You 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.
I think that best describes how I felt when I heard that my favorite royal Ginger, Prince Harry, had become engaged to his sweetheart, actress Meghan Markle. I won’t even link to any articles about this news; if it’s the first time you’re hearing about this engagement, we just…we have nothing to say to each other. But I will at least share my favorite photo of the couple during the engagement announcement.
Fresh-faced, happy, excited. Love it, love it, love it.
Needless to say, I will be throwing a royal wedding watch party for my friends and I to enjoy and squeal and point and swoon over. Because we’re 12 and we don’t care. Very few things are happening right now in the world that cause any kind of excitement and joy, so this one is it. 2018 royal wedding, here we come.
What else do we need to talk about? Are you wondering where in the world I’ve been?
I’ve been here. Well, not per se. But “here” as in around and attempting to thrive and survive here in the Lone Star state. I’ll do a quick rundown of life so far in the land of Square Peg:
About a month ago, I moved into my brand new apartment. Interestingly enough, with good planning, moving doesn’t have to feel like spikes being introduced to your flesh. Imagine that. (Thanks a lot to my sissy, who is far more organized when it comes to that kind of thing and supplied advice and links to moving articles for my reading pleasure.) The process went well. And I love my new apartment. It’s closer to town and to my friends and my place of worship: good, great, and excellent.
I’ve been officially added as a paid contributor for The Maria Antoinette. Getting paid to do something I love, my dear reader. It’s surreal. Not only that, I’ve been invited to write submissions that deal with a topic I’m very passionate about: empowering women. My pieces will always deal with how a woman can look in a mirror and see her crown, and the journey to getting there if she doesn’t. Utterly grateful and happy.
Work is good.
I still love Idris.
Honorable mention: I’m still working on my other writing projects. My third collection of fiction. A book of essays. Another book of essays. An actual novel. When will I accomplish all these things, you wonder? I’m wondering the same thing. Apparently I must enjoy juggling. But hopefully 2018 will lead checking those projects off my list.
C’est tout, folks. (That’s all.) Tell me what you’ve been up to.
I promise not to blame you for not being the traditional you in a state where it’s summer year-round. It’s not your fault that heat lives in every tiny corner in this lone star state. (And I’ve been promised at least 70-degree days, even if the leaves won’t wholly turn, so I’ll take it.)
I promise to get back to creative writing, something I tend to do more of during your inspiring season. It’s been a blast with other forms of writing, but there are about 12 short story ideas that currently demand attention and they punch hard when they’re not acknowledged.
I promise to engage in Blogtober this year. Yes!
I promise to take time for self-care. With shorter days and cooler, darker nights on the horizon, running around town and burning the candle at both ends will have to take a backseat. (Perhaps eternally? Your Square Peg isn’t in college anymore and she keeps forgetting that.) More blankets, time on the couch, and chai, in that order.
I promise to finally go shopping and bring more color and creativity to my personal style. It’s been blah for me lately, clothes-wise and otherwise. Le sigh.
I promise to keep a standing date at the bookstore on Friday nights. Autumn has always been about books and reading, too, and I need to smell some pages and listen to the hushed hum of book-related conversations.
I promise not to side-eye all the rain you will undoubtedly bring. Part of the bargain, right?
I promise to continue to stay away from whatever a pumpkin spice latte aims to provide.
I promise to just breathe. I’ve been aching for deep, sustained breaths lately.
I promise not to get it twisted: seasonal beauty won’t take away the stresses of life…
…but it’ll give me chances to look up, appreciate, and engage.
Here’s to the coming autumn and enjoying every bit of it.
What are you looking forward to this fall?
p.s.: More autumn promises are located here and here.
I’ve heard it most of my life. And if you have a resting fierce face like me, you’ve heard it, too. Strangers, random folks–they all seem to take pleasure in viewing our stony features and commanding us to break into grins. Like me, do you want to push said people over to the ground when they issue this command?
The first time I heard it was from my mother. I was in my mid-twenties and she asked me if I walk around with “that face” when I’m in public. She followed that question with another query about why I look so “fierce.” I remember kind of backing away slowly, not wanting to elaborate as to why I didn’t see the need to walk around smiling all the time. But she’s my mother. She can speak her peace and even if I didn’t/don’t heartily agree, I surely wasn’t going to push her over. (She’s really strong, y’all.) But random folks? Nah, man. You don’t get to issue me commands. You don’t get to direct what I do with my features. I once had a homeless guy command me, as I walked down the sidewalk, to smile. As much as I wanted to push him over, he had other problems he needed to attend to.
What incites folks to issue this command? (Oh, and no, it’s not a suggestion. It’s a
command. If it was a suggestion, I would hear something like, “You have such a lovely smile. Why don’t you show it more?” I would still side eye them, because, again, it’s my face and I don’t need no stinking suggestions about it but the need to push said speaker over would be slightly diminished.) Why is it so important that I bare my teeth to the world? I mean, it’s awesome to seem approachable, and perhaps a smile communicates that, but the assumption that I’m not because I largely walk around in my daily life without one is a bit ridiculous to me. Or how about I choose what expressions I want on my face? How about that?
A few weeks ago, gymnast and all around amazing woman Simone Biles performed a routine for Dancing with the Stars. During the judging, she was asked by one of the hosts, Tom Bergeron, why she wasn’t smiling when the judges were praising her performance. Simone’s response:
Because can she live? Can she choose when or whether to smile, Tom Bergeron? (I’ll never forget when one of my uncles, while we watched Tom host some other show, remarked that he looked like he had bad breath. This comment exemplifies why my African people will always get the win, the zinger, all of it.) Anyway, social media praised her retort into infinity. Women praised her into infinity.
