Did you miss Wednesdays with This Square Peg? Here’s a mea culpa for my absence:
Liev Schreiber has eyes that will find their ways into your soul. He also has a voice that will drive you slightly crazy. He’s also immensely talented, with a quiet, still intensity that always captures my attention when he’s onscreen. He can also wear a suit. Goodness.
If you haven’t heard, a total solar eclipse took place yesterday, August 21. Pretty historical stuff. I was excited beyond words, not necessarily because of the historicity of it or the celestial phenomenon, per se. I, This Square Peg, a writer of words and a purveyor of poetry, have used the moon as an allegorical foil/subject since I started writing eons ago. There was something about that big, gray, somber ball in the sky, not peppy and cheerful like the sun, ruler of tides, that struck me in a purely deep and artistic way. To me, there wasn’t a man in the moon. Symbolically, she was a woman in every way. My kind of girl. Powerful and moody and boss. Naturally, I frequently turned to her in my poetry. In my fiction, she’s always a character; whether providing silvery light for my character before his/her eventual epiphany or the third person in a two-person scene, viewing the action with a cool, disaffected gaze. In my poetry, though? In my poetry? The moon runs things.
When I was moving to Texas and engaged in my bout of horrifying packing, I found a poem that I wrote in college. The subject? Frustrated love. (Nothing new there.) The allegorical character? The moon. The denouement? An eclipse.
So college-y. So eclipse-y. So moon-y.
I was able to see the eclipse yesterday, courtesy of a co-worker who shared his special sky glasses with me and some of my other colleagues. Because our city here in Dallas wasn’t on the path of totality–those cities would see the full, total eclipse; we would see a partial eclipse–I didn’t get to experience the moment my moon met the earth and the sun. But halfway is still pretty cool, no?
Here’s to my fabulous moon and her big moment yesterday.
Oh, hey. Have you missed me as much as I’ve missed you, dear reader? Have you longingly gazed at your notifications, hoping to see that I’ve reached out to you with another post? No? Well, I love you anyway.
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about this fro (known as She) on my larger-than-average head. Let me catch you up: for the past several months or so, She’s been giving me life. Why? Because She’s been obedient! We all know how She does her own thing and follows her own rules and decides when she wants to feel moisturized and so on. But for the past several months, She’s been actually responding to my attempts at styling and care-taking. It’s been slightly surreal. But I’ll take it. Anyway, since the dawn of summer, I decided to start fashioning her into vintagey pompadour styles that She’s really responded to. Take a look.
I’ve loved the creative, natural hair updo look forever. Throw in that retro feel that some of the styles evoke and I became an immediate fan and decided to try my hand at them. Even better: the style protects my dear ends, which are tucked away comfortably while I wear these styles. Here’s a quick how-to (or how I do) on them:
I start with hair that’s been stretched by an old twist-out, or Bantu knot-out, or really any style that I’ve worn for a while. Note that stretched doesn’t necessarily mean straight. Some naturalistas do these styles on straightened hair, but I like to just have my hair stretched to a malleable point.
I then apply moisturizer or whatever styling cream I want to use. Before that, I like to spritz my hair with a tiny bit of water and/or leave-in conditioner, but not so much as to lose the stretch and bring on le shrinkage.
Now I style. Perhaps here, you’re waiting for some rhyme or reason to how I style the hair into the frompadour (fro + pompadour)? Sorry. I don’t have one. I literally stare in the mirror and start moving my hair around to see what I like. Sometimes I want a front swoop thing like you see in the photos. Or I want to create a “flower” with my hair in the back. It’s really up to what I end up doing. As long as I have an abundance of pins and a bristle brush to keep sides and edges smooth (to no avail), I just end up with a nice style that I wear for a week or so.
That’s all she wrote. I get some of my ideas from Pinterest, of course, where you’ll find plenty of ladies with similar styles. Barring the falling into the Pinterest rabbit hole, that’s a great resource for ideas. YouTube, as well.
So what new things are you doing for the summer summer summertime?
Yep, I’m basically going to tell you every time a write-up that I contribute to The Maria Antoinette goes live. Because of my enduring love for your support of my writing efforts. And because this self-promotion-as-a-writer thing (which we will discuss later) is a new goal of mine, and unlike my goal to avoid bread, I’ll be sticking to this one.
If you’ve been here for a while or recently stopped by to take a look at my little corner of the Internet, you know that I am Ghana-born, partially Ghana-raised, birthed by a Ghanaian woman and man, product of Ghanaian ancestry. Honestly, I’ve never wondered if there was anything else in my blood. I just never have. But one sees ads for Ancestry dot com and one gets curious. Even larger: I never met my paternal or maternal grandfather. Would a genetic test perhaps reveal a few things about them? Would genetics speak of them in some way?
