fun with mansplaining.

Mansplain (verb): The explanation of something by a man, typically to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.

(Read about the etymology of the word here.)

So has it ever happened to you, my dear lady reader? Where you say something quite well or eloquently or meaningful or clear to the listener(s) in the room and the man/men in the room take it upon themselves to mansplain you in theeeeee most condescending and/or patronizing way?

For me, having experienced this largely in a professional environment, I tend to want to do this:

lizlemon1

Without the reference to mac and cheese.

Anyway: it’s maddening. Being a Black woman in a professional environment already has its moments–must my hair always be a talking point?–but being a Black woman in a professional environment that speaks meaningfully and has someone feeling the need to “summarize” what she just said (active listening is one thing, but openly and condescendingly explaining what I just clearly said is quite another) is a whole different animal. To go even further: I completely understand if something I say isn’t clear. No one is a perfect communicator all the time. But instead of ‘splaining, why not ask me if you need clarification? Even even further: would I be equally incensed if another woman in the room did the same thing? I can’t answer that because no other woman has ever done this.

*sets microphone on the ground because they’re expensive*

Here’s another fun thing: when a woman expresses herself and is described as speaking lizlemon2emotionally. Y’all. Y’all. Here’s the thing: emotions will sometimes come through. Professional doesn’t always mean robot automaton who has no feelings. We spend 40+ hours with these folks. If you detect emotion in my voice when I’m communicating something: is it necessary to say something about it? Can we move on or nah? Must we highlight it? Or can you listen, take in, express whether you agree/your thoughts, and we move on? Oh, and passion and emotion aren’t always the same thing. Just saying.

By now, you’ve guessed that these are specific events. You’ve likely supposed that I don’t hate anyone, certainly men, but I’m a full grown woman person being and am open to discussion and dialogue without subjecting folks to condescension/speaking down to others/disrespect/dismissal/being reduced to “emotion”.

Please return to your regularly scheduled onwarding and upwarding.

On Harry & Meghan.

If you’re living on this side of Earth, you’ve heard that Harry and Meghan have decided harrymegsto significantly change their status with the royal family. (I won’t link to any articles because, whew chile, the bias.) In other words, H&M want to step back from being senior members of the royal family, become financially independent, and split their time between the UK and North America. I’m here for it. Let them live. Let them also live in a place where they’re not targeted viciously. I support it. The vitriol and abject racism I’ve seen for Meghan in the British media is indescribable. We talked about leveling up, didn’t we? Well, they did and I think it’s a fabulous decision. I won’t even discuss all the fallout and how Piers Morgan is just…no words. Team H&M. (I definitely hope Meghan resurrects her blog, The Tig. Wonderful writing. Wonderful voice.)

In that vein, I wanted to share a ‘lil short story I wrote inspired by the royals and my admiration for the Ginger Prince and his lovely wife. In case you’re wondering, 2020 hasn’t necessarily resurrected my creative writing. But I have hope. Read on, enjoy, and onwards & upwards. For everyone.

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The Queen and the Green

The queen had spinach in her teeth. The offending green vegetable was right there, lodged between her two front teeth for all the world to see. And the world would see it, because after this morning tea, the queen would announce to the free world that her eldest grandson, the prince, was engaged to his troublesome fiancée.

For the record, she, Margie King, was the troublesome fiancée. She was the American commoner, the former executive assistant to the prince’s solicitor, the woman who wore a dress that didn’t even reach her knees when he had first brought her to meet his grandmother. (Never mind that the dress, hastily purchased when he had made her aware of his plans, had shrunk in the wash and was short because of that and not because of some wicked attempt to shock the ruler of 14 countries.) She was also the woman who wanted to alert her soon-to-be grandmother-in-law that there was spinach in her teeth.

It baffled Margie that no one was saying anything. The woman was presiding over a grand, long table, flanked on both sides by various family members and relatives, and no one had the guts or decency to tell her about the spinach. Yes, Margie was aware of the rule that that no one could approach the queen without being summoned or being spoken to first. Clearly, propriety trumped sparing her from humiliation. Even the queen’s husband, the perpetually bored prince who seemed half asleep most of the time, openly observed his wife’s mouth as she spoke, his eyes widening with each word and subsequent presenting of the food in her teeth. Margie was pretty sure that the man wanted to laugh. Unsurprisingly, he, too, said nothing.

Where were her ladies-in-waiting? Did they even call them that anymore? Margie had done about a month’s worth of royalty-related research to prepare for this event, but wasn’t sure if she had read anywhere that ladies-in-waiting still retained that title.

