DON’T TOUCH MY SH- SHTUFF!

Usually, it’s ‘don’t touch my shit,’

Adults are home.

img_4369

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As parents we have a list of things we want to make sure our kids have some knowledge of and if you’re anything like me, you may have lost sleep over it.

Tying shoes, closing Ziplock bags, packing lunch for school

Perfecting that toilet bowl aim

Now I know these things are a work in progress and the toilet thing will be a problem for their future wives I’m sure, but I’ll keep working on them and hope something sets in!

Last month I sat down and podcasted with my oldest son about Martin Luther King Jr day; the struggle to explain social injustice, civil rights, and evil in the world to a biracial six-year-old is real.

How do we explain the ugly, but necessary historic mistakes and tragedies to our kids without them gaining a poor opinion of humanity in general?

My own experiences with racism are why I oppose anyone saying who can and can’t be a citizen here. You ever get told to go ‘back to Africa?’

Homie, I ain’t ever been there. I’ve been to Deutschland before, Texas, and Kiefer, Oklahoma. You want me to go back to one of those? And why, exactly? Am I infringing on your MAGA rights? I won’t even go into that but I will ask you, how great are we if our country is divided over the treatment of minorities seeking asylum from a harsh environment? How fantastic are we if we have the deaths of children under our belts after tossing them face first into facilities based on the fact that their parents came here illegally?

Moving on.

Explaining Black History Month to your biracial six-year-old. Parents, what parts of our history do you think are essential for your children to know, and why? What things do you plan to omit or save for school, and how do you explain to your children that despite the evil and oppression in the world people are out there fighting for equal rights for all? How do you explain to them that we are in another pivotal season as a country socially, and our behavior towards others can define us many years down the road? How are you explaining peaceful protest to your strong-willed kid?

Take the guy whose yearbook published him in blackface next to a Klansman in costume in the 80’s. As a person who genuinely enjoys offensive comedy and has for years I found it hilarious that he can’t seem to remember if one of the dudes in the picture was actually him or not.

Lemme tell you a personal story: In 1999 or 2000, my best friend and I decided to be each other for Halloween. Sweet idea, huh? The sweetest ever. Best homie from third grade calls me the night before school and says, aye, I’m coming over first thing in the morning and we are gonna paint ourselves to be each other. I was gung-ho. Totally down. The thing is, I was literally one of the only black students in my high school. So ol girl shows up with dark brown paint, and white paint and in my upstairs bathroom we proceed to paint each other. We didn’t choose flesh-toned white, we chose eggshell wall white. We all know my skin is the color of a smooth delicious caramel, but Tates was the color of tree bark.

That’s right, friends. I went to school in whiteface.

And I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING

We thought it was hilarious, and nobody even tried to stop us.

So, if I was in whiteface, my homegirl that I’d known since I was eight, played ball with until I was eighteen went in blackface.

I’m not completely sure, but we won a contest- I do know that picture of us is in our yearbook, so if I ever run for office I better go ahead and drop this disclaimer below:

Y’all. WE DIDN’T KNOW.

WE HAD NO IDEA.

I didn’t find out until later on in the day that what we did was technically wrong and my mom sat me down and gave me a teachable moment about why painting your skin to be another color is offensive. I was that many days old when I found out the black painted jockeys and pickaninny decor some of y’all have in your yards are offensive.

So I tell that story for this reason; as parents when do we start explaining to our children the reason behind things being socially unacceptable?

When I see this dude, this college student in blackface next to a person in costume known for murder and such it makes me wonder, what did he know or not know about what he was doing?

We were seventeen or eighteen, this dude was a grown ass man doing medical student stuff. It’s obvious that no adult in his life sat him and down and was like, bro…. Unacceptable.

But… It was the 80s back when gays, all races, women, and children were free game. Everybody has their own boundaries as to what’s actually funny, right?

I still can’t laugh. I don’t even think it was funny when I did it now, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know till then but how much can you expect a teenage girl surrounded by white people every day to know what is and isn’t racially acceptable. My home was “black world”, and once I stepped outside I was in “white world” and that is a completely different story to address. All I can really say is that in our situation we were dressed to be each other. She wasn’t going as some black kid, she was going as her best friend Shannon. We weren’t making a joke of who we were, we were celebrating each other and we got real extra with it.

We also didn’t call in one of our friends in to dress in their Paw Paw’s robes for the event.

So don’t we think that in order for stuff like this to not happen we should make our children knowledgeable of some parts in our history in hopes of inciting more empathy and compassion in them?

Cause our kids are gonna bring shame upon our family in some way regardless; trust me when I say you don’t want it to be because they think racism is funny.

So for Black History Month I’m going to attempt a tiny series featuring my little dude, and any parent and child interested in being part of the podcast. We literally have 12 days left of February so we better get started!

