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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.
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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.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to writer Vanesa Evers about rewriting history, overcoming unbearable whiteness in professional spaces and using poetry to inspire sexual liberation.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today we're talking to Vanesa Evers, pronouns she, they and them. Vanesa is a librarian and artist whose work confronts and translates Bible scriptures and other historical texts. Vanesa debuted their first play, a performance of the “Declaration of Independence: A Translation,” in 2018 in Philly. Vanesa hopes to feature their first visual creative project soon.
Kenrya: Hey, Vanesa.
Kenrya: Thanks for coming on.
Vanesa: Thank you guys for having me.
Kenrya: Of course.
Erica: We're really hyped to have you today. Again, thank you so much for joining us. I'd like to start with the question what did little Vanesa want to do when she grew up? When they grew up.
Vanesa: Yeah. Yeah. That's a really good question. I am a military brat, an Army brat, so we moved about every three years to a new place. I liked to recreate myself every place, every new city or state I went to. I just liked talking and I liked writing and I had three siblings, have three siblings, and I just really liked to be by myself sometimes and read. I think I'm doing the things that I was doing and I knew I was going to be doing, reading and writing, and talking to people.
Kenrya: Like us.
Erica: Yay. Where do you consider home?
Vanesa: Wow. Georgia.
Vanesa: Yeah. My dad retired in Georgia and I went to high school for two years in Ohio and two years in Georgia.
Erica: What part of Ohio?
Vanesa: Tiffin, Ohio. Toledo.
Erica: Okay. [crosstalk 00:02:09].
Vanesa: Yeah. About an hour from Toledo.
Kenrya: I'm from Cleveland.
Vanesa: Okay. Yeah. My stepdad is from Cleveland but my parents are from Fostoria and Toledo.
Kenrya: I know one other person from Toledo and I think I have been there exactly once. It was for an NAACP conference when I was in high school. I think that's it.
Erica: Okay. How did you come to your current work?
Vanesa: Well, I wrote a lot. In the eighth grade I had a piece published in the newspaper and I was one of the only three Black families in Tiffin and it was about racism. I had a lot of really horrible things happen when I was living in Ohio actually. That's why I consider Georgia to be home because that's where I was like, "Oh, I'm a Black woman" like when I got to Georgia.
Vanesa: Yeah. I really started doing a lot of writing then. Sorry. Can you repeat that part again?
Erica: I was asking how did you come to do what you're doing.
Vanesa: Yeah. Writing. Writing. I think I really started to feel like I have to write, this is in me, and it's really important for me to write.
Erica: Okay. Pretty cool.
Kenrya: It says in your bio that your work confronts and translates Bible scriptures and other historical texts. Can you tell us a bit about what that looks like?
Vanesa: Yeah. I have an MFA from Sarah Lawrence and when I was writing my thesis I really started realizing that I was having some conflict whenever I was reading the Bible. Born in a Christian household, raised in a Christian household so the Bible, church ... I was in church probably every day of the week. Choir, praise...all of the things.
Vanesa: I really started to think about the Bible differently when I got to my grad program and started to look at the Bible kind of separating out the religious pieces from the Bible and looking at the stories and what was happening to the women in the Bible. From that, I started to translate Genesis and from there I also started to translate different legal texts like the Declaration of Independence. I was like, "Who was this written for?" And asking a lot of questions.
Vanesa: From that, I began to write a lot of poetry around translating these different types of writings and documents that we really don't engage with in that way.
Erica: That's really dope. We have talked about in a few other episodes about our conflict with the Bible. We were both raised in Christian homes and I think we both were saying we did a ... You know how they have the app? The Bible In A Year. You get through the Old Testament and you're like, "Shit. Dang."
Vanesa: Right. Right.
Erica: Yeah. It's good to see that you are doing the work and leaving something for us to read that reflects us in the things that we were raised in, which is hard.
Kenrya: We both were really looking for womanist texts that helps to translate the Bible so that we could get a translation that was through the eyes of a Black woman and having a lot of trouble coming across that.
