Posted in Jobe Update

Lose, Gain, Maintain

This isn’t a weight loss blog or a fitness blog. I generally don’t talk about anything on here unless it is reading or writing related. But as the end of the year approaches, I’m in a contemplative state of mind, and I wanted to talk about what encourages or discourages us on our paths: as creatives, as women, as humans.

Over the last two decades, I have been every dress size from an 8 to a 22, no lie. Junior year prom 1999 my dress was an 8, senior year prom 2000 my dress was a 10. Undergrad 2000-2004 I fluctuated 10-12. During the tail-end of a long relationship and after its failure, around 2006, I was a size 16, and I remember it being a big deal because I had to go and buy new clothes (this was before shopping online was a default mode, so I went to Sears). When I returned home and lived in the city for a few years, 2006-2009, my size fluctuated in the 12-14 range, weight dipping lowest when my sister and I were taking regular ballet classes together. When I moved to Arkansas my weight stayed on the upper end of that range, as I abandoned vegetarianism and felt happy and comfortable within my relationship.

My wedding dress was a size 16, which I was fine with, but at the end of 2012 when I tried it on and it basically wouldn’t fit, I was undone with panic (Spanx saved the day, after some crying). 16 was the top of the “misses” or “women’s” clothing section. Becoming a size 18 meant I had to find the “plus size” section at Kohl’s, and I felt really low about it. In the last 5 years I’ve purchased much of my clothing online, on e-bay or etsy, and locally at a thrift store (now closed, RIP) called Saver’s. My size has been in the 18-20-22 range, around 2X to 3X. I’ve come to accept this, and wearing a larger size doesn’t stop me from feeling cute or beautiful or adorable or sexy.

I have a record of my weight fluctuations from the last 7 years because I’m an old holdout user from the Wii Fit era (read: blip) and I keep returning to it because it’s an easy way to weigh in and make a record without having to do much more than stand there.

2010: 200 rangeMaintained.
2011: 185-210 range. Dropped. LOWEST WEIGHT.
2012: 185-210 range. Gained. 
2013: 200-225 range. 
Gained 210 up to 225 (5 mos). Dropped 225 to 200 (3 mos). Gained 200 up to 210 (4 mos).
2014: 205-235 range. Gained 205 up to 235 (8 mos). Dropped 235 to 220 (4 mos).
2015: 210-230 range. Gained 220 up to 230 (4 mos). Dropped 230 to 210 (3 mos). Gained 210 to 220 (2 mos).
2016: 230-235 range. Maintained. HIGHEST WEIGHT.
2017: 215-230 range. Maintained (2 mos). Dropped 230 to 220 (4 mos). Maintained 220-225 (2 mos)Gained up to 230 (1 mos)Dropped 230 to 215 (3 mos).

I remember when 200 was the highest my weight had ever been. I remember how shocked I was when I realized it had climbed to 235, almost 240. During the time I had my own apartment and I was working out regularly, I hit my lowest recorded weight, around 180. Do you know what I did? Instead of focusing on how great I felt about the work I was doing, I took that information to the internet and asked all my female friends who were willing to tell me their heights and weights. I guess I was expecting to be able to imagine some grand chart where I fell in relation to other people I knew and just feel cosmic goodwill toward all. But when a friend of mine who I had expected to weight more than me said that she weighed less? I let that fact (which may or may have been fact or fiction, outdated, exaggerated, or accurate) crush me. I broke the one rule: NEVER compare yourself to others. Compare your current self to your past selves. Because it was easy to see how far I’d come tracking my own progress. But looking at someone else and thinking “I’m not there, I’ll never be there” was exactly what caused me to never get there. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Please don’t let my mistake be yours too. Never look at the work of someone else and think “why aren’t I where they are?” You have no idea what they’ve been through to reach that point, and you’ll never know how close you were if you give up.

My weight has fluctuated mightily, and I can note when I was in school, when I got married, when I bought a house, when my mom got sick. Every time my weight has increased, it’s because I’ve stopped paying attention to my body. Every time my weight has dropped, it has been a direct result of my monitoring my intake and exercise. Most recently my weight is down, because I’m paying attention and actively participating in my own improvement. I hope I keep it up and make future-me proud. As a little green-screen angel named Shia La Bouef once said, If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.

Love,
Jobe

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Posted in diversity, Reading Challenge, Reviews

Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo by Ntozake Shange

234934Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo by Ntozake Shange is a fantastic book full of beautiful, fluid language and the much needed representation of African American women. It centers around three sisters and their mother, providing a slice of life account of each of their journeys. Each woman is shown in her connection to female ancestral spirits as well as featuring her in her own agency in present day. Interspersed as part of the book’s narration are letters from their mother, dream sequences, journal entries, and recipes as dishes prepared in the text of the story.

