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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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Oprah.

What an introduction. Let’s get right to it: when Her Excellency was was still on the air with her daily talk show, I won tickets to be part of her audience.

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Back in 2011, I remember going on the official website for the show and noticing one of the upcoming episodes. The theme of the impending show was going to be all about best friends. (Title: An Oprah & Gayle Kind of Friendship) Made sense, given the longtime friendship between Madame O and her bestie, Gayle King. The requirement to be part of the audience was to write and send in an essay about your best friend and why he/she was wonderful. That was a no-brainer. I’ve discussed my bestie on TSP more than once. She.Is.Everything. And so I got to writing. Looking back, I submitted the essay with only a small twinge of excitement, being that 1) I was probably 1 of a million people doing the same thing, and 2) I didn’t want that level of disappointment if I didn’t get chosen.

Then I received an email on March 23, 2011. Yes, I searched my inbox for that date. And yes, I’m giddy that the email still exists. Bottom line, the main idea of the email: my bestie and I were invited to join the audience during a taping of the themed episode.

I reacted a bit like this:

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So at this point, dear reader, my bestie didn’t know I had done any of this. I kept it all to myself in case we didn’t get chosen. Welp, that didn’t happen. After receiving that email, I called her and engaged in the following conversation:

Me: Hey, are you free on April 11?
Her: Let me check…yes, I’m free. What’s up?
Me: We’re flying to Chicago that day to be part of the audience of the Oprah show.
Her: *crickets*
Me: Are you there?
Her (whispers): This better not be a prank.
Me: It’s not! I wrote an essay and they picked it and it was about you and me and our friendship and we’re going to see Oprahhhhhhhhhh!

Her reactions, from 1-3:

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Needless to say, by the time we got to three, we were both primal screaming on the phone. Flight plans to Chicago were made; outfits were discussed (we had been asked by Queen O’s team to wear colorful clothes that would show well on TV); mild disappointment was expressed because a giant rule was that no pictures were allowed inside the Harpo studios; and finally, more primal screams were shared. You guys, it was one of the best experiences of this life. And you know how Empress Oprah’s audience would go mad? I admired her, yes, but I just couldn’t understand the mania oprah6these women showed on national TV. Well, I can easily say that on that morning in April, as Oprah was introduced and walked out and waved at us and smiled: I. Get. It. I truly do.

Her presence: dynamic. Her personality: open and charming. Her overall nature: amazing. In the minutes between her walking out and sitting down before the cameras turned on, there was no change. She was the same onscreen and off-screen. She was also just fun. During commercial breaks, she joked and laughed and told us about her painful high heels…it was surreal. My bestie and I spent the entire time just like holding each other in disbelief and Oprah-generated joy. And yeah, we got some gifts, too. And food. It was incredible. I’ll say it again, and in French: incroyable.

But the best part of that whole thrilling experience, dear reader? It involved a years-long, amazing friendship with one amazing lady, that being my bestie, and it involved another love of my life: my writing. My bestie kept saying the following throughout the day. “You are a writer. It was your words that got us here. You are a writer.” It was definitely a boost in confidence with the mighty pen. Nevertheless, the topic at hand, why this woman was such an indescribable presence in my life, made it easy. I didn’t hesitate. The benefits of a worthy subject.

Got any thrilling moments with your bestie that you’d like to share with me? Don’t fret because Oprah isn’t involved in any of them. The comments await you below…

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Blogvember #12 and #13: Le Weekend.

#12: That quote to the left about sums it up. Our sense of humor. Our laughter. Our love. (Because, yeah, I’d traipse through a fire and/or super humid room for her, fro or no.) Those times when la bestie utters words that change my life. My goals to always be there for her. 

She arrived on Friday night and will be leaving in a few hours. She brought a burst of light and much-needed familiarity into this new place and environment that I’m adjusting to, both emotionally and otherwise. I don’t think I’ll be able to communicate just how I needed that. 

I snapped a few photos, but she’ll hurt me if I post them. So just call your bestie and tell him/her that you love them. 

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#13: I bought a couch!

While furniture shopping yesterday, one of the employees showing us around the monster of the store we were in took me the very couch that I saw and saved from their website. If that isn’t kismet I don’t know what is. Delivery is next Sunday and you shall see it then. 

Happy Sunday, dear reader…

Blogvember #11: Friyay.

My bestie is coming to town this evening, you guys. The bestie! Needless to say, I basically want to tap dance out of here so we can start our fun. And yet morning just began, so…Anyway, she’s my first visitor since I moved to Texas. Wonder how she’ll react to the absence of furniture. 

Bon weekend, my dears.

Fabu Fashion Monday: A Little Night Music.

Last weekend, my friend and I headed up to NYC to catch a concert by Damien Escobar, a violinist I discovered a few months ago. It was a nice chance to get out of town, even for a quick weekend. Digressing: have I discussed my love/hate relationship with the city? It’s a fantastic place for the arts, for museums, for my beloved Broadway–but my goodness, what is that infernal odor that persists in the air? It’s been there since 1986, when we first met. Anyway, our embattled relationship goes on.

