How to Adult.

adulting

Because let’s be honest: there was no real manual to prepare for adulting when we were kids, was there? Sure, our parents may have given us advice and even perhaps provided their own living example. But we were destroying playing Legos and watching Jem and the Holograms. We–I, for sure–weren’t paying attention. And then you turn 25 and you’re like…how many more nights do I have to eat peanut butter so I can have enough money to pay my rent this month?! (True story.) Here are five things I wish I had known (or listened to) in advance, but I’m glad I know now:

  1. Adults are just tall kids wearing grown-up clothes. Seriously, the behaviors we saw in classrooms and on playgrounds don’t change that drastically. Tantrums become manageable, attitudes can be hidden, etc. Timmy, now Tim, probably still wants to stick in a frog inside your T-shirt, but instead, he ignores you during the staff meeting. And let’s not get started on Janine and your ongoing issues with parking, personal space, and food in the office fridge. My point is that we may grow up, but not everything goes away. Cliques remain. Mean girls become mean ladies. That sort of thing. And I don’t excuse myself: the way I dealt with life as a 10 year-old versus now means I deal with it better, but trust, I still have my bratty ways. And a strong side eye.
  2. Credit cards are nothing but the work of the devil. My dear Daddy tried to warn me about them. I remember sitting in the car and staring placidly out of the window while he discussed the danger of relying on credit cards. I wasn’t listening. Le sigh. In college, I was offered an Faustian bargain: to get a free mobile phone, all I had to do was sign up for a credit card. Ooh, free phone! Got the phone, the card, and eventually, the bills. It was an interesting journey. I learned the hard way. But I learnt!
  3. Love isn’t a guarantee. Growing up, I saw how difficult things could sometimes be for my parents, who were raising four children while balancing all the things married life and the economy and other responsibilities demanded of them. The unsurprising result: I never imagined myself married. No visions of weddings or my own little children running around. It just seemed hard. I knew my parentsAngela Bower loved each other, but there were so many struggles. I was content imagining myself as a rich advertising executive with high heels and maybe a boyfriend, a la Angela Bower from Who’s the Boss? (Honestly.) But when I got older and recognized that love, despite its wrinkles and hardships, was still love and worth the fight (also seen through my parents’ example, among others), life taught me an interesting lesson: so what? In other words, me finally understanding and wanting love didn’t necessarily guarantee that I would find it or attain it. And so far, love remains elusive. Becoming an adult with adult comprehension was no automatic journey into a love of my own, a lesson that continues to morph before my eyes. But you know what I found? An abiding love for This Square Peg. I’ll take it.
  4.  Assume nothing. Along the adulting highway, I started to believe–really, assume–that folks would act right/make good decisions/not cut me off in traffic/so on because that’s what kind, good, compassionate people do in life: the right thing. Nooooooope. People are complicated creatures, including the person writing all of this. Assume. Nothing.
  5. Questions are really OK. Y’all. I’m about five months from entering a brand new decade in life and I still call my mom/bestie/sister/friends and pose a variety of questions about life, people, work, etc. My bottom line: adulting will never mean an exhaustive understanding of everything. We will still wonder; gaze in confusion; dissect; figure out or try to. And that’s OK. The complexities will continue. But that’s…adulting.

Yeah, I miss those days when I knew nothing about taxes and utility bills and struggle peanut butter and the list continues, but I wouldn’t trade those days for now. It’s nice to see the world through these adulting eyes…I think.

What’s one adulting lesson you wish you knew in advance (but are happy to know it regardless)? Share with your fellow tall kid in grown-up clothes, please…

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Meanwhile, in Paris…

parislife

…champagne on the balcony with the Le Tour Eiffel peeking at you from behind those trees.

I want to go back. Maintenant. (Now.)

Bon Tuesday.

(p.s..: I have a whole board on Pinterest called “Meanwhile, in Paris”. Feel free to follow. Click up top on the social media links and you’re there.)

Adjoa on a Monday.

