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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

Summertime Essentials. (?!)

As expected, the drizzly/rainy/cloudy/depressing 50-degree days of just last week quickly turned into 80-plus degree days in the big city. Our very sad spring went right into cheerful mid-summer. Out came the cute dresses on ladies, the sandals, the much-needed weatherpedicures for toes that appeared to have been trapped in coal mines and were used to traverse the rocks blocking them from sunlight. My poor toes. Anyway, while attempting to wrap my brain and my sinuses around the weather extremes, I’ve certainly been taking advantage of the warmth. Shaving regularly (a pause in the collection of my winter fur), pulling my own cute dresses from the closet, putting away my coat. And as we drift further and further into the summertime zone, here are a few essentials I think are necessary (for me, anyway) to deal with warm weather.

Shorts. Since I rarely wear slips anymore, unless it’s a really fancy shmancy dress, under-shorts are perfect for those summer-y dresses that are somewhat light and flimsy and could blow a certain way when the breeze hits them. At first, I thought the pair my mom gifted me with were low-key girdles, and you know how I feel about those things, but they’re not. They’re great. And when the unfortunate sweaty season hits, I don’t have to worry about the potential forest fires that could start from the rubbing together of these juicy thighs. (We keep it real here at Team Square Peg.)

Shades. I have a bad habit, you guys. Along with handbags and earrings, I buy the cheapest sunglasses. I just do. I’ve never been interested in brand names when it comes to those things. (Well, at this point, you know me and my overall tenuous relationship with brand names and trends.) Of course, needless to say, this means I run through dozens of pairs, being that my no-more-than-$5 shades tend to break and crack and basically disintegrate. Nevertheless. Summertime simply means having a nice pair of sassy shades. As much as I’ve been forgoing my shades in the afternoons–after the long absence of the sun, its return has me gulping up Vitamin D on my face like a boss–I like having my new pair (yep, another pair) right in my handbag for those blissfully bright days. They’re super cute, too. (Don’t tsk tsk at me, dear reader. I know well made means lasts longer. So you’re buying, right?)

The new shades. Falling apart in 5,4,3…

Salads. Kidding. Eat your ice cream. It’s summer. In fact, just ignore salad at all costs.

Stories. I inherently associate summertime with reading. Well, reading for me is a year-round, slightly obsessive affair, but summer also reminds me of afternoons spent lounging on the sofa in our cool basement, out of school and surrounded by novels and various magazines. There were also plenty of days where my sister and I walked to our local library, where we spent long days in the stacks, excitedly peering through books and whispering our finds to one another. These summer days, despite not having much time to lounge around, I still arm myself with my books, both digital and hard copy. Especially during my commute to and from the OK Corral. And I make healthy use of my library card, as well. Do you have a library card? Don’t you love it? Even if I don’t check out books, there’s something kind of amazing about wandering those stacks and inhaling the sweet scent of books. Takes me back to those lovely adolescent days. (SHAMELESS PLUG: if you’re looking for something to read, you can buy my latest book of short fiction here. Thank you. I love you forever.)

Ah, la vie d’été. The summer life. Long, hot days, and long, hot nights. A normal transition would have been nice, but oh, well. Enjoy it, wherever you are…

Want to share your summertime essentials with me? Pretty please?

Elegies.

I’m still writing poems about him. I don’t think that will ever end.

 

Elegy. 16.

Perhaps I always knew I would end up near you, my dear, departed one,
near the streets you once walked upon, near the air you once had the privilege to breathe.
Somehow that dreaded constant summer began to call out to me and I began to listen…
A siren’s call, surely, one worthy of wax shoved quickly in the ears, but your memory is far too strong, far too melodic for that Odyssean self-control, and I’m not willing to let you go.

(How is it that the silence that spoke such volumes when we stood across from one another is even louder now, now that you slumber in the ground?)

 

Elegy. 98.

I’m in the mood for you.
For your fanciful cowboy tales–
For your romantic sunset–
For that gleam of mischief in your bright eyes–
and for the sadness I saw in them, too, the kind that told me who you really were.

I’m in the mood for you.
For your arrogant understanding of me–
For your inability to understand nothing at all–
and for the sadness I wanted to take away so badly, the kind that your actions couldn’t hide.

