Making Statements.

One thing I don’t incorporate more in my ensembles are statement pieces, particularly jewelry. I tend to go for the gold hoop look for earrings, and I very rarely wear necklaces. Likely because of my weird childhood habit, perhaps?

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Clearly I love hoops.

Anyway, my new fashion project, in my constant effort to creatively step out of my comfort zone when it comes to my personal style, is to try statement necklaces. I choose necklaces because of not usually wearing them. Being married to Pinterest, as I am, I saw some great ideas on how to effectively be a statement-er without looking like I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille. A few photos are shown below. Before you peruse, however, did you know there are there rules to wearing statement necklaces? (Pretend you didn’t. Pretend it’s a teachable moment. Please and thank you):

1. If you’re wearing a necklace, the earring action should be very subtle, like posts, or no earrings at all. Again, you avoid the sad, aging actress from a cheesy B movie when you don’t pile all the statements together.
2. Big busted ladies should wear shorter necklaces, so that the pieces aren’t laying directly on the bust like you’re wet nursing the jewelry. Think about it.
3. The outfit itself should be simple, classy, simple. The pop is all the necklace, baby.
4. Necklaces can be placed on a hanger to keep them from tangling.
(Rules were paraphrased from here.)

So I’ll post photos of my statement project here and there. Looking forward to it!

What my husband, Pinterest, showed me:

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Kate Spade and Woman Stuff. (And My Mother.)

This is the Holly Street Rubie Bag, by Kate Spade.

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I want it so bad I can taste the blue on my tongue.

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For real.

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If you click on the link for the bag, you’ll see the price tag. As much as I love handbags and purchase them both cheaply and at will, the idea of paying that amount for a bag seems illegal somehow. Illegal and wrong. I said as much to my mother.

It doesn’t matter. You’re a young woman. Stop buying cheap and make the investment.

I tend to laugh off similar comments from my mom. She who wants her four children to pool their monies and gift her with a Mercedes Benz because, well, that’s what children do for their mothers who love pretty cars. (Seriously, we would, if our pooled monies would actually amount to something.) She who conversely chided me for spending money to do my hair at a particularly broke time and lectured me about “responsibilities.” (It didn’t make sense to explain how a good hair day makes one’s day livable, sometimes. She disagrees!) The lady is a mosaic of emotions and points of view, no? So when she made the remark about the investment, I just chuckled and reiterated that offering my credit card for a bag with that tag would cause me to lose about a week’s worth of sleep.

But I kept looking at that bag. Here, look at it again. Look.

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My mother feels that earrings, bags, and, well, Mercedes Benzes are always worth the money. (But, weirdly, not hair? Ah, well.) Because those things are part of womanhood, at least the first two, and they shouldn’t be acquired cheaply. I, on the other hand, have never looked at those things beyond the role they play to accessorize me. So if I acquire such things at a cheap price, big deal, right? Mom even tells me that when I was young and she would decorate me with earrings and bracelets and necklaces for special occasions, by the end of the day, those things would be pulled off and discarded, never to be found again. Maybe, even back then, I looked at those things as merely functional and replaceable.

I recognize the value of an investment. Yet I recognize the cardiac arrest that will surely come if I buy that bag. (Outlet prices still won’t be that forgiving.) I also recognize that This Square Peg needs to give up her cheap ways, at least a few of them.

So what shall I do?

Should I buy the bag??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unmarried African Woman. (shudder)

Some of you know this woman. She’s your sister, your friend, your fellow cubicle dweller who insists on playing 70s soft rock on her Pandora station, your daughter, your cousin. Some of you don’t believe that the fact that she’s an Unmarried African Woman (UAM) needs to be capitalized, or even an issue. And if that’s you, then you’re surely not African.

