A few weeks ago, I was standing in on the final day of production for a new Hulu show. I worked with a magnificent crew, and felt so absolutely wonderful every single long, 12-14 hour day I worked on this show. The last day, we filmed at The Cutting Room, and there were several performance scenes where I was standing in on a stage in front of a microphone while camera, lighting and sound were setting up.
All the sudden, a familiar feeling brewed in my stomach. It’s a feeling I often get when I’m watching someone perform on stage, or singing in a television show, or out in the theater watching a Broadway production:
I WANT TO BE UP THERE.
It almost feels like a big, green monster is crawling out of my chest and is going to explode out of my mouth.
The want and the need to be on stage; to be performing is so strong that it feels like it can take over my body.
I had this revelation, that may seem silly, as I’ve decided to dedicate my entire life and career to it… but I MUST BE A SINGER.
I don’t want or need to sing. I simply, must. It’s not an option. It’s fact.
So with a little help of Adam Sandler, and the rest of the cast of The Wedding Singer, I give you:
Reasons why I LOVE (and sometimes HATE) being a singer/songwriter
1. Singers get to be THE CENTER OF ATTENTION!
As the singer of my band, I have complete control over the audience. Yes, the power of having a microphone that projects over a crowd of people really is as good as it sounds.
But what’s better than the power of the microphone, is the message which I can share with my audience. Hence…
2. We get to share our music, lyrics and story with complete strangers
There is nothing more powerful for me than being up on stage and allowing the release of music and lyrics that I WROTE, spill out of my mouth and land into a sea of strangers.
3. And sometimes we have the power to touch people with that music
Especially old, white women… they always cry during my ballads.
4. But sometimes the emotions we put into our songs get a little too real…
5. For real…
6. Like… REAL…
7. But we know we’re the SHIT, because we have the guts to get on stage and put ourself out there!
While other musicians have instruments to hide behind, it’s just us with our voices. We can’t buy a new voice if ours breaks. Our bodies are our instruments. That’s the scariest, and most powerful fact of our existence.
8. And when we have an “on” night, we’re TOTALLY “on” and can rule the stage with our golden pipes!
9. But when we have an “off” night, (even if it’s not that bad) we can get TOTALLY down on ourselves.
10. And no matter how well we perform on a particular night, sometimes there is that dude in the audience who just wont SHUT UP!
11. And sometimes the venue forgets to tell you that the venue has a cash-only bar, or worse… DRY!
12. Then we remember that it’s okay, because we’re still an awesome singer who writes awesome songs!
The best feeling is playing a new song for a friend and getting THIS reaction:
13. But then sometimes we get feedback about our songs that are just SO WRONG!
14. And we feel like other artists are the only people who TRULY understand us
15. And then we start to question why we ever chose this profession in life at all
16. We let ourselves believe that maybe we could find a “real” job…
17. And then we realize that singing and performing are the ONLY thing that makes us feel alive… and we spiral even further down…
18. And start comparing ourselves to our more successful, practical siblings
19. And apologizing to our parents, who helped finance our fantasy career
20. And right as the vultures (ie other singers) are ready to take our place as Queen (or King) of the stage…
21. We snap out of it because EVERYONE loves a lead singer and no one will EVER take our place!
21. And we have the pick of the litter when it comes to attractive people, because talent (and power) are sexy!
22. Being the emotional people that we are though, we are ALWAYS looking for true love, not just hookups.
23. But when we get up on stage, all our sorrows of love lost are forgotten. Because for us, the stage is our ONE, TRUE LOVE!
24. Our power to move and change people with our music is the ONLY love we need.
We may be poor. We may emote a little too much. We may fail sometimes. We may be a little too egotistical at times.
But we put our hearts on the line every time we write a song, sing a note, or even wink at that cute boy in the audience.
And that’s why I wouldn’t change being a singer/songwriter for anything in the world.
25. And we’ll be singing until we’re old and wrinkly!
For those of you who say that I can’t sing and perform for a living, this is what I have to say to you:
It’s been a while. My apologies. I have a lot to say tonight.
I’ll start with the lyrics to one of my favorite songs: Stop this Train, by John Mayer.
No I’m not color blind
I know the world is black and white
Try to keep an open mind but…
I just can’t sleep on this tonight
Stop this train I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t
But honestly won’t someone stop this train
Don’t know how else to say it, don’t want to see my parents go
One generation’s length away
From fighting life out on my own
Stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t but honestly won’t someone stop this train
So scared of getting older
I’m only good at being young
So I play the numbers game to find away to say that life has just begun
Had a talk with my old man
Said help me understand
He said turn 68, you’ll renegotiate
Don’t stop this train
Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in
Don’t think I couldn’t ever understand
I tried my hand
John, honestly we’ll never stop this train
See once in a while when it’s good
It’ll feel like it should
And they’re all still around
And you’re still safe and sound
And you don’t miss a thing
’til you cry when you’re driving away in the dark.
Singing stop this train I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take this speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t
Cause now I see I’ll never stop this train
I was in Cleveland last weekend for the wedding of one of my best friends. I’ve been to several weddings in my life. Most of these weddings I’ve been a bridesmaid, a singer, and even the maid of honor once. I’m an expert at making sure the bride is calm, having fun, drunk (but not too drunk), and of course helping with the makeup touch-ups.
I’m an excellent bridesmaid. **brushes shoulders off**
I don’t know why this wedding affected me so much. Perhaps it was because Katie (the bride) is a friend I’ve known since I was six years old. Perhaps it was because the wedding was on Valentine’s Day (A day I usually attempt to avoid). Perhaps it was because the wedding was in Cleveland (my home city).
This wedding made me have ALL the feels.
It was probably one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to. Everything was so seamless, and fun. No hiccups, no stress, no crises. It was also one of the times I watched the bride walk down the aisle and never had any second thoughts as to whether these two were a perfect match. I danced my ass off, drank my ass off, and sang my ass off (at the ceremony).
