Blogtober #5: The Autumn Boyfriend

Y’all know I’m a singleton, right? If you didn’t know: I’m a singleton. I enjoy my singleton life immensely, but yeah, full disclosure:  I also want that demographic to change.smile And I have to tell you, dear reader, that the desire to change my singleton status becomes even more heightened when autumn settles over the atmosphere.

Is it the image of walking down a leaf-strewn path with my hand inside another’s? 

Gazing up at an orange moon and marveling about its wonder to someone else and not just to myself?

The general electricity in the air that seems to call out for change?

Years ago, I mentioned this to my bestie, that I seem to crave the presence of another even more during the fall. “I get it,” she said. “There’s just something in the air that makes a lot of folks feel that way.” autumn2

Is it the prospect of dressing up in my burnt orange and boots for a non-solo dinner or movie outing?

Leaving the mark of my fall-inspired chocolate and/or burgundy lip color on another’s cheek?

Cuddling?

You’d think that a season where nature dies beautifully and bursting with color wouldn’t necessarily call for the welcoming of love. Or perhaps that’s it exactly. It is the fall of the year, after all. Nature’s last hurrah as it prepares for the unremitting winter to come. Maybe I want to fall in love in fall to prepare for the inevitable chill on its way; the darkening, cold, hushed days that, sometimes, can be unbearable when you’re alone.

#realtalk: It’s a year-round desire. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t entertain the idea of a seasonal love and then moving on when summer wakes up. But there’s just something about love and this time time of year.

C’est la vie en automne, I suppose. Happy Friday, onwards, and bon weekend…

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Blogtober #4: Autumnizing the Apartment

Oh, Pinterest. An abundance of lovely goals that likely will never see the light of day. Nevertheless, this year, I’d like to spruce up my place with an autumn theme. Because why not? Some of the ideas running around in my head:

apt4apt3apt2apt1

All images derived from Pinterest.

Onwards and Autumn-wards…

Blogtober #3: How to Enjoy Autumn, Wherever You Are.

autumn coal color daylight
Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov on Pexels.com

Because some of us don’t live in areas where we get to breathe in the vivid fall colors and hues and wear snazzy peacoats and wear booties and close our eyes as the crisp breeze surrounds us like an old, trusted friend. Some of us live in Texas. Or Alabama. Or Florida. Or…the Virgin Islands. And regarding where I reside in the Lone Star state, it does get cool in the late autumn/winter. We may not get the amazing colors, but there’s certainly room for lovely coats and sassy booties. Nevertheless: it’s not the same, is it? Boo hoo.  But we shall make do.

alley autumn autumn colours autumn leaves
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here’s an Autumn Wherever You Are Guide for those of you in areas that traditionally don’t have the full, seasonal experience:

  1. Starbucks to the Rescue. Every fall, to the delight of the masses, Starbucks brings back its popular Pumpkin Spice Latte beverage. Personally, I can’t even. Pumpkin ain’t my thing, and I can’t even fathom whatever Pumpkin Spice is. (I stick to my chai latte year-round.) But a lot of folks love the autumn-y drink and I won’t take that away from them, because whatever makes your palate happy is fine by me, especially if it’s related to fall. So, if you live in area where balmy breezes fill the atmosphere even in mid-November, get your derrière to the local Starbucks, order this drink, and pretend you’re somewhere in New Hampshire.
  2. Weekenders and Staycations. I’m a massive fan of getaways, even if it’s from Friday to Sunday. Sooo…find a fall-y place. Get thee to that place. Spend a nice weekender/staycation there. Rinse and repeat. Fall-y places can be any states in the New England area such as Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island. And before you say, “but Square Peg, there are tumbleweeds in my wallet. Weekenders and staycations involve money.” My response: get thee also to Groupon. There are always getaway travel deals to investigate and use. I assure you that one can be found. Why don’t we still use thee in daily speech?
  3. Art Imitates Life. You know I’m artsy fartsy. Naturally, when art and life intersect, it’s a beautiful thing. When autumn and art intersect, even better. Want to take a gander at classical art that evokes autumn? Head to your local museum and fall in love with the works of the Hudson River School; the pieces done by artists in this school, such as Thomas Cole (one of my very favorites), are brimming with landscapes and nature and always give me that fall-y, changing of seasons, introspective feeling. Get thee to a museum!
body of water near orange and green leaf trees
Photo by PUSCAU DANIEL FLORIN on Pexels.com

