How to Adult.

adulting

Because let’s be honest: there was no real manual to prepare for adulting when we were kids, was there? Sure, our parents may have given us advice and even perhaps provided their own living example. But we were destroying playing Legos and watching Jem and the Holograms. We–I, for sure–weren’t paying attention. And then you turn 25 and you’re like…how many more nights do I have to eat peanut butter so I can have enough money to pay my rent this month?! (True story.) Here are five things I wish I had known (or listened to) in advance, but I’m glad I know now:

  1. Adults are just tall kids wearing grown-up clothes. Seriously, the behaviors we saw in classrooms and on playgrounds don’t change that drastically. Tantrums become manageable, attitudes can be hidden, etc. Timmy, now Tim, probably still wants to stick in a frog inside your T-shirt, but instead, he ignores you during the staff meeting. And let’s not get started on Janine and your ongoing issues with parking, personal space, and food in the office fridge. My point is that we may grow up, but not everything goes away. Cliques remain. Mean girls become mean ladies. That sort of thing. And I don’t excuse myself: the way I dealt with life as a 10 year-old versus now means I deal with it better, but trust, I still have my bratty ways. And a strong side eye.
  2. Credit cards are nothing but the work of the devil. My dear Daddy tried to warn me about them. I remember sitting in the car and staring placidly out of the window while he discussed the danger of relying on credit cards. I wasn’t listening. Le sigh. In college, I was offered an Faustian bargain: to get a free mobile phone, all I had to do was sign up for a credit card. Ooh, free phone! Got the phone, the card, and eventually, the bills. It was an interesting journey. I learned the hard way. But I learnt!
  3. Love isn’t a guarantee. Growing up, I saw how difficult things could sometimes be for my parents, who were raising four children while balancing all the things married life and the economy and other responsibilities demanded of them. The unsurprising result: I never imagined myself married. No visions of weddings or my own little children running around. It just seemed hard. I knew my parentsAngela Bower loved each other, but there were so many struggles. I was content imagining myself as a rich advertising executive with high heels and maybe a boyfriend, a la Angela Bower from Who’s the Boss? (Honestly.) But when I got older and recognized that love, despite its wrinkles and hardships, was still love and worth the fight (also seen through my parents’ example, among others), life taught me an interesting lesson: so what? In other words, me finally understanding and wanting love didn’t necessarily guarantee that I would find it or attain it. And so far, love remains elusive. Becoming an adult with adult comprehension was no automatic journey into a love of my own, a lesson that continues to morph before my eyes. But you know what I found? An abiding love for This Square Peg. I’ll take it.
  4.  Assume nothing. Along the adulting highway, I started to believe–really, assume–that folks would act right/make good decisions/not cut me off in traffic/so on because that’s what kind, good, compassionate people do in life: the right thing. Nooooooope. People are complicated creatures, including the person writing all of this. Assume. Nothing.
  5. Questions are really OK. Y’all. I’m about five months from entering a brand new decade in life and I still call my mom/bestie/sister/friends and pose a variety of questions about life, people, work, etc. My bottom line: adulting will never mean an exhaustive understanding of everything. We will still wonder; gaze in confusion; dissect; figure out or try to. And that’s OK. The complexities will continue. But that’s…adulting.

Yeah, I miss those days when I knew nothing about taxes and utility bills and struggle peanut butter and the list continues, but I wouldn’t trade those days for now. It’s nice to see the world through these adulting eyes…I think.

What’s one adulting lesson you wish you knew in advance (but are happy to know it regardless)? Share with your fellow tall kid in grown-up clothes, please…

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Fabu Fashion: Tasty Weekends.

How was your weekend, wherever you are?

Mine was delicious. Not only because of the food I ate (and yeah, I keep eating like my metabolism is 16 years old and not close to a brand new decade; we will discuss later), but because Texas gave us two beautiful, sunny, warm, breezy days that were just delectably good. With the bipolarity around here, you take what it gives and when it’s fantastic, you engage in praise hands and enjoy it immensely. (Knowing that in a week or too, monsoons will likely be a-coming…) Here’s what I wore:

Saturday. Brunch with some of the lovely ladies in my life. Two good friends of mine co-hostessed about 30 of us at a wonderful restaurant in our local area called Tupelo Honey (doesn’t the name just evoke visions of lemonade and wide verandas??), where we talked and laughed and reconnected and enjoyed the moments given to us. As usual, I had no idea what to wear; I did envision a long summer dress and pearls because, Saturdayagain, Tupelo Honey, but decided against that when a friend mentioned that she planned on wearing jeans. So jeans it was. I paired my boyfriend jeans with a blouse, blazer, and black heels. (See the photo; sadly, you can’t see the heels but trust that they were bomb, mmkay?)

