DON’T TOUCH MY SH- SHTUFF!

Usually, it’s ‘don’t touch my shit,’

Adults are home.

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We are the last generation of Latchkey Kids

We spent our afternoons alone listening to music

Songs we couldn’t play loud with adults around

In 1993 I was eleven, he was fourteen

Too cool for me in public

Best of buddies at home

Stolen from Sam Goody

Slid into his baggy jeans that sagged in public

He’d pull them up once he got home.

Daddy had a TEAC stereo that we weren’t supposed to touch

Don’t touch my shit, he’d say.

But we did anyway

Vaun came home one day with something new

A black and yellow W on the cover

Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers

Protect Ya Neck, Bring da Ruckus, C.R.E.A.M

The first album that wasn’t made by Whitney Houston that I listened to without skipping a song

I loved that album for a million reasons, but my favorite

Was that he shared it with me

I didn’t always understand Da Mystery of Chessboxin’

But I made sure I could sing along with him

He’d quiz me, who are the members?

ODB, Method Man, Ghostface, Rza, Gza, U God, Masta Killa

When he’d leave the house he’d tuck his CD into a giant book

Hide it under the bed and tell me,

Don’t touch my shit.

Yeah, sure, Vaun. I won’t touch your shit

Don’t cuss. It’s not cute when girls do it.

Once he left, I touched his shit

I’d lie on the floor, listening

Reliving the memory of him dancing along

Sometimes I’d try to dance like him

And even though no one was watching

I still felt embarrassed.

Twenty-Five years later

I still listen

Alone, without him

I can still see him dancing along

Hands in the air

Boxers showing under his baggy Girbauds

Pulling them up because it’s not allowed at home

Explaining to me the significance of the numbers

Making me feel cool

Grown up, like I knew something important that no one else my age knew.

Most importantly, that he chose me.

We shared a secret that no one else understood

The only thing we understood together

So now, eighteen years after he left

An album drops every year

When I’m feeling nostalgic

I always am

Every last one is right at my fingertips

To remind me

Daily

Of those days in the living room

I’m lying on my stomach, reading the lyrics from the book in the CD case

He’s dancing in his Wu Wear shirt that he begged our parents for Christmas

Then too soon, always too soon

He leaves.

Reminding me

Not to touch his shit.

But we both knew I would.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m taking an unnatural amount of selfies. Some of them are even filtered, which I am slightly ashamed of. You won’t see me dropping a bunch of puppy dog ear pictures or that one filter that makes you look 25 again, the bags are gone from under my eyes and the smile lines that I laughed so hard for are gone. It even takes that tiny freckle/mole that’s next to my nose.

That’s what I hate about filters. It takes a lot of bad stuff to make you cute, but what about the little ‘flaws’ about myself that I think are supposed to be seen? Who determines what’s supposed to be bad?

At the beginning of my last pregnancy, I strongly believed I’d be getting a tummy tuck. I planned it, we came in an agreement that if I’d lost a certain amount of weight I could finally look acceptable.

Up until about four or five months ago, I planned to remove my belly. I had this image in my head that losing this physical flaw would change everything that was wrong in my life. If I got this new body, everything would change for the better.

One day that idea changed. One day I didn’t look at my body anymore as destroyed. This was my boys’ first home and last for one of them. Would I be destroying something sentimental to me, just to be acceptable to, who? Is it silly to become attached to my body and her secrets?

I’m genuinely asking. Is it silly to love something that others will see as a terrible flaw that should be removed? It’s my body, right? I can love it however I want, right?

I’m all for plastic surgery, all for people doing anything they want to their bodies, but seriously postpartum moms, what is your belly to you, a badge or a burden?

 

And not that it even matters, but guys, what do you think? Not that it even matters though.

I love creating something that I wouldn’t have alone. I love being able to see another person’s imagination because it makes me feel safe to be myself around them. If I’m safe to be myself, extraordinary things happen, when someone feels safe to be themselves with me, more extraordinary things happen.

WE WILL DO THE ABSOLUTE MOST TOGETHER.

Ask my baby brother, who has done the most with me. Ask anybody who’s been in the company of us together and ask how much of the most is done.  The most peaks with us. It only goes downhill from there, on so many levels. One of the original doing the most partners I have is Anthony.

Most of you know him as Goog.img_3466

I was the youngest child for about five seconds before he surprised us in Deutschland, so my gift to him was that nickname. Googie. It was supposed to be Gummy Bear, but when you’re 21 months old words don’t always come out right; they just come out cute.  Poor kid’s been stuck with it for 34 years.

I give the best nicknames.

We were weird, creative, and pretty much vibrated at the same level at all times. I don’t know how other siblings got down in their house but we shared imaginary friends.

WE SHARED MADE UP PEOPLE.

They had voices and everything, and I can remember off the top of my head at least six of them.  That’s a lot of made-up voices to keep track of between two small children. As our interest in music expanded, we took on more vigorous pretend games, an outlet to showcase our perfected voices in our little community; our absolute favorite rainy-day game was called Radio Show.

Radio Show was our take on Tom Joyner’s Morning Show back in the early ’90’s. We popped a tape in the deck, plugged a pair of headphones into the microphone outlet, and pressed record.  We relied on unscripted banter and edited our own music by pressing pause to skip over any profanity. Which means we already knew the words to whatever we were playing to anticipate it. A couple of pre-teens (I was thirteen and he was eleven) editing Dr. Dre’s The Chronic for a pretend game.  Our remaining imaginary friends from our childhood came on as guests often. Our banter is usually enough for us, to this day it still is, but Litchume and Cindy (a couple names that I remember) started to bore us. Plus when you’re trying to be cool, you kinda start to abandon your imaginary friends.

They were predictable; we had complete control over what they said, even if it was hilarious.

We needed a challenge.

Without thinking twice about if we would get made fun of we invited our friends to play with us, who willingly went on as guests. Still not sure how I talked my seventh-grade boyfriend and my other friends to play along, but Y’all know who you are and if I dug through my parent’s stuff enough I could likely pull solid gold recordings up that will make you feel a lot less cool than you thought you were in the seventh grade.

I don’t blame you guys; my brother and I have made a lot of things look fun that hasn’t always turned out to be fun.

Or safe, for that matter. One thing that comes to mind is us and the neighborhood kids taking turns walking out on a half-frozen pond while we shared a single cigarette between the seven of us.

Or that time I talked one of my friends into eating her boogers because I found mine delicious and wanted to eat my boogers in peace.

I mean, we survived but still.

I think the last time we plugged it in and fired up I was a junior in High School before our older brother left. I think that’s when I stopped playing Barbies, too. I eventually plugged my Barbie fix with the Sims, but our Radio Show eventually faded away, only to be brought up during inside jokes at family gatherings.

Fast-forward a billion years later. The old boom box is gone and I’m living two hours away from my first recording studio. Rham Cunningham calls me in with an amazing opportunity- to bring the game I shared with my baby brother to life.  I’m excited and fearful at the same time; it’s not every day your homeboy calls you up to his station and invites you to do something you did for fun before it was actually called something.

Back before computers and editing

Before we even owned a microphone

Just a set of headphones plugged into the boombox I got when I was twelve.

A tape with handwriting pressed into the deck

Pressing that record button.

Here we go, Y’all.

Do the most with me.

Join me on the best collaboration of my life, OUR podcast, Out Loud.

Let’s see how far our imaginations will take us this time.

I’m not gonna call in our imaginary friends or anything, but I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.