Side note: I’m an excellent choice as a singer if you want to have the entire congregation in tears. I will give you all of that emotion. ;) And I also don’t think I’ve ever been at a wedding where I didn’t sing. (I’ve had a LOT of practice).
So where is this post going?
Well, this wedding (as amazing as it was, and as much fun as I had) made me get a taste bit introspective. I hate to use the cliche “always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” but it’s a bit more than that. I almost want to say a better quote would be, “always a girl, never a woman.”
I know that’s not old… but I’ve been living in this perpetual dream world in New York where I still feel like that little 23 year old girl who lost her mom and was trying to finish school so she could pursue her dreams.
The only problem is, I’m not that girl anymore.
I should be a woman.
My shit should be together.
EVERYONE at this wedding, with the exception of me and a few others, were either married, engaged or seriously dating. Typically, I try to be proud of my single-ness and even try to brush it off that I’m young and wild and free and don’t need anyone to tell me what to do or who to be.
But I’m not a 23 year old girl anymore.
I’m a 27 year old woman.
I’m not sure where these middle 20-something years went. Those 23-27 years seem to be the formative years; the years where the majority of people find their careers, become financially independent, and find their significant others. Some find it quicker. Some find it slower. Some have three out of three, two out of three, or even one out of three. I, abashedly, have none.
I never thought I would be in the “slower” category. I worked my entire life to be ahead. Above 4.0 in high school. Involved in everything in high school and college. Scholarships to college. Above 3.5 in both schools I attended. Fuck, I never even got a C as a grade in any class I’ve ever taken… ever. I did and said all the right things. I did that so much, that when I finally got into my 20s I began to become the person I really am, instead of who everyone wanted me to be.
But now I feel as though the train is going at full speed, and I’m running next to it, attempting to jump in, as all my friends are in the car holding out their hands, rolling their eyes that I can’t keep up.
I’m slipping behind.
I try to be cavalier and brush it off like I don’t care. Someone over the weekend told me that he saw right through my tough exterior. I think I attempt to be unaffected by using the excuse that I’m still trying to “figure it all out,” when in all actuality, I should have fucking figured out at least something by now.
Now, some of you may be reading this and thinking, “Wah, wah, wah Shannon! You live in New York and are a performer and have a glamorous life.”
Yes. My life is good. I would even say that I have a great life. But my life is not full. Right now I am self-aware enough to realize that my life is better than most, but I don’t feel like I’m fulfilled.
I’m exhausted half the time from auditioning, and pulling my hair out trying to keep up with credit card bills, student loans, and expenses even with the help I receive. I’m working on productions that sometimes have me outside in 20 degree weather for hours at a time, for not so much pay. I often have to file unemployment when I can’t find enough work, or have to forgo work for auditions that take up days at a time. I go to doctors who take medicaid, which often means limited options and long waiting times. I have friends, but often find myself lonely amongst millions of people. I book gigs, only to have 20 people who said they were coming cancel at the last minute. I pay for rehearsal space out of pocket, only to make no money when I play my original music, and have band members who need to get paid. I put my life on hold for American Idol, only to get kicked off in Hollywood week with zero airtime or exposure. I haven’t been on a date that hasn’t been a “drink thing,” in almost three years. I don’t even know what it’s like to be courted by a man who hasn’t turned out to be a complete sociopath. My dating pool consists of the creeps at the sports bar below my apartment, the finance douchebags that hang out in the Lower East Side on weekends, or a slew of crazies on Ok Cupid, who lack most basic human social skills.
Meanwhile my body is only aging. I’m only getting older. My debt is only getting deeper. My professional resume outside of performance is only getting more antiquated. I’m only falling further behind the train that most of my friends and family have been on for years.
My flight on Sunday was delayed due to weather conditions across the country, and I found myself staying the night in my childhood home alone. (My dad is on vacation.) As I walked around the house that I’ve called home since about 1998/1998, I began to cry. I cried an ugly, awful cry. It scared me a bit. Especially since it often takes a lot to make me really cry anymore.
Strangely enough, I’ve been doing a monologue lately for auditions from the play, The Little Dog Laughed. In the monologue, my character goes to her childhood home and realizes her room has been turned into a craft room by her mother, and she says, “As the doll heads stare at me. I realize. My childhood is SO motherfucking over!”
That was how I felt that night. The house is more or less the same as when I lived there, except without a lot of my mother’s things. But it just felt… empty.
And that made me feel empty.
Because like Mr. Mayer says, “One generation’s length away from fighting life out on my own.”
When the fuck did that happen???
When did I grow up?
How did I not recognize it?
Am I that spoiled? Am I a little Midwestern girl who has taken advantage of all the amazing things she has been given, and let herself fall behind? Should I be working harder? Shouldn’t I already be more established? Should I feel like a grown up yet? When did I sign up for this life?
I thought to myself while I was looking at my high school memorabilia that lined my walls, “What did you think your life would be like at 27 when you were 17?”
I honestly can’t remember the answer to that question. Maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps I never really knew what I wanted. I had a brother who already had that figured out. I was the child who had the way paved for her. The wild child. The free spirit, flower child, who never wore shoes (or shirts) until she was at least 8 years old. The girl with the thick glasses who never got anywhere by way of her looks, but with her humor and personality. The girl who charmed teachers, and made people think she was smarter than she was by being a hard worker. The girl who covered up her true self to be “quieter,” “less eccentric,” “less emotional.” The girl who continued to give her whole heart to people, until she felt like she had no more of her heart to give.
So what do we do when we realize our childhood is over? When we can’t be that little flower child anymore? When the girl realizes she needs to put on her running shoes and catch up to the car where her friends/family/colleagues are waiting?
