Welcome to November 1.
My feelings about November haven’t changed.
It’s always here for you. Remember that.
Happy Tuesday, y’all. Onwards.
I promise not to blame you for not being the traditional you in a state where it’s summer year-round. It’s not your fault that heat lives in every tiny corner in this lone star state. (And I’ve been promised at least 70-degree days, even if the leaves won’t wholly turn, so I’ll take it.)
I promise to get back to creative writing, something I tend to do more of during your inspiring season. It’s been a blast with other forms of writing, but there are about 12 short story ideas that currently demand attention and they punch hard when they’re not acknowledged.
I promise to engage in Blogtober this year. Yes!
I promise to take time for self-care. With shorter days and cooler, darker nights on the horizon, running around town and burning the candle at both ends will have to take a backseat. (Perhaps eternally? Your Square Peg isn’t in college anymore and she keeps forgetting that.) More blankets, time on the couch, and chai, in that order.
I promise to finally go shopping and bring more color and creativity to my personal style. It’s been blah for me lately, clothes-wise and otherwise. Le sigh.
I promise to keep a standing date at the bookstore on Friday nights. Autumn has always been about books and reading, too, and I need to smell some pages and listen to the hushed hum of book-related conversations.
I promise not to side-eye all the rain you will undoubtedly bring. Part of the bargain, right?
I promise to continue to stay away from whatever a pumpkin spice latte aims to provide.
I promise to just breathe. I’ve been aching for deep, sustained breaths lately.
I promise not to get it twisted: seasonal beauty won’t take away the stresses of life…
…but it’ll give me chances to look up, appreciate, and engage.
Here’s to the coming autumn and enjoying every bit of it.
What are you looking forward to this fall?
I’ve heard it most of my life. And if you have a resting fierce face like me, you’ve heard it, too. Strangers, random folks–they all seem to take pleasure in viewing our stony features and commanding us to break into grins. Like me, do you want to push said people over to the ground when they issue this command?
The first time I heard it was from my mother. I was in my mid-twenties and she asked me if I walk around with “that face” when I’m in public. She followed that question with another query about why I look so “fierce.” I remember kind of backing away slowly, not wanting to elaborate as to why I didn’t see the need to walk around smiling all the time. But she’s my mother. She can speak her peace and even if I didn’t/don’t heartily agree, I surely wasn’t going to push her over. (She’s really strong, y’all.) But random folks? Nah, man. You don’t get to issue me commands. You don’t get to direct what I do with my features. I once had a homeless guy command me, as I walked down the sidewalk, to smile. As much as I wanted to push him over, he had other problems he needed to attend to.
What incites folks to issue this command? (Oh, and no, it’s not a suggestion. It’s a
command. If it was a suggestion, I would hear something like, “You have such a lovely smile. Why don’t you show it more?” I would still side eye them, because, again, it’s my face and I don’t need no stinking suggestions about it but the need to push said speaker over would be slightly diminished.) Why is it so important that I bare my teeth to the world? I mean, it’s awesome to seem approachable, and perhaps a smile communicates that, but the assumption that I’m not because I largely walk around in my daily life without one is a bit ridiculous to me. Or how about I choose what expressions I want on my face? How about that?
A few weeks ago, gymnast and all around amazing woman Simone Biles performed a routine for Dancing with the Stars. During the judging, she was asked by one of the hosts, Tom Bergeron, why she wasn’t smiling when the judges were praising her performance. Simone’s response:
Because can she live? Can she choose when or whether to smile, Tom Bergeron? (I’ll never forget when one of my uncles, while we watched Tom host some other show, remarked that he looked like he had bad breath. This comment exemplifies why my African people will always get the win, the zinger, all of it.) Anyway, social media praised her retort into infinity. Women praised her into infinity.
Because most women hear this smile command, typically from men.
Yeah. You agree with me.
And we could talk for hours about how that gets under a woman’s skin, being told by a male stranger to do something with her features that he has no right to tell her to do, but dear lady, we don’t have a million hours. You agree with me. I’ll leave it there. For now.
So, no, I won’t smile on command, and unless you gave birth to me, you don’t get to tell me or my face what to do.
