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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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Discoveries. (Or, Eureka, We Keep Finding Her.)

We never stop growing and learning about ourselves, do we? Below are some of the things I’ve realized about myself lately, because I’m all about epiphanies, epiphanies, dive-into-self-discoveryepiphanies…anyway, read on, s’il vous plait.

  1. Discovery: I receive a special kind of joy from unsubscribing to the abundance of emails that clog my various inboxes. There’s nothing like cutting the cord. And I accept that this provides a level of contentment that I can’t fully describe.
  2. Discovery: shyness never really goes away. But it becomes manageable. I have tons of friends who don’t believe that I was or am a shy person, and I attribute all of that to good shyness management; i.e., ignoring that 9 year-old who’d prefer that I retreat and hide and keep quiet. She’s cute but bossy. (Side note: I really appreciate the few people in my life who keenly see shades of that 9 year-old in my actions and completely give me room to navigate it all. It’s nice to be known.)
  3. Discovery: I give people very few chances to edit themselves. If you’re rude or mean or dismissive from jump, I rarely have the desire to want to see you change your ways. Because, deep down, I don’t believe you want to. People have the ability to be better and I should want them to want to, riiiiiight? Working on this one.
  4. Discovery: if I smile at you and you don’t smile back, you’ve ruined that aspect of my day. In other words, I’ve put a lot of importance of non-verbal communication lately, more than I have in the past. But perhaps this goes hand in hand with #3. Maybe you’re having a bad day. Maybe you’re constipated. I don’t know. Working on it. (I think it’s because if I’ve made the effort to be polite despite the insanity of my day, you should too? But when was human nature ever so black and white?)
  5. Discovery: I compete with other drivers. When you’re in the next lane and you rev up and increase your speed, I do the same thing. And I like to win. Don’t tell Mom.
  6. Discovery: also related to 3&4. Despite my penchant for quietly psychoanalyzing people, psychoanalysis isn’t necessarily insight. And as much as I dig deep in my own psyche and examine my choices and actions and why I do them, I honestly don’t give that time to other people. Insight and the ability to really see into a situation and the people involved is a gift. One I don’t have. And real talk: I think this also limits my fiction and the ability to really see into my characters.
  7. Discovery: I’m not as cynical or pessimistic as I like to believe. I am the child of parents who believed in and functioned on high levels of optimism. I think I’ve been volleying between those two opposing forces my whole life: cushioning myself in pessimism but nursing, deep down, the hope that I’ll be proven wrong.
  8. Discovery: During difficult times, writing has always been a crutch and/or a distraction for me. Don’t get me wrong. I fully believe that I was born to be a writer. But my inability to be creative lately makes me wonder if looking at writing beyond what it is–an art form–is why I can’t seem to get into it lately. Am I placing on it requirements that it’s not equipped to handle? As in: making me feel better?

Thanks for visiting epiphany central. What things have you learned about yourself lately?

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On Smart Cookies.

Let’s celebrate this Throwback Thursday with a ‘lil story/psychoanalysis/discussion/boatloadof unanswerable questions, shall we?

I’ll start by saying this: I’m a smart cookie. No shade or ego. I simply own my intelligence. And if you haven’t done the same thing, please do. You’re not walking around telling perfect strangers that you know it all. You’re just acknowledging what you know to be true for yourself: you’ve got a working brain. Woo hoo. And it’s all relative, by the way. I may not still understand binomials, but I know plenty of other things. In other words, no one is 100 percent amazing brain-wise, perhaps with the exception of the Mensa ladies and Einstein. And there are plenty of folks who side eye a pile of books but know plenty of things about life and how to navigate it. But own it, either way.

However, back in the day, this chocolate bookworm who enjoyed many days reading encyclopedias in her parent’s basement and devouring facts and information entered high school and almost immediately buried her brain. And there was only one group of people I hid this fact from: boys. Don’t ask me how or why. I was 14 years old. (Actually, with the way my birth month is set up, when I started high school, I was 13 years old. A little girl. Le sigh.) In looking back, there was no rhyme or reason to it. One day in 9th grade, a boy in my class asked me if I understood the assignment our teacher had just given us. I described it in detail, interpreting it for him, after which he said, “wow, you’re really smart.” What was my response? “No, I’m not,” I replied, laughing nervously. This happened often: denying, above all, that I had any abilities whatsoever when it came learning, analytical thinking, etc., especially when a boy acknowledged me. There was a bizarre level of panic when this happened–I didn’t want to be mocked or seen as knowing more than the guy standing in front of me. Was it innate? A weird biological response to the age-old adage of girls only needing to look pretty? After all, my mother, one of the most intelligent women I know, never uttered those words to me. I was never told to “dumb it down.” So where did the desire to downplay any kind of smarts even come from? Oh, and there were girls who uttered that “wow, you’re smart” comment to me, too, and although I still downplayed it, I don’t recall that almost manic need to dismiss their words like I would with boys.

