Yes, cue the cheesy Dionne Warwick song.
Or how about Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne’s version in the movies Bridesmaids
Anyway, I just wanted to touch a little on friendship.
Last weekend my best friend from home came to town for a short, two-day visit. She lives in Florida, so our time together is often limited. We literally text/Facebook chat non-stop every day, but it’s just never the same as being together.
I want to think that my relationship with her as being similar to the relationship between Mya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig in the movie Bridesmaids. (In this scenario, I am Kristen Wiig, except for the fact that I did NOT screw up her bachelorette party or wedding planning).
Our conversations usually read similar to those in the brunch scene in the beginning of the movie, although they take place exclusively through phone.
When I found out she was coming for a visit, I nearly died. I didn’t care if it was only a little blip of time.
So naturally, in the short time we had together, we packed in everything we could into those two days and just went wild.
Without getting into too much detail, she and I had a crazy 48 hours (if it was even that) and maybe got into a little too much trouble.
However, when the trip was over, I started really reflecting on my friendship with this person, and how it really has shaped who I am as a human being.
My relationship with Ashley is one of true worth. I know this because, although our relationship is extremely strong, there have been moments where I’m SURE both of us have felt like saying…
… and there was a particular night (the last night of her trip,) where I KNEW she felt like this.
But in the end, we can acknowledge our differences, problems, pettiness, drunkenness, sometimes not togetherness and end up like this…
I don’t believe we’ve ever NOT made up after getting into an argument. In fact, I don’t feel like we really argue with each other, we mostly just get annoyed, acknowledge that feeling, and move on and continue to be best friends.
So why am I writing this post? To gloat? To prove that my best friend is better than yours?
I’m writing this post to tell you that it is so ultimately refreshing for me to have a relationship with someone that never revolves around the petty and the unnecessary. There is no drama between us; no feelings of distain, or jealousy, or judgement (ESPECIALLY judgement.)
And I don’t want to confuse honesty with judgement, or for that matter, tact. There are plenty of times that we’ve been brutally honest with each other, but it never moves into the territory of getting judgmental.
I can complain about being a starving artist…
I can text her endlessly and have her analyze every move of the man I’m interested in at the moment…
Or when I’m having a fight with my stomach about whether or not to eat something that’s bad for me…
Our relationship is mature, and crazy, and honest, and respectful, and I’m so thankful that it exists in my life.
Because I know no matter how fucked up things in my life get, I’ll always have her in my corner. And the same goes for her.
Love you, Ash.
So the recent news about the “thigh gap” becoming the new “skinny arm” just has me baffled.
I have never, I repeat, NEVER had a gap between my thighs.
I can specifically remember being a little girl and wondering why my legs looked so much bigger than my friends’ legs when we would have play dates.
Why do my thighs look so big when I sit down and they flatten out?
Why do I have the same general structure than my friends, other than my gigantic legs?
These were actual thoughts I had as a child. I remember asking my mom why I had bigger legs and she just simply said, “Because you were made different.”
Just like that.
If you’ve read my blog, you know that my mother wasn’t much for apologizing, especially when it came to her shape. One of the things I loved most about her was her ability to brush off superficial societal standards, and literally look and feel however she wanted.
I was always told I never had to wear makeup, shave my legs, or dress like a girlie girl, if I didn’t want to.
When I hit puberty, in middle school, I was a cheerleader. Back then I was also a dancer and gymnast, so my legs, although still big, were incredibly strong. HOWEVER, that did not mean that they didn’t get their share of attention. I remember one of the basketball players, who was one of my friends, affectionately calling me thunder thighs. At the time, I embraced it, but now as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to resent my thighs in all their glory.
I work out five to six, sometimes seven days a week. When I flex my legs, they are NOTHING but muscle, and yet, there’s still that desire for thinner, leaner legs. My thigh/hip ratio compared to my waist is pretty drastic, which gives me somewhat of an hourglass shape. This might SEEM like it’s great, but shopping for pants and dresses is a nightmare. I can rarely find a pair of jeans that fit not only my legs, but my waist. It’s virtually impossible. And the wider the pants get, the longer they get, which doesn’t work for my tree-trunk legs.
My large ass/hips/thighs often also get backhanded compliments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these phrases.
“Your legs look so strong!”
“You look like a ‘real’ woman.”
“I love your curves.”