Happy Wednesday, y’all…smh…
Last night, it rained. Hard.
Let me tell about the rain in Texas (rather than the rain in Spain; you’re welcome). When I first moved here a whopping seven months ago–time truly flies–my friends hardly spoke about the heat. The heat didn’t require discussion. I knew that the sun would be vengeful, punishing me for something I’m not sure I did. No, dear reader, I was informed about the rain. Because it doesn’t just rain here. It monsoons. Deluges. Floods. Cats, dogs, and cows fall
from the sky. High winds. Rain descending sideways instead of downwards, which indicates to me that this ain’t a game. Thunder. Lightning. Hail the size of my massive head. When I initially moved here, I once arrived at my former residence and watched, wide-eyed, as the sky turned to a shade of inkwell black. As I scrambled to get out of the car before I was drenched and/or transported to Oz, I realized that perhaps for the first time in my life, I was filled with pure, meteorologically-based fear. (Sure, living in Anywhere, VA had its insane moments. Snow, rain, all of that. But having lived in that area most of life, I was used to it.) And rarely did we receive tornado, get-in-the-bathtub warnings like we do here. As I reached behind me to grab my ineffectual umbrella, I moved with the kind of panic you reserve for dark evenings when someone is walking behind you or when you share an elevator with just another person. (Is it just me? I cannot function when there’s just two of us in an elevator. I simply cannot.) It was terrifying. When I finally made it to the covered porch, a few droplets already falling on head, I turned around right on time as the heavens began to weep. It was incredible.
Oh, and this isn’t the kind of relaxing rain that lulls you to sleep. Rather, I was pulled out of my sleep and driven towards the window, where I peeked through the blinds and watched the sideways storm batter the ground and the cars in the parking lot. A few nights ago, hail accompanied the storm that came.. Ever hear a million rocks thrashing against your window as if they’re mad and not going to take this anymore? This time, however, there was no hail. Just angry water propelled by unremitting winds. When I finally headed back to bed, I lay there, wishing it was over. No such thing. It was determined to screech and ruin the dreams I could no longer remember. (No, Leonard hasn’t returned.) Thankfully, a fitful sleep eventually came over me and I was able to escape the noise. In the morning, the only evidence of the storm were the leaves that decorated the surfaces of my car. If only cars could talk. (“Darling, what was that?” Imagine the scratchy, accented voice of Idris posing that bewildered question, because my car shares his name. This ain’t a game.)
So how do we make amends with this weather fear? One of the many reasons I moved here was to avoid the snow and ice of the Northern VA area, which also came with the kind of cold air that bypassed coats and scarves and headed for pure bone. I’d rather be hot than cold. Hot means I can find a Starbucks and escape the heat outside. Cold means frozen tears just because I can never get warm. And since I’ll be here for the foreseeable future, what do we do?
We find a better umbrella, stay inside, and avoid Oz at all costs.
Does it rain a lot where you are? Do you hide like me or do you laugh in the face of weather-related fears (unlike me)?
Curious about how This Square Peg energizes for the day? *Or whether she actually gets energized for the day? Read about my morning routine below…
As you can see, quick, easy, we’re done. What’s your morning routine? I’d like details. The comment box can handle it.
*I don’t get energized until 9pm. So there you go.
P.S.: are you wondering if I eat breakfast? I do. TSP’s belly won’t stand for all of that. I tend to grab breakfast at my job or roll by Starbucks on the way into the office, if I have time…which I most likely don’t. And if you’re also wondering if I actually get into the office on time? I actually do. The wonders of only working 10 minutes from home.
We never stop growing and learning about ourselves, do we? Below are some of the things I’ve realized about myself lately, because I’m all about epiphanies, epiphanies, epiphanies…anyway, read on, s’il vous plait.
Thanks for visiting epiphany central. What things have you learned about yourself lately?
You guys. When ladies change their hair, here’s the thing: their faces stay the same.
I can’t count how many times it’s happened to me. It even happened today. Meeting people that I’ve met before and noting their obvious confusion based on a lazy lack of recognition. But we know each other, sir/madam. We laughed. We hung out. We work together. Do these braids/crochets/twists really make it hard for you to determine my identity?
