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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to writer Taiia Smart Young about unusual (and fantastic!) names, scheduling sex, realizing that you don't actually want what you thought you wanted, and staying in touch with your body body during a pandemic.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today we're talking to Taiia Smart Young, pronouns she and her. Taiia is a writer, educator, author, and digital content creator. She teaches aspiring authors how to package their genius to write and self-publish short but powerful nonfiction books that create influence, impact, and income. Yes, income.
Taiia: Sounds good. We always like income.
Kenrya: Yes. That's right. Because ain't nobody trying to work for free. She's been a longtime partner-
Erica: Especially Black women, sorry.
Kenrya: For 20 plus years.
Taiia: They've already got enough of our free time, okay?
Kenrya: Listen. All right, so she's been a longtime partner for 20 plus years to the guy who turned down her invitation to the prom.
Kenrya: How dare he?
Erica: How dare he? And you still welcomed him into your life, and your body.
Taiia: All up in here.
Erica: Can I get just a quick top line story... Oh, first, you guys, thank you for coming on the show.
Taiia: Thank you for having me. This is exciting.
Erica: How did the guy that turned you down for prom, turn into 20 years Carpenter bae?
Taiia: My baby father, he-
Erica: Your baby father.
Taiia: My baby father. What happened was is we went to high school together, and we were friends in high school. And we both were crushing on each other from afar type thing.
Taiia: And when it came time for prom, nobody asked me to the prom. I was most popular female in school, and what else was I? Miss Journalism, and-
Kenrya: Oh, they were scared?
Taiia: No, I don't think they... Well, you know what? My mother said they were scared, so I might have to agree with you. But I'm like, "You know, I'm your girl. I'm your homie. I'm your friend." And nobody asked me to the prom.
Erica: "I'm fine. You going to pass all of this?"
Taiia: Right, exactly. "You going to pass all of this?" And it was skinnier back then, but... "You going to pass all of this?"
Taiia: I said, "You know what? I'm going to ask who I want to go to the prom with me." And I asked him, got up the nerve. Can you imagine I got up the nerve?
Taiia: And he was like, "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm going with X." And I was like, "Wait, you all broke up though. Why are you going..." But me "But you all broke up. Why are you going to the prom with her?" And she was a junior.
Taiia: But the thing that I came to learn is that he's very loyal, he's very faithful, of good stock, right? I was like, "All right." Then fast forward, of course ego is bruised. Fast forward and he bumps into my brother, because my brother had gone to high school with us too, and he bumps into my brother years later. My brother's like, "Yeah, you need to take her out. She's home from school on a break. She don't got a date."
Kenrya: Talking too much.
Taiia: Right. He's running all of my business.
Erica: Thanks, brother.
Taiia: When he gives him the number, I tried to play hard to get. I'm just like, "I'm busy, what you doing? I got dates."
Taiia: And we went out on one date, and fast forward 20 plus years later and we got a kid and everything. That's the long short story of how the guy who turned me down for the prom. I got the wedding out of him though, you know what I'm saying?
Kenrya: Yeah. You did.
Erica: You got the big prom, with only people that you want there, there, so...
Kenrya: And you get to pick the colors.
Taiia: Exactly. That's the best part.
Erica: All right. Well, okay. You was like, "Fuck their prom, I'm going to put on my own, with my own theme, and everything."
Taiia: Exactly. And I didn't want to get married, so that was the other thing.
Kenrya: Oh, yeah.
Taiia: Well, let me go back and fix what I'm saying, because that sounded crazy.
Erica: No, it didn't. No, it didn't
Taiia: No, it didn't?
Erica: No, uh-uh (negative).
Taiia: Okay. Because I saw my parents who were, they loved each other but they were like... I was like, "Oh, marriage makes you crazy, don't want that. Nope, nope, don't want none of that." So I happen to fall for the guy who was like, "Nah, I want to get married, I want to have a family."
Kenrya: Hearts, flowers, marriage.
Taiia: I was like, "I was against this marriage thing. And you want kids? I didn't want none of them neither."
Kenrya: And now you got two extra hearts.
Taiia: I got two extra hearts. I got the big heart, and a little heart.
Erica: Oh, that's so nice. Okay, so even before prom and all of that... We know what you do now, which is just amazing, you are like-
Taiia: Try to be dope, yes, thank you.
Erica: Helping people actualize their dreams. But what did little Taiia think she was doing?
Erica: Taiia. Shit, I knew that. We going to go back, we going to go back. Okay.
Taiia: It's okay. Everybody does that.
Erica: What did little Taiia... I got it?
Taiia: You got it. You said it, and then you questioned yourself.
Erica: Yeah, now you got me like, "Good Midwestern tongue." Okay, sorry. All right. What did little Taiia want to be when she grew up?