But moods pass.
So did you.
And sadness quietly changes partners.

 

Elegy. 99.

Memory becomes my salve.
Numbing the skin, numbing the nerves,
creating a youthful version of you where smiles ruled the day and
laughter echoed through the halls of our temporary home.

Salon/Stylist Stories.

Our intriguing, perplexing, awesome, mind-boggling, revolutionary, interesting, and life-changing relationship/journey began when I was 11 years old. This was when my mother took me to my first hair salon. It was owned by a Ghanaian woman who ran the salon

salon2
The Black Art Depot (via Pinterest)
from her apartment. I was terrified. No surprise there. If you know anything about me so far, This Square Peg didn’t really feel changes and strange people and strange experiences. Nevertheless, as I was prone to do, my fears were all internalized, visible only through my wide, horrified eyes. The horror grew exponentially when 1) my mother had to run out for a moment, and 2) it came time to wash my hair.

  1. My mother promised she’d be right back. I knew she’d be right back. This didn’t stop the tears from springing to my eyes, however. Never a prolonged crier, though, I sniffed and nodded and hoped that I wasn’t being abandoned.
  2. I didn’t like water. Still don’t. So when the stylist stood me up and guided me to the sink, I began to hyperventilate. When she placed my head underneath the faucet, face down, to rinse the burning relaxer out of my hair, I began to wail. Like this wasn’t a silent cry, readers. As the water spilled around my face and into my ears, I wailed like I was being murdered.

When she was finished, saying over and over again that we were done and wiping my face/tears, I sat, breathless, while she continued with my hair. This was when the women began to mock my fears and my recent wailing. They laughed at my behavior; they called me a baby; so on and so forth. Bold, no? Except they spoke to one another in Ga, one of the languages spoken in Ghana. What they didn’t know was that I understood (and still do) Ga fluently, having spoken both Twi, one of the primarily-spoken languages, and Ga since I was a little girl. (Alas, they have since left my tongue, but the comprehension is still there.) Anyway, as I sat quietly and listened to adults making fun of a child, my stomach burning with each sound of laughter at my expense. When my mother thankfully returned and picked me up, my hair was lovely. In the car, I told that I would never go back there again and I told her why. Infuriated, she ensured that I didn’t.

But my relationship with salons and hairstylists weren’t all bad, and they certainly didn’t end there.

There was the stylist who repeatedly asked me in 2012 whether I was indeed ready to chop off my relaxed ends. I assured her that, yes, I was ready. As those pesky, straight ends fell to the floor around me, I stopped myself from fidgeting in my chair, anxious to see what the end result was. When it finally came time, she turned me around to face the mirror, her eyes wide with anticipation on what I would think of the teeny weeny afro I now sported. My wide, bright grin was the answer she needed.

And I’ll never forget the stylist who, according to my request, shaved one side of my hair and shared my delighted reaction to this unique new style I wanted to try. Of course, this when she worked for one of those brightly lit, techno-blaring salons in the city. Because I liked her and I liked her handling of my hair, when I learned that she also ran her own salon, I left the big salon and drove quite a distance to this new place…where it took hours to finally get to me, long after my scheduled appointment, where she took advantage of my niceness and had me leave the salon and buy hair dye for one of her other clients, where she nearly yanked the hair out of my scalp during one style…Needless to say, our relationship ended then. Le sigh.

There’s my current stylist, who’s also a good friend, who gets me in her chair on time and does her thing and sends me home utterly satisfied. Can’t beat that. There’s something to be said about pals who are also quite professional when it comes to their business.

One stylist was a weave master. She also had the most melodramatic life. And I loved it. While she whipped those fingers masterfully around my strands, cornrowing my hair before installing the weave, I responded to her request for advice about love, marriage, children. Even though I’d never been married or a parent. Interesting, indeed.

I’ve met women–and some men–from all walks of life: entrepreneurial, utterly weird, demanding, lovely, hilarious, kind. These people have all had a significant role in my eventual discovery that beauty has nothing to do with hair. Hair is the accessory, the accentuater. But it sure needs to look good. These days, I mostly do my own hair. The salon visits are for trims (I don’t trust these fingers with a pair of scissors), braiding, the odd haircut when I want to start fresh with my hair/life. In the end, with all the adventures I’ve been through, some good and some bad, some odd and some fantastic, I’ll always have a story to tell.

