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This week, Erica and Kenrya talk to author and cousin of the show Sheree L. Greer about the terrors of patriarchy, the importance of processing trauma, the intricacies of low-stakes hook ups, the importance of reciprocity, hating-ass pets and communication as aphrodisiac. Content warning: sexual abuse
Guest, Sheree L. Greer | Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook
Free Short Story | "Christmas Is Sacred" from "Once and Future Lovers" by Sheree L. Greer
Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Hey y’all. So, it gives me all of the pleasure to not only welcome y'all to this week's show, but to tell you that cousin of the show, Sheree L. Greer, is back in the house.
Erica: Cousin, cousin.
Kenrya: Hey girl. So Sheree's pronouns are she and her. And she is a text-based artist living in Tampa, Florida. In 2014, she founded Kitchen Table Literary Arts to showcase and support the work of Black women writers, and she's also the author of two novels, "Let the Lover Be" and "A Return to Arms," as well as the short story collection, "Once and Future Lovers." Sheree is a VONA Voices alum, Astraea Lesbian Foundation grantee, Yaddo fellow, and Ragdale fellow. Her essay "Bars," published in Fourth Genre Magazine, was nominated for PushCart prize, and was notably named in best American essays, 2019. That's a big fucking deal.
Sheree L. Greer: Thank you.
Kenrya: I have those... I buy those collections in paperback and I have them in my house.
Sheree L. Greer: All right. It's noted in there. My next goal is to have it in there-in there, like featured-featured.
Kenrya: In there. You fucking fancy.
Sheree L. Greer: And it will happen.
Kenrya: Progress. Exactly. That's what's up. Thank you for coming.
Sheree L. Greer: Thank you for having me. I'm happy to be here. Thank you.
Erica: So listeners, just know ahead of time this going to be this going to be an episode, because-
Sheree L. Greer: No pressure.
Erica: I mean, no, because-
Kenrya: It's always fun times.
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah it is. It's always fun times. I Love y’all so much. I'm so glad-
Erica: With that, we just going to jump all in your cooch, from the beginning.
Sheree L. Greer: Let's go. I showered and everything.
Erica: Thank you. Appreciate you.
Erica: So when do you remember first masturbating and what was the technique?
Sheree L. Greer: I want to say I was like five or six, maybe five. I had this doll, it was called Walking Wanda. Okay? And I feel like it was the off-brand of whatever popular walking doll was at the time, because my mom was good for some off-brand shit. And so, but I had it. So the doll was like, I feel like I was just a little taller than the doll, and like you hold her hand and she's supposed to walk with you. It doesn't work that well. But I remember her outfit, she was Black. My mom was all about Black dolls. She had these like really fun stretchy pants on and this, I feel like it was neon green or neon pink shirt or something. But that was my girlfriend. I didn't know, probably relationship wise, girlfriend, boyfriend, stuff like that, but I knew that me and her was making out and humping at night and it was on. So I feel like-
Erica: Then you take, take her to church in the morning.
Sheree L. Greer: I feel like that was the beginning. I do. I remember her very vividly
Kenrya: I feel like we need to like catalog this. I want to say, I don't know, 80% of the people who we've asked this question it’s been toys.
Erica: So far, we've only had one person that didn't say it was either a pillow or a toy.
Sheree L. Greer: Okay.
Erica: Yeah. Everyone has been, which is why-
Kenrya: Mine was a pillow-
Kenrya: Yours was a stuffed animal, right?
Erica: It was a Minnie Mouse that was life-size. It was huge. We had a friend that had Teddy Ruxpin and the nose was hard.
Sheree L. Greer: Oh, wow.
Erica: Just hard enough.
Sheree L. Greer: That's true.
Erica: Everyone had a variation of either a stuffed animal, a doll, or a pillow.
Sheree L. Greer: So I feel like it's easy to just have it, and then... I don't know what makes... I wish I could go back and think through like what the thought process was, but you own it and then you figure out a little-
Kenrya: This feels good. Whoa.
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah, and then welcome to your body.
Kenrya: Yeah, and it's easy. To this day, I still have trouble digitally. That's not really my jam.
Sheree L. Greer: No, not me. Not me.
Kenrya: I prefer the path of least resistance, which is to use some help.
Sheree L. Greer: It's quicker that way. It is quicker, when you use some accoutrements.
Sheree L. Greer: It's easier and faster. That's true.
Kenrya: Yeah, exactly. That is-
Sheree L. Greer: Let's get to it. I'm just trying to get to sleep. Come on now.
Kenrya: Exactly. Bang it out. So how old were you when you had your first kiss?
Sheree L. Greer: I think I was in fourth grade and it was so tricky. It was this dude Tremaine who, he liked me so much. He stole one of his mama's rings and brought it to school and gave it to me.
Sheree L. Greer: And I remember we had a conference about it and then after the conference, because of course, his mom came up to school. Apparently it was an expensive ring. It was red. Maybe it was a real ruby. I don't fucking know. I was in fourth grade. Yeah, so I remember kissing him before he gave me the ring, though. Because he rode the bus and I walked. So we had made a plan on how to kiss and then he had to leave or whatever. And so he brought me this ring and it was this big thing. My mom had to come up to school, because the principal at the time, Mrs. Wilkerson, wanted to have a talk with me about my worth and how... What did I do to get the ring and why? And this could set up expectation... It was like this whole thing, and I felt like it was way blown out of proportion for this little peck that we did.
Kenrya: But why was it about your words?
Sheree L. Greer: Exactly. It was me.
Kenrya: That you accepted it, and not that this little nigga stole his mama's ring.
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah. No, it was. I remember that conversation about-
Kenrya: Goddamn. Patriarchy always.
Erica: If anything, good, I'm glad you're getting paid for them pecks. Pay up little nigga. Pay up.
Sheree L. Greer: But yeah, it was a whole thing and I'd be thinking about like that and how those early things start framing your whole relationship to intimacy and attraction and all that stuff are early on. But I remember being in trouble because this dude, this boy, brought me a ring.
Erica: Because someone did something to you. I remember when I was in school, I was in third grade, and this little boy touched my butt and I wrote it in my diary. And I was on like high alert for like weeks thinking someone would find it in my diary. Like something was wrong with me. First, I would touch my butt in third grade. So I mean, could you be mad at him? And second, it wasn't my fucking fault. Right? And so, we're putting on little girls, because someone does this to you, you did something wrong. No, fuck that. Fuck you, Ms. Jenkins. Was it Jenkins?
Sheree L. Greer: Wilkerson.
Kenrya: That's not what she said.
Sheree L. Greer: It’s a Ms. Jenkins somewhere, that's shaming little girls, and fuck her, too.
Kenrya: Fuck her, too. I'm certain.
Erica: Okay. Too busy keking. Oh, how old were you when you had a sense of your gender identity?
Sheree L. Greer: I feel like I knew fairly early that I was a girl and I wasn't... Because I have sisters and like the only man in the house was my dad. And so we knew kind of a right away, it's a house full of girls and this dude. And so I knew fairly early that I was a girl, and I felt like a girl, whatever that means, but I also felt like the wrong kind of girl. And so I don't know that they still gender the toy sections, but I remember the toy sections being this just highly gendered area. And I always wanted to go in the boys section and I felt, I don't know, I felt like that was wrong. And I felt like I was bucking against something and that the things that I liked, weren't the things I was supposed to like.
Sheree L. Greer: And I remember I got this baby carriage, it must have been for Christmas one year. And I had this panda and a Cabbage Patch Doll named Nicholas. And I used to make them be cops. And I used to put them in the carriage, like that was their car. And so I'd be zipping through the house with the carriage and they'd get in crashes and all this stuff and I was having fun, but also you're doing it wrong. That's not what you're supposed to be doing. I felt that very early. And then the great disappointment of having to put on a shirt. When you leave that time of, that freedom of girlhood and then it's like, go put a shirt on. And you're like, "huh?" So I felt that.
Kenrya: I remember kind of dreading getting to that point with my kid, and not wanting to put that on her. But also... It's a hard norm to buck if you have your kids around people who are not your immediate family, right?
Sheree L. Greer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: Yeah. I very much actually remember like when we got to that point, but it wasn't actually ultimately me that told her to put a shirt on. She just decided that it was time to wear a shirt. So I ended up not having to tell her, but where did she get that from?
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah.
Erica: You did have to tell her to start wearing pants. She was a pants-less child. It was like-
Sheree L. Greer: [crosstalk 00:11:41] freedom.
Erica: Let me put on a shirt, but I'm going to run out with my booty out.
Kenrya: But then conversely, I had to coax her into sleeping free, like we do. So she could... When we start having conversations about like health, about reproductive health, and that was a whole thing then, trying to get her to then take them off. It's the things that you don't think you ever have to have, the conversations you never think you have to have until you have a kid and you are like, "Oh, they don't know shit. You got to teach them everything." And try not to teach them the terrible things.
Sheree L. Greer: Right. That's the hard part.
Erica: My son dresses like a Mormon. He would like wear under shirts nonstop. I'm like, "Dude, are you wearing like your God garment or whatever?" It'll be hot out, we going to the pool and he'll have an undershirt on under his swim shirt and I'm like, "Bro."
Kenrya: He doesn't do it anymore.
Erica: He does not. He does not.
Sheree L. Greer: Some of this shit just works itself out. You know what I'm saying? I never liked sleeping in bed clothes. They were like the worst. Your gown would get all twisted around your waist and shit. Take that shit off. And so, yeah I didn't have no problems with that. Now that I'm thinking about it, I think the only thing I really liked sleeping in and felt... it was so weird how on the one hand, I was getting these messages about what it means to be a little girl, how you supposed to act, what's acceptable and not acceptable, what's strange or different or weird. Therapy helped, but I have so much more compassion for my mom because I feel like I was a weird little kid and I think she was just trying to figure it out.
Sheree L. Greer: Because like she got me like R2D2 underoos and shit. And she bought me the stuff that I wanted. So I wanted a wrestling ring and the WWF action figures, and so she got that stuff with me without no sense of shame and things. But then also that was at home. So out in the world it was a different kind of message. So it was you going to wear this skirt, it's time to start being a girl in these kind of traditional ways. And I was like, "Oh, that's confusing" For sure. And that confusion followed me for decades, sadly.
Kenrya: Yeah. Well we know that you first started experimenting with Wanda.
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah.
Kenrya: How old were you when you started experimenting with other people?
Sheree L. Greer: Seven or eight, but not... I mean, we talked about this a little bit. I was sexually abused by my uncle. So, that was the first time that another person was involved. And when I think about that, and I just finished trauma therapy about it earlier this year. That was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done and realizing that I carried so much shame and guilt around it. And again, Erica, like you were saying, these things happen to us and girls are basically reared to carry that shit, like we did something wrong and I carried that. And that's not what it is. So when I think about reasons why I kind of buried all of that so deeply, is I was afraid of some of the judgment and some of the false equivalencies that come out of talking about childhood sexual abuse.
