Because Solange.

Okay, dear Reader, you know I cut my hair.

Well, I cut it again. And again.

After the first cut, I went back to my stylist and asked for another cut, to even things out, and to color it, as well, since the gray hairs were like all these changes are making us nervous so we ’bout to legit multiply. Here’s how it looked after the second cut:

I went with a wine-y, berry color, which may not be evident in these pics but will be soon. Having been red and brown red and burgundy and jet black, I wanted something in the reddish family, but a bit different than the hues I’ve tried before. Fun story: when my stylist washed out the color, it only lifted on my sides and back of my hair. purpleThe middle remained completely unaltered by the color. So…she added a bright purple color all over, hoping that it would aid the lift…and it did. But that bright purple…whew.

So I was happy with the changes.

Or was I?

This past week, I headed home to VA to spend some much-needed time with the Mama and my family. (It was awesome.) While there, I contemplated cutting my hair again. Deep down, although I liked my look, I wasn’t 100% content. Why? What was I looking for?

Her.

Stylistically, wedding-y, everything-y, Solange has long been a marvel for my eyes. And I certainly remember my gaspy (new word, just created by me, you’re welcome) reaction to her gorgeous big chop in 2009. It was everything. Do you hear me? Every. Ting. I think she was hiding in my subconscious this whole time, patiently waiting for me to bring her back up and acknowledge that this was the hair destination I was headed to. Because even the other photos I had for inspo were cuts that looked exactly like Solange’s.

cutinspo
Solange inspo.

Interesting, right? Anyway, the previous cut was fine, but there was a fro-hawk-y nature about that middle part of my head, and as much as I love frohawks, I’ve had that look before. I wanted something different. I wanted Solange. I wanted simple, chic, lovely, even–all of what you see above. So, when I had some time while home, I drove to the local Hair Cuttery and asked for my third cut.

With the color and this new look, dear Reader, I believe we have reached Destination: Solange. Or, more importantly, I can 1005 percent say I love my new look. Check it out.

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A few more things:

  1. I need a barber. My stylist is awesome and started this style change rolling, but to maintain this look, I’ll definitely need a professional barber. The search begins.
  2. I love this look.
  3. That’s all.

Have you had this experience? Loved a look but deep down, wanted something more? Shall we meet in the comments below?

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it had to happen.

December 2012: after eight months of waiting and impatiently wearing two different hair textures on my head (the relaxed ends and the growing, textured, natural roots), I walked into a salon and big chopped my hair. The smile on my face below should tell you how I felt about my decision.

bigchop2

I felt free. At the end of the day, a sense of freedom captured me and sweetly refused to let me go. As the months and years passed, I experimented with my natural hair, as you well know. ‘Fros, tapered cuts, a variety of protective styles–my hair officially became my canvas. And whenever I sensed one iota of boredom, it was time to change the painting.

Take a walk down memory lane with me…

Deep down, though? Real talk? That inner Square Peg longed for that feeling. The feeling that took over me when I got back into my car on that winter’s day in 2012. When I gazed in the mirror and felt that indescribable sense of freedom and beauty and satisfaction. As that revolving door of style changes continued to open and close, I really think that I was trying to re-capture that moment in the car, when it was just me and my ‘lil fro.

Fast forward to last Saturday. It had to happen. I had to go back.

Back to square one, dear reader. Back to the beginning. (And even shorter than the previous big chop, ha!) I sat in my stylist’s chair and I told her what I was thinking and despite her “we’re cutting it again?” response, I showed her the picture of what I was thinking and she took out that razor and got to work.

Look: after years of twist-outs and Bantu knots and braid-outs and all those lovely looks under the sun, here’s the truth: this is my look. This is the style for me. I think, with my previous cuts just a few months ago (here and here), that I was subconsciously moving in increments, slowly heading back to the start. And here we are. Finally.

A few fundamental truths:

  1. Short hair almost automatically influences your style. I found myself wanting to ensure that my earring flow was on point; that my red lippie was on point (and a bit of purple, too, as you can see); etc. It’s almost organic the way it happens.
  2. This is a big one for me. (No pun intended as you read on.) I had head issues. For various reasons, I thought my head was just way too large. Even when I big chopped in 2012, there was always a voice of doubt in the back of my mind concerning this head of mine. And as my stylist was razoring and cutting last Saturday, I almost panicked a bit, wondering if I had made a completely ridiculous decision. But look at that round head! It’s delicious!
  3. Barring a wig or weave if I feel like it, the short hair life is the life for me. When winter comes, I plan on wearing tons of hats and head wraps to keep the cool air from freezing me out, and could allow the ‘fro to grow just a bit, but the short hair look is mine to keep.