Is this just everyone’s way of telling me that I don’t look good? I know a lot of times when theses slighted comments are made, that people genuinely mean no harm, but it’s hard to take them for face value, when I’m constantly feeling like they are trying to sugar coat how they really feel about my big legs.
I suppose now I’m just thinking out loud.
I guess what I’m trying to say, (or what I’m trying to convince myself,) is that we all have our body issues. We all attributes where we look in the mirror, and think, “If only I looked like ‘x’ instead of ‘y.’”
I know I do. All the time. I wouldn’t spend so much time at the gym if I didn’t want to look a certain way. But there’s also a point where I can only do so much. My legs are never going to get skinnier. Believe me. I’ve TRIED. The thigh gap, unless I get plastic surgery, will just never be a reality for me. The skinny arm will never be attainable for me either. I have BIG limbs. I always have. I’ve always had big legs, a big ass, wide hips, big biceps, broad shoulders.
So what do I do from here? Do I continue to consume myself with negative thoughts every time I look in the mirror; pulling at my chubby cheeks or pinching my sides or squeezing my legs, trying desperately to make them look thinner, smoother… better?
Maybe… or I could just say “fuck it” and just eat another piece of cake.
In all seriousness though, I’m trying to figure out how to get over this destructive behavior/these destructive thoughts.
Every single casting, every single audition, everyone seems to be thinner, prettier, taller, better proportioned than me. It’s my business. I’m in the business of beautiful people. And I’m not every going to be the industry standard of “beautiful,” so I have to find my own way…
All 5’5″, stubby-legged, thigh-touching, small breasted, chubby cheeked…. me.
Here I am.
I’m beautiful in my own way. I’m different. I’m talented. I’m strong, and I work hard for the body I have.
And please excuse my thighs as they rub together.
“Thunder Thigh” Shan Baby
There might as well be a sign on my forehead that says:
“Shannon: Wears heart on sleeve/Trusts too much/Loves to love — Please take advantage”
Well… That sign is much too long for my forehead, so maybe I can just wear it as a sign around my neck.
As a creative person, I am often criticized for being “too sensitive” or “overly emotional,” but I don’t know how to be any other way. It’s not like I’m trying to make my heart feel anything other than what it’s feeling.
When I was younger, I used to think that everyone else felt like me. I used to think that everyone experienced the depth of feeling I felt when I was sad, happy, anxious, ashamed, depressed, excited, etc. But now I understand that this is absolutely not the case. “Normal” people can experience similar situations to me, and not feel a thing.
In fact, I’m starting to realize that many people are exceptionally good at falsifying real emotions in order to self-serve.
This is perhaps where we begin… and also where we end.
A week ago, I “cleaned house,” and got rid of every online dating application, phone number, Facebook, saved picture, of every single guy in the past two years with whom I’ve ever had any kind of romantic connection.
I also deleted a slew of “friends” in my contact list.
What I’ve come to understand, is that my personality lends itself to others taking advantage of me. The fact that I’m willing to trust easily, give second chances, and dive into emotions that normal people might put up a bit of a guard about, allows people to essentially use me for what they want, benefit from my trust and love, and then subsequently leave.
And then I’m left alone, with nothing but another crack in my soul; wondering what I did wrong. Worse, I’ll start questioning myself, and my self-worth, because at the end of all these situations, I’m the common denominator.
I’m the common denominator.
So am I to assume that there is something wrong with me? Or is it that I am just misunderstood because I am “too” (fill in your favorite adjective) for anyone to handle?
Lately, the fact that I’m 26 has set in.
Now I am by no means “old,” but what I mean by “26,” is that all my friends are in the beginning stages of “growing up.” I have friends getting married, having children, moving in with their significant others, buying dogs together, taking vacations, joining bank accounts, etc.
I think this is all great. Obviously I want my friends to be happy and healthy individuals.
But my problem is, my pool of people that I can go to is becoming smaller and smaller. It’s more difficult to come to a friend with a “single girl” problem, when they are worried about their grown up lives. I often get lots of eye rolls or “Oh I remember when I was single,” stories. There is also a level of disconnect that you tend to have with a person whose life is in a different stage from theirs. My financial situation is far different from that of a lot of my friends, and it’s becoming harder and harder to give the “I’m a starving artist trying to make it in NYC,” speech to them, because their already in the place in their lives where they are no longer struggling financially.
Not only this, but they have someone to come home to.
