I Heard They Make em Thick out there in the Midwest!

Hello, my name is Shannon Allen and I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio.

No, I did NOT grow up on a farm.

No, I did NOT go cow tipping in High School.

No, I did NOT drive a tractor to school.

No, I did not grow up on a corn field… although I know people who did… and they had the BEST games of capture the flag because hiding in the cornfield was AWESOME.

Living in New York, people have certain “ideas” about what the Midwest is like.

I’m here to tell you all that although I was most definitely BORN to be a city girl, I have a lot of love for where I grew up.

So here are the reasons I love the Midwest (specifically Northeastern Ohio/Cleveland)

1. We are friendly.

Everyone always talks about “Southern Hospitality” and believe me, I have SO many Southern friends who are incredibly hospitable, but Midwesterners are inherently friendly. We can start conversations with ANYONE. I’ve been on a crowded subway wearing a Cleveland Browns shirt and started a conversation with a COMPLETE stranger about growing up in Ohio.

Put a Midwesterner in a room full of people he/she doesn’t know and watch what happens. My roommate is constantly laughing about my crazy ability to make friends everywhere I go. I always thought that was a natural trait in most human beings. Apparently not!

I’ve come to find out that it is most definitely a trait I recognize in Midwesterners. And I love it.

2. They make us women THICK in the Midwest

I know I’ve posted about this before, so it’s not really a secret that I have a BADONK (for all you “white” people, that means a BIG OL ASS) and some thick thighs.

From as early as 12, I was called “Thunder Thighs,” and have never really been able to find that perfect pair of jeans that fits around my HUGE thighs and my skinny waist.

I like my curves, and I like Midwestern thick girls.  We grew up eating red meat, potatoes and sweet corn.

Until I moved to Boston, I really never realized that most people don’t eat like Midwesterners.  I used to joke that all my friends ate “bird food” when I moved to the East Coast.

I’m the kind of girl who goes on a first date and orders the steak with a side of fries and then gets the chocolate brownie for dessert.

Sorry… that’s how they make em in the Midwest. I posted this picture the other day on Instagram with the caption, “I Head They Make Em Thick in the Midwest”

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3. We know how to drink

Just ask anyone who went to Ohio State, Cincinnati, OU, Bowling Green, Kent State, or basically any other Ohio school and talk to them about their college parties.

We like to drink… beer… and lots of it.

We have the BEST drinking games.

The Midwest invented the game cornhole (for you non-Midwesterners, it’s where you throw a bean bag onto a pierce of wood with a hole in it) which is PERFECT for any day drinking/picnic event.

In Cleveland, we have the Great Lakes Brewery, which has the BEST Christmas Ale you will ever taste.  Sam Adams Winter Lager has NOTHING on our Christmas Ale.  Don’t believe me… just try it and I PROMISE you will be a convert.

4. We LOVE sports and are NOT fair-weather fans.

I will be a Browns fan until I DIE.

I will be an Indians fan until I DIE.

I will be a Cavaliers fan until I DIE.

What LeBron did was unforgivable. Period. NO ONE messes with my city and gets forgiven.

Sports for Midwesterners keep us occupied throughout the year.

And don’t even get me STARTED on college sports.

As a woman in the Midwest, you LEARN the rules of football at an early age. Midwestern girls know how to dress up in a dress and heels on the weekends, but come Sunday, we’re drinking beer with the boys and screaming bloody murder at the refs for making bad calls.

We HATE fair-weather fans. In fact, you can make fun of us ALL you want about how much the Browns/Indians/CAVS suck, and we will defend our teams until the end of time. NOTHING will every make us stop rooting for our teams.

We can often be heard saying, “Next year we’ll be better,” or “We’re in the running for the first-round draft pick,” or “This is a building year.”

We never lose hope. We never give in.

And to go back to the friendliness of Midwestern folk, I once watched a Browns game vs the Raiders in Browns Stadium in the middle of a blizzard.  Two Raiders players and one Brown got kicked out of the game because a HUGE fight broke out, and it was no different in the stands.  I watched people throw their frozen beer in each other’s faces and threaten each other with fists up. Then, an extremely drunk/happy Browns fan calmly went up to the people fighting, broke up the fight, and bough them each a beer.