Ever since my early twenties, coffee shops have been my true love. Many a coffee shop had me inside of it; ordering a cup, listening to the beans whir in the grinder; hearing the quiet hum of conversation as patrons did everything from chat with each other to type away at their laptops for whatever projects they were working on. (I almost always think the laptop-bearers are burgeoning novelists.) When I worked at my dearly departed Borders Books (see memories here and here), one of the areas I was assigned to, other than at the register or the info desk or shelving books, was the cafe. There, I learned to make a variety of espresso-based drinks, recipes that I still remember all these years later. It was, in a way, my first foray in working in a coffee shop. And I loved it something awful.

Naturally, I’ve always wanted my own shop. So in my mind, my shop would be called Adjoa on a Monday. Adjoa is my Ghanaian day name for ladies born on a Monday. The decor would unsurprisingly be rustic-y with a French touch; the French part is me, as you know, but I’ve also grown to love the rustic idea for a while now. Funny, huh? This Square Peg, who favored not-busy, not-busy, super modern spaces now longing for burnished wood finishes and Mason jar centerpieces? Girl, people be changing…

*All images derived from my boo Pinterest.

Anyway, further details about AOAM:

  • Free WiFi. I love the idea of people inhabiting that space and working on whatever their working on.
  • Open mic nights. At Borders, I freely took advantage of sharing my poetry with audiences. That college student had plenty of spurned-love poems to share, thank you very much.
  • Themed evenings every now and again. Paris jazz spot Tuesday. Speakeasy Fridays. Etc.
  • An assortment of staffers of different ages and backgrounds. This one is important to me. When I worked at Borders, a true pleasure was working with everyone from fellow college kids to part-time History professors and everyone in between. It was amazing.
  • A mini-bookshelf/donate-a-book area. Because you know books have to be involved.

More ideas abound. Will it happen one day? Will I venture out and start my own business and finally see this coffee shop of mine with my own two eyes? *Kanye shrug* I’ve never been ashamed or shy to dream out loud. Perhaps that’s the first step?

What thing/idea/venture/adventure have you nursed for ages? I’d love to peek…share it in the comments below.

And now…

friday

It’s not Monday or Wednesday…

The title will make sense in a minute, I promise.

  1. I didn’t post yesterday, so I’m posting today. So it’s not Monday.
  2. The following post was already published for my “Because it’s Wednesday” feature in June 2017 (aka Eye Candy Wednesdays; aka my assortment of boos and baes in the public eye), but I’m reposting that post below. So in that context, it’s not Wednesday.

See? Make sense? No? Welcome to what I went through in every Math class.

Anywho, I wanted to repost the following because I’ve freshly affirmed my love for him, I’m getting more and more excited about this movie, and Idris has moved on and forgotten about me so I need a new co-leaser on the villa.

Here’s what I posted from June and onwards and upwards, dear reader:

******************************************

Let’s get to it.

boseman_chadwick_01_mkuypers

This is Chadwick Boseman.

You may have seen him in 42, or Get on Up, or the latest rendering of Captain America, or the recently released trailer for Black Panther, which gave you, me, and everyone currently living enough life to last for more life. I mean…

I chose the photo above because I think it exemplifies, above all, why Chadwick is everything: he loves National Public Radio. He loves NPR. I mean…

He’s talented and awesome and a superhero and a supporter of public radio and…

Let’s end there, shall we? See you in the movie theater in 2018.

Happy Wednesday.

{Guest Blogger} – “I Fell in Love…With Myself”

Support your Square Peg! Support your Square Peg! Support your…typewriter2

I wrote and submitted a guest blog post that was shared on the The Sum of Many Things, “A Lifestyle, Wellness and Personal Development Blog for Busy Women of Color.” (Amazing tagline, right?) Direct link to my post is here. I’d love to hear/read your thoughts about the piece, of course.

Thanks for your support. You’ll make this writer/blogger/author/unceasing lover of Ricky Schroder very happy.

Bon weekend…

schroder
Bae since 1980.

 

Black Panther. So. Lit.

You already know how I feel about Mr. Boseman.

