My Prince Memories – Shannon in Kansas City

I found out that Prince died on Thursday morning.  I was working in my restaurant and a customer told me the news.  I was absolutely shocked.  Prince hadn’t seemed to age in about fifteen years.  He seemed to be the picture of health to me.  Many people are thinking about retirement at age fifty seven but Prince seemed like a person that still had a lot of passion and things to accomplish.

I grew up listening to Prince’s music.  I remember when “1999” was a hit and it seemed so far off in the future.  I was eight or so.  I did the math and figured out that I would be twenty four in 1999.  I couldn’t even imagine myself at that age or what the future would be like.  Now I’m forty one and the year is 2016 and 1999 and being twenty four is a distant memory.

In the 1980s there was an urban legend that if you played a Prince record backward you would hear a satanic message.  I couldn’t resist giving it a try.  There was no message to be heard, just unintelligible words and ugly sounds.  I failed to summon the devil or any demonic spirits in my bedroom.  I can’t remember if I was relieved or disappointed.

“Purple Rain” was released when I was in the fourth grade.  I didn’t see the movie until many years later but I became familiar with it from my classmates.  They reenacted scenes from the movie on the playground and quoted the movie whenever they could work it into a conversation.  I do not remember when I actually saw the movie for myself but I thought it was awful.  The plot was weak and Prince was actually a terrible actor.  But the soundtrack was fantastic.  The movie was the star.

I remember when Prince decided to have a concert tour in the early 90s.  He came to the FOX theater in Detroit and I tried desperately to get tickets.  I think tickets went on sale at 10:00 a.m.  I arrived at the Harmony House at the local mall in the town where I lived at around 10:05 a.m. and the clerk told me that tickets were already sold out.  I was shocked but I was not going to be denied so easily.  I spent the rest of that day desperately trying to win tickets from the radio station.  I never got through so I gave up.

I’ve seen Prince in concert twice.  Both times it was in Kansas City, MO.  The first time I saw him at Municipal Auditorium downtown with a lady that I knew from my job at the time.  I wore a purple bobbed wig, a purple tank top and jeans.  I have a photograph of that ensemble somewhere but I haven’t taken the effort to locate it.  It was pretty sexy if I must say so myself.  Take my word for it.  The second time I saw him at Kemper Arena with my mom.

After missing out on the chance to see him in Detroit I jumped at the chance to buy tickets to a Prince show.  Both shows were fantastic.  He was a true musician and a purist.  His shows were simple.  His act didn’t involve magic tricks, pyrotechnics, or a dozen back up dancers.  I was just him and his incredibly talented band.

There is a Facebook meme that has been circulating that asks what your favorite Prince song is.  I was up until 3:00 a.m. Friday morning listening to his songs on my mp3 player.  I can’t decided.  I really can’t.  But I think I’m leaning toward “Raspberry Beret”.  I’ve always liked those lyrics.

I admire Prince’s creativity and passion.  He was incredibly accomplished and was ahead of his time.  He was 5’2″, wore high heels, ruffled shirts but had more masculine swagger than many, many men.  His music was sexy without being vulgar.  At least he wasn’t vulgar to me.  Prince seemed to be a man that loved, admired, respected and valued women and that makes the difference between sexy and vulgar.

Prince will be missed but we will have his music forever.  If the world survives another few centuries I wonder if his work will be among the ranks of Mozart, Beethoven or Tchaikovsky.  I hope so, his music is a sign of our times (pun intended).

“Life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last.”

 

 

My XXX Experience – Shannon in Kansas City

I’ve been reading testimonials on social media lately about well known people and their experiences with pornography.  I’ve considered writing about my thoughts on pornography in the past but I chickened out because I was ashamed to admit that I ever indulged in on line erotica.  I’m still ashamed that I ever used pornography but I feel that shame binds people into keeping secrets which only exacerbates problems that can be overcome.

I am a single woman that is not a virgin but has been celibate for an extended period of time.  One day several years ago it occurred to me that I really didn’t remember what sex was like.  This made me feel deprived, sad and out of touch with other adult people.  I was stupid for feeling that way because I was actually blessed.  I had returned to an innocence that I had lost but I didn’t appreciate that at the time.

One night I typed the word horny into the search engine on my computer and I came in contact with internet pornography.  It was not the first time I had seen pornography.  When I was a child growing up I use to see my copies of Playboy at my dad’s house.  I also saw a copy of Penthouse at my aunt’s house when I was young.  It was the issue that featured the disgraced Miss America Vanessa Williams.  I remember those images vividly.  I was about eight years old.  I’ve also seen soft core porn on HBO late at night and I saw an erotic movie at a friend’s house when I was a teenager on a VHS tape.

The first thing that struck me about internet porn was the sheer volume of it.  You will never get to the bottom of the porn pit on the internet.  I was not initially aroused or appalled.  I was mostly just enthralled and shocked by it.  It was fascinating.  I couldn’t believe that so many people were willing to perform these acts in front of a camera.  I had no idea that people behaved this way.  I had one hundred questions for the people in the videos.

Watching porn became a habit over a three year or so period.  I didn’t watch it every day.  My visits to porn sites were sometimes quite infrequent.  I would become aroused and experiment with masturbation.  I told myself that I was preparing myself for my future spouse.  I told myself that I was practicing safe sex.  I told myself that I was learning about my own body.  I no longer think this way.  Even if these statements were true I was selfishly taking advantage of other people that are probably disadvantaged in some way for my own benefit.

