Adulting as an Adult in the Adult World

Woooah, it’s been a whopping three months or so since I posted in this dusty ol’ blog of mine. Let me tell you, though, that between November and now, my life has been figuratively going off the wheels on a crazy train.

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Random: I also like Bullet For My Valentine’s cover of the song…

So, listen up — if you’re a post-college twentysomething on the adulting struggle bus (or the adulting crazy train) and are about to spin out of control, trust me, you are not alone in this. Just when you think you’re getting your shit together, some evil villain with a ridiculous mustache sneaks in and blows up your train tracks with a few sticks of dynamite.

(Or, if you’re a George Saunders fan and have read “Winky,” someone is shitting in your oatmeal.)

It was in November that I began the long journey of preparing to teach English in Japan via the JET Program. I made it through the first screening quite easily and was scheduled for an interview in the first week of February. As qualified as I am for the position, I felt like I bombed the interview… Maybe that was my anxiety kicking in. Everyone assured me that I likely did just fine. But either way, the wait would be agonizing. I won’t know if I made it or not until April. (It’s the end of February, and this year’s a leap year. So I have to wait a whole extra day for March to come!)

But I still planned accordingly. My boyfriend (now my ex), and I have this cute house in a nice, quiet neighborhood with my two cats, and he was going to hold down the fort while I went away to Japan for a year. And then I would come back with lots of money and work as an ESL instructor. Not exactly my dream job, but it’s not too far away from my college studies, and it’s a stable career. It’s pretty much the natural progression after teaching for JET.

But just a couple days after my interview, shit really hit the fan. Two years’ worth of the non-communicative boyfriend’s simmering resentment had built up, and, long story short, we broke up. And though he had me believe that things were still fine and that he’d still support me me until I could stand on my own two feet, things apparently weren’t fine.

So then, here I am, working a part-time job in food service that pays peanuts, trying to schedule driving lessons and get my license as soon as possible, worrying over the fact that neither of my prescription meds are available in Japan, and then one morning I wake up to find that my emotionally abusive ex had taken to Facebook to slander my name and spread lies about me. And also tagged my family and friends.

Now that was a shit show.

I’m dealing with enough crap of my own without my personal business (and a smearing campaign against me) being put out on the web for the world to see. There is a reason why I don’t announce breakups over Facebook…

So then he decided he wanted to kick me out of the house, which meant I needed to find somewhere to live, and I also needed to find a better-paying job, AND I needed to find a reliable way to get to said job. And a roommate who doesn’t mind two cats.

But I decided I wanted to keep the house, which means speeding up my learning how to drive and applying to full-time jobs like crazy. In the past three days, I have applied to nine. And though I’ve never had to take the bus before (before moving to this house, living on and near campus meant I could pretty much walk anywhere I wanted), I started looking up bus routes and schedules.

I need time to save up money so that he can finally move out. And my cousin could move in with me after she’s saved up enough.

But see, there’s another problem. If I get to go to Japan, she wouldn’t be able to pay for the house by herself, and I wouldn’t have anyone who could watch my cats for me for a whole year.

And say I end up landing a job as a success coach on the university campus (which I SO hope to get) which would pay $3,000 a month. It wouldn’t look good for me to be there for only five to nine months until I have to up and leave for Japan.

This went from the perfect time to time to do JET! to the worst time ever to do JET.

I’ve done a lot of growing up these past few days, and I guess learning that sometimes your huge plans just don’t work out is a part of adulting.

Although I was careful not to go into much detail, this is probably the most personal post I’ve ever published on this blog. I want young adults struggling out there to know that where you are right now isn’t necessarily where you’re always going to be. Some days are more difficult than others, and some days I have to power through the anxiety and depression, but keeping a positive outlook in the back of your mind is way more important than you might think (believe me, as someone who takes meds for depression). We’re all still learning, and we’ve still got a ways to go.

I’d spent two years with someone who would tell me the opposite of what he felt and would place all the blame on me when things went wrong, taking none of the blame for the things he’d done wrong. (And my apologies were never good enough.) Someone who saw me as a mentally fragile child and treated me as such, even though I’m strong enough to handle many of the issues he’d withheld from me. (So imagine my shock when I saw he’d resorted to high school-level spitefulness on social media.) After I finished grad school, I’d worked on writing and marketing my novel while he worked to support us both, and that was where we both fucked up. My development into adulthood was stunted by this major mistake — one that we had both naively agreed to do — but I was 22 and he was 23, and we didn’t know any better. Now we do.

I’m 23 now. Just when I start to think I’m getting old, shit like this happens and I realize:

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So what have I learned? No matter how well you prepare for a huge plan in your life, something can always mess it up. And people don’t deserve to be in serious relationships — let alone live together — unless they have their shit together and are at least a little established. And joining the full-time adult world of 8am to 5pm means that I’ll need to survive on coffee (yuck) or energy drinks (also yuck). And romantic love is the messiest abstract thing in the world.