So here’s a PSA: some of us, especially my fellow melanin ladies, will change our hair a lot. Because variety is the spice of life and of hair, and we have that ability. Make it a goal, right now, to preserve our faces in your mind’s eye. Because I won’t re-introduce myself.
Got it? Good.
*carefully steps off soap box because she’s afraid of heights*
Let’s celebrate this Throwback Thursday with a ‘lil story/psychoanalysis/discussion/boatloadof unanswerable questions, shall we?
I’ll start by saying this: I’m a smart cookie. No shade or ego. I simply own my intelligence. And if you haven’t done the same thing, please do. You’re not walking around telling perfect strangers that you know it all. You’re just acknowledging what you know to be true for yourself: you’ve got a working brain. Woo hoo. And it’s all relative, by the way. I may not still understand binomials, but I know plenty of other things. In other words, no one is 100 percent amazing brain-wise, perhaps with the exception of the Mensa ladies and Einstein. And there are plenty of folks who side eye a pile of books but know plenty of things about life and how to navigate it. But own it, either way.
However, back in the day, this chocolate bookworm who enjoyed many days reading encyclopedias in her parent’s basement and devouring facts and information entered high school and almost immediately buried her brain. And there was only one group of people I hid this fact from: boys. Don’t ask me how or why. I was 14 years old. (Actually, with the way my birth month is set up, when I started high school, I was 13 years old. A little girl. Le sigh.) In looking back, there was no rhyme or reason to it. One day in 9th grade, a boy in my class asked me if I understood the assignment our teacher had just given us. I described it in detail, interpreting it for him, after which he said, “wow, you’re really smart.” What was my response? “No, I’m not,” I replied, laughing nervously. This happened often: denying, above all, that I had any abilities whatsoever when it came learning, analytical thinking, etc., especially when a boy acknowledged me. There was a bizarre level of panic when this happened–I didn’t want to be mocked or seen as knowing more than the guy standing in front of me. Was it innate? A weird biological response to the age-old adage of girls only needing to look pretty? After all, my mother, one of the most intelligent women I know, never uttered those words to me. I was never told to “dumb it down.” So where did the desire to downplay any kind of smarts even come from? Oh, and there were girls who uttered that “wow, you’re smart” comment to me, too, and although I still downplayed it, I don’t recall that almost manic need to dismiss their words like I would with boys.
Maybe it goes back to what I said above. No wants to seem like an arrogant jerk while acknowledging what they can do. But for women, it’s almost as if we carry 100 pounds of guilt when it comes to acknowledging what we can do, particularly when it comes to intelligence. The archaic, ridiculous notions of women’s abilities being limited to cooking meals and birthing babies have been around since time began; maybe I was carrying that on me, in me, without even fully realizing it. Maybe I was also deathly shy and didn’t want, even for a second, any attention being given to me. Which is also true. Maybe it’s all the above. I don’t know. When I entered college and realized that my education was actually up to me (in other words, school ain’t free; tuition is involved; you get what you pay for), this need to hide my brain still took a while to go away. I remember being a college freshman in English 101. The assignment was to write about a memory. Our professor chose to highlight my essay and read portions of it aloud to the class. She was full of praise and encouragement. I wanted to fall through the ground. By senior year, when my strengths and confidence as a writer had grown, another professor did the exact same thing. I handled it differently. I thanked him and told him how his encouragement helped me. Was it age? Growing older? 18 vs.22? Or did it have something to do with a female professor vs. a male professor giving the praise and encouragement, the male approval making it seem more acceptable? Insert thinking emoji here.
(Told you there’d be unanswerable questions.)
I do know one thing: “dumb it down” has been said to me in my adult life more than once. Not at 14 and not at 22. While adulting. And although I don’t necessarily understand when I turned the corner from terror of smartness to finally feeling confident in my abilities, I do know that each time I heard that silly, objectionable phrase, I laughed in the speaker’s face. So there you go.
These days, my abilities are only important to one person: me. Sometimes I’d love to revisit that 13/14 year-old and help her to stop choosing fear and pretense. But we’ll wait for another smart cookie to build that time machine.
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