Vanesa: Yeah. As I was reading it, and also as a Black woman, just as women and what's happening to women in the Bible and what's happening to their bodies, I ended up ... My mom maybe one day will read these poems but I really looked at the sexualization of women in the Bible and what's happening to the body. I really don't even use names like Eve and all that. I just look at the she in the Bible and see what's happening sexually. Rape, just the things that are happening to women in the Bible. That's actually a project that I'm going to be working on is continuing with those poems and seeing what can come of a mini collection or something.
Erica: That's really dope.
Vanesa: Thank you.
Erica: You're welcome. How does your work as a librarian work in concert with your art?
Vanesa: Yeah. I call myself a librarian. I just graduated with my...I went back to grad school because my MFA in poetry, I was able to do a couple of adjuncting gigs. It's really all I can call them. I was like, "I can't live like this." I had to go back to school. Also, I have a love of books and with information. I just graduated actually last year with my degree in librarian information [crosstalk 00:07:24].
Vanesa: Thank you. With my MLIS. My current position, I'm a program manager for a culture heritage program but I just consider myself to be a librarian because I lead people to information. I think now I just read a lot, listen.... During this last four months of quarantine and stay at home, I've been doing a lot of audiobooks and YA and so I just.... Librarianship, for me, just the information aspect of it is just bringing people to information.
Erica: I think it's really dope that you chose to get a degree in library sciences. Is that a really white space?
Vanesa: Yes. It is. That was when ... I went to Drexel University. It was all predominantly online. I also minored in museum leadership. All of my classes ...
Erica: You are great.
Vanesa: Thank you. All of my classes, and they were virtual, yes, but you saw the people's faces.
Kenrya: A white space is a white space whether it's virtual [crosstalk 00:08:35].
Vanesa: Right. You could feel it too in those spaces. Just the things, especially for libraries, public libraries, academic libraries. I mean, we are serving really diverse communities and just seeing some of the feedback from my classmates on what services we should be providing to public libraries. It's not just about books but it's about meals. What can we do to help support communities? Yeah. It wasn't just about learning for me but it also felt like I was doing a lot to teaching to my classmates. Just opening up their minds about the profession that they're about to enter. I've never even worked in a public library before but just know what different communities need.
Kenrya: That can be an exhausting lift, right? When you're the one that's in the space having to always bring up the issues to keep communities centered or work that is literally rooted in a community.
Vanesa: Right. Right.
Erica: Yeah. The DC public library their main headquarters downtown had this massive overhaul. They spent all this money on this beautiful building and there was a lot of talk around what do we do with the homeless population? Well, the unhoused population that spend a lot of time at the libraries. The conversations just run the gamut from this isn't their space, and I'm like how is it not?
Kenrya: Whose space is it?
Erica: Exactly. It has been interesting watching from afar so I can only imagine what it would feel like ... Also, some of these librarians show up because they have a sincere love for that but don't realize that they're also getting into a world of social services.
Vanesa: Right. Also made me think too, you're saying ... Like a lot of people in my classes knew that they were going to try to go directly to being the director of the library too. It wasn't even about servicing and being at the reference desk and the first face when you're greeting folks that come in. They just knew that they were going to be at a different level anyway. I think that also helped in leading their conversation around limiting people's access to certain things because they're already coming in knowing that they're about to be in these higher leadership roles.
Erica: Yeah. That's some white entitlement shit.
Erica: It's like I'm not going to [crosstalk 00:11:05].
Vanesa: Right. I mean, there's already studies out, 80% of librarians in leadership are white women then white males and then Black men and women. Then Asian, Latinx is just kind of 3% by the time you get out. Yeah.
Erica: Well, thank you for doing the work.
Vanesa: Yes. That's what I'm here for. Trying.
Kenrya: You are. We've never had the pleasure of having a playwright on our show I don't think. Can you tell us a bit about the show that you debuted in 2018?
Vanesa: Yes. Actually that was an error it's 2017 as I wrote that and then went back to my calendar. I was like, "Oh, right. That was 2017." It was actually 2017 in Philly. This was a piece, a long piece that I wrote. I was reading a lot of Thomas Jefferson's writings, the.
Kenrya: Fucking trash.
Kenrya: I hate that dude.
Vanesa: He rewrote the Bible so he has a Bible ... Yeah. Thomas Jefferson has a Bible. He was taking out different miracles. I was just reading his stuff. Not even like I was holding the Bible as like, "Oh my gosh. How dare he?" I also was like, "Oh, wow. He had the audacity to rewrite the Bible."