I decided to find out. There was a sale on Ancestry so I took advantage of it and signed up to receive the at-home DNA kit to send back to them for testing. When the kit arrived, I was disappointed to learn that no, this wasn’t a Law-and-Order type of DNA test with a Q-tipped cheek swab. No, I would have to–ugh–spit into a vial. Side note: I believe, with all my heart, that spitting is ugh. So, yeah, the kit sat there for a while, ignored by me. Eventually, however, I got the nerve to re-open the kit and just do it, already. Conveniently enough, Ancestry sends you return packaging so I put everything together and sent it off.
The results came back to me a few weeks ago. Shall we discuss?
Cote D’Ivoire, Benin, and Togo, oh my. Like I said earlier, This Square Peg never doubted the presence of Ghana running through her veins. But I’ll be for real: seeing Cote D’Ivoire and Benin
and Togo…WOW. WOW. So very cool and and intriguing all at the same time.
100 percent of something. A friend of mine remarked that she’s never seen results where someone is 100 percent of something. “You are 100 percent African. That’s really amazing.” Hearing that gave me life. Because it is amazing. I never needed confirmation of my genetic makeup, but seeing “100% Africa” above was just the coolest thing.
French. Is it any wonder, dear reader, that I’ve been attracted to everything French since I was 12 years old? For reasons I’ve never quite understood? Could the presence of Cote D’Ivoire and Benin and Togo, all officially French-speaking countries, have anything to do with this longstanding amour? Can genetics determine devotion?
Mama. When I informed my mom about the results of the genetic test, she responded with the following: “We don’t know anyone from there.” I laughed and replied that this wasn’t a list of people we knew, but rather what my ethnic heritage is. She was silent for a bit, seeming to marvel over this information. I wondered if she was thinking about which one of our ancestors perhaps emigrated into Ghana
from the three places, primarily Cote D’Ivoire. After all, if you glance at the Western side of my continent, Ghana is flanked on both sides by the other three countries. Anyway, I then mentioned to my mom that this could explain my abiding love for the French language (even though, real talk, I I speak Frenglish), a statement that she quickly agreed could be true.
In the End…Other than wondering about genetics and DNA and the past and my forebears and on and on, life went on after learning my results. My curiosity was assuaged. I didn’t gain a wealth of understanding about the stories of the men and women I didn’t have the opportunity to meet. Nevertheless, it was just plain cool to add this new piece of information to the mosaic of me.
I’ve been sitting on this news for a while until it was official official. And now…
I was chosen as a guest contributor for The Maria Antoinette, a beauty/hair/lifestyle/fashion website.
That in itself was amazing to be chosen. But even better?
My first contribution to the site is now live.
The excitement and gratitude is real, you guys. This here blog fills me with joy, of course, as well as every single thing related to my writing, my creative works, everything. But to see my contribution up and to read my words…it’s both unreal and super cool.
Here’s the link to my piece: https://themariaantoinette.com/2017/06/29/cover-girl-no-more-four-reasons-i-wont-hide-my-bathing-suit-this-summer/
Read, comment, like, all those things. But above all: thank you for your support!
What an introduction. Let’s get right to it: when Her Excellency was was still on the air with her daily talk show, I won tickets to be part of her audience.
Back in 2011, I remember going on the official website for the show and noticing one of the upcoming episodes. The theme of the impending show was going to be all about best friends. (Title: An Oprah & Gayle Kind of Friendship) Made sense, given the longtime friendship between Madame O and her bestie, Gayle King. The requirement to be part of the audience was to write and send in an essay about your best friend and why he/she was wonderful. That was a no-brainer. I’ve discussed my bestie on TSP more than once. She.Is.Everything. And so I got to writing. Looking back, I submitted the essay with only a small twinge of excitement, being that 1) I was probably 1 of a million people doing the same thing, and 2) I didn’t want that level of disappointment if I didn’t get chosen.
Then I received an email on March 23, 2011. Yes, I searched my inbox for that date. And yes, I’m giddy that the email still exists. Bottom line, the main idea of the email: my bestie and I were invited to join the audience during a taping of the themed episode.
I reacted a bit like this:
So at this point, dear reader, my bestie didn’t know I had done any of this. I kept it all to myself in case we didn’t get chosen. Welp, that didn’t happen. After receiving that email, I called her and engaged in the following conversation:
Me: Hey, are you free on April 11?
Her: Let me check…yes, I’m free. What’s up?
Me: We’re flying to Chicago that day to be part of the audience of the Oprah show.
Me: Are you there?
Her (whispers): This better not be a prank.
