About Susan

Susan Kent is a small town Georgia girl living in Brooklyn, NY, and working on those deep rooted issues from her southern upbringing. She's a freelance writer and storyteller and co-host of Tell It: Brooklyn, a storytelling show for grownups. Susan frequently performs around NYC at shows like The Moth StorySLAM, Yum's the Word, and Mara Wilson's "What Are You Afraid Of?" Her stories have aired on a variety of podcasts and radio shows including, The Moth Radio Hour, Kevin Allison's Risk! podcast, Dingmantics, You Can't Make That Up and many others. If you want to get more intimate with Susan & her thoughts, feel free to follow her on Twitter @TheSusanKent. (Not to be confused with the Canadian actress of the same name, which happens more than you would believe.)

The Binge is Over

You people want to talk the hardest workers in America?

It’s these guys.

I would like to send a special shout out to the makers of American Eagle denim jeggings who not only measure my wide behind at a Size 12, they let me return to my ripped skinny jean glory days of 1984-89. Now, if only I could talk someone into giving me a spiral perm and backstage passes to Trixter.

Why do I call my jeggings the hardest workers in America?

Well, they’re all I’ve worn since I discovered them last spring, so there’s that. Also, American Eagle had the genius to include a massive quantity of elastic in their denim, so when I started bulging over the too-low-to-begin-with waistline over the last month or so, they held on like a champ. I didn’t even rip a belt loop. (Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

The reason my beloved AEJs have been suffering these past few months is because things are going so freaking well in my life. I’ve been storytelling my ass off — Barbershop Stories, The Next Chapter, Local Stories, The Moth — I’ve been featured on the Risk! Podcast twice, and as the result of the first time I was on there, I was interviewed for a documentary-style show about people who hide information for one reason or another.

People, I have finally gotten my shot at reality TV and it’s not Jerry Springer.

Now, what does this all have to do with me picking up some extra pounds? Well, I feel great about my writing, I’m officially a full-time freelancer, Tell It: Brooklyn passed the 1-year mark and overall, everything’s pretty awesome. Naturally, I’m totally freaked out.

Being the emotional binger that I am, I have found that anytime things are going either too great or too shitty in my life, my wardrobe suffers. Apparently I have a subconscious level of stasis where I feel balanced and don’t feel the urge to overstuff myself with sugar. It seems to lie just between “blissfully wonderful” and “kinda crappy.”

When I’m on a depressed swing, I’m eating stacks of Oreos 6 at a time throughout the day with lots of milk. Sometimes they’ll even be accompanied by chocolate peanut butter ice cream and/or a pack of Enteman’s chocolate cup cakes with the little white swirl on top. Treating myself to thousands of calories and unimaginable levels of toxins somehow takes my mind off my woes – probably because the focus switches to mentally controlling my nausea and taking inventory of all the places where I can feel fat rolls collapsing into themselves without using my hands.

If you had any idea how much of this cake I ate over the course of 2 days, it would make you physically ill.

The manic binge pretty much goes the same. Ice cream, cake from the neighbors (get behind me, Apartment 5), pecan pie … I’ll eat almost anything sweet as long as it’s not some lame piece of seasonal fruit.

Thankfully, I’m pulling my shit back together, putting down the desserts and already the jeggings are feeling the possibility of a long-overdue break. Once we get through this holiday-o-rama and we hit 2013, it is so on.

American Eagle size 10, here I come.

 

Oh, yeah.

When you:

  • have a question about grandma’s biscuit recipe
  • make a list of gifts you want to buy for Christmas
  • see a package in the hall 2 days before your birthday

you’re struck with amnesia for a second.

Then you remember that your mom’s dead and in that moment you lose her all over again.

Sigh.

Folks, I’m telling you. DPC is no joke.

Holler back if ya feel me.

 

A Vote for Religious Acceptance

Growing up in the Deep South as a closeted lesbian, out liberal, non-Christian who never used the N word, I had to make some choices when it came to making friends. On the large scale – and I’m talking in the 90th percentile – the people I grew up around disagreed with me on pretty much every issue you can imagine.

They’re adamantly racist, not big into education beyond what is mandated by the state, they hate the gays (or anyone else who has a lifestyle beyond a smidgen off of what their own is) and most of them really, truly believe that if we’re good in life that in death we get literal feathered appendages and travel to a miraculous land just above the clouds where they have gold-paved streets and non-stop harp music.