I do not have the answer to any of these questions.
All I know is that I cannot stop that train. I cannot fill up that empty house. I will never again eat dinner in that kitchen with my mom, dad, and my brother together ever again. I cannot hug my teddy bear to make me feel better. I can no longer say that I’ve got “all the time in the world.”
But I can work harder. I can hustle another day. I can get fall hard on both my knees and get up. I can try to love again. I can attempt to grow up.
I can try to fill my hollow heart.
I can try.
“So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young.”
So I know I’m overdue for a post, so I’m just going to compile my thoughts, and hope that it presents itself as some sort of nonsensical discourse that eventually all makes perfect sense. Okay?
So I feel the need to vent/be a little sad about something that happened to me a few weeks ago.
Side Note: I own a tank top that states: Be nice, or you’ll end up on my blog.
You were warned.
So here it is. I met a person that I felt an instant connection with. I felt like I was comfortable around him; we fit strangely into each others’ lives even though it seemed as though we barely had anything in common. We came from different places, different backgrounds, had different types of friends. All this being said, I felt like we complimented each other.
Now, I’m aware that sometimes these things tend to get so intense, that they burn out like an exploding star, but I honestly didn’t think this particular instance would end like that.
Until it did.
Why is it that I allow myself to get close to these men, who often have to PRY my emotions from my clenched, cold hands and make me have The Feels, and then kick me to the curb!? It’s almost like one gigantic cosmic joke. Almost like the Universe is telling me that it’s going to dangle these men in my face who do and say all the “right” things and then lay the smack down and say, “HA HA SHAN! Just kidding! You can’t have a man who is smart, and funny, and successful, and good looking, who likes you and might actually care about you!”
No. That would just be too easy.
Look, Universe, I’m twenty-fucking-seven. I’m not saying that I’m “old” per se, but I am getting “old-er” and I feel like it’s not fair that you keep treating me like some broken baby doll from the Land of Misfit Toys.
Except it doesn’t look like this:
It looks like this:
What’s the fucking deal???
And the PROBLEM with this, is that each time something blows up in my face like one gigantic bomb, that sets fire to all the blood and tissue and sinew in my poor, sad broken heart, I feel the need to EXPLAIN MYSELF.
Well then THAT just ends up blowing up in my face like another land mine that was left undetonated and the cycle continues.
And I look like this:
Long story short, when this particular boy blew up in my face, I thought perhaps I could justify my feelings by writing a well-written, concise email that explained EXACTLY why I reacted the way that I did and gave a DETAILED account of “The Feels.” I hoped that this person would read my heartfelt words, and know that the only reason I reacted the way I did, was because I had actual FEELINGS for this person. And they were indeed reciprocated. How do I know this? Because this person did things like call me “just to hear my voice,” send me text messages about future plans, wanted our lives to be integrated with one another. He told me that he was happy, and I was too.
Then, WHAT here is the problem?
And here’s what I think it is.
The men of my generation know how to say and do exactly what women want them to do. The sincerity of everything has been brushed aside. It’s an equation; a way to solve a problem. Men are usually the ones to find solutions to problems that their ladies present to them (often at the annoyance of the lady, who only want to vent).
My generation of men has perfected the craft of deceit.
And this is how that makes me feel:
Now I know I appear to sounds like a broken record about this particular subject, but I still cannot believe I continue to be duped by these men. What drives me crazy is that this one in particular felt so REAL. Perhaps I still fail to see the risk I’m taking every time I try to see the best in people.
I don’t know.
Anyway, after my email was sent and I presented my unfiltered feelings to this person, his first reaction was (and I quote), “I think it’s best for both of us if I take a step back.”
WHAT?! AM I TAKING CRAZY PILLS. I was aggressively courted by this person; swept off my feet, introduced to his best friends, told I was beautiful, told I was cared about. I did not concoct an imaginary person out of thin air!
So why does it always feel like I’m the one suffering when things go awry?
Here is this person who essentially took me for this magnificent ride in his flashy car full of “promises” and “futures” and “respect” and “caring for one another,” and then the MOMENT I decide that I would ALSO like to reciprocate feelings, he needs to take a “step back.”
I call bullshit.
I call bullshit on the entire thing. It’s like women of my generation can’t be fucking honest about how they feel because they will be labeled as “crazy,” whereas the men of my generation I believe actually WANT relationships and WANT to care about another person, but if they let themselves too close they feel like they are losing something. In New York a big excuse is the “career.” Another one I’ve heard is that they are just “confused about what they want, and looking for someone to help them figure it all out.”
What? Help you figure your shit out so that you can leave me in the dust, while you pursue your budding finance career and go off to fuck some other chick with a thigh gap and an IQ of 50?
I don’t get it.
I will never “get it.”
I’m sorry Taylor Swift, but boys don’t only want love if it’s torture. In FACT, the first hint of torture they start running. The reason they stay with you is because you’re beautiful, and powerful, and famous.
I feel like I’m almost a different species to these men. And I’m not talking about being a woman in general, I’m talking about being the specific kind of woman I am: strong-willed, driven, emotional (without qualms), blunt, honest, but also loving, and nurturing, and respectful, and thoughtful.
You don’t get to have one side of my personality and run aways when things don’t go the way you want them to.
Basic human interaction is full of choice and compromise. I feel as though my generation has become so self-indulgent that we’ve forgotten this. We’ve forgotten what it feels like to love and be loved. We allowed ourselves to achieve greatness in our lives, but not with each other. We’ve become hard; addicted to machines, and sex, and instant gratification.
Let’s let go of the deceit and start getting real.
Until then… scratch everything I said in this blog post (What I Think About on Airplanes) and let me go back into my shell until the winter is over and have someone else use a hammer and chisel to try to get my heart-sickle to open up again.