Maybe it goes back to what I said above. No wants to seem like an arrogant jerk while acknowledging what they can do. But for women, it’s almost as if we carry 100 pounds of guilt when it comes to acknowledging what we can do, particularly when it comes to intelligence. The archaic, ridiculous notions of women’s abilities being limited to cooking meals and birthing babies have been around since time began; maybe I was carrying that on me, in me, without even fully realizing it. Maybe I was also deathly shy and didn’t want, even for a second, any attention being given to me. Which is also true. Maybe it’s all the above. I don’t know. When I entered college and realized that my education was actually up to me (in other words, school ain’t free; tuition is involved; you get what  you pay for), this need to hide my brain still took a while to go away. I remember being a college freshman in English 101. The assignment was to write about a memory. Our professor chose to highlight my essay and read portions of it aloud to the class. She was full of praise and encouragement. I wanted to fall through the ground. By senior year, when my strengths and confidence as a writer had grown, another professor did the exact same thing. I handled it differently. I thanked him and told him how his encouragement helped me. Was it age? Growing older? 18 vs.22? Or did it have something to do with a female professor vs. a male professor giving the praise and encouragement, the male approval making it seem more acceptable? Insert thinking emoji here.

(Told you there’d be unanswerable questions.)

I do know one thing: “dumb it down” has been said to me in my adult life more than once. Not at 14 and not at 22. While adulting. And although I don’t necessarily understand when I turned the corner from terror of smartness to finally feeling confident in my abilities, I do know that each time I heard that silly, objectionable phrase, I laughed in the speaker’s face. So there you go. 

These days, my abilities are only important to one person: me. Sometimes I’d love to revisit that 13/14 year-old and help her to stop choosing fear and pretense. But we’ll wait for another smart cookie to build that time machine. 

slay-o’clock.

Well, it was bound to happen. I fell off the wagon. I went back 100 steps. I lost the mojo. In other words: I returned to my sloppily-dressed ways.

I’ve mentioned to you that way back in the day, because of weight and lack of self-esteem and not really knowing who I was as a woman, I preferred the drab, large sized, Stevie Nicks/Dorothy Zbornak look. It was my way of hiding. Yet as much as I love Stevie and my Dorothy, it wasn’t the best idea. But with time and working on the inside and then turning to the outside, all of that improved. I fell in love with me, which ultimately meant buying her (me) fancy, lovely things, like clothes that actually fit and creating a simple, feminine and chicelegant (new word; save it in your dictionaries, folks) sense of style. 

Of late, however, the blah of life translated to fashion, style, everything. The return of ill-fitted, voluminous pants. Going to work with not one stitch of makeup on, not even my trusty MAC Studio Fix. Feeling like a shapeless brown platypus. 

As I’m prone to do, I had to figure out what was going on inside before the outside. 

  1. I’m still adjusting to this new area, six months later. (Right? Six months already.)
  2. I’ve been through some recent changes that have affected me emotionally.
  3. Idris still hasn’t called me. 

You know: things like that. In all seriousness, dear readers, I was going through stuff. And stuff means grabbing some parachute pants (far less awesome than Hammer’s), throwing them on, and going to work. 
But it’s time to let it all go. I saw myself in the mirror yesterday, super fresh-faced, absent of even lip balm, for goodness sakes (chapped lips to the heavens), and told myself to wake up. Stuff happens. We deal with it as we go. But no more cracked lips, y’all. No more.

So what time is it? It’s slay-o’clock. Because looking my best leads to feeling my best. A fundamental truth. We all know it. It’s not new math or the invention of something that will keep these edges laid. Looking better makes me feel better. In that vein, this morning I put on a cuter dress, put on some red lippie, and I welcomed the day. Put on your slay clock and join me, won’t you?

Now your turn: did the blah of life ever affect your personal style? What did you do about it? 

connecting…

And while the wires and strings and synapses connect, sometimes blogging and writing and This Square Pegging fall by the wayside. Nevertheless, I’m here now, dear reader. Well, I’ve always been here–but life and changes and connecting  made it a bit harder to remember to talk about the process with you. This platform wasn’t far from my mind, though. And like the love of donuts, I’ll always come back. (Take some positivity from that last statement, however you can.)

