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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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Thursday

fruit salad.

Can I tell you how much I miss my tropical paradise/coconut/fruit salad?

natural
facts.

I will.

December 2016 was the last time I:

  1. saw my curls
  2. got the chance to detangle as I go run my fingers through my kinks
  3. engaged in hours-long twisting sessions while catching a movie on the Netflix
  4.  “tamed” these edges before pushing the fro into a puff
  5. massaged my scalp freely
  6. just loved on it.

Protective styles are great. I’ve expressed this before. They give me a break from doing too much of #6 above, they help me to get to work on time (because I’m not spending all morning undoing the results of #3), and they’re just pretty and creatively done. Will I continue to protective style? For sure. Will I continue to complain that I miss my hair? For sure.

In December, I had Senegalese twists. I followed that up with regular box braids. After that came crochet braids. Other than brief intervals when the  styles were removed so the scalp could breathe, I really haven’t experienced my hair for six months. But lest you believe some fairy tale grandmother forced me to put in these protective styles, it was my choice to keep the strands tucked in until May. I needed to leave it be. There was also some damage to my ends after coloring my hair last year (we’re not going to talk about that right now; I’m still in my feelings), so it was just necessary to leave it ‘lone for a while. This time, however, I made sure to moisturize and oil and do all the things you need to do to actually protect the hair while it’s in a protective style.

This weekend, my stylist will take out my crochets. My natural hair will then receive a much needed deep conditioning and a trim of ends that have likely declared mutiny since the last time I trimmed them.

Will I weep when I touch my scalp again?

Maybe.

Happy Thursday and onwards and upwards…and frowards.

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.

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. 

A to Z…

I saw this while strolling around in the blogosphere and thought it was a neat, creative idea. Not that you don’t know almost everything you need to know about This Square Peg, but like the waistband of all my winter clothes, your author keeps changing. See below and if you’re a blogger, have a go, won’t you?az

  1. Age: 38 and feeling great.
  2. Bed size: Queen, but I honestly feel like those chumps fooled me. Or maybe I’m having twin bed PTSD from back in the day?
  3. Chore that you hate: Hmm. Most of them allow me to daydream and come up with ideas for my fiction, so…nah, let’s be real. Something about a sinkful of dishes gives me the dry heaves.
  4. Dogs: None, but there’s a teacup terrier waiting for me out there.
  5. Essential start to your day: A nice drink of cold water to restart my system.
  6. Favorite color: Brown.
  7. Gold or Silver: I tend to favor silver, but there’s something about gold.
  8. Height: I think I’m 5’7, but my siblings insist that I’m 5’5. Not true.
  9. Instruments you play: I play a mean recorder. In other words, none.
  10. Job title: Exec Assistant
  11. Kids: 0
  12. Live: Texas
  13. Mother’s name: If I won’t share my Government Name with y’all, I won’t share hers, either. But it’s a lovely name.
  14. Nicknames: Princess, Muffin Breath, Cool Cat, the Hamburglar, etc. Out of them all, Princess seems like the ticket to Buckingham Palace, no?
  15. Overnight hospital stays: They kicked me out.
  16. Pet peeves: The word “foodie” makes my teeth itch. There are others, but you don’t have the time and I can’t type for an eternity.
  17. Quote from a movie: “This is America, Jack.” — Coming to America (I quote that movie more than should be allowed, I think.)
  18. Right or left handed: Righties rule! (But I secretly have always been intrigued by lefties. There was a time when I was shooting for ambidexterity.)
  19. Siblings: 3 of them: younger than me and super bossy.
  20. Time you wake up: 615AM-ish. The alarm goes off at 5:50AM, but nah, that’s just not happening.
  21. Underwear: YES. Oh, the type? Uh…The safe kind, where everything stays in place.
  22. Vegetable you hate: All of them. But I force myself to eat because I don’t want scurvy.
  23. What makes you run late: If I don’t pick out my clothes the night before, standing in the closet and trying to make decisions. Le sigh.
  24. X-Rays you’ve had: A lot.
  25. Yummy food that you love: Fried plantains and every pastry ever created.
  26. Zoo animal: Baby chimps make me want to adopt them.

All she wrote. Try it!

Blogvember #24 and #25: Thursday and Friday.

