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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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slay-o’clock.

Well, it was bound to happen. I fell off the wagon. I went back 100 steps. I lost the mojo. In other words: I returned to my sloppily-dressed ways.

I’ve mentioned to you that way back in the day, because of weight and lack of self-esteem and not really knowing who I was as a woman, I preferred the drab, large sized, Stevie Nicks/Dorothy Zbornak look. It was my way of hiding. Yet as much as I love Stevie and my Dorothy, it wasn’t the best idea. But with time and working on the inside and then turning to the outside, all of that improved. I fell in love with me, which ultimately meant buying her (me) fancy, lovely things, like clothes that actually fit and creating a simple, feminine and chicelegant (new word; save it in your dictionaries, folks) sense of style. 

Of late, however, the blah of life translated to fashion, style, everything. The return of ill-fitted, voluminous pants. Going to work with not one stitch of makeup on, not even my trusty MAC Studio Fix. Feeling like a shapeless brown platypus. 

As I’m prone to do, I had to figure out what was going on inside before the outside. 

  1. I’m still adjusting to this new area, six months later. (Right? Six months already.)
  2. I’ve been through some recent changes that have affected me emotionally.
  3. Idris still hasn’t called me. 

You know: things like that. In all seriousness, dear readers, I was going through stuff. And stuff means grabbing some parachute pants (far less awesome than Hammer’s), throwing them on, and going to work. 
But it’s time to let it all go. I saw myself in the mirror yesterday, super fresh-faced, absent of even lip balm, for goodness sakes (chapped lips to the heavens), and told myself to wake up. Stuff happens. We deal with it as we go. But no more cracked lips, y’all. No more.

So what time is it? It’s slay-o’clock. Because looking my best leads to feeling my best. A fundamental truth. We all know it. It’s not new math or the invention of something that will keep these edges laid. Looking better makes me feel better. In that vein, this morning I put on a cuter dress, put on some red lippie, and I welcomed the day. Put on your slay clock and join me, won’t you?

Now your turn: did the blah of life ever affect your personal style? What did you do about it? 

“edge control”? 

Who are the scientists or hairologists that create the gel for those of us with edges that have temperamental minds of their own? They need to work harder. Because people like me with edges like me laugh at these gels, these silly things that do absolutely nothing to tame these rebellious follicles that rest on the borders of my hairline. Normally, I wouldn’t care. I’m the kind of naturalista that puffs my hair and doesn’t take the time to smooth things out at the front. Smooth isn’t that important to me. But then I started taking Biotin and vitamins to make my hair stronger and yay, my hair started really growing and getting fuller, but whoa, my hair started really growing and getting fuller and goodness, I looked like I lived in someone’s backyard. And with braids (I’ve had braids since December; done and re-done), if one wants a ponytail or to pull the braids back, the edges cannot shame you. But mine shame me. Every. Single. Day.

So I purchased this “edge control” gel, which a woman at the shop claimed would do wonders for my edges. Nope. Nope. Nope. The hair lays for approximately 5 seconds and then rolls its eyes at me and sticks right back up. Wild and curly and crazy. Unabashedly untamed and unkempt.

But you know what? I’m c’est la vie-ing it, folks. That’s life. Bushy edges and all. I can’t change them. There is no control

But am I the only one? If you have rebellious edges, kindly let me know in the comments. Edge misery (not really though) loves company.

Happy Friyay, bon weekend, and onwards and upwards. 

that skin(care) thing.

By now, you get that I like when things are low key and simple, right? Low maintenance rocks my quiet world. I watched a YouTube video today about skincare products and was reminded of just that: when it comes to skincare and beauty regimens, you can imagine how utterly unfussy I am. If it takes longer than 5-10 minutes to do any of it, just no. Give me my Mac Studio Fix and my Ruby Woo. Give me my Neutrogena face scrub, a moisturizer, and let’s be done with it. Words like toner and serum might as well rhyme with binomial and integer: they mean nothing to me. (Big ups to all my Math side eye people–uninterested and confused, one fraction at a time.) The word regimen itself makes me tired.