Jeans and Blazer: Old Navy
Blouse: Somewhere I don’t recall

Sunday. I had the pleasure of attending a spiritual conference this past Sunday, and it was certainly the faith-strengthening boost I needed. What I wore wasn’t the most important aspect of the day, of course, but looking my best was still part of the plan. Regarding what I wore: I shopped in my closet. Huzzah…

sundayReal quick: the skirt had pockets. Don’t ask me while I held my hands that way when my skirt had pockets. Le sigh. But pockets! Yes!

Blazer (navy blue): Girl, I can’t remember
Blouse: goodness, see above. I think Dress Barn? Years ago?
Skirt: New York & Company
The shoes of life: Jessica Simpson, from Macy’s

Didja notice something different with my hair?

I cut it!

Yes, I was growing it out. Yes, I planned on holding on. But y’all: the scissors and the long for change are just too powerful. I detailed my haircut journey in my latest submission for The Maria Antoinette. When it goes live, I’ll link it here and we’ll talk about the cut in depth. Just know that I’m very happy with it and the myriad of styles that came along my way. And that was the point. Variety continues to spice up my life. Cue the music.

How was your weekend? Was it delish?

be our guest.

welcome

There we all are, sitting in our living room in our old house in Ghana, surrounded by endless laughter and fascinating conversations. My parents are there; also uncles, aunts, various relatives, and longtime family friends that might as well be kin to us, being that I’ve known them and have been around them for as long as I could remember. Some of my earliest memories involve evenings like this, where my parents hosted friends, family, our neighbors. The joyous faces and smiles. The gentle teasing and ribbing between my father and his pals. The beautiful women I observed reverentially. And the food. Ah, the food. Without really understanding it, my parents were establishing, for their children, a blueprint of hospitality. Things didn’t change when we settled in the United States. From our little apartment to the townhouse we later lived in, there were always people. Family, friends, relatives, all part of our immediate family of six. My parents never hesitated to help friends in need; if someone needed a place to stay, he or she was staying at our home. As I got older, it was incredible to see the generosity and love my parents showed to others.

This posed a bit of a problem growing up, however. Sure, my parents could invite loads of people over because they were adults and could do whatever they, the payers of rent, pleased. But their kid inviting other kids over without telling them?

nah

It happened more than once. I’m convinced my mother had moments of stopping herself from doing permanent damage to my hind parts. No worries, though: I learned my lesson at the age of 14. We won’t get into the details, but it was the last time I didn’t check with my parents first before making invitation. Believe me.

Here’s the thing (if you’ve experienced it or are experiencing it, you’ll agree with me): living alone is glorious. There’s really nothing like being the queen/king of your castle of one; laying about, doing whatever strikes your fancy. I moved out of my parent’s house and lived on my own in my first apartment when I was 24 years old. It was amazing. It was eye-opening. It was frustrating. It was the best. After that, there was an interesting journey of roommates and housemates and then moving back home when Dad got sick and then, a year and six months ago, leaving VA and moving to the Lone Star state and living solo once again. All that said, I’m happiest in the company of my own solitude. But I’m also the daughter of two people who kept that open-door policy we discussed above, and so it’s necessary to tell you I love a house filled with people.

I’ve hosted gatherings, game nights, movie nights, come-over-and-chill evenings (my personal favorite), girls-just-talking-into-the-wee-hours-of-the-early-morning events, etc. It’s thrilling to look around my living room and see people, to hear the laughter, to go deep into conversation. Last night, I hosted an impromptu dinner with friends. I actually cooked dinner–chili a la Square Peg–and we ate and watched movies and had a smashing good time. You can’t beat that on a Sunday evening. (But it was also nice when everyone went home and I resumed my relaxing spot on the couch and watching cheesy Hallmark movies.)

Can’t thank my parents enough for showing me how to love people, how to be generous, and how to say welcome.

What say you? Loner or lover of guests or both?

 

because it’s Wednesday.

This is certainly unprecedented.

newedition

We greet Wednesday with not just one person, but five of them. (Well, still one, but we’ll talk about that in a second.)

