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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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Arts

when they met.

eclipse
Photo courtesy of NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

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.

poem

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.

moon2

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speechless.

flannery

Writing fiction has been a no-go, party people. And I miss writing fiction. Yes, I’ve written some poems quite recently (here and here, if you feel like reminiscing), but I am 100 percent a writer, lover, and creator of fiction. I don’t exactly know what’s going on. Let’s think it through:

  1. Is it because I haven’t given my muse other platforms of art to be inspired by? Honestly, living here in the Lone Star state is still very much a transition: personally, emotionally, and especially artistically.  I’ve yet to stroll down the cool, marble hallways of an art museum. I have been to a few concerts, yes. Most recently, I sat in the audience, tears cascading my face, while Alvin Ailey dancers took my entire life with their powerful, breathtaking performances. That was inspiring, absolutely. It got me writing. But the moment was kind of fleeting. Is it because I’m not exploring art more?
  2. Is it because I’m a lazy writer? Look, there are times when an idea comes to me and I start typing and…I stop. Because I don’t want to do it anymore. Because I don’t feel like it. Because I just want to read People Magazine online and mentally judge the choices of silly celebrities.  Because I want to scroll through Instagram and “happen” to find photos of Idris. Because because because. But real talk? Even though the distractions are awesome and it’s nice to turn off the creative brain once in a while, I feel queasy when it happens. I want to write. Is it because I’m not trying hard enough?
  3. Is it because I’ve run out of ideas? Notice above that I respond when an idea comes to me. So they still come. In fact, some great ones have come and they continue. So what’s going on, dear reader? Is it because I let some of them just sit there, unacknowledged?

I’m sure you’re sitting there shaking your head and muttering that some of these questions/problems have obvious solutions. Go to the museum, then. Stop being lazy, then. Acknowledge those ideas, then.

Yeah yeah yeah.

I just wanted to write this post. Get it? I just need to keep writing. Even if it’s not fiction. Maybe that will come. For now, just keep writing, Square Peg. Just keep writing…

nope. can’t do it.

When I was a senior in high school, I did something that defied all the parameters of shy girl status: I auditioned for a musical in my high school.

*cue shock*

Yes, your Square Peg, who enjoyed life behind the shadows, who always volunteered to be the narrator (and when she wrote her own stuff made herself the narrator, thank you very much), decided very much on an adolescent whim that she would audition for the spring musical that her high school was putting on, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumLots of innuendo, lots of farce. I knew nothing about the musical prior to auditioning. There was no Wikipedia back then. Anyway, I loved the title, I loved musicals, I loved theater, I loved my school’s drama teacher (who was also my beloved Film Studies teacher when I was a sophomore and introduced me to the wonder of Citizen Kane, among other things), and I was high on this adolescent whim. I knew I could sing. So why not?

How to Audition for a Musical (Or How Not to, Depending on your Perspective)

  1. If you’re 17 (or 35 or 59 or whatever) and a veteran of several chorus classes, it would be nice to know how to read music. Because guess what? I didn’t know how to read music. (Still don’t.) When I was handed the music for the songs I would be singing that afternoon, Comedy Tonight and Lovely, I might as well have been handed stacks of hieroglyphics. And I probably had a better chance of deciphering those than the music I was given…
  2. …but because I was learn music by ear, I waited until dead last night to audition for each song. This gave me time to listen carefully to the notes, the melody, the arrangement, and allowed me to actually stand on stage and sing. Not too shabby, either.
  3. It might be a good idea to remember that even though you’re one of dozens that are auditioning, you can’t go up on stage with those people. You actually have to stand at the front of the stage and sing. Alone. And yet, moments before cardiac arrest took over as I approached the stage…
  4. …I found a way to position myself by the piano and not really at the front of the stage and I focused on my drama teacher, who was awesome and encouraging and likely CPR-certified in case I did keel over from the fright and butterflies.

I got through it, you guys. And I had fun.

But remember when I said I knew nothing about the musical? Well, although I didn’t score the lead roles of Philia or Pseudolus (and this was really no surprise; other than pretending like I don’t want to strangle rude people, your Square Peg is hardly an actress), I still got a role in the musical.

The role? A courtesan.

If you check out the link to the musical, you’ll see see that the story takes place in ancient Rome, where a slave (Pseudolus) tries to win his freedom by helping his master woo a courtesan named Philia. Well, there would be a house filled with other courtesans along with Philia, and I got a role as one of them. I think her name was Vibrata.