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What Are You Thankful For?

There has been a lot going on in the news (and even more going on outside of news coverage). I have to say, on top of being mentally exhausted and emotionally drained from this seemingly endless string of unfortunate and tragic events (and stupid people screaming stupid, uninformed opinions about them), I’m feeling extra thankful this year. I am a relatively privileged individual, and I try my hardest never to forget that.

I mean, yeah, I’m a female, and I’m black, and I was born to a lower-middle-class family, so I’m far from the most privileged, but I honestly can’t complain. I never had to go hungry, ever. I always had a loving, supportive family and a roof over my head. My parents couldn’t pay for my college education, but I finished undergrad and grad — the former as magna cum laude, the latter with a 3.7 GPA. And I was always nourished. I’ve got my health.

Reading about Syria, Iraq, ISIS, terrorists, racism, Islamophia, or police brutality just hurts my heart. Being a U.S. citizen living on the mainland in a city too small to be targeted for attacks is something that crosses my mind often. I mean, yes, the U.S. makes me sick sometimes, but I’m safe (for the most part. Let us not forget the police impunity and trigger-happy bigots around here). I was in the 4th grade when 9/11 happened. I was terrified. And that attack happened miles and miles away, and no one I knew was hurt or killed.

But imagine attacks like that happening every week. What if car bombs and landmines were a daily worry? ISIS isn’t sending us photos of drowned refugee toddlers, saying “See this? This is what happens when you leave us.”

Guys, this is looking a lot like a remake of WWII and Cold War American culture. Many people don’t even seem to realize we’re being spoon fed fear-mongering propaganda. I’m still waiting for the 2015 edition of Duck and Cover. The only difference is that we welcomed Jews running from Hitler, but we won’t welcome Syrian refugees.

But Jasmine, what about sleeper cells? Terrorists disguise themselves as refugees! Muslims hate America!

Um. It’s waaaaaay easier for a terrorist to sneak into a country than for a terrorist to disguise himself as a refugee. Our screening process is pretty damn rigorous. And even if one happens to sneak by, there are tens of thousands of terrified, hungry, starving refugees running away from the same thing we’re trying to destroy: ISIS. 

And anyway, America is pretty good at breeding it’s own terrorists:

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The mass murderer behind the 2012 Dark Knight theater shooting.

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The 2012 Sandy Hook shooter.

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The KKK. ‘Nuff said.

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“All terrorists are Muslim!” Ok.

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This guy, the Virginia Tech shooter, was from South Korea. Does this mean we should ban South Koreans from coming to the States? (No. In case you were wondering, the answer is no.)

I could go on.

But Jasmine, you act like such a bleeding heart, but you probably wouldn’t take a refugee into your own home.

Yes. Yes I would, actually. And if I had the money (I’m talking $30k to spare), I’d support a family via this sponsoring program.

So, while you’re having your lovely feast this Thursday, be sure to really think about what all you have (and what some of you are trying to keep from others).

The holidays are about love and happiness and support. It’s time with your friends and family. It’s a time of giving. And that’s the only way we’re going to fight this vicious cycle of terror and hate. ISIS wants us to hate the refugees and turn them away. When that happens, some of the rejected refugees develop hatred for Westerners and turn to ISIS, where even more hatred is bred.

So give! To refugees, to the homeless, to the veterans, to rescued animals. As cliched as it may sound, love really is the only way we can win.

Happy Thanksgiving! 😀

“Pray for Paris and…”

Yes. But I’m sure by now you’ve all heard “but not only for Paris.”

I’m pretty sure the attacks in Beirut wouldn’t have even made global news had it not been for the Paris attacks, which then prompted people to say, Hey, this other thing that’s just as important also happened in Lebanon. Why is that?

Is it because the world in general thinks European lives matter more than Middle Eastern lives?

But stuff like that happens all the time over there, so it’s not news.

Actually, “stuff like that” doesn’t happen in Lebanon all the time:

“The implication, numerous Lebanese commentators complained, was that Arab lives mattered less. Either that, or that their country — relatively calm despite the war next door — was perceived as a place where carnage is the norm, an undifferentiated corner of a basket-case region. …. A reminder of the muddled perceptions came last week, when Jeb Bush, the Republican presidential candidate, declared that ‘if you’re a Christian, increasingly in Lebanon, or Iraq or Syria, you’re gonna be beheaded.’ That was news to Lebanon’s Christians, who hold significant political power.” (Source: Beirut Feels Forgotten)

Why did Facebook not activate their safety check for people whose loved ones were in Beirut at the time of the suicide bombings? Facebook later saved face by saying the high social activity surrounding the Paris attacks prompted them to activate safety check:

“As for Facebook, it declared that the high level of social media activity around the Paris attacks had inspired the company to activate Safety Check for the first time for an emergency other than a natural disaster, and that a policy of when to do so was still developing.
“‘There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris,’ wrote Alex Schultz, the company’s vice president for growth, adding that Safety Check is less useful in continuing wars and epidemics because, without a clear end point, ‘it’s impossible to know when someone is truly “safe.”‘” (Beirut Feels Forgotten)

(Some people also complained that Facebook only offered a profile pic filter of the French flag, but that’s not as a big a deal, in my opinion. Just make your own filter, or do what I did and make your profile pic the image of the Lebanese flag.)