So, it’s 2017, huh? Insert wide-eyed surprised emoji here. 

But years come and years go. Whatever the numbers are on the calendar, may things continue to connect for you as they always have and always will.

Onwards and upwards…

Blogvember #30: The Final Day.

Well, dears, today ends 30 days of Blogvembering. Went by pretty fast, no? I enjoyed every minute of it, even those moments when I was about to drift off into sleep and recalled with panic that I forgot to blog. And I admit to cheating when those times happened by blogvembercombining days, but a blog post is a blog post. Don’t sue me because I’ll represent myself and win, owing to several years of watching lawyer shows. Anyway. It was a pleasure. And it was awesome to be mostly regular with blogging, which is what I try to shoot for.  What I learned:

  1. I honestly don’t prefer blogging on the WordPress app on my phone. You know? Is that weird? I like the clickety clack of an actual keyboard when I’m chatting with you. Phones are for Pinterest rabbit holes and sending social media screenshots to your enablers friends. Not blogging. Next time, I’ll set aside time to actually get in front of my laptop rather than my phone.
  2. There were days when I had nothing to say. Like life. So a photo blog post was the next best thing. They really are worth 1,000 words.
  3. There were days when I had plenty to say. But peering down at my phone to type…I just wasn’t about that life. So we’ll revisit those discarded topics for general bloggery.
  4. November actually came through. What a concept.

It was fun. And now, because it’s also Wednesday, let’s end with one of our favorite features, shall we?

mpg1
Do you know this guy?

Let me provide a reminder.

mpg2
Yes. That smoldering face from the first photo was your first crush and my forever boo: Zach Morris, the star of Saved by the Bell. Mark-Paul Gosselaar. He’s aged well, no? Like unrecognizable well. Anyway, grown man status. Those memories of sitting in front of the TV, chin in palm, dreamy-eyed and wishing I attended Bayside High will never fade. Happy Wednesday, MPG. We’ll always have The Max.

Bon Wednesday and thanks for your support during Blogvember. Onwards and upwards…

Blogvember #3: On Chocolate Pigs and Resets.

Real talk: since arriving in the Lone Star State in September, I’ve been ingesting sweets and junk food like a chocolate pig. I wish I were exaggerating.

If you’ve followed TSP for a while, you know that in 2015, I embarked on a gaining health lifestyle change. I changed everything: how I felt about food, how I felt about fitness, how I felt about taking care of this body of mine. A year later, things were continuing to go well. By no means was I was challenge or struggle free, but when is life challenge or struggle free? Things turned upside down, however, when I landed in this one horse town (I’ve always wanted to say that). I moved to a city with drive-through bagel places and donut shops on every corner. I became an animal. The combination of emotional eating and availability was a death knell for all the hard work I had done for a year and a half. (There’s a place here called Nothing Bundt Cakes, for heaven’s sake. Can I live? Can I live?)

But we all have our a ha moments, don’t we? Where we shutter excuses and just decide to do work? I did last week. I became resolved. As cute as chocolate pigs are, it’s high time for a life/health/fitness reset. So far, I’ve been making better choices. Last night, I also officially restarted my weekly gym routine.


That facial expression communicates everything you need to know. I took a class called BodyCombat. The name was appropriate. My body was beaten up, in combat, and so out of shape. It was like a scene in an action film when the unfortunate villain shows up in a dark alley brandishing weapons that the hero ends up using against him. Yes, I came with nunchucks that ended up around my neck. But guess what? We have setbacks and we move on. I have a class tonight and I’ll be back at it next week. Because: goals.

Have you had to make any life resets lately? Do you love donuts as much as I do?

Blogvember #2: Deliverance.

Back in the day, I was a proud purveyor of the poker face. Betraying nothing on the surface while all kinds of madness/side eye/frustrations went on underneath. Perhaps it was a by-product of growing up painfully shy: I didn’t want anyone to notice me anyway, so it wasn’t necessary to communicate, even via my face, what I was feeling. 

Dear reader: that poker face is gone. 

Its absence was brought to my attention some years ago by my bestie, who commented that my face hid nothing. “Oh, really? It used to,” I replied, shocked and slightly hurt that my poker face powers had diminished. “Not anymore, cool cat,” she said, highlighting one of her many nicknames for me. (Another one is Muffin Breath. We’ll talk about that later.)