Me: It’s not! I wrote an essay and they picked it and it was about you and me and our friendship and we’re going to see Oprahhhhhhhhhh!
Her reactions, from 1-3:
Needless to say, by the time we got to three, we were both primal screaming on the phone. Flight plans to Chicago were made; outfits were discussed (we had been asked by Queen O’s team to wear colorful clothes that would show well on TV); mild disappointment was expressed because a giant rule was that no pictures were allowed inside the Harpo studios; and finally, more primal screams were shared. You guys, it was one of the best experiences of this life. And you know how Empress Oprah’s audience would go mad? I admired her, yes, but I just couldn’t understand the mania these women showed on national TV. Well, I can easily say that on that morning in April, as Oprah was introduced and walked out and waved at us and smiled: I. Get. It. I truly do.
Her presence: dynamic. Her personality: open and charming. Her overall nature: amazing. In the minutes between her walking out and sitting down before the cameras turned on, there was no change. She was the same onscreen and off-screen. She was also just fun. During commercial breaks, she joked and laughed and told us about her painful high heels…it was surreal. My bestie and I spent the entire time just like holding each other in disbelief and Oprah-generated joy. And yeah, we got some gifts, too. And food. It was incredible. I’ll say it again, and in French: incroyable.
But the best part of that whole thrilling experience, dear reader? It involved a years-long, amazing friendship with one amazing lady, that being my bestie, and it involved another love of my life: my writing. My bestie kept saying the following throughout the day. “You are a writer. It was your words that got us here. You are a writer.” It was definitely a boost in confidence with the mighty pen. Nevertheless, the topic at hand, why this woman was such an indescribable presence in my life, made it easy. I didn’t hesitate. The benefits of a worthy subject.
Got any thrilling moments with your bestie that you’d like to share with me? Don’t fret because Oprah isn’t involved in any of them. The comments await you below…
You may have seen him in 42, or Get on Up, or the latest rendering of Captain America, or the recently released trailer for Black Panther, which gave you, me, and everyone currently living enough life to last for more life. I mean…
I chose the photo above because I think it exemplifies, above all, why Chadwick is everything: he loves National Public Radio. He loves NPR. I mean…
He’s talented and awesome and a superhero and a supporter of public radio and…
Let’s end there, shall we? See you in the movie theater in 2018.
I’ve heard it most of my life. And if you have a resting fierce face like me, you’ve heard it, too. Strangers, random folks–they all seem to take pleasure in viewing our stony features and commanding us to break into grins. Like me, do you want to push said people over to the ground when they issue this command?
The first time I heard it was from my mother. I was in my mid-twenties and she asked me if I walk around with “that face” when I’m in public. She followed that question with another query about why I look so “fierce.” I remember kind of backing away slowly, not wanting to elaborate as to why I didn’t see the need to walk around smiling all the time. But she’s my mother. She can speak her peace and even if I didn’t/don’t heartily agree, I surely wasn’t going to push her over. (She’s really strong, y’all.) But random folks? Nah, man. You don’t get to issue me commands. You don’t get to direct what I do with my features. I once had a homeless guy command me, as I walked down the sidewalk, to smile. As much as I wanted to push him over, he had other problems he needed to attend to.
What incites folks to issue this command? (Oh, and no, it’s not a suggestion. It’s a
command. If it was a suggestion, I would hear something like, “You have such a lovely smile. Why don’t you show it more?” I would still side eye them, because, again, it’s my face and I don’t need no stinking suggestions about it but the need to push said speaker over would be slightly diminished.) Why is it so important that I bare my teeth to the world? I mean, it’s awesome to seem approachable, and perhaps a smile communicates that, but the assumption that I’m not because I largely walk around in my daily life without one is a bit ridiculous to me. Or how about I choose what expressions I want on my face? How about that?
A few weeks ago, gymnast and all around amazing woman Simone Biles performed a routine for Dancing with the Stars. During the judging, she was asked by one of the hosts, Tom Bergeron, why she wasn’t smiling when the judges were praising her performance. Simone’s response:
Because can she live? Can she choose when or whether to smile, Tom Bergeron? (I’ll never forget when one of my uncles, while we watched Tom host some other show, remarked that he looked like he had bad breath. This comment exemplifies why my African people will always get the win, the zinger, all of it.) Anyway, social media praised her retort into infinity. Women praised her into infinity.
Because most women hear this smile command, typically from men.
Yeah. You agree with me.
And we could talk for hours about how that gets under a woman’s skin, being told by a male stranger to do something with her features that he has no right to tell her to do, but dear lady, we don’t have a million hours. You agree with me. I’ll leave it there. For now.
So, no, I won’t smile on command, and unless you gave birth to me, you don’t get to tell me or my face what to do.