So, if we follow this logic, then the Beirut bombings was barely a news blip in the media. Indeed, many people had no idea it had even occurred until after the Paris bombings.

Why do Arab lives seem to matter less? Even if you do make the assumption that “stuff like that happens over there all the time,” why does that make it any less horrific? In actuality, it should be more horrific. Innocent lives were lost in both Paris and Beirut. Both were tragic events. But the world is only saying Pray for Paris. (To sugarcoat it, it’s like saying Rue’s death in the Hunger Games movie was less tragic because she was played by a black actress… which ties into the whole notion that Black lives matter less, but that’s a whole other topic for another time…)

Everywhere I go, I see the French flag now. Driving around downtown, I saw it waving on a billboard with its accompanied hashtag.

Look, send your love and thoughts to France. But also Lebanon. And Syria. And Kenya (which suffered a similar terrorist attack from al-Shabaab, but no one seemed to notice). And everyone.

Just.

Everyone.

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Be safe. Be kind.

Peace.

Two Weeks of Tears and Triumph

That title sounds pretty epic, no? That’s because these past two weeks have been epic as hell for me. While the Earth was spinning and everyone was living out their lives, while the Universe went on, completely indifferent to my existence, my own personal world crashed and burned. And then was risen from its ashes like the cliched awakening of a Phoenix. And it’s pretty much been a roller coaster of substantial extremes.

Anxiety, depression, and I guess my own subconscious refusal to fully become an adult all contributed to the emotional breakdown I experienced on my favorite holiday of the year: HALLOWEEN. I won’t go into detail, but I pretty much realized I was being a terrible person to someone I deeply care for, and that person was kind of pushed to their limits… That triggered my anxiety so that I didn’t want to be around people, and my depression so that I didn’t want to leave bed and face the world beyond my warm comforter.

But, I managed to pull my shit together, and I started adulting. And things are looking up. I’m making a conscious effort to better myself as a person. I’m also making progress in learning to drive! (Yes. I am 23 years old, and I’m a scaredy cat. But, this isn’t Tokyo or Moscow, so, unfortunately, car > public transport.)

Now we enter week two, and yesterday proved to be a huge moment for me. I published The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco!!! Look. I’d been working on this novel for almost three years. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve edited it and had others read it. Peers, adults, teenagers, professors. Friends, family, acquaintances, strangers. I spent months submitting to literary agents, and editing, and submitting again, etc, etc.

Eventually, I realized that my baby — my brainchild! — is probably not what agents are looking for right now, no matter how polished it is. No matter how much blood, sweat, and tears I put into making my characters feel real and believable. So, I took matters into my own hands. Self-publishing! I mean, I’m a little wary about self-published works. Anyone can publish a book nowadays. Throw together any old crappy story and you’re good to go. There’s no literary filter. For that reason, self-published books get a bad rep. And I really really really really wanted my baby to be published by an actual publishing company. Alas.

Such is life….

But I’d come too far to give up on it. So yes. It’s out there now. I only need to figure out to market it. At this moment, I’ve sold a grand total of one book. (Le sigh.) I mean, yeah, the print version is available here for $11.99, but I’m only getting $2 in royalties from that! And I paid $120 for the cover art!! (which was done by the lovely, talented Joye Cho. Really, her work is worth waaaaaaay more than $120. If you don’t believe me, check out her DeviantArt: JoyeCh0.)

But if you’re really that cheap (or poor, like me), then there’s a Kindle version available here for $2.99 (FREE if you have Amazon Prime).

Anyway. It’s not so much about the money. I know I’m not going to get rich off this book. But, I know this book needs to be out there. And I know what you’re thinking. Every author thinks their book is special. Why should I buy your pile of crap?

Because I’m not deluded >____> I’m my own worst critic, and there are soooo many works I’ve written that I am determined never, ever to have published, even posthumously. Ahem.

I know that The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco deserves to be read and loved.

And yeah, I may be bragging a little, but damn it, I think I deserve it. I have literally been passionate about writing stories since I was four years old. In college, I was in creative writing classes and workshops with juniors and seniors who couldn’t make coherent paragraphs, who apparently had no idea what a run-on sentence was, who thought they could get away with being a writer without having to read books, etc etc. I could go on.

I worked my ass off. 

