: That was a good road trip going.
Kenrya: Except for y’all windshield got cracked.
Erica: It did.
Kenrya: We spent how many hours sitting there getting that shit fixed?
Erica: We went to Safelite.
Kenrya: Oh, but we had that food.
Erica: Oh my God. We were in Kentucky. We went to the most Kentuckyest ass ...
Kenrya: Cafeteria style.
Erica: Don't think white people, KFC. Think of an old lady-
Kenrya: With them thangs.
Erica: ... with receding hairline and a hairnet and an open-face gold right here and them plastic gloves, like, "What you want, baby?"
Kenrya: I love us. It was so good.
Erica: Every time I think about it.
Kenrya: Even for me-
Erica: That was a good road trip.
Kenrya: ... trying to find stuff that didn't have meat in it, I still was able to find some good food.
Erica: (singing) Another good road trip, and it was for a really sad situation, our girlfriend's mother passed away, and her funeral was in-
Kenrya: South Carolina.
Erica: ... Butt Crack, North Carolina.
Kenrya: Was it in North Carolina?
Erica: Yeah. We stopped at this spot. First, it was the crew, because when your girl's family, we-
Kenrya: Mount up.
Erica: We mount up. We don't fuck around. We all piled up, and we went to this.
Kenrya: In the dark. In the dark. In the morning.
Erica: We sure did. We drove and we were like, "Okay, we're going to stop and get something to eat before we go to the funeral," because this was just up there and back.
Kenrya: We stayed overnight-
Erica: Some of us.
Kenrya: ... and came back the next morning.
Erica: Me, you, and another girlfriend stayed. That was the night your daughter went, "What?!"
Kenrya: Was it?
Kenrya: Oh my.
Erica: We were getting ready to go, and I guess she thought we were leaving her, because we gathered everything. We're like, "Okay, we're going to pick up the baby last and put her in the car." She just heard too much shuffling. She was dead asleep. She was like, "What?!"
Kenrya: That's also the day that she was doing Beyonce choreography in between the hotel room beds on the floor with her legs up. She was doing Girls Run the World.
Erica: She was, because she kept going like this with her feet.
Kenrya: With her feet. Oh lord.
Erica: Going there, it was great, because all the girls were just going to see our girlfriend, take care of her, love on her. Then we stopped at this ... This shit looked like a porch. It was like what Cracker Barrel wants to be.
Kenrya: What it wishes it could be.
Erica: Cracker Barrel is like Disney World and this shit was like the shit that-
Kenrya: Your grandmama's.
Erica: ... Disney World based they shit on.
Kenrya: It was good.
Erica: I remember our one girlfriend who don't eat meat, she had some beans, and she was ... This is one of them spots where you order beans. She was fucking them beans up. I'm like, "Yo, that's meat in them beans." She was like, "I don't care." Oh my goodness. That was a good road trip. That was a good road trip.
Kenrya: It was a good trip. Sometimes when we go for the funerals, because we're at the age where this is a thing that we do. We don't get to always get to actually spend time with them. We go in, we see them at the service, we're there for support, and then they've got other stuff going on and we've got to leave, especially if it's in the middle of the week. That was one where we actually got to love on her. We went to dinner. She came back to our ... We got to spend a bunch of time with her.
Erica: Didn't we go to Cheesecake Factory?
Kenrya: We did go to Cheesecake.
Erica: Because Cheesecake then became an after-funeral tradition, because after-
Erica: ... my mom's funeral-
Kenrya: That was the beginning of it.
Erica: ... we all went to Cheesecake Factory.
Kenrya: That became our after-funeral tradition. I remember we had to wait a long ass time, as per usual. That was when I told everybody the true story of how I got divorced. Remember, you were the only person at the table who knew.
Erica: Oh yeah. Niggas was crying and stuff.
Kenrya: It was a night.
Erica: We got a good ass group of friends.
Kenrya: We do. Man, I love y’all.
Erica: I love you all. Girl.
Kenrya: We digressed so far. I don't know.
Erica: No, because I feel like I'm going through shit, and we just hitting on books that is just fucking me up, hitting me in the gut. In the story, Jolene decides to strike out on her own and build her own business. As someone that is staring that in the face, oh, that shit is scary. Kenrya's smiling because she's done it and is doing it.
