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…

Advertisements

Adjoa on a Monday.

Ever since my early twenties, coffee shops have been my true love. Many a coffee shop had me inside of it; ordering a cup, listening to the beans whir in the grinder; hearing the quiet hum of conversation as patrons did everything from chat with each other to type away at their laptops for whatever projects they were working on. (I almost always think the laptop-bearers are burgeoning novelists.) When I worked at my dearly departed Borders Books (see memories here and here), one of the areas I was assigned to, other than at the register or the info desk or shelving books, was the cafe. There, I learned to make a variety of espresso-based drinks, recipes that I still remember all these years later. It was, in a way, my first foray in working in a coffee shop. And I loved it something awful.

Naturally, I’ve always wanted my own shop. So in my mind, my shop would be called Adjoa on a Monday. Adjoa is my Ghanaian day name for ladies born on a Monday. The decor would unsurprisingly be rustic-y with a French touch; the French part is me, as you know, but I’ve also grown to love the rustic idea for a while now. Funny, huh? This Square Peg, who favored not-busy, not-busy, super modern spaces now longing for burnished wood finishes and Mason jar centerpieces? Girl, people be changing…

*All images derived from my boo Pinterest.

Anyway, further details about AOAM:

  • Free WiFi. I love the idea of people inhabiting that space and working on whatever their working on.
  • Open mic nights. At Borders, I freely took advantage of sharing my poetry with audiences. That college student had plenty of spurned-love poems to share, thank you very much.
  • Themed evenings every now and again. Paris jazz spot Tuesday. Speakeasy Fridays. Etc.
  • An assortment of staffers of different ages and backgrounds. This one is important to me. When I worked at Borders, a true pleasure was working with everyone from fellow college kids to part-time History professors and everyone in between. It was amazing.
  • A mini-bookshelf/donate-a-book area. Because you know books have to be involved.

More ideas abound. Will it happen one day? Will I venture out and start my own business and finally see this coffee shop of mine with my own two eyes? *Kanye shrug* I’ve never been ashamed or shy to dream out loud. Perhaps that’s the first step?

What thing/idea/venture/adventure have you nursed for ages? I’d love to peek…share it in the comments below.

And now…

friday

ain’t nothing changed.

As much as I’m thankful and grateful for the journey of changes in this life of mine (it took a long time to fall in love with myself, for example; self-worth/self-respect/self-esteem came late for me, but those things came right when they needed to 👐🏾), some things remain exactly the same for your Square Peg. And I don’t have a problem with that.