Because most women hear this smile command, typically from men.
Yeah. You agree with me.
And we could talk for hours about how that gets under a woman’s skin, being told by a male stranger to do something with her features that he has no right to tell her to do, but dear lady, we don’t have a million hours. You agree with me. I’ll leave it there. For now.
So, no, I won’t smile on command, and unless you gave birth to me, you don’t get to tell me or my face what to do.
Let me tell about the rain in Texas (rather than the rain in Spain; you’re welcome). When I first moved here a whopping seven months ago–time truly flies–my friends hardly spoke about the heat. The heat didn’t require discussion. I knew that the sun would be vengeful, punishing me for something I’m not sure I did. No, dear reader, I was informed about the rain. Because it doesn’t just rain here. It monsoons. Deluges. Floods. Cats, dogs, and cows fall
from the sky. High winds. Rain descending sideways instead of downwards, which indicates to me that this ain’t a game. Thunder. Lightning. Hail the size of my massive head. When I initially moved here, I once arrived at my former residence and watched, wide-eyed, as the sky turned to a shade of inkwell black. As I scrambled to get out of the car before I was drenched and/or transported to Oz, I realized that perhaps for the first time in my life, I was filled with pure, meteorologically-based fear. (Sure, living in Anywhere, VA had its insane moments. Snow, rain, all of that. But having lived in that area most of life, I was used to it.) And rarely did we receive tornado, get-in-the-bathtub warnings like we do here. As I reached behind me to grab my ineffectual umbrella, I moved with the kind of panic you reserve for dark evenings when someone is walking behind you or when you share an elevator with just another person. (Is it just me? I cannot function when there’s just two of us in an elevator. I simply cannot.) It was terrifying. When I finally made it to the covered porch, a few droplets already falling on head, I turned around right on time as the heavens began to weep. It was incredible.
Oh, and this isn’t the kind of relaxing rain that lulls you to sleep. Rather, I was pulled out of my sleep and driven towards the window, where I peeked through the blinds and watched the sideways storm batter the ground and the cars in the parking lot. A few nights ago, hail accompanied the storm that came.. Ever hear a million rocks thrashing against your window as if they’re mad and not going to take this anymore? This time, however, there was no hail. Just angry water propelled by unremitting winds. When I finally headed back to bed, I lay there, wishing it was over. No such thing. It was determined to screech and ruin the dreams I could no longer remember. (No, Leonard hasn’t returned.) Thankfully, a fitful sleep eventually came over me and I was able to escape the noise. In the morning, the only evidence of the storm were the leaves that decorated the surfaces of my car. If only cars could talk. (“Darling, what was that?” Imagine the scratchy, accented voice of Idris posing that bewildered question, because my car shares his name. This ain’t a game.)
So how do we make amends with this weather fear? One of the many reasons I moved here was to avoid the snow and ice of the Northern VA area, which also came with the kind of cold air that bypassed coats and scarves and headed for pure bone. I’d rather be hot than cold. Hot means I can find a Starbucks and escape the heat outside. Cold means frozen tears just because I can never get warm. And since I’ll be here for the foreseeable future, what do we do?
We find a better umbrella, stay inside, and avoid Oz at all costs.
Does it rain a lot where you are? Do you hide like me or do you laugh in the face of weather-related fears (unlike me)?
Curious about how This Square Peg energizes for the day? *Or whether she actually gets energized for the day? Read about my morning routine below…
My alarm is set for 6AM. I turn it off and then sleep until 630AM. It is what it is.
After the usual morning things, I hop into a scalding hot shower (I don’t know about you, but there’s something about almost third-degree burn water temperature that just wakes me up) and, based of having shared a bathroom with all of my siblings for several years, am out of there less than 6 minutes later.
Applying lotion and/or oil is the highlight after a scalding hot shower. It fills the room with lovely scents and aromas.
I quickly brush my teeth and then wash my face. Because I intentionally woke up 30 minutes late and am now rushing.
Nine times out of ten, I plan my outfits the night before. So after the skincare/beauty regiment ends, I head to the closet and quickly get dressed.
If I don’t have a protective style, I quickly take out my twists and/or puff the hair. (Sometimes I do this while “sitting”, if you get my drift, particularly when I have twists in.) If I do have a protective style (yes, please, because it takes forever to take out twists and style), I just fluff and it’s done.
I head to the kitchen and make a sandwich for lunch. Like a 10 year-old, I prefer peanut butter on wheat bread, no jelly.
I’m out the door after determining, via my heavily used weather app, if I need a scarf or light coat or heavy coat for the bipolar Texas weather.
Drive to work.
If I feel like it, I quickly put on makeup at stoplights. So if you’re behind me, I apologize, but this Ruby Woo needs to go on these lips and I didn’t have time to do that at home.
As you can see, quick, easy, we’re done. What’s your morning routine? I’d like details. The comment box can handle it.
*I don’t get energized until 9pm. So there you go.
P.S.: are you wondering if I eat breakfast? I do. TSP’s belly won’t stand for all of that. I tend to grab breakfast at my job or roll by Starbucks on the way into the office, if I have time…which I most likely don’t. And if you’re also wondering if I actually get into the office on time? I actually do. The wonders of only working 10 minutes from home.
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, epiphanies…anyway, read on, s’il vous plait.
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.
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.)
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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?