4.  Art Imitates Life, Redux. It’s not just classic, autumn-inspired art that gets me. I love film as an art form, and I certainly love films that provide that autumn feeling. From cinematography to plotting to images of foliage and small, New England towns, there are plenty of movies that will feed the autumn longing during your eternal summer. Here are a few:

  • Dead Poets’ Society
  • The Village (Honestly, anything with William Hurt reminds me of fall. I have no idea why.)
  • Dan in Real Life
  • Autumn in New York…is easy to choose as an option, but this is one of the worst movies of all time, y’all. Yes. Of all time. It’s so terrible. Watch it if you like, but you’ve been warned.
  • Indian Summer

5. Rise to the Occasion, Even Briefly. You know how at the slightest hint of warm weather you see folks walking around in flip flops? Even though it’s not really that warm? We may side eye those folks, but honestly, they’re expressing a level of excitement that I find almost inspirational. They’re doing everything possible to take advantage of the change, even it means exposing their poor toes to draft, not-that-sunny weather. Let’s be those people, dear reader. When the weather wherever you are dips in temperature, cools down a bit, etc., throw on a nice wrap or mock turtleneck or whatever you can find that can incite that autumn-y feeling. It may last just a day or may be a fluke, but at least you’ll be dressed for the day.
6. Fall for the Photo and other Misc. Items: See below.

  • Got any photog friends? Grab them and set up a fall-themed photo shoot. I’m serious. Look: what do you have to lose? Every home store has fall-inspired decorations. Grab a few, find a nice park, and go for it. Have fun.
  • Light a woodsy candle in your place.
  • Wear orange and brown whenever you can.
  • Two words: Autumn screensavers.

There ends my list. Hopefully, you’ve found some inspiration for how to be autumnal wherever you happen to be in the world. And fall isn’t your thing, that’s fine.  Just tell me what your favorite season is in the comments below, won’t you?

Onwards and Autumn-wards.

acorns autumn autumn decoration autumn leaves
Photo by Caleb Wood on Pexels.com

Blogtober #1. (aka: We’re Doing This.)

We’ve done Project Blogtober before. (Search and ye shall find.) And we shall do it again, despite my lazy blogger fingers. 31 days of blogging this entire month. 31 days of blogging about fall as a theme in some way, shape, or form, because October is my favorite month and because I turn 40 this month so I feel like I should start doing what I want, no? 31 days of you and I, dearest reader.

Onwards and blogwards.

In Plain Sight

“Gin and tonic, please,” he said to the waiter.

“My, how tame we’ve become in our old age.”

He smiled and turned around. She stood before him, grinning and still looking very much like the 21 year-old girl that had crossed the threshold of the gray building on Fairfax Street so many years ago. But her youthful appearance was in looks only; the woman in front of him brimmed with confidence and strength, a far cry from the terrified, shy girl they met that first day. Back then, their superiors had been–inexplicably in the eyes of most–convinced that Tamara Knight was blessed with the same keen abilities as her deceased mother, the incomparable Pamela Knight, and had recruited Tamara at once for the school. They had been wrong. Mara Knight was a complete neophyte; hardly ready to begin a rigorous training program that would result in a career as one of the Queen’s stable of international espionage agents.  

James stood and met her embrace, reminding himself to hold on just enough, not too long, not too close. Just enough. Of course, his resolve was interrupted by the kiss she placed on his cheek and, as a result, the dizzying aroma of roses and lilacs that she left behind on his skin. He was tempted to hold on to her one beat longer, long enough to communicate everything he had wanted to say since he laid eyes on her fifteen years ago.

He didn’t.

After the embrace, James escorted her to the other side of the booth. Moments later, the waiter re-appeared and took her request for a whiskey, neat.

“Where are you coming from?” he asked her after the waiter departed.

Mara softly chuckled. “Does it seem like I came from somewhere?”