On Saturday, December 20th 2014, I will turn the ripe old age of 27. I have successfully been around the sun 27 times. Although I do not pretend to have all the answers to my life (in fact, I really don’t know most answers… isn’t that what your 30s are for???) I feel like I should gather up my knowledge I’ve gained in a little over a quarter of a century, and share it with you lovely folks. Some of my points are introspective, some of them are general things I’ve gathered, some of them are tidbits of advice. Take them as you will.
Because I felt like 27 things is a lot to write, I hired the help of two of my favorite people, Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen of Portlandia, to help me deliver the impending information you are about to receive.
(Also… I’m going to change my POV from 1st to 2nd to 3rd a lot. So you tense nazis can fuck off because I just don’t care. I’m aware of my incorrect usages of several tenses.)
Here are Shan Babe’s “27 Things I’ve Learned in my 27 Years”
1. There is always time to learn more
If I learned anything from going to college for six years, it’s that my education is never truly finite. I’m always looking for new ways to educate myself, whether it be academic or socially. We as humans only have a limited amount of time on this earth and I believe that learning should not be something that stops once you exit school.
I’m a big reader and try to read a piece of fiction and non fiction simultaneously. Most of the time I can finish books in about a week, and then I start right back up with a new set. The Strand Bookstore is my favorite place in New York City. No. Not just my favorite bookstore; it’s actually my favorite place to be in all of New York.
Sometimes I feel like I’m over-educated for the type of work I do. Then I remind myself that just because I don’t use all of my knowledge all day every day, does not make me less educated. It does not mean my brain is worth any less.
Plus, smart girls are the prettiest. :)
2. Never apologize for loving someone too much.
This is a doozy for me. I’ve often felt that I love a little too much, and often receive not enough love in return. My love scares people away. My love is too big for most people, ESPECIALLY when it comes to romantic situations.
But you know what? I don’t really care anymore. I used to do a lot of apologizing for my big heart. I like to shut it up in a box and keep it to myself. Sometimes it peeks out of its cave and makes an appearance like the Loch Ness monster of hearts, and then quickly disappears once it feels the hint of a threat.
Someday, when the time is right, my heart will come out of it’s Walden Pond and live in the real world again. But you will never hear me apologize for the way my heart feels. I will be sorry for things my heart has made me say, but I own my feelings.
I own my feelings.
That is a nice thing to say.
3. I’m much better alone.
With all the above being said, I think I function much better off when I’m left to my own devices. I can wake up every morning and let whomever into my life, at the time and place that I choose, on my own terms. I don’t ever have to justify my feelings, who I am, what I want to be, or how I choose to spend my days.
Being alone is not being lonely to me.
I fulfill myself. I don’t need anyone else to do that for me.
4. Waking up every morning and telling yourself you are beautiful/amazing/perfect/loved in the mirror really works.
If I’ve learned anything by being a strange person, it’s that not everyone will accept your weirdness. If I could count the times I’ve been told I’m not pretty enough, good enough, skinny enough, talented enough, etc, etc, I would be a rich person.
However, on the flip side, if I counted the number of times I’ve been told I am enough, whether it be from friends, family, casting directors, mentors, random strangers, and (most importantly) myself, I would probably be even richer.
Too often, we focus on the negative, not the positive. Sure, I’ve been on the other end of some pretty palpable vitriol in my 27 years, but I also get told regularly that I bear resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence and I WILL TAKE THAT TO THE BANK!!
Reinforcing myself, to myself, every day is just another thing that makes my life a little happier.
5. Keep a journal
I love to write, which should be pretty obvious, as I’ve been blogging steadily for about three years. But I also keep three journals.
Now you are probably asking yourself, “Shan, what the fuck do you do with THREE journals!?”
Well, I have one general journal where I write my thoughts, one where I write down how I’m feeling that day based on a “glass-half-full” vs “glass-half-empty” scale, and a five-year journal that asks me a question a day for five years.
Keeping these private journals helps remind me of who I am. It allows me to release my thoughts on a paper, so that they don’t cloud up my mind. I see my journals almost like Dumbledore’s pensieve in the Harry Potter novels (NERD ALERT!).
6. Never apologize for being a Feminist with a capital F!
I love being a woman. It does not mean I hate men. Being a feminist does not mean I don’t shave my armpits (which by the way, is absolutely okay if you are a woman and you don’t). Being a feminist does not mean I don’t allow men to hold doors or pull out chairs for me. Being a feminist does not mean I don’t like it when a gentleman (gentleman being the operative word) tells me I look pretty, or sexy, or cute.
Being a feminist means that I believe in equality of the sexes. Plain and simple.
7. All men aren’t ass holes. All women aren’t crazy.
The battle of the sexes never ceases. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard a friend call a man a “douche,” “ass hole,” “prick,” etc. I also cannot even tell you how many times I’ve heard my guy friends tell me a girl is a “bitch,” “insane,” or the worst label anyone can give to a woman, “crazy.”
Millennials are conditioned to believe that we have to give extreme labels to everything. (ie. “I LITERALLY CANNOT EVEN.” “He/she is SO crazy.” “He/she is the WORST”)
This is bad. It hurts us in the end.
8. With that being said… Dating sucks
I feel like I can embrace most of my generation’s quirks and qualities, but dating is not one of them. Maybe I’m a little too old school with this one. The fact that we are all supposed to be okay with everyone dating, seeing, fucking everyone at the same time is just something I’m not into.
Whether or not you embrace the new wave of dating, it still does not change the fact that dating is pretty awful. Dating someone, especially post-college can be exhausting. Having to meet someone awkwardly at a bar after chatting with them online a few times, and then do this whole dance of “should-I-or-shouldn’t-I-tell-him-this-or-that” just feels like complete bullshit to me. There are too many games in dating. If you don’t show enough emotion, you’re fucked, but if you care too much you’re also fucked.