Let me tell you how I discovered New Edition. Back in the 80s, the kids in school would sing, over and over again, “sunny days…” But they would stop there. And I would wonder what they were singing. Eventually I found out. They were singing the lyrics to “Can You Stand the Rain?” Days later, one evening, I finally heard the song on the old stereo in the room I shared with my sister. I stood there, happily frozen, listening, my ears swooning. As Ralph sang, “And I need somebody who will stand by me, through the good times and bad times, she will always, always be right there…” I declared that I was that girl. I could be that girl. It didn’t matter that I was 10 years old. It just didn’t matter. An NE 4 Lifer was born.

A Ralph Tresvant 4 Lifer was also born that day. (Second from the left in the photo above.) Every girl had their favorite. He was mine. He was and still is my 10 year-old girl crush. Still swooning in 2018. I told my mother that I would marry him, by the way, and I think she’s still rooting for that to happen.

The guys, to this day, make me smile. They just do. Their music, the fact that through everything, they’re still singing and dancing…ahhhhhhhhhh

Let’s end here, shall we?

 

back to black.

After a year of red hair (which was my third time being a slight redhead), I went back to black–jet black–this weekend. She got colored and also received a much-welcomed shape-up/slight haircut.

hairchange

As much as I love making color changes to my hair, here’s the main reason why black wins every single time:

snipes

Had to do it.

Anyway, for me, black hair:

  1. Makes red lippy pop from here till eternity.
  2. Is shiny and lovely.
  3. Is great with my skin tone.
  4. Is just chic, y’all.

As far as the slight shape-up, my goal remains to grow my hair out, but I’d like the growth to take on a particular look as it happens. Believe me, I wanted to chop it all off (as I always do), but we’re holding on for now. Tiiiight.

That was my weekend. What moves did you make these past few days?

Monday Allergies and Bons Weekends.

I’m seriously considering seeking out an allergist. I can’t handle the first day of the week, y’all. Like I seriously cannot. I fidget. I have mental hives. I nearly itch. I literally lay in bed and rally against waking up, as if Monday is standing beside my bed with her arms crossed and an annoyed, impatient expression on her face. Ugh.

The weekend was fabulous, my friends. On Friday (which I claim as a weekend day), I joined some of my mom friends for a trip with their tween/teen daughters to Deep Ellum, an artsy, delightful area in downtown Dallas. It was my first time there, still being on tourist status after a year and five months, and I loved it something awful. There was a rustic flair everywhere; lovely murals; great venues and restaurants. My artistic heart was booming quite happily. Pictorials below, y’all.

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Friday evening was warm and lovely. On Saturday, Texas displayed its crazy weather and drowned us in thunderstorms and rain. So I hung out on my couch that evening and watched a bit of telly and tooled around on the iPad.

On Sunday, me and a friend decided to check out the Dallas Jazz Age Sunday Social after brunch. They had me at jazz age. Folks were dressed up in their flappery best; even the menfolk got into it, giving it their Robert Redford The Great Gastby best. There was music playing; classic cars driving down the avenues (I love classic cars from bygone eras), museums showing doctor’s offices and general stores from that time. So much fun! Really spoke to my vintage everything heart, and it was a great addition to seeing the local color/being a tourist in my own backyard initiative. See photos below.

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Fun and laughter were had. (Can I mention that I’ve been really enjoying taking pictures lately? Not of myself–although, hey, it’s a thing I enjoy–but of objects and nature and other people. We’ll chat about this growing love later this week.)

How was your weekend, my little cabbage? 

it chose me.

It was inevitable that fiction would choose me, that my world would become consumed by it. From the fairy tales my mother brought before me, to the fascinating living stories around me, to the nursery rhymes that incited such vivid images in my mind, to the billowing curtain in my childhood bedroom that, to me, offered pretty terrifying possibilities on the other side, my imagination was its own character from the very beginning. When I would hide in the library during recess (we’ll talk about that in another post; praise kind librarians), I would read. And read. And read. All fiction, all topics, all possibilities. A fiction writer was being born. By the age of eight, that writer came alive.

After messing with my dear father a bit about majoring in psychology while filling out my college application (“I want to be a shrink, Daddy.” “No; choose something else.”), I chose English as my major. It was always going to be English; I knew that when I was sixteen years old. Soon thereafter, I chose the concentration for my major: Fiction. For four years, I was ensconced in literature, stories, novels. It was like being in the stacks all over again.

I write poetry, these lovely blog posts, articles, the occasional play, a few songs…

But first and foremost, utterly and completely: I will always be a fiction writer.

fictionquote

What do you love to do that chose you? I’m curious to know…

because it’s Wednesday.