But a girl gets older and the acne from 10th grade wants its home back, right on my forehead. Or a girl gets her face waxed and the pores become hotels who always have a vacancy. Or weird blemishes pop up and have me wondering what happened to all those superhero African juices that, post-puberty, combated whatever pimple tried to disturb the peace. And when This Square Peg realizes that her status quo must change…she reluctantly realizes that she must change it.

My current “regimen” for skincare:

  1. Wake up.
  2. Consider calling out sick. 
  3. Wonder if a murderer or serial killer is also waking up at the same time as you, being that it’s 5 something in the morning and that hour is reserved for killers.
  4. Trudge to the loo.
  5. Pull out your Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub and apply a dab to your brand new Vanity Planet facial brush. (You’ve used your hands to wash your face for, oh, 23 years, up until a month ago. But you saw a YouTube video and the wallet was close by and there was a discount, so…) Start cleaning. 
  6. Finish, wipe face.
  7. Apply light moisturizer. Store brand or Equate.
  8. Crawl back into bed. Kidding. Maybe.

That’s all, folks. No face masks, serums, toners, brighteners, prayers to the good skin gods. But the blemishes keep coming. Not every day, but they pop up here and there. Might be the stress from all the changes I’ve gone through these past few months. Might be the reactions to said stress, which typically involve carbs and liquids that aren’t water. I’ve long known that skincare has a lot to do with diet and nutrition and not necessarily just superhero African juices. Anyway, I’ve used Neutrogena for years, and decidedly the acne combating brands, since, as stated above, pimples were my main issue since age 15. The clusters have long gone, but one likes to decorate the center of my head every now and then. But perhaps it’s time to find something different, a new product.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it (and you will, because you love me):

  1. Tell me what skincare products work for you. 
  2. Do you sometimes battle a blemish here and there? Acne?
  3. If you understand what toner is and its point, please: share with the class. Convince me. Remember that I’m still doubtful on whether fractions mean anything in real life. (Says the woman who can’t figure out the difference between 1/2 and 1/3.)
  4. Do you have a–gulp–skincare regimen? If so, please share that with the class in the comments.

All for research purposes. My forehead thanks you. 

p.s.: I’ve recently discovered Melanglow, an awesome place to get beauty and skin advice and recommendations for us brown girls. So yay for that. Check it out. 

here.

Yes, I moved.

Yes, I hitched up my lady pantaloons and made the decision to start over with new people, new new places, and new things.

Yes, I wept when leaving my mother, my brothers, and my sister.

Yes, I continued to weep on and off days after arriving in the Dallas area (specifically Carrollton) and still nurse a weepy homesickness that consumes here and there, especially when I’m driving. (Why do we weep when we drive? Or is it just me?)

Yes, I realized that this was a pretty significant step to take in my life and I have to say: I truly underestimated the emotional upheaval that was poised to come.

Yes, it’s lovely here.

Yes, I’ve reconnected with/met a few friends who’ve helped to assuage my aching for home and the familiar.

Yes, I’ve gotten lost on these long, winding roads and have become besties with my GPS.

Yes, I’ve slowly created a routine that I’m getting used to. quotelion

Yes, some roads have already become so familiar that I turn off the GPS when driving, and I realize that my mobile phone’s data plan thanks me for this.

Yes, it’s really hot here. For real. Like really.

Yes, I want to go home. But right now, I won’t.

Yes, the quote to the right explains how I largely feel about staying here.

Yes, I’ve wanted to blog since I got here, but I needed time to wipe these tears. And a wet laptop keyboard wouldn’t have helped anyone.

Yes, I FaceTime my people whenever I can. And I worry about them. And I think of them constantly. And I’m back in kindergarten.

And yes, despite that ache mentioned above, and the homesickness, I’m happy, excited, and curious about the future.

It’s nice to be with you again, dear reader. If you’ve ever made a move, please tell me about how you dealt with it in the comments, won’t you?

because I’m petty.

No other way to say it.

I just am.

Anywho, I wrote this brief essay/diatribe. Happy Tuesday.

 

Miss Petty Boots 2016

You don’t recognize me, do you? You’re doing that I’m trying to place that face squint with the head tilt to the side, as if the re-positioning of your head and narrowing of your eyes will somehow ignite the memory corner of your brain. Don’t sweat it. I know exactly who you are.

