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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to play cousin Sheree L. Greer about her book "Let the Lover Be," who gets to be an activist, the importance of being vulnerable, and the virtues of Black women being our whole selves both on and off the page.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today we're talking to Sheree L. Greer, pronouns she and her. Sheree is a text-based artist and educator living in Tampa, Florida. She's a Yaddo and Ragdale Rubin Fellow, Astraea Lesbian Foundation grantee, and is the author of two novels, “Let the Lover Be,” a Rainbow Award Finalist, and the Black Lives Matter-inspired “A Return To Arms.” She also created a short story collection, “Once and Future Lovers,” and a student writing guide called “Stop Writing Wack Essays.” Love it. Sheree is the founding director of Kitchen Table Literary Arts, and her work has been featured in literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. Her most recent work, “Bars,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. That's big shit. Hey, Sheree.
Kenrya: Thanks for joining us.
Sheree: It is my pleasure.
Kenrya: First, before we even get into all this other book shit, we got to talk about something that's not in your bio, but that's hella important to us.
Kenrya: That is the fact that you are from the Midwest.
Sheree: Milwaukee, stand up. Brew City.
Erica: Land of casseroles.
Sheree: Where you at?
Erica: Get us a carb, get us a cream of something.
Erica: Get us a protein and some cheese, bacon, you got a casserole.
Sheree: Cheesehead. Let's do it.
Erica: I'm sorry, I get so excited about casseroles.
Sheree: There are Black people in Wisconsin. They all live in Milwaukee, but we in that bitch, we in here, we in there.
Kenrya: Yes. There's three of us Midwestern bitches here on this call.
Sheree: That's so amazing.
Kenrya: It's beautiful.
Sheree: I love it.
Kenrya: Yes, we had to take a minute to celebrate. I'm wondering, how do you think that being born and raised in Milwaukee has impacted the way that you move through the world?
Sheree: That is a really great question. It's interesting because the funny thing about Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is that the Black folks that are there, it's like everybody's part of that Great Migration tradition, that's how we all got up there. And so my grandparents are from the South, but everybody had moved up north, so I didn't get summers in Mississippi or summers in Arkansas, where my dad is from, or anything like that. What's been interesting about being specifically from Milwaukee is how it's super segregated, but also a lot of my experiences were very diverse in a way, like going to school and things like that. And so it's been interesting to see how that plays out, now that I live in the South, and this concept of there weren't very many places in Milwaukee where I felt like not necessarily that I didn't always feel welcome, but I was never made to feel like I didn't belong. And I feel that in certain parts in Florida, in the South sometimes, like I can feel in people's looks that they're like, "Who the fuck let you in here?"
Kenrya: Which is some shit for anybody from Florida to say, especially right now.
Erica: Who let y'all in here?
Sheree: Yeah. And that was a foreign feeling to me, thankfully, because I had really great neighborhoods growing up in Milwaukee, we had lawns and backyards and lots of parks. I just remember being around a lot of different kind of people almost all of the time. I don't know, it's probably helped and harmed me in a lot of different ways, but I'm here.
Erica: Okay. So, something else we got to talk about. We were doing an interview with another writer, and she was like, "Yeah, I talked to my writing partner bestie," and we were like, "What?" So, the Fiona Zedde, we interviewed, and we absolutely love her.
Erica: We've learned, doing this show, that there are little packs of bad bitches that write together and support one another, so I'm happy we got linked in on your pod. She was dope as shit and we love her. We wanted to ask, how does your relationship with her impact your work? I don't want to be too nosy, but at the same time, it's dope that two writers are good friends.
Sheree: Thank you. It's strange because it's not something that I knew I needed and it wasn't something that I was looking for, it's like we met a couple times in passing at conferences and whatnot, and then end up being in the same city together for a little while, and just really connecting creatively. And this was after my master's program, and after you finish school, you just out there.
Erica: Girl. So, I got to do something now.
Sheree: You got all kind of cute cohorts and shit while you're in school, and then as soon as it's over, especially for being a writer, it's like, "Okay, now what?" So, finding her at that time, it was just really awesome for me. She pushes me and encourages me when I need it most and sees strengths in my writing where sometimes I feel doubt. That's just been really, really important. It gets on my nerves sometimes, too, but what friend/cheerleader/homegirl don't get on your nerves sometimes? Especially when they know that you not shining like you can be shining. They know it, they done seen you shine, and they're like, "I done seen you shine, girl. What is this? What the fuck's going on?" And then you got to be like, "You right."
Erica: "Okay, okay, okay."
Sheree: "Okay, fine."
Erica: That's dope. That is so great. So, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Sheree: I wanted to be a magician or a mechanic.
Kenrya: Okay, you got to-
Erica: I mean the first thing that popped in my head was that video of that magician that turned a dove into a Popeye chicken sandwich, and I was like, yo, that is exactly who you would be as a magician. Sorry if you weren't, but that totally seems like some shit you'd do.
Sheree: Yes, that would be me. That would be me. I'd change my coconut La Croix into some whiskey with magic. I'd make some school loan debt disappear, that'd be my first trick.
Erica: Bitch. Do you need my social? Do you need the account number? My login? What you need?
Sheree: When I was a kid, I loved joke books and I loved learning magic tricks, and I used to do little magic shows for my family. Then I liked working with my hands and shit, so I thought maybe I'd be a mechanic or something like that. I was always writing, but I didn't think writing could be a career and I don't know why, I just didn't.
Erica: But you thought being a magician could?
Sheree: Damn, true. No, that's true.
Erica: So, if we get you drunk, you'll do magic tricks? Do you remember them, enough to be showing off?
Sheree: I remember two or three, and they're not very impressive.
Erica: I mean, shit, they're better than ... Look, I can't do nothing. You could be pulling that same quarter from behind my ear and I'll be like, "She is amazing."
Kenrya: I mean I think that's interesting because I think a lot of folks don't necessarily see writing as a career, especially when you're young. I know I didn't think I was going to be a writer. I thought I was just going to work at magazines and I was going to edit things, which at least is in that sphere, but I always, I don't know, thought that I had to be somebody who worked at a company and did this thing, as opposed to somebody who sat at home and wrote shit, until I got to a certain point in my career when I was like, "This is what I would much rather do." I don't think you're alone, I think a lot of people don't necessarily think of writing as a viable career. I didn't. I thought that I was just going to be a magazine editor and that was going to be the thing, and it never occurred to me that that would also involve writing or that I could change my career to the point where I could be somebody who sits at home and writes. It's not really presented as a viable sound financial decision, maybe?
Sheree: I feel like that's part of it, because my mom never explicitly said, "No, you can't be a writer. You can't major in English," but as first-generation college student, there was this-
Erica: What are you going to ... doctor, lawyer, teacher?
Sheree: You had just so many options as to what was going to be a viable career. I don't blame my mom in any kind of way. Our parents don't want us to suffer, and being an artist of any kind is still aligned with poverty and suffering and all that stuff.
Kenrya: Yeah, that starving artist thing is a very real stereotype and real reality for some folks.
Sheree: Yeah. So, it's hard to see, especially if you have so few examples where you're at. The internet and the explosion of technology has been helpful, but as a little girl in Milwaukee, I knew that Black people wrote books, but I didn't meet an author until I was in college, I think, I met my first author. How do you even know what that looks like or what that could be?
Kenrya: So then what did bring you to being a writer?
Sheree: When I was a kid, I would write stories and poems, especially when I got in trouble, because I used to get in trouble a lot, so I wrote a lot of apology, "I love you, Mom" poems. A lot of flower metaphors about forgiveness and things like that. And then I kept going, but, again, I took the backseat. I minored in English. I'm a Virgo, so if I'm going to put my mind to something, I'm going to do it, I'm going to do that shit. So, I majored in Information Technology and Human Resources and, goddammit, I was going to get an Information Technology and Human Resources career, and that's what I did for a couple years. And then I met a writer friend when I moved to Florida, and I was still working as a consultant then, and she was a journalist at the St. Pete Times. And so we had a writing group of two, and when we exchanged stories for the first time, she was just like, "What the fuck is you doing?" I was like, "What you mean?" She's like, "What is you doing? Why are you not doing this?" She encouraged me to think about going to grad school and getting a degree in writing and making a run at it, and so I'm really glad she did.
Erica: Thank you, friend, right?
Sheree: Yeah. Benita. She passed away right before I went into grad school, suddenly. It was crazy. She with me every time. There's not a time when I'm writing that I don't think about her and how she pushed me into this part of this version of myself.
Erica: That's dope as hell. Black woman?
Sheree: Benita Newton. I speak her name.
Erica: I didn't want to assume that she was Black, but when you said, "Benita," I saw a very specific hairstyle and a "ness" to her. I love it.
Kenrya: That she's us.
Sheree: Yeah, she's so us.
Erica: I love it. Okay. Benita Newton, we speak your name.
Sheree: Right on.
Kenrya: Well, I was going to ask who or what inspires you to write, and I feel like Benita is at the top of the list. What else?
Sheree: Lately, it's been vulnerability and truth telling.
Sheree: That's what I've been on, begrudgingly, but I'm on it.
Kenrya: That is hard.
Erica: It's going to be good.
Sheree: I'm on it. I started this new project, kicking and fucking screaming, and it's only now, and I'm four essays in, that I'm like, "You know what? This might be the best writing of my life." But just being vulnerable and asking the tough questions, that's what's pushing me right now. And it's interesting that, for Let the Lover Be, it's almost bringing me full circle because, in Let the Lover Be, the main character is an alcoholic, and in my memoir work right now, I'm coming to terms in real life, in real time, with alcohol abuse and addiction in my family and a bunch of other stuff. It's been really difficult, but it's been really good.
Erica: Okay, so, what do your workdays look like?
Sheree: Man, these punk-ass workdays.
Kenrya: Bitch-ass work day.
Sheree: These work days are ... I don't know. I start back to the day job on Monday, I teach at a college in St. Pete, but I'm teaching all online, so I'm thankful for that.
Kenrya: Thank God.
Sheree: But, most days, I like to get up and get my day started, not too early though, a good 7:30, 8:00.
Kenrya: Oh my God. Ugh. Sorry. I'm like, "That's early."
Sheree: You get up at 5:00?
Kenrya: No, Erica gets up ... What time you get up now, E?
Sheree: What time you get up?
Erica: Well, what had happened was I wake up at about 5:45, 6:00. But I lay in bed, scrolling TikTok for, easily, 45 minutes before I get up and-
Sheree: You're still up though. Your eyes is open.
Kenrya: I don't wake up before 9:00.
Kenrya: No, bitch. When you all be texting me, that's why I don't answer your texts 'till like 9:30, I be asleep.
Sheree: That's the sweet spot though.
Kenrya: I've been up until like 2:00, 2:30 every night this week, working, so a bitch is tired. I'm doing my best.
Sheree: Okay. I can't stay up super late like that no more. That used to be my shit. I used to stay up late, writing, reading, bullshitting, and now I be like, "It's 10:30, I got to go lay down." And it probably has a lot to do with getting up at 7:00, 7:30, and turning 40 soon, but that shit's real.
Kenrya: It's very real.
Erica: My body has been so sore and I'm like, "This must be all the meds I'm on." I'm blaming it on everything else, except for the fact that a bitch ... I look down the street and I'm like, "Who's that? Is that you, 40, coming over here?"
Sheree: It's coming. I turn 40 next month.
Kenrya: Shit, happy early birthday.
Sheree: Thank you. I think it was last year sometime, I was at the grocery and these teenagers were having a good time, talking, fucking with each other, stuff like this, and then one of them said something, and then the other dude was like, "Don't be cussing in front of that lady," and I turned around, like, "Who?"
Erica: "Don't do that to me."