Sheree L. Greer: So being queer, I had a very strong awareness later on, like I can't talk about this because people are going to be like, "Well, that's why your ass is gay." I was afraid of folks thinking that. And Wanda came before that.
Erica: He was like, "This is what's going to happen." Point blank.
Sheree L. Greer: But what I think though, especially after coming out of the therapy about it is I already felt wrong. I already felt like I had to hide something. I already felt like I had this shameful secret. So when that happened, it was almost like, well, this just goes in the same place where that was. So all of this shame, all of this wrongness, all of this, you're not the right kind of girl, your feelings are strange and wrong. All of that just got kind of bottled and hidden.
Sheree L. Greer: And what happened after is just immense, just lots of confusion and blame. And then also though, wanting to prove that I could be normal or I could be good or right. And all of that came out of that abuse. I wish that we talked more about asking your children, what are you afraid of? What do you think about this? I was just talking about this with my wife. People are so concerned with like what celebrities are doing and what all these... The way it affects our kids. And it's like, you worried about a Lil' Nas X video and it's just motherfucking brother that's fucking with your daughter. You know what I'm saying?
Kenrya: Worry about the wrong thing.
Sheree L. Greer: The threat, the call is coming from inside the house.
Erica: From inside the house. Right.
Sheree L. Greer: So I just think that, or I wish that, I was in a space then to feel like I wasn't doing something wrong. And I think about how much that could have helped with my partner, like developing my own sexual identity and my sexual self in just a healthier way, particularly when it came to partners and navigating that.
Kenrya: And separate from something that happened to you.
Sheree L. Greer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: That goes back to what we were talking about with fucking Ms. Wilkerson. We teach our kids, our girls especially, that they have no real autonomy that we are supposed to take on the shame and the responsibility of the things that other people do to us. And so it only would fucking make sense to not be able to separate those things. Nothing happens in the back end.
Erica: Yeah. No autonomy and all the responsibilities.
Sheree L. Greer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: That shit.
Sheree L. Greer: What the fuck is that?
Erica: Breeding ground for lots of co-dependence. Thank you, society.
Kenrya: And violence. I was raped in college and went through that same cycle as someone who, perhaps you would think, but fucking a 20-year-old is still a kid.
Sheree L. Greer: For sure.
Erica: Yep. So first, thank you for sharing that.
Sheree L. Greer: Thank y'all for the safety. I feel safe with y’all. So thank you.
Erica: You're welcome. Always, one of the most difficult things going through therapy was talking to little Erica and letting her know-
Sheree L. Greer: Girl-
Erica: The what day we did that exercise, I literally like cracked in half, because it's like, "Tell Erica it's not her fault. You were going to take care of her."
Sheree L. Greer: Girl.
Erica: How little Erica going to trust this blubbering idiot?
Sheree L. Greer: I did not know a person could cry and snot that much. When we got to that day, man.
Erica: Yeah. My therapist used to be in a spot with like a bunch of those little like rental offices or whatever. I remember that session. I was crying so loud. I remember at one point thinking they probably think she beating my ass in here.
Sheree L. Greer: My therapist had a little sound machine thing outside her door. A sound machine. So like I started because I'm getting even more and more are sentimental and just in touch with my feelings these days. So I started and I was trying to be hard about it. So I was trying, and then once it started hitting, she was like, "I'm just... Hold on real quick." And she turned that thing on. And then, man. Whoa, lord.
Kenrya: We talk about therapy on every episode and-
Sheree L. Greer: I'm here for it.
Kenrya: Going through that trauma, that portion, because I, too, had to work through all of that. And I remember being kind of continually surprised, and I still am, at how much trauma I experienced as a young person and how much I dissociated and didn't really recognize it for what it was until I would be in sessions and be describing stuff, and the therapist would be like, "Oh wait. You just looked me dead in my face and said that with a straight face. Do you hear what the fuck you just said?”
Sheree L. Greer: Yep. Yeah.
Recording: And I would be like, "What?" And she be like, "Say it again out loud. Slowly."
Sheree L. Greer: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Whew. That shit's wild. But that's also part of what we are encouraged to do, right? Is you deal with it. You got shit to do. People are counting on you, so on and so forth.
Kenrya: Suck that shit up and roll. You supposed to be strong.
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah. And then with stuff that happened when you were a kid, it's almost like, man that's so that's so far long ago. It's like, "huh?"
Erica: Yeah. So now that we've opened our guts about-
Sheree L. Greer: Now we can talk about all the shit now.
Erica: Yeah. Now let's get even more in your cooch. Tell us about your first time having partnered sex. Consensual partner sex.
Sheree L. Greer: So, mine is so weird. So my high school boyfriend, and it's funny, because I ran into him a couple years ago. He's a bus driver in Milwaukee and I was in Milwaukee doing this workshop and I got on a bus, and he was like, "Sheree?" And I was like, "Oh."
Erica: That's wack.
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah. It was weird because... I had such a wave of emotions because I broke up with him on just some wack ass... Oh gosh, it was so bad. Well, no it wasn't bad. I broke up with him because I was about to start college. He was a year below me. My hot ass went to two college parties and I came home like, "Mm-mm (negative) I can't go into college with no boyfriend. I can't do it."
Erica: That was me. Who brings sand to the beach?
Sheree L. Greer: Oh no.
Kenrya: My dumb ass brought sand to the beach. It was all bad.
Sheree L. Greer: I was like uh-uh (negative). But all that to say, I met him my sophomore year and I had a strict don't-date-people-I-go-to-school-with rule in high school because I just didn't need you around all day like that. So I met him my sophomore year and he was like my best friend. Like we had much fun together. And mostly because he just let me do the non-girly that I like to do. So we played video games, we played basketball together. He was just so much fun and I loved kissing, and so we kissed like all the time. Erica, don't make that face. You're in the minority here, so. Okay.
Sheree L. Greer: We would kiss till we were like fucking dizzy and it was so great and I would just relax and all this stuff. So, but I was never ready to have sex. So he wasn't a virgin and I was. And so we would make out then the hands came and then what do they call it? The grinding. We got real close for like a year and a half and one of my best friends at the time... Because I feel like everybody in my friend group had had sex already except for me. And so that it was kind of like "Girl, what you waiting on? It's not a big deal, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." And like I knew I wasn't waiting for marriage because I didn't even think I would ever get married anyway.
Sheree L. Greer: And so I knew I wasn't waiting for that. I was afraid of getting pregnant. That was foremost in my mind, especially because my older sister got pregnant at 17 and it like did all this weird shit to our family. And I was like, I definitely don't want to do that. So that's what I was afraid of. And he was just so sweet and nice and never pressured me or anything. And so his mom worked second shift and so we'd be at his house, unsupervised and one day I was just like, "Fuck it. I'm going to do it." And so we tried it was too painful. I was like, "Nope. Time out. Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope." And he was just so gracious and sweet. I remember him being so sweet and then we tried again, a month or so later and it was fine.
Erica: That's beautiful.
Sheree L. Greer: I'm happy that was my experience.
Kenrya: Yeah. There's consent. There's listening. There's communicating needs and then ultimately fucking.
Erica: I'm going to take your story and tell my son that. So much better than fucking on a waterbed.
Sheree L. Greer: Well, I heard y'all episodes. It's just a different experience up around here. I was thinking about what Kenrya was saying, this buildup in your mind about what it's supposed to be and how it's supposed to be. And I don't think I ever really had that. It just felt like something, again, that I was like supposed to do. And that is how, in retrospect, I approached most of my sexual dealings with men. Was this is something that's expected. I'm supposed to do this. So let's just get it over with, let's just do it.
Kenrya: Yeah. How did you get to the point where you stopped feeling like that was what you had to do?
Sheree L. Greer: It took a long, long time. I actually remember the first guy that I did not have sex with because I didn't want to. And it was so awkward because he had invited me out to Cleveland, which is where he lived. And so he had sent me these... Even though he said... We were just friends and I was telling him, I'm not trying to be romantic or nothing. I'll come out and we'll hang out. It'll be fine. Just trying to make sure I'm being honest and he knows. He's like, "Oh no, it's not like that. It's not like that." He said he had a spare room, but when I got there, the spare room was like full of junk. It wasn't even no bed in there. So I was very upset by that.
Sheree L. Greer: But I was like, okay, I still try to have a good time. And so we had a good time until that night. So we slept in the same bed, but hella separated. And then he tried-
Erica: Started doing that scooch.
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah. And I had in my mind, I remember thinking I don't want to do this. I don't have to do this. And so I was like, "Mm-mm. No." And it was awkward because he turned back around and scooted over and then I think he masturbated. I'm pretty sure he was masturbating and it was freaking me out. But I didn't know anybody in Cleveland. I didn't. So I cut my trip very short and came back home. But even as gross and weird as that was, I felt like powerful in a way that I hadn't before.
Sheree L. Greer: And then that was the beginning of me thinking I don't ever have to fuck anybody I don't want to. So I remember that. But the journey was about... It was all tied in. So many things were happening in my life around that time. I was working a job. It's funny, working a job that I didn't want, really. I had taken my first creative writing class before I graduated. I was like, "Oh shit, I want to be a writer, but got this business degree." So I was working this job and feeling stuck. I had started dating women and kind of just exploring that a little bit. And I just started, I don't know... I just had this feeling. I was 25 and I was like, "this can't be life." There has to be more than this. And it just kind of gave way to little small moments of decisions that, and when you look at them in the whole, it's like, "Oh, you've grown up. You are becoming yourself." And then even that took some more decades.
Kenrya: Yeah. That's shit's real. I'm 40 and I feel like I'm still young. So when did you first have an orgasm with a partner that wasn't Wanda, what's her name?
Sheree L. Greer: It was with my high school boyfriend. We were going to break up eventually anyway, because he had feelings about going down on me that just wasn't going to fly. And I knew-
Erica: Yeah, that's a hard no-
Sheree L. Greer: I'm like, "This is not going to work." And so we had talked about it a couple times and I was just, I don't know. So I had in my mind that it wasn't. So then, there was this time we were doing it and he was always really good with his hands. And so that was a good night, but I feel like he was trying to prove to me that he didn't have to put his mouth on me or something. And I was like, "Man, that was really great. However..." It could have been greater. Yeah.
Erica: Okay. So what three words would you use to describe your sex in your teens?
Sheree L. Greer: I would say uncertain, perfunctory, and stressful.
Erica: Said like a writer. I would've used 10 words to come up with perfunctory. Yeah. Well you got to do it, but you don't, but you're doing it? Yeah.
Sheree L. Greer: Just going through the motions.
Erica: I love you writers. Y'all are the best. You want to tell us anymore about the three words?
