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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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Woman

smile. (ūüėí)

Smile!

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

toon
Smile!

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:

simone

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.

violaSo, 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…

 

 

big bag, small bag.

Once upon a time, our fair chocolate princess was at work and in the middle of typing when a sharp pain shot though her wrist.¬†Of course, she gazed at her wrist as if the body part could communicate why it did this to her. Thankfully, there was no answer (talking body parts may be¬†cute in animated films, but in real life? Nah), and she assumed that it would go away. No such thing. The sharp pain became unrelenting. She could barely type, hold things with her left hand, etc. At first, she diagnosed herself, because she’s done this all her life, often running to her parents’ basement to consult various medical journals whenever she experienced pain and/or discomfort, which resulted in giving herself an assortment of ailments. (“Stop doing that,” her mother has demanded¬†many, many times in the past and last week¬†in the not too distant past.) Her final analysis was carpal tunnel syndrome. And yet there was something intense about this pain, perhaps bigger than carpal tunnel. Reluctantly, she realized that it was time to consult a real physician. The medical journals and all those years of watching ER, St. Elsewhere, and other medical shows just wouldn’t suffice this time.

Since there was a clinic right across the street that accepted those employed at her former company, our chocolate princess trudged over one afternoon, her wrist in agony. When the doctor finally came in to see her, he checked everything, asked a variety of questions, etc. He then gazed at her handbag sitting nearby in a chair. “Do you mind if I pick this up?” he asked. Curious but ultimately knowing what he was about to tell her, she nodded. He picked it up. “What do you have in here?” he then asked. An umbrella, an iPad, my wallet, normal things, she responded. The doctor nodded again. “Do you need all those things?” Affronted, our princess explained that as a commuter who lived in Somewheres, VA and worked in the DC area, it was important to bring things to be prepared since her vehicle was miles and miles away. An umbrella for rain.¬†The iPad for metro reading. Other things. And only a large bag would fit. “All true, but your handbag weighs about the size of a small toddler. That’s why your wrist is in distress. Your handbag is too heavy.”

A small toddler?

But, our princess thought to herself, she’d always had big bags. High school, college: what minuscule bag would fit her life??

The doctor went on to say: “If you need to bring all those things, perhaps consider a backpack. You can use both straps for both your shoulders and take the pressure off your left arm.”

A backpack? Was she 11? Was she in elementary school? Was she still walking to the bus in the mornings?

Obviously the doctor saw the horrified (mixed with a bit of snobbery) expression on our princess’s face. “Or you can decrease the items in the bag. But you’re doing damage to your tendons if keep holding a bag that weighs this much.” She muttered her thanks and assured him that she would figure it out. He told her to pop some pain medication if the pain continued. Eventually, the pain dissipated and disappeared and our princess resumed her life.

But she didn’t change her bag.

The End

So I had an epiphany the other day, dear reader. After years of rubbing my shoulder after wearing my bag, or picking up my bag and wincing in pain, or warning the lady at the nail shop to be careful when she picks up my bag in order to protect my wet nails, and so, so on, I realized that it’s finally time to quit playing games with my limbs. Stubbornly refusing to listen to the doctor’s recommendations was one thing (and not a great thing). But now living in an area where I drive to work and no longer need to be loaded down with an entire aisle of a CVS because I can leave things in my car is entirely another. It’s time, y’all. This Square Peg needs to buy a smaller purse.

I used to wonder how women ran their lives with smaller purses. Like, how did they exist? Where did they put their wallets in said smaller bag? What about a certain time of the month and hiding certain items? (Speaking of that, I think the trauma of a boy in my 9th grade History class who snatched my bag one day and peeked in to see a row of pink lady time-of-the-month articles did more damage than I care to psychoanalyze.) Anyway, again: how did these ladies survive without a giant bag on their shoulders?

I’ll provide the answers when I buy my small bag. It’ll be a shock to the system, for sure. A bag on my shoulder is like warm tea on a chilly day. It’s like cool lemonade for a dry, summer-inflicted throat. It’s comforting. But my car is a few feet away in the parking lot. If I need anything, I can go grab it. Enough, I say. We must do right by my shoulders, wrists, that poor doctor who tried to save me from the small toddler…

Here are some super cute smaller bags that stylistically call out to me:

Lovely. Now we need to head to the store. I wonder how many years that will take?