I am not my hair, as India says. My hair is an accessory that can be shaped and created into whatever strikes my fancy. For me, the inside needs to be shiny and lovely first, followed by the accentuating of the inside. In all honesty, that’s what happened in 2012: the outside finally matched the inside. Openly, visibly, plainly: me.

 

Le 40 is Le Terrifying and I Can’t Understand Why.

Y’all. Why am I so scurred about turning 40????

A bit of background: growing up, no age ever really scared me off. I ached to be 12. I fortycouldn’t wait to be 16. 21 was super cool. 25? Give me 5. And if you’ve read any of my past posts, you know about the wonder, amazement, and sheer beauty that 30 brought me. (There are too many posts to link about 30; just hit that search button, playa.) As the ages continued, I embraced each new year, grateful for the increase in wisdom and self-discovery, among other awesome things that came with getting older.

But why is 40 giving me all the terrors known to man? What is it about that number?

Oh, and the whole “you’re only as old as you feel” adage means nothing to me. I was born old and stressed out.  If anything, getting older has given me ample opportunities to age backwards. Meet your Melanin Benjamin Button, everyone. So why do I envision this new decade hiding behind a dark corner, flexing its long claws, ready to strike?

Here are some irrational, pre-40 fears:

  1. All my bones will fall apart.
  2. Someone will refer to me as middle-aged.
  3. My hormones will get further out of whack and someone will find me on the side of the road muttering unintelligibly to myself.

I said irrational, didn’t I?

In the past, like most kids, I always felt too young and dreamed of being older. And now…give me trips to the library during school-sanctioned summertime and rolling in the grass in the backyard without fear of ticks, please. Perhaps it’s that, the strange sense of losing youth, that’s bothering me. Even though I craved getting older, I also knew that the process would take time. Fast forward to now, where time is a giant clock that has “40” emblazoned on its surface, staring back at me with its arms folded and an impatient tapping of its foot. We have arrived.

In the grand scheme of things, rationally, I recognize that the age is really only a number. It’s relevant for tax, census, and records purposes. It doesn’t define me or create some sort of blueprint of what my life will become. I know, I know…

Here are some of my favorites who are turning 40 this year right along with me (or already have):

Anyway, I will continue to heave giant sighs and wonder what 40 will bring me. Meanwhile, you will tell me in the comments how you dealt with new ages and/or decades, won’t you? Because you love This Square Peg and want to comfort her somehow, right? Right? Riiiight?

Fabu Fashion Monday: Wedding Fro/Flow

Hey y’all. I had the pleasure of attending the nuptials of two dear friends this past weekend and wanted to share what I wore, what I did with Her (my hair, as you know), and other tings. Let’s, shall we?

What I wore: So I suffer from this problem I’d like to call “forgets that she has clothes in her closet.” I think it’s genetic, because my mother has shown symptoms of the same issue. Anyway, when it’s time for a special event, something happens to me. My brain

freeze
except when I have to find clothes…

freezes, I come down with a case of hardcore amnesia, and I hit the stores for new outfits as if I don’t already have a closet full of lovely frocks and ensembles that could easily be worn. Happened this time, too. A wedding?! Oh, no! What’ll I wear? Panic ensues. And then the day before the wedding, I was gazing in my closet and I saw that blue number hanging there, side eyeing me like, “I was here the whole time, princess.” (Yes, I totally called my own self princess. Please do the same.) I tried it on and was like, uh, yeah, wearing this. The other dress I bought is lovely in its own right, but I wasn’t truly feeling it. This dress made me happy. I combined it with a simple cardigan I had grabbed from Macy’s, my Jessica Simpson pink high heels, and it was a wrap. You know me: I stick with feminine, simple, and understated chic. I think this ensemble achieved all three.