Kenrya: The fucking audacity.
Erica: Ain't got shit else.
Erica: [crosstalk 00:12:39].
Vanesa: Right. I was like, "Oh, I'm going to rewrite the Declaration of Independence." Okay.
Kenrya: [crosstalk 00:12:46].
Vanesa: It took me a really long time because of how I did it. I broke it down and looked at the history of the words that were being used. I created an erasure project first where I took all the words, typed them out, from start to end, looked at certain words to see, "I wonder if people know what this word means" and did an erasure and then inserted in other words for that. It was a performance piece and I performed it during my thesis reading but it was like a seven or eight minute reading. I think people were just looking at me. I was like, "Hmm. What's the best way for me to get this message across?"
Vanesa: I set it down. I was like, "Let me turn this into a script." When I moved to Philly and ... This is the place that that could be done.
Erica: I was going to say that's the perfect place. [crosstalk 00:13:41].
Vanesa: Right. I mean, the Liberty Bell, just the history also of different things in Philly. I was like this is where I can do it. I found two amazing Black women who agreed to be a part of my cast. I set it in the same period with the costumes, the setting, just everything was in that period all the way down to the quill pens. It was a performance poem, still, almost like [inaudible 00:14:10] as a performance, a chorial poem but just a performance. Definitely an experimentation. I just had them writing but reading what the actual declaration is and just having the audience there interacting in a way. At the end, they could ask questions.
Vanesa: Definitely an exploration. It wasn't like with an actual cast and here is your lines but it was just really the declaration. Then I had the Say Her Name of Black women, Black cis and trans women who lost their lives due to police brutality in the backdrop. Just really a conversation of hey, guys, this is what the declaration means, this is who it didn't mean, this is who we should be incorporating, and how can we create our own words and leadership around really recreating this time for us?
Vanesa: That was back in 2017. I'm still working on figuring out that project and just as an artist, you have this idea to begin and then it morphs into off the page and how can you incorporate community?
Erica: What drives you to write?
Vanesa: At first, I think it was like, "Oh, I can't go to bed unless I write this poem" but now I'm working even remotely and I'm like, "Aw, man. Let me write a couple of words and go to bed because I have to go to bed and wake up." I think now just still ... Especially I'm really into YA. I just read Echo Brown's “Black Girl Unlimited.” At the end of her book she was like, "I have to write" and as we know, all of the Black women that are writing and have passed and are still here with us, writing for other people. I'm like I have to keep writing because there could be somebody that is trying to do the same thing, needs help, is going through the same thing that I'm experiencing. I think maybe the writing has to be building the community and just letting people know that you're not alone.
Kenrya: Right. You mentioned something that always really sparks my interest. I've been working at home for the last 11 years.
Kenrya: Yeah. I'm kind of fascinated about what work looks like for people who are suddenly at home during the pandemic. What do your work days look like?
Vanesa: Yeah. It's been really ... I'm a night owl and so it's really good for me to know I have to go to bed by midnight because I have to be up and to work by nine. Now it's really self-discipline and really holding myself accountable because I'm up listening to my audiobooks or just coloring or just things to keep myself occupied while in the house.
Vanesa: Now it looks like me knowing that for the next four hours I need to be doing this regardless if I start at 10, 11, or 12, I need to be doing this. I'm heavily in an administrative role so emailing all of the things but also making sure that I'm creating boundaries within my home space because now, I mean, for people who are newly working remotely I would never be emailing while cooking dinner. Just really trying to maintain boundaries and reminding myself that I actually have a lot of things that need to be done even if I want to go to bed and take a midday nap.
Kenrya: Those midday naps. [crosstalk 00:17:54].
Erica: A nap is like a kiss on the cheek from God. It's just so sweet.
Vanesa: Yes. It is. Also, this is a good time where people are realizing you don't have to be in the office for 40 hours a week. It's so unhealthy.
Kenrya: You don't have to commute.
Vanesa: Yeah. You should be ... I just think there's a lot of space here for people to realize what's necessary and what's not necessary during this time.
Kenrya: Especially when you look at policies that keep people from doing that from home. It really is a necessity. This has brought up a lot of conversations about accessibility and disability. It's bigger than us.