#24: It was lovely being off work on Thursday. This is what I did, rather than blog. Sorry. Well, not really.


*****************************

#25: Since it’s Black Friday, here’s a poem I wrote a few years ago, entitled, naturally, Black Friday

and so she believed the hype.
she tipped her head toward the heavens and waited for the stars to descend into her eyes, and she waited, so quietly, to hear a skip, a jump, a tiny hop within her heartbeat, and she gazed at him and waited for an infiltration of memory to imprint his every nuance and niche…
they didn’t tell you, did they, honey?
you may leave with a shiny new gadget after that doorbuster sale, my dear, but hype isn’t the heart, and the feeling of his hand in yours will never not feel like a bag of nails tapping at the soft flesh of your confused palm.
behind silly platitudes and empty love songs is nothing but air and the truth and you.
and so you believed the hype.
and you were duped, conned, swindled, sandbagged, hoodwinked, and yes, so sadly bamboozled.
but didn’t you know? 
when did love ever need a sale?

Blogvember #17: Throwback Poemday.

I wrote this a few years ago. Happy TBP.

******************************

From Damascus to Emmaus 

I’m waiting you out.
I’ll be here in Damascus,
waiting for the scales to fall from your eyes.
You’re making it hard on yourself, honey,
determined to wear
these blinders, determined to
ignore what we and the world know:
I am the one for you, and you are the one for me.
So, go on, kick against this oxgoad,
persecute your poor heart with denial,
hold their coats and stand aside,
pretend like you don’t feel it or get it.
The light will come. 
Oh, yes.
And it will be luminous.
When it does, I’ll be waiting, ready to use my heart as your salve to open your poor eyes, 
ready to journey with you to Emmaus,
where our chests will burn with love and understanding.

Blogvember #10: Yawn.

Ours in an everlasting love. 

Longest.day.ever. Off to bed, party people. 

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.

would you like a magazine?

When I was a teenager, the answer to that question would have been yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. Back then, I was a connoisseur of all things glossy reading materials: the goal was to spend every bit of my pocket money (the African parent’s version of allowance) on any magazine I could feast my eyes on. From the fashion bibles (Vogue, Elle, Bazaar, etc.) to the women’s magazines brimming with articles that I totally didn’t identify with but read anyway (looking at you, Cosmopolitan), to my beloved teen mags (Sassy, Seventeen, Teen, YM, etc.), to the entertainment magazines that I loved so (Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weeklyetc.)–the addiction was so, so real.

collage
Image courtesy of Fanpop.

In hindsight, I think the magazines represented a version of life that seemed so glamorous and glitzy; hardly anything like my boring teen life in Somewheres, VA. These days, you can hardly bribe me to spend money on a magazine. Funny, how something that was once a crutch becomes unnecessary when you 1) grow up; 2) realize that “glamour” is utterly relative and fleeting; 3) would rather spend money on dinner and a play than a glossy read about something that won’t matter the next day. My sharp-eyed readers will read that last two statements and wonder about all the magazines that bear the lovely chocolate face of my Lupita, muttering to themselves that they know I’ve purchased those. No, my dear ones. I read the articles online and gaze at my queen through a computer screen. Welcome to the dawn of a new generation. The few mags I’ve actually flipped through have come to me via my mother’s subscriptions. I will admit this, though: the best thing about that airport life is flipping through those silly gossip rags. The best thing, as well, is recycling them once I get back to reality. (Do you view the airport like I do? An Oz where things like carbs and healthy eating don’t matter, where pretzels can be chewed with abandon while you chuckle over the latest antics of yet another starlet unable to make good life choices?)

I digress, as usual. The point of this post isn’t to look back in anger or regret. Here’s to that 15 year-old eagerly taking in the words and images crowding the pages of yet another shiny magazine. Because a few good things came out of the obsession. For one, I didn’t just stick with fashion and teen journals. I also devoured TimeLife, Newsweek: all of which fed my hunger for stories about real people and real life, certainly a boon for my fiction. Another thing: I accumulated enough facts to join any trivia team and win it for the team. Use my brain. I don’t mind. Lastly, it was fun! I have awesome memories of afternoons spent on my unmade bed, going through magazine after magazine, smiling at the sights I saw, reading until it was time for dinner. It really did make Boring Teen Life slightly less ordinary.

Are you a magazine lover?

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