Sheree L. Greer: I mean, in my teens, because it was such a... If I'm thinking teens, I didn't have sex till I was 17 going on 18. And that was with the one guy. And then I broke up with him pretty shortly after, and then my next partner was not my boyfriend. I didn't have another monogamous relationship until my twenties after that boy, after him. So my next partner was someone who was very enthusiastic about oral sex, which made me very happy. But, at the same time there was so many other messages about what you supposed to be doing when you're 19-20? What does it mean to be in college and what relationships should be like. And I was going on dates, and going on dates that weren't that enjoyable, but it's the end of the night. So what you supposed to do? Oh, well he invited me over or he's coming over. And so it just felt a lot like checking boxes off or something. This is how you are a free college girl. So that's where most of that comes from.
Kenrya: Okay. Right. So now, and I think we just kind of bled teens into twenties, but there's a bunch of years there. So what three words would you use for your twenties?
Sheree L. Greer: Exploratory, low-stakes, I guess. I guess that's one word.
Kenrya: We can put a hyphen.
Sheree L. Greer: So exploratory, low-stakes. And what would be a third word? Fun. Yeah. Fun. I had some fun.
Kenrya: That's what I hoping you were going to say.
Sheree L. Greer: I was like running through, because like I mentioned, I wasn't in any monogamous relationships for a long while. And so I'm just running through my sexual history and I'm like, "That was a lot of fucking going on." And a lot of it was fun because I was exploring and I was trying to figure things out. So definitely from 24 on, I was trying to find my groove, but yeah.
Kenrya: Tell us more about low-stakes.
Sheree L. Greer: Mostly because I really... So for the beginning part of my twenties, I was sleeping primarily with these two dudes. One was in town, one was out of town and it was really no expectations about things. And so in between that, knowing that this wasn't about a relationship, we weren't talking about where this is going and then I was also dating within that. It didn't feel like anything was really hanging in the balance. And again, I have to say that's from my perspective, because I do also acknowledge that my behavior at the time, like low-stakes, not giving a fuck, just doing me, not all of my sexual partners shared that perspective. And so that would cause some friction, but I would be like, "Oh, this isn't fun anymore. So I'm done." I didn't really have no qualms about just being like, "Oh, this isn't fun. I'm just not going to call you anymore." Or whatever.
Sheree L. Greer: Not really thinking about how that cut-off of communication or... I'd never told anybody like, "I love you" or "this is what I see for us." And things like that. I was careful not to kind of build up expectations for others, but at the same time, you never know what other people are thinking or hoping for in these instances. So I also know that during that time it was low-stakes for me, very selfishly. And I know for a fact that I hurt some people and I'm sorry for that.
Erica: I think it's dope that you were able to recognize that because in my twenties I did no wrong.
Erica: That was, so what about your thirties? Give us three words.
Sheree L. Greer: So I started dating my now-wife around the time that I was turning 30. So I was thinking deeply about this decade with her and I have probably never felt so cared for. So three words. Free, safe, and I'm going to say fun again. Because we have a lot of fun and I know that some of that comes out of the freedom and the safety, the security. We try stuff, we laugh a lot, we communicate about everything. There's no embarrassment around anything. There's no judgment around anything. And that's... I don't know. It's just really, really wonderful. It's really wonderful.
Erica: I'm happy for you.
Sheree L. Greer: Thank you. Thank you. We were listening to the episode, I think, when you did these questions Kenrya, and it was talking about feeling like those love songs and feeling like people talk about like a really great relationship and being like, "Man, that old corny ass shit," but then feeling that shit and being like, "Oh my God, like this-
Kenrya: It's unreal.
Sheree L. Greer: This don't feel... Yeah-
Kenrya: It's just unreal. And you just feel so, I don't know... I wake up every day, all this other shit is happening, but I just feel so blessed to be so loved. That's just wild. Good sex is good, but that shit hit different. It's just-
Erica: Well God, ya in the blessing business. I see it on my block.
Sheree L. Greer: It's coming. It's coming.
Erica: It's coming to this house. Knock, knock, knock.
Sheree L. Greer: It's coming. It's coming.
Kenrya: It's true, it's true.
Sheree L. Greer: It's coming.
Kenrya: It's true.
Sheree L. Greer: It's coming.
Kenrya: Yeah. It's just wild.
Erica: Okay. Sorry.
Kenrya: So tell us about a sexual experience that you remember fondly.
Sheree L. Greer: Remember fondly? So I was telling my wife about this episode and some of these questions. And so we were having a little debate about the definition of fondly and if it was like... We were both saying we don't want to be sitting here, like being all wistful and like talking about somebody else, you know what I'm saying? But also not being compelled to it just because I'm with you, and I'm in love with you that you are not my only positive sexual memory. So we were talking about fondly and how emotional fondly is. What do you mean when you say fondly? So I was thinking about two things. The first was the first time somebody went down on me. This dude, it just really made my whole entire life. I was so excited that somebody was... That it was happening and-
Erica: Code red, code red, it's happening, it's happening.
Sheree L. Greer: Because it was something that I wanted and my boyfriend at the time wouldn't do it. And I was like, "This is bullshit." I know that now. I'm 17 and I know that this is bullshit. And so it was just really great. It was just really, really great. Partly, or probably mostly, because I wanted it and I got it. You know what I mean?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative) yes. He was meeting a need. He actually heard you and did what you asked and gave a fuck about whether or not you got it.
Sheree L. Greer: Right. And so that is a fond memory, is that the first time. Then the other one that came to me, and I know... Jasmine might feel a way because we about to put it, it is about to be immortalized on the internet. We were just early dating and we used to frequent this club here in Tampa. And so one day, we were there hanging out. I love dancing. I'm not that great a dancer but I love dancing. And so I was dancing and then she was dancing. We were dancing together, was dancing with other people, all this stuff. And then at one point we were kind of separated and I remember we kind of locked eyes and then she came up to me. She's going to be like, "I can't believe you telling people this." But she came up to me and she whispered that she wanted... She was like, "I want to fuck you now." And we went out to her car.
Erica: Yes, cousin in law.
Sheree L. Greer: In the parking lot at this crowded ass club, we went back to her car and got it in. It wasn't in that moment that I knew I wanted to marry her. But, Yeah. That's one of my favorite, fond memories of her and our sex life.
Erica: That's dope.
Kenrya: So I, and I've talked about this on the show. I've never been able to come from head and it is... I would love to, I'm hoping one day it do happen, and I don't blame anybody's technique. It's just me in my head.
Kenrya: But I do have a head requirement and it's because, really going back to how dude wouldn't do it, and you're like, "This is what I want." I suck dick. I'm good at it. I enjoy it. It is one of the tools I have in my arsenal. But guess what has to happen? We need some fucking reciprocity.
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah.
Kenrya: Not gagging on nothing, if you ain't gagging on nothing.
Sheree L. Greer: Right?
Kenrya: And I was with someone who, once upon a time, who would do it, but he was just real lackluster. He ain't want to do it. And he would complain about me being wet. And I'm like, the fuck?
Erica: That's the best part.
Sheree L. Greer: I know.
Kenrya: It was always something. And I was like, “The fuck? How are you complaining?" And ultimately that's what ended up breaking us up because it was one of a... It just showed me what his mentality was and what he was willing to put in. And if you're going to fucking complain about this, but you don't have no problem with me sucking your dick, then... And so I remember the last time he complained, I was like, "Bet, I'm not sucking your dick no more." We were done within a few weeks after that.
Sheree L. Greer: Because it's ridiculous.
Kenrya: It was what it symbolized.
Sheree L. Greer: It's like when people be like, "Look for the red flags," that's a red flag to me.
Kenrya: That's a red flag.
Sheree L. Greer: That's a red flag. And I-
Erica: Not sharing your food is a red flag to me. If you don't share your food, you don't eat ass. And I remember I went out to dinner with this guy and this is was first date. We went out to dinner. And we were eating off each other's plate. And I was like, "Can you believe I went out with this guy and he wouldn't share his food." And he looked me dead and was like, "He don't eat ass," and I was like, "You right."
Sheree L. Greer: See, see, things like that that tell you what's what.
Erica: What you're getting into-
Sheree L. Greer: Because I've never been shy about trying anything sexually, especially. Let's give it a go. And so back when I was dating men, I suck dick, no problem. Let's go. But then I kept, like you said, [crosstalk 00:49:02] Exactly.
Erica: I ain't complaining.
Sheree L. Greer: That's a flag. And then something interesting happened, too. When I started dating women exclusively, because I am probably a, what do they call it? Masculine of center or whatever shit is, because I don't wear dresses and don't carry a purse. But this idea that I don't... That I'm supposed to always be like the aggressor or I'm supposed to do you, I'm supposed to fuck you. It's like- yeah. Mm-mm (negative) No. I've dated a couple women who were like that. And I roll on my back. It's my turn. Like what's-
Erica: Your knee be up. What you want?
Sheree L. Greer: Want me to get on my knees, turn over, what? What we about to do? And really been like-
Erica: Stingy motherfuckers.
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah. I can't take no stingy lover. I can't do it. I can't do it.
Kenrya: I do want to like say, I always like to say this when I'm talking about what folks have to do. The reality is, right, different people have different boundaries and different things that they're comfortable with. And those can be informed by their trauma, by their past, by all of that. And that is fine. But that doesn't mean that we have to have sex with each other.
Sheree L. Greer: That part, that part. Yep. You're a hundred percent free-
Erica: As for me, and my house.
Sheree L. Greer: Exactly.
Erica: And this pussy.
Sheree L. Greer: Yes.
Erica: That's what's happening.
Sheree L. Greer: Yes, exactly.
Erica: Other than hot, what does your sex life look like now?
Sheree L. Greer: I'm not going to lie. The working from home and all the pandemic bullshit has played a role in our sex life. We've both been feeling like really exhausted by just things and neither one of us... If I'm not in the mood, I'm not in the mood. And I've been finding that the things that can take me out of the mood are just more frequent and just... Everybody is trying to find their way through. This is going on two years, this is a fucked up time. And so work, stress, all this stuff. So it's been a lot of intimacy and a lot of talking and just trying to care for each other and be there for each other, which has been welcome. But then we've also been having conversations about like... Because we haven't taken any real trips, other than I took her, I took Jasmine for our birthday earlier this year out to Hollywood Beach. But we haven't been anywhere. We haven't done anything.
Sheree L. Greer: So we've been trying. The other day... No, yeah this was the other day. We were talking about how our dog, Knight, kind of keeps us captive in terms of where we could fuck in our own house, like this dude pay bills. Because he'll come up... So we was shaking it up and we was like, "Let's fuck in the guest room." It's a different place, right? But the bed is lower in there. So we trying to get it on the dog will get up on the bed and start licking my foot or my ankle. And you got to decision to make because like you can keep going, but then it's like, are you having a threesome with the dog at this point? That's disgusting and gross. Or do you stop? And then now we got to try to put the dog out the room and close the door and then he's outside the door.