  1. sideeyeI still side eye strangers. It’s nice to meet new people. It is. But that nine year-old who barely trusted folks who weren’t mother or father hasn’t completely disappeared. Look: stranger danger is a thing. If we’ve never, ever met, there’s a chance that I’m checking all the exits in case you decide to flip out and/or request something I’d rather not give you, like limbs or kidneys. It is what it is.
  2. I still watch YouTube videos on how to style/wash/manage my natural hair. I returned to natural six years ago. *shrug* One never stops learning. And one forgets. And one finds a bizarre comfort in watching other people wash hair3their hair. And once needs reminders that detangling is a necessity. I mean just because you graduated from school doesn’t mean you don’t still (mind the double negative there) text your old Math teacher to ask her how to calculate percentages, right? Right? Hello? Anyone?
  3. I still use my library card. I haven’t in a while, need a new one for a new state, but I’m a library card believer. Here’s a story for why I consider it a privilege and not a right: my mother had me banned from checking out books from my local librarylibrary when I was about 13 years old. You see, I was a chronic later book returner. Like chronic. I also had this terrible habit of not remembering where I left my books. (Honestly, my mother’s wish that I have a daughter just like me when I was a teenager was appropriate.) As a result, my Mom was usually left with paying my fines. So, one fine day, Mom went to my favorite library and informed the librarians that I was disallowed from using my card until I turned 18. Yes. 18. So. Gangsta. I was heartbroken, wanted to scream and rage at her (but didn’t because I wanted to also live), etc. But it happened. And on my 18th day of birth, I went right to that library and re-applied for a new card. And promptly incurred more fines. But I was a working woman by then, so who was ‘gon check me, boo? (She was. I became much more careful. *nervous laughter*)
  4. dogsI still have my checkbook. Nope, you’re not in Jurassic Park. There aren’t dinosaurs drifting around you. I haven’t written an actual check in many moons, but there are still some companies that ask for your full checking account number with the twenty-five zeroes. Since that number remains unknown to me by memory, I make sure that my check book is somewhere nearby.
  5. I still wear slips. I am the daughter of an African woman. If I stopped wearing them, even despite the distance and states between us, she would know. Of course, honestly, I don’t wear them as much as I did back in the day. If a skirt or dress has lining in it, I opt to not add more fabric to it. But if I wear something thin or could potentially have a moment a la marilynMarilyn Monroe, I will so throw on a half slip. Sure, I’ve had moments recently where I realized, with cold dread, that the thing was slowly descending towards my ankles…but you know what? Panic is good for the soul. Keeps you alive. Not really. I digress. On the off chance that what I’m wearing may expose, uh, exposure, slips are still my go-to.
  6. I’m still salty about the ending of Lost. There’s nothing more to say.
  7. I still believe in the power of good penmanship. Not only do I believe in it, but I openly admire it when I see it. I know no one writes anything down anymore, so yeah, but on the off-chance that I see someone put paper to pen…and do it so well…and use flowy cursive or straight lines…happy sigh. Look, my sixth-grade teacher nearly hit me for not being able to get that cursive ‘r’ just right. Apropos of nothing. But back then, it was important to write well. It just was. Time and technology happen, so this isn’t a diatribe against that (I am typing all of this), but it’s a lost art that I enjoy seeing and doing.
  8. I still can’t end a list with an odd number. If loving even numerals is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Some things never change.

Are you lover of change? Or no? Or both? Or…just tell me.

Bon weekend…

 

Blogvember #22: Choices.(Mission Possible)

This was the photo I used for the back of my recent work of fiction, The Loftiest Thing. I love this photo. For one thing, the trees in the background absolutely fit the title’s theme, which was also one of the stories in the book. Secondly, I think my photographer (who also happens to be a good, longtime friend) captured the joy I felt at having accomplished this latest creative project. The natural lighting, the setting: parfait. 

My third book is on the horizon. Can we pause to celebrate this?


A part of me wants to keep that photo for the back cover. The other part of me wants to change it up. Just because change is always refreshing, and I think this third book represents some of the changes I’ve made with how I want to present my art. Below are the three photos I’m considering. 


Your mission, if you choose to accept it (and why wouldn’t you? You love me, right?): what say you? Pick the photo you like the most and tell me your option in the comments. I’m partial to all three of them, so I’m no help. The most-picked will win and I’ll make it my back photo. 

Happy choosing on my behalf…

breathe deeply.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Why I walk through the stacks and inhale. 

Why I meander through libraries and bookstores, often with no intention of reading or buying, just trailing my fingers down endless rows of spines and consuming the sweet aroma of books. 

Why books can be desserts, too.

(I dedicate this post to my beloved Ms. Lindquist, who let me escape the battleground of recess (when you’re shy and slow and new to the area, recess becomes a battleground) by letting me make a home in the library while the other kids played. In there, I discovered stories about girls like me, about faraway places, about adventures and pesky little sisters, and everything in between. Ms. L., You opened up my world.)

Goals.

bookwrap
Photo courtesy of Instagram, via @thewraplife

Chair goals.

Book shelf goals.

Head wrap goals.

Recreating-this-photo-in-my-apartment-one-day goals.

I mean. Come on. For a proud melanin lady who loves books and sitting on her growing derrière (thank you, squats) and red lippy, this photo is everything.