Message me if you’re interested in being part of our Black History Month podcast minis, starring my little dude!

I ain’t heard one person over the age of ten who proclaims that Valentine’s Day is the best holiday on the planet.

That’s because it genuinely isn’t. I’ve participated in over thirty myself, and the ones that particularly jump out at me involve a guy from Glenpool when I was a senior, and my dad.

Since I graduated high school, I can tell you confidently that I never enjoy Valentine’s Day. It gets hyped up for a good month, then the day comes and I was either waiting tables, getting dumped in text messages, or drinking raspberry vodka and Sprite, crying.

By the time I got married, I made a point to ruin the day long in advance by commenting as passively as possible, “Don’t do anything for me this year, every year sucks. ” Then I’d buy myself something and get in trouble for gifting myself instead of waiting for the card and flowers I usually got the morning of, and the joke that came every year that he picked them up at Walmart instead of the gas station this year. Then I’d hand over a handwritten letter and chocolate and go about our day like it never happened.

Fast forward to now, and I am single, unable to passive-aggressively confuse and ruin the holiday weeks for my partner before it’s to come. This year I will get no last-minute card or the gas station joke. I will, however, walk around the house, glaring nothing and everything in general. I’ll likely scroll my feed and see how everyone else is celebrating and throw shade with the other miserable broads out there who ain’t gettin’ nothin either. Maybe spend some of the day texting my other equally single friends talking about how unlovable we are and feign a pep talk that sounds and feels like what we should need and follow but we ship our aching hearts back into that place of insecurity that reminds us that if we were acceptable mates, we would be posting pictures of our V-Day haul like the rest of the girls who are actually loved.

I mean, we could do that, right?

Sounds like a blast, right?

I know some of y’all do it every year, and if you check your “On this Day” around this time you will be just as guilty as I am for cursing this holiday dedicated to showing a person how much you’re supposed to love them.

I think this year, I’mma go ahead and see how much love I can send out. Maybe I’ve been going about this holiday all wrong, when is anything ever supposed to be about what a person can do to prove to you that you’re special?

Maybe my problem was that instead of inspecting to receive accolades for how amazing and lovable I am, maybe I should go be lovable and amazing towards someone who deserves it.

That being said, friends, we have until February 10 to come up with supplies to gift twenty women in need in our community. Some girls and I thought it would be a great idea to create locally made cosmetic bags (think ipsy) to give to our women at the Reynolds Center.

February tenth we will all meet at Jeff’s Clubhouse for lunch (more details soon on this) for brunch and mimosas. While we brunch and mimo, we will assemble these bags, listen to music from the incredible Tabitha Graves, I’d absolutely love some readings on our views on this particular holiday and of course, we gonna podcast it.

I’d originally opened this for women only, because I foolishly assumed no men would be interested in involving themselves in this type of community service, but if you’re up to donating or helping us out, the more the merrier!

Love isn’t supposed to hurt, right? So for once, let’s take control over a day we all say we hate and make it a special day for someone with a broken heart.

If you’re interested in donating twenty small local cosmetic items (soap, lip balm, lotion, body wash etc) Please contact me. We are also accepting monetary donations to assist in the purchasing bags and other items.

Also, if you’re interested in helping us plan, contact me! I’m terrible at keeping up with myself and would love to see what it’s like to not bathe in several self made dumpster fires while we come up with all the small details!

Thanks so much for reading, listening, and contributing to my podcast, I’m finally starting to get my groove, getting some words down and I have some incredibly exciting news to share with you soon! Share this with someone who you think might be interested in joining us February 10th!

It took a minute, but I survived the holidays with the rest of y’all and I’m ready to share our first Out Loud Concert Series of the year with The New West!

Melissa and her crew over at Frozen Over Hell on the Border were gracious to allow us and a piggity-packed house to enjoy snow cones, color a setlist, and dance until bathtime!

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to support our creative community, I was telling a friend that the reason behind me doing these little concerts in the style of NPR’s Tiny Desk is because I feel like our music community deserves to be placed on such a pedestal. Have you ever seen The Gilmore Girls? I feel like Fort Smith is just like that- there are enough of us to support each other and cultivate our talent.

I see you rolling your eyes, yeah, Lorelei and Rory had a really toxic relationship, and Dean was a piece of work but the main theme is that everyone in the city cared about each other and their success. They patronized each other and supported everybody’s weird little ideas, like that guy Kirk who’s always carrying around a camera and working everywhere.

This isn’t the most miserable city in the world, you guys. My third podcast has zero miserable people, with the exception of this guy.

We love you, Bobby!

Definitely check out this third podcast, and share with your friends if you like it!