Now THAT’S Midwestern hospitality.

Also… beer fixes everything.

5. We have braved ALL types of weather. 

Want to complain to me about snow?? Try getting your driver’s license at 16 in the middle of a lake-effect snow storm. I grew up on the edge of what we call “the snow belt” in Northeastern Ohio.  Basically it means whenever there’s a snow storm, we get dumped on.

Oh… and how about the tornadoes in the summer?? Yep, we got em.  In 2002 a tornado ripped through my housing development and tore down a few houses.

Snow and tornadoes in the same month? Yep.  Weather that changes from EXTREMELY hot to FREEZING in 12 hours. Yep.

Basically, the only weather we don’t experience is Hurricane weather.

Oh yeah… and we drive through all of it.

My dad, brother, sister-in-law and I all drove out to my aunt’s house for our Christmas party in the middle of a blizzard emergency.

My friend who lives in New York as a news anchor was right smack dab in the middle of Hurricane Sandy as a news reporter. And she was SUCH a BAD ASS! 🙂

That’s how we do it in the Midwest.

6. Our men can fix anything. 

And I’m not just talking about your stereotypical “man’s man.” I’m talking about ALL our men. They know how to fix cars, build furniture, fix computers, shovel snow, hang pictures, change lightbulbs, fix that stupid leak in the sink, you name it.

Oh yeah… and they also hold doors.

7. Our accent is the preferred accent for new anchors and television shows. 

Look it up. Boom.

8. Fifty Cent Beer nights. 

Need I say more????

9. We tell the best stories.

Have you ever heard a Midwesterner tell a story???

I know, I know. They are usually, long and drawn-out and include WAY too many details (some, which are questionable if true or not).  Sometimes you will also get a fully acted-out dramatic story complete with props, movement and hand gestures.

But seriously… we tell the BEST stories. We tell the funniest stories.

We tell the stories that you tell your friends at a party where you’re trying to impress everyone.

My aunts on my dad’s side of the family (there are 5 of them), all grew up in Ohio and I DARE you to find someone who tells a better story than them.

My friends tell me all the time that I have SUCH an interesting like (which, I do he he he,) but half the reason it sounds so interesting is because I KNOW how to tell a good story. And I learned from the best.

And finally… the number 10 reason I love The Midwest/Northeastern Ohio/Cleveland is…

10. No matter how far away we move, and what path we go on in our lives, we will ALWAYS carry around our Midwestern traits. 

We will always be friendly.

We will always be THICK 🙂 (At least I know I will!)

We will always outdrink you

We will always cheer for our sports teams (Thank GOD for Browns bars in Manhattan)

Our women will always be pretty tomboys and our men will always be chivalrous.

We can brave any weather with poise and class (NO amount of weather scares us!)

We might lose our accent sometimes… but it will always come back when we get drunk (I’m from Cleeeeeeeeeeveland)

We will always tell the best stories.

Our hearts and our homes will always be in the place we grew up, made our friends, had our first kisses, learned to conquer the world: The Midwest.

Being home for the first time in a year this week reminded me of why I loved where I grew up so much.

I love New York City more than I could ever imagine, but Cleveland will forever be my hometown. Even if I live in New York for 20 more years, I will still always tell people that I’m from Cleveland, Ohio.

My heart, my home, my city.

Love, the girl who will never give up on the Browns (or Indians, or CAVS)

Shannon Rose Allen

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My Birthday/The Apocalypse/Christmas Adventures

Oh boy it’s been a while since I’ve blogged.  I blame it on the fact that my computer’s Airport card got fried and I basically had no way to connect to the Internet.

I know, I know, I could have probably found an alternative way to connect to the Internet, but I had a lot of shit to do in the past few weeks, as well as a sickness to get over and a birthday to celebrate.

So let’s start with my birthday week:

Part 1: Shannon’s Disastrous Birthday Week Saga

The week before my birthday,  I got REALLY sick.  Like… can’t get out of bed in the morning your head hurts so much, sneezing, coughing, fever, dizzy, SICK SICK SICK!

I worked from home the entire week and rested up so that I would be better the following week.