Sheree: "Where the elder at?" Bitch, it's you. It is you.
Erica: Little fuckers, I would have tripped them.
Sheree: Get ready.
Erica: "Don't be cursing." "Fuck you," and then push them down.
Sheree: For real.
Sheree: The workday is easy, it's reading, it's writing, it's going outside a lot to take breaks, watching a little TV, a little too much Netflix and things like that. I don't know how people are supposed to get shit done with all this.
Kenrya: Netflix is right there.
Sheree: And how people be watching all this shit, too? When I get on Twitter, people like, "God, this is so great," I'm like, "You watched all seven episodes already? That shit came out yesterday."
Erica: I don't need you judging us.
Sheree: That was like seven hours of TV.
Erica: I don't need you judging us.
Sheree: I aspire. I aspire, man.
Kenrya: I do, too. I love TV, but I just never have enough time to watch it.
Sheree: I want to watch it.
Kenrya: All right, so, let's see. So, you told us about your days, which actually sound pretty damn good. I didn't hear no "Neighbors is getting on my nerves."
Sheree: No. I live in East Tampa, that is very slowly gentrifying, but we watching it happen. I got a loud-ass dog, he's a wiener dog, but he bark like he's a damn Doberman Pinscher or some shit. He barks a lot, so I had to make sure I put him away for this. Other than folks on dirt bikes and shit and the occasional vintage Chevy rolling down the street, playing a chopped and screwed version of ...
Erica: I love it.
Sheree: It's all good. It's really all good. It's been interesting because I didn't teach at all this summer at the day job, and when I post online lately, people have been like, "Man, Sheree, you look so great. Man, what's going on? You look so good." And it's because I ain't been at work, I ain't been at that job. What's interesting is when you all had Mahogany Browne on, she was talking about that shit, how people don't realize just how much you're pouring into other things, and it's not until you make the decision to stop, or stop, that you actually get to almost go outside of that regular life and say, "Oh my God, I've been stressed, I've been tired, I'm running around doing this, that, and the third." It really makes you want to take stock and figure out how can I make the thing that I love the most the thing that I do most?
Kenrya: Well, I'm glad you got that space to breathe this summer-
Sheree: Me too.
Kenrya: And I hope you get more of it-
Sheree: I'm working on it.
Kenrya: In the way that works for you.
Sheree: I am working on it.
Kenrya: So, your book “A Return to Arms” centers the Black Lives Matter movement, as we said in your bio. I'm wondering, what lessons do you think it holds for us right now in this moment?
Sheree: It was really interesting, watching this moment unfold because, this time, we saw more white people getting in on the situation, and part of what my novel wrestles with is who gets to protest, who gets to be an activist, who gets to be a part of what efforts and in what capacity? And what drove the book primarily was me sitting at the intersection of being Black and queer.
Sheree: There was a lot of Pan-African-type groups and things like that, locally grassroot, that I could go because I was Black, but if I brought up any concerns about Black trans women being murdered or anything like that, you would see people's faces change, you would see a different kind of judgment, a different kind of energy enter the room. And so what the book deals with probably more than anything else is all of those intersecting identities and how do you find a place that fits for to do whatever you're being called to do in a particular moment?
Sheree: There's a scene in the book where a white person walked through one of the protests and wants to be involved and is discouraged, and there's another part in the book where you have to shut down certain parts of white conversation that aren't conducive to our ends or our goals. And so it's been interesting to see the posturing, it's been interesting to see just already a lot of the energy has been drained. It was commercials, it was statements, it was emails, it was banners, everywhere, but what do you have in you for the long haul? What is beyond this moment? So, that's what I've been thinking about mostly. And I wrote that book in 2016. It was shortly after Trayvon Martin.
Sheree: It's inspired by a similar shooting in South St. Petersburg, in Florida, Tyron Lewis was shot and killed by a police officer who was not fired, was not charged. Part of what made that book so difficult was that case happened in '96, so we're looking at 20 years, and then another 10, another 20, and then 30, and then 50 years ago, and you can go back and back and back. It can be depressing and demoralizing, when you start looking at the cases and you start stringing them together and they make this tapestry of Black pain, and we got to find a way to wrap ourselves in something more hopeful and something that actually reckons with the moment right now, I think.
Kenrya: Well said.
Erica: So, side note, we won't include this in the thing, but when we're looking for books, Kenrya kept saying, "I found this really great book," and for whatever reason, we didn't use it. And so then I'm like, "Hey, I found this book for Season 3, ‘Let the Lover Be,’" was like, "Let me shoot it to you." And she was like, "Oh shit, this is the same author." So, you've been on my radar for a minute.
Kenrya: The only reason we didn't, because-
Sheree: I'm glad I'm here.
Kenrya: I was looking at ‘Return to Arms,’ but it didn't have a long enough sex scene, that's the only reason why-
Sheree: Yeah, it's not as sexy. My wife said, of both books, she's like, "Why your main character always got to have a jumpoff in the book?" And I was like, "What?" And she's like, "In both novels, it's always a jumpoff, other than the main bitch," and I was like, "No, it's not." And then I was like, "Oh, yeah."
Erica: "Oops. My bad."
Sheree: Jumpoffs keep you young, man.
Erica: Or they put extra miles on you.
Erica: Depending on how problematic said jumpoff is.
Sheree: That's true.
Erica: But the problematic ones be the good ones-
Sheree: You got to qualify that.
Erica: Okay, all right, anyway. Back to [inaudible 00:28:30]. Okay, so, tell us about your latest work, “Bars.”
Sheree: “Bars” is quite literally about bars. I started it while I was at Ragdale and finished it up at Yaddo, those are two very, very ... they were just great for my creative process as a writer residencies.
I’m happy that’s your phone and not you. ‘Cause…
Kenrya: Right, because my initial reaction was like, "Oh shit."
Sheree: "There goes sis, she fell out."
Kenrya: And then I realized it was just the phone.
Sheree: I wrote “Bars,” it was one of my first times I just trusting the process and trusting my voice, which I'm not always the best at, that I'm getting better at, thankfully. I was just having all these memories about bars and how they've been formative fixtures in my life. I start the piece with the first bar that I went to with my dad, I used to go with my dad when he used to go cash his check, and he'd buy me burgers and have his drinks or whatever. And then I just started doing this timeline of bars, literal bars, and thinking, trying to remember what they looked like and doing a little research to see if they're still standing, what do they look like now? And then putting myself in that place again, almost like tick marks on a timeline of me going from being that shy, uncertain kid through my teenage years through young adulthood till my 30s, where I slowed down a little bit and began to think about my relationships with others and my relationships with lovers and my relationships to alcohol, and the piece just wrote itself after that, I think.
Kenrya: Wow. That sounds amazing.
Erica: That's beautiful.
Sheree: Thank you.
Kenrya: Yeah, I'm-
Erica: Also, let's note, you were a kid being taken into bars.
Sheree: Yes, I was.
Erica: That was a while back.
Sheree: Start them early.
Kenrya: I had zero idea what “Bars” was going to be about, but I'm like, "I'm such a nigga," because when I heard Bars, I was like, "Oh bars."
Kenrya: Like rapping.
Erica: Dylan, dylan, dylan, dylan.
Kenrya: Exactly. That's my own issue.
Sheree: I don't know, the piece got some lyricism to it. I could probably get a beat. I can get a beat.
Erica: I would give you one, but you all would laugh.
Kenrya: And it would be great. So, speaking of Bars, the book that we read on the show, Let the Lover Be, stars Kiana, who is a woman whose addiction and demons often push her to make less-than-lovely decisions.
Kenrya: Why was it important for you to tackle addiction in this book?
Sheree: I started writing the book, it's not my first novel, it's my first published novel, and so my first novel, I shopped it around, it kept getting, "No. No. No," and so finally somebody was like, "Well, do you have something else?" And I was like, "No," and then Fiona was like, "Yes, you do. Remember that stuff you was writing when we were in New Orleans?" See, I told you she be getting on my nerves. So, I was like, "What stuff?" And so she had pointed out some things that ... because we went to a conference in New Orleans together, and we were just doing writing prompts throughout the day to take breaks and shit like this, and so she's like, "Some of that stuff you wrote, that could be a book."
Sheree: And so I sat down and I started writing it, and as Kiana was coming to me, I was like, "Man, what a fucking asshole." As I was writing her, I was like, "She's got some issues." She's mean, she drinks too much, she's irresponsible. So, she's not me exactly, but in writing some of her scenes, I recognize pieces of myself, and it was in writing that book that I began to think about whether or not I was an alcoholic and if I had an abusive relationship with alcohol.
Sheree: So, I stopped drinking because there was a scene that I was writing and I couldn't write it, I was having trouble with it, and so I went to go look at some journals about it, because I journal all the time, and it was in that moment that I realized I be drunk more often than not. And so I stopped drinking and I wrote the rest of the book sober. I knew that there was something ... Kiana is not an asshole because she's just a terrible person, she's got some shit going on, some things that she refuses to deal with, some ways in which she doesn't treat herself well and doesn't love herself, and it affects everyone around her.
Sheree: She's oblivious to the people who do love her and do care for her. As I was writing, I just got really obsessed with figuring out what her deal is, what's up with you? And so then she started telling me and I got sad for her as I was writing, but she didn't want my pity, she wanted to try to come out on the other side. And so I just kind of let her have the run of the pages.
Erica: So, what I loved about the book is that Kiana was a hot mess, but I think we all saw the hot mess in ourselves in her.
Erica: Some parts of it were very difficult to read because, like you said, she didn't want your pity, and I think we've all been there, where we're like, "I got shit I'm dealing with. Let me deal with it, I don't need your help." Something about that character stuck with me. I picked it up and just could not put it down because I wanted to see how this developed.
Kenrya: And it was nice, too, to be able to have a Black woman who is, quite frankly, an unlikeable protagonist. That is a thing that is pushed on us all the time and white men get the privilege of being in that space. You got your Tony Sopranos, your Don Drapers, your fucking Walter Hartwell White who get to because complete fucking assholes to everyone-
Erica: Who's Walter?
Kenrya: “Breaking Bad.”
Kenrya: Who get to be complete fucking assholes to everybody, but we're still supposed to love them at the end of the day, and we do because that's what we're conditioned to do. But Black women never really get that space. How often do we see projects in popular culture where Black women get to be assholes and not be dismissed as bitches or get their comeuppance or whatever the hell, and actually get to have some growth and some love for themselves?
Sheree: That's one of the reasons I loved and I'm going to miss “How to Get Away with Murder” so much. Annalise Keating, to me, was this flawed, powerful, beautiful character and she did do things that might have cut some folks deep or even cut herself deep, but at the end of the day, we found ourselves following her and cheering for her and wanting her to make it. And I do, I agree with you, I hope that we continue to see more complex characters like that. Give us a chance to have those moments. I'm watching “I May Destroy You,” that same kind of deal, where it's like play with those lines of good and bad or love and hate, blur those lines a little bit because life is messy as fuck. You said it best, when you see your kind of mess on the screen or on the pages, you're not alone, we're all messy as fuck, just trying to do the best we can.
Erica: Trying to figure this shit out.
Kenrya: And we all deserve redemption.
Erica: Okay, so speaking of hot mess, when we meet Kiana, she is just reeling from heartbreak, I'm like, "Girlfriend, put on some fucking boots and bounce back," she's not a fucking boot-type of character, we know. Well, she might have some fucking boots, but not the kind I'm ... Anyway. So, what do you do when you're trying to pick up pieces and moving on? What's your bounceback? And it could be something profound or just something like, "I listen to Jeezy and ride out on these hoes."
Sheree: Man. I don't feel like I've had my heart broken that many times, and I don't say it to be like ... it's not because I'm strong, it's because I don't let people in, which is a different kind of problem, you know what I'm saying?