What was it: about three years ago?

We all have preferences and you exercised your preferential right not to be attracted to me. So you told our Yenta that you’d rather not and I said all right and we all moved on with our lives.

But who is this woman standing a few feet away from me? The face is somewhat familiar, but…the woman from three years ago was a bit…chubbier? The face was a bit fuller? The physique a bit more zaftig? (Let’s be real; you’d never use that word.) But this woman is really svelte. The face: thinner. But I know that face, don’t I? But this woman is different. I can’t stop pretending not to stare at her. Hope she doesn’t notice.

Oh, I notice. I see you pretending.

I’m going to be Miss Petty Boots 2016 for a second: it’s because I’m hotter than you remember. I worked on my health and my fitness, and one of the pay-offs is a leaner version of the confident woman you preferentially chose to not pursue three years ago. Back then, sure, I was low-key excited at the suggestion from our Yenta that she could introduce us. After all, you smiled at me, so… (what it took back then for me to be intrigued by a fellow: a smile. *Le sigh.) And yes, my active imagination plotted our entire courtship from initial meeting to wedding day. So when our Yenta informed me shortly thereafter that you weren’t interested, it was disappointing. Not hurling myself dramatically off a nearby bridge disappointing, but disappointing nonetheless. But I moved on. You moved on. And now here we are. Don’t worry, though. I’m only Miss Petty Boots in print. I’m not the kind of woman that will saunter up to you and publicly remind you of the past.

I’m the kind of woman that will continue her conversation with her friends and peripherally remain aware of your fixed regard and leave it all there. (Still about 75% petty boots, though.)whitpetty

*A smile may be lovely, but it’s just rows of meaningless teeth. Be prepared to impress me. 

So keep narrowing your eyes and tilting your head.

Maybe you’ll figure it out.

30 Days.

Recall our discussion about comfort zones and the changes looming in my life. Well, hear ye, hear ye…

I’m moving!

After nearly 30 years of living in Somewheres, VA, in 30 days, I will beadventure moving to the Dallas, Texas area. Since revealing this news to my family and friends, I’ve received responses that range from shock to support/glee/excitement to downright confusion. Here are a few of the most popular questions I’ve gotten, followed by my responses.

Why in the world are you moving?
Because I’m a human being, an adult, a grown woman, and I have the right to vacate my premises.

I’m so happy for you! What inspired your decision?
Thank you. Honestly, I’m ready for a change in my life. It really helps that the area I’m headed to is affordable and has a great cost of living, as well as an abundance of jobs. Also, I have personal goals that I’d like to see through and I think being in a less expensive area may assist me in those endeavors.

But why Texas? It’s like the Wild West down there.
Well, no, it’s not. It’s different from the metropolitan area we live in, sure. But I fell in love with the area when I visited and always had in the back of my mind to move there one day. I think it’s beautiful there and we’ll see what life will be like for me.

Won’t you miss your family?
Of course I will. I love my family to pieces and pieces. But I’m also pretty excited about this new, impending chapter in my life. For the first time, the idea of moving away isn’t causing the butterflies that permanently reside in my belly to implode. I’m actually OK with this choice, and my family has been nothing but supportive. And if it stinks over there, I’m headed back home without fail.

Uh, do you have a job lined up?
No, I don’t. I’ll be starting the hunt when I get there.

You must have thousands of dollars saved up then.
*crickets*

How will you LIVE?
I’ll be staying with a friend temporarily while I look for work. Eventually, when work comes, I’ll get my own living arrangements.

I’m terrified for you. Have you seen the news lately?
I have. And, honestly, it gives me pause, too. Sadly, however, bad news isn’t relegated to one area of the nation or the world. I can only pray that I stay safe and make good decisions about the places I go and the people I see.

Do you have family down there?
No, but I have friends who are like family that live down there.

This is just really shocking.
It is. Change can always be shocking. And you always imagine–at least I do–that people will stay where they are forever.

We’ll miss you.
I can’t describe how I’ll miss my friends and family and will miss living in an area where I know the shortcuts to the shortcuts. I’m starting over and without a known tribe around me. But I’ll be ok.