Kenrya: I've done it a couple of times. It is. The first time it wasn't scary, because I got laid off and I was like, "Fuck it. I got unemployment. Let's see what this thang do." The second time-
Erica: Sorry, I accidentally touched a button on my fan.
Kenrya: The second time was me walking away from what at one point what 25-year-old Kenrya thought was her dream job. That was considerably scarier, because also I have more responsibility. I didn't have to just keep me alive. I had to keep myself and this child alive.
Erica: Because that's the thing. I always would tell myself, "You know what? Fuck it. If things fall apart, it's just me. I don't give a fuck. What we going to do? I'm going to just go sleep on one of my girlfriend's couches."
Kenrya: Easier to do when it's just you.
Erica: Yeah, but now I got a child and a dog and family that lives with, I don't want to say lives with me, we live together, and so it's a little more difficult. I loved that a big piece of this story was someone realizing, "Hey, I can do this on my own. I can do this for myself." I think that for me, I'm saying the reason that I am striking out on my own is because I want to be able to put more time into my own projects, where the truth is there's going to be a lot of it where I'm just going to be hustling for the man under my own name. I am confident that I'll be able to build it so that I'll be able to rise out of hustling more for myself as opposed to hustling more for the man under my name.
Kenrya: Here's the thing. I think that people don't necessarily understand this until they're entrepreneurs. Working for yourself is a misnomer. You still have to have clients. There are still people who you have to answer to. There's no one over your shoulder, which is a big part of it for me. I do not do well with someone looking over my shoulder telling me what the fuck to do or asking me why I didn't do something. That's not for me, in any aspect of my life. I still have clients that I have to deal with, whose egos I have to dance around. When I set production schedules I still have to adhere to them and follow up with them when they don't get stuff back to me when they're supposed to and all of that. Sure, I'm working for myself and running my own business, but-
Erica: You still working for the man.
Kenrya: I still have to deal with other people. I'm not working for the man, but I'm definitely working with that nigga. That brings me back to that while trying to make sure that I am cultivating the work and the life that I want. When I am considering new work, when someone reaches out to me and asks me to work on a project, because thank God I'm at that point where people hit me up on my website and ask me for things, and the first thing I do is I feel in my body how I felt when I opened the email. If it felt like panic, then usually the answer was no. Unless it was just panic because it was something that was challenging and I need to sit with the fact-
Erica: Stretch yourself.
Kenrya: ... that I'm ready for, exactly, the stretch. If I feel that way and I close it immediately, usually that means that you can go ahead and send them ... I got a cut and paste thing that I send people.
Erica: Kenrya keeps a template on hand.
Kenrya: I do, because I don't have time to rethink how to say no to this thing-
Erica: When you said it-
Kenrya: ... every fucking time, exactly. If it makes me feel sleepy, then I say no. If it falls outside of the parameters of the list of work that brings me joy, which feels like a misnomer, but capitalism, I have a list of the work that I do, and it's ranked by how much joy it brings me. If it's at the end of things, quite frankly, I'm a writer, but I really at this point only want to write things like my books. If it ain't a book, I don't necessarily want to write. I write scripts. I enjoy that. That also sometimes makes me feel stressed out. Any other thing that somebody's asking me to write don't bring me joy. No, thank you. When it comes to being an entrepreneur at first, a lot of times you got to say yes to the things that don't necessarily make you smile immediately, because you got to get yourself a base. The hope is always that you get to the point where you can be like, "Mm-mm (negative), don't want to work with that nigga."
Erica: "I don't want it."
Kenrya: "No, thank you."
Erica: "I only get out of bed for three million," or whatever girl said.
Kenrya: It's a million dollars or some shit. I ain't there, but I am very consciously saying no to things that I don't want to do and saying yes increasingly to the things that I want to do, although honestly for the first couple months of this year I was saying no to literally everything. I looked at my bank account and was like, "Bitch, you got to say yes to something."
Erica: You got to show them a little leg, let them kiss you a little bit. All righty. I thought this was just a dope as hell book. Again, Mimi Grace, that sex scene made me tingle. We will include links, as usual, in our notes, so that you can get the book for yourself. You got anything else to add, Killa?
Kenrya: No. I think that's it for the book. Let's take a quick break and pay some bills and come on back.