In fact, in one of my classes, my professor tore up my work so much that I went back to my dorm and cried. I contemplated skipping the next class. But I sucked it up, made an epic revision, and turned it in. The very next day, my professor walked into class raving about how good it was and telling the class that they should read it.

So. Yes. After all that, I’ve sold a grand total of one book.

Quite humbling. And a little disheartening. (Very disheartening.)

And for the most part, it seems like I’m the only one who thinks this is a big deal. (Well, my parents kind of think it is, but, I mean, they have to. They’re my parents.)

I was so invested in this story that I thought its publication would be more spectacular than it actually was. But it was a normal day. Because in the grand scheme of things, Bastien Falco is just a blip in my personal social circle.

So. Yes. And on top of this, I’ve been running around like a headless chicken job searching, learning to drive, and gathering all the materials I need for the JET Program (which I just sent off today! God, what a load off my shoulders).

I miss dancing ballroom as much as I did. I miss competing in collegiate ballroom comps with my boyfriend and winning ribbons. I miss having money. Like, student money from my nice, cushy student jobs.

In other words, the theme of these past two weeks has been: Suck. It. Up.

Or, as better said by Utada Hikaru, Keep Trying. 

Winter is coming.

Help.

Please.

Winter is nigh, and I live in NW Ohio. Help me, gods, can I survive another winter here?

I’m extremely sensitive to the cold. Anything much lower than 75 degrees is chilly to me, even though I’m a NW Ohioan born and raised. And my grown ass still lives here.

It’s times like this that make me wish I lived somewhere nice and warm and sunny all year round.

But…. The bugs… Like. Gigantic spiders and beetles and flying roaches. NO THANK YOU. Plus, all that sun would make me dark as hell. I never burn or anything. I just…. darken. Very quickly. And I rather like my skin tone the way it is. Some people can pull off the dark chocolate, but I don’t think I’m one of those people. >.>

Also! Sorry I skipped last Monday. Seasonal allergies took me out. I was out of commission. All because the seasons are changing… for the worst.

Winter.

Dear god why.

… But, while I huddle up with blankets, I can sleep and rest assured, knowing that cane spiders are faaaar faaaar away….

Adulting: How I Am Failing At It

The question of maturity was never a real problem for me. When I was a kid, I was always called mature for my age, and I took pride in that. Being thought of as “immature” became kind of a big fear of mine.

And then I finished graduate school.

After college, people usually find a sucky job and pay sucky bills and have sucky responsibilities. So, I wasn’t too thrilled. I mean, I was looking forward to graduating — graduating is always exciting. Plus, grad school tore my soul a new one.

Yeeep. Pretty much. I questioned every single day that I was in grad school. But now that I'm in the "real world," I question every day that I'm not in school.

Yeeep. Pretty much. I questioned every single day that I was in grad school. But now that I’m in the “real world,” I question every day that I’m not in school.

But living in the real world? My impression was (and still is) — work to pay bills until you die.

That is no way to live. That’s not living at all. I’d rather jump off a building. So naturally, I started to freak out.

My boyfriend thought it would be a good idea for me to follow my dreams and write, while he works to support us. I mean, he’s a nurse (an RN) and has two jobs — one at a hospital and one at a nursing home. Sounds good on paper. But now that it’s actually been playing out for some four months, it’s… not… all it’s cracked up to be.

I mean, it great for my literary career! Two books coming out soon, one actually under my pen name, from a publishing company!! Really excited. I haven’t spent this much time on writing and editing since… ever. School had always been in the way. Now I can write and edit and publish without restrictions. I can do NaNoWriMo guilt-free!

Well, when I say “guilt-free,” I mean, I won’t feel guilty for working on short stories or my novel when I should be writing papers (oops).

But. There’s some guilt there. My boyfriend is working his ass off, not even getting full checks yet, so we’ve been struggling a little. And he’s always exhausted and sometimes stressed. So… I worry. A lot.

But every time I’d ask him if he needed me to work to help lessen the financial strain, he’d say it would be fine and that we should stick to our plan…

So fast-forward. Last night, I asked him if I act my age. He says I act like “a teenager whose soul hasn’t yet been crushed by adult responsibilities,” “immature in a good way,” “child-like rather than childish.”

He also said he now knows our plan is kind of a bad idea, but me working out in the real world would cause me to be miserable all the time. (He’s known that for a while.) And then he’d have to come home to me being miserable all the time.

I told him that yes, that may be true, but it’s not fair to him. And then he said that I can’t help my mental illness. Which is true, I can’t, but using it as a crutch makes me cringe. Have my depression and anxiety rendered me so mentally and emotionally fragile that I can’t function in a normal workplace?

Yeah, I’d be miserable, but, given my depression, I used to be miserable all the time, so that wouldn’t be anything new. The problem here is, now my emotions affect someone else. And after working 8-, 12-, or 16-hour shifts he’d come home to the mopey, depressive wreck that would be me. There would be no happiness in that relationship.