Indigo is the youngest (and my favorite) and she practices magic, so her section includes spells. She lives at home with their mother in Charleston, South Carolina, and the book opens with her getting her first period. She starts out playing with dolls but ends up as a skillful violinist, admired by neighbors and strangers alike, in addition to Uncle John and her male peers, fellow Jr. Geechee Captains.

Sassafrass is the oldest sister who makes art of her woven tapestries and her delicious food dishes. She struggles to find herself while dealing with an abusive partner and his disrespectful friends who write lewd poetry “praising” (hypersexualizing) black women’s bodies while hypocritically dating only white women. Her story explores her intersectional identity and her longing to make something lasting. She moves from Los Angeles to stay with their middle sister, Cypress, in San Francisco.

The narration demonstrates how Cypress throws lavish parties and is willing to have sex with but not be tied to any particular man in a relationship, unlike Sassafrass. Cypress ends up moving to New York to pursue her dancing career, and there meets and falls for another female dancer, Idrina. Cypress enjoys being part of an all-female dance collective, telling stories of women’s bodies through their powerful performances. The romance crashes when Idrina’s lover returns from a long trip in Europe, and Cypress drowns her sorrows for a time frequenting late night bars, until she is reunited with Leroy, a friend she had tried to set Sassafrass up with back in San Francisco. Cypress’s story flows naturally through the feminist and civil rights movements of the time.

This book is so beautifully written, a summary cannot begin to do it justice. Just hearing the storyline is light years away from experiencing this deeply spiritual and artistic book for yourself.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

December continues to tick away! Are you ready for the year to end?
Jobe

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

January First by Michael Scholfield

51ma0RMF88L._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_I took a break from blogging during November to focus on Nanowrimo but I finished reading several books and got behind on my write-ups. I’m going to try to do these books justice despite having let them sit for too long before writing down my thoughts. I read January First by Michael Schofield in record time: I started it one evening and finished it the next morning before work. I am a SLOW READER so this is saying A LOT about how this book grabbed me and didn’t let me go. I don’t know if everyone’s experience of this book will be similar to mine but I was absolutely spellbound. This is a nonfiction account of a father whose daughter January has child-onset schizophrenia. There were many aspects of this book which rang painfully true, having experienced mental illness firsthand in several forms, in myself, close friends, and close family. This book demanded my attention; I had to know what was going to happen to this girl and the father fighting for her. So many aspects of this read were familiar, and it was affirming to see them expressed in print. I’m lucky to have a kid on the autistic spectrum high-functioning enough that we can easily communicate. But the way that January threw violent fits was very reminiscent of the way that a friend’s low-functioning autistic son acts out. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, he just can’t communicate in a different way when he gets that upset. When January is hospitalized, I can see the facilities in my mind’s eye, because I know such places too well. And when January’s “bad memory” is recognized for the dissociation it actually is, I was dumbstruck. This book is heavy and somewhat dark without a picture perfect happy ending, although it does leave the reader with hope. If you are interested in mental illness and mental health, this is a Must Read. I haven’t turned this book back in to the library yet because I read through it so quickly I wanted to read it a second time through more slowly. An incredible tale offering a true human connection thanks to this dad’s ability to be so raw and honest about the frustration, fear, confusion, anger, and exhaustion that accompanies having a close family member with mental illness in crisis. If you read the book and still want more, here’s an interview with Michael Schofield; janisjourney.org is meant to be a progress blog for Jani and her family but I can’t get it to load so I’m not sure of its status.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

November has come and gone! December is already half gone! Where did the year go???
Jobe

Posted in memoir

Defining Fictionalized Memoir

So in one corner, there’s fiction. Made up, though just as often as not, inspired by some real stuff. In the other corner, memoir. The Truth, capital T, unless specifically noted, liked “names changed to protect my ass.” But somewhere in the middle, there’s this weird subgenre called fictionalized memoir. What is it, and when do you use it?

Anita from Word Cafe says that a fictionalized memoir is a semi-autobiographical novel. She tells us that Jack Kerouac’s On The Road is a good example. Melissa of Networlding says, “From a writing perspective, the fictionalized memoir allows a writer to embrace the creative process without a disclaimer because the fiction techniques create a compelling story.” Adair of Writer’s Digest outlines why you might consider fictionalized memoir instead of memoir memoir, like “I am uncomfortable relying on my memory.” While Taylor at Lit Reactor talks about how autobiographical fiction can give the author more freedom while potentially requiring more skill to cull all but the best parts. I feel smarter already! But of course, only you can choose what’s right for you.

Keep on keepin’ on.
Jobe

PS Heather on Slide Share made a cute lil thing you should check out, too.

Posted in Jobe Workshop Review

Genre Wars: Romance vs. Erotica

So my friend Kassandra Klay and I co-taught a workshop entitled “Genre Wars: Romance vs. Erotica.” We talked about the similarities and differences of the two, and we talked about how blurry the line can get sometimes. All in all, we had a blast teaching an impressive turn out all about it! For anyone curious who didn’t get a chance to attend, here’s a simplified version of the presentation I did for my half.

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