Kenrya: That vulnerability wall.
Sheree: Right. So, I'm not often vulnerable, and so I've always been the kind of I'm-out-before-you-can-hurt-me-type person.
Sheree: Or you hurt me, so guess what, you no longer exist in my universe. And I'm done-done. When people talk about being friends with all their exes and all that, I don't have a lot of that. I don't even call many people my exes because I'll also be quick to be like, "We was just fucking."
Erica: They be like, "Now, is this you in the Christmas photo?"
Sheree: You know what I'm saying? So, romantically, I haven't let enough people in to have a process, I think. But in the times that I have been hurt, it's mostly drinking something and doing somebody, that had always been my go-to. I mean now, when I think about disappointment or let down, rejection, things like that, just trying to find the healthier way to deal with it that doesn't involve three bottles of wine and some stranger. That's not healthy, that's not what you do.
Kenrya: And I'm sure your wife would be like, "Word."
Sheree: Yeah, true.
Kenrya: [inaudible 00:40:33].
Sheree: "I was just so upset," I think she'd ride with that, "I was just so upset, I needed to do somebody." That wouldn't roll. That won't roll no more. Kiana was on one though.
Erica: She was.
Sheree: She was on one.
Kenrya: Yeah, but we were with her the whole way.
Erica: The way you wrote it, I could feel her just grasping for that relationship, not even that relationship, just closure, like, "What the fuck happened? I don't get it." It was a beauty. It was a beaut.
Sheree: You know what's interesting? And you all can speak on this a little bit. I was also thinking about, after having written the book and read it back through drafts and stuff like that, the whole concept of closure, I don't feel like Kiana got closure from her situation. The closure is internal and not external.
Kenrya: And I don't know that you ever really can. I don't know, for me, the idea of closure has always seemed kind of [inaudible 00:42:06], partly because, like you, I've always had trouble with the vulnerability thing, so I'm like, "Fuck you, block you, I'm done," but also kind of like, all right, there's something that led us to this place where we have some fundamental disconnect that makes it so that we are not together, and the likelihood of us being able to come to some, I don't know, eye-to-eye moment, to do some autopsy of what happened and have it come out-
Erica: We wouldn't be together if that was [crosstalk 00:42:38].
Kenrya: Yeah, it just doesn't feel like it's something that I want to put the energy into, and so it has really come down to, especially with therapy and getting my own shit together, dissecting that stuff for myself, like what role did I play? What role could I have played? What am I going to take from this as I move forward and what am I going to leave behind? And I don't think that somebody else can give me that, but that's what closure feels like to me.
Sheree: I like that.
Erica: For me, it's more of a reconciliation, it's not even a ... In the past, I have been in relationships where I was like, "Okay, I'm going to seek closure." It was more just I just wanted to see him and fuck him another time or something. It's bullshit, because real closure is just me reconciling that this ain't work, it ain't your fault, or it was your fault, just doing, like Kenrya said, just a personal autopsy of this is what happened, come to grips with it, what do I do differently, if anything, and move forward?
Sheree: You close it. Like, "I'm looking for closure," no, you close it.
Kenrya: Yeah. We try not to spoil books because we want folks to read them, so without giving too much away, I don't think she was going to get that at all.
Sheree: Yeah, I don't think so either.
Erica: Okay, I want to talk about the end of the book, but we'll talk once we've stopped recording.
Sheree: Number one question be like, "Where the fuck is Michelle?" That'd be the question.
Erica: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, so I don't want to-
Kenrya: Y’all read the book. Okay. So, another thing that happens in this book is that there's a character who really goes out of their way to save Kiana. But Kiana don't wanna be saved.
Sheree: Don't save them, they don't want to be saved.
Erica: Don't save her, she don't want to be saved. Don't save her.
Kenrya: Exactly. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were trying to save hoes that didn't wanna be saved?
Erica: I want to be saved. Should I save her? I want to be saved. I'm sorry, you all done took me back to-
Sheree: Don't apologize.
Erica: Dancing at the skating rink.
Sheree: Don't apologize.
Kenrya: This is what happens when you put three 39-year-old bitches from the Midwest together.
Sheree: Exactly. That's what you're going to get. That is what you're going to get. I don't think so, because I was never into project relationships either. If I can see from afar that you fucked up, I'm not signing up for that, you know what I'm saying? I'm not. I was thinking, let's say I had met Kiana. Hanging out with her a couple one, two times, you can see she got some shit going on, and if it was a date and you're not involved and there's no ... I mean you could slide her an AA card or something like that, but I wouldn't find myself getting involved with somebody that needed saving.
Sheree: I'm pretty sure that has to do with my own trauma and things like that, like I'm trying to get shit right myself, I don't really feel like I'm in the position to be trying to ... I'm just holding onto the life raft myself, I don't know that I could be throwing life vests out. If I got a life vest, I need to wear that shit because I be drowning sometimes, you know what I mean? No, I'm not a save-a-hoe, that ain't really been my thing.
Erica: Yeah. Well, good. Okay, so, question. You set “Let the Lover Be in New Orleans,” which, in my mind, is my favorite city, I've never stepped foot there once, but I love food, and so New Orleans is where I belong, and reading your book just made me fall in love with it even more. So, my question to you is: what's your favorite city?
Sheree: That's tricky because I kept feeling ... When I left Milwaukee in 2002, I have not been back to live; I've been to visit, but I hadn't been back to live. And what's crazy is I had this idea that I was going to go to different cities and when I got to one that felt like, "This is the shit, I love this fucking city, I don't want to leave," that I would move to that city that made me feel like that. But what's happened is I go to a new city and I'm like, "This place is cool, I like it, I could live here," and that's always my thing is "I could live here," but I haven't been to a place yet where I've been like, "I want to live here. This place is off the chain." So, it's like, "I could." I didn't envision myself landing in Tampa, really, but I've been here a decade now. You meet a wife and buy a house, you're planting some damn roots at this point.
Erica: You're like, "Oh, this is where we are."
Sheree: But the cost of living is low, it's an international airport, you can do it. I think, though, it would have to be a tie between Chicago and New Orleans. I really, really love New Orleans, I really do, and every time I go there, I love it again for a different reason. I was nervous about setting the book there though because I didn't want it to be ... like, I don't live there, so I didn't want to make ...
Sheree: Even Genevieve, the character who is from there, she had been gone and been back, because I wanted to try to be as authentic as possible, and when I talk to people from New Orleans, they be like, "First of all, ain't nobody in the Quarter like that. That's for tourists," and so I was like, "Okay. Well, what if my character is a tourist? What if my character is there for the reasons you go to New Orleans, which is to be in the Quarter and to eat and to party and all those things?" I really love New Orleans, but I really love Chicago. Chicago is another great city, too, if you love food.
Kenrya: It is.
Sheree: If you love food, that's ...
Kenrya: It's just that fucking hawk.
Sheree: Yeah, which I clearly remember my last winter in Chicago, that's where I went to graduate school, and I was on the bus stop, and the water main had burst along South Shore, that's the street that I lived on, and the bus was going to be delayed. I felt, in my memory, I burst into tears, but I don't know that I did, but when I think back on it, I burst into tears. It was just so cold, and it felt like I was being punished, and it wasn't fair. It was 2007, that was my last Chicago winter, and I'm like, "I just can't do it. This feels like a personal attack at this point."
Erica: Like, "What did I do to you?"
Sheree: Yeah. But if you go in the summer, Chicago in the summer and the spring, stop, just stop.
Erica: Yeah, Chicago's summer and springs make you feel so good that they're like, "I'm about to beat your ass," and you forget about it. It's kind of like when women go through childbirth and they say it's so painful, but once you have the baby, you forget. That's what Chicago's winters are.
Kenrya: That's awful.
Erica: I mean, look, I love a good analogy.
Sheree: It is like that. It's real. You'll fall in love, and then I guess that love has to sustain you through the winter because then it's not nice at all.
Erica: Ain't enough love for me.
Sheree: I don't want to do it. I don't want to shovel no snow, nothing.
Erica: One of our girlfriends, her birthday is in February and she wanted us to come to Chicago-
Sheree: In February?
Erica: And our dumbasses went. Our stupid asses went. And we was young thots, so we had little tiny dresses on, thinking we cute-
Kenrya: Fuck, I forgot about that.
Erica: It was the fucking worst. I tell her all the time, like, "Look, bitch, you know I love you because I did this shit."
Sheree: In Milwaukee and in Chicago, especially when I was in undergrad, me and my best friend, Adela, she's Jamaican, and so she would always have Wray & Nephew, and so we would do two shots of Wray & Nephew before we went out. We called it our overproof coat because it just warms you from the inside out, and then you can wear your thot outfit and it's all good.
Kenrya: That was actually my strategy when I lived in New York, we went out in the winter and as soon as I would hit the club, I would get some Southern Comfort at the time.
Kenrya: And it just warms you up.
Erica: Wait, didn't Kiana drink Southern Comfort?
Sheree: She sure did.
Kenrya: Shit works.
Erica: Shit warms you.
Kenrya: It does.
Kenrya: I hate that we're at the end of this, this has been lovely.
Sheree: Yeah, it's been fun. Really great time.
Kenrya: Thanks for coming on.
Sheree: You all feel like cousins, man.
Erica: We are, because we Black from the Midwest. My family just stopped in St. Louis and kept on going to Milwaukee.
Kenrya: When will the people be able to read “Bars”?
Sheree: “Bars” is in a literary journal called “Fourth Genre.”
Sheree: So, you can order that. I think they have a copy of it online as well. But it's in Fourth Genre magazine.
Kenrya: Dope. Okay, so we'll put a link to that. Do you have anything else coming up that you want folks to know about?
Sheree: Yeah. When I was in Chicago, I was part of a storytelling company there, called 2nd Story, and they have a storytelling event coming up on September 12th, and I'm one of the featured storytellers, so that's at 2nd Story, Chicago. But because of COVID, we get to be virtual, so I get a chance to read with my Chicago peeps from down here in Florida. So, that's September 12th. I also got to plug Kitchen Table, which is the Literary Arts Center I run here in Tampa. We have some virtual events coming up. We read “How to Love a Jamaican” and we're talking about that this Saturday, and you can get all that information at Kitchen-Table.org.
Kenrya: Okay, I meant to ask you about Kitchen Table. Can you just tell us about it a bit?
Sheree: Yeah. I started it in 2014. Like I mentioned, you leave school or you leave a literary city like Chicago, and then you find yourself maybe in this pocket that you got to kind of be like, "Well, where are all the writers at?" And then I found the writers, but then I was like, "Well, damn, where are all the Black writers at?" And so creating Kitchen Table was a chance to call them out, just under this belief that what I was searching for was searching for me and that happened to be the case. And so named it Kitchen Table to be homage to Kitchen Table Press, which was founded in 1980 and publishing Black women and women of color for the first time, and so we carry that tradition at Kitchen Table, which we do creative writing classes and workshops all geared toward supporting and showcasing Black women and women of color writers.
Sheree: Because of coronavirus, we've been putting a lot more of our workshops and things online. We were just able to offer free online creative writing classes to 40 Black women writers, about a month ago, and so that was a beautiful experience. Just trying to find ways to ... my writing is me at the desk or with my journal or at the keyboard; Kitchen Table is me out in the world with my people, with my family, with my community. I receive so much from them and I just try to pour that back out. That's what we're doing down here.
Kenrya: So fucking dope. Thank you for that. And that's Kitchen-Table.org, and your website is ShereeLGreer.com, which is S-H-E-R-E-E-L-G-R-E-E-R.com. Where are you on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook? How can folks get you?