Sheree L. Greer: And nobody wants to fuck while that's going on. So we-
Kenrya: What did y’all do?
Sheree L. Greer: We did end up closing the door. We had to kick him out the room. We closed the door. And so that helps. But we just always be trying to keep it fresh and keep each other interested. But we have noticed that we have to work a little bit harder now that we're both working from home and everything's just kind of wearing on us. So sex life now is a bit more effort than it has been in the past in terms of getting in the mood, making the time, kicking the dog out, stuff like that.
Kenrya: How often would you say on average, do you have some kind of sexual contact?
Sheree L. Greer: Every day. So touch is my love language. It is number motherfucking one. Okay. And hers is not though. Her number one is quality time, which is my dead last one. See-
Kenrya: That's my number one.
Sheree L. Greer: That's my dead last one, which is interesting. But every day there's some kind of sexual touch going on. That goes, that can always be to jump off to something or just in passing. And we have this kind of running joke where it's like the day I'm not trying to grab your booty in the grocery store is the day you know something's up. You know what I mean? If you not in the kitchen putting up the dishes and I come up on you in body roll against you, something is up.
Kenrya: Ask me some questions.
Sheree L. Greer: “Sheree ain't tried to touch my titty in about a week. Something's going on, who you fucking?” So it's always something. It's always something.
Erica: Are there certain times of the day that are better for you to have sex? Just because your brain's better, your mind's clearer, whatever?
Sheree L. Greer: I am very easily aroused. It don't matter to me. Her on the other hand, is probably mornings, which, I like I anytime basically. But if so she wants mornings, it's mornings. She want afternoon, it's afternoon. Just say the word basically. I'm just at your service. Let's go.
Erica: So where do you guys typically do it? And how long does the session usually last?
Sheree L. Greer: In the bedroom and it depends. Because Jasmine's very like, "Let's get to it." Like that's she likes to get to it.
Kenrya: She's such an Aries.
Sheree L. Greer: I told you, I told you, I told you. I know that she enjoys kissing, but it's not a requirement for her. She can look at the time and be like, "Let's see it's 10:30. I'm going down. So if you want some, it needs to happen right now."
Kenrya: Right now.
Sheree L. Greer: And so in times like that, it's like, "Let's get to it." And it could be anywhere between, I don't know, shit, 10 minutes to 20 minutes to get to the business. And we've been together long enough if we want to come fast, we know what to do to get in there and make it happen. Now me, I like all the extras. And so I have, I guess... It's not a safe word, but it's... I don't know what you'll call it. I'll tell her if we been having too many just quick get to it sessions, I'll tell her I need some tenderness tonight or I need a little tenderness and she'll be like, okay.
Erica: “Let me stretch.”
Sheree L. Greer: All right. And that would be a longer session with all the touching and kissing and all that stuff.
Kenrya: What's the best part of your sex life right now?
Sheree L. Greer: I would say the freedom of it. Just feeling free to ask for what I want, feeling free to decline if it's something that I don't want to do, and knowing that nothing's attached to it, you know what I mean? The freedom to kind of be comfortable in my body and know that my body is appreciated and loved and wanted. Those feelings are so important for me. And all of that is part of feeling free to be yourself and not be judged in anything that you want or don't want. And that's been the best part.
Kenrya: So what's the most frustrating part?
Sheree L. Greer: Probably her wanting to just get to the business. That gets frustrating at times when I have to say like, "Okay, we've been getting to the business a while. Let's slow down." Exactly, or like, "let's slow down." Because I usually have to be vocal about that. And I have to say it, because if not, we'd always just be like bop bop bop bop.
Erica: "I finished!"
Sheree L. Greer: Yes, exactly. But I will say, it's interesting, and I feel like this is a very Aries thing to do, because it's not necessarily revenge, but it feels like, “Bitch I told you.” Right? So I'll be saying, "Man, I need a little tenderness, whatever, whatever," but then she'll just bring it real quick without no tenderness, and it'll be awesome. And I'll be about to pass out, go to sleep. And she'll be like, "Told you, you didn't need all that. You didn't need all that. I just needed to get her there. Get to it. So night, night talk to you in the morning.” Damn. She was right.
Kenrya: How often do you masturbate?
Sheree L. Greer: I would say multiple times a week.
Sheree L. Greer: I get nice with myself regularly.
Kenrya: What's your technique now?
Sheree L. Greer: We have some toys, but when I don't feel like doing all that, I just rub one out real quick, in the bathtub or you know what, I need to relax. And then [inaudible 01:01:22] That's the sound. And then night, night.
Kenrya: Night, night.
Erica: So do you ever have trouble turning off the day and focusing on bodily pleasure?
Sheree L. Greer: Yeah. As of late. As of late. And I know that's, like I said, this pandemic shit wearing on, being in Florida where it feels very hopeless when we have conversations about what next month is going to look like, what the next season's going to look like. Just the leadership is astounding in its idiocy. It's a lot of that.
Sheree L. Greer: And then again, like just being in this space where I'm going through career transition and feeling fully supported and knowing that everything's going to be fine, but also anxiety and worry is something that I always have to work on. And so there are times when my brain just won't stop and I'll just be... The day is over and it's time to relax and I can't stop. The wheels just won't stop. And so I've been having to do more things intentionally to try to bring myself into the present moment, whether that be, I'm just going listen to some music for a while, or have an impromptu dance party, or let me watch something. Just to get out of that thinking space. Baths do it for me a lot. It's been a challenge. It's been a challenge.
Erica: Okay. Sure, sure. If you could snap your fingers and change anything about your sex life, but would it be?
Sheree L. Greer: Snap my fingers, change... I'm going to tell y'all. I love my dog to death. I do, but I would snap my fingers and make that little nigga disappear sometime just so I can, I don't know, spontaneously fuck in the kitchen.
Erica: Yes. [crosstalk 01:04:11] Yeah.
Sheree L. Greer: Without the dog sitting and staring or licking at my feet or something. Seriously. Seriously.
Erica: My dog licks himself, and one time we was getting it in and all of a sudden we heard-
Sheree L. Greer: Right, right. Exactly.
Erica: I was like, "Dude we don't need a soundtrack."
Sheree L. Greer: We don't need that.
Sheree L. Greer: I mean, there's been times and we are in the bedroom getting it in and then you kind stop and be like, "Wait, is that you? It's not you making that noise. It's a dog making that noise." That nigga's got to go. He got to go.
Sheree L. Greer: So I feel like-
Kenrya: Y’all just adding to the reasons why my child is never going to have a pet in my house.
Sheree L. Greer: I don't know that all dogs are like that, but I know that Knight, he is a very sensitive little dude. He loves cuddling-
Kenrya: He like, "What we doing?"
Erica: I'm single. So my dog be like, "What you doing to my mama? It was a different man last time."
Sheree L. Greer: But he would, he would literally... Let's say we making out in the kitchen. He'll come and be like, "Is that love I hear?" And then come in and want to like jump up on my legs or her legs and like get in the mix. And it's like, "This ain't the kind of love that involves you, bro. This ain't for you." So I would like to be able to have a little bit more spontaneity in terms of location and shit. Which, we think we're going to be expanding our family soon. So we might just have to send Knight to stay with his grandma for a couple weeks or something. Yeah. Because after the kids come, it's over-ish.
Kenrya: You just made me excited.
Erica: What is a sex best practice that you want to share with our listeners?
Sheree L. Greer: Sex best practice? I would say, it sounds trite, but communication above of all things. Communication, which I feel like encapsulates consent, which is sexy as hell, which encapsulates knowing what you want and what you don't want and communicating that to your partner. Yeah, communication. Just talking about it, asking about it, saying what's on your mind saying anything. If you can't be open and honest in your communications about sex with the person you're having sex with, that's probably the biggest red flag of all. Even in, in terms of whether you're satisfied or not, or what you could use more of, or less of. If you can't talk those things out freely and confidently, without fear of retribution or resentment or some kind of emotional abuse response, that's a problem. So being able to think through what you want, what you don't want, what you like, what you don't like, being able to ask for it, being able to say, "No, I don't want that," being able to speak your mind and to communicate is the number one ingredient to some top-notch sex, I think.
Erica: So would you rather give up partnered sex or masturbation?
Sheree L. Greer: Oh, masturbation, no question. I'd give it up. As much as I enjoy it, I would give it up.
Erica: That's because y'all getting good sex over there. Give up sex with my partner? That's amazing. That's where I'm like, "Eh, ain't nothing changed. Ain't nothing different over here if I gave it up."
Kenrya: What do you hope that people will learn from this walk through your sex life?
Sheree L. Greer: I don't feel like I dropped no jewels, but I will say that I-
Kenrya: You see how we looking at you.
Sheree L. Greer: I mean, I was really nervous and I have been a ball of anxiety around talking about my sex life, my sexual past in particular. And I think I shared this in a comment of one of y’all shows. I forget who y'all were talking to, but I be all on the comments on the YouTube. It's one of my favorite things to do.
Kenrya: You do. I feel like it feels like it's like another opportunity for me to talk to you cause I go through and moderate those. And I'm like, "Hey, Sheree!"
Sheree L. Greer: Mostly, when I'm listening at, because like I put it on, because when I'm at the dumb ass day job, I got the two screens and so I'll have y'all up on this screen and then I'll be doing college bullshit on this screen. And so something will happen or somebody will say something and I'll be like, "ha!" And then I got to flip over there and say something. I think I put, I forget who y’all were talking to, but I commented that I used to feel like different kind of pressure in conversation about my sexual history, particularly in terms of the time I spent sleeping with men and how all of that is part of my story. And I am not one of those lesbians who are like, "Ugh, disgusting dicks." I never felt like that. I don't feel like that.
Sheree L. Greer: And so if anybody takes anything away, I hope it's that conversations about your sexual history, if you are open to talk about it, don't be scared of that shit. It helps when you're able to talk to two people you love and respect. So, that makes it easier. But none of it defines you. Nothing you did defines you. You define you and you get to be the person who decides what matters and what doesn't, what you hold onto or what you let go. And always just stand in that. So, that's what I'm hoping.
Erica: Well, you did drop lots of jewels. Yeah, and I think someone tweeted a while back and we got fake offended where she was like, "It was really nice listening to older Black women discuss their sex lives." I was like, "Who's old?"
Kenrya: Somebody said that about us.
Erica: Yeah. But I think that is great that we're-
Sheree L. Greer: They said “old” or “older”?
Kenrya: It's all relative.