Kenrya: Hey, y’all. Today's a great day to start your own podcast, whether you're looking for a new marketing channel, have a message you want to share with the world, or just think it'd be fun to have your own show like us. Podcasting is an easy, inexpensive, and fun way to expand your reach online. Buzzsprout is hands down the easiest and best way to launch, promote, and track your podcast. Your show gets put online and listed in all the major podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, literally everything, within minutes of finishing and uploading your recording. We use it here for The Turn On, and I can truly attest to the fact that it's pretty fucking dope. Podcasting isn't hard when you have the right partners. The team at Buzzsprout is passionate about helping you succeed. Join over 100,000 podcasters like us who are already using Buzzsprout to get their message out to the world. Just click the link in our show notes and you'll be able to get your own account set up. If you sign up for a pay plan, you'll get a $20 Amazon gift card and support our show. Let's create something great together. Sign up for Buzzsprout today.
Erica: First, I like your nose ring. I'm [crosstalk 01:06:14].
Kenrya: Thank you.
Erica: Yesterday you mentioned it, but-
Kenrya: Me too.
Erica: ... today I'm seeing it. I like it.
Kenrya: I'm enjoying it.
Erica: This is our part of the show where we talk about what?
Kenrya: What's turning us on. I'm like, "What, what?"
Erica: You got to say it sexy.
Kenrya: What's turning us on.
Erica: Yeah. This week what's turning us on is this little rubber ducky here.
Kenrya: It's so cute.
Erica: A few reasons why I like it. One, this sits next to my nightstand. It literally just sits out, because guess what? You don't know what the fuck it is. Now I don't have a child like Kenrya's that will walk in and out of my room picking up shit. If that's the case, don't.
Kenrya: We have a rule against that now, but that is a thing that happened. Did I ever tell that story about how I found my-
Erica: I don't know.
Kenrya: Yo, she called me into her room or something. I look over, and that ain't why she called me, she just wanted me to come look at something, and I look over and on her shelf she got all these little plastic toys lined up, and right in the mix is an egg. She had pulled that shit off the charger and put it in her room with her toys.
Erica: She's like, "It's cute and it wiggles."
Kenrya: It was color coordinated with her toys. When she wasn't looking, I just snatched it and took it-
Erica: You're like, "That's mine, thank you very much."
Kenrya: ... back to my room. She's four. Now everything is above her head.
Erica: This little thing here is a rubber ducky. It is cute. I adore it. It's a vibrator. Wait, hold on. It vibrates. Can you all hear that?
Kenrya: Yes. We can definitely hear that. I think unless people see just how powerful it is, but you going to have to turn it off to talk.
Erica: Wait, hold on. It's a vibrator, but it also has this little thing here, which is suction. I was showing Kenrya this earlier.
Kenrya: Oh my God.
Erica: It sounds like a duck, right?
Kenrya: For those who cannot see, you can head over to our YouTube channel, just search The Turn On Podcast.
Erica: You can watch Erica playing with this little duck.
Kenrya: See her do this on her cheek.
Erica: It has a little suction and vibration, so you can use it on your nipples to stimulate yourself or a partner or use it on your clitoris. I love it. This is cute. It's just, I would say quiet. It's cute. It's waterproof.
Kenrya: [crosstalk 01:09:08].
Erica: It is silicone, so use water-based lubricants with it. You can find it on our website. We'll include the link to purchase it. This is one of the toys that I am selling through my company. We'll include, like I said, it'll be a link.
Kenrya: What's your company called?
Erica: The Erotic Escape. Say it.
Kenrya: The Erotic Escape.
Erica: Thank you, Kenrya. It's great. I love it. It's cute. Get it for yourself. Rubber ducky, you're the one. Rubber ducky, you touch my clit. [singing]
Kenrya: I feel like they probably won't like that use of that song.
Erica: Whatever. With that, this wraps up this episode of The Turn On.
Kenrya: It does indeed. We are Kenrya and Erica.
Erica: Two hoes, making it quack.
Kenrya: Making it clap. Boo!
Erica: Bye, y’all.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B’Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Now you can support The Turn On and get off. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app, then drop us a five-star review and you'll be entered to win something that's turning us on. Just post your review and email a screenshot to us at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com to enter. Our Patreon page is also live and if you become a supporter today you'll get access to lots of goodies, including two-for-one raffle entries. Don't forget to email us your book recommendations and your pressing sex and related questions. You can follow us on Twitter at @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram at @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, merch, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. Thanks for listening, and we'll see you soon. Holla.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.