Taiia: A writer.
Erica: I love it.
Taiia: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I declared I was going to be a writer in the fifth grade.
Taiia: I announced it to everyone who would listen, and my mother took me seriously and she was like, "Okay, writers need to have books, they need to go to the library and they need to learn how to type." I always tell this story, that I thought one summer I was going to the Y, my mom put me in typing school. Who does that?
Erica: Mavis Beacon-
Kenrya: Your mama!
Erica: It was Mavis Beacon yes, and she was-
Taiia: Listen, I wish I learned how to type with some Mavis Beacon, I learned how to type with a... It wasn't even an electric-
Erica: Click, click, click.
Taiia: I learnt on the manual typewriter and then we got to electric. And I was the only kid in the adult class, because my mother was like, "Well there's nothing in the rules that's saying she can't be here, so she's going to be here, okay. I pay the fee, thank you. Bye."
Taiia: I learned how to type at a really early age, and I knew in the fifth grade. I was like, "I'm gonna be a writer." I didn't know any writers, didn't know how I was going... And my big thing was, "I'm going to write for Essence Magazine. Okay?"
Kenrya: Oh, you do. Look at that-
Taiia: Exactly [crosstalk 00:06:33]-
Erica: Look at God.
Taiia: Look at God. God was busy blessing me, because that was my... I had an internship at Essence and I was so thirsty, I let everybody know I wanted to work there. They must have been like-
Kenrya: That's what you have to do, though.
Erica: Speak it.
Taiia: But they must have been like, "Let me get this little girl out of here, because you know your internship is over." And they're being all nice, and like, "What are you going to do?" And I was like, "I want to be back here, what do you mean what do I want to do? I want a job."
Taiia: And so I think that was my junior year. And my senior year, thank God, for sorority sisters, for the Deltas, for my Sorors, you know?
Erica: The Sorors.
Taiia: The Sorors. Because one of... She was the assistant editor, and she was getting promoted. And she was like, "Listen, do you want..."
Taiia: And I had taken a job just to get money. I had taken a job with the federal government, and she called me she was like, "Listen, I'm getting promoted. I'm going to tell you what you need to do to get this thing, but you're going to have to take it home." And I was like "What? Get me the ball. I'm about to do a layup." What, I'm out of here. And that's how I ended up at Essence.
Erica: That is so dope, I love it.
Kenrya: I'll ask you who that was after we finish. Because you know our little world is small.
Taiia: Exactly. It's very small.
Kenrya: Wait, okay. I realize, I've known you for a minute.
Taiia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: I guess I've never wondered, but now I kind of do. Where'd your name come from? As one person with an interesting name to another person with an interesting name.
Taiia: My name is my grandmother's name, my grandmother was Sojourner Taiia, and I am Taiia Sojourner, so we out here.
Taiia: We out here with the truth. As my friends call me, "Sojourner with the truth."
Kenrya: That is the best.
Taiia: Right? I love being named after my grandmother, and growing up though that's kind of like... Growing up in the ’70s with a name like Taiia, I didn't really grow to appreciate it until later.
Taiia: Because people always mispronounced my name, as I know you have experienced. And so I just always wanted something that was easier and it was like, as I got so appreciate my name and just... I'm being named after my grandmother, I'm like," No, I don't want easy. I don't want easy at all."
Kenrya: No, you're not easy.
Kenrya: And it just makes you so much more memorable.
Taiia: Absolutely. And I went to a small HBCU, any kind of dirt that I did... Taiia, there's only one.
Taiia: Exactly, "She did it, it was her." Shout out to JCSU, Johnson C. Smith University.
Kenrya: Oh yay. We love a good HBCU connection.
Erica: We love a good HBCU, yep.
Taiia: Yes, indeed.
Erica: Okay, what inspires you to do this work?
Taiia: You mean help people self-publish their books?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Taiia: Okay, so what's the true story? No, I just feel like self-publishing gets such a bad rap, right? Because we've all seen the book that clearly wasn't... The cover wasn't designed well, you look inside-
Kenrya: There's errors on every other page?
Erica: We swim through a lot of shit to find some sugar.
Erica: Well not a lot, but we swim through a significant amount of shit.
Taiia: Enough, enough.
Taiia: Right, so you see the font is not right, and what happens is that people have a passion for storytelling. And so my thing was, I had taken a class on how to market a self-published book, because I had a deal that fell through.
Taiia: And I was like, "You know what? I'm mad, I'm tight, but I'm still going to write something." And I was like, "Why don't I just take my years of experience being in magazine journalism, I can be my own ME, I know how to do that. I can hire an editor, I can hire somebody to take my picture and make me look pretty and put me on the cover." So I took all those skills and self-published a book for teen girls. And so-
Kenrya: Tell us what the book is called.