To all the styles I’ve loved before…

Meanwhile, in Paris…

Parisienne4
Image courtesy of Pinterest, which was courtesy of Vicki Archer, who I am now following on Pinterest..

I think this Parisienne embodies my future life in the City of Lights. In every way you can think of.

Bursting with a thousand words, and I agree with every letter.

Happy Friday, and bon weekend, mes amis.

Throwback Thursday: The Scowler.

SquarePeg1

Meet your Square Peg, a.k.a., me.

I found this photo in my mom’s “secret” stash of photos one evening last week. I should tell you that my mother’s things–her clothes, perfume, shoes, etc.,–have long fascinated me, which means that since I was little girl, sneaking into her room to see what I could find and gaze at lovingly remains a pastime. Don’t worry: I leave most things undisturbed. Except the clothes. Anyway, I love that she keeps hidden photos and mementos that we don’t have access to. When I found this, I snapped a quick photo and placed it back into its hiding place.

This was taken in August 1983 in Accra, Ghana. I was 4 years old. I’m 100% sure my Dad was the photog, being that he loved taking photos of his children and family, even when we were sullen teens and refused to smile.

My birthplace and my home.

That Mustang, which was my mother’s. (Yep, Mama Square Peg rocked a Mustang!)

Those fat braids. (This was obviously was my go-to style.)

That dress.

Those shoes.

That face.

Oh, that face. Most photos from back, back, back in the day rarely found me smiling. I was a serious kid. I discovered those teeth a bit later, as you can also see from that ruffled, picture day photo. Other ones are of me coolly staring into the camera, as if we’re moments from battle. Ah, memories.

Happy Throwback Thursday.

because it’s Wednesday.

LukeEvans

This is Luke Evans.

He’s an actor.

I like his face.

Bon Wednesday.

where to next?

After my traveling whirlwind within the past few months (London and Germany and Paris, oh my…and Luxembourg, too), it’s certainly a popular question I get from friends and family: where to next? Below are some of the places on my list to visit hopefully sooner than later, depending on how things play out in the neat future. All images are courtesy of Pinterest, and there’s no real order of importance, being that I salivate and dream about these locales equally.

You guys, I’ve been dreaming about Havana, Cuba, for the longest. In fact, when I think of Havana, I frequently entertain an recurring image. I am being driven through the streets of Old Havana in the backseat of one of the classic cars shown above, clad in a flowery red dress with a matching flower in my fro. Next to me is an unknown gentleman dressed in an old-fashioned suit from the Desi Arnaz collection. We bow our heads and listen as breezy, intoxicating music roams about the atmosphere. Right?? Oh la la. Anyway, now that travel restrictions between the US and Cuba have significantly loosened, I’m hoping that I’ll see myself walking down those old streets soon. And definitely with a flower in my fro.

Oh, Santorini. I’ve mentioned this delectable (yes, it’s so lovely that it’s edible) Greek island before. (Here and here.) I simply want to go to there. Those shades of blue need to be mine. We can even get my unknown Mister out of that Desi suit and into some white linen. I need those views, that water, strolls to the marketplace. I’ll stop here before this drool resumes.

Amalfi Coast/Positano, Italy. Notably, a bunch of my good friends are perplexed that I haven’t yet made my way to Italy. I’ll be honest: when I was a teenager, Italy was everything after Paris. I wanted to see Rome, I wanted to see all the dark hair and olive skin, I wanted to at least pose next to a pink Vespa. And with my enduring love of A Room with a View, you’d think I would have hightailed it over there already. Alas, no. Why? Let me tell you: I lost my love for Italy. Don’t ask me how. One day, I kind of grew bored with the idea of Rome and Tuscany. But then Pinterest came along and pinners with their photos of Amalfi and Positano and my eyes grew wide again and…you get my drift. In love again. Sure, I want to see the big cities. But it’s these lovely areas, the Amalfi Coast and Positano, a village located on the coast, that really call out to me. See that car on the far right there? Just imagine my unknown Mister behind the wheel, me next to him as we slowly drive down the coast, a scarf and his arm around my shoulders, his linen suit replaced with a crisp white shirt and slacks…

Le sigh. Remove the unknown Mister and I still have definite plans to visit these places. And there are more, mind you. The Netherlands, Morocco, South Africa, Japan. We’ll get to them eventually. There’s no expiration date on wanderlust, is there?