Alas, it was true. The fact was that I was no longer that withdrawing little girl who was content to observe without reacting. I reacted. And anyone could tell exactly how I felt. Something about this change made me proud. Sure: I’m a big believer in keeping calm. I mean, unless Idris is in the room, I’ve never been a proponent of losing your cool. Being the daughter of a mother who has repeated time and time again to always keep my dignity (advice that has brought me through a lot of interesting times) means that yes, I certainly try to maintain my composure. But maintaining my composure also means that my narrowed eyes in your direction is clear communication that whatever you’re doing/saying ain’t fooling me. And I think that’s the point, dear reader. If life is a poker game, at this point, I’d rather you look right at me and know how I feel about a matter. Plus, I don’t know how to play poker so I’m basically there to eat your snacks. 

Are you a poker face purveyor? Or, like me, has your ability to mask everything flown the coop?

Ma Maison et Mon Travail.

Went really French on you, didn’t I? But you’re used to that. Translated, it means my house and my job. Because, dear readers, after a month in my new surroundings, I’m happy to announce that I was recently hired at a new job and recently moved into my brand new apartment. We will pause for celebration.

Needless to say, I was anxious about these two things. Initially, I was staying with a kind, hospitable friend who allowed me to rent a room in her home while I figured out where I was going and what I was doing. My plan wasn’t to stay with her for eternity, so there was that particular anxiety. The kindness of others is always welcomed, but I also didn’t intend on overstaying my welcome. Secondly, since Idris hasn’t yet arrived with our marriage license and the key to our villa, your Square Peg needed a job.

The good things: a recruiting firm that I contacted early in the year, once I firmly decided on moving, was still quite open to helping me. Also: my car afforded me the chance, on days I wasn’t interviewing, to drive around and visit apartment complexes in the area. So after a few weeks of interviews and conversations with potential employers, and visiting an inordinate amount of complexes, and lots and lots of prayer…

Enter ma maison and mon travail. Again, let us celebrate.

Ma maison. I live in a nice, simple 1 bedroom place in a Dallas suburb. (I would be more specific, but…nope.) It’s quiet, save for a Chihuahua that occasionally has something to say, but he’s largely silent. As far as furniture, I have a bed and a very comfortable armchair. So you can imagine all the Pinterest decor boards currently overflowing with all the ideas I have for the remainders of furnishings and decorating to come. I’m a simple Square Peg: I basically want ma maison to look like Paris on a weekday. Lovely, uncomplicated, filled with croissants. Updates and photos will come.

Ma travail. It’s my third day at this new environment (a direct hire via that recruiting firm, yay), so everything is still minty and fresh and new. Nevertheless, my colleagues have been great so far and I’m acclimating well. Of course, the same Norse gods that secretly lived in my cubicle at the old OK Corral and blew icicles in the air apparently followed me here (search under “cold” to learn about my inability to stay warm; according to my mother, this is why), which resulted in purchasing a space heater and walking these halls draped in my usual scarf. But c’est la vie. I’m hopeful for this new professional path.

So here we are. Living on my own once again (it’s been twelve years since I had my very own place) and starting fresh with new employment. Onwards and upwards…

Oh, you want to celebrate again? Let’s.

here.

Yes, I moved.

Yes, I hitched up my lady pantaloons and made the decision to start over with new people, new new places, and new things.

Yes, I wept when leaving my mother, my brothers, and my sister.

Yes, I continued to weep on and off days after arriving in the Dallas area (specifically Carrollton) and still nurse a weepy homesickness that consumes here and there, especially when I’m driving. (Why do we weep when we drive? Or is it just me?)

Yes, I realized that this was a pretty significant step to take in my life and I have to say: I truly underestimated the emotional upheaval that was poised to come.

Yes, it’s lovely here.

Yes, I’ve reconnected with/met a few friends who’ve helped to assuage my aching for home and the familiar.

Yes, I’ve gotten lost on these long, winding roads and have become besties with my GPS.

Yes, I’ve slowly created a routine that I’m getting used to. quotelion

Yes, some roads have already become so familiar that I turn off the GPS when driving, and I realize that my mobile phone’s data plan thanks me for this.

Yes, it’s really hot here. For real. Like really.

Yes, I want to go home. But right now, I won’t.

Yes, the quote to the right explains how I largely feel about staying here.

Yes, I’ve wanted to blog since I got here, but I needed time to wipe these tears. And a wet laptop keyboard wouldn’t have helped anyone.

Yes, I FaceTime my people whenever I can. And I worry about them. And I think of them constantly. And I’m back in kindergarten.

And yes, despite that ache mentioned above, and the homesickness, I’m happy, excited, and curious about the future.

It’s nice to be with you again, dear reader. If you’ve ever made a move, please tell me about how you dealt with it in the comments, won’t you?

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