I realize this blog post is very personal. And a huge downer. Originally, I was going to write about Skyping with my host family. But, I really needed to write about this. I’m feeling some type of way, and I really don’t know what to do.

I’m not going to lie. Part of me misses my cushy campus jobs and my graduate stipend because it would be nice to have money of my own while working at a job that doesn’t make me hate life.

I worked retail once, two summers ago. It’s very… It doesn’t make a difference in anyone’s life. No one really wants to be there. It’s not creative. It doesn’t challenge my brain in any way.

Retail is pretty much purgatory. And I’m sure food service is much the same (except worse because I’m extremely squeamish).

So.

Yeah.

I don’t know if I feel better at all after writing this.

See you next Monday.

Dear Fat, Skinny, Fit, Healthy, and Chubby People…

I know I’m writing this a little late, but the Internet recently went a little mad over Youtube personality Nicole Arbour’s video Dear Fat People.

I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while, and now I have the perfect excuse. Hopefully I can pull this off with more finesse.

I have some pretty strong feelings about this fat vs. skinny nonsense. I’m not talking about fitness yet — I’ll get to that later. Right now, I’m talking about the fat people who body shame skinny people, and the skinny people who body shame fat people, and the ridiculous obsession with being skinny.

Okay, look.

In the first place, body shaming is not a helpful thing. It doesn’t get anyone anywhere, and it doesn’t motivate anyone to be healthy. Stop telling skinny girls to eat a sandwich, and stop calling fat girls whales. All right? I used to be unhealthy and fat. Then, I starved myself, and I became unhealthy and skinny. At one point in junior high, I was eating 800 calories a day. I went from double-digit pants sizes to a size 8, and I was ecstatic. But all my friends and family were worried about my health. When I was a freshman in high school at a 4th of July picnic with my friends, they kept an eye on me and pretty much hassled me about not eating any food. At one point, my mom wouldn’t let me leave her sight after eating because she thought I might be bulimic.

If I didn’t have people like that who cared about me, I might be dead right now. Eating 800 calories a day is not okay.

I wasn’t even eating healthy things, either. I didn’t look at vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, or anything like that. When I looked at the nutrition facts, my eyes went straight to calories. As long as it was delicious and I didn’t go over 800, I was happy. That is a shitty way to live.

Starving yourself is not glorious. It will not make you happy. Eat. EAT! Your body needs nutrients!!

Back then, I was obsessed with being skinny, not healthy. If I were motivated to be healthy instead, things would have gone a lot more smoothly for me. It wasn’t until I was 18, a freshman in college, that I began working out and eating right. When you treat your body well, you feel good. I love the way my body feels after a good work out. I’ve cut a lot of junk from my diet, and I’m very keen on fruits and veggies. When I was younger, I was all meat and potatoes, but now? I’m disappointed if I’m eating a meal that does not involve vegetables or fruits in some way (unless it’s pizza. I fucking love pizza. I would eat cheese pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if it wouldn’t kill me). I’m also a vegetarian now. I’ve been so for over a year and don’t plan on ever going back to meat. While I highly recommend it, you don’t necessarily have to cut out all meat to be healthy.

And contrary to popular belief, it is possible to eat well without having to purchase $6 salads. If you do a bit of research, eating well doesn’t have to empty your pockets.

I dance ballroom. I got to Planet Fitness. I buy most of my food from the organic aisle. I FEEL GOOD. And you know what? I look good, too. When I say that, I don’t mean “I look skinny” — I mean I look HEALTHY. I gained a little muscle. My skin, hair, and teeth are all healthy.

Healthy comes in many shapes and sizes. And don’t trust the Body Mass Index (BMI). It doesn’t account for “muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition, and racial and sex differences.”

Right now, I’m about a size 4 or a 6, depending on the clothes and the store because women’s sizes are stupid, but my ass is kind of big. It’s gotten a lot smaller since I started dancing, but it’s not as small as I would like. Sometimes it makes me sad. Sometimes my stomach isn’t as flat as I would want it to be, and I feel fat. But you know what? I get over it pretty quickly, because I’m a god damn dancer. I’m a lean mean dancing machine. My legs are amazing. I even obtained some upper body strength — something I never thought I’d achieve because I used to be such a weakling. (Seriously. I could only lift 40 pounds at one point.) And I’m healthy. I find clothes that look good on me and call it a day.

Whether you’re chubby, skinny, fat, toned, or what-have-you, your body is a well-tuned machine. And you only get one. Be good to it, and it will be good to you.

