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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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nope. can’t do it.

When I was a senior in high school, I did something that defied all the parameters of shy girl status: I auditioned for a musical in my high school.

*cue shock*

Yes, your Square Peg, who enjoyed life behind the shadows, who always volunteered to be the narrator (and when she wrote her own stuff made herself the narrator, thank you very much), decided very much on an adolescent whim that she would audition for the spring musical that her high school was putting on, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumLots of innuendo, lots of farce. I knew nothing about the musical prior to auditioning. There was no Wikipedia back then. Anyway, I loved the title, I loved musicals, I loved theater, I loved my school’s drama teacher (who was also my beloved Film Studies teacher when I was a sophomore and introduced me to the wonder of Citizen Kane, among other things), and I was high on this adolescent whim. I knew I could sing. So why not?

How to Audition for a Musical (Or How Not to, Depending on your Perspective)

  1. If you’re 17 (or 35 or 59 or whatever) and a veteran of several chorus classes, it would be nice to know how to read music. Because guess what? I didn’t know how to read music. (Still don’t.) When I was handed the music for the songs I would be singing that afternoon, Comedy Tonight and Lovely, I might as well have been handed stacks of hieroglyphics. And I probably had a better chance of deciphering those than the music I was given…
  2. …but because I was learn music by ear, I waited until dead last night to audition for each song. This gave me time to listen carefully to the notes, the melody, the arrangement, and allowed me to actually stand on stage and sing. Not too shabby, either.
  3. It might be a good idea to remember that even though you’re one of dozens that are auditioning, you can’t go up on stage with those people. You actually have to stand at the front of the stage and sing. Alone. And yet, moments before cardiac arrest took over as I approached the stage…
  4. …I found a way to position myself by the piano and not really at the front of the stage and I focused on my drama teacher, who was awesome and encouraging and likely CPR-certified in case I did keel over from the fright and butterflies.

I got through it, you guys. And I had fun.

But remember when I said I knew nothing about the musical? Well, although I didn’t score the lead roles of Philia or Pseudolus (and this was really no surprise; other than pretending like I don’t want to strangle rude people, your Square Peg is hardly an actress), I still got a role in the musical.

The role? A courtesan.

If you check out the link to the musical, you’ll see see that the story takes place in ancient Rome, where a slave (Pseudolus) tries to win his freedom by helping his master woo a courtesan named Philia. Well, there would be a house filled with other courtesans along with Philia, and I got a role as one of them. I think her name was Vibrata.

Except, even though your Square Peg is a wordsmith, she wasn’t quite sure what a courtesan was. So, while overcome with excitement at landing her first role in a musical, she went home and went to her trusty dictionary, where she looked up the word.

courtesan (noun): a prostitute with a courtly, wealthy, or upper-class clientele

Yep, I went right to my beloved drama teacher and told him that there was no way I could be in the musical. Excuses about my parents not really feeling the amount of time I would spend outside of school were given. And no, they wouldn’t have cared for that, but you know the bigger issue, don’t you? My mother would have somehow learned that I was playing a hooker. And she would have killed me dead. I mean, as sneaky as I was in getting away with staying out late or hanging out with people she didn’t really know, the heavens would have revealed it to her in a dream. No doubt. Just like she knew that her oldest daughter was making funny faces behind her back one day (without turning around), my mother would have discovered the truth. And your Square Peg would be no Square Peg at all, because, again, I would have been killed dead.

My drama teacher was very understanding. Maybe he knew the real truth, that an African girl playing a hooker–no matter how tame it would be for a high school production–would have been shipped back to the Motherland in a pine box.

I was in the audience on opening night, cheering on my friends in the show, cheering on the director, cheering on the brave girl who replaced me. And in the back of my mind, imagining the death that would have been unleashed by my mother’s hands. So along with all that cheering was massive, massive relief.

I still love the theater, of course. Musicals, plays: the stage continues to thrill and amaze me. And it’s even sweeter from the comfort of my seat. Haaaaaa.

Throwback Thursday: The Scowler.

SquarePeg1

Meet your Square Peg, a.k.a., me.

I found this photo in my mom’s “secret” stash of photos one evening last week. I should tell you that my mother’s things–her clothes, perfume, shoes, etc.,–have long fascinated me, which means that since I was little girl, sneaking into her room to see what I could find and gaze at lovingly remains a pastime. Don’t worry: I leave most things undisturbed. Except the clothes. Anyway, I love that she keeps hidden photos and mementos that we don’t have access to. When I found this, I snapped a quick photo and placed it back into its hiding place.

This was taken in August 1983 in Accra, Ghana. I was 4 years old. I’m 100% sure my Dad was the photog, being that he loved taking photos of his children and family, even when we were sullen teens and refused to smile.

My birthplace and my home.

That Mustang, which was my mother’s. (Yep, Mama Square Peg rocked a Mustang!)

Those fat braids. (This was obviously was my go-to style.)

That dress.