So tell me: what kind of purse/handbag do you use? Small? Large? Massive? Little? Share your adjectives in the comments with me, please.

fruit salad.

Can I tell you how much I miss my tropical paradise/coconut/fruit salad?

natural
facts.

I will.

December 2016 was the last time I:

  1. saw my curls
  2. got the chance to detangle as I go run my fingers through my kinks
  3. engaged in hours-long twisting sessions while catching a movie on the Netflix
  4. ¬†“tamed” these edges before pushing the fro into a puff
  5. massaged my scalp freely
  6. just loved on it.

Protective styles are great. I’ve expressed this before. They give me a break from doing too much of #6 above, they help me to get to work on time (because I’m not spending all morning undoing the results of¬†#3), and they’re just pretty and creatively done. Will I continue to protective style? For sure. Will I continue to complain that I miss my hair? For sure.

In December, I had Senegalese twists. I followed that up with regular box braids. After that came crochet braids. Other than¬†brief intervals¬†when the ¬†styles were removed so the scalp could breathe, I really haven’t experienced my hair for six months.¬†But lest you believe some fairy tale grandmother forced me to put in these protective styles, it was my choice to keep the strands tucked in until May. I needed to leave it be. There was also some damage to my ends after coloring my hair last year (we’re not going to talk about that right now; I’m still in my feelings), so it was just necessary to leave it ‘lone for a while. This time, however, I made sure to moisturize and oil and do all the things you need to do to actually protect the hair while it’s in a protective style.

This weekend, my stylist will take out my crochets. My natural hair will then receive a much needed deep conditioning and a trim of ends that have likely declared mutiny since the last time I trimmed them.

Will I weep when I touch my scalp again?

Maybe.

Happy Thursday and onwards and upwards…and frowards.

it’s morning…

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…wakeup

  1. My alarm is set for 6AM. I turn it off and then sleep until 630AM. It is what it is.
  2. After the usual morning things, I hop into a scalding hot shower (I don’t know about you, but there’s something about almost third-degree burn water temperature that just wakes me up) and, based of having shared a bathroom with all of my siblings for several years, am out of there less than 6 minutes later.
  3. Applying lotion and/or oil is the highlight after a scalding hot shower. It fills the room with lovely scents and aromas.
  4. I quickly brush my teeth and then wash my face. Because I intentionally woke up 30 minutes late and am now rushing.
  5. Nine times out of ten, I plan my outfits the night before. So after the skincare/beauty regiment ends, I head to the closet and quickly get dressed.
  6. If I don’t have a protective style, I quickly take out my twists and/or puff the hair. (Sometimes I do this while “sitting”, if you get my drift, particularly when I have twists in.) If I do have a protective style (yes, please, because it takes forever to take out twists and style), I just fluff and it’s done.
  7. I head to the kitchen and make a sandwich for lunch. Like a 10 year-old, I prefer peanut butter on wheat bread, no jelly.
  8. I’m out the door after determining, via my heavily used weather app, if I need a scarf or light coat or heavy coat for the bipolar Texas weather.
  9. Drive to work.
  10. If I feel like it, I quickly put on makeup at stoplights. So if you’re behind me, I apologize, but this Ruby Woo needs to go on these lips and I didn’t have time to do that at home.

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.

On Smart Cookies.

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. 

slay-o’clock.

Well, it was bound to happen. I fell off the wagon. I went back 100 steps. I lost the mojo. In other words: I returned to my sloppily-dressed ways.

I’ve mentioned to you that way back in the day, because of weight and lack of self-esteem and not really knowing who I was as a woman, I preferred the drab, large sized, Stevie Nicks/Dorothy Zbornak look. It was my way of hiding. Yet as much as I love Stevie and my Dorothy, it wasn’t the best idea. But with time and working on the inside and then turning to the outside, all of that improved. I fell in love with me, which ultimately meant buying her (me) fancy, lovely things, like clothes that actually fit and creating a simple, feminine and chicelegant (new word; save it in your dictionaries, folks) sense of style. 

Of late, however, the blah of life translated to fashion, style, everything. The return of ill-fitted, voluminous pants. Going to work with not one stitch of makeup on, not even my trusty MAC Studio Fix. Feeling like a shapeless brown platypus. 