Are you a traveler? Tell me where you’re headed next or where you’d love to go.

i was cryin’ when i met you…

Look, I’m going to say it: This Square Peg sheds more tears in a day than your average baby. While this troubled me in the past, primarily because I was rarely a crier, I now fully accept the soggy fact that I weep at the drop of a dime. Hardly an exaggeration–I’m sure

crybaby
They sure do.

I’ve watched many dimes fall to the ground and wept over my inability to loosen my back in order to pick them up. Anyway, so, so many feels. Let me go over some of the things that invariably get me:

Children being cute/wise/happy/every emotion. If a video is posted on a social media platform about a child being all of the above, I will sob. I’m the worst babysitter known to man (the refusal to change diapers is a clue), but little kiddies just get me. Maybe it’s because I long for the days when I didn’t know what a bill was or what taxes were. Mostly, though, it’s because of their innocence and joyful discovery of life.

Daughters and Dads. No surprise there. I miss my dad. When I see girls or women interacting with their fathers, the lump in the throat is unbearable. One of the reasons I distract myself with an assortment of things at wedding receptions–the tablecloth, my drink, the ceiling tiles–rather than watch the new bride dance with her father. Le sigh. Within the tears, however, there’s hope.

Cute animals. Yes, when pandas try to take baths or elephants roll around and pretend to be lap dogs, I smile and dab at the tiny tears forming in my delighted eyes. (Can I just add that this is one giant hint that I’m just getting older? I was a former side-eyer of all animal life. I blame YouTube. Not sure how many videos of dogs protecting newborns a woman can take.)

This Story/Nothing at All. When I was 19 years old and worked here, I worked with a bunch of fantastic, fantastic people. One of them was an awesome woman named Kate. Kate was a mother, a teacher, and had such an intriguing take on life. One afternoon, she told me how she found herself sitting outside at a cafe, having lunch, when she simply burst into tears. “I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t depressed,” she told me. “But I let myself cry. Because sometimes a woman just needs to cry.” As she went on to describe the healing and cleansing her tears brought to her soul, I was both horrified and fascinated by her tale. Horrified because remember that I wasn’t a crier back then. The idea of sitting outside while tears streamed down my face, as strangers passed me by, was nothing short of terrifying. Fascinated because I envisioned this lovely woman sitting at a table, her food abandoned, grinning and laughing as she wept. Needless to say, I remember Kate’s story often, particularly when those strange, incited by nothing tears envelop me from time to time. To her point, sometimes a woman just needs a good, long cry, apropos of nothing. When those moments happen, I let the tears come. I’ve yet to experience spontaneous tears at an outdoor cafe, but should you be driving and see the chocolate lady in the car next to you weeping, nothing is wrong. It’s just me and I’ll be fine.

C’est la vie, right? Sometimes we cry. Even if it’s because a baby elephant wants to be a puppy.

Are you a crier, my dear? Or are you a soldier like I no longer am?

How Queens Attend Galas.

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen photos of Queen Lupita at the 2016 Met Gala.

Oh, you haven’t?

Why not?

No, we won’t go there. I’m here to help.

"Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals
Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images

Right? Are you still breathing? Let’s look at one more, shall we?

QueenL
Photo courtesy of Vulture.com

If you look to the left of Lupita, that’s actor Nate Parker in the background, to the left, quite humorously and openly caught up in the rapture of the Queen.

Absolutely loving the glamour and grandeur and chocolateness and beauty and class and elegance of our lady. And that hair! I won’t discuss the foolishness of Vogue magazine crediting Lupita’s hairstyle to Audrey Hepburn and completely diminishing the distinctly African influences behind the style. Not worth my typing time. But trust and believe that our Lupita responded in her usual classy and direct way.

Happy Queen Monday, everyone…

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