Sheree: @ShereeLGreer on all the socials.
Kenrya: Yes, consistency.
Sheree: Keep it simple.
Kenrya: Dope. Well, thanks again for coming on.
Sheree: Thank you all so much.
Kenrya: You've been awesome.
Sheree: It's been really wonderful. Thank you all so much.
Kenrya: Yay. And that's it for this week's episode of The Turn On. Thank you all for joining us and we'll be back next week.
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 and then drop us a five-star review and you'll be entered to win one of the things that's turning us on. To enter, just post your review and email a screenshot of it to TheTurnonPodcast@gmail.com. Our Patreon page is also live. Become a supporter today and you'll access lots of goodies including The Turn On Book Club and two-for-one raffle entries. Don't forget to send us your book recommendations and sex and related questions and follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @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. Bye.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya host their very first live show! They talk to special guest Sheree L. Greer about her book "Let the Lover Be," breaking free of addiction, romanticizing relationships pasts and orgasms as escapism.
The Turn On participates in affiliate programs, which provide a small commission when you purchase products via links on this site. This costs you nothing, but helps support the show. Click here for more information.
Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Erica: Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Okay, so welcome to this week's, this night's, this Saturday night’s episode.
Kenrya: Our very first live show.
Erica: Yeah. Pop! That's the sound of a cherry being popped.
Kenrya: Is it though?
Sheree: I like it.
Kenrya: I feel like that would scare me.
Erica: Could you imagine if like the first time you're having sex, all of a sudden it's like a cork?
Sheree: That's how it is at the end. It's like-
Kenrya: That is a thing that happens.
Erica: Okay, well. We're going to just follow the normal course of show. We have our fantabulous play cousin with us, but we'll get to the introductions after we read. So tonight we are reading from “Let The Lover Be,” which was published in 20-
Erica: Twenty-fourteen by cousin of the show Sheree L. Greer. So sit back. Oh, wait. Before I get started. Okay. Y'all so I'm dropping a link, a bingo card. We always say a few of the same sayings throughout our show so if you hear us-
Kenrya: We repeat ourselves a lot, like old people.
Erica: Yeah. Because I'm old lady. But anyway, so if you hear us say any of this, cross it out on your bingo card. When you get bingo, just tap it in the card. We'll know. And the winner of the bingo game gets a lovely signed copy of “Let The Lover Be.”
Sheree: All right.
Kenrya: So, and everybody gets your own unique card. So when you click that, it should ask you to sign in with your name. And you literally, if you click on the square, that has the thing that we said it'll X itself off, and we can see it. Which is pretty fucking cool. I know right?
Erica: Okay. So sit back, relax, get your wine, get your weed, get your whatever you need and enjoy.
Kenrya: So we're going to read from “Let the Lover Be by Sheree L Greer.” I've never done this with an audience before.
Erica: Just rock that mic.
Kenrya: You know that I'm good at that, so here we go.
Kenrya: The woman was lava, molten, hot lava. She moved over Kiana's skin, slow and steady, thick and rolling, heavy, hot and destructive. Her name was unimportant. Her body a volcano. Kiana's fingers, dove deep inside her, finding a fiery rage, churning and railing around her knuckles. She shook from the inside trembling and coming apart. "I don't even know your name," the woman had said before, Kiana kissed her in the elevator. And, "I told myself I'd stop doing this," she'd whispered into Kiana's neck, as clothes loosened and fell to the floor. Her doubts and hesitations, better judgment, and healthy caution, everything hard and jagged about her, everything solid and certain crumbled and splash into the pool of fire between them as they rolled and rumbled across the bed. The woman's liquid heat coated Kiana's fingers, their sweat sizzling on their skin. Finally, the eruption, the rush, the spray.
Kenrya: It caught Kiana off guard. She removed her hand and looked down at the woman. All she could see was light. The lamp, the sun, the moon, the streetlight. She didn't know which, but it glimmered off the woman's face, making it glowing brass the length of her slender nose and perfection of pouting lips. She dipped down to kiss her, and the woman turned her face and flipped over, situating herself on top of Kiana. The light hit her features, a blur of movement and warmth. The woman's mouth seemed everywhere at once. She went down. And Kiana felt lips and tongue and teeth. She opened her legs in invitation. And the woman accepted. Kiana looked down at the top of the woman's head. She couldn't remember her name or if she'd even asked what it was. She couldn't remember the woman's face. She recalled only light, glowing, comforting, light. And heat. Light and heat. She smiled and arched her body up, offering herself to the sun. Fucking the sun.
Kenrya: It was these moments, these times of complete abandon, that Kiana felt most secure. An oxymoron, uncertain and exposed. She let go of everything and became sure and protected. She rode the rising heat between her legs, her body curling with uncontrollable sensation. She called out to God claiming and clutching at something bigger than herself. "Oh my God," Kiana screamed. The woman moaned. The heat waned only to return again, building up and threatening to explode again. She shuddered against the woman's mouth. Everything she knew and didn't know swallowed by flames. Extinguished against the surface of the sun. This was Kiana's salvation. Her second coming. She threw it all into the sky as she thrust her hips up. Michelle, Genevieve, Karen, her mother. Gumbo and wine, bikes and bread, bass thumps and shots of whiskey. And it burned away to nothing. Only pleasure remained. And she called out to God when she came again.
Kenrya: The woman joined her in the bucking climax. The bed bumping against the wall. If only she could have this, the pleasure of coming together with another, in a single moment suspended in time. There were no expectations in that moment. There were no disappointments. There were no memories. There was only now, now, now, and now again. Kiana closed her eyes with a wish that now could be all there was. That now could be forever. And that forever could be release. No pent up pressure of the past. No festering fantasies for the future. Just the numbing nourishing now. She collapsed against the bed. A blur of light as the woman rose from between her thighs, then darkness.
Kenrya: I'm going to pat myself on the back.
Erica: In the comments, someone said, “Kenrya's voice is like a butter, or a warm blanket.” Someone else said, "It's like hot Cheddar Bay biscuits."
Kenrya: That's somebody after my heart. Y'all know I love a good fucking Red Lobster biscuit. I don’t even each cheese, but I eat cheese biscuits [crosstalk 00:07:47].
Erica: Killa's voice was made for this shit. Okay. So she's dope. Okay. So thank you for that amazing reading.
Kenrya: You're welcome.
Erica: You did such an amazing job.
Sheree: Unbutton my top button on that one.
Erica: But you wrote it!
Sheree: But it don't sound like that when I read it. Okay.
Erica: That was a good one. Right?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: So before we jump into our discussion.
Kenrya: We want to bring in the lovely Sheree. I want y'all to know about this woman. So, oh shit. See, you got that place that's hard for me to pronounce. So you're going to have to fix it when I fuck it up. All right so-
Erica: Oh yeah. The-
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Good Midwestern tongue.
Kenrya: So Sheree is a text-based artist and educator living in Tampa, Florida. And she's a Yaddo?
Kenrya: Ahh Yaddo, see. She's a Yaddo and Ragdale Rubin fellow, Astraea Lesbian Foundation grantee—y’all know Astraea's close to my heart—and is the author of two novels, “Let The Lover Be,” which was a Rainbow Award finalist and the Black Lives Matter-inspired, “A Return To Arms.” She also created a short story collection, “Once and Future Lovers” and a student writing guide called “Stop Writing Wack Essays.” Yes, stop it. They suck. Sheree's the founding director of Kitchen Table Literary Arts. And her work has been featured in literary journals, magazines and anthologies. Her most recent work, “Bars” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Y'all please welcome Sheree to the show.
Erica: Oh, shit.
Kenrya: Did you just spill something bitch?
Sheree: Did you spill your drink?
Erica: I spilled a little champagne.
Kenrya: Oh my God.
Kenrya: So she's drinking champagne, y'all I'm drinking Pedialyte. I've been fucked up for the last two weeks.
Erica: But she rallied for the night.
Kenrya: I did, but I got the fruit punch Pedialyte. Word to my partner who made a run for me today and got me some more.
Erica: Word to your mother. Well, not your mother.
Erica: To your partner.
Kenrya: To my partner.
Kenrya: Hey boo.
Erica: Hey boo. Okay. So we read this book and instantly fell in love. Because not only is it a beautiful book, but it's realistic. They don't just walk off in a sunset holding hands. And just like... It's some real shit. Like shit happens and we all have to deal with it. So let's start with a quick story synopsis. I'm going to give the synopsis. Y'all know I fuck it up. Tell me if I-
Kenrya: Why don't we let Sheree give the synopsis? Yes. A spoiler-free synopsis because you know-
Sheree: A spoiler-free synopsis.
Kenrya: Because we want folks to read it. And we don't them to be all fucked up because we told them too much. We've be struggling.
Sheree: Yeah, it is. “Let The Lover Be” is about a functional alcoholic who travels to New Orleans to try to stop an ex's wedding.
Erica: New Orleans, baby.
Erica: I have horrible accents, but I'm going to continue them.
Kenrya: I like that you try it.
Sheree: Yeah. That's the story. That's the story.
Erica: Okay. So while she's in New Orleans, she meets somebody and hi-jinks ensue.
Kenrya: Dot, dot, dot.
Erica: Dot, dot, dot. Okay. So y'all just so you know, I'm living my Oprah fantasy because I have cards. I found stickers and put them on the back so I can look official. [crosstalk 00:11:38] I only bring one. We don't have a ton of stickers. So I just did one.
Kenrya: I've got some in my fanny pack.
Erica: If y'all need to... If somebody wants some stickers I might have to pull this off. Because you know, budget. Whatever. Okay. So this particular scene that we read was when the main character Kiana meets a woman at a bar and they fuck. And yeah, she's nameless, faceless. She was just... She was reaching for something and that woman was giving it. She was giving all that should be gave. Do y'all follow Rolling Ray on Instagram?
Kenrya: I don't. I'm sorry.
Erica: See, I have these like niche pop culture references. And because Kenrya is so highbrow-
Kenrya: I know who Rolling Ray... Okay bitch.
Kenrya: I know who Rolling Ray is. Because I was just watching the video today. But I do not follow Rolling Ray. Because somebody said Rolling Ray sounded like Maya Angelou.
Sheree: Oh no.
Kenrya: It wasn't meant to be not a compliment. But I listened to the audio clip, and I was like, "They're not lying."
Erica: Rolling Ray does not sound like Maya Angelou. And that is fucking blasphemous.
Sheree: Does it sound like David Alan Grier doing Maya Angelou? Because that's [crosstalk 00:13:01]. The Kumquat!
Kenrya: That might be it.
Sheree: Fruity Loopies. That's one of my favorite skits. I'm sorry.
Erica: Fucking horrible that y'all would equate Rolling Ray with Maya Angelou, but whatever. Rolling Ray did get-
Kenrya: I didn't do it. I saw it on Twitter.
Erica: Rolling Ray did get recognized by Beyoncé.
Kenrya: Sure did.
Erica: So he's doing a little better than us. And okay.
Kenrya: With a personalized note and everything. See, I saw that.
Erica: I'm proud of you. Sorry, I'm getting distracted by your boobs. But okay. I mean like in a good way.
Sheree: I'm being inspired. I am inspired.
Erica: Okay. So this sexy reminds me of one of my favorite songs. I tried to… [Singing.]
Kenrya: I was like, where are you going with this?
Erica: Okay. So anyway, this scene was like one of those... Where she was just trying to fuck it away. Like right before this, Kiana had some real emotional stuff come up and she was just like running from it. And ran and was like, "You know what? I'm going to fuck it away with this nameless faceless person." And to me, the scene showed that like it was so... Although she was having sex with someone, it was more about her being in touch with herself, and trying to get in touch with these particular feelings. She was chasing a feeling.