Erica: But you know what-
Kenrya: And I appreciate it-
Sheree L. Greer: But I feel like this is exactly who should be talking about it. But also, I would hope that younger people, I was about to say younger mo-fos, motherfuckers, but I don't want to disrespect them like that, that are listening, or hopefully they will listen in, because none of this even makes sense till you get out of it. And so teens, fucking twenties, like none of this shit makes sense until you can stop for a minute-
Erica: Step back-
Sheree L. Greer: There ain't no stopping and stepping back in your teens and twenties, it is go, go, go, go, go.
Kenrya: And nobody's talking to you like this, right? I always have... I've collected mentors because I didn't really have my mom around. And so, one of the ways that I've always moved through the world is that older Black women would see me and be like, "Oh, you mine now." And that is so much of how I have moved through the world. But none of them have ever talked to me about fucking.
Sheree L. Greer: And they're not. They not.
Kenrya: They never talked to me about bad relationships until we got older. And we started talking about their bad relationships and then we were counseling each other. But I really could have used these kind of conversations in my twenties to help me understand, to know that not wanting to give me head was a fucking red flag, right? To be able to recognize when the shame of something that some nigga did to me was being placed on me and keeping me silent and keeping me from seeking help. But I didn't know any of that stuff.
Sheree L. Greer: That's why this show is so important.
Erica: And that's why it's important to have... That's why I appreciate having you on, because you're sharing this. And I feel like this... I don't want to say they're mistakes, but we did this living to help impart this knowledge. At the very least, let me get something out of this-
Kenrya: We go through that so you ain't got to go through that.
Erica: And let me get something out of this motherfucking heart break and this bullshit.
Sheree L. Greer: Even if, and not even if, they will. We going to make the same shit, but just think about how it feels to be like, "Oh, I was also fucking up. This person was, and they're okay." Every time y'all get on the screen, the mic, whatever, you are an example that, you are okay. You going to be all right. You going to make it through. So I feel like, even listening, not even as a way of like, "I did these things, so you don't have to." They going through them. They going to do it, but then it's something to say, "Oh, I don't have to be ashamed of this. Or there's people talking about this. I'm not alone in these preconceived notions or mistakes or whatever that is." And so then it's building a sense of community that's steeped in, not just survival from shit but thriving and being like, "This is okay. I'm okay. This is okay."
Sheree L. Greer: So yeah, I told my niece, speaking of older, she just turned 21 and I was like, "What the hell is going on?" But I told her to check this show because I also don't want her coming up in the silo that is my family where we didn't talk about sex. Nothing. Nothing like my mama just now, she sent me a sex joke meme the other day. And I was like, "It's because I'm it's because I'm over 40." She can now make sex jokes with me. I looked at it and I was like, "Mama?" It's because I'm over 40. And to prove it, when I looked at the details, she sent it to me and my older sister, who's 47.
Sheree L. Greer: But she ain't send it to my younger sister, who's 35. So I've crossed some threshold of being able to talk about sex with my mom. Now that I'm fucking 40.
Erica: Five years till you get these memes!
Sheree L. Greer: I'm like, "What is that?" Y'all, this show is, is necessary and takes the stigma and it just makes it fun and inclusive and inviting. So yeah.
Erica: So, last question.
Sheree L. Greer: Okay.
Erica: What is turning you on today?
Sheree L. Greer: Oh, this conversation. I feel like I'm looking at the time. Shit, my wife is off today, because she took off the whole weekend for my birthday. I'm looking at the time. I got a workshop later, but I might have to go get some tenderness right quick.
Erica: Go get some tenderness.
Sheree L. Greer: Go get some tenderness right quick. Yeah. That's what's turning me on. Having my birthday and feeling loved is turning me on right now. And this conversation is an extension of that. So, yeah.
Kenrya: We love you.
Sheree L. Greer: Aw.
Kenrya: So you mentioned something earlier and it was, you're talking about times of transition and support in your work. And I want to make sure that we don't go without telling folks how they can support your work because I support your work.
Sheree L. Greer: Yes we do.
Erica: Yes I do, too.
Sheree L. Greer: As do you.
Kenrya: Exactly. And we think it is important to give money to people who we love, who are doing work. Doing great work.
Sheree L. Greer: I appreciate that.
Erica: Y’all gonna spend that $15 on some bullshit. Spend it on your cousin.
Kenrya: So how can folks support your work?
Sheree L. Greer: The easiest way to get to everything that I'm doing is to visit my website, ShereeLGreer.com. I have a-
Kenrya: Can you spell that please?
Sheree L. Greer: Oh, S-H-E-R-E-E-L-G-R-E-E-R.com. There's a link to my Patreon where I'm really trying to lean into my creative practice and how that speaks to my building community and helping get even more voices out in the world. I am an independent writing teacher and writing coach. All the ways that you can connect with me are on that website. But also I have... My short story collection, "Once and Future Lovers" turns 10 next year. And so I put this as a giveaway. I don't know how y'all going to run it, but I provided a copy of one of my most beloved, I guess people really like this one particular story, from the collection for a free download, wherever y'all want to post it, in celebration of leaning into this 10th anniversary. I'm going to reissue a book and we're doing a book tour, virtual book tour about the book, kind of a decade later. So I'd love to chat with y'all again about it. Yeah. So all of this lusciousness is going on. Sheree L. Greer is a place to find everything. So, very much appreciate it.
Kenrya: Word. So y'all will be able to go to the show notes for this episode to get your download.
Sheree L. Greer: Free short story.
Kenrya: That's awesome. Yes. Thank you. And I don't want to let you go, but we got to, because we've been on for a long time.
Sheree L. Greer: It's all good.
Erica: Like as soon as we can, we got to visit you. Y'all got to visit us, something. Because-
Sheree L. Greer: Please. Please.
Erica: Seeing you and spending time with you makes me realize like, "Damn, I fucks with her hard.
Sheree L. Greer: Same.
Erica: I miss cousin.
Kenrya: And I don't actually have a lot of people that I fuck with?
Sheree L. Greer: Yo. So I'm trying to tell y'all the shit just clicked. I was thinking, when I took the survey... The survey's still going on or it's closed?
Kenrya: It's closed. It's closed.
Sheree L. Greer: When I took the survey was like, "How did you hear about us or whatever?" And I was thinking about that first email and I was like, "Oh, shit. How did I not know this was happening?" So I looked y'all up. And then I listened to all the back episodes and I was like, "Oh my God, I love them. Is that weird?” And so then when I was on the show, the first time I was like, "Okay, just be cool because they don't really know you-know you yet, but you feel like you know them because you listen to all them episodes. So just be cool, be yourself." I felt like we was on a friend date or something.
Erica: Pass the test.
Sheree L. Greer: Yes. Be cool. But I don't know, shit just clicked. And I don't know, I just love y'all so much, so yeah.
Kenrya: Thank you for coming on.
Sheree L. Greer: Thank you for having me again. Anytime, every time. Just shout me out.
Kenrya: Again, I'm always going to say you might regret saying-
Sheree L. Greer: I will not. I will not. I will not. I don't say that to everybody. So I will not. I'm very thoughtful in who I say anytime, every time to, so I will not regret it.
Kenrya: That's what's up. Yay. That's what we love. And we are a hundred percent sure that y'all have not regretted listening to this episode at all. Thank y'all for spending this time with us. And we going to let y'all go. And we going to see y'all next week.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Hit subscribe right now in your favorite podcast app and at YouTube.com/TheTurnOnPodcast, so you'll never miss an episode.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to play cousin Sheree L. Greer about her book "Let the Lover Be," who gets to be an activist, the importance of being vulnerable, and the virtues of Black women being our whole selves both on and off the page.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today we're talking to Sheree L. Greer, pronouns she and her. Sheree is a text-based artist and educator living in Tampa, Florida. She's a Yaddo and Ragdale Rubin Fellow, Astraea Lesbian Foundation grantee, and is the author of two novels, “Let the Lover Be,” a Rainbow Award Finalist, and the Black Lives Matter-inspired “A Return To Arms.” She also created a short story collection, “Once and Future Lovers,” and a student writing guide called “Stop Writing Wack Essays.” Love it. Sheree is the founding director of Kitchen Table Literary Arts, and her work has been featured in literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. Her most recent work, “Bars,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. That's big shit. Hey, Sheree.
Kenrya: Thanks for joining us.
Sheree: It is my pleasure.
Kenrya: First, before we even get into all this other book shit, we got to talk about something that's not in your bio, but that's hella important to us.
Kenrya: That is the fact that you are from the Midwest.
Sheree: Milwaukee, stand up. Brew City.
Erica: Land of casseroles.
Sheree: Where you at?
Erica: Get us a carb, get us a cream of something.
Erica: Get us a protein and some cheese, bacon, you got a casserole.
Sheree: Cheesehead. Let's do it.
Erica: I'm sorry, I get so excited about casseroles.
Sheree: There are Black people in Wisconsin. They all live in Milwaukee, but we in that bitch, we in here, we in there.
Kenrya: Yes. There's three of us Midwestern bitches here on this call.
Sheree: That's so amazing.
Kenrya: It's beautiful.
Sheree: I love it.
Kenrya: Yes, we had to take a minute to celebrate. I'm wondering, how do you think that being born and raised in Milwaukee has impacted the way that you move through the world?
Sheree: That is a really great question. It's interesting because the funny thing about Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is that the Black folks that are there, it's like everybody's part of that Great Migration tradition, that's how we all got up there. And so my grandparents are from the South, but everybody had moved up north, so I didn't get summers in Mississippi or summers in Arkansas, where my dad is from, or anything like that. What's been interesting about being specifically from Milwaukee is how it's super segregated, but also a lot of my experiences were very diverse in a way, like going to school and things like that. And so it's been interesting to see how that plays out, now that I live in the South, and this concept of there weren't very many places in Milwaukee where I felt like not necessarily that I didn't always feel welcome, but I was never made to feel like I didn't belong. And I feel that in certain parts in Florida, in the South sometimes, like I can feel in people's looks that they're like, "Who the fuck let you in here?"
Kenrya: Which is some shit for anybody from Florida to say, especially right now.
Erica: Who let y'all in here?
Sheree: Yeah. And that was a foreign feeling to me, thankfully, because I had really great neighborhoods growing up in Milwaukee, we had lawns and backyards and lots of parks. I just remember being around a lot of different kind of people almost all of the time. I don't know, it's probably helped and harmed me in a lot of different ways, but I'm here.
Erica: Okay. So, something else we got to talk about. We were doing an interview with another writer, and she was like, "Yeah, I talked to my writing partner bestie," and we were like, "What?" So, the Fiona Zedde, we interviewed, and we absolutely love her.
Erica: We've learned, doing this show, that there are little packs of bad bitches that write together and support one another, so I'm happy we got linked in on your pod. She was dope as shit and we love her. We wanted to ask, how does your relationship with her impact your work? I don't want to be too nosy, but at the same time, it's dope that two writers are good friends.