Taiia: It's called “Famous: How To Be The Star Of Your Show A Teen Girl's Guide to Embracing Her Fabulous Self.”
Taiia: It's a little part memoir, because it's got some of my teen stories in there. Little part workbook, because it has some places for you to journal and fill out questions about yourself, and that kind of thing. And it comes from the place of girls are already fabulous, you just need to be reminded of it.
Taiia: Right? Girl power, right?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Taiia: And what for people, they would ask me things like, "Well, how did you do that?" And you know how it is when you've been in a business, you're like, "Oh, but I just did the thing." And it's like, no, people want to understand that. And so what I decided I wanted to do, was because the class that I took was more focused on how to market your book and make those dollars.
Taiia: I was like, "Let me help people who want to actually get published and make it look good." As you said, you swim through a lot of things, so make it look good.
Taiia: And that's always a challenge, and so that's the thing. I wanted to help people make their product look really good. Look like, "Wow, this is self published? This is of quality."
Kenrya: That's what's up, and it's really important to us that we support indie authors on this podcast.
Kenrya: It's dope to hear about how you are doing that too.
Kenrya: Yeah. I imagined a lot of your work was already virtual before Corona came?
Kenrya: But I'm interested in knowing if it has impacted things at all, in terms of the way that you work with new writers.
Taiia: I don't think so because it was already... Here's the thing that I understand about new writers is that they need a lot of coaching, they need a lot of handholding and reassurance, and that's not something that everybody wants to do.
Taiia: And I didn't necessarily feel like it's... You can't just tell somebody, "Well go ahead and write your chapter summaries, and then come back to me in six months with your 10 chapters, and your first draft written." Because they've never done it before, so I do a lot of coaching and we get on a Zoom call, depending on which package that they pick. Monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, we get on this Zoom call.
Taiia: And a lot of times I feel like I'm a therapist, because you're helping people work through whatever blocks they have, whatever fears they have. If it's a story that's super personal, there's one woman I'm working with, she's writing a memoir and she grew up in shelters as a young mom and now she runs five shelters.
Taiia: She's a VP, and so when we're talking, she didn't even realize, she was like, "Oh yeah, I have this story." She wanted to write about something else, and I was like, "Nah, this is the story right here."
Taiia: It's those kinds of things. It's like, you got to coach people, you got to get on the phone with them, you got to walk them through what's working in their story and what isn't. And that part I really do enjoy, but it is also, that part of it can be very exhausting too because it's like, "How many calls I got today? I got to be on. I got to be sharp."
Kenrya: Yeah. And are you in an emotional place to want to do that, right?
Taiia: Yeah. Because someone can be talking about this story about being homeless, it could be a sales story. The stories run the gamut, and I have to be fully present and give people what they need. There is one woman I'm working on with, she's writing a book about her experiences having threesomes, and so it was like, "Is it hot in here, or is it..."
Erica: I like it.
Taiia: "Is there a puddle?" Because I was so aroused. I was like, "We're going to have to put this down and come back to it in a minute."
Erica: "We still have to do a memoir." Okay. Yeah, that just reminded me, we did say we were going to do a memoir.
Taiia: You guys are doing a memoir, a joint memoir?
Erica: No, for the show.
Kenrya: On the show.
Taiia: Oh, okay. On the show.
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah.
Taiia: Okay, got you.
Kenrya: It's been difficult to find memoirs that meet the brief right, because they need to have really good sex scenes, the need to move conversations forward, but we would love to do something that really explores someone's life.
Taiia: See, so you understand where I'm is.
Erica: Where you is. With all that said about you helping new writers, developing writers birth their projects. What do you wish all Black aspiring writers knew before they hit you up?
Taiia: That's a great question. What do I wish they knew? That they're not alone. I think that's the big thing when we come to writing our stories. Whether it's a story about sexual awakening, or a memoir about coming from this place of, "I grew up in shelters and being a young mom." Because she entered a shelter when she was 23, and already had two children.
Taiia: It's that, one, you're not alone. And that, two, your story can actually help someone.
Taiia: I love the way Robin Roberts used to say that, well she still says it, that her mom says, "Make your mess your message." And so I do feel like a lot of times that's what it is that I'm really trying to work with people. Yes, I want them to package their genius and be able to sell that, but if they have this message, then okay we got it. You're not going get the deal with Random House, and you're not gonna get the deal with Penguin, but there is going to be someone who is maybe in your church, in your youth group, in your whatever organization you belong to. They're going to be affected by your story. And that's still important and that's still valid.
Erica: Yeah, I like that.
Kenrya: Great. Last week we read an excerpt from a short story called “Parking.”
Kenrya: Yes. And it featured a couple that was branching out from their normal shit, trying to shake it up. Does this need to shake things up ring true to you as somebody who has been partnered for more than 20 years?