Well, it was nice knowing you.

I’m not going to the moon. I’m just some states over. There’s FaceTime, Skype, social media, the phone, and this blog, which won’t change just because I’ve changed my address. If anything, my new life will be healthily updated right here on This Square Peg. It’ll be an entirely new story line of square pegness, actually, in this new area, so we’ll have a lot to talk about.

So, yeah. I’m moving. I’m moooooooving!

Have you moved before? Whether stateside or to another country? How did you adjust? Details, please, in the comments. 

We Need to Talk about This.

Girl, you’ve been looking really nice lately, wearing all these beautiful dresses. What’s his name?lies

Oh my goodness, I didn’t even recognize you. You look so different! Are you seeing someone?

And on and on and on and on. The idea that a woman can’t spruce up her look/style for herself but because a man stands on the horizon somewhere, inspiring all the changes.

I’ve heard the above-mentioned remarks more often than not, and I’ve also scowled on the sidelines while such remarks have been made to my good friends.

I call a moratorium.

  1. Some women dress up for men. I’m not one of them.
  2. The assumption that I’m putting on nice dresses because of a guy reminds me of 1954. And I wasn’t even born in 1954. As much as I enjoyed watching Donna Reed on Nick at Nite, those days are largely over.
  3. And although you may wonder if it’s a generational thing–i.e., whether the individuals making the remarks were born in 1954–it’s not only women from a different generation making those statements. Some of my peers utter the same drivel, as well.
  4. “But it’s a compliment!”
  5. Is it really?
  6. What was I before the supposed man showed up and spread glitter and change throughout my closet? A medieval creature from a faraway black lagoon? A spinster who spent more time dressing her cats than herself?
  7. Can a woman actually wake up one morning and decide: you know what? I want to change my look. I want to dress up my awesome body. I want to change my hair. I want to throw on some Ruby Woo. Can she just do that because she’s a woman, because she has the right to?
  8. And let’s not get started on weight loss = you’re dating someone. Because perish the thought that a woman wants to be healthy for herself.

I can’t.

Clearly, I’ve had enough of these statements. Perhaps you have, too.myself

Let’s all compliment each other if we like. Here’s how: You look nice.

Whew.

*deep, cleansing breaths*

Happy Tuesday, y’all.

The Spray of Water.

Let’s just get into it.

When I was 15 years old, I was washing dishes in my 10th grade Home Economics class one day. Since I was barely passable during the cooking part, but bomb when it came to suds and plates, I was very comfortable at the sink. A boy in my class, Mario, approached the other side of the sink, adjacent to me, and started to “play” around with me while I washed the dishes. Trying to touch me, attempting to tickle me. I told him to stop, to leave me alone. He certainly didn’t listen, ignoring my protests and continuing with the touching and “playing” around. I repeated that I wanted him to stop. He continued. So I sprayed him in the face with the water gun. He smacked me across the face.

Growing up, my sister and I got into some physical altercations. Being sisters close in age who shared a room, every pair of socks looked the same and therefore had been stolen by the other and deserved some kind of retribution, every eye roll needed to be avenged, so on and so forth. The few times my brother and I got into it officially ended when my mother reminded me that he was no longer a five year-old. “Quit it,” she said sharply, focusing on me as the eldest sibling. “He’s a growing boy and you’re a young woman.” I got her drift. Here’s the point: we were family and therefore not actively trying to hurt each other. We succumbed to physical displays of anger and irritation, trying to prove our respective (largely juvenile) points when words failed us. After a few years, we grew up and dealt solely with words. Mario wasn’t my brother. He wasn’t my sibling. We weren’t family. Looking back, I specifically recall how inexplicably calm everything was, how calm I was. As the right side of my face burned with shock, as tiny stars floated around before my eyes, I continued to wash the dishes. I remained there, glued to that spot, my hands repeatedly drowning in warm, soapy water. After hitting me and demanding what was wrong with me, Mario eventually walked away. I finished my task, wiped down the counters, and returned to my seat. No teacher was summoned, I didn’t run screaming to a friend with tears in my eyes. (In case you’re wondering, apparently none of the students or our teacher saw this. If they had, no one said anything or intervened.) Prior to this, we had been somewhat friendly in class, sitting at the same table at times. After that day, I never spoke to him again.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m so sensitive to tales of domestic violence, why the thought of one person violently attacking another joined to them by marriage or relationship leaves me disturbed and shaken. Eureka. I’ve never forgotten the feel of his hand against my face, the way my cheek stung, how it hurt. I can’t imagine the thousands, millions, of women and men who have dealt with more than that and beyond in their relationships. Might be why I whisper “leave, please leave” when I hear about this happening, especially to women. It’s never justified. Mario’s actions weren’t justifiable. I don’t care about the spray of water dripping from his face.