Accessories: Peep the gold bracelet and the cute ring. (More about my earrings further below.) On the other wrist were more bracelets. Did you know that I’m a lover of bracelets like nobody’s business? Plus, as the years go by, the desire to pull everything off has certainly diminished. Thank the heavens.

HER, Face, and Them Earrings Though: First, don’t you love those earrings?? So lovely and unique. Snagged them from Target.

Face: Let’s bullet everything:

  • Primer: Fenty. Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer.
  • Foundation: Fenty. Pro Filt’r Foundation in 450. (Soft matte and longwear, and the latter is not an exaggeration. After dancing my bad knees off all night, my makeup still looked intact. All hail.)
  • Concealer (used under my eyes and above my eyebrows, bridge of nose, and chin): Fenty Match Stix Stinstick in Suede.
  • Eyeshadow: Morphe 350 Eyeshadow Palette in a variety of colors.
  • Blush: Black Radiance in Warm Raspberry
  • Highlighter: MARIAH CAREY collection MY MIMI extra dimension skinfinish
  • Lips: My beloved Ruby Woo with MAC lip liner in Currant
  • Eyeliner and Mascara: Maybelline

Whew, right? But it took me less than 10 minutes to put everything on!

HER: She’s been in an interesting mood. After several months of protective styling and braids and such, she came back a bit temperamental and needing lots of love and extra care. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to style her for the wedding, but deep down,

GibsonGirl
Gibson Girls

I knew I’d go with a frompadour. And that’s what I did. Moisturizer, 1,000 pins, a few hair combs, and a quick prayer that she wouldn’t rebel against my fingers. My colleague described it as a Gibson Girl look and with my love for all things vintage-y, especially hair: mission accomplished.

A fun day was had. Bottom line: so happy for my friends who symbolized their love with an elegant, lovely, fabulous wedding day.

How was your weekend? Tell me ’bout it below…

 

World. Class. Chocolate.

ladies

Danai and Lupita. Okoye and Nakia. Africa and Africa. New Muse and Still Muse.

World Class Chocolate and World Class Chocolate.

When I was a little growing brown girl, I saw women of color in my home, in my community, among my relatives. But I didn’t realize that representation outside of that nexus was important until I was much older. A young woman is exposed to so much in the media, especially during those formative years where popular ideals of what’s “beautiful” take over and unleash their particular brand of power. I wish I had seen images like this when I was fifteen years old, y’all. I really do.

Nevertheless! I see them now. And I love it into infinity.

I also love that millions of little growing brown girls are seeing images like this, too.

Happy Friyay…

“when you gonna make up your mind?”

nora

Confession: I lost a bit of myself in 2017.

I think it happens to every woman. Here and there, pieces of who we are, good pieces, at that, begin to crumble at our feet. The sources of that quiet, subtle destruction are many. Discouragement, lack of confidence, heartbreak, loss, pain, unhappiness–so, so many things. Womanhood is hard. If you’re a woman, you know what I’m talking about. We struggle. We weep. We bleed. Of course, this is the human experience, isn’t it? Every human being endures. Every human being has to fight to hold on. Sometimes I do wonder if there seems to be an extra layer of things to fight for when you’re a woman. Maybe our emotions get the best of us. Maybe it’s biological. I don’t know.

2017 was an interesting year of womanhood for me. Instead of going into the specifics of that journey and all the things I experienced, I want to talk about what I learned and continue to learn from those experiences, as we’re only weeks into 2018 and a new year doesn’t necessarily mean a ton of changes have been irrevocably made. Here are three things I now know for sure.

Protect your heart. A friend once gave me this piece of advice. The heart has many chambers, he said. Know which ones to open and which ones to keep closed.  It’s important to protect both your heart and the energy around it. Because people are powerful. Sometimes we open a chamber without really wanting to, only because we’ve been stupefied and transfixed into action. Know the people around you. Resist them if you need to. Let them in only if they deserve to be there. (I don’t diminish the excitement that comes from meeting someone who seems like they’ll be good for your heart. Maybe they are. Maybe not. Exercise caution.) There were times in 2017 that I didn’t listen to my intuition. That I forced feelings that, deep down, weren’t there. It’s all related to the heart. Protect it however you can. It doesn’t need a suit of armor, but it needs a lock and key.