She wanted to tell Frederick about it, to lean over and whisper in his ear that someone needed to help his grandmother. But Frederick was seated about twenty cousins down from her. Someone had muttered “royal protocol” as a reason why they weren’t seated together, but Margie didn’t buy it. She knew it was the queen’s way of prolonging what it would kill her to soon announce—even if that meant temporarily separating her grandson from his fiancée during tea.

She would never forget the queen’s face six months ago, when Frederick declared his intent to marry her. Rage. Confusion. Fear. Nausea. A bit of sadness. Her features twisted up like the worst scene in a horror movie, right before the end comes. Margie had stood off to the side, breathlessly observing a stately sovereign turn into a creature of volleying emotions. Well, the twisted features aside, there were no actual outward emotions being displayed. She had the stiff upper lip reputation to maintain, after all, even if the audience was just four people: Margie, Frederick, the queen herself, and her half-asleep husband.

For a moment, Margie forgot about the spinach and thought about him. Her regard moved from the queen and rested on Frederick (although she could barely see him), her Frederick, the man she didn’t know she had been dreaming of until they met.

It had been raining buckets that evening. Her boss, Mr. Knox, had requested that she stay late to assist with greeting a client that would be arriving after closing time. Margie knew that Knox had high-profile, top-secret clients, some unknown to even her (such as this one) but the image of trudging through the rain and the dark to get to the Tube instantly became that top-secret client’s fault. She intended on being as nonchalantly rude to he or she as possible.  

He had arrived precisely at half past six, calmly entering the lobby as if there weren’t oceans of rainfall and high winds behind him. No one was with him; you’d think the heir to a throne would be trailed by a sea of security detail. That being said, yes, she had immediately recognized him. Who wouldn’t? Everyone knew Prince Freddie, The Prince of All Princes, a title coined by the media. His handsome good looks (in real life, Margie quickly decided that “handsome” as a description was grossly insufficient) and famous girlfriends were well-known and well-reported. Standing up from her desk, she had greeted him—stopping herself from bowing—and led him toward Knox’s office straightaway, as her boss had instructed. “You move quite fast,” he had said from behind her. Margie gulped and turned around, glancing at him. He was smiling, his dark hazel eyes dancing at her. Instead of explaining that rapidly walking was her way of avoiding a royalty-related collapse, she had merely smiled at him in return and said nothing in reply. She doubted that her voice box would work properly anyway.

Much, much later, Margie watched Knox and Frederick speak to one another in hushed tones in the lobby. Their appointment had officially ended but the conversation continued. Margie then wondered if there was some sort of prenuptial agreement in the works; the prevailing rumor was that Frederick was close to proposing to his latest girlfriend, a French actress. Was that why he was there? Did royals even have prenuptial agreements? she then wondered. However, the presence of Mr. Knox now standing by her desk sharply interrupted that line of thought. She stood up. “Yes, Mr. Knox?”

“Our client would feel most welcome if you would allow his driver to take you home,” Knox replied.

Blinking rapidly, she glanced at Frederick, who again smiled warmly at her. “It’s rather awful outside and you’re here late because of me,” he explained. “Ridgely will take you wherever you’d like to go.”

“But…how…?” Her voice trailed off. At the moment, she wasn’t sure how to form a complete sentence.

“Simply say thank you, Ms. King,” Knox instructed under his breath.

Nodding, Margie turned off her computer and grabbed her handbag. After a year with Knox, she had learned to simply move quickly in spite of whatever questions she had about something. She approached Frederick and thanked him for his kindness.

“You’re quite welcome,” he had responded, holding her stare long enough to communicate that perhaps this wouldn’t be their last meeting.

It wouldn’t be. 

“Ms. King,” said Ridgely the driver as he pulled up to her flat in Clapham that rainy evening, “His Royal Highness would like to contact you for dinner later this week if you would like to leave your contact card inside that box next to you.”

His Royal Highness? Dinner? Her contact card?

“Did you leave your card?” her flat-mate, Dory, shrieked after Margie had dazedly informed her of the evening’s events. “Did you, Margie?”

In that moment, Margie’s her mobile phone vibrated in her palm. With wide eyes, she presented the text message on the display to Dory: I hope I’m not being too forward, but you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. 

Many quiet dinners later, he confided in her that the French actress he was dating was a longtime friend from university that had agreed to attend all public events with him. He had long tired of questions about just when he would marry. “It’s exhausting, really, but I’m well aware that it’s the price we pay for this life. I’m hardly complaining,” he had remarked that evening. “They’ll simply have to wait until you say yes to me.”

