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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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The Basics.

In this shifting world of different looks and makeup and styles and products (and we’ll have a separate post on all the makeup experimenting I’ve been doing lately), sometimes all you need is simple. And for me, this means pulling out the tried-and-true, the blueprint, the top of the heap: Ruby Woo.

I’ve discussed my enduring love for MAC makeup’s bold red lippie before. In a sea of reds (and I own an inordinate number of reds), it’s just the red for me. This entire week, I’m honoring The Ruby Woo, the first red I wore that gave me the red shade I was looking for. See pics below for today.

Hail.

What are your tried and trues?

Onwards…

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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.

Unrelenting Excitement. (And Other Things.)

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.

harrymegs

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 roccrown, and the journey to getting there if she doesn’t. Utterly grateful and happy.
  3. Work is good.
  4. I still love Idris.
  5. The End.

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.

It’s November. Yawn.

Welcome to November 1.

My feelings about November haven’t changed.

Le sigh.

Blahvember

Autumn Promises. (#3)

Dear Autumn,

I promise not to blame you for not being the traditional you in a state where it’s summer fall3year-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. fall2

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.

💯

If you’ve been here for a while or recently stopped by to take a look at my little corner of the Internet, you know that I am Ghana-born, partially Ghana-raised, birthed by a Ghanaian woman and man, product of Ghanaian ancestry. Honestly, I’ve never wondered if there was anything else in my blood. I just never have. But one sees ads for Ancestry dot com and one gets curious. Even larger: I never met my paternal or maternal grandfather. Would a genetic test perhaps reveal a few things about them? Would genetics speak of them in some way?

I decided to find out. There was a sale on Ancestry so I took advantage of it and signed up to receive the at-home DNA kit to send back to them for testing. When the kit arrived, I was disappointed to learn that no, this wasn’t a Law-and-Order type of DNA test with a Q-tipped cheek swab. No, I would have to–ugh–spit into a vial. Side note: I believe, with all my heart, that spitting is ugh. So, yeah, the kit sat there for a while, ignored by me. Eventually, however, I got the nerve to re-open the kit and just do it, already. Conveniently enough, Ancestry sends you return packaging so I put everything together and sent it off.

The results came back to me a few weeks ago. Shall we discuss?

Pic

  1. Cote D’Ivoire, Benin, and Togo, oh my. Like I said earlier, This Square Peg never doubted the presence of Ghana running through her veins. But I’ll be for real: seeing Cote D’Ivoire and Benin
    yesss
    Girl, please. She knew she was 100% African.

    and Togo…WOW. WOW. So very cool and and intriguing all at the same time.

  2. 100 percent of something. A friend of mine remarked that she’s never seen results where someone is 100 percent of something. “You are 100 percent African. That’s really amazing.” Hearing that gave me life. Because it is amazing. I never needed confirmation of my genetic makeup, but seeing “100% Africa” above was just the coolest thing.
  3. French. Is it any wonder, dear reader, that I’ve been attracted to everything French since I was 12 years old? For reasons I’ve never quite understood? Could the presence of Cote D’Ivoire and Benin and Togo, all officially French-speaking countries, have anything to do with this longstanding amour? Can genetics determine devotion?
  4. Mama. When I informed my mom about the results of the genetic test, she responded with the following: “We don’t know anyone from there.” I laughed and replied that this wasn’t a list of people we knew, but rather what my ethnic heritage is.  She was silent for a bit, seeming to marvel over this information. I wondered if she was thinking about which one of our ancestors perhaps emigrated into Ghana
    Africa Map
    Photo courtesy of Africa Guide.

    from the three places, primarily Cote D’Ivoire. After all, if you glance at the Western side of my continent, Ghana is flanked on both sides by the other three countries. Anyway, I then mentioned to my mom that this could explain my abiding love for the French language (even though, real talk, I I speak Frenglish), a statement that she quickly agreed could be true.

  5. In the End…Other than wondering about genetics and DNA and the past and my forebears and on and on, life went on after learning my results. My curiosity was assuaged. I didn’t gain a wealth of understanding about the stories of the men and women I didn’t have the opportunity to meet. Nevertheless, it was just plain cool to add this new piece of information to the mosaic of me.

Have you ever done a test like this?

Feel like talking about it?

Can you hear the comments area calling?

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.

oprah1

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:

oprah2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

oprah3
1
oprah4
2
oprah5
3

 

 

 

 

 

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…

smile. (😒)

Smile!