Why relegate candy to your sweet tooth? Shall we not have candy for the eye, too?

This is Superman. I know, I know: you thought Superman wasn’t real you thought Superman was Christopher Reeve. And he is, no doubt. But this is the new Superman. And I mean…Wednesdays were made for that face. They just were.

I first met Henry (not in real life; had we met in real life, I suppose you’d be reading about me somewhere in an article about infamy) in the film The Count of Monte Cristo. A great film. He played Fernand Mondego, the son of villainous Count Mondego. He was lovely. His skin looked like warm milk. I literally said this to my friends in the theater. “Doesn’t his skin look so milky and creamy?” My male friends and my brothers naturally rolled their eyes. Anyway, years later, a friend asked if I knew that Fernand had been cast as the new Superman. “Fernand? Milky Fernand? But he’s so delicate.”

Nah, fam.

Fernand grew up.

Happy Wednesday. May your superheroes be all manly and such and be cast in the latest Mission: Impossible film (inspiring 1,000 squeals) and grow amazing mustaches and be milky and dreamy, too.

Starring This Square Peg as Herself.

owlcreek1I was 11 years old, a quiet sixth-grader. That day, we embarked on a field trip to a place called Hemlock Overlook. The bus ride was animated, filled with the excited conversations of my fellow classmates. I silently observed the scenes passing us by and wondered just where we were headed. Field trips had always been fun for me: museums, the zoo. This place was unfamiliar to me and I was curious and anxious about what we would find.

The school bus pulled into a dense, wooded area. It seemed to be a giant park. It was a giant park. A giant park, as I came to learn, that was filled with a variety of physical fitness-inspired activities. Games. A zip line that I eyed warily and ultimately refused to climb. The whole thing was weird and stressful. On one hand, it was nice to hang out with some of the few friends I had in my classroom. I was a shy girl, but there were some kids I was actually comfortable with; I remember some of us sitting around a table and talking/laughing. On the other hand: I wasn’t a fitness girl by any means. Sure, I “played” soccer during recess, which essentially meant just standing around while the real dynamos kicked the ball. This was intense. Needless to say, I was always last in each of these activities and I was always slow.

Then came the rope.

In the middle of the area was a large mud hole. The point was to grab a rope and swing across the hole to get over to the other side. Simple, right? I wanted to throw up. I had already failed at every single activity. Why would this end up in anything other than total disaster? Of course, I was last to go. I gulped. I grabbed the rope. Gravity took over, if only for a few seconds. I was moving. Moments later, all of me was drowning in mud.

Raucous laughter ensued. I think my teacher was even laughing. I was a mess. Clothes, face, everything covered in mud. I wanted to cry, scream, even chuckle a little so they would think I had been on it the whole time, purposely falling into a mud hole for some attempt at comedy.

On the bus ride back to the school, I listened as some of the kids talked about me. The mud on my clothes. How I looked. Describing how I fell in the hole. I remember gazing out of the window and wishing–and it wouldn’t be the first time in my adolescent life–that I could just disappear.

The website for Hemlock Overlook states that these adventures teach the adventurers about team collaboration. If the goal was to teach my classmates, even my teacher, how to collaborate by laughing at me in unison, then, yes, it worked. I learned a few different things from the experience, however. How to be humiliated. How to hold in my tears for more opportune moments when they could be released comfortably. How to sit in the filth of mud and hold my head up while people around me were sending darts by way of words in my direction. No one comforted me. No one patted me on the back and said, “Sorry, This Square Peg, at least you tried.” Nothing like that occurred.

In the past, when I’ve randomly thought about this memory, the clarity of hindsight never comes. My adult brain is rarely able break it down in a palatable way. (For years, I think I even repressed it, not really sharing the story with friends.) But looking back now, I’ve realized a few things about what the experience taught me. For one thing, I have a deep, deep spot in my heart for the kind of kid I was back then. The slower ones, the ones picked last, the ones who aren’t adept at team sports or athletics. Those are the children I want to hug and assure. Secondly, my mother has always reminded me to keep my dignity in any situation. To keep my cool. That moment on the school bus was certainly the beginning of learning how to do just that. Even if my insides were turning into mush. Le sigh.

education

Sometimes it takes place while sitting quietly on a school bus, trying not to cry, trying to hold on. Nevertheless: you learn.

What are your seminal moments from childhood? What did you learn? Share? Pretty please?