Protect your ‘no.’ One of the most brilliant, thought-provoking statements I’ve ever heard is the following: No is a complete sentence. It fell by the wayside for me a bit in 2017, this ability to say no and mean it and allow that to be a viable answer. Sometimes I said yes when I didn’t want to. Sometimes I found myself qualifying my no. I’m getting back to protecting my adult right to choose if I’m going to do something or not. You may be accused of not wanting to try new things, of being scared, of not being open-minded. Sure. But determine those things for yourself, dear reader. I’m all for suggestions, but I’m also all for honoring the rights of others, myself included.

Protect your you. Ever mess up royally, just full of mistakes, and then start to call your own self every objectionable thing in the book? It’s intense. It’s not beating yourself up. It’s beating yourself up and then some. You become every villain, every ounce of ineptitude, every horrible thing. Look. 2017 was hard, you guys. I found myself going about 600 paces back when it came to my personal insistence on building myself up. It was very much the opposite: there were times when I verbally and mentally pushed myself so far down…it was just incredible. Protect your you. It’s a bit trite and treacly to say, but I’m saying it anyway: the value you bring to anything is immeasurable. Even if something implodes, you were part of it. Just whatever you do, especially as a woman: hold on to your value. There are things other say, and then there’s what you say about yourself. Protect that power.

I’m continuing to take 2018 one day at a time. Let’s hope there aren’t too many pieces of me left on the ground as I make my way. You, too.

tori

[The post title is a lyric from Tori Amos’ amazing song, Winter. All about growing up, choices, leaving the fairy tales behind. Appropriate for our discussion, no?]

The Basics.

In this shifting world of different looks and makeup and styles and products (and we’ll have a separate post on all the makeup experimenting I’ve been doing lately), sometimes all you need is simple. And for me, this means pulling out the tried-and-true, the blueprint, the top of the heap: Ruby Woo.

I’ve discussed my enduring love for MAC makeup’s bold red lippie before. In a sea of reds (and I own an inordinate number of reds), it’s just the red for me. This entire week, I’m honoring The Ruby Woo, the first red I wore that gave me the red shade I was looking for. See pics below for today.

Hail.

What are your tried and trues?

Onwards…

Unrelenting Excitement. (And Other Things.)

I think that best describes how I felt when I heard that my favorite royal Ginger, Prince Harry, had become engaged to his sweetheart, actress Meghan Markle. I won’t even link to any articles about this news; if it’s the first time you’re hearing about this engagement, we just…we have nothing to say to each other. But I will at least share my favorite photo of the couple during the engagement announcement.

harrymegs

Fresh-faced, happy, excited. Love it, love it, love it.

Needless to say, I will be throwing a royal wedding watch party for my friends and I to enjoy and squeal and point and swoon over. Because we’re 12 and we don’t care. Very few things are happening right now in the world that cause any kind of excitement and joy, so this one is it. 2018 royal wedding, here we come.

What else do we need to talk about? Are you wondering where in the world I’ve been?

I’ve been here. Well, not per se. But “here” as in around and attempting to  thrive and survive here in the Lone Star state. I’ll do a quick rundown of life so far in the land of Square Peg:

  1. About a month ago, I moved into my brand new apartment. Interestingly enough, with good planning, moving doesn’t have to feel like spikes being introduced to your flesh. Imagine that. (Thanks a lot to my sissy, who is far more organized when it comes to that kind of thing and supplied advice and links to moving articles for my reading pleasure.) The process went well. And I love my new apartment. It’s closer to town and to my friends and my place of worship: good, great, and excellent.
  2. I’ve been officially added as a paid contributor for The Maria Antoinette. Getting paid to do something I love, my dear reader. It’s surreal. Not only that, I’ve been invited to write submissions that deal with a topic I’m very passionate about: empowering women. My pieces will always deal with how a woman can look in a mirror and see her roccrown, and the journey to getting there if she doesn’t. Utterly grateful and happy.
  3. Work is good.
  4. I still love Idris.
  5. The End.

Honorable mention: I’m still working on my other writing projects. My third collection of fiction. A book of essays. Another book of essays. An actual novel. When will I accomplish all these things, you wonder? I’m wondering the same thing. Apparently I must enjoy juggling. But hopefully 2018 will lead checking those projects off my list.

C’est tout, folks. (That’s all.) Tell me what you’ve been up to.

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

smile. (😒)

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…