(A baby out of Zeus’ head? Confounding. Shape-shifting fowl? Preposterous. Resurrection that doesn’t end in a zombie apocalypse? Absolutely … why not?)

I remember wondering how in the hell people could be so adamant about things that were to me, so obviously banana-pants loony. Still, a person has to have someone to hang out with, so I made allowances. Looking back, I realize that my friends did too. They called me Yankee for not being a real Southerner and I wore the name proudly though I was actually born in Florida. It portrayed an integral difference between us that we overlooked because we were alike in lots of other important ways.

Today, the majority of the people I know from my hometown are still living a small town Georgia life like the one we grew up in. They love being there as much as I love being out of there. And just as I’ve grown more confident and secure in my basic beliefs, so have they.

Some of my dearest childhood friends are now fervent, outspoken, hard-nosed Christian adults who have a penchant for racial slurs and shooting cute, fluffy animals. They include one person who was rumored to be a KKK member, and another who as much as she loves me – believes that I’m going to an actual place called Hell where I will burn for all eternity because of my dirty, gay ways.

Like the rest of the world, I’ve reconnected with a lot of my childhood friends on Facebook. And because of what a lot of my childhood friends believe, I avoid discussing religion or politics online. I’m not kowtowing or being conciliatory; I just don’t want to stir up any shit that I don’t have to.

Though every once in a while I get really tempted.

When I saw this on another friend’s page my gut reaction was, “Hell YES!” but the truth is I don’t want to de-friend everyone who is going to vote for Mitt Romney. For instance, that friend of mine who believes I’m going to Hell, capital H, is voting for Mitt Romney, and I love her. She was my first college roommate and she’s the reason I had the guts to move out of Fitzgerald. And in the late 80’s, she stood up to her entire South Georgia high school faculty and a wide margin of the student body, openly protested their policy of segregated proms and was responsible for getting the story out to the media.

Then she danced her ass off at the first mixed prom in the school’s history. That’s fucking cool. So, yeah. She’s a Southern Baptist (Methodist?) Republican voting for a douche bag who plans to shit all over most of my personal rights if elected president. At the same time, she’s one of my oldest and dearest friends.

Now, as evidenced by the still-segregated Southern proms in many high schools nearly 70 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, progress moves hella slow down there. In light of that fact, you can actually interpret a vote for Mitt Romney as being a step in the right direction.

Okay, yeah, it’s an enormous step backwards when it comes to gays and anyone out there with genuine lady parts, but for religious freedom and acceptance … this is big time progress.

  • Voting against the black dude, not surprising.
  • Voting Republican, expected.
  • Voting for a practicing Mormon? Remarkable!

Seriously. Not in a million, billion years would I have thought that any of my born again pals in the Deep South would ever vote for someone who practices a religion so different from their own. I mean, remember how upset everyone got because they thought Obama was Muslim? (Remember how a lot of people still believe Obama is Muslim?)

A few days ago, I spent the afternoon learning about Mormonism from two women who grew up in the faith, but don’t currently practice it. I have to say, I’m pretty stunned at how open-minded the Southern Christians are being about Mitt being LDS.

Here are some things I learned about Mormon doctrine:

  • There is a heaven hierarchy with 3 levels: Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial
  • Satan is Jesus’s little spirit brother
  • When Jesus was supposedly interred behind a boulder for 3 days in Jerusalem, he was actually visiting America
  • God the Father used to be a regular human just like you on a planet just like this (but not this one), and was so good at being Mormon that he got to go to the topmost heaven, Celestial, where he was turned into a god and was given his own planet (this one) to rule
  • Just like God, if you are good and follow the Mormon faith to the letter, YOU can be a god, too!
  • The second coming of Christ is scheduled to arrive in the Show Me State of Missouri

Here (mostly according to www.Mormon.org) is the backstory:

It was 1820 and this 15-year-old kid Joseph Smith was living upstate in Manchester, NY. His town was undergoing a big change in that the citizens were segregating themselves as to which religious sect they most identified with. (Joseph Smith – HistoryWell, Joseph couldn’t figure out which one to join so he went to the woods and asked God. God’s answer?

None, son.

From there, Joseph becomes a prophet, gets these golden plates upon which are written the story of Jesus’s visit to America. Oh, and the rules to the only true religion officially recognized by God: Mormonism.

The words on the plates are Hebrew, written in reformed Egyptian characters, but that’s okay. God also sent Joseph two “seer” stones that, when dropped into a hat, revealed the translation to Joseph.