“Absolutely.” He paused to study her, forcing himself to conduct only a surface appraisal and not the kind of intense staring he formerly engaged in when they worked in the same building. “South America, perhaps?”

Her large brown eyes gleamed. “How did you know?”

James pointed toward the sparkling broach on the left shoulder of her olive green dress. It was a flower with dark pink petals and a yellow/cream center.  “I’m venturing that it’s a rendering from the silk floss tree. Native to the tropical and subtropical forests of South America, I believe.”

“Spot on, as always. Two weeks in Argentina. Buenos Aires, specifically.”

Naturally, the details about her time in Buenos Aires would remain unspoken between them. They belonged to the same organization, yes, but the potentiality of traitors meant that there would be no detailed discussion about “work.”  

“Lovely, isn’t it?” she said, lightly touching the broach. “It’s always nice to honor the culture of where you are.”

In the beginning, Mara Knight certainly wasn’t interested in honoring cultures. During a field assignment in Indonesia (they had been assigned together; her first, his umpteenth), James recalled that she had spent more time vomiting on the side of various roads than taking in the culture around them. “My nerves…my nerves are shot,” she kept muttering whenever the truck had to pull over for her. He laughed at the memory.

“Something funny?” she asked.

“You dry-heaving on the side of the road in Jakarta.”

She joined him in laughter, tears eventually twinkling in the corners of her eyes. “Those were the days, weren’t they?”

They had all underestimated her, believing that the terrified, unsure beginner would remain that way. In the end, her mother may not have gifted Mara Knight with those astute abilities she had been famous for, but perhaps she had given her daughter something greater, something she would come to find nearly six months into her training: a tenacious will to succeed. That will led to her surpassing them all, in the end.

“I miss us working together, James.”

His knee-jerk reaction, to blurt out that he missed her, just her, and not working together, was ignored. “I don’t think you miss London traffic and morning fog, though,” James replied instead, smiling.

“Those things don’t matter,” Mara replied. “I miss seeing you every day.”

Had she transitioned to reading minds?

Nevertheless, James kept the smile planted on his face and said nothing. What could even be said?

“I miss walking onto our floor and waving at you from the elevator,” she continued. “How long has it been: a year since we saw each other?”

One year, four months, two days, 15 minutes.

James merely nodded, sipping his drink to avoid speaking what he simply couldn’t say.

“I tried to call you, you know,” Mara then said quietly.

Don’t choke. “You tried to call me?” he questioned, holding tightly to his composure. “When?”

Mara sipped her drink. “Many times. Times when your voice was the only one I needed to hear.”

Understandable, he quickly reasoned. It was the two of them as partners for a long time. Nine years, to be exact.  (Also recruited at 21, James Caraway had quickly risen in their ranks and was a mission lead by the time Mara came to them. The top brass had decided to place the two of them together, feeling that the closeness in their ages–James was four years Mara’s senior–would lend itself to her training. They had shared everything: from missions to near-death experiences to those tiny, quiet moments in between, when just being side by side provided a sense of comfort and safety that didn’t require explanation or discussion. And then, three years ago, their superiors promoted Mara to a special counterintelligence team that didn’t include James.)

“I wish I had known,” was his only reply. Perhaps those unlisted numbers were her. Perhaps, deep, deep down, he had known it was her calling and allowed the calls to go unanswered. It didn’t matter, in the end. She missed him as a friend and a colleague, nothing more.

Mara then peered out of the window, gazing at the rain-soaked evening. James took that opportunity to carefully study her this time, not a surface appraisal like before. He took in every nuance of her, carving a new image of her to replace the one he had placed in his mind when they last saw another. Her dark brown skin, far more luminous than a year ago; the full head of curls, longer and fuller; even her shade of lipstick, deep red and warm. That way, when he closed his eyes from this day forward, he would see her in the present, as she was now. It made things a bit more real.

“James,” she said, turning back to face him, “you, my friend, are a terrible, terrible actor. How you’ve been able to excel this long in espionage is beyond me.”

Taken aback, he shook his head. “I’m not quite sure what–“

She reached across the table and grasped his hands. “Did you know it was me calling all those times? Did see you those numbers and wonder if it was me?”

“Mara, I–“

“Why did you ignore my calls, James? Why don’t you reply to my emails? Why did you arrange this dinner through Michael?”