Do something active that you enjoy. This is for everyone. Moving around is good for the soul. (Real talk: I have depression. And while I have meds for it, I also know that getting up and being active also helps. Sometimes I need a kick in the pants to get up and go, but when I do, I feel worlds better.) Build some muscle, get your blood flowing, do some stretches, lose some fat, build your endurance, or some combination of the above. Try something new! Sports, dance, martial arts, yoga, hitting the gym, Zumba, working out to Youtube videos in the comfort of your own home…. Join a fencing club! If you’re having fun, you’re more likely to stick with it.

Sedentary lifestyles aren’t good for anyone, whether you’re skinny, fat, or anywhere in between. The human body wasn’t made to sit around. Even if you’re watching T.V., do some squats or something during commercials.

And don’t exclude mental wellness! 🙂 What you think about yourself and the way you look at things makes all the difference. First of all, no matter what you look like, don’t ever let anyone make you feel “less than” based purely on your body shape. If you start exercising to lose weight so boys will think you’re pretty, chances are, that motivation is not going to last. Things like that also often lead to unhelpful methods like yo-yo dieting.

BUT.

If you exercise because you fucking want to. Because you want to feel good. Because you want to be healthy. Then it’s more likely to work out. For some people, it makes them feel more confident. I can attest to that. I feel worlds more confident than when I was younger.

Now, at some point, I need to talk about the “thigh gap” phenomenon — might as well insert it here.

Ahem.

WHO. THE FUCK. CARES. whether you have one or not? Girls who are naturally skinny with wide hip bones will have a thigh gap. It’s normal for them. Some skinny girls don’t have one. Not all fit girls have one, either. It is not a deciding factor of beauty. Shaming girls because they do or don’t have one is pretty stupid. And if you don’t have one naturally, you won’t ever have one — not while you’re healthy — and it can only be achieved by starving yourself. And then you’ll be malnourished, and your muscle will waste away.

Also, guys don’t care about thigh gaps — they really don’t. You have one? Cool. You don’t? Cool. Seriously, that is the last thing on any guy’s mind.

No. No. No. NO. NO. NO. NO! See this picture? It’s shaming. This is called shaming.

(Side Note: While searching for images for this, I stumbled upon Thinspo. Oh my god…. That is seriously the scariest shit. If I had seen those images when I was between the ages of 12 and 17? Damn. I would have spiraled down a really, really dark path. Type “thigh gap thinspo” into Google images to see what I mean. Those people are seriously disturbed.)

And, here’s where my unpopular opinion comes in.

I don’t think the fat acceptance movement is wholly a good thing. Loving ourselves is a start, yes. But we already have the media saying, “Skinny is Pretty,” which is not a good thing. From that sprouted the attitude of, “Well why do I have to be skinny to be pretty? Fat’s pretty, too!” And so now we’re back at the beginning of this post.

“Fat girls are pretty. Fuck skinny bitches” versus “Skinny is the beauty standard. Therefore fat = ugly.”

Both sides seriously need to stop that. Like, right now. “Fat acceptance” should be “self-acceptance.” I know that’s what some people mean when they say it, but the phrase “fat-acceptance” insinuates that we should just overlook the health issues that come with it. I feel that for some people, it means to be complicit to the possible harm you’re doing to your body. But look at the plus-sized girl on the cover of Women’s Running magazine. That’s what I would call “self-acceptance.”

Little known fact, some of the same health issues an anorexic body suffers also apply to obese bodies, such as heart problems. We shouldn’t be encouraging people to be skinny or fat. We should be encouraging them to be healthy.

Yes, healthy is pretty, but healthy also keeps your body functioning the way it should.

P.S.

I’m not saying anything new or revolutionary. I just felt like contributing my opinion to the conversation. Anyway, you can’t judge someone’s health by simply looking at them (again, look at the running girl), but you know your own habits. That’s why you should be healthy for you. At the same time, saying, “HEY YOU. BE HEALTHY” alone isn’t going to help. It mostly depends on you. It’s a struggle. But you can do it. You’re worth it. You’re worthy of living an awesome life. But I know it’s hard sometimes.
Especially if you have an eating disorder. You are not alone. I had an eating disorder… If you do, please get help. Whether it’s binging, purging, starving — please. get. help. If you need, call these hotlines.

It took me eleven years to get where I am now, to love and accept myself, and to treat my body the way it deserves to be treated.

You are strong. You can do the thing. ❤

About Sarah Chrisman’s Victorian Life: A Black Girl’s Perspective

There’s been a lot of buzz lately concerning Sarah Chrisman’s article “I love the Victorian era. So I decided to live in it.”

Some people love it and think it’s charming and fun. Other people are completely peeved  at her for only living the “easy” aspects of Victorian life, leaving out the sexism, racism, classism, consumption, and the general smog and filth. What would happen if she someday needs surgery? What does she do when her period comes? Does she vote???

I agree with both sides. If she and her husband have the money and the means, then let them do it. It makes them happy, it’s not hurting anyone, and it’s kind of cool — even if it is glorified cosplay.