Perhaps this is why I’m single. I don’t know. As I’ve stated earlier today, I’m okay with being alone.
9. It’s okay to eat a pint of ice cream, drink two bottles of wine, and cry by yourself watching Crazy, Stupid Love when your heart is broken
We’ve all been there. Honor your feelings when you are heartbroken. We aren’t robots.
10. MAKE TIME for the family, friends and lovers
There is nothing worse than falling out of touch with a good friend or family member. We are all busy. We all have crazy lives. Make time. Don’t just send a text or write a message on Facebook. Make a phone call. Write a letter. Take the L Train to bum-fuck Brooklyn and smoke a friendly joint and watch Mean Girls. Send your family gifts just “because.” Tell the people you love that you love them as often as possible.
11. Do not make time for negative people.
Negativity only feeds negativity. When I’m around negative people, this is what I turn into:
12. You only get one body: treat it with respect and kindness.
Do NOT work against your body; work with it. I am built curvy. I have big legs, a big butt and thick arms. When I started working with my personal trainer I made it very clear that I did not want someone who was going to try to shape me into a size 0. That is just not realistic for me. Instead, we focus on strength and agility and endurance.
Guess what? I look and FEEL better than I ever have.
Also, can we all just agree to stop picking ourselves apart? You are the only person in the world with your body. Let that fact sink in and embrace it.
13. Good makeup saves lifes. Also… fuck it if I don’t want to wear makeup sometimes
I love makeup. I like the way it makes me feel. I feel like my face is a blank canvas, and my makeup brings out my best features.
I also love a blank makeup-less face sometimes.
14. It’s okay if I don’t get married in my 20s
ALL RELATIVES IN MY LIFE: Stop asking me when I’m going to get married. I’m making a life for myself in New York. My life does not revolve around dreams of a white dress.
15. It’s also okay if I don’t get married at all
Deal with it.
At risk of sounding preachy, I’m just going to say that with everything that has been going on in our country lately, our voices are important. Voting is imperative.
17. Do not be afraid of things that are strange, new or different
I often find that people and things that are strange, different, new, obscure, quirky, and unfamiliar are the most beautiful. Just because something is different does not necessarily mean that it’s wrong. If everyone and everything were the same, this world would be a boring place.
18. Good mothers and good fathers are hard to come by. If you are lucky enough to have both, keep them close.
Ok. Let me get preachy for a moment. I don’t have a mother. If you do, I implore you to pick up the phone and tell you that you love her. Same with your father. I tell my dad I love him every time we text or call each other. Just remember, not everyone has their parents, and not everyone has good ones. If you are fortunate enough to have both, spend every moment you can with them. Ask them questions about their past. Drink a beer with your dad. Hug your mom and let her get nostalgic over your baby pictures. Help your dad get rid of his hideous tie collection and then shop for new ones together. Let your mother relax on the couch while you clean the entire family’s Christmas dinner dishes.
I love my parents.
19 . Good brothers and sisters are hard to come by. If you are lucky enough to have both, keep them close.
Again, not everyone is fortunate enough to have loving brothers and/or sisters. I have both a wonderful brother and an amazing sister-in-law. I got to spend an entire week in Houston with them for Thanksgiving and for that, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.
20. Good friends are VERY hard to come by. If you are lucky enough to have even one, keep them close.
Just because you don’t necessarily have the best biological family, does not mean you cannot have a “family.” My friends, both in New York, and across the country are integral to keeping me sane. I wish I could take the time to praise each and every one of my friends right now, but then the blog post would become so much longer than it already is! (If you’ve made it this far btw, kudos! This is a long motherfucking post!)
Get into trouble with your friends. Be silly with your friends. Be weird with your friends. Let your friends into your lives and love them deeply. And always, listen.
21. BE PASSIONATE.
I will quote one of my favorite poets, T.S. Eliot, “It is obvious that we can no more explain passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.”
Find your passion(s). Make your entire existence revolve around these passions.
22. Bad relationships need to terminated as soon as they get bad
Learn to let go. Do not hold onto someone because of who they “used to be.” I learned the hard way in my last relationship. By romanticizing a person based on the good times, we hinder ourselves from moving on.
Most relationships end. Learn when to say goodbye. It doesn’t mean that the love you had was not real. It doesn’t mean those feelings weren’t real. It just means that it is over, and you will both be better people without each other.
23. There are things I love about being a Millennial
I love that my generation follows their dreams. I love that we dream big, and take huge risks. I love that we are individualists. I love that my generation cares less about skin color and sexuality, and cares more about character content. I love that we have the power to connect with people instantly from across the globe. I love that we are innovators and believers even when the odds are stacked against us.
24. There are things I absolutely despise to my core about being a Millennial
I loathe our dating culture (as noted previously). I don’t like that we are so wrapped up in our digital words that I seldom ever hear someone’s voice over the phone. (I’m SUCH a phone talker. I want to HEAR you. Meaning and emotion get lost in texts). I hate how selfish we can be. I hate that we are often so disconnected with reality when we are so connected with the Internet. I hate how we seldom ever show our true emotions to one another, because caring is overrated.
25. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
We are human. We cannot do everything ourselves. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes, a fresh set of ears, or a shoulder to cry on is the best thing we can ask for.
26. Do not be afraid to disagree with someone, even if it is someone whom you love and respect.
The wonderful thing about living in America, and being a free-thinking individual is that we can have different opinions, cultures, religions, lifestyles and still simultaneously exist. If you see something that you disagree with, or someone is treating another person unfairly, or someone is being racist or homophobic or sexist, do not be afraid to disagree. The tough part about this is when this person is your family member or friend. It is okay to disagree. It is also okay to agree to disagree. Use your best judgement.
27. You will not receive the kind of love you want from others, until you learn to fully love yourself.
This last one is basically just reiterating what I’ve been saying this entire blog: Love yourself.