Taiia: You always got to shake it up. You got to shake, you better shake it, you better smack it up, flip it, rub it down. In the words of our minister Bell Biv DeVoe. Yes ma'am. We've been together since our 20s, and we're seasoned, we're in our 40s. The things that you even liked in your 20s, it could be that's not the same, or it doesn't do the same thing for you anymore, right? And there is more of me to love now, so that's another thing.
Erica: You look really good.
Taiia: Oh, thank you.
Erica: You like, "Oh I hope this nigga ain't going to do this again, if this don't work no more."
Taiia: Actually, what it is, he's told me that he feels like my sex drive has increased. And I was like, "Yes, I'm in my prime right now."
Taiia: I want it all the time.
Erica: I love it.
Taiia: I'm in my prime, he's like, "What is wrong with you? I'm not a machine." I was like, "Be a machine, damn it."
Erica: Get your vitamins, and do what you got to do.
Taiia: Exactly, and you know it's kind of flipped, because it was like in the 20s it was horndog all the time, and now you're not used to me being this way?
Erica: You like, "My knee ain't working. Figure that shit out, we got things to do tonight. Fuck your knee."
Taiia: Well me I'm like, "Oh, but you had time to go cycling though." Because he's a big cyclist. He does the Five Boro bike tours, and all these different kind of tours where it's like 40 miles and I was like, "You could do the bike tour, and I can't get none? Oh, hell no. Hope you drank your water, because I am going to get mine."
Erica: I love it-
Erica: Okay, so in this story Stacy's partner Vivian parks the car a little away from the house so that they can have sex like they used to when they were dating in the early days. What's the most surprising thing that your partner has done and keep you turned on?
Taiia: The thing about parking, I was like, "Oh yeah this is... We park still."
Taiia: Well not in the pandemic, but pre-pandemic. Depending on what Brooklyn street you might have rode down at a certain time, you might have caught my car with some fogged up windows. Yes.
Kenrya: I love it.
Taiia: Okay, here's the thing. When you're with someone for that long amount of time, do you know how everyday shit is boring? You got homework when the kid is little, you got laundry, you got dinner, you got work.
Taiia: And so it's so easy for you to fall into a sexual rut, and that's not saying that we haven't, but we've been really conscious of like, "Okay we need to do things just to spice it up." So yes, we've been in a car or two.
Erica: All right.
Taiia: I won't say how many. And not so long ago there was a scene in a location that we had not been in before and I was like, "I feel like there's cameras in here, let's stop."
Erica: "Fuck it."
Taiia: I was like, "Is my ass going to be on the news? Let's stop.”
Kenrya: Can they see your face though?
Taiia: I was concerned, I wasn't quite sure where the camera was, because if they can only see my back, then I wouldn't be worrying, but if they could see my face and it's like, "Ah, I'm on the news, I'm on the cover the Daily News, I'm on Channel 7." No.
Erica: I have a tramp stamp, so anything on the back, he'd be like, "That's Erica's nasty ass."
Kenrya: Have you all had to adjust, because your son came home during the pandemic?
Taiia: Yes. He done slowed everything down. No, he didn't. I mean I tell that lie.
Taiia: My son had said to me, when he came home he was like, "Listen, I just want you guys to know that the walls are not as thick as you think they are." And I was like, "Word?"
Taiia: Not even embarrassed. It's like, "Dude you done came, I knew you had a good time in Virginia. You coming over here to ruin my good time?"
Erica: You're like, "Oh man, that's messed up. That's real messed up."
Kenrya: What you gonna do?
Taiia: I was like, "Word." He was like, "I had to put my headphones on." I was like, "That's what they're for, it turns it up high."
Erica: "I bought those expensive ass headphones for a reason."
Taiia: Exactly. Exactly. That's definitely been difficult, because I was so happy now to have walked around the house naked, and now I have to remember to grab a robe, and those kinds of things.
Taiia: Every once in a while, I will still try it. I'll try to listen and see if he's in his room, and the bathroom is right by his room. If I run really fast, butt naked, through the house, I could get to the bathroom before he opens the door.
Kenrya: I mean, it's worth a shot.
Taiia: I do it, I have not gotten caught yet. I have not gotten caught yet.
Kenrya: And that's your house, ultimately.
Taiia: Exactly, it is.
Erica: It's going to be embarrassing for him, not for you.
Taiia: That's what I'm trying to say, that's what I try to say, but he'll get me because he'll say something like, "Why they hang so low though?" Then I be like "You busy looking at them, exactly. You looking at them young titties at school and stuff?" I'm like... Yeah.
Taiia: Yes. Very.
Kenrya: Lord. What have you found works to keep things, like I heard that y'all have sex in different places. What else works? I'm trying to take notes, because I'm still early in my relationship.