“Black Masquerade Queen Renaissance Victorian Costume.” Okay, yeah. Because those eras are totally the same thing. Not different at all.

I started to wonder what it would be like if I did the same thing. Wouldn’t it be so cool? If I had unlimited funds and means, what era would I bring forth to the present? It wouldn’t necessarily have to be the Victorian era. I could do my own thing. The Renaissance was cool and all, but somehow, I don’t think that would be very possible. Also, I’m black, so having that super ghostly pale skin they so coveted would be a super no-go. And check out these beauty tips from the times:

“Women during the Renaissance Period had an interesting way of applying cosmetics, because they always seemed to have their faces “caked” on with make-up. White lead face paint was very popular among the Renaissance women, because they used it to paint their faces, neck, and cleavage. The lead was mixed with vinegar to conjure up a paste called ceruse. The only downfall was that the white lead made their hair fall out, which explains why Renaissance women had high foreheads and receding hairlines. Even though wide foreheads and receding hairlines may seem weird nowadays, it was considered fashionable during the Renaissance Period. Their eyebrows were usually shaved and replaced with fake ones made of mouse skin anyways. For lips, their form of lipstick was made of cochineal and beeswax. Also for their lips and even for their cheeks, women would wear rouge which was a red powder made of mercury sulphide. To accentuate the eyes, they would use iridescent eye shadow made of a ground mother of pearls.” Source: https://womenhygiene.wordpress.com/the-scoop-all-you-need-to-know-about-the-cleanliness-of-women/

Plus, you know, bloodletting, washing my face with urine, and shitting in wooden boxes don’t exactly appeal to me.

Tudor house toilets…. To make matters worse, these things were rarely emptied and rarely cleaned. Ugh.

Sooooo… Let’s skip ahead. Like, way ahead. What about the ’20s? ’60s?

Well, the ’20s was definitely booming. Blacks and whites could sometimes be seen at the same night clubs. Some Hollywood actors came out as gay. Harlem was jumpin’. But, I can’t really get behind the Prohibition. (I like my wine, damn it.) And even though women could vote, it was mostly only white women who could vote freely in 1920. Until the 1960s, black women faced disenfranchisement and high hurdles to get to the ballot, especially in the South.

All right! So what about the ’60s?

Well, it was definitely a time of change. Free love and protests were ubiquitous, and the Civil Rights movement was in full swing….. But I love ’60s fashion. And oh. My. God. I fucking love Twiggy.

And check out this article about health, happiness, and well-being in the ’60s!

But on a more serious note:

  1. Flying was dangerous, insanely expensive, smoky, and boozy. (Plus, planes wouldn’t have TVs or music. BOOORING.)
  2. Blacks had shorter lifespans than whites.
  3. Black Americans were also far less likely to finish high school, let alone go to college.
  4. Blacks were twice as likely to be unemployed as whites.
  5. We were pretty much still treated like second-class citizens.

But, flying is no longer as hazardous to one’s health as it was in the Golden Age of flying. And if you ask me, and many other African-Americans, we pretty much are still treated like second-class citizens in some aspects of society. If you’ve been following the Black Lives Matter movement, you’d know that a lot of issues we’re facing are setting us back fifty years. Is it 2015 or 1964? Sometimes I can’t tell.

Suddenly I didn’t feel so giddy about the idea of living in a past era anymore. My boyfriend pretty much said it in a nutshell: “Going back in time would only be fun for whites, because they’re the only ones who’s always had it good.”

Alas…

My boyfriend said even if we romanticized the past eras, we’d end up living like middle-class whites of the times, and somehow that seems wrong. It really is sad that the only era I could think to travel to would be the 1960s, because we have to fight for civil rights again. I could buy a house that was build in 1962, have all my clothes made to match fashions of the era, listen to the music and go swing dancing (I do those anyway). But somehow, picking up a Black Lives Matter sign and marching, all while pretending to live like it’s the ’60s would seriously just fuck with my brain. I guess time travel to the past just wasn’t meant for us. Maybe I’m giving this too much thought.

But there’s always tomorrow. I’ve got my smart phone and my Wii U, my ballet flats and leggings. No one’s ever stopped me from voting, and my masters degree sits over my fireplace. Looking forward, I feel optimistic.

And Sarah Chrisman, have fun. ❤

(But seriously, that 60s fashion tho:)

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THE TIME IS NOW

I posted this in my writing blog, but you know what? I’m going to post it here, too, because it’s damn important.

A number of good and/or popular books have gone on to achieve success after a number of rejections from publishers and agents, such as Lord of the Flies, Harry Potter, Gone with the Wind, Carrie, Little Women, Animal Farm, and Dune. 

I’m not comparing my work to those brilliant novels, nor am I saying I’m as good as any of the authors who wrote them.

However, it does offer a glimmer of hope.