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

toon
Smile!

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:

simone

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.

violaSo, 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.

Happy Wednesday, y’all…smh…

 

 

big bag, small bag.

Once upon a time, our fair chocolate princess was at work and in the middle of typing when a sharp pain shot though her wrist. Of course, she gazed at her wrist as if the body part could communicate why it did this to her. Thankfully, there was no answer (talking body parts may be cute in animated films, but in real life? Nah), and she assumed that it would go away. No such thing. The sharp pain became unrelenting. She could barely type, hold things with her left hand, etc. At first, she diagnosed herself, because she’s done this all her life, often running to her parents’ basement to consult various medical journals whenever she experienced pain and/or discomfort, which resulted in giving herself an assortment of ailments. (“Stop doing that,” her mother has demanded many, many times in the past and last week in the not too distant past.) Her final analysis was carpal tunnel syndrome. And yet there was something intense about this pain, perhaps bigger than carpal tunnel. Reluctantly, she realized that it was time to consult a real physician. The medical journals and all those years of watching ER, St. Elsewhere, and other medical shows just wouldn’t suffice this time.

Since there was a clinic right across the street that accepted those employed at her former company, our chocolate princess trudged over one afternoon, her wrist in agony. When the doctor finally came in to see her, he checked everything, asked a variety of questions, etc. He then gazed at her handbag sitting nearby in a chair. “Do you mind if I pick this up?” he asked. Curious but ultimately knowing what he was about to tell her, she nodded. He picked it up. “What do you have in here?” he then asked. An umbrella, an iPad, my wallet, normal things, she responded. The doctor nodded again. “Do you need all those things?” Affronted, our princess explained that as a commuter who lived in Somewheres, VA and worked in the DC area, it was important to bring things to be prepared since her vehicle was miles and miles away. An umbrella for rain. The iPad for metro reading. Other things. And only a large bag would fit. “All true, but your handbag weighs about the size of a small toddler. That’s why your wrist is in distress. Your handbag is too heavy.”

A small toddler?

But, our princess thought to herself, she’d always had big bags. High school, college: what minuscule bag would fit her life??

The doctor went on to say: “If you need to bring all those things, perhaps consider a backpack. You can use both straps for both your shoulders and take the pressure off your left arm.”

A backpack? Was she 11? Was she in elementary school? Was she still walking to the bus in the mornings?

Obviously the doctor saw the horrified (mixed with a bit of snobbery) expression on our princess’s face. “Or you can decrease the items in the bag. But you’re doing damage to your tendons if keep holding a bag that weighs this much.” She muttered her thanks and assured him that she would figure it out. He told her to pop some pain medication if the pain continued. Eventually, the pain dissipated and disappeared and our princess resumed her life.

But she didn’t change her bag.

The End

So I had an epiphany the other day, dear reader. After years of rubbing my shoulder after wearing my bag, or picking up my bag and wincing in pain, or warning the lady at the nail shop to be careful when she picks up my bag in order to protect my wet nails, and so, so on, I realized that it’s finally time to quit playing games with my limbs. Stubbornly refusing to listen to the doctor’s recommendations was one thing (and not a great thing). But now living in an area where I drive to work and no longer need to be loaded down with an entire aisle of a CVS because I can leave things in my car is entirely another. It’s time, y’all. This Square Peg needs to buy a smaller purse.

I used to wonder how women ran their lives with smaller purses. Like, how did they exist? Where did they put their wallets in said smaller bag? What about a certain time of the month and hiding certain items? (Speaking of that, I think the trauma of a boy in my 9th grade History class who snatched my bag one day and peeked in to see a row of pink lady time-of-the-month articles did more damage than I care to psychoanalyze.) Anyway, again: how did these ladies survive without a giant bag on their shoulders?

I’ll provide the answers when I buy my small bag. It’ll be a shock to the system, for sure. A bag on my shoulder is like warm tea on a chilly day. It’s like cool lemonade for a dry, summer-inflicted throat. It’s comforting. But my car is a few feet away in the parking lot. If I need anything, I can go grab it. Enough, I say. We must do right by my shoulders, wrists, that poor doctor who tried to save me from the small toddler…

Here are some super cute smaller bags that stylistically call out to me:

Lovely. Now we need to head to the store. I wonder how many years that will take?

So tell me: what kind of purse/handbag do you use? Small? Large? Massive? Little? Share your adjectives in the comments with me, please.

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