Anywho, as you also may know (please, please know this; like, I enjoy under-the-rock living, too, but you need to know this), Black Panther, the next movie in the Marvel Universe, is set to open this coming Friday. Saying I can’t wait is certainly an understatement. We were amazingly introduced to Boseman’s King T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War, and what an introduction it was. This is his tale. You’ve likely seen the trailer. (Whew.) You probably know that my boo Lupita is in it (*praise hands*), so that very reason alone, I need to support my gyal. You also likely know that the movie is rich with all kinds of beauteous blackness and melanin. Like, it’s so unabashedly brimming with culture and blackness and African-ness–T’Challa is from the fictional country of Wakanda, which I’d like to think is about an hour from Zamunda–that it takes my breath away. Here are some of my favorite memes regarding how most of us plan on arriving at the movie theater for the film.

Did you know that comic books and their related characters have been a part of my life since I was a little girl? My mother introduced my sister and I to the wonderful world of reading and imagination and storytelling, and part of that introduction was to folks like Superman and Archie Andrews and Tintin. My mother is amazing. So comic books have been a large part of my life forever. I proudly geek out over all that Marvel and DC Comics stuff, and you can usually find me in many places in a bookstore, but definitely in the comics section.

Also need to know: because of my excitement over the film, I ordered a T-shirt to wear to the movie. Thanks to Adorned by Chi, I am now and officially a Princess of Wakanda. See below for the mini-selfie shoot on my couch from yesterday. And yes, I’ll be sharing my whole look for when I head to the movie because, yes, it’s going to be a thing.

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That’s all she wrote for this Manic Monday. Onwards and upwards…and pantherwards…

“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?]

ain’t nothing changed.

As much as I’m thankful and grateful for the journey of changes in this life of mine (it took a long time to fall in love with myself, for example; self-worth/self-respect/self-esteem came late for me, but those things came right when they needed to 👐🏾), some things remain exactly the same for your Square Peg. And I don’t have a problem with that.

  1. sideeyeI still side eye strangers. It’s nice to meet new people. It is. But that nine year-old who barely trusted folks who weren’t mother or father hasn’t completely disappeared. Look: stranger danger is a thing. If we’ve never, ever met, there’s a chance that I’m checking all the exits in case you decide to flip out and/or request something I’d rather not give you, like limbs or kidneys. It is what it is.
  2. I still watch YouTube videos on how to style/wash/manage my natural hair. I returned to natural six years ago. *shrug* One never stops learning. And one forgets. And one finds a bizarre comfort in watching other people wash hair3their hair. And once needs reminders that detangling is a necessity. I mean just because you graduated from school doesn’t mean you don’t still (mind the double negative there) text your old Math teacher to ask her how to calculate percentages, right? Right? Hello? Anyone?
  3. I still use my library card. I haven’t in a while, need a new one for a new state, but I’m a library card believer. Here’s a story for why I consider it a privilege and not a right: my mother had me banned from checking out books from my local librarylibrary when I was about 13 years old. You see, I was a chronic later book returner. Like chronic. I also had this terrible habit of not remembering where I left my books. (Honestly, my mother’s wish that I have a daughter just like me when I was a teenager was appropriate.) As a result, my Mom was usually left with paying my fines. So, one fine day, Mom went to my favorite library and informed the librarians that I was disallowed from using my card until I turned 18. Yes. 18. So. Gangsta. I was heartbroken, wanted to scream and rage at her (but didn’t because I wanted to also live), etc. But it happened. And on my 18th day of birth, I went right to that library and re-applied for a new card. And promptly incurred more fines. But I was a working woman by then, so who was ‘gon check me, boo? (She was. I became much more careful. *nervous laughter*)
  4. dogsI still have my checkbook. Nope, you’re not in Jurassic Park. There aren’t dinosaurs drifting around you. I haven’t written an actual check in many moons, but there are still some companies that ask for your full checking account number with the twenty-five zeroes. Since that number remains unknown to me by memory, I make sure that my check book is somewhere nearby.
  5. I still wear slips. I am the daughter of an African woman. If I stopped wearing them, even despite the distance and states between us, she would know. Of course, honestly, I don’t wear them as much as I did back in the day. If a skirt or dress has lining in it, I opt to not add more fabric to it. But if I wear something thin or could potentially have a moment a la marilynMarilyn Monroe, I will so throw on a half slip. Sure, I’ve had moments recently where I realized, with cold dread, that the thing was slowly descending towards my ankles…but you know what? Panic is good for the soul. Keeps you alive. Not really. I digress. On the off chance that what I’m wearing may expose, uh, exposure, slips are still my go-to.
  6. I’m still salty about the ending of Lost. There’s nothing more to say.
  7. I still believe in the power of good penmanship. Not only do I believe in it, but I openly admire it when I see it. I know no one writes anything down anymore, so yeah, but on the off-chance that I see someone put paper to pen…and do it so well…and use flowy cursive or straight lines…happy sigh. Look, my sixth-grade teacher nearly hit me for not being able to get that cursive ‘r’ just right. Apropos of nothing. But back then, it was important to write well. It just was. Time and technology happen, so this isn’t a diatribe against that (I am typing all of this), but it’s a lost art that I enjoy seeing and doing.
  8. I still can’t end a list with an odd number. If loving even numerals is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Some things never change.