Those shoes.

That face.

Oh, that face. Most photos from back, back, back in the day rarely found me smiling. I was a serious kid. I discovered those teeth a bit later, as you can also see from that ruffled, picture day photo. Other ones are of me coolly staring into the camera, as if we’re moments from battle. Ah, memories.

Happy Throwback Thursday.

The Seamstress.

I’m spoiled rotten. I am. You see, whenever I see photos of lovely dresses and skirts and outfits, particularly with African fashion, I just head over to my mom’s room, bat my medium-sized eyelashes (why do boys get long eyelashes? Can someone explain this to me?), and sweetly ask if she can recreate the look. After a few days filled with fittings that Mom does after I’ve eaten (“Ma, can’t we do these before I’ve eaten an entire piece of bread?”) and her threatening to hit me over the head if I don’t stand still, straighten my posture, and stick out my derriere, I find a lovely outfit waiting for me. It’s pretty amazing, no? Of course, after several years of this (even volunteering, at one point, to make me three dresses back-to-back for a special event), my mother basically put on a moratorium on all things me and declared that she was taking a break from making my clothes. I really was ok with this. Spoiled rotten doesn’t mean blindness: making clothes is hard work! Especially if you’re dealing with a bread-eating brat like me. I put a moratorium on my requests, as well. Fast forward, though, to a month ago when she bought some lovely African fabric pieces and offered to make me something. I casually agreed, stopping myself from jumping with joy. Eventually, I saw an outfit on Pinterest that struck my fancy and showed it to her. She nodded sagely and said it could be done. Even with a life and a full-time job, it only took her a few days to finish it. Again, because she’s amazing.

Here’s the outfit I saw on Pinterest:

PinterestDress

If you know me, you know about my love affair with peplum-inspired outfits. (See here and here.) So it’s no surprise that I wanted something akin to this lovely ensemble. We chose the fabric and Mom did her thing, completing it this past Saturday. Needless to say, it was beautiful. It also fit me like a dream, despite my post-bread fittings. I wore it proudly to my house of worship yesterday on Sunday and took all the photos I could, some at Mom’s request so she could show me off to her other seamstress friends. (Ha!) See a few below.

AfricanDress4

AfricanDress2
If you look to the left of me, you’ll see The Seamstress in the background.

AfricanDress1

Right?? Don’t you love it? I wanted to wear it all day and to bed. One of my absolute favorites that she’s ever made me. (I’ll post a gallery of all the ensembles she’s made me one of these days.) Here’s a full-length shot of the outfit.

AfricanDress3

A dear friend decided to photobomb my impromptu photo shoot with her adorable twin boys, which was awesome. Anywho, since yesterday was chilly, I paired the outfit with some fishnet tights and my dependable booties.

Overall and as usual, Mom did a fantastic job. Also per usual, the outfit ignited a storm of friends asking me if she could lend them her services. When I related their comments and requests to her, she merely laughed.That’s the thing with my Mom. She’s so modest about her skills that she thinks people are just being nice when they compliment her abilities. My sister and I are currently working our gifts of persuasion to try and convince her to monetize this gift. I’ll let you know if we’re successful.

So, yeah, it’s nice living with a seamstress. More than nice, actually. But The Seamstress wants to teach me how to sew. Somehow I need to persuade that thought right out of her mind…

calling all big heads.

Let’s get right to it, shall we? For most of my days on this planet, I’ve been reminded by my mother about how this thing that sits on my neck nearly cost her her life. If you have a large coconut, I’m sure you’ve heard similar stories from your mom. And lest you think Mom is exaggerating or teasing me unnecessarily, kindly note that for my high school graduation, my cap had to be special ordered from another state because the ones they had at school didn’t fit my head.

Now you understand.

Obviously, I rarely wore hats throughout the years. Moreover, once this lovely fro of mine was nurtured and came into bloom, there was no way I was going to attempt to fit a hat on it. Alas, however, I soon discovered that sometimes the old college try works out: a big head and an afro aren’t obstacles to anything (other than sitting in front of the television). See Exhibit A below.

hatgirl

The caption says it all, no? So now that we’ve obviously mastered hats and fros, the next thing I’d like to try are head wraps. I’ve always been fascinated by the head wrap look, primarily because I grew up with Ghanaian women who could tie a wrap around their heads like nobody’s business. These days, I also love seeing my fellow chocolate ladies rocking them, too, especially other naturalistas. And just like a larger-than-the-average-bear sized head/fro isn’t going to keep me from adorning it with a hat, the next stop is head wraps. Naturally, I sailed on over to Pinterest for some styling ideas, and also to get some, uh, tips on actually tying one. (Mom has shown me more than once. Just like binomials, I don’t get it.) Here are a few beauts I saw.

Don’t you adore the looks? Chic, practical, fun, gorg.

Summertime, and the wrapping is easy…

Tell me: are you a head wrap lady?

A Conversation.