Sheree: Thank you. It's strange because it's not something that I knew I needed and it wasn't something that I was looking for, it's like we met a couple times in passing at conferences and whatnot, and then end up being in the same city together for a little while, and just really connecting creatively. And this was after my master's program, and after you finish school, you just out there.
Erica: Girl. So, I got to do something now.
Sheree: You got all kind of cute cohorts and shit while you're in school, and then as soon as it's over, especially for being a writer, it's like, "Okay, now what?" So, finding her at that time, it was just really awesome for me. She pushes me and encourages me when I need it most and sees strengths in my writing where sometimes I feel doubt. That's just been really, really important. It gets on my nerves sometimes, too, but what friend/cheerleader/homegirl don't get on your nerves sometimes? Especially when they know that you not shining like you can be shining. They know it, they done seen you shine, and they're like, "I done seen you shine, girl. What is this? What the fuck's going on?" And then you got to be like, "You right."
Erica: "Okay, okay, okay."
Sheree: "Okay, fine."
Erica: That's dope. That is so great. So, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Sheree: I wanted to be a magician or a mechanic.
Kenrya: Okay, you got to-
Erica: I mean the first thing that popped in my head was that video of that magician that turned a dove into a Popeye chicken sandwich, and I was like, yo, that is exactly who you would be as a magician. Sorry if you weren't, but that totally seems like some shit you'd do.
Sheree: Yes, that would be me. That would be me. I'd change my coconut La Croix into some whiskey with magic. I'd make some school loan debt disappear, that'd be my first trick.
Erica: Bitch. Do you need my social? Do you need the account number? My login? What you need?
Sheree: When I was a kid, I loved joke books and I loved learning magic tricks, and I used to do little magic shows for my family. Then I liked working with my hands and shit, so I thought maybe I'd be a mechanic or something like that. I was always writing, but I didn't think writing could be a career and I don't know why, I just didn't.
Erica: But you thought being a magician could?
Sheree: Damn, true. No, that's true.
Erica: So, if we get you drunk, you'll do magic tricks? Do you remember them, enough to be showing off?
Sheree: I remember two or three, and they're not very impressive.
Erica: I mean, shit, they're better than ... Look, I can't do nothing. You could be pulling that same quarter from behind my ear and I'll be like, "She is amazing."
Kenrya: I mean I think that's interesting because I think a lot of folks don't necessarily see writing as a career, especially when you're young. I know I didn't think I was going to be a writer. I thought I was just going to work at magazines and I was going to edit things, which at least is in that sphere, but I always, I don't know, thought that I had to be somebody who worked at a company and did this thing, as opposed to somebody who sat at home and wrote shit, until I got to a certain point in my career when I was like, "This is what I would much rather do." I don't think you're alone, I think a lot of people don't necessarily think of writing as a viable career. I didn't. I thought that I was just going to be a magazine editor and that was going to be the thing, and it never occurred to me that that would also involve writing or that I could change my career to the point where I could be somebody who sits at home and writes. It's not really presented as a viable sound financial decision, maybe?
Sheree: I feel like that's part of it, because my mom never explicitly said, "No, you can't be a writer. You can't major in English," but as first-generation college student, there was this-
Erica: What are you going to ... doctor, lawyer, teacher?
Sheree: You had just so many options as to what was going to be a viable career. I don't blame my mom in any kind of way. Our parents don't want us to suffer, and being an artist of any kind is still aligned with poverty and suffering and all that stuff.
Kenrya: Yeah, that starving artist thing is a very real stereotype and real reality for some folks.
Sheree: Yeah. So, it's hard to see, especially if you have so few examples where you're at. The internet and the explosion of technology has been helpful, but as a little girl in Milwaukee, I knew that Black people wrote books, but I didn't meet an author until I was in college, I think, I met my first author. How do you even know what that looks like or what that could be?
Kenrya: So then what did bring you to being a writer?
Sheree: When I was a kid, I would write stories and poems, especially when I got in trouble, because I used to get in trouble a lot, so I wrote a lot of apology, "I love you, Mom" poems. A lot of flower metaphors about forgiveness and things like that. And then I kept going, but, again, I took the backseat. I minored in English. I'm a Virgo, so if I'm going to put my mind to something, I'm going to do it, I'm going to do that shit. So, I majored in Information Technology and Human Resources and, goddammit, I was going to get an Information Technology and Human Resources career, and that's what I did for a couple years. And then I met a writer friend when I moved to Florida, and I was still working as a consultant then, and she was a journalist at the St. Pete Times. And so we had a writing group of two, and when we exchanged stories for the first time, she was just like, "What the fuck is you doing?" I was like, "What you mean?" She's like, "What is you doing? Why are you not doing this?" She encouraged me to think about going to grad school and getting a degree in writing and making a run at it, and so I'm really glad she did.
Erica: Thank you, friend, right?
Sheree: Yeah. Benita. She passed away right before I went into grad school, suddenly. It was crazy. She with me every time. There's not a time when I'm writing that I don't think about her and how she pushed me into this part of this version of myself.
Erica: That's dope as hell. Black woman?
Sheree: Benita Newton. I speak her name.
Erica: I didn't want to assume that she was Black, but when you said, "Benita," I saw a very specific hairstyle and a "ness" to her. I love it.
Kenrya: That she's us.
Sheree: Yeah, she's so us.
Erica: I love it. Okay. Benita Newton, we speak your name.
Sheree: Right on.
Kenrya: Well, I was going to ask who or what inspires you to write, and I feel like Benita is at the top of the list. What else?
Sheree: Lately, it's been vulnerability and truth telling.
Sheree: That's what I've been on, begrudgingly, but I'm on it.
Kenrya: That is hard.
Erica: It's going to be good.
Sheree: I'm on it. I started this new project, kicking and fucking screaming, and it's only now, and I'm four essays in, that I'm like, "You know what? This might be the best writing of my life." But just being vulnerable and asking the tough questions, that's what's pushing me right now. And it's interesting that, for Let the Lover Be, it's almost bringing me full circle because, in Let the Lover Be, the main character is an alcoholic, and in my memoir work right now, I'm coming to terms in real life, in real time, with alcohol abuse and addiction in my family and a bunch of other stuff. It's been really difficult, but it's been really good.
Erica: Okay, so, what do your workdays look like?
Sheree: Man, these punk-ass workdays.
Kenrya: Bitch-ass work day.
Sheree: These work days are ... I don't know. I start back to the day job on Monday, I teach at a college in St. Pete, but I'm teaching all online, so I'm thankful for that.
Kenrya: Thank God.
Sheree: But, most days, I like to get up and get my day started, not too early though, a good 7:30, 8:00.
Kenrya: Oh my God. Ugh. Sorry. I'm like, "That's early."
Sheree: You get up at 5:00?
Kenrya: No, Erica gets up ... What time you get up now, E?
Sheree: What time you get up?
Erica: Well, what had happened was I wake up at about 5:45, 6:00. But I lay in bed, scrolling TikTok for, easily, 45 minutes before I get up and-
Sheree: You're still up though. Your eyes is open.
Kenrya: I don't wake up before 9:00.
Kenrya: No, bitch. When you all be texting me, that's why I don't answer your texts 'till like 9:30, I be asleep.
Sheree: That's the sweet spot though.
Kenrya: I've been up until like 2:00, 2:30 every night this week, working, so a bitch is tired. I'm doing my best.
Sheree: Okay. I can't stay up super late like that no more. That used to be my shit. I used to stay up late, writing, reading, bullshitting, and now I be like, "It's 10:30, I got to go lay down." And it probably has a lot to do with getting up at 7:00, 7:30, and turning 40 soon, but that shit's real.
Kenrya: It's very real.
Erica: My body has been so sore and I'm like, "This must be all the meds I'm on." I'm blaming it on everything else, except for the fact that a bitch ... I look down the street and I'm like, "Who's that? Is that you, 40, coming over here?"
Sheree: It's coming. I turn 40 next month.
Kenrya: Shit, happy early birthday.
Sheree: Thank you. I think it was last year sometime, I was at the grocery and these teenagers were having a good time, talking, fucking with each other, stuff like this, and then one of them said something, and then the other dude was like, "Don't be cussing in front of that lady," and I turned around, like, "Who?"
Erica: "Don't do that to me."
Sheree: "Where the elder at?" Bitch, it's you. It is you.
Erica: Little fuckers, I would have tripped them.
Sheree: Get ready.
Erica: "Don't be cursing." "Fuck you," and then push them down.
Sheree: For real.
Sheree: The workday is easy, it's reading, it's writing, it's going outside a lot to take breaks, watching a little TV, a little too much Netflix and things like that. I don't know how people are supposed to get shit done with all this.
Kenrya: Netflix is right there.
Sheree: And how people be watching all this shit, too? When I get on Twitter, people like, "God, this is so great," I'm like, "You watched all seven episodes already? That shit came out yesterday."
Erica: I don't need you judging us.
Sheree: That was like seven hours of TV.
Erica: I don't need you judging us.
Sheree: I aspire. I aspire, man.
Kenrya: I do, too. I love TV, but I just never have enough time to watch it.
Sheree: I want to watch it.
Kenrya: All right, so, let's see. So, you told us about your days, which actually sound pretty damn good. I didn't hear no "Neighbors is getting on my nerves."
Sheree: No. I live in East Tampa, that is very slowly gentrifying, but we watching it happen. I got a loud-ass dog, he's a wiener dog, but he bark like he's a damn Doberman Pinscher or some shit. He barks a lot, so I had to make sure I put him away for this. Other than folks on dirt bikes and shit and the occasional vintage Chevy rolling down the street, playing a chopped and screwed version of ...
Erica: I love it.
Sheree: It's all good. It's really all good. It's been interesting because I didn't teach at all this summer at the day job, and when I post online lately, people have been like, "Man, Sheree, you look so great. Man, what's going on? You look so good." And it's because I ain't been at work, I ain't been at that job. What's interesting is when you all had Mahogany Browne on, she was talking about that shit, how people don't realize just how much you're pouring into other things, and it's not until you make the decision to stop, or stop, that you actually get to almost go outside of that regular life and say, "Oh my God, I've been stressed, I've been tired, I'm running around doing this, that, and the third." It really makes you want to take stock and figure out how can I make the thing that I love the most the thing that I do most?
Kenrya: Well, I'm glad you got that space to breathe this summer-
Sheree: Me too.
Kenrya: And I hope you get more of it-
Sheree: I'm working on it.
Kenrya: In the way that works for you.
Sheree: I am working on it.
Kenrya: So, your book “A Return to Arms” centers the Black Lives Matter movement, as we said in your bio. I'm wondering, what lessons do you think it holds for us right now in this moment?
Sheree: It was really interesting, watching this moment unfold because, this time, we saw more white people getting in on the situation, and part of what my novel wrestles with is who gets to protest, who gets to be an activist, who gets to be a part of what efforts and in what capacity? And what drove the book primarily was me sitting at the intersection of being Black and queer.