As with other things that happened during those tenuous teen and adolescent years, I told no one about what happened and suppressed all the emotions that came with it. (I literally just told my sister about it a few weeks ago, when the memory randomly made itself known.) I don’t think I even wrote about it in my diary. I shoved it away as I was prone to do, youthfully unaware of all the little explosions that these events were causing inside of me. But those are the benefits of getting older and working on yourself: I’m talking about it now. I acknowledge the pain, anger, confusion, sadness, and shock I felt in that moment. I acknowledge that I did begin to hate him. And yet I can also say that hate is not an emotion I will presently allow. Wherever he is, I simply hope he’s no longer responding to situations the way he did when we were 15.

It constantly and honestly amazes me that I made it through those strange, long years, dear reader. But with healing comes memories, revelations, conversations. And we shall have them.

how dare you guess my actual age?

Thanks to the African juices/genetics (thanks, Daddy and Ma), I have somewhat youthful features. When I was a teenager, I looked younger. When I was in my mid-20s, a woman at a hair salon once asked me if I was excited about Homecoming. Her shock when I explained that I was 26 years old–and not 15, like the girls getting their hair done–was memorable. Even in this later-third decade of life, when I meet new people, I frequently get a prolonged, quizzical stare before the onlooker leans forward and asks, “how old are you?” At a dance party last year, my dance partner asked me if I’d ever heard the song playing on the loudspeaker. It was “Motownphilly” by Boyz 2 Men. I replied that of course I knew it and that I grew up listening to it. I couldn’t help but laugh at his reaction. All that said, a lady gets used to questions like this, at the raised eyebrows of surprise, at the declarations that they would have never guessed my age. By the way, any woman who claims to find these questions/comments to be a nuisance and complains about them is trying to pull a bit of wool over your eyes, dear reader. Sure, there’s a difference between questioning age and questioning maturity (an entirely different animal), but who doesn’t like a bit of surprise when you explain that you’re older than you look? Come on.

Anywho, keeping all of that in mind, imagine my reaction when someone guessed my actual age. About a year ago, while in Alabama to visit the bestie, a bunch of us were chatting.

Lady: Do you mind if I ask how old you are?
Me (with muted pride and a mischievous, tiny smile in expectation of the impending guess): How old do you think I am?
Lady: I’d say…36?
Me (muted pride and mischievous, tiny smile vanish): You’re right.

The sheer audacity of that woman, I later raged to my bestie, who was laughing so hard and hysterically that tears brimmed in her eyes. How dare she accurately guess how old I am? carriefisherI was well aware of how foolish I sounded, y’all. But that didn’t stop me from waving my arms in the air and pontificating on how she was certainly in the minority, that several people believed me to be younger than I looked. Later, after I finally came out of my age-related fugue, I joined my best friend in loud, raucous laughter. “Welcome to the real world,” she pronounced. “Indeed,” I replied.

Ah, vanity.

When I was 14 years old, I couldn’t wait to be 16. When I was 23 years old, I couldn’t wait to be 25. When 30 came and many of my (mostly toxic) views about myself, my beauty, my worth, my body, and other things changed for the better, I embraced this wondrous start to a new, epiphany-laden decade. For me, I can honestly say that aging has always been about exciting transitions, new realizations and understandings, growing further into adulthood…

But it’s nice when you don’t look like you’re aging. *wink*

Happy Friday, everyone. Because I adore you and because my 15 year-old self danced to this song in my bedroom, here you go.

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