Are you lover of change? Or no? Or both? Or…just tell me.

Bon weekend…

 

Housekeeping…

Hey, y’all. I’m Texan now, so combining you and all is no longer offensive to me. Actually, no, who are we kidding? Hi, everyone. Sliding into your Wednesday to announce some blog-related housekeeping and changes concerning this tiny home in the Webiverse, This Square Peg. Shall we?

The Look. As you’ve noticed, the aesthetics of the blog have changed. To me, the look is a bit more cleaner, more accessible, generally far more pleasing to the eye than before. You’ll note the social media links right up top, so feel free and make use of them. In other words, the blog now looks like a place I’d like to visit. Even though I already own the place.

The Posts. Remember when I used to want to blog every day?

raylaugh

And when that invariably didn’t happen, I would come here and apologize for my delusions of grandeur and lack of regularity? Remember? Well, no more need for that. Starting next week, I will post twice a week: Mondays and Fridays. If a Monday post comes but my old lady ways prevent a Friday post–or vice versa–that Monday post will be the sole post for the week. The point is that this writing/blogging thing is my beloved thing, but I can’t yet do it full-time, unfortunately. So rather than having a lofty goal of blogging single day, twice a week will suffice to accommodate life, work, responsibilities, the Splenda that is slowly hacking away at my memory, etc.  One day, it’ll be something I do full-time. Until then, twice a week. (But we will have our Blogtobers and our Blogvembers. Maybe even Bloguary. We will see.)

The Content. Because the ultimate goal is to take This Square Peg to the top, to Carnegie Hall, to infinity and beyond, and more importantly, to delight your fine eyes, dear Reader, I’ll be experimenting with content. I want to give you more, and a variety, at that. So I’ll be delivering more photography, more visuals, different/creative ways of writing and storytelling. I like my tiny spot in the Webiverse, hands down, but I want you to squeal with delight when you get here.

That’s all she presently wrote. Here’s to This Square Peg and all the fabulous bloggery things she hopes to do for you in 2018. But we’ll also take things one post at a time–delusions of grandeur are fun, but you know how I feel about expectations.  What can I say? I’m the very cautious child of very cautious African parents. (“Don’t do that! You’ll fall!”)

I’ll now leave you with the opening to one of my favorite shows from the 80s, It’s a Living. You’re welcome. 

Zero Expectations.

shrugYou guys. I expect nothing from this new year. Or any year, really. I just don’t. And no, I don’t make resolutions. I just take things one day at a time. Keeping an eye on the things to come. Living my life. I mean…the lofty ideals that come with a shiny, brand new date on the calendar are not the easiest to maintain. Which is why gyms become empty in February. I’d rather just go in with eyes open and a cupcake in one hand–you know, in case I get hungry–and see what happens.

I want to look for revelations. Not resolutions.

And so, for the first time this year: onwards and upwards.