Erica: Like you, I was in an office and am now working from home and I'm realizing that there was a lot of bullshit going on in the office. You can really condense a lot into the workday and I think people are realizing that those emails that could have been emails are actually now emails. It saves a whole lot of time.
Vanesa: Right or even just a phone call. Sometimes for like five minutes. What are we really meeting for? I've been on Zoom quite often. I'll just say that.
Kenrya: That's one thing, though. Everybody wants to see everybody now and I'm like we could just get on the phone. I don't have to do my hair.
Erica: I don't turn on my camera.
Vanesa: Yeah. I've actually started to not turn on my camera too. I've had a person or two ask me about things in my background and it feels very invasive. [crosstalk 00:19:39].
Kenrya: That's why I have a screen.
Vanesa: Right. Which I love [crosstalk 00:19:43].
Kenrya: Been doing this for so long. I'm like y'all don't need to be looking around my house. It's personal.
Vanesa: Yeah. I'm not there yet but that's awesome.
Erica: As you know, we've read a few poems from Black Lesbians We Are The Revolution on our show. Why was it important for you to contribute to that project?
Vanesa: You know, when I came out, I came out over 10 something years ago, and now I'm looking back like, "Man, Vanesa. Did you have to really do that? Could you have just walked in this truth without it being such a conversation with my mom?" Without such a heavy conversation with my dad who I haven't really spoken to ... After I came out, we haven't really spoken and been as close as we had been before.
Kenrya: I'm sorry to hear that.
Vanesa: It is okay. That's what therapy is for.
Erica: You can fill out therapy on your Bingo cards.
Vanesa: I'm like it's not even about me. It's about him. We haven't actually spoken in over two years now. I don't know. That relationship, if we get it back, we get it back. If not, there's a lot of other people in my life that I consider to be really great father figures.
Vanesa: My mom, I had that conversation. I was like, "If you're going to love me, you're going to love everything about me and if this is a part of me ..." I took women or I introduced her to my women friends because I was like, "We're not together" but I introduced her to folks. I kind of really forced her to see this as my whole person.
Vanesa: Now I'm like, "Oh, dang. What if I could have just walked in that truth without having these conversations?" Now I still think I'm ... I don't know. I'm still like, "Man, did I need that? Why did I need to say those things?" With my poetry that I write ... I mean, I've done LAMBDA literary retreats. They have our stuff up online. I think it was important for me to have this conversation with my mom, be honest with her, but then also the other folks that have read my stuff and have said, "Wow, Vanesa ..." I ended up writing really sexual stuff and I don't even know ... I wasn't reading ... I know sometimes people ask questions like, "Who are you reading?" I wasn't even reading anybody that was talking about this stuff or so sexual ... Even though I know there are writers that do that but I wasn't even reading any of it.
Vanesa: I just was like I am gay, I need to write all the things. I was expressing myself through my poetry—very sexual self—through my poetry. I think it was just important for me to do the thing and maybe other people could also feel liberated by me being so candid about the different sexual experiences that I've had.
Erica: Well, that turns me to my next question which is why do you think poetry is a good vehicle for the erotic?
Vanesa: I think I heard it .. That's a good question. I listen to y'all and I was like, "Oh, man ..."
Vanesa: I think it's an area where you can just experiment. The same way that you can experiment in the bedroom, poetry is a way that you can experiment with words and experiment with who you are sexually and even I revisit the two poems that were published in that collection and, at first, I thought ... It's like a questioning thing too. It's definitely an intimate relationship with you and the words, with yourself in these moments.
Vanesa: I think even as I was looking back at the two poems I thought that I was saying that the person was actually role playing but I was like, oh, the actual act of it was a role play ... In one of the poems, it was actually a role play for the both of us or for all ... It's all role play. Even me writing these poems is also me stepping into this other person as well. Maybe a way for me to be able to express myself sexually.
Erica: I like that.
Kenrya: The back of the book has a quote from Pat Parker that really resonates with me. It says, "The day the different parts of me can come along we will have what I will call a revolution." What does revolution look like to you?
Vanesa: I think definitely freedom, expression, sexual expression. Just being able to really create the world that we know [inaudible 00:25:02] whatever with it but what can we do with our community? I just always keep coming back to the word community and how we can really create the things that we want has to be revolutionary and not being afraid to move forward knowing that we might lose out on some things but also what we gain is freedom in just our community once we are able to connect with folks. Being able to express yourself openly without fear.