Badda bing, badda boom: Book of Mormon

See what I’m saying? Mormonism is a far cry from any Christian denomination I’m aware of, so seeing my friends step so far out of their religious comfort zones and vote for Mitt Romney – a member of what most of them would call a cult – shows that they’re way more open-minded than people give them credit for.

 

Welcome Back, Weekends!

There it is folks … my last bartending shift ever. Last weekend I had the most fantastic night. There were balloons tied to my register when I got in to work, friends brought me roses and masks, the staff signed a good luck card and my dear Carmelita gave me a little group of presents, including the coolest, most manageable journal ever:

Tonight’s my first Friday as a non-bartender and I’ve got to say it feels pretty great. I’ve spent the entire week forcing people to ask me what I do for a living.

I’m a writer. Period.

I’ve been to three storytelling shows since Monday, including my own. I’m writing my first blog post in over a month and I’m working on a new story for my next performance at Spill! Not to mention the other new story I’ve got waiting in the wings that I’m planning to write so I can drop my name in the hat at the Moth StorySLAM on October 29th.

And tomorrow, dear readers. Tomorrow, I will wake up like a normal person, in the morning, with a full-night’s sleep behind me and it’s going to be the best Saturday ever.

SoDisco Wasn’t Available

After years as @SoDiscomforts, I recently changed my Twitter handle to …

@TheSusanKent.

That’s right. Like @TheMadonna or @TheAnthonyMichaelHall (not their actual Twitter handles), I have deemed myself THE Susan Kent. Now, I realize that this could be interpreted as me getting too big for my britches, but listen: the simple SusanKent wasn’t available and I’ve been fighting with my given first name, Mary, for decades.

Teacher, first day of school, every first day of school, forever: Mary Kent?

Me, Irritated: Here … I go by Susan.

Seriously. You would think it’s not that big of a deal, but I’m telling you. It wears on your nerves. In fact, by the time I was in college, I got so tired of it that  in my Arthur Miller Seminar Class, I finally decided to just go by Mary, which backfired on me because my professor was 90 years old and more than a little senile. So, when one of my classmates referred to me as Susan, it blew her mind so much that the rest of the semester we went through a “Mary? Susan? Which one is it? Oh, I forget which one … you know. You!” each time she addressed me in class.

Long story short, regardless of my email and banking name, M Susan Kent, there was no way I was going to incorporate Mary into my Twitter handle, Jesus’s mother’s name or not.

Thus: @TheSusanKent. Like @ThePrince. Or @TheDavidSedaris. (Again, probably not their actual Twitter handles.)

And you know what? I’m dedicated to living up to it.

I remember.

It was a gorgeous Tuesday morning. I was riding the subway to work humming “Rock With You” after a fantastic Michael Jackson show at the Garden. When I got to my office I got a phone call. “Susan, there’s a hole in the World Trade Center. Turn on a TV.”

I was working as an event producer and we had a gig at Windows on the World the next morning.

“Listen, Dan. I don’t have time for this. I’ve got to make sure the linens are being delivered today.”

Two hours later I was standing in line at Mount Sinai with hundreds of other people until the hospital staff reverently announced that there weren’t enough survivors to give blood to. So we left.

My friends and I walked thirty blocks to an apartment where, with the rest of the world, we watched news coverage and cried until we couldn’t bear crying anymore. We went to a local bar – one of the few NY businesses that opened their doors that night – and we scoffed at the 20-somethings who were playing pool and acting as if our world hadn’t been shattered.

I’m not the same as I was eleven years and one day ago. And in many ways, that’s a very good thing.

If You Ever Doubted My Stories About South Georgia…

An old high school friend, and (full disclosure) a guy who I had a crush on back in the day, recently made a comment on his Facebook wall and although I know better, I responded. Now, I know that I grew up in South Georgia and that a lot of my old friends and I do not see eye to eye on a lot of things — not that we did back then either, but I was kind of outnumbered. So, it was either tolerate some pretty severe differences, or go without friends.

Since Facebook has come around, I’ve reconnected with a lot of these people again. We share a history and they’ve each had an impact on my life, and most of them in a good way. I’m fully aware that the differences are still there, so I’ve tried to maintain a distance when it comes to posts that involve politics or religion. I really have.

But this time I just couldn’t help it.

I’ve copied the thread below, and only included the folks who became big players in the conversation. If you’re friends with me on Facebook – feel free to search through my page to see the whole mess. And, note, all misspellings and flagrant grammatical aberrations  are their own.