Kenrya: I mean it felt to me like she was chasing not having to feel. Like this moment where you can just live in ecstasy. And where that ecstasy crowds out all of the thoughts that are encroaching on you. Like the things that, you know what I mean? The intrusive things, the things that you don't want to deal with when you fucking, and when you cumming, you don't have to think about those. It's like a moment of pure joy. But what you think Sheree? Since you wrote it.
Erica: Since you wrote it, what would you think?
Sheree: So it is both of those things. Because I feel like whenever you're trying to... If you self-medicate with anything, a lot of times you're doing it because you're trying to escape, having to think about certain things. But it don't work like that. So in writing that scene, it's like, "Yes, I just want to fall into simplicity, and not think about all this stuff that's coming up for me since I've been here." But even in that moment, it still pops up for you to keep trying to chase it away. And then it pops up and you trying to chase it away. And so it's this active kind of thing where you can't shake it. That's why it's egging you like that. Because you can't shake it, but you're trying. And so even in that moment of, her second climax is like, "I'm trying not to think about this shit. It's there, but I'm trying not to think about it." And it's like, you can't shake it. When something is really bothering you can try, but you can't really shake it.
Kenrya: That shit be on your back.
Sheree: You can't really shake it.
Erica: So did y'all ever go through a toxic ass period where you tried to blank it away? Like I remember... So I think about like, I went through a period... Multiple periods. My entire fucking 20s.
Sheree: I was like, my 20s, and half of my 30s, maybe. Like-
Erica: Right? And so I've found... I look back at some of the things that I picked up. I remember one time I was like, I was married and just going through some shit. Looking back, I was definitely trying to like pottery away my pain.
Kenrya: Oh you did do pottery.
Sheree: Pottery it away.
Erica: Whatever bitch. It was just one of the things where I was like-
Kenrya: You were taking a pottery class.
Erica: I need to do something with myself. So I ended up fucking taking a pottery class. I literally could go in my storage room right now. I have platters that are shaped like this. Fuck you bitch. You ain't supposed to agree.
Kenrya: It's true.
Erica: Anyway, I tried pottering away my... But I mean, there were also destructive behaviors, drinking too much, fucking, all of that. And looking back, it was just me trying to run from issues that I thought I had resolved, but not really. I just kind of brushed them away. Pushed them down a little bit more. So what about you?
Sheree: I mean, I think I've always tried to write through a lot of what I was feeling. I'm an avid journaler. So I'm always trying to write through what I'm feeling, what I'm thinking, what I'm confused by, what I'm hurt by. But even in the writing... And it's interesting because I was just listening to Kiese Laymon on NPR the other day. He's one of my favorite contemporary writers. And he was talking about how writing a book is not therapy. So I was like, "Writing in my journal is not therapy." So you can't write it away. But other than writing, it was primarily sex and drinking.
Sheree: That was how I dealt with everything. It was. Yeah. That was the answer in the moment. And try like Kiana tries in that scene. You could try to forget what's going on. And in some ways it works, you know what I'm saying? So I kept it going for a while. In that moment. That's that concept of now. In this moment, fuck all that shit. In the moment I'm having drinks, I'm having fun meeting people, I'm laughing, I'm being flirty doing all the things that I wish I could do all the time. But not really because-
Erica: Then you wake up the next morning, like, "Who are you?"
Sheree: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That part.
Erica: You got anything?
Kenrya: So I mean, I think the answer was yes, but not in a fun way.
Kenrya: Like for me-
Erica: It's never in a fun way when you think... I mean in the moment it's fun.
Kenrya: But not even... Nope, not even in the moment.
Erica: Oh wow. Okay.
Kenrya: I was prepared to say no. But when I think about it, I think that what I did was bury myself in relationships. People used to call me a serial monogamist. And I used to call myself that too. But I think what it really was, was that I was afraid to be alone. And so I would find myself very quickly moving into these relationships with niggas that wasn't shit. But because I didn't want to be by myself, I was willing to settle for being with someone who quite frankly did not deserve my company. And so it wasn't that I was out here doing fun stuff. It was I was battling with raggedy assed niggas, but it was better to do... To me, it felt like it was better to do that in my 20s, than it was for me to just be alone and deal with my shit. It wasn't until the last few years where I got deep into therapy and working on myself and getting to the point where I was quite happy alone, which allowed me to then be able to be a good partner to someone.
Sheree: I feel like too, that's part of... And I think it's not by accident that we mention this particular time in our lives either, our 20s. Because it's almost like, I feel like you don't necessarily recognize that you might have some deeper issues because if you look around you, everybody's-
Erica: Toxic as fuck.
Sheree: And everybody's sleeping around or getting into relationships and you know, let's talk shit about who you're dating. And fuck them I'm with somebody else now. You feel like that's what you supposed to be doing at the time. And so you don't even know till you start thinking like, "Am I really having fun? Am I really getting through this? Am I really enjoying my life? Am I waking up in the mornings with more regret than I'm copping to?" You know what I'm saying? But that's so hard to see when you're in it. So when you're in your twenties you feel like that's what you're supposed to be doing. And it's like, some of us got some real fucking problems and that's not what we supposed to be doing.
Kenrya: We normalize toxic behavior, right? We've made that what we do. That is supposed to be age appropriate, as opposed to actually sitting with yourself and figuring out your shit.
Sheree: Yeah. Yeah.
Kenrya: That’s old people shit.
Erica: That's foul. But I will say it is great once you figure out your shit and then can be back on that shit.
Kenrya: Absolutely then you have healthy boundaries around bullshit.
Sheree: That part.
Erica: That's why I keep you around. Okay. So just one of the general things about this book is that Kiana wanted that old thing back.
Erica: She got a call-
Kenrya: She sure did.
Erica: ...saying that her ex is getting married, and she was like, "You know what? Fuck it. I'm going to stop it." So, she jumped on a plane, went to New Orleans. Oh wait. You know what? Before I even get there, I don't know if we asked you this. Are you from Chicago? Did you live in Chicago? What's your connection with Chicago?
Sheree: I lived there for graduate school.
Erica: Okay because when you wrote about... So, the main character, Kiana, is from Chicago and you wrote about Chicago and it felt very intimate like you lived it and felt it. Though, I love the way you wrote about Chicago. You could tell that you had a real connection.
Kenrya: That you had a hawk on your back for a while.
Sheree: Oh, yeah. It was there. So, I'm originally from Milwaukee, and Chicago is right down the street. So, I have visited Chicago often but then I moved there for graduate school, and I feel like when I moved to Chicago, I started trying to figure out who I actually was. I left my career in IT to become a writer and I came out while I was in Chicago. I was getting off work one day and one of my coworkers who's a lesbian was like, "I'm going to this party. You want to go? You're gay, right?" And I was like, "Uh-huh," and I knew. I had an inkling because I had been dabbling. So I went, but then-
Kenrya: Hold on. So, you admitted it to yourself or not at the point but not thinking about [crosstalk 00:24:43]?
Sheree: Not at that point. But once I got invited to that party and because, like I said, I had been dabbling, I thought... You know how people, "Oh, you're just a freak or whatever," but it turned out.
Erica: No, I'm going to commit to this.
Sheree: I like this. And so, Chicago was really formative for me in that way. I don't know that I've ever said this publicly, so I'm going to say it on your show, and I'm going to say it live. It's not really a spoiler because y'all already know she'd be getting fucked up. Kiana gets fucked up.
Sheree: So, in the opening scene of the book, she rides the L train back and forth, because she's too drunk to realize where the fuck she is. And that one hundred percent happened to me. That was a real ass story. And it was wild that's what I opened the book with because I found the paper. I had some paper in my pocket that night and I found the little papers because I was writing on the L train or whatever, and I was writing in between.
Sheree: It was so wild to use that scene, and then to also think about myself in that way because I was really trying to disassociate myself from this character. So I'm like, "She is fucked up. She's got some problems." And then, it turns out Sheree, you got some issues and you figure some stuff out for yourself. But that's why Chicago feels so urgent and so real because that was my life. And Chicago was really integral to me finding myself and becoming myself and getting to know myself away from my family for the first time.
Erica: Yeah. That's a big deal. I am another Midwestern girl from St. Louis, and DC holds a special place in my heart because when you get away from family, no matter how much you love them, you're able to figure out who you are, independent of what people think you are and what your family wants you to be and all of that. So yeah. Okay. Do you have a city that's like that?
Kenrya: I think it's DC and New York. Those are the only other places I've lived. I'm from Cleveland.
Kenrya: The whole Midwestern situation going on.
Erica: I love it.
Kenrya: So yeah, no, these two cities are where I became me. Yeah, for sure.
Erica: Outside of the shadow of your family.
Erica: So, Kiana, romanticized the out of her old relationship.
Kenrya: She had that bitch on a pedestal.
Erica: Oh no. “Pedastool” as we say in the Midwest.
Erica: So, I found it interesting how she was really able to... Don't look at my notes.
Erica: Oh, I thought you was looking at my notes ahead.
Kenrya: I'm looking at you!
Sheree: She's active listening.
Erica: My bad. I ain't used to that.
Erica: I ain't got a man. I live with a child. So.
Erica: Anyway. Okay. So, she romanticized all her relationships. The relationship with her mother, she romanticized the relationship with her mom, her ex. She just remembered shit so differently. And then, it made me think about... I remember when I told my son that we were divorcing. That me and my ex were divorcing, and this little boy cried his eyes out. He was like, "But we do everything together." And I was like,
Kenrya: Do you?
Erica: "Do we? What" And it's amazing how you really can build this space in your head.
Erica: And that was a romantic relationship, but even, my father passed away when I was really young, and I still have memories of him as a ten-year-old. It took years of therapy to break those down and un-romanticize them. And I think that kind of helped me become a better person because I was able to then see what was happening. See the full picture of what was actually going on.
Erica: Do you have any relationships that you remember romanticizing, but then it took some time, and the light of day to see it and be like, "Oh. That was some bullshit."
Sheree: Absolutely. And in a way, the theme of alcoholism really plays a part in that. And so, right now I'm working on my next book, which is a memoir. And it's about my challenges with alcohol abuse, through the lens of family trauma and some other things. But ultimately, it's about me reckoning with memory, because if you abuse alcohol, you blackout. And so, all essence of blackouts is lost time and lost memories. And, you get into this space where if you can't fully discern when you're of clear mind and when you've been drinking... everything is jumbled in your mind when you don't have a particular type of clarity. And so, all of those things are always at play with substance abuse where it's like, I remember things, but is this a drunk memory?
Sheree: So, it is built up to be one thing instead of another, or I have this memory and I don't quite know how to place it. Or, this is what I thought about things then versus this is what I think about things now. And, it's such rugged terrain trying to find your way through it. And so, I feel like I romanticized a lot of things. I romanticized particularly relationships with parents, with siblings, with friends where it's like, I remember them being this way. These times were amazing and everything was great, and turns out, not so much. But then, that happens on the other side, too, where you remember things being so terrible, and it's like, "Oh, this was the worst thing that could have happened. This person did me so wrong."
Sheree: And then, you think back on it and it didn't even happen like that. Not really. And so, I feel like that concept of romanticizing and then also painting things worse than they actually are. I feel almost, too, even substance abuse aside, memory is just tricky as fuck. You know what I'm saying? It's all contextual.
Erica: Trauma, it changes.
Sheree: It's like a fun house mirror or something when you're looking at yourself and other people. Everything feels distorted, and you got to try to find your way through it, I guess. But, I was definitely one for romanticizing romantic relationships. I was definitely one doing that.
Erica: So because you romanticized relationships, did you ever double back to an ex out of...
Kenrya: [Massive sigh.]
Sheree: That was the most exhausted…
Kenrya: We have to get off camera for this.