I’ve written some terrible things — and after they were rejected, I’d eventually look at them and think, Lol, yeah, they were right. This is complete shit.

But, not this. Not The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco. I know this book needs to be in people’s homes and read. This manuscript needs to see the light of day, and after over two years, I’m not giving up on it. I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into this baby, and I edited the hell out of it. It’s been both praised and torn apart by beta readers and creative writing workshops.

I spent countless hours just world-building and filling my notebook up with notes.

These characters are very dear to me, and I’m not giving up on them. I have a host of unfinished works or works that I never really spent much time on, but whenever I thought about giving up on this novel, I had friends who urged me to keep going. I mean, honest friends. (Believe me, if my writer friends think something is shitty, they will say so. That’s why we’re all good writers.)

So, after so many rejections, I began to wonder. Is it me? Do my queries suck? Does my novel suck? Is this just not the type of fantasy that agents are looking for? Is the fantasy market just that over saturated?

Countless Google searches never fully answered my questions. I revised my queries I don’t know how many times. I stayed up late researching the agents I was querying to, to see what they liked.

But no more.

I’m going to do this myself. So, I looked into Smashwords and CreateSpace. I looked into where to send my novel to get it reviewed. And, I asked an artist friend if she would want to draw the cover art for me. In the past, she charged $30 for each picture. Below are her stunning interpretations of a few of my female characters:

Princess Ayla The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco Princess Ayla

Anna the Assassin, and Thief, from The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco Anna

Winter Zu from The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco Winter

Gorgeous, right? (Check out her work on DeviantArt. Username is JoyeCh0.)

However, most artists charge more for works that contain more than one character, and for works that receive revenue. Understandably so!! So, I asked her how much, and she said for all four of my main characters, it would come up to about $120.

That’s so reasonable, I could cry.

But… I’m also dirt poor. (Seriously, my house is falling apart.)

And I’m a recent graduate with a shitty job situation. Yay.

I’m really struggling and grasping at straws here, guys. I’m also looking to raise $100 for promo costs.

I mean, the internet is a vast place. If I could get one dollar from 220 people, I would be so super set.

I started with friends and family first. I asked my parents also to help me reach out to others. So far, I’ve raised $45.

I’M SO CLOSE I CAN ALMOST TASTE IT.

taste

Look, this is painful, guys. I hate asking for money. But if I don’t get this work out there, I’m going to lose my mind.

Much to my chagrin, I created a GoFundMe, which can be found here.

Any dollar helps, really.

And, I’m giving donors free copies of the book as a thank-you and as proof of what exactly their money has done to.

Thank you in advance. ❤

“That’s Because You’re Black”

So once, when I was in 3rd grade, I was on a bus driving back from a field trip. It was super fun! We’d gone to an archaeological dig, and I’d found some cool fossils. It was great.

Now, this was at a program for gifted students called Horizons. Every Thursday, I was excused from class all day to go to Horizons, and I loved it. I learned Russian, more advanced songs on violin, and all  sorts of cool things. The projects were always awesome. It was kind of program where, if the teacher told you you were going to do a project, you didn’t groan – you jumped for joy.

Group of multi-ethnic kids jumping together

Yep. Just like this.

Back to the story.

We were on the bus, and the radio was on. “Superwoman” by Lil’ Mo came on. (Yep. Year 2001. Feel old yet?) Except for like, two other kids from my school, all the students in my Horizons class were white. But, I mean… that didn’t matter to me. And I really thought it didn’t matter to them, either.

There were these sisters whom I considered my friends, Karen and Rose, and so I sat by them. And Rose said, “Man, I hate this song!”

I said, “Really? I love this song.”

And Rose said. “That’s because you’re black.”

At at moment, it felt like I should have been hurt by her comment, and I was, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on why. Yes, I was black. And yes, Lil’ Mo was black. But that didn’t necessarily mean I would automatically like her music. I just thought “Superwoman” was a cool song.

If you’re unfamiliar, or if you’re up for a dose of nostalgia, here’s the song:

What’s funny is that the black kids would also make fun of me for listening to bands like Green Day and Evanescence.

Isn’t it interesting that no matter what music I listened to, it was always subject to scrutiny?

Don’t get me started on people’s reactions when they heard my favorite Japanese songs, or Celtic metal songs, or 8bit/Chiptune songs.

Ugh. -.-

But you know what? I listen to whatever I want, and I’ve since learned not to give two shits about what people think about it. If I want to listen to Tame Impala, damn it, I will. If I want to listen to enka music, then damn it, I will.

If I want to listen to Gackt, The Tontons, Lamb of God, Ice Cube, Nujabes, Mos Def, Wonder Girls, Polysics, DBSK, THE PILLOWS, THE PIXIES, NOVEMBER’S DOOM, ELUVEITIE, OR THE ROLLING STONES

THEN DAMN IT

I WILL.

And if you don’t like it:

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