Sheree: There was a lot of Pan-African-type groups and things like that, locally grassroot, that I could go because I was Black, but if I brought up any concerns about Black trans women being murdered or anything like that, you would see people's faces change, you would see a different kind of judgment, a different kind of energy enter the room. And so what the book deals with probably more than anything else is all of those intersecting identities and how do you find a place that fits for to do whatever you're being called to do in a particular moment?
Sheree: There's a scene in the book where a white person walked through one of the protests and wants to be involved and is discouraged, and there's another part in the book where you have to shut down certain parts of white conversation that aren't conducive to our ends or our goals. And so it's been interesting to see the posturing, it's been interesting to see just already a lot of the energy has been drained. It was commercials, it was statements, it was emails, it was banners, everywhere, but what do you have in you for the long haul? What is beyond this moment? So, that's what I've been thinking about mostly. And I wrote that book in 2016. It was shortly after Trayvon Martin.
Sheree: It's inspired by a similar shooting in South St. Petersburg, in Florida, Tyron Lewis was shot and killed by a police officer who was not fired, was not charged. Part of what made that book so difficult was that case happened in '96, so we're looking at 20 years, and then another 10, another 20, and then 30, and then 50 years ago, and you can go back and back and back. It can be depressing and demoralizing, when you start looking at the cases and you start stringing them together and they make this tapestry of Black pain, and we got to find a way to wrap ourselves in something more hopeful and something that actually reckons with the moment right now, I think.
Kenrya: Well said.
Erica: So, side note, we won't include this in the thing, but when we're looking for books, Kenrya kept saying, "I found this really great book," and for whatever reason, we didn't use it. And so then I'm like, "Hey, I found this book for Season 3, ‘Let the Lover Be,’" was like, "Let me shoot it to you." And she was like, "Oh shit, this is the same author." So, you've been on my radar for a minute.
Kenrya: The only reason we didn't, because-
Sheree: I'm glad I'm here.
Kenrya: I was looking at ‘Return to Arms,’ but it didn't have a long enough sex scene, that's the only reason why-
Sheree: Yeah, it's not as sexy. My wife said, of both books, she's like, "Why your main character always got to have a jumpoff in the book?" And I was like, "What?" And she's like, "In both novels, it's always a jumpoff, other than the main bitch," and I was like, "No, it's not." And then I was like, "Oh, yeah."
Erica: "Oops. My bad."
Sheree: Jumpoffs keep you young, man.
Erica: Or they put extra miles on you.
Erica: Depending on how problematic said jumpoff is.
Sheree: That's true.
Erica: But the problematic ones be the good ones-
Sheree: You got to qualify that.
Erica: Okay, all right, anyway. Back to [inaudible 00:28:30]. Okay, so, tell us about your latest work, “Bars.”
Sheree: “Bars” is quite literally about bars. I started it while I was at Ragdale and finished it up at Yaddo, those are two very, very ... they were just great for my creative process as a writer residencies.
I’m happy that’s your phone and not you. ‘Cause…
Kenrya: Right, because my initial reaction was like, "Oh shit."
Sheree: "There goes sis, she fell out."
Kenrya: And then I realized it was just the phone.
Sheree: I wrote “Bars,” it was one of my first times I just trusting the process and trusting my voice, which I'm not always the best at, that I'm getting better at, thankfully. I was just having all these memories about bars and how they've been formative fixtures in my life. I start the piece with the first bar that I went to with my dad, I used to go with my dad when he used to go cash his check, and he'd buy me burgers and have his drinks or whatever. And then I just started doing this timeline of bars, literal bars, and thinking, trying to remember what they looked like and doing a little research to see if they're still standing, what do they look like now? And then putting myself in that place again, almost like tick marks on a timeline of me going from being that shy, uncertain kid through my teenage years through young adulthood till my 30s, where I slowed down a little bit and began to think about my relationships with others and my relationships with lovers and my relationships to alcohol, and the piece just wrote itself after that, I think.
Kenrya: Wow. That sounds amazing.
Erica: That's beautiful.
Sheree: Thank you.
Kenrya: Yeah, I'm-
Erica: Also, let's note, you were a kid being taken into bars.
Sheree: Yes, I was.
Erica: That was a while back.
Sheree: Start them early.
Kenrya: I had zero idea what “Bars” was going to be about, but I'm like, "I'm such a nigga," because when I heard Bars, I was like, "Oh bars."
Kenrya: Like rapping.
Erica: Dylan, dylan, dylan, dylan.
Kenrya: Exactly. That's my own issue.
Sheree: I don't know, the piece got some lyricism to it. I could probably get a beat. I can get a beat.
Erica: I would give you one, but you all would laugh.
Kenrya: And it would be great. So, speaking of Bars, the book that we read on the show, Let the Lover Be, stars Kiana, who is a woman whose addiction and demons often push her to make less-than-lovely decisions.
Kenrya: Why was it important for you to tackle addiction in this book?
Sheree: I started writing the book, it's not my first novel, it's my first published novel, and so my first novel, I shopped it around, it kept getting, "No. No. No," and so finally somebody was like, "Well, do you have something else?" And I was like, "No," and then Fiona was like, "Yes, you do. Remember that stuff you was writing when we were in New Orleans?" See, I told you she be getting on my nerves. So, I was like, "What stuff?" And so she had pointed out some things that ... because we went to a conference in New Orleans together, and we were just doing writing prompts throughout the day to take breaks and shit like this, and so she's like, "Some of that stuff you wrote, that could be a book."
Sheree: And so I sat down and I started writing it, and as Kiana was coming to me, I was like, "Man, what a fucking asshole." As I was writing her, I was like, "She's got some issues." She's mean, she drinks too much, she's irresponsible. So, she's not me exactly, but in writing some of her scenes, I recognize pieces of myself, and it was in writing that book that I began to think about whether or not I was an alcoholic and if I had an abusive relationship with alcohol.
Sheree: So, I stopped drinking because there was a scene that I was writing and I couldn't write it, I was having trouble with it, and so I went to go look at some journals about it, because I journal all the time, and it was in that moment that I realized I be drunk more often than not. And so I stopped drinking and I wrote the rest of the book sober. I knew that there was something ... Kiana is not an asshole because she's just a terrible person, she's got some shit going on, some things that she refuses to deal with, some ways in which she doesn't treat herself well and doesn't love herself, and it affects everyone around her.
Sheree: She's oblivious to the people who do love her and do care for her. As I was writing, I just got really obsessed with figuring out what her deal is, what's up with you? And so then she started telling me and I got sad for her as I was writing, but she didn't want my pity, she wanted to try to come out on the other side. And so I just kind of let her have the run of the pages.
Erica: So, what I loved about the book is that Kiana was a hot mess, but I think we all saw the hot mess in ourselves in her.
Erica: Some parts of it were very difficult to read because, like you said, she didn't want your pity, and I think we've all been there, where we're like, "I got shit I'm dealing with. Let me deal with it, I don't need your help." Something about that character stuck with me. I picked it up and just could not put it down because I wanted to see how this developed.
Kenrya: And it was nice, too, to be able to have a Black woman who is, quite frankly, an unlikeable protagonist. That is a thing that is pushed on us all the time and white men get the privilege of being in that space. You got your Tony Sopranos, your Don Drapers, your fucking Walter Hartwell White who get to because complete fucking assholes to everyone-
Erica: Who's Walter?
Kenrya: “Breaking Bad.”
Kenrya: Who get to be complete fucking assholes to everybody, but we're still supposed to love them at the end of the day, and we do because that's what we're conditioned to do. But Black women never really get that space. How often do we see projects in popular culture where Black women get to be assholes and not be dismissed as bitches or get their comeuppance or whatever the hell, and actually get to have some growth and some love for themselves?
Sheree: That's one of the reasons I loved and I'm going to miss “How to Get Away with Murder” so much. Annalise Keating, to me, was this flawed, powerful, beautiful character and she did do things that might have cut some folks deep or even cut herself deep, but at the end of the day, we found ourselves following her and cheering for her and wanting her to make it. And I do, I agree with you, I hope that we continue to see more complex characters like that. Give us a chance to have those moments. I'm watching “I May Destroy You,” that same kind of deal, where it's like play with those lines of good and bad or love and hate, blur those lines a little bit because life is messy as fuck. You said it best, when you see your kind of mess on the screen or on the pages, you're not alone, we're all messy as fuck, just trying to do the best we can.
Erica: Trying to figure this shit out.
Kenrya: And we all deserve redemption.
Erica: Okay, so speaking of hot mess, when we meet Kiana, she is just reeling from heartbreak, I'm like, "Girlfriend, put on some fucking boots and bounce back," she's not a fucking boot-type of character, we know. Well, she might have some fucking boots, but not the kind I'm ... Anyway. So, what do you do when you're trying to pick up pieces and moving on? What's your bounceback? And it could be something profound or just something like, "I listen to Jeezy and ride out on these hoes."
Sheree: Man. I don't feel like I've had my heart broken that many times, and I don't say it to be like ... it's not because I'm strong, it's because I don't let people in, which is a different kind of problem, you know what I'm saying?
Kenrya: That vulnerability wall.
Sheree: Right. So, I'm not often vulnerable, and so I've always been the kind of I'm-out-before-you-can-hurt-me-type person.
Sheree: Or you hurt me, so guess what, you no longer exist in my universe. And I'm done-done. When people talk about being friends with all their exes and all that, I don't have a lot of that. I don't even call many people my exes because I'll also be quick to be like, "We was just fucking."
Erica: They be like, "Now, is this you in the Christmas photo?"
Sheree: You know what I'm saying? So, romantically, I haven't let enough people in to have a process, I think. But in the times that I have been hurt, it's mostly drinking something and doing somebody, that had always been my go-to. I mean now, when I think about disappointment or let down, rejection, things like that, just trying to find the healthier way to deal with it that doesn't involve three bottles of wine and some stranger. That's not healthy, that's not what you do.
Kenrya: And I'm sure your wife would be like, "Word."
Sheree: Yeah, true.
Kenrya: [inaudible 00:40:33].
Sheree: "I was just so upset," I think she'd ride with that, "I was just so upset, I needed to do somebody." That wouldn't roll. That won't roll no more. Kiana was on one though.
Erica: She was.
Sheree: She was on one.
Kenrya: Yeah, but we were with her the whole way.
Erica: The way you wrote it, I could feel her just grasping for that relationship, not even that relationship, just closure, like, "What the fuck happened? I don't get it." It was a beauty. It was a beaut.
Sheree: You know what's interesting? And you all can speak on this a little bit. I was also thinking about, after having written the book and read it back through drafts and stuff like that, the whole concept of closure, I don't feel like Kiana got closure from her situation. The closure is internal and not external.