Sheree: Oh my goodness.
Sheree: No, it's funny. I was just talking to my niece. We were talking about our birth charts. And so, I'm a Virgo sun sign, but I'm a Sagittarius moon. And I saw this meme...
Erica: Wait, so you're like... [makes motion of putting things int heir place] But like [waves arms in air] at the same time?
Sheree: I needed to find out my whole chart because I would look at Virgo stuff and I'd be like, "Yeah, that's me. But then a lot of it wasn't. I'm like, what about all this other that I can't? What are you doing? And so, what's funny is I saw this meme the other day on Instagram, and it was a person kneeling in front of a tombstone doing like this. The bottom said, Sagittarius, be like, and I was like "Oh shit." For real. I don't revisit exes. We don't do that.
Sheree: It's been real. So no, I never doubled back on an ex. In terms of romanticizing, I'll be like, "Man, we had some really beautiful memories. We had some beautiful times together." But then I feel like, that didn't work out. Don't go back there.
Sheree: You ended it for a reason. Don't go back. Don't go back there.
Erica: Okay. So, we're going to take just a quick pause for the cause. Do the kids still say that on TikTok, on the Ticky Tok? Pause for the cause?
Kenrya: You watch TikTok all day.
Erica: I know. I haven't seen the TikTok about pause for the cause because, but we're going to take a pause for the cause real quick because bingo has been called by our good friend.
Erica: Okay. So, shout out to you for winning the bingo.
Kenrya: Wait, I didn't get to answer that.
Erica: I was just about to turn to you and ask you for... You have the.
Sheree: She'd never answer that question.
Erica: From the depths of her spirit. Yeah.
Sheree: Deep in the chest.
Erica: Okay. So what had happened was?
Kenrya: No, I'm not going to tell that story. That's a “I need to be drinking champagne” story and I can't.
Kenrya: So I'll start with, I, as we've talked about a lot on the show, Erica and I both are recovering codependents.
Erica: Oh, we're going to touch on that shit in these notes.
Kenrya: Oh, okay.
Erica: Keep going.
Kenrya: So, codependency was very tough for me to even hear and then to start to deal with. I remember after I finally got comfortable with the term and whatnot, and had read the book and highlighted shit and was like, "Oh, it's okay."
Kenrya: And then, our therapist gave me that book about when your parents are codependent. Ooh, God.
Kenrya: It made me... I remember I went to the session after I read it, and I was like, "I feel like you're asking me to rewrite my entire childhood." And she was like, "No, you're just adding footnotes," which made me feel better. But she was like, "No, you're adding context to what went on. You're not wiping it out. It's not saying that the things that you felt were not real. It is just helping you to better put them into context," which was helpful to hear.
Erica: So important.
Kenrya: But it was a really difficult moment when I realized that a lot of the ways that I have romanticized my relationship with my father in the absence of a relationship of my mother-
Erica: Oh yes.
Kenrya: Were just not realistic, and were not an accurate reflection of the very fraught childhood that I had. It was not easy.
Kenrya: So there's that. And then with relationships, so, nine times out of 10, I don't go back. I am an Aries.
Erica: Oh, that'd be torn down. She was like, we're going to burn down this bridge, and then we're going to take the ashes and bury them.
Kenrya: And then I'm going to build a skyscraper on top of them shits, so. But, I have one situation where I went back, and it was because it was unfinished business. Right? And, that's because I like to finish business. And so, when that situation closed, it wasn't because one of us had really fucked up. It was just because logistically, it wasn't working out. And so, I revisited, not out of romanticizing, but out of, I want to see where this goes.
Kenrya: I should not have seen where it went.
Sheree: My wife is an Aries. And so, when we were dating, she had an ex like that where nothing really was wrong. It was just like somebody had moved or something like that. And I had said, that's why I love that you said unfinished business because I had said, "I don't do strings. You got some unfinished business. If you got some..."
Erica: Loose strings turn until entanglements.
Sheree: Because if somebody moved or stuff wasn't working out because somebody was laid off and unemployed, and y'all ain't have no real problems, it was other stuff that happened. Then, that means when that thing has been rectified or whatever, if you still got feelings for that person then... You know what I'm saying? It's like, "Oh, we broke up because he moved away." And I was like, "Okay, well what if he come back and be like, Oh yeah, I'm here to move into my momma's house." And now you're like, "Oh, shit."
Kenrya: Don't be looking at me.
Sheree: So it's like that loose ends thing. If you feel like you got an ex that you still have feelings for, I want to know that information. I'll be asking, "Why did y'all break up? What happened?" I need to know the scoop because I need to make... "Oh, well, when she got laid off and when she lost her job, stuff just got real tough." I was like, "Nope. That bitch shows back up with some money, where does that leave me?" You know what I'm saying? So, we don't do those loose ends.
Kenrya: That's a good question to ask. I know what I learned from my situation was that he will say it.
Kenrya: I learned that things really do... I hate when people say things happen for a reason. because they always like to say it after somebody died or something, I'm like, "Fuck you." But, cat's living... Because my situation was living in different cities. Cats live in different cities for a motherfucking reason. Leave that nigga over there.
Sheree: Moral of the story.
Erica: Okay. So have y'all done something stupid in an attempt to save some things, turn some things around, get someone's attention, because going to New Orleans thinking you're going to stop? I don't know what the fuck Kiana thought was going to happen. Stop!
Sheree: You know what she thought was going to happen? This kind of shit, y'all saw on “A Different World” when the Dwayne walked up in his suit. That wildlife song that came out a couple years ago, talking about “Baby, I got plans for you. I had plans for you” or some shit. He was walking up the aisle on the wedding day, trying to look at her eyes and shit.
Sheree: We in story land, people think that shit is right. They're like, "Oh, I'm going to show up. It goes way back to the... I showed this movie to my students sometimes. “The Graduate.” When they get on the bus and we're like, "We out." You know what I'm saying?
Kenrya: There they're like, "Oh shit."
Sheree: I don't know if that stuff happens. I had somebody call me, and I didn't even fuck this dude. It was so wild. So, this dude had called me on his wedding day and had asked me, "If you say, come to Florida, I'll come to Florida."
Erica: Don't put that shit on my conscience!
Sheree: I didn't know what to do. I did not know what to do. It was so wild because it was this weird thing where because we hadn't had sex or anything. We just had this night of talking. And, I feel like sometimes because dudes don't do this thing, everything ends and begins with their penises, that if you're a woman and y'all don't fuck, then something magical happened. And it was like, nothing magical happened. We talked.
Erica: If it was magical, I woulda fucked.
Sheree: We were just hanging out. So, I think about stuff like that. I'm sure that that happened. I'm sure people leave folks at the alter or call things off.
Erica: But, I think also, with that guy's situation, if you're at the point where you call in folks. You, honey...
Sheree: You don't need to be doing it.
Kenrya: It's so interesting because that just shows cats can concoct the whole different version of it. This is what Kiana's whole situation was.
Erica: When she had a conversation with Michelle and they were talking about... The whole book, Kiana is talking about the relationship, and then Michelle comes in and was like, "Bitch, do you remember this? Who are you?"
Erica: When I was a kid, in St. Louis, there's the art museum, and then there's Art Hill, which is where everyone goes sledding. At the bottom of Art Hill, is this pond. When I was a kid, in my mind, we were going down the side of Mount Rushmore into the ocean.
Erica: We might not. We're going to die.
Erica: And I was always an anxious kid, but I remember being a kid out there looking around at these kids laughing and smiling and joking. I'm like, "Y'all out here kicking it. We're going to die. Y'all parents are fucked up for letting y'all do this. We going to die!"
Erica: Girl, I went back about 10 years ago, it is the most gentle slope. And then it ends. And then there's like 15, 20 feet of just flat sidewalk.
Erica: And then there's a lip and then a little pond and if you drop in it will probably go to your ankle.
Sheree: [crosstalk 00:46:10] A little bit.
Erica: Even if you made it, you'd be like, yeah. In my mind, I was like, "We going to die." That's just, your brain be making shit up. Your brain be making shit up.
Sheree: It does. It does.
Erica: So since I asked you that hard question about, have you ever done some stupid shit in an attempt to turn something around or convince somebody... Have you, Kenrya?
Kenrya: I don't know, have I? You looking at me like you know some shit.
Sheree: She turned around like she got an example and she was letting us see if she was going to give that example.
Erica: I was trying to get my deflect.
Kenrya: I mean, I have stayed some places where I should not have stayed.
Kenrya: But I've been cool with some like, "Yeah, this is fine. This is all right," like a fucking dog in the apartment. I have definitely.
Sheree: Oh yeah.
Erica: I'm like, "Dog in a burning apartment? When did you have a dog?" But no.
Kenrya: No I didn't.
Erica: Like weren't you allergic to them? Anyway, my bad... That dog.
Kenrya: I'm not a grand gesture kind of person.
Erica: Oh, I am.
Kenrya: I don't really expect them and I for damned sure don't do them.
Erica: Oh, I love grand gestures.
Kenrya: I'm a little-
Sheree: Have you done something to kind of like, "I'm going to do this then I'm going to turn it around?"
Erica: Here's the thing. This is my Uncle Clifford point from “P Valley.”
Erica: Here's the thing. No, I haven't done any. I can't think of any grand gestures, and I say that because at the end of the day, a bitch got pride, like too much pride. You ain't going to carry me. You ain't going to have me out there looking stupid. I want nobody saying like, "Damn Erica did X, Y, Z," and that is detrimental because it takes a lot for me to put my pride aside to be in a relationship. But I definitely would expect a grand gesture and you're like, "Well, where's the fucking hot air balloon?" and they'd be like, "Bitch. You ain't answer the fucking phone."
Kenrya: Simple. I like plain and simple. I like a good pie. Some flowers.
Sheree: Me too.
Kenrya: I don't think it'll take that much for me.
Erica: I like that too, but I'm going to say it's, I'm a bird, so I like some nice shit too. I like some nice shit too.
Erica: Okay. As we talk about memory and how we tend to conveniently remember, forget things, or add things to our memory, one of the things that was a huge part of Kiana's hot messiness, is that a term?
Sheree: It is tonight.
Erica: Okay. A big thing about Kiana's hot messiness was that it was more like she had this whole life constructed about what happened to her mother. Her mother passed away when she was young. She had this whole idea of what happened and how that looked, and she found out as an adult like, nah bitch. It was a whole different situation and part of it was because her codependent sister. God, we love Karen.
Erica: We love Karen was doing... She was being a big sister protecting her baby sister. But those lies of omission, again, helped kept her from seeing the full picture and like the full idea of what went on so that she was then able to romanticize and all of that. My granny was big on saying, "Look, if you leaving shit out, you still lying." I don't think she said shit. She didn't say shit.
Kenrya: Are you sure? Okay.
Erica: Maybe Granny did.
Kenrya: I was about to say, it's Granny.
Erica: It's Granny. She did. She did.
Kenrya: You leaving shit out. You telling lies.
Erica: So that makes me feel... That makes me want to ask you, how do you feel, particularly in the context of not necessarily a romantic relationship, but familial relationships, like when people leave out certain parts of the story in order to protect members of the family.
Kenrya: What it is?
Erica: Well, wait, sorry. I'll let you think on that, carry on.
Kenrya: No, you didn't finish your question. I was just reacting.
Erica: No, I'm just saying, how do you...
Kenrya: You know my family does that shit all the time.
Erica: Uh-huh (affirmative), you Black.
Kenrya: When my uncle died they didn't even want to tell me. I was living in New York and I saw...
Erica: Sorry, I didn't mean to laugh.
Kenrya: So my dad's the youngest of 15 kids, it's a lot of them. I don't know if they just thought I wasn't going to notice. But like...