Taiia: What else works? I think really spontaneity, because I think a lot of people... I know some couples like to plan sex, and I'm like...
Kenrya: It doesn't work for you?
Taiia: No, it doesn't. I think if you always feel like, "Wednesday's the night." Like did you guys see “Little Fires Everywhere”?
Kenrya: She was like, "It's not Wednesday anymore." I was like "Oh my God."
Erica: You do some shit like that in front of me, and I'm going to masturbate on your leg.
Taiia: Right? To me, that kills the spontaneity, that kills the vibe. What if I'm looking good on Tuesday, and I'm not looking good on Wednesday?
Kenrya: Right. You feelin’ yourself.
Taiia: Right. And my thing is, on my husband I'm always like, "[Tag 00:26:11], you know when I'm all looking cute, you ain't trying to attack me, and you wait to this head wrap is on, I done got the cream on the face."
Kenrya: [crosstalk 00:26:19] they can always say, "I love you no matter what you look like." And he ain't...
Taiia: I'd be like, "It's a lie, you're just horny."
Taiia: But then when I'm extra dressed up or we're going somewhere, I'm like "No, you're going to take advantage of this package today, and then you're going to wait time for my PJs on, and then try to get on my bones. Take me out the dress and take me out the Spanx."
Erica: Roll them down.
Taiia: Roll them down. You know I need to hold everything in place.
Kenrya: Do you, I don't know?
Erica: My shit be wibbly.
Taiia: Thank you, Erica. Thank you.
Erica: And that's okay.
Taiia: It is okay, but...
Erica: This guy told me he was like, because I've been gaining weight and I'm like, "I'm gaining so much weight." Ae was like, "That's fine." He was like, "I like the smack it, and watch it roll."
Taiia: No, they love a little reverb. They love a little...
Taiia: Get into it, if that's what you like, Okay.
Erica: If that's what you like, okay. Okay, whatever.
Erica: Okay so speaking of bodies, how do you make time to be in touch with yourself and your body? In the midst of being a partner and a parent, and a bad bitch entrepreneur.
Taiia: That's a good question. I feel like sometimes I fail miserably at that, and then sometimes like today and yesterday I'm high fiving myself, I'm like "You know you woke up early, you got your workout in, and you washed your hair."
Kenrya: That's a lot.
Taiia: Exactly. That was a lot.
Kenrya: That's hours right there.
Taiia: Now it's like, the hair alone. Okay, get into me deep conditioning under here, okay. It's just a lot of time, but I really just do try to just make time for it.
Taiia: It's like, if I noticed that I'm completely off, I need to get some time in just to be with me. To say my prayers, I don't even call it meditating because I'm just talking to God like, "Listen..."
Taiia: I'm always grateful, start with my gratitude prayers first, and then I'm like, "Listen, here's some things that I've been struggling with, and I need you to help me in Jesus name, amen." And I'm very specific.
Erica: Yeah, you have to be.
Kenrya: You got to be, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Taiia: Very specific. I don't leave anything to chance, but I've had to really work on that. And then I've realized though is that in my 30s, I realized, "Oh yeah I like myself."
Taiia: But then in my 40s, I'm like, "No, I really fuck with you, you're my girl." You just start getting into yourself. And so that's when I was like, "You know what I'm gonna put a little self-love journal together." Because I've started seeing that, you know how you look at some of your girls and you're like, "You're so bad, you don't even realize you need to big yourself up."
Taiia: And so that was one of the great things about the quarantine, was that I had plans on having live journaling workshops at venues, and I just had to take that thing to Zoom and we had a good time. I've done it four times, called “Love You Mean It, LIVE.”
Kenrya: Your last one, you used “Love Jones” as a prompt right?
Taiia: Okay, so that's a whole other thing. That's a whole other thing.
Taiia: That is the Write and Sip, so the Write and Sip came from me going to like 20,000 Paint and Sips and coming back with all these ugly canvases because I can't paint, but I did more drinking than I did painting, right? I was like, "What can I do, what can I do?" And I was like, "Oh, I am going to do a Write and Sip."
Taiia: And so I had the idea to, this was the third one... This was the first time I have had a theme, so I did it before the pandemic. And I was like, "Oh, going to do ‘Love Jones,’ and everyone was into it." That was like my first sold out one.
Taiia: It's really, they're intimate, they're like 40 people, a few men come through, mostly women. And so people have been saying, "Are you gonna do it online?" And I kind of put that in the back of my mind like, "Yeah, yeah, I'll do it online at some point." And then the pandemic happened and then it was like, "Well, we're gonna do it online today."
Erica: "This is my website. So sign up..."