I ALSO just want someone to come home from work to and talk about my day. I ALSO want to share my life with someone. I ALSO want someone to check up on me when they haven’t heard from me in a few hours.
One of my biggest wake-up calls this week was seeing a news story about a missing woman and thinking to myself, “If I were to go missing in New York City, how long would it be before someone realized I was gone?”
This might be a bit dramatic, but I can’t lie and say the thought didn’t cross my mind, and give me a tiny panic attack.
… and now that I’ve gone and laid my guts out on the table for the world to see, I’m going to find a way to keep moving on.
So now, instead of allowing myself to be the person being left behind, I’ve decided to be the one to leave for a change.
I’m leaving the dating world.
I’m out. I’m not going to accept invitations to go on dates, or allow myself to get mixed up in any of that silly nonsense any longer. No more “drink dates.” No more, “Hey my friends are all out at this one spot. You should come join!”
I want no part of the dating world.
I’m also going to leave the social world for a bit. At least cut down on it.
I’m tired of spending Friday nights texting friends who could give a shit if they see me anytime soon. I’m also tired of getting invited out when someone just needs a filler when their Plan A has failed. I’m tired of being drunk and watching everyone around me desperately trying to find someone to fuck before the night is over.
It’s all too shallow for me.
What I really want is someone to go for a run with me in Central Park. I want someone to go to Restaurant Row with and pick off their plate because I realized their food was better than mine. I want someone to talk Game of Thrones and Harry Potter and slasher films and Nickelodeon cartoons with me. I need someone to hug me and be silent when I get sad because I really want to talk to my mom. I want someone to steal my covers, someone who wakes me up in the middle of the night because I snored too loud or drooled all over their pillow.
I want someone to care.
I also want someone who doesn’t care that I “feel” too much.
I don’t necessarily need someone who feels as much as I do, or even understands how or why I feel the way I do… just someone who is willing to accept it, along with all the other parts of me.
All of me.
So until then, “sing me to sleep/sing me to sleep/and then leave me alone”
Shannon Rose Allen
It’s easy to be alone…
To be a single entity/A human being who eats, sleeps and functions on one’s own.
It’s easy to be free…
To not answer to anyone or anything/Live solely by one’s own rules, one’s own code.
It’s easy to turn off…
To distance oneself from everyone and everything/Not be a part of this thing we call “life.”
It’s easy to be sad…
To wallow in one’s self-doubt, and self-pity/Let the pain overwhelm the soul and regurgitate more negative energy into the world.
It’s more difficult to love…
To open up/To be one who exposes their soul to the world, without care or consequence.
It’s more difficult to care…
To want to know another one/To make two separate souls function as one.
It’s more difficult to expose…
To let another one see who you are/The guts, the sinew, the ugly
It’s more difficult to accept
To love who yourself wholly/No doubts about the truth of oneself
It’s more difficult to love.
But if we aren’t here to love,
Then why are we here at all?
Why are we here at all?
I’ve been talking to a lot of my single friends lately.
The conversation is always the same:
“Why the fuck can’t I find a decent man/woman to date?!?!”
Now, my friends with significant others… you can choose to ignore this post, because it’s not for you. Go have sex or watch House of Cards together, or something people in relationships do.
Also, let me just give my two cents on something. I UNDERSTAND that there are many functioning Millennials (ie, those born between the early 80s and early 00s, perhaps give and take), who are in committed, successful and loving relationships. However, I feel like many of us who didn’t find love when we were younger (think: high school/college sweethearts) have a much more difficult time dating in the post-apocalyptic college days where we’re forced to work underpaying jobs, are busy as hell, and realize it’s a hell of a lot harder to meet people when you live in “the real world.”
And next time you relationship-ers roll your eyes at us single-as-FUCK human beings, or you think to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be single again??” consider these points.
REASONS WHY MY GENERATION SUCKS AT DATING:
(Note: I’m guilty of pretty much every single one of these, so don’t think I’m here to judge)
1. No one actually SPEAKS to each other when in the “courting” process.
Texting is as convenient as ever. In fact, I’m currently texting from my computer while I’m writing this blog. I can literally send a message to anyone in my contact list right now without even picking up my phone, speaking any words, or missing the other million things I’m doing in my life.
Texting is a good thing. It makes it easy to communicate to people throughout the day when you physically cannot speak. I get it.
WE GET IT.
But we are human beings. We have emotions, and vocal inflections, and sometimes we laugh and it doesn’t actually sound anything like “ha ha ha” or “lol.”