Erica: Wait. "Where's uncle so and so?" "Oh he's at the cemetery." "What's he doing at the cemetery?" "Dead."
Kenrya: Somebody accidentally told me and I had to call and be like, "The fuck?" And they were like, "Oh, you got a lot on your plate. You in New York." I'm like, the fuck? That's my uncle.
Sheree: I'm sorry. I don't mean to laugh.
Kenrya: It's fine cause they ridiculous. I got a family that like to sweep things under the rug and act like they didn't happen. They also like the gaslight when you bring stuff up and act like you made some shit up, that's a whole related issue.
Sheree: It's very related. It's you know, it's... So there's a couple of different ways to think about honesty. Right? So I read somewhere that in some cultures, you're not supposed to be a hundred percent honest if it's going to cause harm to someone else. So it's like, if I have something that is fuck up and is fucking me up and I want to tell you so that I can feel better, but now you're going to feel worse, then that's not the right thing to do.
Kenrya: That’s like when niggas cheat.
Erica: Yeah, and they be like... ain't going to find out.
Sheree: It's complicated if you think about it in that way, because in some respects if you're holding on something that you did and it's shitty and you're like, it's eating me up. I got to tell you, and it's like, you're doing that for self-release and your own guilt. But at the same time, like I don't... I feel like honesty, as cliche as the shit is, is really the best way forward; to have the information so that you can do what it is that you're going to do with it.
Sheree: And so in that story, like Kiana being quote, unquote, protected from her mother's death, it didn't protect her. It like it made things worse. I feel like that particularly with family secrets, because they're very rarely are things better because you kept this secret. Very rare. Like I... If somebody out there got a story of some people that did not end up in therapy, because somebody had kept the truth from them, show me that person. I want to interview them.
Kenrya: Or should be in therapy, right? Because it's a whole bunch of fucking…
Sheree: I just don't feel like... I feel like you have to... If it's something that's going to affect me, you've got to. If it's something that's going to affect my myself, it's going to affect my family, if it's going to affect us as a family, if there's real ramifications to holding this information, you got to let it out. You got to talk about it. It's just going to manifest into some other shit that becomes less... So I think about in the story, if Kiana had known the truth about it, she might have been able to get help. Her and her sister might've been able to get...
Kenrya: Right? Early.
Sheree: To therapy to deal with the situation, but instead... You know what I'm saying? So definitely tell the truth. Especially, when you were mentioning Erica, talking to your child about the divorce or whatever, it's like, tell the truth and even with kids. Kids know what the fuck is going on. Don't think you protecting them.
Sheree: Come on.
Erica: And that's one of the things that his therapist said to us. She was like, You know what? When you, ...he's seeing that things are changing. You need to say something because if you don't say something to him, then it teaches him not to trust his instinct or not to trust what he sees. And so then he going to be with a bitch that, or he going to be with somebody that's like, "My bad. I ain't mean to do it."
Kenrya: Yeah, or worse he's going to gaslight himself.
Erica: I'm sorry I went to from somebody sucking some dick. My bad. Okay. But yeah. Sorry. Okay. Codependency runs rampant in this whole story. It was codependency between Kiana and Keisha... Kiana and Karen, I then put a whole different character in your story. Between Kiana and Karen. There was a slight codependency between Genevieve and Kiana. Although Genevieve, I love the fact that Genevieve was... She felt herself getting sucked in and was like, hold on.
Kenrya: I was about to say it was more than slight, but she got herself out.
Erica: She was like, "I can't do this shit, and I got to bounce," and I love that.
Kenrya: See I don't want to spoil it.
Erica: Well They don't know what happened.
Sheree: They don't know what happened.
Erica: Or else y'all should have read the book.
Kenrya: Still please read the book. It's called “Let the Lover Be.”
Sheree: “Let the Lover Be.”
Erica: Okay. So, but it's grown... But their codependent relationship grew out of something, and I think that it was... I really liked... I mean, it's normal to see the codependency between partners or in relationships, but I think we fail to examine and point out codependency between siblings because that shit is tough and unaddressed. I think about like with my family I have, it's five of us, and we all baby my baby brother. I mean the nigga is 30 something and I still call him my baby brother. I'm like my baby brother coming and this grown ass man with a beard, they like, "Where the baby?" But it's just one of those things where it's like, he's the baby, we got to protect him. I think we've all gotten a little bit better about protecting the siblings.
Erica: But I love that you highlight the codependency between the sisters. And I even think... I'm trying not to spoil too much. I'll get to the end of the story. But I think that in the end of the story is I think at like past the, the end part of it, I think that actually Kiana is going to be the one helping Karen. Is it Karen?
Sheree: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Karen at the end pull away from the codependency because Karen was definitely, let me protect my sister. Let me take care of her to a point where it was crippling her. Right?
Sheree: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Do you have any siblings?
Sheree: Yes. Yes I do. As you were talking, and I think my baby sister is listening right now and I think my big sister is listening right now.
Erica: My younger brother just passed.
Kenrya: Right before you were talking about him he went [points finger and moves it across the screen].
Sheree: And I definitely...
Erica: I'll probably get cussed out when this is over with.
Sheree: I know for me, it has been a process for me to learn how to be a big sister. Learn how to be there for my younger sister and learn how to be a resource without being a third mama, without being judgmental, without saying, "Well, you should have done this" and even learn how to, I think this is probably the hardest part, is learn how to let the people we love suffer, because there's no lesson in fixing it for her. And there's also no real independence or power in it, if I'm taking care of everything or if momma's taking care of everything or if daddy's taking care of everything. I feel like that happens the most with the youngest child because it's just the position. As a middle child, I've been the mediator for a lot of my life. Playing in between and trying to make sure everybody's good, and that's part of my therapy where it's like, well bitch, what about you? You got to think about yourself. But in terms of, especially with a younger sibling, I really had to... You got to let go. My sister's birthday, her birthday is Tuesday. She'll be... Shit. I'm going to say it out. Fuck it, Tiffany, you can come get me. I don't care. She's about to be 35 on Tuesday.
Sheree: She's 35, like she's not a baby. She's not... But sometimes, and I asked my mom, when you look at us, do you see us like young sometimes? Cause I swear, I look at Tiffany sometimes and I see her little chubby face. And I see the dried tears because something happened or somebody was fucking with her and I'm like, "Where they at?" You know what I'm saying? I still do that. And then I got to not. I got to try to remind myself she's an adult. She is a grown woman with a whole fucking child. Like she is a grown ass woman and she has to make her own decisions and her own mistakes and her own triumphs and go her own way. It's my job as her big sister to be here if she needs me, but not to tell her how to run her life or try to take care of everything.
Sheree: And that's difficult in a family full of women. My mom has three girls. My aunt got three girls, so it's a lot of girls in the family. We take care of each other in ways that we do. We nurture. We take care of each other and it's something we're socialized to do. Anybody is able to be a nurturer, but as girls, we are socialized to be that way. And that plays out in our relationships, and I feel like that line gets blurred. When do you... When are you carrying too much? When are you doing too much? When are you shielding instead of supporting? You got to, I don't know, you got to find your way through that. Not... And I feel like at the end of the book, they will find their way through that. I think it's interesting that you think that Kiana is going to take the lead on that. I think you're right. I think you're right.
Erica: Okay. So as we round the bend here, we're here at the The Turn On, so what do we talk about?
Sheree: I think my mama listening too, so, but she done already heard some shit.
Erica: I was about to say, so I can't ask about the squirting?
Sheree: You can ask whatever you like.
Erica: Yo. First, fucking on the elevator. The elevator lead up. I was like, y'all know I got my horrible story on fucking on the elevator. Well, I didn't fuck on the elevator.
Kenrya: You were having foreplay.
Erica: I was having foreplay on the elevator, but it was at this club in Miami and it literally went from like the first floor to the second floor. We got on and we started making out and went, "Ding!" The doors open and it was a bouncer. He looked at us and we just closed it and went back down. Then came back up and was like, "Ding!" And he was like, "Y'all mother fucker got to get out. Like chill. Like this is bull shit." And then damn.
Sheree: Oh shit.
Kenrya: You done forgot what you was going to say.
Erica: No, I was going to say, I was about to clown Kiana for not knowing her name. But I can’t remember…
Sheree: It be like that sometimes.
Erica: I could see him be like, "hello, sir."
Erica: I'll be like, "And how are you?" He'll be like...
Kenrya: I'm trying to figure out who I was in the car with, when you were in the elevator.
Sheree: It's okay not to remember people's names, especially if you are a sexually liberated individual.
Erica: Yeah. As long as we safe.
Sheree: Think through. I don't do body counts and stuff. Cause I don't. I mean, as long as [inaudible 01:04:05] ... finished it, I really don't give a fuck, but if you try to think through it's some spotty people and you'd be like, Who is that? It was? [inaudible 01:04:21] No. Well, did we fuck? Or did we just... You'd be thinking it through. That's life. As the memory gets further and further away, you're supposed to remember...
Erica: [crosstalk 01:04:33] Exactly.
Sheree: ... Fucking in the nineties.
Sheree: That's 20 years ago.
Erica: So, I remember there was a homecoming, a few years back, I think. And this dude, he was saying what's up to the crew and he was dabbing everybody up. And I'm like... And I was so mean to the nigga. And then a couple hours later, I was like, "I ain't fuck him." Why me? I literally had to go. I pulled him aside later on, I told him again at the club. I was like, "Yo, my bad. I just... I thought you was somebody else." He was like, "Damn, I missing out, now."
Sheree: These things happen.
Erica: Okay so, the squirting you wrote it so poetically in that, it was it wasn't like. It was like.
Sheree: Is this showers?
Erica: It was a mist.
Sheree: Shower of love.
Erica: Also how you roll...
Sheree: A mist.
Erica: Well, one thing that, I wrote this down, "these times of complete abandon that Kiana felt most secure." That just felt beautiful. I know it wasn't supposed to be maybe? But it just... That's what I searched for when I'm having good sex. I want to get so lost in the sauce that it's just like a warm Cheddar Bay biscuit. I'm a fat bitch.
Kenrya: I mean they're delicious. Now they’ve come up twice on this episode.
Erica: I know. Yeah. I just loved the scene. Although, it was not... The circumstances weren't ideal. The sex in and of itself was written beautifully, and we always comment. We always say this, how part of the reason on this show, while we want to highlight the sex scenes, are because this is a part of who we are. We don't want like the Hallmark movie.
Sheree: Wake up and that's like...
Kenrya: No, we want all of that really doing our makeup, full winged, and get up and whatnot.
Erica: I remember when Mrs. Maisel did that.
Kenrya: That's some white people shit.
Kenrya: I just want to be seeing Black people. Yeah. No.
Erica: [crosstalk 01:07:35] beautiful.
Sheree: That kind of abandon though...
Erica: What were you going to say?
Kenrya: Go ahead.
Sheree: I was going to say that kind of that abandon, that freedom, I feel like that's like essential to good sex is like...
Sheree: It's like you got to let yourself go. You can't be in your head. I mean, I don't know the unnamed woman's situation, but I do know that even how you respond sexually has to do with your comfort. And you're willing to just like... You got to be comfortable in your body. Be comfortable with the sounds you're making the feelings you're feeling, everything. And that's when sex is at its best to me. When you can really just let go and be in that moment. And it's not related to how much you love a person. Cause that's, I mean it can be, but it also doesn't have to do with that either. It can also be in this particular moment with this particular person at this particular time and space, I'm about to just let it all go.
Sheree: And I feel like that's independent of whether or not you're all googly eyes at the person or not. Because you could choose that for yourself, irrespective of the person, and just be like, this is the way that I have sex. When I have sex, I just be free. You know what I'm saying? So it's like, in that moment the sex had to be good because that's what it was about. It was about just letting go. We don't even know each other's names, but it's about to be lit. Like we bout to get it in.