Taiia: Exactly. "Well, what we're going to do is, we're going to give you the link, and you can just sign up promptly." But that was so much fun too, because it was all about love and relationships, and all the prompts were based around things that Nina and Darius went through.
Taiia: And it was like okay, "how does this apply to your life and what what has gone on with you?" Because you know that scene where they're at the steps, Nina and Darius, and they give that kiss goodnight, you know at the end of the night ain't over.
Taiia: Exactly. And so we had a great conversation and wrote about one-night stands, and listen we had a talk about... Well they could not give me any stories about a kiss, these women were so triggered. They were like, "No, if I talk about that kiss that I got." They were like, "I will get pregnant right now."
Erica: Like, "I'm not supposed to be calling people to come over after this."
Taiia: They were like, "My husband don't know about that kiss, okay?" I was like, "Oh, okay."
Taiia: We had such a good time. Those things have been fun in terms of being quarantined. I'm able to do some other fun things that I didn't know if they would translate online, but they did.
Erica: I love it.
Taiia: Thankfully, thankfully.
Kenrya: And it's like opened your group up to more than just people in New York, you have people all across... You're in New York, I'm assuming you're in New York?
Taiia: Absolutely. I am, Brooklyn, yep.
Kenrya: Yes, you said Brooklyn. Yeah, so it opens it up to anybody. I like that.
Taiia: Yeah. And that was the best part of it, because the Write and Sip itself was done in Brooklyn. It was done three times in Brooklyn, and I was like, "Oh yeah, the fourth one is going to be in June." We didn't know we were going to be in the situation we're in right now. I don't know when the next one will be. As my son says, "When they open up outside, outside."
Erica: When the outside open up.
Taiia: Right. So we'll see, but for now Zoom has been good to me.
Kenrya: That's awesome. And that leads me to my next question. What does success look like to you?
Taiia: It's interesting, because I don't know if you ladies were like me but at one point I used... In my mid 20s I was really caught up in titles. And then I realized, "Oh you don't want to be the editor in chief of someone's.
Taiia: I'm like, "Wait, wait, wait." I forgot...
Kenrya: "Yeah, I was editor-in-chief, I forgot." Listen, because it stopped being my dream. It stopped being my dream, and then they had it did happen. I was not anymore. I have to live that life on my own...
Taiia: But it's like when that thing is your dream and you get caught up in your title, and then even if you get as close to your dream, or in your case you got into your dream job.
Taiia: And then you see all the, it's like Richard Pryor in “The Wiz.” In “The Wiz,” right? When the curtain open up, and you see Richard Pryor back there, you're like, "I don't know how this thing is made." But you have no choice when you are the EIC, you have see to see how everything is made. You have to see behind that curtain.
Erica: We apologize, Kenrya's feeling some things right now.
Taiia: I know, she's having a personal moment, she's having a flashback. She's being triggered, a lot of trauma going on over there.
Taiia: I decided that success for me at this point in my 40s looks like me being connected to my passion. I want to serve in terms of making sure I help people write the stories they want to write. Whether it's when I do Rock Your College Essay with teens, and I make it fun. Because writing is not fun in school. You got to write these papers, you have to analyze these things, and they don't enjoy that. I try to make the college writing process fun, in terms of that personal statement.
Taiia: With the live journaling, I want to make it fun and approachable and I just want to bring the joy back to writing and creating and sharing your stories, and that for me looks like success, along with being able to pay these bills and have this indoor plumbing situation happen.
Taiia: Pay T-Mobile, go on a trip or two. That's really important to me, I think the growth is what happened. It's like yeah, you get caught up in titles and I need to make this amount of money, and but if it didn't make me happy, right. And that's the thing.
Erica: It's so wild, because I totally think about... I went through a period where I was really driven by my... I felt like I was defined by my success at work. And then I transitioned to a job where, it was just like, "Bitch you getting a check every two weeks..."
Taiia: You're here for health insurance.
Erica: Bitch... You're like, "I need to get my teeth done."
Erica: It was a crisis in my life where I'm like, "What am I doing, who am I?" And now that I don't give a fuck about that, like it's really... Because I am definitely in a 9-5, but now that I'm like, "That's that. But let me pursue what I want to do with my passions."
Erica: I feel like life has opened up, that I'm living a whole different-
Kenrya: It's liberating.
Taiia: It is.
Taiia: But that's you learning about yourself, that's me learning about myself, that's Miss former editor in chief learning about herself.
Erica: We can cackle for days. We love you though.
Taiia: You'd think that that thing, that title, is gonna make you happy, and then it's like, "I'll be happy when? I'll be happy if." And it's like, no it doesn't always line up that way.
Kenrya: Not at all.
Erica: Learning to be comfortable with that, because you spend so long thinking, "This is what it's supposed to be."
Kenrya: And figuring out what does bring you joy though. I think the other side of that is you may be like, "Okay. This ain't it."