Erica: Yeah. We read two of your poems on the show last week, “Questioning” and “Non/Fiction.” “Questioning” grapples with the stereotypes that a mother just off-page projected on lesbians and thus her daughter. What was the genesis of this poem?
Vanesa: Yeah. The coming out to my mom and me imagining ... Yeah. Imagining how to put that whole conversation into ... I write very short poems. Imagining what that conversation would look like in poem form but when I came out to my mom or when I had this conversation with her she was like, "I knew you were hanging out with this one person and I knew it's not you, it's this other person that's doing it to you."
Vanesa: I'm like, "No, it's actually such a strong desire of who I am" and even the way that I told her was like, "I have really strong deep connections with women that I would like to explore in a sexual way." "That's just a best friend, that's just a best friend." I'm like, "No, the attraction that I have makes me want to please in this other way that's beyond ... That is friendship but also beyond in this very sexual way but also friendships can have that as well."
Vanesa: I just was like I have to get to the root of this attraction. It's sexual, it's intimate, it's friend, it's platonic, it's all the things. Yeah. I was like, "Oh man. I'm actually this person that my mom is afraid that is leading me into this lifestyle." I was like, "It's actually me that she's really ..."
Erica: I'm the influence.
Vanesa: I was like, "I'm actually who you're afraid of" in a way, that I am becoming this person ... I'm already the person that you're afraid ... Yeah. It was a whole weird circle that the poem came from.
Kenrya: The other one that we read was “Non/Fiction.” That also brings up things of family. In this case, as someone goes down on their partner's strap. How do you think our relationships with our families and their attitudes towards sex and gender and form are adult relationships? Why is this important terrain for you to explore?
Vanesa: Say that one more time.
Kenrya: Yeah. How do you think that our relationships with our families and their attitudes towards sex and gender and form are adult relationships? Intimate and otherwise.
Vanesa: Yeah. I mean, I never saw my mom and dad ... They're not together. They're divorced and both remarried. I never saw kissing or anything. I never saw slightly intimate moments. I think, for me, even in one of the questions y'all asked in the vehicle of poetry is I think for me I got to also recreate intimacy that I wanted to see ... Not to say that I wanted to see my parents in this very intimate way but I wanted to see what love looked like for them, physical attraction looked like. It was easy for me out of one things happening in my life and me being very sexually involved in ways, but I wanted to create these scenarios of what this could look like.
Vanesa: That's a really intense question. I think that I need time, I'm so sorry, to think about that, because it's really [crosstalk 00:29:42].
Kenrya: Don't be sorry for wanting to be thoughtful.
Vanesa: Yeah. That's really interesting. If you can ask the second part of that question?
Kenrya: Sure. Why is this important terrain for you to explore with your work?
Vanesa: Yeah, I think it's really important for me to be able to write out ... It's not even fantasy but being able to write out these really intense moments of role play, of masculine identified lesbians, trans ... The different ways that I might even explore through myself but that other people are actually grappling with in these really intimate ways of being with each other and looking at to see do I want this because I want it? Do I want this because I have been taught to want it? Especially that particular scene of going down.
Vanesa: We think that that's what we want to be able to give our partner, especially somebody that might not have been born with an actual body piece, the actual penis but the strap on and how important at certain times in my life strap ons have been in intimate moments but then also what does this mean that I'm doing this? What does it mean that I want to do it to help you see that I see you as this very masculine person as well.
Vanesa: I think for me with that poem and the other poems that I write, I think that I try to help to free people or to help move them along in their journey of representation through these very ... When I had been sexual with cis men, I never even liked that. I will do this for you because I know this is how you're identifying and I know that's how you want to be experienced in my mouth, like that's ... I don't know. That's just kind of ... I think it's freeing to be able to read that and also to be able to write it for myself and looking at ... It wasn't just about me doing this for you but it was also about maybe you were doing these things for me too. Just the freedom of the act and to be able to write about it.
Vanesa: Yeah. That's a hard one, though. [crosstalk 00:32:20].
Erica: No but that's a really great answer. That was a really great answer.
Erica: You say you're reading lots of young adult. Can you give us a few titles of what you're reading right now?