Also… IF YOU ARE NOT ACTUALLY LAUGHING OUT LOUD, STOP TYPING “LOL”
Sorry, that’s a personal pet peeve of mine.
I don’t care how many fucking emoticons or emojis you use in a text, there are things that get lost in translation.
Also, a person has the opportunity to be bolder in a text. Hiding behind a computer or a phone is a hell of a lot easier that telling someone how you really feel to their face.
I’m an avid texter, but I think it’s important to pick up the phone once in a while. It shows initiative, interest, respect. Hell, it’s so easy to Skype or FaceTime someone, that’s even BETTER.
I like you! I want to get to know you! I want to hear your voice and see your face!
Let’s be humans, not robots.
2. Tinder/Grindr have taken over Match.com
…or for that matter, organically meeting anyone anywhere…
Again, online dating is a good thing. I know plenty of people who are in incredible relationships based on people they’ve met online.
However, online dating should now be called: “I want to have sex with someone, so I’m going to go on an app where it’s socially acceptable for me to ask a person point-blank to give me a blow job, when I’ve only seen five pictures of them and don’t know anything about them other than their name, age and how far away they are from me.”
Online dating has been cheapened.
I have a Tinder. I’ve met up with people on Tinder. If I were gay, I would probably have a Grindr. But the problem with these sites is they not only give us the opportunity to cheapen others, they make us cheapen ourselves. They substitute the casual hookup for actual human emotion.
3. Facebook allows a person to think they “know” us before they meet us
This can be a dangerous one.
Facebook, Twitter, Googling, all keep us from letting us form our own opinions of a person.
I’m sure there are tons of things on my Facebook that might make me look like a great person. There are also probably tons of things that I write or post that may, in fact, turn someone completely off if they don’t really know me or my personality.
Now here’s where things get scary.
Did you know that there is an app called Lulu, that lets women rate men, kind of like Yelp.
While it’s not really mean-spirited, per se; Lulu asks questions about the men a woman has hooked up with, dated, been friends with and rates then from 1 – 10. Then, Lulu allows you to add hashtags for “good” and “bad” qualities. Example: a “good” hastag would be #CuddleMonster or #AinAnatomy. A “bad” hashtag would be something like #ManChild or #WanderingEye.
I downloaded it out of curiosity and found out some things I maybe didn’t want to know about a person I was interested in.
I wish I hadn’t.
Because now every time I look at that person, I’m thinking someone else’s opinion, instead of forming my own.
I can see where this app developer is coming from. All women are interested in vetting their potential men. We all want to know if he’s a “good guy” or a “bad guy.”
But things are seldom black or white. And we also don’t know the circumstances under which any of these relationships happened.
How can we even hope to open ourselves up to another person, if we can’t even formulate our own opinion of them through ACTUAL HUMAN CONTACT. (Do I see a repeating pattern here??)
4. Drink dates/late night hookups have replaced dinner and a movie
I’ve lived in New York City for almost two years. I’ve been on two dates where someone has actually called me, made a concrete plan, and taken me out somewhere.
I’ve been on about 1,500 “drink things,” “causal meet ups,” or “let’s-chill-and-watch-a-movie-tonight things.”
I understand not having a lot of money. But there are about 1,500+ activities we could do that do NOT cost money.
It’s just a matter of putting in some effort.
And having some respect for another person.
On that note…
5. We need to be drunk or high to express how we truly feel, because that is our best justification for being emotional
Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly putting the proverbial band-aid on my heart to keep me from ever getting hurt.
I don’t generally allow myself to tell someone of the opposite sex that I’m interested in them, or be honest about basically any of my feelings, in fear of getting hurt or the feeling not being reciprocated.
But somehow, being physically impaired gives me a “get out of jail free” card when it comes to displaying my emotions.
6. No one is able to display one ounce of emotion without being made to feel “crazy” or “clingy”
The minute we allow ourselves to get “excited” or “interested,” or… I don’t know… want to get to know another person for who they really are, we run the risk of being called “crazy.”
This one kills me.
Being labeled “crazy” is emotionally damaging.
And people who are labeled as such, are usually not, in fact, “crazy.”
Tell ‘em JLaw!
7. The grass is always greener, even when it’s actually just the same shade of green with different rough patches
Because we are so connected to infinite amounts of people through social media, the grass always tends to look greener.
Social media isn’t always to blame either. In NYC, I can throw a rock and hit about 10 attractive, single men.