Margie had nearly choked on her wine.

She gaped at him, waiting for him to continue. He gazed at her meaningfully and reached for her hand. It wasn’t the most romantic venue—Bernie’s Fish and Chips was a few miles from her flat and was the only place they could eat without being mobbed, being that most of the clientele were slightly inebriated, blue-collar blokes who thankfully had no idea who anyone was, much less the future king of their country—but Margie clutched his hand and recognized the moment for what it was.

“Are you asking?” she whispered.

“I’m imploring. Please marry me, Marjorie Lorraine King. I’m quite sure I can’t take it anymore, when you’re not next to me, and I’m also in love with you, so it just won’t do.”

She had laughed as tears cascaded down her face. “You have a way with words, Prince Freddie. You really do.”

He grinned at her. “So? Marry me?”

Margie said yes. Rather, she repeated it.

“It won’t be easy,” Frederick then said. “We’ll have a few mountains to climb: the prying eyes, the press, the questions.”

“The fact that I’m black and you’re white.”

Frederick nodded. “We live in a maddening world, don’t we?”

“Absolutely. But I’m ready for anything, Frederick.” She leaned into his tightened embrace and breathed him in.

“Believe it or not, darling,” he said, “the biggest issue, above all, will be my grandmother.”

Now they sat twenty cousins away from each other, his grandmother baring a portion of spinach in her teeth and everyone remaining silent on the matter. Some of them would likely laugh and wonder why Margie cared so much. Wasn’t the queen the same woman who muttered that she was troublesome when she arrived at the palace with the now discarded above-knee dress? The same woman who regularly leveled Margie with the kind of vicious stare meant for enemies of the kingdom? And yet she was also the same woman who  invited 10 year-old girls from low income areas to tea at the palace two Saturdays a month, something the media didn’t know about. The same woman who sometimes put her head on her half-asleep husband’s shoulder when they were walking around their country home (he was pleasantly surprised each and every time). It was just spinach, but it might as well have been a “Kick Me” sign on her back. Margie had learned about the court of public opinion since her courtship with Frederick had begun. It was the one place the queen had no power over, and no one deserved to be fodder.

The queen then abruptly stood, signaling everyone on both sides of the long table to do the same. It was time to hold the press conference in the Tudor Room. As she smoothed her dress down–brocade, tea-length, and gifted to her by her kind, soon-to-be aunt-in-law–Frederick quickly appeared by her side. “You look beautiful,” he whispered in her ear.

“Thank you. Your grandmother has spinach in her teeth.”

Frederick chuckled. “She knows. She does it on purpose to see who will have the courage to approach her unsummoned and inform her. I’ll be sure to let her know that you said something.”

Stunned, Margie then looked up and found the queen studying her, the latter’s demeanor not quite as stone-faced as it typically was when she placed her attention on her troublesome almost granddaughter-in-law. Her expression seemed…softer? The woman couldn’t hear that far, could she? Did she know that Margie had mentioned the spinach?

“Come, Frederick, Margie. We will be late,” the queen called over to them.

Margie couldn’t even recall when the queen had mentioned her name.

“Onwards,” Frederick said softly, lacing his fingers through hers.

And upwards and everything in between, Margie thought, as she watched the queen begin the processional as the first in line.  

Level Up. [2020]

So last year, I feel like you and I, dear reader, entered a new phase of realness on This Square Peg. This is a lifestyle blog, yes, and we discussed various aspects of my life, including openly sharing with you that 2019 mostly stunk. I initially wondered if these were things I even wanted to share. It’s not easy to be vulnerable, no, but it’s way harder when you have tons of eyes reading about your experience. Nevertheless, I’ve always been a fan of 1) catharsis; 2) encouragement and empowerment; and 3) helping people. If one iota of this life and working through those tough times helped anyone with any of those three things (even if sharing simply meant bringing some clarity and understanding to those who know me beyond this blog), then I’m happy and proud. In that vein, I’m here to announce that not much will change with TSP in this brand new year…

Except: we are leveling up. levelup

I will continue to remain real, vulnerable, and open with you. Highlights. Lowlights. Life life life. But as much as I love my privacy, I plan on sharing some tings with you this year and I don’t intend on holding back. I’ll still be private–don’t get it twisted; I have to protect my government name–but the process of sharing will be wider. Because at the end of the day, I need you to be good with you. And if I can add a ‘lil something to that beautiful end result by sharing tidbits of me, then we shall have all of that. Quite honestly, too, I need to continue to be good with me. That involves talking/writing through this journey. So, we’re in this together, dear reader.