Michael Hanson was her handler. James ran into Hanson one morning at the office and had suggested the dinner, hastily speaking before he could take it all back. Of course, he had used the cover that it was high time that Mara and her former partner/trainer reunite.

Mara squeezed his hands, still leaning over, her brown eyes boring into his. “What have you been afraid to tell me? Why have you been afraid to say? Do you think I’ve never noticed you looking at me? Just like you were a few seconds ago? Do you think I’ve been blind all this time?”

Briefly, James noted that this interrogation technique, wearying the subject with rapid-fire, incessant questions, was something he had taught her to do.

“What are you afraid of, James? What are you imprisoned by? What keeps you from doing what you want?”

“Please, Mara. Stop.” How could a moment be so fraught with both desire and a wish for silence? How could he be so puzzled by her abrupt turn of behavior and equally aware of why she was behaving this way?

She shook her head. “I won’t stop, James. I won’t. I’ve stood by for fifteen years, waiting for you to say something, to speak the obvious, and I won’t stop now. I won’t stop until–“

James laughed despite himself. “You’ve stood by for fifteen years? Oh, Mara. You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

She grinned. “That’s the first loosely combative thing you’ve ever said to me, James. Thank you.”

Freshly taken aback, he felt beads of sweat forming on his forehead. He wanted to wipe them, but he didn’t want to remove his hands from hers.

“I can resume my questioning if you don’t say something,” Mara warned, her eyes twinkling.

“Are you playing with me, Mara?” James asked. “What is this?”

Mara stood up and walked around to his side of the booth. She slid in next to him, as close as she physically could. “This is us releasing each other from the prisons we built 15 years ago, James. You’ve been worried for so long about telling me how you felt–that’s the prison you built. I’ve been waiting for so long for you to confirm what I felt the moment we met each other–the prison I built.” She put her hands on his shoulders. “No more prison for me, James. I’ve wanted you for fifteen years. Your turn. Tell me how you feel. Open the bars. Come out of the prison.”

James inhaled her words and roses and lilacs and swore he would pass out. Was all of this truly happening?

“You only remember me getting sick in Jakarta,” she said softly, leaning in even closer. “I remember watching you fall asleep every night in Jakarta. I couldn’t sleep. I would stay up and watch you sleep every evening until the morning. Fifteen nights, just watching you sleep, feeling strange and confused and just…”

Fifteen nights.

Fifteen years.

Exhale.

Exhale.

Exhale.

He had been holding his breath for fifteen years. Apparently, they both had.

Mara smiled at him. She knew it, then, that he was letting go.

James reached over and gently caressed her cheek. “How did you…how did you know all of this?” he asked her.

She placed her hand over his. “I’m a super spy. I know everything.”

***

10 Things I Learned About You.

architecture building campus college
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This Square Peg in college: ’twas an interesting time. When I look back, though, I can honestly say that I loved my college days. It was the 90s. The soundtrack of my life was lit, as the kids say, and the life lessons abounded. Here are 10 things I learned in college:

  1. My education really did belong to me. Other than that pesky Math credit, I basically curated my path of learning. If a class and its content didn’t interest me, I found one that did. I explored avenues of thought and learning that were entirely my choice. I was paying for it, after all. (Still am. Le sigh.) In other words, it was an interesting lesson in reaping the results of my academic decisions. When K-12 isn’t really about you, this was all about me.
  2. Never, ever, ever declare your undying love and devotion for your English professor when he’s likely within earshot.
  3. Don’t do #2 for professors you don’t much care for, either. I was in the cafeteria complaining about one of my not-that-nice professors and she was right behind me. Not pretty. Thank goodness I passed.
  4. College boys will be college boys. There were some doozies, y’all. One kid, a fellow English major, asked me if I used mushrooms to find inspiration when writing. I asked him if he meant the gross things in the ground. He said no. I then got it. I then walked away, laughing. *insert eye roll here*
  5. There’s an amazing literary world out there, people. I discovered some of my favorite authors, primarily female, during those four years. Flannery O’Connor. Edith Wharton. Alice Walker. I delved into their works and never looked back.
  6.  Sarah McLachlan has a song for every situation. Case in point: I lived the entire Surfacing album during my sophomore year.
  7. There are educators out there who passionately care for their students. I met a number of them.
  8. Overconfidence + higher education + assumptions = a D on your first paper for an English class. I learned to be humble and ask for help and advice.
  9. One will freak out about classes (four essay-heavy ones, to be exact) and working two jobs and believing you will flunk and one’s Mom will assure you that you’ll be fine and will command you to stop writhing around on the floor. College breakdowns are a dime a dozen. *shrug*
  10. After four long years, a seminal moment will occur when you finally begin the path to discovering just who you are and were meant to be.