(I’m aware that other cultures may experience similar discussions and silly opinions about their unmarrieds and singletons, but my vantage point is mostly African, so I’ll be commenting on my personal experience)

The truth is, this particular community doesn’t understand mid-30s and singleness. It’s not in the DNA, ya’ll. It is not. Marriage and family are the very center of lives and culture. And this isn’t a criticism, by any means. I’ve come to a place where I can look at everything with humorized (not a word) irritation. Sometimes, it’s just pure humor and downright laughter. Anyway. This is generally what I hear as a UAM. Get ready…

  1. Is Your Daughter Waiting for a White Man? This is an interesting question, huh? My mother was asked this question by a family acquaintance about yours truly. (The question in its entirety was, “Is your daughter waiting for a white man? Is that why she’s not married yet?”) Stunned by his question, she very succinctly informed him that her daughter was waiting for the right individual for her, and she wasn’t about to just marry anyone, white, black, or green. Go Mama, huh? When she’s not suggesting I marry someone who just needs to be “polished” (more on that later), she’s definitely on Team Square Peg. Anyway, I suppose he took in the fact that I’m your atypical African woman (read: Americanized, which is a completely subjective term), raised in the suburbs and speaking with her accentless Valley Girl twang, and assumed that I’m waiting for my white knight. Who knows? Who cares?
  2. I know the PERFECT Man for You. No, you don’t. You don’t know me. We’ve spoken two times. Literally. Let that one die.
  3. He Just Needs a Little Polishing. I get that one quite a bit. The future man in question apparently just needs a little varnish provided by me and my lurve, and he should be fine. It doesn’t matter that he’s typically seen talking to himself in a corner somewhere, or laughing at a private joke that only he and the invisible person next to him have shared with each other. Hey, I get that in a relationship, both will be enhancing one another here and there. I embrace it. But that’s a lot of polishing, ya’ll. He (they) needs medication. Not me and my varnish.
  4. So, Is Attraction Important to You? Nope. As a UAM, I definitely want to meet a man who looks like the creature from the black lagoon. No big deal. After all, I’m only getting older, right? And who wants to be vain and superficial? Bring it him on. (But don’t, ok? Don’t do any of that.)
  5. Perhaps Your Standards Are too High. Soooo, we have standards for the car we want to buy, for the pizza we want to eat. And don’t tell me you don’t get hot if they add anchovies when you asked them not to. This is forever. I have standards. Hopefully, so does he.
  6. Honorable Mentions. Don’t marry a short man (Mama), and don’t marry a man with a big head (also Mama). Those are my personal favorites. The reasoning behind these caveats are usually followed by curious African anecdotes that I never fully understand. But I love hearing them.

I’ve no doubt that some of these interesting comments cross cultural lines, but there’s just something about a crotchety African woman telling you that you need to stop being so picky. Kinda feels like home.

Can’t imagine what I’ll hear when I become a MAW (Married African Woman). Sheesh.

Short Story Prompt – 03/24/14

Your character’s boss invites her and her husband to dinner. Your character wants to make a good impression, but her husband has a tendency to drink too much and say exactly what’s on his mind…

Clarity

“She’s in love with you, you know.”

She sharply turns toward you, her eyes wide, the skin at the base of her throat quivering with the rise of her pulse. At first, you’re surprised that you even notice these little things, being as drunk as you are, but you’ve also always believed that although alcohol dulls the ability to drive or handle a hammer, it doesn’t make a person blind. If anything, it provides the exact opposite: unremitting clarity. You have come to depend on this for the past few months, clarity by way of Scotch (or whatever else you can find). Your wife reaches over to pick up the bottle of Scotch and your glass, but you beat her to it and hold both of them close to your chest, away from her. Slowed reflexes, my foot.

Across from the two of you sits her boss, his demeanor a comical amalgam of shock and alarm. His eyes are also wide; his lips are slightly open in surprise. He is about 20 years your junior, in his early 30s, one of those upstarts that inherited a Fortune 500 company from his millionaire father and likely never worked a day in his life. He can run faster than you, hasn’t lost his left knee to surgical intrusion, and, worse, has your wife’s heart in the palm of his wealthy hand. You’d like to throw the bottle of Scotch in this face and find a match, quite frankly. “Oh, you didn’t know? Really?” you ask him drily.

“Barry, please,” she hisses.

“She talks about you incessantly. Mark this and Mark that. Her eyes…what’s the word…they gleam when she says your name. I used to do that. I used to make her eyes shine like that.” You drain the contents of your glass and follow that with a long swig from the bottle. You close your eyes as the liquid burns your throat, your lungs, then ends with a satisfying tickle in your chest.