I spent that weekend planning out my birthday weekend (the following weekend) and getting excited at the prospect of spending the big 2-5 in New York City. I was going to celebrate in style with a free happy hour in Midtown East with all my NYC loves and then trek around the city like I owned it.

I had the dress picked out and everything.

Well… then the week started…

I felt a cold coming on, but I figured it was just residual sickness from the hellish flu I had the week before.

WRONG.

WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

By Wednesday I was miserable: blowing my nose every five seconds and succumbing to coughing fits periodically.

Then Thursday was my birthday.

I looked like Rudolph the Red Nosed Shan Deer because my nose was so raw. My voice had dropped an octave and my eyes were so watery, it looked like I had been crying the entire morning.

I showed up to work and I was the only one in the office, because everyone else was ALSO sick.  (The perks of working in close quarters in a small office…)

I left early to head out to an audition at one of my FAVORITE piano bars, “Don’t Tell Mama” and was absolutely convinced that no matter how bad I felt, I could sing through my sickness.

Wrong Again.

I fell flat on a few notes and just barely hit my final big note of the song.

As soon as I finished singing, I knew I blew it.

I was SO sad.

IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY! THIS ISN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN ON YOUR 25th BIRTHDAY!!!!

I left DTM with a heavy heart, because I was SO looking forward to the possibility of a call back, and I knew there was no chance.

Some of my friends told me I should have told the woman holding auditions that I was sick, but excuses are like ass holes… everyone has one.

This is New York: No one gives a fuck if you’re sick, dying, happy, sad, WHATEVER… as long as you can show up and deliver.

And deliver I did not.

Anyway… I don’t want to talk about this anymore because it’s making me sad…

So on to the next adventure of going to my first costume fitting for my show, Totally Tubular Time Machine.

Since I had been without Internet, I read the information about my costume fitting on my (cracked) iPhone.  I read the words “42nd Street” and assumed that I would be within walking distance, since DTM is in Midtown.

WRONG.

I failed to read the portion where the address said Sunnyside, NY (a neighborhood in QUEENS).

FUCK.

My fitting was in 30 minutes and it would take me at LEAST 30 minutes to get to Queens.

Of course, I plugged the address into my iPhone and it kept giving me different directions to different parts of Queens.  So, I picked one and decided to give it a shot.

I got off the train and had NO FUCKING CLUE where I was. I walked toward 42nd street and tried to find the address. This super shady guy asked me if I was lost, and I tried to hold back tears because I felt like it would be incredibly poetic if I died of a stabbing in Queens on my birthday.

I’m not trying to be funny… I was close to tears, and I was completely lost.

Lo and behold, I get an email from the costume designer with her phone number.

HALLELUJAH!

I called her and she was like, “Yeah…. you’re totally in the wrong place.”

Luckily she had a car. (Praise) and was only a short while away. (Horray!)

My costume fitting went swimmingly… other than the fact that my nose was running like a faucet by this time and I sounded like a frog.

My costume is bangin ya’ll. For real.  However… it is spandex, so this girls needs to get to the GYM!

My designer was nice enough to drive me into the city where I was going to a drag show with my roommate (he knows me too well).  I wasn’t feeling well at all by this point, but it was my BIRTHDAY!

The drag show was spectacular, and I also met some new friends which was great.

I got home and headed straight to bed.

Then I woke up in the middle of the night and thought the Apocalypse was happening.

Part 2: Shannon’s APOCALYPTIC Sickness

I woke up in the middle of the night and thought I was dying.

No. Joke.

I couldn’t breathe. I was coughing uncontrolably and couldn’t swallow.

I dizzily remember getting up and grabbing water and the closest NyQuil packet I could find.

I thought to myself… “Well, at least you made it to 25. Plus, the world is going to end ANYWAY.”

Well, the world didn’t end, but it sure felt like it for the next 12 hours.

I called in sick to work and stayed in bed until the afternoon when I dragged my ass to the Upper West Side (the land of rich, white people) to the Urgent Care.

Side Note: The BEST part of riding the subway when you’re sick and look like shit, is there will ALWAYS be someone riding the train who looks worse (A LOT worse) than you. I was in my sweatpants, an oversized sweatshirt, my glasses, which were slipping down my nose from the fever and my hair looked a HOT ASS MESS.