The more I watched porn the more I questioned why I did it.  Honestly, it is very corny and not sexy at all.  It’s not really sexy because porn is purely sex.  Porn films have nothing to do with flirtation or chemistry.  There is no story to be told about two humans connecting and nurturing a relationship.  It’s just sex.  It’s just two people fucking like animals.  After a while porn wasn’t even arousing anymore.

Before I began experimenting with pornography I really had no problem with it.  I thought that it could be useful for people that did not have a sexual partner, or people that were incarcerated or unable to have sex for whatever reason.  But as I watched porn I realized how degrading and sometimes violent it was towards women.  I’ve seen porn videos where the women were clearly drunk or high.  Perhaps that what they needed to do in order to perform.

I don’t consider myself to be a feminist but I am in favor of women having equal opportunities and respect.  I couldn’t in good conscious continue to watch pornography and consider myself to be an encourager of women.  I also didn’t feel like I could call myself a follower of Christ and continue to use pornography.  I can’t find a scripture that directly speaks against masturbation or being a passive viewer of immorality but I’m pretty confident that it is not in God’s will for us to spend our time watching strangers have sex like stray cats.

I wrote a blog posting in the past about the benefits of being a Christian.  A benefit that I didn’t mention about the Christian life is that if you believe that the Bible is the absolute word of God you have an unwavering standard about what is right and what is wrong.  If a Christian takes a wrong turn in life they have a road map on how to get back on track.  It is such a blessing to have an absolute like the word of God in your life.

Breaking my porn habit is probably similar to what smokers go through when they try to quit.  I had to pray my way through it and ask for strength and forgiveness.  I would go long periods of time without watching porn and then something would inspire me to watch it again.  I had to repeat the steps of asking for strength and forgiveness.  I saw a public service announcement once that told smokers to never quit quitting.  I had quit watching porn several times.

My experience with porn showed me that porn is degrading to women.  It is not about enjoying sex at all.  Most of it is based on domination and humiliation.  Women are almost always placed in a subservient position in XXX films.  Porn is not empowering or liberating to women in any way.  It is the exact opposite.  I have no research to substantiate but I have a strong feeling that the availability and heavy usage of pornography is responsible for the aggressive attitude that American culture has toward women.

I became involved with pornography out of loneliness.  I was longing for intimacy and I tried to use masturbation and sexually charged images as a substitute.  It didn’t work.  I wasted a great deal of time and nearly destroyed a computer because I exposed it to a virus through a porn site.  Pornography is degrading to women and men and it reduces human beings to our most primal instincts.  Those primal instincts are not what make humans great.  Our minds and our souls are what make us different from other life forms.  Pornography does not explore the mind or the soul.

Once the initial shock and awe of pornography wears off you see that it’s not even sexy.  It’s very corny and unrealistic.  There is no way in the hell I would do most of that shit.  Pornography has absolutely no redeeming value for any man or woman.  I’m glad that I know the Lord and His standards.  Once again God’s standards saved and the Holy Spirit guided me to a more righteous path

 

Russell Brand on Pornography

Terry Crews on Pornography

Ted Bundy on Pornography

 

 

 

 

Waitressing While Black – Shannon in Kansas City

I have had several customer service jobs in my life.  My career has mostly consisted of working in retail and I have had restaurant jobs as well.  I have learned a lot about the human race while working as a public servant.  Some of it is good.  Some is just matter of fact.  Much of what I’ve learned is disappointing.

I am a Black woman and I’ve noticed that some customers treat me differently than my non Black counterparts.  I have had retail sales jobs where I greeted a customer and asked them if I can help them find anything.  They would coldly tell me that they were just looking and barely make eye contact.  A non Black store employee would approach them a minute later and the customer’s entire demeanor would change and they gladly let the non Black store associate assist them.  I have witnessed this scenario time and time again.

The world has a coldness and condescending attitude towards Blacks.  I have often felt that a lot of non Black people have a hard time interacting with Black people without trying to correct or dominate them in some way.  A lot of non Black people feel like it is their right to dominate any interaction with a Black person.  Sometimes they try to dominate through subtle hints which express disdain for the Black party and sometimes they are more aggressive.

I currently work as a server at a chain restaurant that is popular across the U.S.  I had a string of customers over the weekend that were very course and rude over the weekend.  Now I’m sure you’re saying all servers have dealt with rude customers and you would be right.  But I’ve been Black a long enough to know when I’m dealing with the passive aggressive “You ain’t shit nigger” type of rudeness which is pervasive throughout America.

These particular customers had harshness in their eyes and were very coarse with their words.  If I said something to clarify their order they would snap back in a snotty way in order to imply that I was stupid.  Some of them avoided eye contact all together when speaking and talked down into their plates.  They were very cold, distant, dismissive and rude.  This type of behavior is common in Missouri.  I’ve never thought that people here are very nice.

People love to find and excuse for racist behavior so I want to say that these particular customers had nasty attitudes as soon as I approached their table so I know it was nothing I did.  It was the way I looked that made them so hateful.  Some may tell me to just suck it up sister.  Believe me I have.  Sucking it up and toughing it out gets tiring.  So I’m writing about my experiences as a creative outlet and to let my voice be heard among the handful of people that read this blog. (Thank you)

I want to encourage any other Black public servants out there to keep your head up and be professional.  It’s not your problem my friend it’s theirs.  Keep working hard.  Don’t let the prejudice and hatred on someone else’s heart affect you in anyway.  Like Beyoncé said “Always be gracious your best revenge is your paper”.