Erica: Litty like a titty!
Kenrya: And I think the anonymous nature of it, especially because Kiana is always so much in her head and has constructed all these stories about what her relationship means, her old relationship, that she's trying to get that old thing back. The fact that it is anonymous helps her to stay out of her head. It allows her to be able to go to that place where she's not thinking about what this person thinks about her. She's not even thinking about her fucking name. She just sees light. There's beauty in that.
Erica: That's beautiful. So, I used to hate morning sex because I have this thing about breath, because honey I wear a retainer at night, I brush, but it just it's bad. I used to hate morning sex, but…
Kenrya: You came over to this side?
Erica: Girl that thing be marinating overnight like a little...
Kenrya: What did I say?
Erica: It's like a baked potato when you wrap in aluminum foil, then you cut it open and it's steaming like.
Kenrya: Wait Sheree.
Erica: We love Sheree.
Erica: He be like... cut the foil and be like...
Sheree: It was the gesture for me. It was the baked potato when she went, like a baked potato.
Erica: Girl and now I'm like. But it has to be good enough for me to get out of my head and get past the fact that my breath stinks and all of that. So anyway. Yeah. I'm sorry, I've been converted to morning sex, because that thing be baking like a potato overnight.
Sheree: You all remember that Martin stand up? He said the pussy marinates at night. Then he said you wake up, it would be all crusty and he said, everybody's voice sounds… Good morning…
Kenrya: Good morning to you.
Erica: I don't know. [crosstalk 01:12:08] whatever you need.
Sheree: Even driving to work like, you're gonna have a good day.
Erica: And orgasm just like we interviewed a guest and she said she masturbates every single morning and I don't do it every morning, but I have started doing it in the morning, more often in the mornings. And I do have a little... Blues are brighter, the sun's a little brighter.
Sheree: It's like, no matter what else happened that day, you had an orgasam. Like I came today. So it's like, whatever else [inaudible 01:13:07] Okay.
Erica: Well that wraps up this portion, this portion of the episode. So now, we're about to move on to our next segment which is called...
Kenrya: What's Turning Us On.
Erica: I have to make her say it. What's turning us on!
Erica: Okay, so what is turning us on? Okay, so we found out about this company called Foria.
Kenrya: We had already been using Foria products.
Erica: Yeah, so Foria makes CBD products. So, I think our first episode we titled “What, What in the Butt?”
Kenrya: Yes we did.
Erica: And we liked to talk about a little backdoor action also are good [inaudible 00:05:04]. So Foria makes these really cool suppositories, they are CBDs suppositories.
Kenrya: Yeah. And they are delightful.
Erica: They're delightful. So you can use them for...
Kenrya: I used them for a couple of different things. So, you can use them for... [crosstalk 01:14:22] So, Foria, one of the ways that they now have their product line organized is they have like relief, they have healing, and they have like intimacy are the different lines. But I use the suppositories for both.
Kenrya: I have dysmenorrhea, which I think I've talked about a few times on this show. And so I only have my cycle a few times a year. I use pills to skip it because my cramps are debilitating. Like use a TENS machine, I take a whole bunch of meds at the same time. And I use the suppositories, insert them into your vagina. It helps to kind of loosen up all your muscles so that the contracting of your uterus is not quite as painful. I start my day with these before I even get out of bed, I lay there for 15 minutes, let them get up in there. And it helps to bring my pain level down before I start my day. But the other way that I use these...
Erica: Okay, keep talking, I'm going to put the music behind it.
Sheree: Are you going to do more gestures?
Kenrya: She probably will.
Kenrya: Oh my God. So they're really great for anal. You put them in the refrigerator first so that they are a little less malleable and you just pop them on up in there. Let it marinate for a little bit. And it just kind of...
Erica: Loosens everything up.
Kenrya: Because you've got two sphincters in there, it helps to loosen them up.
Erica: Yeah, because the first one is fine. The second one is [inaudible 01:16:13]
Kenrya: And if you are having sex with a strap that is on the larger side or whatever you are implementing, because we had a whole conversation...
Erica: About stunt dicks, versus... There's weenuses, stunt dicks, and then big dicks.
Kenrya: Yes. But there's also straps of various sizes. There's things around your home that you can use. Like we were talking about pervertables and the pre-show and the VIP room. There are things that...
Sheree: Can you just explain real quick what pervertables are? That's my favorite word today.
Erica: Pervertables are just ordinary household objects or any object that can be turned into a sex toy. So I had my little cocktail strainer, stick this in the oven stick this in the freezer or fridge, make it a little cold and then it becomes some sensual, sensory something. We can use candles, what else do we say? Ice cream [crosstalk 00:01:17:23] we had a vacuum for a wine...
Sheree: Suction that pulls the air out the wine. Makes you feel some things [inaudible 01:17:39].
Kenrya: So if there are any of those things that have a flanged end on them so that they are safe to insert anywhere.
Erica: Yeah, don't just, you will lose things.
Kenrya: The point is that there are lots of things that you could safely put in there. And if you need to make more space, because you are using something that is on the larger side, and you still want to make sure that you are having pleasure and that you are not numbing pain. Cause numbing things like that are not great. You need to be able to know…exactly pain is a signal. These are really good just for loosening up things, not for numbing any type of pain. So those are a couple of the things. And I've been using these for quite some time. And it was dope that Foria sent me some more to try out ahead of the show as well. What else did we get from Foria?
Erica: We also got these CBD drops. And again, yo, like we had a tech check this morning and, Erica, I was like "CBD drops!" [inaudible 01:18:36] and like 20 minutes later, I was like...
Erica: Anyway, these joints are it. They're nice, and just relaxing. They calm you down without you being like stoned or high or anything. And I am really, I know this sounds really fucked up, but I don't like bad taste in my mouth. I don't like bad taste things taste good...That's what she said. The drops are made with coconut oil. It has like a orange kind of taste to it. But it's not strong. It's just like a...
Kenrya: But if you're someone like me who has a tree nut allergy, you should forego those. These have some coconut. Okay. So I really want to try the tonic, but I cannot because I did not want to go into anaphylactic shock.
Erica: So last, bath salts. These are not the bath salts that make you eat people's faces. Our good friends in Florida.
Kenrya: I was thinking that, but I wasn't going to say it...
Erica: They have CBD and lavender. So they are good for you to just...
Kenrya: So yours is the wellness line, right?
Kenrya: So yours has lavender. Mine is the intimacy line.
Erica: Oh, shit.
Kenrya: Yeah. So mine has cacao? Is that how you say that it's supposed to get your shit, you know?
Erica: This is the universal sign for loosen that shit up.
Erica: Opening the baked potato.
Kenrya: It has [inaudible 01:20:37] root, cacao, spearmint, organic rose, peppermint, [crosstalk 01:20:43] it’s got rose petals. So it's got this peppermint I haven't had a chance to use this yet because like I said, I've been sick and not able to do things that are luxurious, like baths, but I can see it’s got this peppermint and spearmint. Probably get some little tangles, bring some blood to the surface.
Sheree: Have ya'll seen that TikTok thing when you're like, why is it spicy?
Kenrya: I do not know what you're talking about, oh my God.
Sheree: I'm sorry.
Kenrya: If y'all are interested in any of these products, we'll add this to the event. No, I think we can do that. But also we'll add it to the show notes. When this goes up on our website and we have links directly to get these products
Erica: And we have a discount code. I think it's like 10% off?
Kenrya: Oh, I didn't know that.
Erica: I should have researched that, but anyway, so with that said. This has been a great!
Erica: Sheree, you were like legit, like play cousin.
Sheree: I know...
Erica: You can get with us when the world comes back up you going to come up or maybe we'll come down to you.
Kenrya: I'm not going to Florida. I'm sorry.
Sheree: Damn, you had to make that face too. And I just…
Kenrya: I just need cats to take what's happening seriously. You know, when it's safe.
Sheree: Florida ain't, like people talking about like, oh, curfew. In Tampa Bay, we had a curfew for three days before they canceled it. They put the curfew in effect, our mayor did. And then the city council threatened the mayor with a lawsuit and shit. And then it was like, okay, just playing. And so then stuff being closed, like shit is not closed. It ain't been closed. There were limited hours for a minute. And there were caps on numbers of people, but people in their establishments have to enforce it and they were not. So, Florida has not been shut down in any real way. And that is one of the reasons it is a hot fucking mess COVID-wise down here. They just out living their life just regular.
Kenrya: That makes me sad.
Erica: Well, in a 2023 when life opens back up, we'll come down and visit.
Kenrya: And we don't always do episodes of the show in sequence. So we have already interviewed Sheree for the show where we do an interview where we just dig all in your business.
Erica: And we talk about the sisterhood of the... We need like a Midwest sign, like the power of the Midwest. "Captain Planet, he's our hero..."
Sheree: Like do something Midwest-y on your merch. Cause I have like two things in my cart right now that Imma get, but think about something Midwest-y for the merch.
Erica: Like catfish and spaghetti. I don't know how we'll make that into a... [crosstalk 01:24:22]
Sheree: I would buy a t-shirt just saying catfish and spaghetti on it because we...
Sheree: Thank you for having me. I just, I don't know. I adore you all so much and yeah. I love y'all podcast. I love the conversations y'all having. It's just, it's fun. When I listen I'm laughing out loud. I'm thinking about my life. I'm telling my, my wife like, “Oh my God, you got to hear this part.” I love the podcast so much. So it's like being on it feels kind of fan girly. So it was like anything y'all were asking, I was going to be like, yeah, I was going to make it work. Like whatever y'all say I was going to make it work. So thank you so much for having me, I had a good time. I love talking with y'all and thank you so much.
Kenrya: Oh, so wait before you go tell people where they can find you.
Sheree: You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. I signed up for Twitch today just cause I was watching these DJs weren't so it's on there.
Kenrya: I just signed up for Twitch today so I could watch today.
Sheree: So I'm following. But like, last week there was a 24 hour. It was the day of the election. It was like a 24 ]-hour DJ thing, and it was all women DJs and it was Monica Ray Simpson. It was for artists for Black women's reproductive health. I can't think of the name. I'm going to find a name and I'm gonna with y'all. He's doing amazing work. Her name is Monica Ray, she just had like six women DJs that was like, fucking it up. It got me through the day. It was so great. And so I signed up for a Twitter, all that to say all of my shit is Sheree L Greer on everything. So Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, Facebook. My website is ShereeLGreer.com. Just keep it simple.
Kenrya: And that's S-H-E-R-E-E-L-G-R-E-E-R. So make sure y'all go and follow Sheree. Pick up a copy of “Let the Lover Be.” Show the people the book. Yes. Both of them. And so we'll have links for those in the show notes as well. And they're in our Bookshop.
Erica: And please buy from your local booksellers.
Kenrya: Black booksellers if possible. Yeah. And that wraps up our very first live show.
Sheree: Y'all like it live?
Kenrya: It was fun. We'll do this more often. Thank you to everyone who took time on their Saturday to spend it with us. Until next time we are Kenya and Erica…
Erica: Two hoes makin' it clap!
Kenrya: Two hoes makin’ it clap!
Erica: I always try and she never does it!
Kenrya: I mean I was kinda trolling you this time.
Erica: Two hoes makin' it clap!
Kenrya: Two hoes makin’ it clap!
Erica: This episode was produced by us, Erica and Kenrya 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. Post your review and email a screenshot to us at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com to enter. Our Patreon page is also live, become supporter today and access lots of goodies, including two for one raffle entries. Don't forget to send us your book recommendations and sex and related questions, and follow us on Twitter @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.