Except, even though your Square Peg is a wordsmith, she wasn’t quite sure what a courtesan was. So, while overcome with excitement at landing her first role in a musical, she went home and went to her trusty dictionary, where she looked up the word.

courtesan (noun): a prostitute with a courtly, wealthy, or upper-class clientele

Yep, I went right to my beloved drama teacher and told him that there was no way I could be in the musical. Excuses about my parents not really feeling the amount of time I would spend outside of school were given. And no, they wouldn’t have cared for that, but you know the bigger issue, don’t you? My mother would have somehow learned that I was playing a hooker. And she would have killed me dead. I mean, as sneaky as I was in getting away with staying out late or hanging out with people she didn’t really know, the heavens would have revealed it to her in a dream. No doubt. Just like she knew that her oldest daughter was making funny faces behind her back one day (without turning around), my mother would have discovered the truth. And your Square Peg would be no Square Peg at all, because, again, I would have been killed dead.

My drama teacher was very understanding. Maybe he knew the real truth, that an African girl playing a hooker–no matter how tame it would be for a high school production–would have been shipped back to the Motherland in a pine box.

I was in the audience on opening night, cheering on my friends in the show, cheering on the director, cheering on the brave girl who replaced me. And in the back of my mind, imagining the death that would have been unleashed by my mother’s hands. So along with all that cheering was massive, massive relief.

I still love the theater, of course. Musicals, plays: the stage continues to thrill and amaze me. And it’s even sweeter from the comfort of my seat. Haaaaaa.

things i currently need #9: décor dreams. (Blogvember #8)

Thought I’d share some of my needs when it comes to decorating my new apartment, which has become quite comfortable but still lacks some of the niceties and touches that I think would make it feel more like home. To that end, below are some of ideas I’ve pinned on my “mon espace” (my space) board on Pinterest. 


This lovely loo gives me life. 


My kingdom for a canopy bed!


Don’t you love it? Nothing like a bedside table. Those three books on the bottom are a sweet idea, but I foresee about 100 books stacked in that space for me. Kidding. 110.


There’s something about vintagey, French rustic-y dressers that drive me wonderfully mad. 


Another bedroom idea. I love everything about this room, including that large print on the wall. Are those scones on the tray? They look like scones. I digress. 


The living room is the centerpiece of the a home, in my opinion. I want a place that’s both cozy and cool, both modern and magnificent. Out of the three, the last pin is my favorite. And can we say #chandeliergoals?

Lastly, I’m a huge lover of natural hair and African-inspired artwork and want several pieces in my home. Here are a few of my favorite “Fro Art” pins. 


Anywho, a few ideas for me to work on down the road. And unlike most of the things on my recipes board, I’d like to make these décor dreams a reality. 

What’s your decorating style?

try: Artists Series #1

If you’re an artist (writing, painting, singing, sculpting, dance, figuring out Math equations which, to me, is a true art form), perhaps, like me, your main medium is often influenced by another art form. For example, if you draw, you may love dance as a source of inspiration. As a writer, I find myself inspired by a long list of other art forms, most of them visual: the performing arts, fine arts, etc. I can look at a painting and fly off the artistic rails, so to speak, my creative drive climbing to giddy levels. (Or not. I haven’t written creatively in a while, save for this blog. And it’s why I have this blog. More on that later.) Anyway, the latter thesis statement is an introduction to a new feature here at TSP. Quite simply, I’ll be sharing things that inspire me. From paintings to photography to dance routines to music, I’d love to feature the works that have moved/inspired me in the past and in the now. You like? Cool, huh? First up: a music video.

I will say that music videos stopped being relevant to me when people started throwing dollar bills in the air and all the flashing lights took away from the wonder of the medium. I mean, come on. My first music video experience was watching a skinny guy in high-water leather pants stepping on a ground that lit up as he walked. Who or what could compare after that? (He also solved a potential gang war and walked on the moon. You know who I’m talking about.) These days, the videos I tend to watch are on YouTube and are of artists that I personally enjoy.

Several years ago, I discovered a music video called “Try” by Nelly Furtado. You guys. The video is just rich with story. I relate to story. No surprise there. When I first watched it, I was writing in my mind. It was that compelling. And when you combine Nelly’s lyrics to the visuals (that plaintive we are we are we are in love near the end of the song/video and the images that match continue to take my breath away), it’s hands down one of my favorite things to watch. And why am I drawn to it so significantly? Ultimately, the video reminds me of the primary topic I revisit time and again in my fiction, in my poetry, what I’m drawn to in life: the emotional connection between people. Whether that connection is strong or fraying, it’s the topic what I ultimately go back to.