As I’m prone to do, I had to figure out what was going on inside before the outside. 

  1. I’m still adjusting to this new area, six months later. (Right? Six months already.)
  2. I’ve been through some recent changes that have affected me emotionally.
  3. Idris still hasn’t called me. 

You know: things like that. In all seriousness, dear readers, I was going through stuff. And stuff means grabbing some parachute pants (far less awesome than Hammer’s), throwing them on, and going to work. 
But it’s time to let it all go. I saw myself in the mirror yesterday, super fresh-faced, absent of even lip balm, for goodness sakes (chapped lips to the heavens), and told myself to wake up. Stuff happens. We deal with it as we go. But no more cracked lips, y’all. No more.

So what time is it? It’s slay-o’clock. Because looking my best leads to feeling my best. A fundamental truth. We all know it. It’s not new math or the invention of something that will keep these edges laid. Looking better makes me feel better. In that vein, this morning I put on a cuter dress, put on some red lippie, and I welcomed the day. Put on your slay clock and join me, won’t you?

Now your turn: did the blah of life ever affect your personal style? What did you do about it? 

“edge control”?¬†

Who are the scientists or hairologists that create the gel for those of us with edges that have temperamental minds of their own? They need to work harder. Because people like me with edges like me laugh at these gels, these silly things that do absolutely nothing to tame these rebellious follicles that rest on the borders of my hairline. Normally, I wouldn’t care. I’m the kind of naturalista that puffs my hair and doesn’t take the time to smooth things out at the front. Smooth isn’t that important to me. But then I started taking Biotin and vitamins to make my hair stronger and yay, my hair started really growing and getting fuller, but whoa, my hair started really growing and getting fuller and goodness, I looked like I lived in someone’s backyard. And with braids (I’ve had braids since December; done and re-done), if one wants a ponytail or to pull the braids back, the edges cannot shame you. But mine shame me. Every. Single. Day.

So I purchased this “edge control” gel, which a woman at the shop claimed would do wonders for my edges. Nope. Nope. Nope. The hair lays for approximately 5 seconds and then rolls its eyes at me and sticks right back up. Wild and curly and crazy. Unabashedly untamed and unkempt.

But you know what? I’m c’est la vie-ing it, folks. That’s life. Bushy edges and all. I can’t change them. There is no control

But am I the only one? If you have rebellious edges, kindly let me know in the comments. Edge misery (not really though) loves company.

Happy Friyay, bon weekend, and onwards and upwards. 

Fabu Fashion Tuesday: What is that? Velvet?

If you know that line from Coming to America, then yes, you belong here.

So yes, I wore a velvet dress this past weekend for a special worship event. This is notable because I’ve never worn the fabric. Not even when it was the it thing to wear in the 90s. (By the way, a friend commented on my “retro” look, to which I could only chuckle. Not the look I was going for, but whatever works.) But when I saw this velvet and lace dress on Asos one morning, I had to have. It was thoroughly unique, and you shall see why. 


Right?? Doesn’t that lace front and high collar take you back to Victorian times? I was hooked, lined, and sinkered. Now here’s me.



I didn’t do too much by way of accessories. To me, the dress was enough pi√®ce de r√©sistance. A pair of pearl posts (which belonged to Sally at the seashore), some fashion rings, and that’s all she wore as far as accessories. (And I didn’t lose any of them! This tends to be a problem. Huzzah!) I snagged some awesome tights by Jessica Simpson from DSW (she should really stick to this fashion thing and stay away from music) and bought those hot shoes you see on my feet from DSW, as well. A lovely, faith-strengthening day was had.

As you can also see: the fro has been tucked away under those Senegalese twists for the next several weeks. She needs to rest. We’ll talk about She later.

Happy Tuesday, y’all.

Bonjour, December.

I welcomed the new month with a high puff, a little red lippie, and a sweater/turtleneck combo because it’s currently freezing in Dallas. Yes, you read that right. 

‚Äč‚Äč
Welcome to the last month of the year. Wherever you are, may you remain warm and toasty. 

(I’m 4 years natural this month, y’all! So the posts this month will certainly have a hair theme. Onwards…)

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