Starring This Square Peg as Herself.

owlcreek1I was 11 years old, a quiet sixth-grader. That day, we embarked on a field trip to a place called Hemlock Overlook. The bus ride was animated, filled with the excited conversations of my fellow classmates. I silently observed the scenes passing us by and wondered just where we were headed. Field trips had always been fun for me: museums, the zoo. This place was unfamiliar to me and I was curious and anxious about what we would find.

The school bus pulled into a dense, wooded area. It seemed to be a giant park. It was a giant park. A giant park, as I came to learn, that was filled with a variety of physical fitness-inspired activities. Games. A zip line that I eyed warily and ultimately refused to climb. The whole thing was weird and stressful. On one hand, it was nice to hang out with some of the few friends I had in my classroom. I was a shy girl, but there were some kids I was actually comfortable with; I remember some of us sitting around a table and talking/laughing. On the other hand: I wasn’t a fitness girl by any means. Sure, I “played” soccer during recess, which essentially meant just standing around while the real dynamos kicked the ball. This was intense. Needless to say, I was always last in each of these activities and I was always slow.

Then came the rope.

In the middle of the area was a large mud hole. The point was to grab a rope and swing across the hole to get over to the other side. Simple, right? I wanted to throw up. I had already failed at every single activity. Why would this end up in anything other than total disaster? Of course, I was last to go. I gulped. I grabbed the rope. Gravity took over, if only for a few seconds. I was moving. Moments later, all of me was drowning in mud.

Raucous laughter ensued. I think my teacher was even laughing. I was a mess. Clothes, face, everything covered in mud. I wanted to cry, scream, even chuckle a little so they would think I had been on it the whole time, purposely falling into a mud hole for some attempt at comedy.

On the bus ride back to the school, I listened as some of the kids talked about me. The mud on my clothes. How I looked. Describing how I fell in the hole. I remember gazing out of the window and wishing–and it wouldn’t be the first time in my adolescent life–that I could just disappear.

The website for Hemlock Overlook states that these adventures teach the adventurers about team collaboration. If the goal was to teach my classmates, even my teacher, how to collaborate by laughing at me in unison, then, yes, it worked. I learned a few different things from the experience, however. How to be humiliated. How to hold in my tears for more opportune moments when they could be released comfortably. How to sit in the filth of mud and hold my head up while people around me were sending darts by way of words in my direction. No one comforted me. No one patted me on the back and said, “Sorry, This Square Peg, at least you tried.” Nothing like that occurred.

In the past, when I’ve randomly thought about this memory, the clarity of hindsight never comes. My adult brain is rarely able break it down in a palatable way. (For years, I think I even repressed it, not really sharing the story with friends.) But looking back now, I’ve realized a few things about what the experience taught me. For one thing, I have a deep, deep spot in my heart for the kind of kid I was back then. The slower ones, the ones picked last, the ones who aren’t adept at team sports or athletics. Those are the children I want to hug and assure. Secondly, my mother has always reminded me to keep my dignity in any situation. To keep my cool. That moment on the school bus was certainly the beginning of learning how to do just that. Even if my insides were turning into mush. Le sigh.

education

Sometimes it takes place while sitting quietly on a school bus, trying not to cry, trying to hold on. Nevertheless: you learn.

What are your seminal moments from childhood? What did you learn? Share? Pretty please? 

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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 #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…

breathe deeply.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Why I walk through the stacks and inhale. 

Why I meander through libraries and bookstores, often with no intention of reading or buying, just trailing my fingers down endless rows of spines and consuming the sweet aroma of books. 

Why books can be desserts, too.

(I dedicate this post to my beloved Ms. Lindquist, who let me escape the battleground of recess (when you’re shy and slow and new to the area, recess becomes a battleground) by letting me make a home in the library while the other kids played. In there, I discovered stories about girls like me, about faraway places, about adventures and pesky little sisters, and everything in between. Ms. L., You opened up my world.)

Its Course is Fixed.

“So quietly flows the Seine that one hardly notices its presence. It is always there, quiet and unobtrusive, like a great artery running through the human body. In the wonderful peace that fell over me it seemed as if I had climbed to the top of a high mountain; for a little while I would be able to look around me, to take in the meaning of the landscape. Human beings make a strange fauna and flora. From a distance they appear negligible; close up they are apt to appear ugly and malicious. More than anything they need to be surrounded with sufficient space – space even more than time. The sun is setting. I feel this river flowing through me its past, its ancient soil, the changing climate. The hills gently girdle it about: its course is fixed.”

–Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

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All photos courtesy of This Square Peg. Quiet wonder courtesy of La Seine.

Bon weekend, all.

“…the thief of joy.”

comparison

For the first official post of 2016, I wanted to highlight something I feel very strongly about. As an adolescent, as a teenager, as a young woman, I suffered from an insidious type of thievery: comparing myself to others. It was a sickness. I even, at times, compared myself to myself. As in sizing myself up and determining that the person I was in that present was worse than the person I was in the past. Again, a sickness. Negative, toxic, terrible to myself. But when you don’t feel that you’re enough, it’s what you do. It didn’t happen overnight, of course, but thank goodness for the moment This Square Peg realized that not only was she enough, but she was everything. In other words: I’m incomparable. And so are you.

Don’t let that thief in. Look in your mental mirror (even a physical mirror, if you have to) and find you, not anyone else. Find just the beauty inside, not the flaws and inadequacies that seem to jump out quicker. When the flaws ultimately manifest themselves, because they will, smile at those pesky things. Laugh at them if you need to. I don’t diminish the personal goals we all need to set for ourselves, the self-improvement we all choose to do in life, but let those things be yours alone. If others must come into our minds in terms of what they’re doing with their lives, admire them. Make them your cheerleaders. But focus on you, and do that quickly, before that little voice starts making you believe that you’re not enough. Find the joy that comes from wholly knowing that no one can compare to you.

Word.

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If this quote doesn’t describe the current state of the weather in Somewheres, VA…

And so I continue to await the first spring day with bated breath, gloves, my winter coat, and a giant scarf (sometimes two scarves).

Yours in Still Stuck in Winter,

This Square Peg