Many times, I’ll hear friends complain that someone they’ve been “talking” to has stopped talking to them and begun to pursue other options.
But does the person who is always chasing after the next best thing, really believe that “thing” is better??
Is he/she “better?”
Or is he/she just fucked up in a different way than the last person you dated? He has different quirks than the last guy you dated. She has nicer thighs, but smaller boobs.
If we continue to chase after something better, we’re going to be running forever.
8. Instant gratification is not only important, it’s expected
You are not a “prude” if you don’t put out on the first date.
So why does it feel like it?
Have we all lost so much respect for each other that there can be no patience when it comes to getting physical? Not to diminish the importance of physical chemistry, but there is something to be said for two people being intimate with each other, that has become so watered down with my generation.
I’m all about being sexually liberated. I believe in making your own choices about how to to express yourself sexually.
But this isn’t so much about sex, as it is about respect.
9. Past relationships ruin future prospects
We all have that one (or two, or three) exes we are not fond of.
They hurt us. Slayed our emotions. Fucked us up.
But we cannot go into every single new relationship thinking that everyone is out to get us.
I have a BIG problem with this one.
I’ll admit that, straight up.
I’ve also been on the receiving end of this, and it’s not fun. Being compared to someone who you are absolutely different from, is not fair. So it’s not fair of us to think that just because “he did this” or “she did that” that all our future significant others will too.
10. We lie to ourselves
I’m a glass-half-full type of girl. I find good in everyone. I want to believe that everyone is inherently good, but with some bad quirks or tendencies.
However, I feel like I sometimes only see the good, and ignore the bad.
When we can’t let ourselves see that something isn’t working or a person is treating us shitty, it is often impossible from getting out of a tumultuous situation, therefore just fucking us up even more for the next person who comes along.
11. We lie to others
If you don’t like me, or are not longer interested in me…
Stop disappearing, or saying “I’m busy,” when all you really want to do is cut me out.
This infuriates me.
I don’t expect every person I start talking to, to be “the one,” but just because it’s not going to work out, doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the respect of you telling me it’s over.
And if we are indeed dating, please don’t be afraid to tell me when you’re upset, anxious, angry, uncomfortable, or any other array of negative emotions.
Relationships are not just built on rainbows and sunshine.
12. We tell ourselves we aren’t good enough
How many times have I been ignored by a man and had this thought?
Too many times.
Sometimes the phrase “It’s not you, it’s me,” is actually applicable, even if the person doesn’t outright say it.
If you’ve got your own demons to work out, please let me know, and don’t make me feel like a fucking idiot for wanting to be with you.
13. We knows nothing, about anything
How many times have my friends in relationships asked me this:
And my answer is: I have not a fucking clue.
So here’s to my generation. Here’s to the hopeless romantics who are navigating this big, wide world on our own, trying to figure out all the “rules” of dating, while simultaneously throwing away the rulebook.
Some day (hopefully) we’ll all look back at this period of our lives and laugh.
Until then, I’m going to keep collecting dating stories, so I can have great fodder for my book.
Shannon Rose Allen
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
Or as I like to call it: Singles Awareness Day.
Now for those of you who are celebrating with your significant others, have fun with your boos.
I will be drinking.
So this particular post, stemmed from a Facebook post I had earlier this month.
It looked like this.
And being that it is Valentine’s Day (Singles Awareness Day), what better way to celebrate than by making a list of things I would rather be in a romantic relationship with, other than an actual human being.
As I stated earlier, I LOVE my makeup. Getting ready for set every day consists of me putting on my “full face,” as does going out at night. I love that I can dress my face to fit my personality. I LOVE when I get a compliment about my makeup. I’m always learning new tricks and exploring new products.
And the beauty is, I choose when and where I wear my makeup. I choose how much I want to put on, and I decide how beautiful I look in it.
Sometimes, it even covers up little imperfections that happen from time to time. And gives me just that little extra oomph I need.
I wear the makeup, it does not wear me.
And makeup just makes me feel:
And when I wear it, I can transform into a Queen.
And walk around saying,
I love food.
(Except maybe mayonnaise.)
I could literally talk about food all damn day. I feel like I have an emotional connection to my food. I can give you several descriptive adjectives about the goat cheese, bison burger I ate the other day. If you really want to hear them all, please message me.
In fact, I think I had an out-of-body experience when I ate a piece of chocolate cake on set the other day.