There was a point in my early 20s when I did not love myself, or even really like myself. I was confused about why others didn’t love me and figured there was something wrong with me.
I know what each and every one of my flaws are. I know I talk to much. I know I talk too loud. I know I overthink everything. I know I push people away the moment I feel threatened. I know I can get a little too drunk sometimes and make a fool of myself. I know I’m stubborn. I know I’m selfish sometimes. I know I don’t have skinny legs or arms. I know I can come off as pretentious, especially when I talk about music. I know I have a lazy eye that is only corrected by glasses or contacts. I know that I wear too much black and probably too much makeup sometimes. I know I’m weird.
But there are a lot of wonderful, amazing things about who I am. I also don’t love myself any less because I have flaws. It’s not very easy to love yourself all day every day, but it must be done if you expect anyone to ever love you. Whitney called it the “greatest love of all.” (RIP Whitney)
And with that, I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr. Leonardo da Vinci: “Life without love, is no life at all.”
Here’s to the next 27!
I am feeling especially grateful today.
I was wrapped early from set yesterday, and had the entire day to run errands around the city. As I was walking around Union Square among the droves of tourists and Christmas shoppers, I stopped and looked up at the skyline of my beautiful city.
I still just cannot believe I’m lucky enough to live in this beautiful city, with such beautiful people, and beautiful friends, with the loving support of my beautiful family.
So let me just go to a dark place for one minute, to explain why I feel so, incredibly grateful on this chilly, December day.
A few years ago I thought I would never be happy again.
I had become so accustomed to shitty things happening to me, that I started to believe that perhaps that was just my lot in life; to be unhappy and get through life always a little sad.
Reading that sentence back, it sounds really depressing, but I’m getting to the happy part, I SWEAR!
I might sound like a broken record for those of you who avidly ready my blog, but something profound happened after my mother died. I told myself that my life would revolve around loving.
Loving what, you ask?
Well, I had to start by loving myself. And whether or not you’ve gone through hardships or not, loving oneself can often be the hardest kind of love to exhibit. Loving myself was not easy. It’s not easy to wake up every morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you love you exactly the way you are.
Side Note: I actually tell myself I love me every morning in the mirror. Try it. Seriously. You will that me later.
After I decided to love myself, I started giving more love to my family. Experiencing my mother’s death with my immediate family changed us all. I never hang up the phone with my father, brother or sister-in-law without telling them I love them.
Then I moved on to my friends (or my second family). There have been actual moments where I’ve texted friends and tell them I love them “just because.” Sometimes I don’t feel like I tell my friends enough how important they are to me.
I also decided to honor and love all aspects of my life: love for my city, love for my career path, love for my talents and creativity, love for my health, love for my body (this is a tough one).
I feel like this epiphany, or gift, or realization, or whatever you might call it was almost the universe’s way of telling me a little secret.
When I first moved to New York, after making the grandiose decision that I was going to “love” everybody and everything, I was confused about why the love did not immediately come back to me. I went through months where I was lonely, frustrated with my career and missed my old life in Boston. It took me a while, but I eventually found my core group of friends, found a groove with my starving artist lifestyle, and started living the life I’ve always wanted.
Yesterday, while strolling around Union Square, snow falling, wind blowing, I took a breath with my little asthmatic lungs, and smiled.
I wanted to run into the park, spin around and scream, “NEW YORK! I’M THE LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD!” (Someone please write a screen play about a neurotic, 20-something girl from the Midwest, and put this cheesy line in it. I’m waiting. No? Okay.)
Sure, I’m broke. I’m not famous (yet). I’m under-slept. I can get a little too drunk sometimes. I talk way too fast and too loud.
But I am LOVED.
I AM LOVED!
I had a moment this morning when I woke up and realized that I cannot even count the number of people who love me on my fingers and toes because there are just too many.
Now, this is not meant to come off as conceited, or brag-y, or look-at-me-I’m-Shannon-fucking-Allen-and-everybody-fucking-loves-me!
I’m saying this because I’m GRATEFUL. Grateful might actually be the understatement of the century. I am grateful, thankful, honored beyond belief, lucky, #blessed (even though I detest this hashtag, it is imperative that I include it to demonstrate my sheer level of gratitude), fortunate, appreciative, overwhelmed, HEART FILLED WITH ALL THE WARM FUZZIES I COULD EVER WANT OR NEED TO EXIST ON THIS PLANET UNTIL THE DAY I CROSS OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE!
(And not literally in the figurative meaning, which apparently Webster has recognized as an acceptable definition of a word that literally means the opposite of figuratively. No. Literally in the literal sense!)
The love I have received in the past few months has surpassed any and all expectations. The support for my creativity, career, life, and just in general who I am as a human being, is incredibly overwhelming.
I thank you.
I love you.
I always have.
I always will.
AND HERE’S A PICTURE OF A REALLY CUTE KITTEN… Because… Just because.
Note: This blog was written at approximately 8:51 p.m. central time while flying from Houston Hobby Airport to New York LaGuardia
I always have this sneaking suspicion that I’m going to die on an airplane.
I’m sorry to be morose, because it is not my intention to write a sad, twisted, macabre post, but that just might be what comes out here.
Let me first preface all this buffoonery by telling you that I used to be a great flyer. (Is it flier or flyer? Being the grammar nazi that I am, I should probably know this.) When I was younger, my family and I would take the occasional vacation where we would fly to various locations. I even flew to Chicago by myself at age 10 to visit my friend, Jessica.
However, in my 20s, I developed a pretty severe case of flight anxiety. Back when I was taking pills to control my anxiety disorder, (post death of my mother) I could just pop a generic Ativan and go comatose until we landed.