We took the bus up to the city and checked in at Staybridge Suites, a nice hotel in the Hell’s Kitchen area (so many contrasts in that last sentence, no?), which wasn’t too far from the venue. Prior to this show, you guys, I wrangled with what I wanted to wear. My summer concert wear is typically comfortable and easy. But something intriguing happens when you’re headed to the big city, something that requests that you up the chic factor and slay all day. At least it happened to me. Anyone else get that feeling of wanting to look extra when you’re headed out of town and away from all you know at home? I certainly did. I went back and forth and back again with what I wanted to wear. Finally, after a few hours of searching the racks at my tried-and-true Ross a few days before the trip, I decided to stop stressing and went the simple route: a nice, comfortable shirt-dress. Here it is.

As you can see, très simple and très comfortable. I completed the look with square hoops in my ears and those bangles on my wrist. Honestly, I wanted my hair (kinky twists, protective style #1,097 since February of this year) and my lips to be the showstoppers. (This is always the case, dear reader. I live for awesome hair and awesome lips.) And so I did the side-swept thing by pinning back one side of the hair and pushing most of the twists to the other side. Then I applied my bestie Ruby Woo until the redness was the right shade of fiyah. A bit of mascara, some light eye shadow, and we were ready to go.

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We had a good time overall. I could have done without waiting in line forever just to get inside the Highline Ballroom, where the concert was held, when we were told that arriving early would prevent that from happening and that we would have seats. No seats were had. We stood for three hours. (If you could waiting in line from 5-ish to the end of the show around 10-ish, we stood for 5 hours or so. Insert highly irritated This Square Peg emoji here.) Nevertheless, barring sound issues and things of that nature, it was nice to hang out with my friend and hear some good music.

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How was your weekend, my dear reader?

Meanwhile, in Paris: To All the Crêpes I’ve Loved Before…

…bow before your benevolent mistress.

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It was inevitable that I, a faithful lover of crêpes since my aunt introduced me to them when I was about six years old, would enjoy one of my favorite desserts in the country of its birth. I ate it in seconds, pausing only for one of my girls to snap this photo of me. (Can we talk about her marvelous photo, by the way? Capturing that lovely Eiffel and the breathtaking moon all in one fell swoop? I still hold my breath when I look at this picture.)

A few things:

  • Inside the crêpe was warm Nutella chocolate. So basically all of my dreams coming true and life being given.
  • You’ll notice my one gloved hand. It was chilly that evening, but I certainly had to eat my beloved delicacy with a free, naked hand. Enter the quirky compromise.
  • See that joy in my eyes? This is what crêpes do.

All right, that’s my cue to stop before I start penning sonnets.

Want to tell me everything about your favorite dessert? Make it good and yummy. 

The Chocolate Flapper.

First, hi.

So last Saturday, a good friend of mine threw a decades party: guests were to choose their favorite decade and dress accordingly. Naturally, being that I love all things Twenties–the Jazz Age, Gatsby was running around (fictionally), and girls were bobbing their hair–it was a sure thing that I would arrive in my flapper best. After scouring the Internet for ideas on what to wear, I found the best outfit on Amazon and purchased it faster than you could say F. Scott Fitzgerald. Can I tell you how excited I was about this whole thing, by the way? I feel like I’ve been going through the motions lately. This fête was a nice injection to the monotony and I’m so happy that my friends to put it all together. Anywho, without further ado…

Your chocolate flapper.

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I was so into it, too, walking around and swinging that feather boa like I owned a speakeasy down the street. Needless to say, the party was fantastic. There were sock hop ladies and Afros and Nineties girl groups all over the place. And lest you think we just danced and twirled the night away, there were various costume contests. Guess who won best costume, 1920-1950??

The sangria to the right was one of my lovely gifts. I won’t get into how excited I was to win. Everything you’re imagining about my reaction is what happened. But who was even more excited? My mother. She was elated, which was fun, sweet, and utterly awesome. Really good times.

Onwards and upwards…and flapwards…

p.s.: those bouncy curls you see on my head are actually my new batch of crochet braids. They added such a fun touch to the costume, no? We’ll talk about those new crochets later.

Before and After.

Happy to let y’all know that I contributed a piece for my good friend AB’s new blog. I also hold the privilege of being the very first contributor for her new baby, which is awesome when you consider how much I love supporting my friends, especially when it comes to writing/blogging.

Check it out here, please. I talk about my once tenuous relationship with “Before and After” photos and their impact on my gaining health/weight loss journey.

And kindly follow her blog, won’t you?

Meanwhile, in Paris…Round-Up #1

Because there was just so much to capture, so much to do, so much to see, and so many joints to rub with Aspercreme after traipsing around the city to keep up with regular blog updating during the trip. (On the latter statement, I used my trust Fitness app and my calculator: we walked a complete total of 56,065 steps, from when we arrived in Paris to when we departed.) By no means an obnoxious complaint, of course, and pardon the obnoxity (not a word). We just packed in so much in those eight days in the City of Lights that by the end of the day, when WiFi did its job, I sat on the sofa like a zombie and eyed my sleep mask more than my WordPress app.