I mean seriously… I was going like this:
In the past six months I’ve actually become a much healthier eater than I used to be. However, that does not mean I compromise my tastebuds. It also does not mean I deprive myself into starvation. I just simply cannot. I’ve learned how to make healthy choices and still indulge on foods that might not always be the best choices. Because life is all about give and take.
Everything in moderation, as they say.
So, while you’re over there sipping on your lemon water, I’ll be over here.
And yet, food is complicated, because sometimes unhealthy food is like the bad ex-boyfriend I keep going back to. Occasionally, I’ll lose my mind and go crazy with portion control.
And I’ll pick myself apart…
And then I’ll get sad because I’m not a size 0, and I’m an actress…
But then I just remember my spirit animal, JLaw:
And then I’ll just go back to eating and being happy. Because unlike a boyfriend, food will always be there for me. And even though we might go through some rough patches, food and I will always make up.
3. Teddy Bears/Pillows/Anything Fluffy
I don’t care how stupid you might think I am for this next one.
I really don’t.
Even if you think I look like this:
Because I believe I watched Marky Mark (arguably one of the hottest men in Hollywood,) fall in love with a Teddy Bear named Ted and you all loved him too!
And because this:
I mean seriously people… I’m done defending myself.
Sometimes when shit gets bad, I just want to hug someone. And if someone isn’t around, the closest fluffy thing will do… especially if it’s cute AND fluffy AND has a smile on it’s face.
It also doesn’t judge me.
SO DON’T JUDGE ME, MONKEY!
And when I’ve gotten my hug and my cuddle then I go back to being like:
This category is great because there are so many varieties! And just like men, I can try them all out!
Ron Swanson knows best:
So first, I have wine. Wine is the smart, yet pretentious, man who can sometimes be aloof, but at the same time makes me feel good. I like to chill with wine. Wine makes me want to get a little romantic, maybe be a little bit of a sap, and listen to Coltrane.
But sometimes wine is too boring, and I want more adventure…
So I move to vodka. Vodka is fun! Spunky! The life of the party! Who wants another shot??? VODKA DOES!
But sometimes vodka is just a little TOO much, and I think I might need something more down to Earth.
So I move on to beer: the cute, cuddly, bearded hipster that makes me laugh. Beer doesn’t judge. Beer is up for a good time, but is just a little bit tamer than crazy ol’ vodka.
And it was THE GREATEST BEER IN ALL THE WORLD.
Until I realize that beer never left college, and he’s still reliving his glory days as the beer pong champion of his University.
So I decide, maybe it’s time to take a walk on the wild side and try…
Aaaaaaaaand moving on.
So at this point, I’m finally done. I just want to find that PERFECT drink. That alcohol that gives me everything I ever wanted.
And then, I suddenly remember…. He’s been there ALL ALONG and I was just to blind to notice.
And I might even graduate to his older, wiser brother, scotch.
And yet there is no shame in going back and forth between alcohols, because they all have their strengths and weaknesses, just like we do. And alcohol does not care how callous we are with it’s feelings.
And at the end of the night, alcohol will make me feel like a million bucks!
Plus… come on. If I were drunk, would I be able to do THIS?!
Which leads me to:
Music and dancing is something I can be completely and utterly shameless about. Music is never there to judge me, and no one can pull me out of my dancing shoes if they tried their damnedest.
There is nothing better than being in a bad mood, and putting on my favorite record.
And every time I hear a song that I love, my face is usually something like this:
And then I’ll start getting excited.
I’ll usually want to sing along, or start dancing. And since I’m a musician… I usually do just that.
Sometimes the dancing is a bit abstract.
Sometimes the dancing is fun-loving.
Sometimes it’s suggestive.
Or I’ll start tumbling.
I’ll even throw in some DIVA
And then there are certain songs.
The songs that just make me happy to be alive.
The songs that can move my SOUL. They can be pop, rock, r&b, blues, jazz, folk, alternative… just as long as THEY GIVE ME LIFE, I will indeed, start a crazy dance party.
Then it’s OVER…
NOW GET TO WORK BITCH!
Cause guess why??
Happy Valentine’s Day to all you lovers with lovers out there.
Happy Singles Awareness Day to all you lovers, who, like me, love things…
I love you.
Shannon Rose Allen
Yesterday would have been my mother’s 57th birthday.
It’s been a bit of a tough week for me. This is the time of the year where, in 2011, my mom’s diagnosis wasn’t going so well.