December: So you’re really killing ’em, huh? 16 degrees? cold
January: Please. After that 75 degree mumbo jumbo you were pulling, I had to remind those chumps that we’re in winter.

December: Sheesh. Calm down.
January: Don’t tell me to calm down. You had people wearing shorts in wintertime. Shorts! I mean, are you kidding me? In December? Like, how?

December: In case you haven’t noticed, Ms. Obvious Temper Issues, El Nino is really running things. Go yell at him.
January: What is that El Nino business?

December: No idea.
January: Me, either.

End scene.

(Seriously, I had to break out my thermal pantaloons this morning. It really was 16 degrees when I reluctantly opened my eyes this morning, and it’s currently 19 degrees now. So honorable mention to my mother for forcing me to wear those thermal things when I was a little Square Peg, which left an indelible reminder that they would actually keep me blissfully warm when I was a grown-up. Yay for forced under clothing.)

Thank Ya, Mama.

 
Thank ya, Mama, for genes that make me look 21 years old. I don’t want to return to 21, but it sure is nice to look it.

(This photo was snapped by my good friend and talented photographer during a trip to NYC a few weeks ago. That’s her IG handle. Check out her work. You really want to.)

((Go to How Old-Net and waste plenty of your precious time posting photos of your face to see how old you look.))

“are you wearing pants?”

Last night, me and my younger brother attended a concert starring none other than the Man, the Musical Genius, a member of my Top Five Favorite Performers of All Time, Stevie Wonder. This was my second time seeing Stevie Wonderful, but I was no less thrilled, excited, and happy to share the event with my bro, who is also a big fan. For what I wore, I decided to keep it simple/dressed up but dressed down: (p)leather leggings that had been lounging in my room for almost a year, still boasting the tag, a blouse, and some short boots.

Concert2  Concert3

When I came downstairs to twirl and show the ensemble to my Mom, she uttered the question you see above. My reaction: I laughed until I could no longer breathe. I then explained that yes, I was wearing pants; in this case, leggings. She commented that they looked very “close to my skin.” (Mom-speak for tight.). So close that it didn’t seem like I was wearing pants. Assuring her that it would never be my choice to leave the house pantsless, I then explained that leggings were made to fit. She gave me the Mom side eye. I smiled and sat down to put on my makeup. That was that. Back in the day, I would have likely changed, believing that I appeared half-clothed and not wanting to incur that look of disapproval. But…

1) the leggings were actually kinda loose.
2) I was very comfortable in them.
3) they looked great!
4) I’m not 14.

Regarding #4, I love and respect my Mom’ opinions, but gone are the days when she dressed me and/or had that kind of significant influence on my fashion choices. That’s not to say that I don’t take her style advice (I’ll share of her gems in another post), but at the same time, I recognize that some of her advice is inspired by a different generation and culture. And, quite frankly, my mother would rather clip her toes with a rusty wrench than put on a pair of leggings. (My friends don’t refer to her as The Diva for no reason.) I get that. But I was (and am) OK with them, and I loved my look. So there you go.

Me and my bro.
Me and my bro.

She wasn’t going to let it go that quickly, though. She also mentioned that she would have chosen jeans, and warned that I may get cold. I took it all in stride, kissed her face until she playfully pushed me away, and left for the concert with my bro. A good time was had, Stevie was amazing, and it was an experience to remember.

How was your weekend?

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.

…so she did.

Oh, hi.

Yes, I’m alive. I’m aliiiive. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? What I can say? I’ve been all over the place.

she

So what did she (being me) do?

  1. I made strides on that musical bucket list by seeing this gentleman in concert last month. Even better, I took my mom and we screamed like we were 16 years old because that’s how we do. Even better than better, I was happy to make my mom happy. Such good, good times.
  2. 60,000 of my family in faith traveled to the DC area for two weeks of fellowship. I can’t really describe it in words. Just know that experience can be a beautiful teacher, and to experience those two weeks taught me qualities I didn’t know I had. It was something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
  3. I dyed her hair. Whaaat? Yes. Oh, how I love it. It’s a copper bronze-y, red-y color and it just brightens everything up for me. Needless to say, my mother nearly collapsed when she saw it. She who dyes her hair on the regular. Ha! (Please note that being in my mid-30s means nothing to my mother. It means nothing.) Nevertheless, I informed her–to her everlasting, why-does-she-insist-on-growing-up chagrin–that I will be maintaining the color. But we’ll discuss hair and those changes in a  future post.
  4. I lost 20 pounds. Whaaat? Yes. Since I don’t weigh myself (to remain sane), it was nice to visit the doctor last month and get this news. Onwards and upwards, though, you know? I decided to take the weight loss thing at a normal pace. My goal, really, is to have better health. But this is a wonderful plus as we continue on that particular journey.

Just a few things going on in this life of mine.

Be back soon.

Current Song on Repeat (because it’s beautiful and I wept like a 2 year-old when I saw the video)

 

 

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