Kenrya: And I don't know that you ever really can. I don't know, for me, the idea of closure has always seemed kind of [inaudible 00:42:06], partly because, like you, I've always had trouble with the vulnerability thing, so I'm like, "Fuck you, block you, I'm done," but also kind of like, all right, there's something that led us to this place where we have some fundamental disconnect that makes it so that we are not together, and the likelihood of us being able to come to some, I don't know, eye-to-eye moment, to do some autopsy of what happened and have it come out-
Erica: We wouldn't be together if that was [crosstalk 00:42:38].
Kenrya: Yeah, it just doesn't feel like it's something that I want to put the energy into, and so it has really come down to, especially with therapy and getting my own shit together, dissecting that stuff for myself, like what role did I play? What role could I have played? What am I going to take from this as I move forward and what am I going to leave behind? And I don't think that somebody else can give me that, but that's what closure feels like to me.
Sheree: I like that.
Erica: For me, it's more of a reconciliation, it's not even a ... In the past, I have been in relationships where I was like, "Okay, I'm going to seek closure." It was more just I just wanted to see him and fuck him another time or something. It's bullshit, because real closure is just me reconciling that this ain't work, it ain't your fault, or it was your fault, just doing, like Kenrya said, just a personal autopsy of this is what happened, come to grips with it, what do I do differently, if anything, and move forward?
Sheree: You close it. Like, "I'm looking for closure," no, you close it.
Kenrya: Yeah. We try not to spoil books because we want folks to read them, so without giving too much away, I don't think she was going to get that at all.
Sheree: Yeah, I don't think so either.
Erica: Okay, I want to talk about the end of the book, but we'll talk once we've stopped recording.
Sheree: Number one question be like, "Where the fuck is Michelle?" That'd be the question.
Erica: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, so I don't want to-
Kenrya: Y’all read the book. Okay. So, another thing that happens in this book is that there's a character who really goes out of their way to save Kiana. But Kiana don't wanna be saved.
Sheree: Don't save them, they don't want to be saved.
Erica: Don't save her, she don't want to be saved. Don't save her.
Kenrya: Exactly. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were trying to save hoes that didn't wanna be saved?
Erica: I want to be saved. Should I save her? I want to be saved. I'm sorry, you all done took me back to-
Sheree: Don't apologize.
Erica: Dancing at the skating rink.
Sheree: Don't apologize.
Kenrya: This is what happens when you put three 39-year-old bitches from the Midwest together.
Sheree: Exactly. That's what you're going to get. That is what you're going to get. I don't think so, because I was never into project relationships either. If I can see from afar that you fucked up, I'm not signing up for that, you know what I'm saying? I'm not. I was thinking, let's say I had met Kiana. Hanging out with her a couple one, two times, you can see she got some shit going on, and if it was a date and you're not involved and there's no ... I mean you could slide her an AA card or something like that, but I wouldn't find myself getting involved with somebody that needed saving.
Sheree: I'm pretty sure that has to do with my own trauma and things like that, like I'm trying to get shit right myself, I don't really feel like I'm in the position to be trying to ... I'm just holding onto the life raft myself, I don't know that I could be throwing life vests out. If I got a life vest, I need to wear that shit because I be drowning sometimes, you know what I mean? No, I'm not a save-a-hoe, that ain't really been my thing.
Erica: Yeah. Well, good. Okay, so, question. You set “Let the Lover Be in New Orleans,” which, in my mind, is my favorite city, I've never stepped foot there once, but I love food, and so New Orleans is where I belong, and reading your book just made me fall in love with it even more. So, my question to you is: what's your favorite city?
Sheree: That's tricky because I kept feeling ... When I left Milwaukee in 2002, I have not been back to live; I've been to visit, but I hadn't been back to live. And what's crazy is I had this idea that I was going to go to different cities and when I got to one that felt like, "This is the shit, I love this fucking city, I don't want to leave," that I would move to that city that made me feel like that. But what's happened is I go to a new city and I'm like, "This place is cool, I like it, I could live here," and that's always my thing is "I could live here," but I haven't been to a place yet where I've been like, "I want to live here. This place is off the chain." So, it's like, "I could." I didn't envision myself landing in Tampa, really, but I've been here a decade now. You meet a wife and buy a house, you're planting some damn roots at this point.
Erica: You're like, "Oh, this is where we are."
Sheree: But the cost of living is low, it's an international airport, you can do it. I think, though, it would have to be a tie between Chicago and New Orleans. I really, really love New Orleans, I really do, and every time I go there, I love it again for a different reason. I was nervous about setting the book there though because I didn't want it to be ... like, I don't live there, so I didn't want to make ...
Sheree: Even Genevieve, the character who is from there, she had been gone and been back, because I wanted to try to be as authentic as possible, and when I talk to people from New Orleans, they be like, "First of all, ain't nobody in the Quarter like that. That's for tourists," and so I was like, "Okay. Well, what if my character is a tourist? What if my character is there for the reasons you go to New Orleans, which is to be in the Quarter and to eat and to party and all those things?" I really love New Orleans, but I really love Chicago. Chicago is another great city, too, if you love food.
Kenrya: It is.
Sheree: If you love food, that's ...
Kenrya: It's just that fucking hawk.
Sheree: Yeah, which I clearly remember my last winter in Chicago, that's where I went to graduate school, and I was on the bus stop, and the water main had burst along South Shore, that's the street that I lived on, and the bus was going to be delayed. I felt, in my memory, I burst into tears, but I don't know that I did, but when I think back on it, I burst into tears. It was just so cold, and it felt like I was being punished, and it wasn't fair. It was 2007, that was my last Chicago winter, and I'm like, "I just can't do it. This feels like a personal attack at this point."
Erica: Like, "What did I do to you?"
Sheree: Yeah. But if you go in the summer, Chicago in the summer and the spring, stop, just stop.
Erica: Yeah, Chicago's summer and springs make you feel so good that they're like, "I'm about to beat your ass," and you forget about it. It's kind of like when women go through childbirth and they say it's so painful, but once you have the baby, you forget. That's what Chicago's winters are.
Kenrya: That's awful.
Erica: I mean, look, I love a good analogy.
Sheree: It is like that. It's real. You'll fall in love, and then I guess that love has to sustain you through the winter because then it's not nice at all.
Erica: Ain't enough love for me.
Sheree: I don't want to do it. I don't want to shovel no snow, nothing.
Erica: One of our girlfriends, her birthday is in February and she wanted us to come to Chicago-
Sheree: In February?
Erica: And our dumbasses went. Our stupid asses went. And we was young thots, so we had little tiny dresses on, thinking we cute-
Kenrya: Fuck, I forgot about that.
Erica: It was the fucking worst. I tell her all the time, like, "Look, bitch, you know I love you because I did this shit."
Sheree: In Milwaukee and in Chicago, especially when I was in undergrad, me and my best friend, Adela, she's Jamaican, and so she would always have Wray & Nephew, and so we would do two shots of Wray & Nephew before we went out. We called it our overproof coat because it just warms you from the inside out, and then you can wear your thot outfit and it's all good.
Kenrya: That was actually my strategy when I lived in New York, we went out in the winter and as soon as I would hit the club, I would get some Southern Comfort at the time.
Kenrya: And it just warms you up.
Erica: Wait, didn't Kiana drink Southern Comfort?
Sheree: She sure did.
Kenrya: Shit works.
Erica: Shit warms you.
Kenrya: It does.
Kenrya: I hate that we're at the end of this, this has been lovely.
Sheree: Yeah, it's been fun. Really great time.
Kenrya: Thanks for coming on.
Sheree: You all feel like cousins, man.
Erica: We are, because we Black from the Midwest. My family just stopped in St. Louis and kept on going to Milwaukee.
Kenrya: When will the people be able to read “Bars”?
Sheree: “Bars” is in a literary journal called “Fourth Genre.”
Sheree: So, you can order that. I think they have a copy of it online as well. But it's in Fourth Genre magazine.
Kenrya: Dope. Okay, so we'll put a link to that. Do you have anything else coming up that you want folks to know about?
Sheree: Yeah. When I was in Chicago, I was part of a storytelling company there, called 2nd Story, and they have a storytelling event coming up on September 12th, and I'm one of the featured storytellers, so that's at 2nd Story, Chicago. But because of COVID, we get to be virtual, so I get a chance to read with my Chicago peeps from down here in Florida. So, that's September 12th. I also got to plug Kitchen Table, which is the Literary Arts Center I run here in Tampa. We have some virtual events coming up. We read “How to Love a Jamaican” and we're talking about that this Saturday, and you can get all that information at Kitchen-Table.org.
Kenrya: Okay, I meant to ask you about Kitchen Table. Can you just tell us about it a bit?
Sheree: Yeah. I started it in 2014. Like I mentioned, you leave school or you leave a literary city like Chicago, and then you find yourself maybe in this pocket that you got to kind of be like, "Well, where are all the writers at?" And then I found the writers, but then I was like, "Well, damn, where are all the Black writers at?" And so creating Kitchen Table was a chance to call them out, just under this belief that what I was searching for was searching for me and that happened to be the case. And so named it Kitchen Table to be homage to Kitchen Table Press, which was founded in 1980 and publishing Black women and women of color for the first time, and so we carry that tradition at Kitchen Table, which we do creative writing classes and workshops all geared toward supporting and showcasing Black women and women of color writers.
Sheree: Because of coronavirus, we've been putting a lot more of our workshops and things online. We were just able to offer free online creative writing classes to 40 Black women writers, about a month ago, and so that was a beautiful experience. Just trying to find ways to ... my writing is me at the desk or with my journal or at the keyboard; Kitchen Table is me out in the world with my people, with my family, with my community. I receive so much from them and I just try to pour that back out. That's what we're doing down here.
Kenrya: So fucking dope. Thank you for that. And that's Kitchen-Table.org, and your website is ShereeLGreer.com, which is S-H-E-R-E-E-L-G-R-E-E-R.com. Where are you on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook? How can folks get you?
Sheree: @ShereeLGreer on all the socials.
Kenrya: Yes, consistency.
Sheree: Keep it simple.
Kenrya: Dope. Well, thanks again for coming on.
Sheree: Thank you all so much.
Kenrya: You've been awesome.
Sheree: It's been really wonderful. Thank you all so much.
Kenrya: Yay. And that's it for this week's episode of The Turn On. Thank you all for joining us and we'll be back next week.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Now you can support The Turn On and get off. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app and then drop us a five-star review and you'll be entered to win one of the things that's turning us on. To enter, just post your review and email a screenshot of it to TheTurnonPodcast@gmail.com. Our Patreon page is also live. Become a supporter today and you'll access lots of goodies including The Turn On Book Club and two-for-one raffle entries. Don't forget to send us your book recommendations and sex and related questions and follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, merch, transcripts, guest info and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. Thanks for listening and we'll see you soon. Bye.
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.