In a few months, (in fact, exactly three months from yesterday) it will mark the three year anniversary of Ro’s passing.
So instead of sitting here and being sad (which believe me, I’ve spent a lot of time doing in regards to this topic), I wanted to write a happy post about the things, my mother, Rosemary Allen, taught me.
1. How to be myself
Now this might seem like an obvious lesson. Everyone can talk about how their parents raised them to “be themselves,” but my mother would never let me be anything less than who I am, EVERY. DAMN. DAY.
Even if it meant letting me be the strange, obscure child I was.
I used to run around my house naked when I was little, and my mom, who was a total hippie, let me do whatever I wanted. My brother used to complain to her how weird it was, but she just responded, “Just let her do what she wants.”
I was a tom boy growing up, wanting so badly to be one of the boys. I would wear my brother’s hand-me-downs and never gave a shit what I looked like. I wanted to be friends with all the boys and had a secret fantasy that one day I would magically turn into a Ninja Turtle (Specifically Michaelangelo).
I’m so happy that my mother allowed me to be absolutely weird growing up. I’m so glad she didn’t push me to do anything I didn’t want to do. I’m so happy that she let me embrace my quirks, ie, my big glasses, my raspy voice, my crazy obsession with my stuffed animals, where I would pile them up on my bed and sleep on one, tiny area so they wouldn’t fall off.
My weirdness has made me the person I am today. My weirdness is who I am.
My mom let me explore every side of my creativity: singing, dancing, gymnastics, cheerleading, show choir, piano, flute (for a hot second), theater, and even said okay when I told her I wanted to start playing soccer. (I was terrible).
What if Ro pushed me to conform? Would I be the same person?
I’m happy to report that I am absolutely myself, 100% of the time.
And that’s, in large part, due to Ro.
2. How to take a stand
My mom would never stand for injustice, big or small.
I remember a specific instance where a friend and I were at Northeastern Ohio’s local amusement park, Geauga Lake, (RIP) and these teenagers cut us in line for a ride.
Ro was NOT having it.
If this happened today, she probably would have been brought to court by some overbearing parents, but Ro had no problem telling those kids that they were wrong for cutting in line.
Now does this matter in the long scheme of things?
Yes it does.
Because in that moment when I was 9 or 10, I was still learning about politeness and having integrity, no matter how big or how small.
I once watched my mom get into a fight with a grown man who was making fun of a handicap bagger at WalMart when I was in high school. At the time, my teenage self was absolutely embarrassed that she was getting into it with a complete stranger, but looking back, I wish I would have given that guy a piece of my mind.
We, as living and breathing humans, have a choice in these situations whether or not to speak up.
And Ro ALWAYS stood up.
3. How to NOT let people walk all over me
This one ties into the last point, but it more concerns me and my self worth.
There was a time in middle school that I don’t like to talk about. Let’s just say my life was like Mean Girls in middle school, except Tim Meadows wasn’t my cool principle, Tina Fey wasn’t my encouraging math teacher, and I didn’t have an artsy friend duo to fall back on when everything went to shit.
And it was not funny.
Well, I can remember falling apart and my mother telling me to stick up for myself. Yes, middle school was weird and awkward, and people were going to be mean, but that didn’t mean I had to sit back and be silent while people threw things at me in the hallway or kicked me out of lunch tables.
However, she also taught me not to fight fire with fire. Sometimes the best way to confront a bully is to let them know that they hurt you, and walk away. It might not feel like a lot when all is said and done, but standing up for yourself doesn’t always have to end with making the other person feel as hurt as you did when they bullied you.
Standing up for yourself means knowing your worth, and letting the other person know that you do.
4. How to dance to my own beat
I can’t stress enough how strange I was growing up.
I think the best people in this world are the ones who allow themselves to be weird, and more importantly, embrace it.
5. How to pursue a dream (and how NOT to give up on that dream)
I used to carry around a little brown and tan, hand-held tape recorder between the ages of 4 and 10. My mom and dad would buy me cassette tapes and I would record both sides with various songs, stories, variety shows (where I would fake interview people) for HOURS on end.
I would run around telling everyone I was going to be a professional singer when I grew up.
That seemed all fun and games until my teachers continued to tell me from elementary school to high school that singing simply wasn’t a plausible career.
After not getting into the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, I decided that all those teachers were right, and focused on a more practical major.