Enjoy. In the comments, tell me whatever you like: if you enjoyed Nelly’s video, what inspires you, whether you also swooned when that skinny guy lit up every surface he touched. 

Meanwhile, in Paris…

monalisa

…Les petites lovers of art at the Louvre.

I love this into infinity.

25.

adele25

I haven’t appropriately discussed my permanent spot before the altar of Adele, have I? I briefly mentioned her in this post, but no, you are not yet aware of This Square Peg’s endless devotion to this young woman and her overwhelming ability to cull forth emotions you didn’t even know you had through the power of song.

Now you know. Onwards.

With the release of her new album, 25, I officially accept that Adele rules my life.

I accept that when I listen to the songs on her new album, such as Million Years Ago and All I Ask, I can expect to peer down and see my heart about to take a swan dive onto the ground.

I accept that listening to Adele in my car is dangerous because of all the tears, and the driver needs to see the road in front of her, doesn’t she?

I accept that there will be times–like now–when I need a break from her music because I need to live a normal, weep-free life.

I accept that some people may not get her music and that there’s no need to react violently to said people. (I won’t comment on whether violent reactions have indeed occurred.)

Go get this album, won’t you? If you have it, you know what I’m going through.

adelegif
You guys. She cries to her own music. We’re all goners.

Another Love.

Is it the whimsical melody? Those lyrics? (If you don’t want me, baby, I’ll find another, another love) Is it the fact that this song, beloved since I discovered Alice Smith a year or so ago, now takes on a personal poignancy that I’d rather not elaborate on at this moment? Sigh. But I will elaborate in another post. Maybe tomorrow. Until then, enjoy Alice and her voice and this song.

Music? [The Soapbox Series]

Since I was knee high to a grasshopper (always wanted to say that), music has been a significant part of my life. I mean, my father was playing Simon and Garfunkel and Aretha Franklin records until they scratched and wore themselves out. I grew up hearing all the greats in my household, from Sam Cooke to the Rolling Stones, from the Bee Gees to Michael Jackson. Not only was music significant for me, but I strongly believe that hearing so many different art forms expressed through music blissfully exposed me and my siblings to a sea of unique and different perspectives and emotions. albert

With all that said, here’s my opinion: the current musical landscape, as we speak in 2015, is lamentable. Just today, I read an article where the singer Pink mentioned how let down she was by the MTV Video Music Awards. (Note that I haven’t watched that spectacle or MTV since I realized that the “M” part had become optional.) She stated that music saved and inspired her as a child, and was saddened to see that the acts and performers on the program weren’t doing anything of the sort. I agree. I can think of maybe 2 or 3 performers right now that mean a hill of beans to me musically. Adele. Sam Smith. Emeli Sande. Yeah, that’s about it. Honestly, I don’t even listen to the radio that much anymore, unless there’s an off off off chance that I’m going to hear a new artist that amazes me. Rarely happens. What happened to those moments when you heard music and wanted to scream because lyrically, sonically, and emotionally, you were soaring and being taken on an incredible journey? And hey, I certainly don’t want to diminish the people that may experience those things while listening to a girl group repeat “Give it to me, I’m worth it” about 1,000 times, but come on. Are you kidding me?

I have a memory. I’m in the kitchen. I’m holding a broom, as I’m supposed to be sweeping. But the radio is on so my attention is diverted. I stand in the center of the kitchen, my eyes closed, singing along to the song on the radio with the broom as my microphone. I don’t remember the song, but I distinctly remember how I felt standing there: joyous. That’s music to me. Pure joy. Sitting in a car and hearing lyrics that bring me to tears. Excitedly telling friends about a new, talented artist that I happened to discovered on those rare moments when they are found. Like my father, playing a song over and over again and hearing/feeling something utterly new each time. Moments like those aren’t necessarily gone, but I’m getting them from artists I’ve loved for decades. Not really anyone new. To me, current musical acts are playing up their visual content rather than focusing on songwriting and the sound. And while they’re at it, these are visuals that require a bleaching of the eyes after you’ve seen about two seconds. Throw in a bit of auto-tune, some canned lyrics, and round-the-clock plays on the radio and there you go: stars are born.

No, these are no longer the days of Like a Bridge over Troubled Water and I don’t expect them to be. I am quite content listening to artists I’ve always loved and the few current ones that I’ve come to thoroughly adore and admire.

I just miss the joy.

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