My first share of 2020: I have a secret wedding board on Pinterest. It has categories. It shall remain secret because my inner 11 year-old doesn’t like folks taking her ideas. {shrug}

Happy 2020. How do you plan on leveling up this year?

Magnolia Marvel.

The Silos. (All images shown in this post are mine.)

If you’ll follow the link here, you’ll see that visiting Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market at the Silos was a definite destination goal of mine. Well, a million years later, a good friend and I made the nearly 2-hour trek to Waco, TX earlier this week. Needless to say, we had a fantastic time.

As soon as we arrived, we saw the line to head into the Bakery. This was fine. Popularity breeds lines. We came with our patience intact. And quite honestly, after parking (you can park for free if you’re visiting the Silos, but since these areas were packed, we headed a bit further down and found a space), we took our time and explored the area while walking toward the Bakery. The rustic charm around us didn’t disappoint.

Once we got to the main area, we snapped some pics and just took in the people, sights, and asked a few questions of the folks working in the area. Then we got right in line for that bakery. (Naturally.) While waiting, a staff member came by with pencils and menus to complete. You choose the baked goods you want to buy; by the time you get inside, a cashier takes the form and fills your order. Pretty seamless, Chip and Joanna. I’m a lover of organization and ingenuity amid a bit of chaos.

After the bakery, we walked around a bit more and decided against getting into another line for the seed store. Especially because I saw a line for a trolley tour and I wanted all parts of that trolley tour. (Trolleys while traveling: an excellent way to learn about a new place and ride all at the same time. I recommend a trolley wherever you go. My favorite trolley tours have been in San Diego, CA, Newport, RI, and basically wherever I’ve been that has one available.)

We learned interesting tidbits about Waco during the tour, for sure. We also learned that reservations are key if you want a table at Magnolia Table, the Gaines’ restaurant. Note to self for the next time. Thankfully, there was a food truck extravaganza right there by the silos so we definitely made use of those amenities. Delish.

We had a marvelous time.

It’s been rough with my job and not having a ton of vacation time to travel. Nevertheless, after three years here in the Lone Star State, I’m still very much a tourist. Taking advantage of the local color was splendid, and I intend on doing more of that.

What are some of your favorite local travel spots?

In Review…2019 Style

My tried-and-true chicelegant (spell check nearly imploded with this nonexistent word, but whatevs) aesthetic didn’t change much in 2019. Here are some of my favorite looks from this year, with a bit of commentary.

When it comes to jeans and pants, I’m your typical pull-your-pants-up-every-ten-seconds kind of gal, because I tend to pull sizes a bit bigger than I should. (Le sigh.) But this year was a marked improvement. I went for more jeggings and leggings this time around, which resulted in better fits and just looked way nicer.

Dresses and skirts are my favorite things to wear. They just are.

I wasn’t kidding.

The collaged photo in the middle is from our annual worship convention this year and my theme was skirts. (Anyone else theme their outfits for events? I love doing that.) All those skirts came from Ross–all to the shock and awe of my Mom, who thinks I should be shopping at Nordstrom at my age. If I can score chic and lovely clothes for a lesser price, I’ll be staying at Ross. After loving everything I wore this summer, she agrees with me.

The Blonde Ambition Tour.

And finally, these three. The last photo is from last weekend at one of our worship events. I played around with color and combinations here and I was really pleased with the results. Woo hoo…

 

‘Twas a good year for personal style and fashion. My goals are to continue to dress for my body and accentuate better, remain chicelegant, and experiment more. As for the revolving door of hair styles and colors: of course.

What are your personal style staples?

things i currently need #12

You’ll see a definite theme. (See current needs #11 needs here.)

vacances1

Somewhere in the Maldives.

vacances2

Pretty please, Positano.

vacances3

Oh, hi, Oregon.

You get my drift. My last real, bonafide vacation was in February 2016, when my girls and I went to that lovely trip to Paris. (Plenty of photos of that trip; search “Paris” and swoon.) It’s high time to get somewhere and find relaxation. Self care. It’s necessary. I do plenty of it stateside, taking time for myself, but I need to do it in another land/on a beach/in a hot spring/on a gondola. Hoping that early 2020 gives me that opportunity.

Happy Friyay, y’all. Any planned trips?