Then I decided to go to Berklee.
I remember the conversation with my family about Berklee. How it was going to be expensive, but that I truly believed I was talented enough to go there.
I remember Ro driving me through the snow storm on Feb 4, 2008 to my Berklee audition in downtown Cleveland. How I stressed out the entire ride because the traffic was awful, and then Berklee pushing my audition back three hours, and having to sit in the holding area with a know-it-all singer and her unbearable father.
But Ro kept me calm. And I got in.
And she was there for my very first gig in downtown Boston where I played only cover tunes in the smallest dive bar with shitty sound. And she danced with all the members of my band and bought us all food and drinks.
And I’m sure she would have been at my album release show if she were around.
Sometimes I can feel her when I’m auditioning for things. I can feel her energy pulsing through me. Her telling me to keep going.
Because I know she wanted me to keep going.
Let’s make that present tense: I know she wants me to keep going.
6. That it’s okay to cry
I’ve often been told that displaying emotions is a sign of weakness, but not to my mother.
Ro would always allow me to feel how I was feeling, regardless if I was being over-dramatic (which I often was).
I know so many people who are absolutely stoic; don’t display one iota of feeling for anything or anyone.
That might work for some people, but when something happens that forces those people to emote, things could get ugly.
Allowing myself to feel sad, or depressed, or upset about something, does not make me a bad person. It also does not make me weak. It makes me human. It makes me transparent; someone you can feel with, someone you can connect with, someone you can sympathize, or even empathize with.
7. How to find my own beauty
My mother would constantly say the phrase, “If you’re built anything like me, you’re built like a BRICK SHIT HOUSE.”
What she meant by this is that the Falasco and Allen women are built THICK. We have big legs, big thighs, big hips and usually weigh much more than we look.
Ro never told me this to make me feel bad, she told me this because it’s part of who I am, and she wanted me to learn how to embrace it.
The boys in middle school used to call me “Thunder Thighs” and I never understood why my thighs always touched when I walked, even though I was always a dancer and cheerleader and gymnast.
Ro also told me that if I didn’t want to, I never had to wear a bra, shave my legs, wear makeup or dress up. I’m so glad I grew up with a mother that embraced her beauty, because it has allowed me to embrace mine. Had I not grown up with this influence, I don’t know that I would have been able to withstand the standards of beauty that are thrown in my face every day working in the entertainment industry.
8. How to not give a FUCK
If there was ever a person who gave ZERO fucks when she didn’t want to, it was my mother.
One night, shortly before she passed, I remember being up at 2 a.m. eating a bag of Lays potato chips with my mom.
I remember her saying something along the lines of, “Sometimes I just want to eat a bag of chips, ya know?”
And together, we ate the entire bag… at 2 a.m… with ZERO fucks being given.
Another time in high school, my best friend Ashley was sleeping over and my mom walked downstairs with nothing but a t-shirt and underwear on, coming to say goodnight to us.
I looked at her and was said, “Ro! Put some pants on.”
And she looked at me and said, “What!? We’re all girls here.”
Boom. Zero fucks given.
9. That sometimes life SUCKS, but that doesn’t mean life is bad
I don’t want to dwell too much on this story, because it will make me sad, but there was a time when my mom’s oncologist gave her two to four weeks to live. She sat me down on the couch in our living room and delivered the news. I remember just hugging her and crying for what seemed like hours.
Despite doctors giving her a timeline, I believe my mother lasted two or three extra weeks beyond those four weeks she was given. She had basically no blood, no platelets, and was in liver failure, but you would have NEVER guessed by the way she acted. My mother was walking around, spending time with family and friends, and laughing and being happy.
THAT was the demeanor of a dying woman. THAT was a woman who faced death with grace.
She would send out emails to friends to update them on her condition, and every one of those emails ended in a positive quote.
My mothers situation SUCKED. She had stage-four cancer. But that did not define her.
She loved the life she had, and saw positive things when most people would not have.
10. How to Love
I need to remind myself of this one.
Lately I feel like my heart has turned to stone. Like I can’t open up to anyone and that I’ve let myself become impervious to not only pain, but love.
Ro loved like no one else. She was so passionate about my brother and I, my dad, her family, her friends, my baby Blue dog… hell, my mother would make friends and pay it forward to people she just met.
LOVE is what matters in this world.
Everything else is just details.
Thank you Ro.
I’ll see you on the other side.
Shannon Rose Allen