I’ve also developed the awful habit of becoming a “clap-lander,” AKA that obnoxious person who claps whenever the plane touches solid ground. (I know. Please roll your eyes into the back of your head. I think clap-landers might be on par with the annoyingness of negligent parents of small children on airplanes. No? Ok. Good.)
Let me also tell you that we are currently experiencing a fair amount of turbulence. The pilot has notified us that he is attempting to find a better altitude in order to “smooth out the ride,” but every dip we take just makes me think that I will plummet to my untimely death.
My brother and I actually had a conversation over brunch the other day about how truly safe flying is compared to any other type of travel. My brother, being the brilliant scientist that he is explained that he had an in-depth conversation with a pilot who had flown for 38 years.
(Side Note: only one child could receive the science/math genes in the family, and it happened to be gifted to him. I ended up with the leftover creative, overly-talkative, emotional genes. At least these help me be a funny, witty writer? Yes?)
Anyway, back to this pilot. So, essentially the engineers, mechanics, scientists, pilots, and everyone else involved in either flying the plane or constructing it, is a genius and that there are such strenuous tests put on these pieces of machinery, (not to mention the mind-boggling skill assessments of the people who fly them,) that planes hardly ever crash.
That being said, I’m still a bad flier (I still can’t fucking figure this out. Is it flyer or flier?? Dammit for not having access to Google to make me appear smarter than I really am)
*Addendum: Grammar Girl cleared it up a bit for me. If you care to, click on this link: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/flier-or-flyer
Begin Side Note:
(A side note before we get to to that side note: There are going to be lots of “side notes” in this post because I’m desperately trying to put my irrational anxiety into constructive form as we speak).
*Side Note continued: I just went to the bathroom. And here are some thoughts I had:
- Why is it that I always try to follow the rules, and not line up like an ass hole outside of the aircraft lavatory?? Because, without fail, at the exact moment I make that decision, a lady who has to take a gigantic shit ALWAYS gets up and steals my spot that I was holding silently in my mind because I wanted to play by the rules the flight attendants gave to me??
- Wow… this lady really is taking a gigantic shit based on the time she is spending in there. Now I REALLY feel like an ass hole standing here next to the flight attendants, them gazing at me thinking, “She obviously didn’t listen to us when we said not to line up outside the lavatory.”
- Male Flight Attendant: Can I help you with something?
- Shannon: I’m so sorry. I was just waiting for the light to go off and someone jumped in front of me in my imaginary line that I made up in my head. I just wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.
- Male Flight Attendant (Looking confused): Okay. Don’t worry.
- Now that that terribly awkward moment passed, I decided to stare at my surroundings (remember, there is a lady taking an Earth-shattering shit in there) and notice this little, teeny rearview-type mirror hanging above me. After staring at myself for a few minutes (remember, we have lots of minutes here) I think that I look devastatingly cute, but extremely weird. Now, you may be asking yourself how these two idea can coexist. Well, I’ll tell you. I’m currently wearing black yoga capris, a Ghostbusters crew neck sweatshirt with the sleeves rolled up, a hippie bandana on my head, my favorite skull scarf around my neck and black combat boots that don’t come quite high enough, so my unshaved legs are peeking out just the tiniest bit. But, to offset this mess of an ensemble, I think to myself, “Shan, you look like a true New Yorker! Someone who doesn’t give a shit about what other people think and is confident in her weird, not-put-together style at the moment.” Then I sigh and look down at the floor, because I have been standing here for what feels like eternity, waiting for this mysterious woman to stop shitting. This prompts me to have a thought.
- “Gee! I hope someday someone will love me enough not to care that I have big thick legs that kind of bow into each other like some strange oversize, chubby baby legs.” And then all my good thoughts about my quirkiness disappear.
- Lastly, I think about how dreadful it’s going to be as I enter the bathroom as the lady in front of me (SURPRISE!) did indeed take a “I’m-gonna-drop-my-10-oversized-children-off-at-the-pool” shit. )
End Side Note.
Back to my story:
So during this bout of turbulence we had earlier, I jammed my pair of cheap ear buds into my ears, cranked up my newly-purchased Foo Fighters album (FYI: Sonic Highways, both the album and show are fantastic) and started reading Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please.
Her book is lovely thus far, and one part in particular that called out to me was when she had her parents write the story of her birth. Amy’s mother was very detailed, talking about each step in her labor, while Amy’s father was not in the room during labor (it was the 70s) and his portion was short and concise about how excited he was to be a father. After both parents’ excerpts, Amy places a few pages for the reader to have their parents write down the story of their own births.
At at moment I wanted to cry. (The operative word here being “wanted.”)
Why is this so important?
BECAUSE I WANTED TO CRY, DAMMIT! And because I never got the story of my birth from my mother, which I knew would be similar to Mrs. Poehler: detailed and touched with the love that only a mother can give. Sure, I can still ask my dad about my labor, but the sadness I felt the moment I realized that I could not pick up the phone after this flight (pending that I don’t plummet to my death) was profound.
A funny thing happened to me after my mom died. At first, I couldn’t stop crying. Everything would make me cry. I cried watching tv, if a professor told me that I got an A minus instead of an A on a project, if I didn’t receive a goodnight text from my boyfriend. (You get the idea). And then there was the SOBBING: i.e. when I would think about my mother and the life I would have to keep living without her. Then came the ugliness of depression, anxiety, therapy and corrective medication.
Then all the sudden it stopped. I stopped crying. I stopped sobbing. I didn’t need therapy or pills or nights where I would drink myself stupid and look at pictures of my mom, silently cursing whatever god actually exists in this great big universe.
It is very rare that I cry anymore. The last time I cried was fairly recently, but in all fairness, I was four drinks in, and saw my ex boyfriend AKA the man I thought I was going to marry for a good three years of my existence.
