Blogtober, Europe, and Me.

As we embark on a brand new October starting tomorrow, I’d like to officially announce the return of Project Blogtober! BlogtoberYou remember last year’s endeavor to blog every day during my favorite month, and my promise that I would do it again this year. Well, we’re doing it again! Here’s to blogging every day and enjoying the process like I did before. Oh, and here’s another announcement for you:

For the first fifteen days of Blogtober, your Square Peg will be blogging from–wait for it–Europe!

What?

Yes! Tomorrow, I am flying out of these United States towards a traveling adventure in Germany and London! I’m both excited and nervous. Excited because I love traveling and I love Europe and it’s been a whopping 11 years since I’ve been on that side of the world. Nervous because I’m traveling and it’s Europe and it’s been a whopping 11 years since I’ve been on that side of the world. You feel me. Other than my stateside trips, it’s been a while since I’ve embarked on an international traveling adventure. Now we need a passport (check), different currency, apps to figure out currency, etc. But I’m poised and ready for it. Here are a few of the questions I’ve received after letting friends and family and a handful of co-workers know about my impending trip.

Who are you going with?
No one. This is a Solo Square Peg Trip, which I’ve mentioned that I’ve done before and enjoy. I will be meeting/staying with new friends when I arrive, however, so this is a good thing.

Why are you going?
Edification. Meeting new people. Seeing new sights. I chose Germany because I’ve never been there and I hear it’s beautiful. I chose London because it’s insane that this Brit Baby hasn’t yet been to the place she’s dreamed of since she was a tween.

Wait, you’re really going alone?
Short of sitting in airports by myself, I won’t really be alone when I arrive in these places. It’s all good, Mom. I mean, readers. (Obviously, that question has come up.)

What are you doing with your hair?
Yep, an actual question. It’s not surprising. If you’re a lady, traveling includes your hair plans. And I’m someone who doesn’t mind hair products in a suitcase when I’m headed stateside. But going overseas? I got my hair braided into Senegalese twists this past Sunday. Worry-free, literally one product I need to pack, over and out.

Ze twists.
Ze twists.
Seriously, by yourself? Be careful!
I will. My resting face is “fierce”, as my mother likes to point out, so I’ll do my best to keep anyone, even nice old ladies, from approaching me.

Take lots and lots of pics.

Not a question, but a promise. Here’s to Blogtober in other lands and documenting every inch of the adventure along the way.

The Brit Baby

BennyHill
The rascal himself, Benny Hill.

I have memories of sitting in the living room with my Mom and siblings and laughing uproariously as we watched episodes of Benny Hill. Never mind that there was plenty of innuendo in that rascal’s old show, 100 percent of which not one of us kids understood–other than loving the zany music and physical comedy, it was all part of my British television upbringing. Ever since I can remember, British TV shows were in our household. My mother fed off all things Brit, and as such, shared her love with us. (Dad was more of the golden age of comedy lover: Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Lucille Ball. Needless to say, I got my sweet fill of those performers and their films/TV shows, as well.) From those old days until now, you can typically find me watching TV fare from across the pond. Here are some of my old and new favorites:

Are You Being Served? Seriously, I can watch episodes of this 70s-era show about hilarious staffers of a Harrods’ like department store all day. The antics of the kooky employees of Grace Brothers bring tears to my eyes, so much so that when I watch episodes during lunchtime at the OK Corrall, I have to remember that although I’m hiding in a vacant office, people in the hallway can hear me screeching with laughter. If you haven’t watched it, please, please do.

Keeping Up Appearances. The title says it all: Mrs. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced BOUQUET, if you didn’t know) would do anything to prevent her neighbors–with whom she’s created a hilarious facade of class and elitism–from finding out the actual truth about her life: her ne’er-do-well son, her blue-collar sisters and brother-in-law, and her crazy father. Absolutely hysterical. The best is how quickly most of her neighbors (and strangers and postmen and her husband) try to avoid her when they see her coming.

Hercule Poirot. Oh, boy. Goodness. I’ll be brief: I love everything about Masterpiece’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famous detective. Everything. I’ve seen 99% of the episodes. It’s set in London (and almost everywhere else around the world) during the age of Art Deco and the 1930s, with Poirot and his little Belgian gray cells (played by the amazing David Suchet) solving murders and assorted crimes with his associate, Captain Hastings. The show feeds my love of mystery, detectives, and the fashion/jargon of the Thirties. So well-written and well-acted.

areyou
The cast of Are You Being Served?

Miss Marple. Like all my Brit TV favorites, my mom turned me on to Miss Marple, especially the latest episodes with Julia McKenzie playing the intelligent and resourceful detective. Just plain good. I especially love the guest stars that pop up here and there in some of the episodes, like Matthew Macfadyen, the second Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, or half the cast of Four Weddings and a Funeral. Again, if there’s a detective snooping around to solve a mystery, you can be sure I’m there.

Sherlock. I think this made it clear that I’m a fan. If you need more evidence, it’s arguably one of the best, most wonderfully written shows on the telly today. More opinion than evidence, but we can discuss it if you want to. (No, not really.)

 

Oh, Hyacinth.
Oh, Hyacinth.
Judi!
Judi!
The famous Hercule Poirot.
The famous Hercule Poirot

 

 

As Time Goes By. This show usually preceded Are You Being Served on the TV schedule. In the beginning, I watched it with Mom only because the show I really wanted to see was coming afterward, but in the end, I began to join this sweet show about a couple that reunites after years apart. The leading lady was one of my favorites, Judi Dench, so it’s no surprise that it ended up growing on me.

Honorable mentions go to The Vicar of Dibley, One Foot in the Grave, Waiting for God, and especially Last of the Summer Wine, a show about aging goofballs in a small town in the English countryside that found a rabid fan in my little brother. Seriously, he still has episodes of the show on VHS. VHS.

Shout out to Mom for creating Brit TV loving monsters. If anything, more than comedy and entertainment, we were introduced to a culture other than our own.

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.