Incidentally, yesterday was National Book Lovers Day. I certainly hope you celebrated by sniffing some books and delighting in the sweet aromas of imagination and words. If not, fellow bookworm, you know that we don’t need a day set aside to celebrate our love: every day is National Book Lovers Day.

Here’s to beloved library cards and paying off all those fines. Speaking for myself, of course.

(Thanks for the tag, TB!)

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?

About your Author: Round-Up.

Seriously. Why are we doing this? You don’t have a book to promote. 
Is that why you think I do this feature? To promote my fiction?

What other infernal reason could there be?
We’ve talked about plenty of things via this feature. The weather, working out, health. It’s fun.

Debatable. Anyway. What’s going on? You got quite a bit of snow last week, didn’t you?
A “bit” is underestimating it. It was unreal. I’ve seen blizzards before, experienced them, but this…

Not so fun when you’re an adult. Right?
Right. Exactly. You know me so well, kitten.

Again, because I’m you. You’re essentially talking to yourself. You get that, right? Right?
Anyway, what else is going on? Let’s see. I’m making plans about the future.

ARE YOU GETTING MARRIED?
Mom, is that you?

What’s this about the future? What’s happening? What are you doing??
Just making some significant changes. When things become more concrete, I’ll discuss them here. Until then–

Until then we’re all supposed to be on pins and needles, waiting with bated breath, until you reveal the plans about your non-husband?
That cabin fever did wonders with your temper and sarcasm, didn’t it?

So, your writing. How’s that going?
I’ve actually been dabbling in science fiction lately. I included a very sci-fi-esque story in my recent collection and it certainly lit a fire. So I’ve been writing short stories in that vein. Pretty proud of the one I wrote a few weeks ago, actually. I even submitted it for a writing contest.

How would you define science fiction?
Themes that deal with time travel, parallel universes, things like that.

Interesting. Are you going to post your beloved new story on here?
In a few weeks, yeah.

What do you like about that genre so much?
Here’s how I feel about it: if I write about time travel, I feel like the science fiction genre allows me to go as far as my imagination will allow and beyond without having to go too crazy with research and facts. Because no one has traveled through time. If I write a story about Savannah’s legal system, it needs to be based on the actual legal system in Georgia. you feel me?

So this is your lazy way of avoiding research. I feel you.
You’re the worst.

And yet you didn’t disagree. 
I’m leaving you now.

*sigh of relief*
You really are the worst.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

A Different Prism.

bookswoon2

Never mind that he’s Mr. Darcy, for heavens sake, so of course he would feel that way about reading, further convincing me that he’s perfect. Never mind that. Let’s focus on the fact that not only is he a walking dream, but he’s also right.

Whether powerful novel, evocative story, thrilling poem, thought-provoking essay, or meditative blog post–you read and you are left in a daze. Your perspective has changed, your mind and heart are still caught within the confines of what you just read. As a voracious and devoted reader, moments like the latter are both mind-boggling and absolutely fantastic. Because that’s what words are supposed to do.

Why Not Me?

"Why Not Me?" book by Mindy Kaling.  HANDOUT  [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

I won’t get into why I love Mindy Kaling more than you’ll ever understand–and I do, I just stinkin’ do–but this excerpt (printed

in Glamour magazine) from her forthcoming second book of essays, Why Not Me?, (a title that was basically the theme of one of my recent short stories; I may post the whole thing on here soon) is just winning in every way. It’s perfect. It sums up a lot about women, confidence, perceptions, the whole lot. Read, please.

It’s especially hard, when you hear these things every day, to want to keep putting yourself out there. People’s reaction to me is sometimes “Uch, I just don’t like her. I hate how she thinks she is so great.” But it’s not that I think I’m so great. I just don’t hate myself. I do idiotic things all the time and I say crazy stuff I regret, but I don’t let everything traumatize me. And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.

nene3

Needless to say, I’ll be snagging the book and reviewing it on the ole blog. And if this excerpt is a preview of what to expect, I simply cannot wait.