“Perhaps it’s time to put that away, Barry,” he says.

You open your eyes. He’s giving you orders? He’s telling you what to do? “Shut up,” you say, pointing at him. “Shut up, I swear to God. You may run her life and her schedule and own her—her heart, but you don’t own me. Oh, no, sir. Not me.”
Maureen abruptly stands. “Barry, that’s it. Please just leave the table.”

You gaze at her, your vision slightly blurry. At 49, she still looks like the 18 year-old girl you married. There are no wrinkles, no blemishes on this face that looks like a pearl. Three children later, nothing about her has changed. You would climb a mountain—with your rotten knee, no less—for her. But she’s also the woman who has betrayed you. “I’m not going anywhere. Let’s all sit and discuss how this will play out. Sit, Maureen.”

Reluctantly, slowly, she sits down.

You point a finger at Mark, who still seems visibly surprised, but is now leaning back in his chair, his arms crossed, and his eyes fixed squarely on you. Going toe to toe, are we now? you wonder. “All right. Be straight with me, kid: how far has this gotten?”

“God, Barry, stop this,” she muttered, her head in her hands.

“Maybe you should consider dignifying your wife. In fact, I would highly recommend it,” Mark said icily.

You slam the bottle of Scotch down on the table and rise from your seat, despite the shakiness of your legs, of your entire equilibrium. “What do you know about dignity, you little rat?” you demand. You are vaguely aware of Maureen now reaching over to pick up the bottle, but it doesn’t matter anymore. “Dignity is not stealing her from me. Dignity is not calling her in the middle of the night and pretending it’s about work. You don’t think I hear standing outside, laughing and whispering into the phone? You know nothing about dignity, my friend. Nothing.”

Mark laughs.

You gape at him. He’s laughing at you?

“And you think this little display of drunken bravery will win her back?” he taunts. “I’m everything you’re not. I’m what she deserves.”

Slowly, you regard Maureen, who gazes at her paramour with pride. It has come to this. Thirty-two years of marriage has dwindled down to this moment, where your wife gazes at another man with the pride once reserved for you.
Mark then stands up, his outstretched hand presented toward your wife. She smiles and accepts it. As she and he exit the dining room hand-in-hand, she doesn’t look back.

Confused, blurry-eyed, and stunned, you gaze at the bottle of Scotch. “Did you do this?” you ask the bottle.
It doesn’t answer.

“Barry?”

You blink and peer around you, your vision hazy and unsure. What is happening? You hear your name being called, as if from several miles away.

“Barry, honey?”

You turn toward the voice. It’s her voice. Did she just call you “honey?” You feel a hand slide in yours, breath in your ear. “Honey, maybe you’ve had one too many,” she whispers. “I’ll get you some coffee. Ok?”

You nod, your head feeling as if it weighs 100 pounds. She gets up from the table and disappears into the kitchen. He still sits across from you, the wunderkind millionaire, yet something feels different. Wasn’t he laughing smugly before? Hadn’t they walked away from you a few moments ago, her hand entwined with his? When she returns, the aroma of hazelnut coffee fills the room. Your favorite. She sets the mug before you. “Mark wanted to know if you’d like to do some consulting work for the company during the teacher’s strike. I told him about your background in project management.”

You pick up the mug and sip the warm liquid. Things slowly, slowly dawn on you. What happened before was imagined, a waking nightmare.

“We’d love to have you,” you hear Mark saying. “We can set you up in an office, and, believe me, we’ll have plenty of work for you.”

Your wife is not having an affair with your 30 year-old boss. She did not leave your home with him.

You’ve been drinking too much, ever since the teacher’s strike at the college a month ago. You’ve been filling your long, endless days with Scotch and suspicion.

It ends now.

You tell Mark that it sounds like a great idea. Maureen claps with enthusiasm and slides her arm around you, thanking Mark for the offer. You gaze at her. She deserves more from you, more than an alcohol-infused downward spiral and feeling sorry for yourself. Unremitting clarity, indeed.