Sometimes, not being the waterworks that I used to be is nice. But in that moment when I looked at the blank pages of Amy’s book, I wanted to cry so badly, I started to forget about the turbulence and focused on how frustrated I was that my heart would not let me release the tension it so desperately wanted to let out of it.
And then I started thinking, how would Ro have told the story of my birth? Do you tell the story of a birth, similar to the way we recite eulogies? You know, where the eulogizer (Or as Zoolanger calls it, a “You-Google-Izer”) highlights all the best parts of a person’s life and leaves out the hairy details. No, Ro wouldn’t do that. Ro would make sure to tell every nitty-gritty detail of my birth, because she (like her daughter) loved to tell stories with so many ancillary details, that the listener sometimes forgets the original point of the story.
Sound familiar?? :)
Then I started thinking about Ro’s death. And how a doctor give her a time frame of how long she had left in her human body. What is that like? What is it like to be told that you have a quantifiable amount of moments left in your existence?
For instance: If there was a clairvoyant here on my plane and he/she told me that this plane would crash tonight, would I become paralyzed with fear, or would I pick out the cutest boy on the plane, join the mile-high club and drink all the alcohol shooters and go out with a bang? (Ha ha! See what I did there??? Sorry Dad, if you’re reading this portion.)
My mom sure didn’t stop living her life when she was given time. In fact, she tried so hard to stay alive that she not only lived a few weeks past when the doctors said she would, but some days her blood counts were so low, it was a kind of medical miracle that she was physically standing.
But back to why I can’t cry.
I’m worried that I’ve become a bit hardened. Or maybe it’s just that once you’ve already had the worst day of your life (i.e. the day my mother died) and everything else is shifted in relativity. I can’t tell.
But I can tell you something, after reading the first half of Amy’s book tonight, (I’m a fast reader) I feel like I’m going to try to live my life like my plane is crashing. Not to say that I don’t already attempt to live life to the fullest, but I’m just going to try a little harder. I’m going to try a little harder to tear away the layers that have accumulated on top of my heart. (As one of my favorite animated characters once told me, “Ogres are like onions.)
And once I peel away these layers, my heart might become a tender and fresh again. Of course there is always the fear that I will yet again be vulnerable to all the trials and tribulations that go along with being an emotional person, but I think I might be a better person for it.
So now that I’ve gone ahead and spilled my innards all over this post, like I tend to do from time to time, I feel as though I have run out of words.
Hopefully if this plane does, indeed crash, one of my family members will recover my laptop and open the “notes” application where I keep my list of passwords, my log of all the background/stand jobs I’ve worked on, and tidbits of unfinished songs/blog posts, and see that that there is one completed, thoughtful, kind-of-sad-but-in-a-funny-way blog post that the world simply MUST see. (Finish run-on sentence)
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Today is not a good day.
In fact. Today has been the worst day I’ve had in MONTHS.
However… this bad day has come after a series of extremely good days, so I suppose it was bound to happen.
I’m incredibly sorry for my radio silence the last month and 1/2. I’ve been busy, busy, busy as I always tend to be. So in order to catch you up, I’m going to do one of my blogs where I just let myself stream-of-conscious, talk-to-myself, Shan Baby rants.
Hey Shan Baby, how are you doing??
Ugh, not so great today. Having a bad one, ya know?
Oh yeah, I know about those. What happened?
Well… there’s a situation with a boy that I EPICALLY fucked up. Then there’s the fact that I’m poor, despite my best efforts to chase my dream. AND the Holidays are coming up which tend to make me sad. AND I’m worried about my health since I’ve always been a hypochondriac. AND I feel like I keep going back to people that make me ultimately feel like shit.
Woah, woah woah. That’s a lot of stuff. Let’s take it one step at a time. So boys. That’s been an ongoing problem. Talk to me.
YES! I need to just stop gravitating toward these men who take my wild energy and positivity and turn it into something negative. I’m tired of not being taken on dates. I’m tired of being open and honest with a person and then them telling me my honesty is too much. I’m tired of being Murphy’s Law when it comes to men. I know that right now I should be focused on myself, but I HAVE been focused on myself for almost twenty-seven FUCKING years! I don’t think it’s too much to ask for someone to accept me and love me the way I DESERVE to be loved.
At least you can write a song about it, yeah?
Oh absolutely! I wrote most of the lyrics on the train ride home.
Good girl. Bouncing back as usual.
Yeah, but unfortunately being creative also makes me poor. I LOVE what I do, but I feel like my career is a series of “almosts.” I’m ready to make an “almost” a “break.” I still have not let myself get bogged down by rejection. It only fuels me to get better, but at some point, something MUST happen. I’m almost 27…
You’re right. We aren’t getting any younger…
I remember when I used to tell myself I would be “famous” by the time I was 25. Well… I’ve done a lot of great things (more than most in my industry) in almost 27 years, but I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I’m hoping with hard work and passion, I can make the last three years of my twenties count.
Yeah… December 20th is fast approaching…
Yes it is, and that also means that it’s almost my old favorite time of the year, Christmas. But these last few years, Christmas has lost its luster. I’m still not done needing a mother, and the Holidays only remind me of that. I want to enjoy Christmas like I used to. Now it just seems like an obligatory gathering when I put on a smile and brave through the gatherings and food and presents, when I just really want a chance to go back in time and make some of those pre-2011 Christmases count.
Yep, the Holidays suck when you are part of the Dead Mothers Club.
I heard that. I just think I’m in a bit of a funk, but I need to remind myself that I have done a lot of REALLY significant, career-moving things in the last few years. I love myself, and I have a lot of love for my family and friends, so if I continue to hustle and spread the love, how could I not keep moving myself in a positive direction.
Good thinking. I like where your head’s at.
Me too. Now it’s time to keep hustling and get ready for this overnight tv shoot.
That’s my girl! Now get out there and hustle Shan Baby!
Thanks Shan Baby!