In Review…

I can honestly say that 2019 was a tough one. I struggled a lot this year, and I can openly changingsay that it took a whiiiiile for me to get back to a sense of solid ground. And let’s be real: there will be ups and downs in life anyway. Hills and valleys. Light and dark. And although I wasn’t living in a dreamworld that life, my life, was all roses, this year presented a tunnel of darkness and deep emotions that seemed really hard to navigate. Here are some lessons I learned and am continuing to learn on this journey we call life:

  1. Speak. Even if it’s one person that holds your confidences, who helps you wipe your tears, who assures you that you’ll make it through that tunnel: say something. Let them know you’re barely holding on. I’ve been blessed with that person, and also others who intuitively hold me a bit tighter when we see each other. Those folks may not know the details of what I’m going through, but can sense that I need them. Even in an embrace.
  2. Exchange. My constant goal is to pay it forward. Be the person I needed when I was down. Be there for others as they were and are there for me.
  3. Write. Although I didn’t do a lot of fiction writing this year, I wrote a lot of my feelings down. I needed to work my way through them. Here’s to catharsis.
  4. Hope. It’s not the easiest thing to hold to the heart, hope. Especially when disappointment seems to reign and push you into deep negativity. My bestie and I were discussing this recently and she asked, with all the efforts I’m making to look ahead and not behind, whether I have any hope left. “A little,” I said. “Hold on to that,” she replied. I intend on doing just that.

A brief year-end review. I plan on doing another one as we drift closer to 2020. But I need to say the following: I’m so grateful to my awesome God, my wonderful family, and my dear friends who helped me to remember the light waiting at the end of this weird, endless tunnel I found myself traversing. If nothing else, with everything I witnessed this year, there was something incredible in there: the divine. 

How was your 2019 (so far)? I’d love to hear about it.

necessary to say.

I saw this on Instagram and nodded my head vigorously.

Dark times come, certainly, with depression. But sometimes you can be–for lack of a better term–a functioning depressive. You’re living your life. You’re smiling, laughing, going to events and spending time with friends. And then you come home, breathe through the minutes before bedtime while laying on the couch, and then head to bed. This can happen every single day.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re going through, if you’re going through this: I’ve got you in mind. I know how it feels. Sometimes putting a picture to it, identifying what is happening to you (how can I be depressed if I’m living my life? you may ask yourself) can make a world of difference.

[Not] Writing.

close up of hand holding pencil over white background
Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

I haven’t written anything creatively in a long while. Fiction is my thing, my jam. You know that. But it’s been excessively hard for me to hunker and write. I have some suspicions as to why. Let’s talk them over.

  1. No inspo. Like most artists, inspiration is so huge for me. I need that flow, that impetus, that spark that leads to me wanting to sit down and work on something. I haven’t had that in a while. For the record, I personally gain inspiration from the people around me, from visual art, from music, and really anything that germinates into the desire to storytell. And although those things are still around me, nothing is really germinating.
  2. No patience. Lest you believe I’ve abandoned my passion altogether, however, there have been times when I’ve worked on stories…and then I’ve quickly let them go. I don’t know. Something comes over me. I’m moved to action and then the flame quickly goes out. If I understood why that happens, dear reader, perhaps it wouldn’t happen so much.
  3. No… You know how difficult this year has been for me. Maybe this is the fallout. Wanting to find catharsis through writing but not being in a place where I’m ready to go there. I think this particular reason is a strong possibility.

My intention is to find a quiet place somewhere and just allow the muse to do what she does. Maybe a trip to a museum. Or a few days out of town, alone, armed with a notebook and a pen. Something. Because at the end of the day, I miss writing creatively. I miss the excitement that comes from creating. Gotta get back.

Corn(y) and Cheese(y)

Fun fact about This Square Peg: I’m a shameless, sincere, straight up goofball. I jazz hand, I make silly faces, I tell/laugh at dumb jokes, I opera sing in the grocery store, I dance like a weirdo. And I have no qualms about any of these things. Being serious is a thing. Being not serious at all is also a thing.

I was reading an interesting post on social media where the author made mention of “corny love.” He said it lovingly about the relationship he and he wife have, and it got me thinking.

We shall have corny love, he and I, whoever he may be, and we shall have it in spades. My goofballery will amuse him to no end, especially during times when perhaps levity is what we need to make a situation bearable. He may not be on the upper echelon of silliness like me, but being open to it is key. I insist on corniness and cheesiness. On text messages that tickle and delight. On sharing my wild, interpretive dancing. On laughter well into the night.

Because even though I don’t share those aspects of my personality with everyone (and I don’t), he’s the one who will have it all. Jazz hands included.