When you travel to the land of Rich White People, everything is faster and nicer. The people at the Urgent Care were incredibly upbeat for working around sick people all day.

After the young med student took my vitals and the doctor came in, I was basically told that I originally had a sinus infection that traveled down to my chest and now I had an “acute respiratory infection” that would probably turn into pnemonia had I not come in.

FANTASTIC!

Then the doctor said the magic words: I’m going to put you on three different drugs.

HOORAY!

(It really wouldn’t be me if it wasn’t this extreme.  All my closest friends know that when I get sick… I GET SICK.)

What can I say? I have a taste for the dramatic… and apparently so does my immune system.

So I waited at CVS for an antibiotic, a sterriod and an anti-cough medication because at this point I sounded like I had the black lung.

I went back home and started crying. I was SO looking forward to my birthday weekend, and now my plans had been RUINED! Why didn’t I just go to the stupid doctor when I JUST had a sinus infection?????

And then step in Jennifer and Fred. (two of my best NY loves)

Jen and Fred came over and saved the day with a cup of chicken noodle soup! We drank tea, watched a REALLY bad Lifetime movie (is there any other kind) and made dumb iPhone movies.

I ended the night by sleeping at Jennifer’s house after watching Ashley and JP’s wedding on the DVR and eating cake from Gristides.

Part 3: The Birthday Redemption

I woke up the next morning and already felt better. (The magic of prescription medication)

I relaxed the entire day until I headed down to the Lower East Side for the company Christmas Party.  I figured I would go, drink water, and attempt to sing some karaoke.

Oh yes… the company Holiday party was at a karaoke place.  Just my style!

I did my fantastic rendition of “Baby Got Back,” which, if you haven’t heard it… you are in for a treat. 🙂 I also sang “At Last,” The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World,” (complete with dramatization) and ended the night with my best Streisand impression of “Rain on my Parade.”

It was a great night…

But it didn’t end there.

My Boo Chadd invited me to meet with him and his friends in Hell’s Kitchen (my stomping ground) and I ended up spending the night dancing the night away (per usual) with some old and new friends (that included incredibly attractive Australian men.)

Ten points for Shan!

My birthday weekend turned out to be pretty awesome!

Part 4: Adventures to Cleveland for a Very Allen Christmas

Then I had to go to the airport…

Ughhhh I HATE airports.  ESPECIALLY around the Holidays.

Everyone smells like they’ve been traveling (because they have) and everyone is pissed off an complaining. Not to mention that everyone thinks they are entitled to an extra seat in the waiting area for their massive amounts of luggage/their fucking dogs while everyone else is standing around miseably.

Luckily my flight was only delayed about 45 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity!

I touched down in Cleveland and saw a winter wonderland! The ground here is all covered in snow (we’re actually in the middle of a terrible bilzzard right now).

The past few days have consisted of a LOT of eating (my dad and I made Ro’s sauce yesterday), a LOT of drinking (whiskey, Christmas Ale, red wine, Baileys/coffee) and LOTS of great family time.

I was SO surprised when Griff and Alanna gave me not only a pair of earrings, but a ring with diamonds taken from my Grandma’s old diamond ring.

Just call me Rhianna because I’m “shining bright like a diamond!”

They also got me a gift certificate to Broadway.com so I can go to a show when I get back to NYC!

My dad and I saw the Hobbit yesterday, which I LOVED. I need to take a break from Harry Potter to read The Hobbit again… I forgot how much I love that story.

In reflection, 2012 has been pretty damn good. I graduated from Berklee, moved to NYC, went to LA for The Voice, came back, booked an off-broadway show, and continue to meet new friends who have become a sort of twisted, crazy second family to me.

So to my immediate family: Griff, Alanna, Griff, and Blue. I love you and I’m so lucky to have you in my life forever and always.

To my NYC family: Jennifer, Chadd, Chetan, Fred, Alex, Barb, and all my fabulous loves. You are the greatest and have made New York my new home. 🙂

And to all the rest of you around the world: Ashley and Ryan, Christina, Katie, RJ, Krista, David and Paul, Peach, Amanda and Chase, Lexy, Lacey and SO many more… (Please don’t be mad if I forgot you! You are ALL loved!)

Happy Holidays my Loves,

Shannon Rose Allen