Erica: You bring me...
Kenrya: Here we go.
Erica: Joy, when I'm down.
Kenrya: Yes girl.
Erica: I always sing, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have drank. I shouldn't have been drinking.
Taiia: No. You are totally fine. I was going to say, a change is not difficult because I'm a Pisces and we already got one fish swimming up and one fish swimming down. Listen, when I get my fish to swim, we just got to go. We just got to do something else. And the thing is that the job that probably that I had, that I had no idea I was going to fall in love with, was when I worked for Girls Incorporated. I worked for a nonprofit for almost five years in the communications department. And did not think I was going to love that job, I thought I was going to be there for a year, ride it out.
Taiia: I had just come off of being unemployed, after 9/11 happened and I had just had my son. I think he was... He was really young, I think he might have been like eight months, nine months at that point, and-
Erica: There for the health insurance.
Taiia: I loved that job. Well I just thought, "Okay this is gonna be a good experience, I can use my skills, I'm transitioning." That's the way I was thinking, but I loved that job. I loved the mission of Girls Incorporated, I loved the department that I was in, I loved that I was able to grow. That's how I learned to do workshops, because everybody's out here like, "I'm a boss bitch." Okay. Where do you learn how to be a boss?
Taiia: Because that's my thing, I want to take each experience and they grow, and be able to be like, "Yeah I'm a boss, because I've done X, Y and Z." I learned how to give workshops at Girls Inc, from Girls Inc I learned how to ghostwrite from my time at Girls Inc, I learned how to speech write from Girls Inc.
Taiia: There was just so much that I learned, and I learned about leadership. I learned about... Watching this fabulous, phenomenal Black woman Joyce Roche, she had a corporate background and she came into nonprofit space, and she brought some of the benefits of having that corporate sensibility and getting us the money that we needed to run the organization.
Taiia: I didn't work for the satellite Girls Incs around the country that worked specifically with girls day to day, I worked in the national office. And so we were responsible for all the brand messaging and the communications. And it was such an awesome place to be for me to soak up so much, and then be like, "Yeah." If someone says, "Have you ever written a speech before?" "Yeah, I sure have." Right? I've done the thing.
Erica: That's great. Okay, so if you're anything like me, you have a big ass pile of books in your office, in your bedroom, wherever. That's staring at you, that's like, "I am going to be read." What's in your to be read pile?
Taiia: Oh man, okay so this is a mixed pile. This is like my to be read and some things that I've read. I have “Warrior Rising” by MaryAnne Howland, and this is by a sister who wanted to have her son surrounded by, I think it's five influential Black men or just Black men.
Taiia: He didn't have his dad in his life, so she wanted to make sure that these Black men were his community of go-to men that he could go to. I'm looking forward to reading that. What else do I have over here?
Taiia: I have “She Begat This,” which I'm rereading, by Joan Morgan, because I love me some [crosstalk 00:41:01].
Taiia: And then because I've been working with a lot of people interested in doing memoirs and more kind of like funny stuff, I was rereading Tiffany Haddish's “The Last Black Unicorn.” And then I also have “Notes of a Black Chef.” Is that the title? Yeah, yes. I'm looking forward to reading that because I've heard so much about it. And I'm just looking forward to diving into those things so it is [crosstalk 00:41:27]-
Erica: It's an eclectic mix, yeah.
Taiia: Oh yeah, I'm a Pisces. You know, the fish. I try to keep it fresh, Erica. I try to keep it interesting.
Erica: I like it, I like... I'm a Gemini so I need all the...
Taiia: Girl, you know, you know.
Erica: You know what?
Erica: Nobody need that.
Taiia: I was just going to say, I know about you. I know about your kind, I know about your kind.
Kenrya: I'm an Aries, don't none of this, this ain't it...
Erica: But you've surrounded yourself with Geminis in your life, so deal with it.
Kenrya: Lord have mercy, you people.
Erica: Okay, so I like to get a little random.
Erica: If you had to like, just strictly sex only in one place for the rest of your life. Would it either be in the car, or on top of the car?
Kenrya: Inspired by our book, "Parking."
Erica: Look at you, with the spicy voice.
Taiia: I'm going to take on top of the car.
Erica: Get it. I love it.
Taiia: Because you need room. The thing about having sex in a car is, you have to be strategically positioned. If you are in the backseat-
Erica: Especially if you're a woman of a size and age, them knees don't work and them thighs don't fit.
Taiia: Okay. See I'm not there, but you know I'm going to understand. I understand what you're saying.
Erica: Girl, I be like, "Look..."
Taiia: But my husband is like six feet tall and I am five feet, so that presents some...
Erica: You don't even look that small. Your angles are great.
Taiia: I'm giving you what? 5'8", 5'9", No, I'm here.