Old High School Friend: Anyone who supports Obama, can officially say they are a sellout, the fucking nigger is a sellout, and the blacks just see he looks black, he IS gonna fuck us all though, I guess then blacks and whites will finally come together and defeat the niggers of the world! It has nothing to do with color for me, it’s how u represent urself…..hear that urself, yep u r actually responsible for U and what U do, and HOW u do it!!

Susan Kent seriously? on your facebook wall? i guess there is some respect for you showing your true colors. but … gotta say. it’s super sad to see it. enjoy being a “christian”.

Lady Friend #1: Old High School Friend is a christian. A very angry one right now…..and yes this is HIS facebook wall LIKE IT OR NOT.

Lady Friend #2: Did you know he also won the Nobel Piece Prize n for what?

Lady Friend #2: Last I checked it’s not Christian to judge n we do live in American so we have freedom of our opinion n SPEECh……It’s what we call an amendment? Shakalaka…

Lady Friend #2: Ok folks do we have to be so serious n intense? It is what it is Obama F**ked up n this should never be about race but he opened that door. This is the first president to find a way to tax the “pale people of the world” yes he put a flippin tax on the tanning bed!! Really? He just lost my vote he singled out a race n that’s just not cool.

Lady Friend #2:N I’m seriously putting this on FB!!!! I got ur back my brother n beautiful friend. Speak ur mind n be proud of where we come from n what we believe in. We actually do what we say n don’t make pormiises we never intend on keeping. Apparently Oboma is not from the South.

Susan Kent I guess some people have different definitions of “Christian.”

Lady Friend #1: Some people dont go around defining and judging who or what a “christian” is.

Lady Friend #2: Amen Lady Friend #1 ….

Lady Friend #2: Ok… If you judge someone for haveing an opinion or how they express it is just flippin wrong n why throw religon in the mix? Old High School Friend is one of the most kind, honest, non judgemental n giving person I know. He would give the shirt off his back if needed so to call him or his opinion Un Christian is pissing folks off n just not cool!! Ugh to live in the Bible Belt…

Susan Kent I was referring to his blatant racism.

Old High School Friend: This is where I chime in, I’m not racist, is not color, damn it is so easy to say that and play that card, I have black friends, I respect them as they do me, but here, and what ur not gonna believe is, they agree with me they don’t like “niggers” either, u r the reason it’s the way it is, the easiest way to control is to divide, u r just part of the problem, because u r not looking from outside the box, if U will noticed I said maybe then the blacks and white will come together and defeat the niggers of the world, u folks kill me u only see what u want to see as they want it to be……puppet

Old High School Friend: Thanks Lady Friend #2 for the comments i am who I am……me

Lady Friend #1: Its ok for blacks to be racist. After all their great great great grandparents were done wrong by our great great great grandparents. I for one am sick of the constant pity party. I dont feel sorry for people white or black who wont work. Im treated horrible by certain people just because I am white. It is about time we start standing up for ourselves and arent afraid to say that we have been treated unfairly. I for one am glad that Steve isnt afraid to call a spade a spade. No pun intended.

Susan Kent Old High School Friend, ask your black friends how they feel about you using the word “nigger” to refer to people – there are plenty of other words that you could use that don’t incite such a reaction. I am positive you know that and I was just surprised how easily you used it in such a public forum.

Lady Friend #1: It was a poor choice of words but we live in very unfair world and those things happen when we are angry. I dont think it was a word I would have used but attacking them and their faith isnt any better. Sometimes it is better to just let people speak their feelings and talk to them about it, not scold them like a child. It only makes matters worse and you looking just as guilty.

Lady Friend #1:  Him and his faith….not them and their. Oops

Old High School Friend: They are sitting next to me, looking over my shoulder, what you do not understand is that I actually speak from my heart, we share this planet….we all do, that is why I can use it, just as I say it, because I fucking mean it, it comes from my heart, it’s not color as u so r tryin so hard to make it, it’s just as I say, they come in all colors, and I use it because y’all do but only when it’s in your favor or gain

Susan Kent Of course you can say whatever you like and I’m sure that it comes from your heart and that you mean it. But, I’m not sure what you mean by “I use it because y’all do but only when it’s in your favor or gain”.

Old High School Friend:  Look I’m not looking to debate, it’s what each of us believes, and its my page, either don’t read it or unfriend me, thats the only two choices u have

And, as soon as I’m sure there are going to be no more comments on the thread … I’ll be making my choice.