Vanesa: Yeah. And audio. A lot of them in the audio world right now because I'm on my computer a lot, a lot for work. I'm trying to give my eyes a break. I love hearing authors read their stuff. What got me into YA really, really was Jacqueline Woodson and her. Yeah. I ended up reading the majority of her YA and always go back to “Another Brooklyn.”
Vanesa: Let me see, I had to write down a list because I'm on like 15 books for the free library audio books. Yeah. They have a really great selection of audiobooks. Like I mentioned earlier, “Black Girl Unlimited” by Echo Brown and now even “Lead From the Outside” by Stacy Abrams. I had to switch away a little bit. Also, “Akata Witch” and “Akata Warrior” by Nnedi Okorafor.
Vanesa: Yeah. Those have been my two YA. I'm always reading a YA and also reading maybe an autobiography too. Definitely those are books, Echo Brown and Stacy Abrams are two people I'm just trying to get ... Stacy Abrams is such an amazing writer. I'm trying to get some encouragement from her.
Kenrya: This is the time.
Vanesa: Yeah. Yeah.
Kenrya: What does success look like to you?
Vanesa: Success? You know, I thought a good company, I live actually in Charlottesville, which is recent ... Yeah. I think that success looks like really living ... I think that ask me maybe before March I would have been like going on vacation and being able to do these different things but having been in real self-isolation for four ... I haven't been to the office in over 100 days and seeing maybe more than three people in 100 days, I think now success just looks like being able to walk outside and feel happy, surrounding yourself with people that care about you, doing things that make you happy, eating good food.
Vanesa: With success, I don't even think it's about a pay check anymore because so many people have lost their jobs. At the beginning of the year, they had the job. I think now it's just really being happy, doing things that make you happy, and being surrounded by people and things that make you happy and being able to go outside and sit in the grass and eat.
Kenrya: 2020 is such an interesting year I think. It's taken a lot from us but I think it's also given us a new perspective on a lot of things. It's helped some of us to be more community minded. Some of us to do the opposite.
Kenrya: Either way, this is going to be a landmark year.
Erica: I was going to say, this has been a crucible year. It has been life changing.
Kenrya: Literally generation defining. As a 39-year-old, the thing that I think used to define us was September 11th but we got some new shit now.
Vanesa: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Erica: Okay. Little fun now. I am going to say a word and you tell me the first word that comes to mind when I say it. Okay?
Kenrya: That sounds scary.
Erica: Don't be. Don't be. I only have a few. Words.
Vanesa: Ice cream. I have a really ... My favorite ice cream is this black marshmallow ice cream and the ice cream shop closed down.
Erica: Aww. Okay. Joy.
Vanesa: Bubble gum.
Vanesa: Ramen. I have a ramen cookbook. I love ramen.
Erica: Yeah. No. That makes sense. I love ramen. I love what can I do to it this time?
Vanesa: Yeah. What can I add into it?
Erica: Okay. Finish this sentence, I am a ...
Vanesa: A lover.
Erica: I love it. Okay. Well, that's all I've got for you.
Vanesa: That wasn't that scary.
Erica: See! We don't bite. I mean, we do but...
Kenrya: What's up next for you?
Vanesa: Yeah. I just had a conversation with a really dear close friend yesterday. I was like I am getting tired of talking about these things that I want to do. How can we do these things? I need accountability. I am going to be trying, like I just was sharing with you all, finishing up my Bible poems, one. Two, I've been working with some photography things, me and my cellphone photography. I'm thinking about what I can do ... I cannot let this thesis go yet because I took too long to write it. What are ways that I can revise it and then bring visuals to it? I'm just really obsessed with the Declaration of Independence still. I just have a couple more projects that I need to wring out from that before I can let it go.
Kenrya: That's awesome. Where can people find you?
Vanesa: I'm on Instagram. My page is private but people can send me requests if you want to but at AnesaVa. A-N-E-S-A-V-A on Instagram.
Kenrya: Dope. Thank you so much for coming on this week.
Vanesa: Thank you guys for having me. I really appreciate it. I've been looking forward to this so thank you all so much.
Kenrya: Yay. That's it for this week's episode of The Turn On. Thank you all for joining us and we'll see you 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.
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.