Anyway, I’m baaaaccck.

We arrived back in the US of A last Thursday, which was Friday, France time, which meant that the jet lag I suffered after my Germany/England trip was going to visit me, Parisian style. But other than waking up on Friday with aches on body parts I didn’t even know I had, I was able to eventually come back to normal. Back to work, back to supervisors that confuse administrative staff for babysitters, back to life. But, again, no complaints. As one of my travel buddies and good friends astutely put it during our trip, “we work so we can travel.” Many more photos will come as the week and the month wears on. I took many for me, which means there were many for you, dear reader. Below, however, are a few things I learned, some travel tips, etc.

Pinterest Travel really is a thing. If you don’t already, I welcome all future travelers to start pinning away when they decide where they’re going. Yes, we pin things that will never happen in reality (or maybe just me? See my recipes and home decor boards), but it’s worth making actual travel plans by pin. The three of us happened to do this on our own and were able to have a list of places we wanted to visit, restaurants we wanted to stuff our faces in, etc. Images of Paris that I’ve gazed at for months and months came roaring back to me, reminding of all the places I wanted to go that I didn’t have a chance to visit the first time I visited the city twelve years ago. So, yeah, create them boards, y’all. They will come in handy.

English may not be the evil that shall not be named after all. The last time I visited France, I was with French speakers. They did all the communicating for me (see past posts on the ineffectual nature of my brain and the French language), for one thing, which made things cushy and great. But I certainly wasn’t blind to the French side eye the natives cast in my direction when my friends would mention that I was American. Anyway, it’s 2016, people. This time, you had three ladies who spoke very little French (I know my vocab, but conversation? Le crickets). I wondered how we would do, how we would communicate, all the side eye that would come in our direction if we butchered the language, whether people would even give us the time of day (they’re known to not give you the time of day, by the way). It was fine. Once it was established that we were ‘Mericans, most of the people helping us easily switched to English. It was awesome. Didn’t mean that we didn’t try to speak like the natives, but it was nice to recognize that the pressure was off.

Le Metro. I envisioned a lot of Uber rides to our destinations. I just did. When I go to New York, for example, unless I’m with someone who lives there, I avoid the subway like the plague. Cabs and Uber for me. But the advantage of living like two steps away from the metro station where we were (13th arrondisement and about 10-15 minutes outside of Paris) was that we learned how to use the system. And it was awesome. First of all, the French have a pink line, so applause for that on its own. Second, it’s very, very easy to figure out. Grab a Navigo card (valid for a whopping ten years), load it up, grab a map (which has all the touristy sites listed on it) or an app (I loved the Paris Metro app; very handy for creating routes and easily seeing what lines to take), and you’re good to go. We only made use of Uber to Versailles, which would have taken a zillion hours by train, and for those nights when we were gallivanting around the city way past our bedtimes.

Honorable Mentions that I’m sure you know already. 1) It helped to not reside so close to Paris. We were away from the crowds and able to get everywhere by train. If possible, with any city, really, some distance between you and the hotbed is really quite nice. 2) Bring cash. Just better. A credit card in case of emergencies, but cash is just better. Make friends with the ATMs in the area. 3) Use up your coinage. Most banks won’t covert them.

Last but Not Least in Any Way. Pick pockets don’t play. Mind your stuff at all times. There were plenty of occasions when my starry-eyed appraisal of the city kept me from noticing that the opening to my cross-body handbag was behind me rather than in front of me. Don’t be like me. Or, as it also was in my case, have a good friend to quickly remind you to come back to earth and watch your bag.

It was a marvelous. magnificent trip, dear readers. I loved every moment of it. Even the aching joints and the Aspercreme. There’s more to tell and I will tell and I will share. At this point, though, I leave you with a photo I took with my girls during the trip. The smiles say all, n’est-ce pas?

  

Meanwhile, in Paris…#2-4 (Adventures, Angelina, and the Eiffel)

The title says it all, no? See the pictorials so far from le weekend en Paris and this past Monday.

   
    
 The Louvre. Everything, really.

   
    
 The Love Lock bridge. Better known as Pont des Arts. Lovely.

   
    
    
 
Lunch at Angelina, a restaurant that’s famous for being a favorite of Audrey Hepburn’s, their yummy macarons, and their oh so delectable hot chocolate. I’ve been pinning that restaurant for ages. And now I’ve experienced it. Worth all the salivatory (not a word) glances on the computer.
  

There are no words. Well, there are. The last time I was in Paris, we couldn’t come that close to the Eiffel, due to security concerns. We also didn’t see it at night. This trip took care of all of that and then some. Really just beautiful. Here’s one more for the road. 

 
I’ll be back for more photos and commentary!
Allons-y.

[All photos belong to This Square Peg.]

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