Good times, indeed. I learned more than ten things, but we’ll pause for now. More lessons–and declarations of love–will come in another post.

Onwards and upwards…and college loan-wards…

African Black Soap is The Truth.

Happy Monday. So, I talked about my skincare routine here. Recall that I wanted to make some improvements to my quick routine, being that with age came crazy, random blemish bursts and also, I think my skin had become way too used to the products I had been using for years. Several months ago, I was in the store and saw a bar of African Black Soap on the shelf.

I asked myself, Self, why haven’t you gone the African route? Hello? Your blood is 100% Motherland. Of course the Motherland would have the remedy for your skin. I checked out the ingredients (I knew it wasn’t pure, raw African Black soap; that one will tear your skin apart and I needed to take baby steps towards that kind of detoxification) and decided to purchase it. Slowly, dear reader, I saw the improvements to my skin. Trouble spots, particularly on my left cheek (three pimples that were hanging on for dear, dear life) and that insane forehead of mine slowly began to fade and ultimately disappear. I started doing more research on the YouTube about black soap and decided to try Shea Moisture’s products. Even better results.

The above two are my personal favorites. I use the soap twice a day (look at your Square Peg; months from 40 and making good skincare choices) and the mask is a once-a-month thing. Here’s my new and improved skincare routine, broken up by night and day:

clayclay2Night

Day

Same routine, except I skip the toner.

I haven’t yet hit up any eye creams and serums, but the toner has been great in diminishing the dark, waking-up-at-3AM circles under my eyes.

So far, so good. I’d very much like to apply African Black Soap all over my life, but that’s entirely another matter.

Bon Monday…

things i currently need #11

Shall we?

MeghanOutfits

I want all of her clothes. Each. And. Every. One. Classy. Feminine. Elegant. Modern. Yes, Meghan. Yesssss

magnoliamagnolia table

Are y’all familiar with Chip and Joanna Gaines? I’m sure your mother has also gently forced you to watch back-to-back episodes of Fixer Upper on HGTV when she knows that you’re positively allergic to anything having to do with home constructions, DIY, building, terms like rebar and backsplash, so on and so forth. Anyway, the popularity of their show led to the Gaines’ expanding. Magnolia Market at the Silos has a bakery/store/etc., and the Magnolia Table, which I’m far more interested in, has breakfast served all day. So, yeah, I need to go to there. Not just for the breakfast, but the look and feel of the buildings, both rustic and clean, are calling out to me. This need may happen pretty soon, though, because the Magnolia Marvels are all located in Waco, TX, which is about an hour and 30 minutes away from me. Huzzah!

kitchenaid

Aren’t they lovely? I need a KitchenAid mixer, y’all. And I need it now. But, wonders the eagle-eyed reader, will she even use it? Why, yes, indeed I will. Hey, look, I’m not known for my kitchen anything prowess, but I love to bake (fun fact; I used to bake a ton when I was younger), and I feel like that mixer will come in handy for experimenting overall in the kitchen. So, yeah, if you want to donate one, send it to P.O. Box This Square Peg. Because these things are pricey. 

swimsuit

Remember this gorgeous retro swimsuit from TICN #8?

Welp, it’s not a need anymore because…I bought it.

Pics coming soon on how it looks on me. The colors are a bit different, but it’s essentially the same outfit. We shall see. This is huge, folks. I don’t wear two-piece swimwear. And when I do, it generally involved a giant T-shirt and shorts. But the Summer of This Square Peg doesn’t call for hiding, does it?

More on that later.

Onwards and upwards…

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?