I’m extremely jealous of musicians; my whole family plays some kind of instrument, I’m basically the squib of music. It’s embarrassing. I love to listen, sing and be in the vicinity of music but my contributions are often minimal.  I just wanna be there, let me listen and enjoy. Nobody appreciates musical talent like I do. 

In high school, my homeboys over at Conrad Farms had a band. We used to go to their house after school, light up and watch them play for hours. I remember thinking that nothing in the world was more entertaining or fulfilling than sitting in a tight area feeling the vibrations of a bunch of different instruments washing over me. 

Do I like you or the music?

The vibrations feel good but do your kisses too?

Did your hair always look like that 

Or did it come with the guitar?

That was taken directly from one of my journals back in 1998. 

IMG_5406I probably endured 20 years before I experienced a band rehearsal again, which was entirely too long. The difference now is that I speak a bit more eloquently than a teenage girl, and I can afford and legally buy my own libations. 

I’m not gonna tell you how I got to see a rehearsal with Fort Smith’s own The New West; just be happy I did. All that matters is that I made it in the front door and I did not want to leave. 

The band consists of four pretty cool guys led by the powerful fairy queen of all the brass winds and deep sultry vocals, Kellie Lindsay.  Now, you know I have to highlight my women, cause who run the world though? We also have lead guitarist Jonothon, bassist Dan, drummer Brandon, and vocalist and guitarist Landon.  I can’t tell you everything about them yet because I’m excited to tell you, if you don’t already know these guys are playing our second Out Loud Concert Series at Frozen on the Border January 9th!

So that night I was allowed to view the intimacy of watching a new song unfold, feeling them ‘feel’ when something felt good, noticing when each musician improvised for the other.  You don’t receive that experience at a live show. That’s why you sneak into rehearsals.

I fell in love with them watching their acoustic work.  They’re amazing, guys. And they’re here, in our city. 

It’s the part of music that we forget about when the music’s so loud you can feel it pumping through your veins. You can feel each instrument playing and you’re just sitting there, soaking it in.  It’s not every day I’m allowed that luxury, to just sit and allow creative energy to flow over me.

Click below to hear their new track “Like This”  which is available on SoundCloud and YouTube!

Find them on Facebook and Instagram for more information on shows, and definitely bring the family to our next Out Loud Concert Series at Frozen on the Border January 9th at 6pm!

IMG_5027.JPG

I’m 36 now.  A decade ago I celebrated my birthday in a hotel in Tulsa with my boyfriend and our friends. I cried because I felt like I didn’t have my life together.

I cried because I thought I should have my life planned out at 26.

How’s this for plans, 26-year-old Shannon? Ten years later, you’re back in college, three kids, one lives in an urn in your bedroom, and that dude you cried to in the hotel room ten years ago now lives around the corner in an apartment and shares custody with your kids.

Who’s crying now?

Still me.

I don’t think it’s about my failed plans this time. I can go into a lengthy conversation about how nothing goes fully to plan; nobody hates plans as much as I do. Plans don’t work over here. They can be listed and go in the complete opposite direction. Screw plans. That’s why I don’t care when people don’t necessarily ‘have their shit together.’ It’s not the easiest thing to do, and how am I gonna judge a person’s life when mine isn’t perfect?  It doesn’t matter how much ‘shit’ you have together for you, it’s YOUR shit, not someone else’s shit.  I think the only reason to talk about a person not having their life perfect is to feel better about your own dumpster fire of a life.

Now excuse me as I pour buckets of water on top of mine in an attempt to not spread the flames.

My heart is in in the worst place it’s ever been. It’s so broken for so many reasons. I put the largest chunk of the blame on myself for not having the willpower or strength to protect it properly.  I am very aware of my strength, especially now.  I tell myself, imagine what you could be if you turned it inward, built the brickhouse back to its original splendor. Whenever that was. It’s easier to protect other things than myself.

I’m hard to protect; honestly I don’t think anyone actually could. I dare you though.

I’m more protective of my Macbook, it’s embarrassing.

So my gift to myself this year, for 36 is protection.

Something no one else can give me, something no one else is equipped to give me; not at least at this strength. Something I need desperately. I feel like I spend so much time protecting everyone else, trying to understand everyone else, making sure my heart is open and ready for everyone who receives less than what I feel they deserve.  I never want people to feel as empty as I feel sometimes. I can handle it; I know most can’t.

I share my strength and power and protection with so many that I have none left for myself. I feel like I stand in the front lines taking punches, some holding me up, taking hits with me or even throwing a punch or two themselves, but of course, some of the closest cower and disappear when blood starts splashing. Then ask me to clean it up for you.

The good thing about having a birthmas is that you get to make a change that coincides with the new year. New year, new age, new you.

Not necessarily new me.

Stronger, smarter, armored me.

Weird, now I’m scared.