Erica: You're not a stallion?
Taiia: Not at all. If I step off the chair you won't see me.
Kenrya: Dude I did not know that you were shorter than me.
Taiia: Yeah, I'm shorter than everyone.
Kenrya: That's crazy.
Taiia: My son, when he was 11-
Kenrya: I'm 5'2" and three quarters.
Taiia: See you got me by this much, but that's still an impressive amount.
Erica: Well, I'm 5'7."
Kenrya: Are you?
Taiia: You thought I was giving you 5'8." Right?
Kenrya: No, she lies.
Erica: I'm 5'5."
Erica: Because the thing is, I used to say all the time to Kenrya, "I'm 5'7"." And she would take it, she'd be like "Okay, I don't know..."
Kenrya: I don't know, anybody that's taller than me...
Erica: Until this bitch started going to every doctor's appointment with me. And they measure me and weigh me in front of her. I was like, "You know what bitch? HIPPA Shut up. Don't tell nobody."
Taiia: Exactly, where is the Hippocratic Oath when you need it?
Taiia: Silence. Do not share my height or my weight, thank you very much. But on top of the car, because it gives me more room, more flexibility, more space.
Erica: I like it.
Taiia: I'm not getting any taller, but still you just need that space.
Kenrya: It ain't been easy, last time we did it in a car, my partner pulled a cramp in his stomach, because we ate a good meal at the casino.
Erica: That is, I'm sorry I almost snorted. That is the most like... We went on the boat gambling, and he hit it on the penny slot.
Taiia: I was thinking that...
Erica: And I came home and gave him coupons.
Kenrya: We went to the classy casino, and then it was like a babysitter situation and we just didn't want to wait, so...
Erica: Damn. Yeah.
Kenrya: Well, it was fun until he caught that cramp.
Taiia: Well listen, I can't lie. It wasn't a stomach cramp, but my husband because he rides he gets a lot of charlie horses. We've been there where we've been like... And he's like, "I feel it coming." And like.
Taiia: "No, the charlie horse, get off."
Kenrya: And you don't want to stop, but it's like, "Oh, I guess I should be sensitive to your situation," but also…
Erica: Be sensitive to my situation.
Taiia: Exactly. Half of me, I'm wondering like, "So are we done or..."
Erica: "Do you need some water, or..."
Taiia: No, it takes a minute for him to walk those charlie horses off. It takes a minute.
Erica: He can fuck them charlie horses, off [crosstalk 00:45:53]. I'm sorry, my bad.
Taiia: No, listen, those charlie horses are so distracting. He can't walk, so he can't do anything [crosstalk 00:46:04].
Taiia: Right. Erica has no sympathy.
Kenrya: No, none.
Erica: Mind you, I'm the single one. So I'm like, "When I get a man, it's gonna be like..." No bitch, it won't. Just shut up. Grass is greener, grass is greener.
Kenrya: I guess. I would love for you to tell the people where they can find you, when they finish listen to the show. Because they gonna want to look you up.
Taiia: Okay, they want to find me on these internet streets? They can definitely find me on IG, that is my favorite and preferred platform. So I'm @TaiiaSmartYoung, Do you need me to spell out my name out? Because you know...
Kenrya: Yes, please.
Taiia: So that's T-A-I-I-A, Smart, S-M-A-R-T, Y-O-U-N-G, @TaiiaSmartYoung, on IG.
Taiia: And then also my name for my website, TaiiaSmartYoung.com, You can find me on there as well. And I got some freebies on there for the writing folks, they may want to put their pinky toe into some things. We got some writing prompts on there, some freebies for you all. Yeah, check it out, under the freebie section.
Kenrya: Head on over there, grab those, and thank you for joining us.
Taiia: Thank you, this has been a most delightful happy hour, sex hour, whatever you want to call it.
Kenrya: I'm so glad you said yes. I need more of you in my life, this is fun.
Taiia: I didn't want to look too thirsty, because when you sent me the link, I had it like, "Okay, I'm got my free, that day."
Taiia: Because I think your email was like from here until August. I was like, "August?"
Erica: "No bitch."
Kenrya: I love it. I'm glad you did.
Erica: This is great.
Taiia: Me too. Thank you so much, I had a ball, ladies.
Kenrya: So did we. And now that's it for this week's episode of The Turn On. Thanks to everyone for listening, and we will see you next week.
Erica: This episode was produced by us, Erica and Kenrya, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme song is from Brazy. First, please leave a review in your favorite podcast listening app. For real, we want to hear from you all. Send your book recommendations and all the burning sex and related questions you want us to answer to TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com, and please subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app. Follow us on Twitter, @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram, @TheTurnOnPodcast, and finally is the books, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff at theturnonpodcast.com. 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.