Blogtober #31: Blogtobereflections.

The final day of our little Blogtober 2020 that could. Some thoughts:

1. I gained some new followers to This Square Peg during Blogtober. That’s incredibly awesome. Thank you for joining this ‘lil corner of the interwebs.

2. Blogging regularly is doable. Back in the day, I felt like I had to log onto my computer, come up with a lofty idea, etc. Now, I have my phone in hand and literally access this app and start typing. Sometimes with no idea in mind, sometimes just wanting to chat. At the end of the day, I love the authenticity of that, just chatting with you, dear reader. That happened a lot this month.

Chill blogging, no stress

3. Fall really is the best season and October is perfect for Blogtober. My mind electrifies during this time of year. I found myself looking forward to posting and blogging and meeting the challenge.

Thanks for your support, for reading, for commenting, for liking, for following.

Happy Autumn! 🍁🍁🍁🍁

Blogtober #21: Sci-Fi Square Peg.

Growing up, we enjoyed an interesting variety of tv shows in my household. My Dad was a big lover of classic comedies and shows, which meant plenty of I Love Lucy and Leave It to Beaver. And oh, the sitcoms. Too Close for Comfort, Three’s Company, 227. My mom, on the other hand, introduced us to British television, private investigators (hello, Jessica Fletcher and Colombo), and science fiction. Hours were spent in our tiny living room, discussing intriguing storylines related to various incarnations of Star Trek and/or wondering what would await us on The Twilight Zone. (And wondering if we would have to shut our eyes, being that some of those eps of TTZ were intense. Scaredy-cat here, by the way, and unashamed of it. 🙋🏾‍♀️) It was all so fascinating.

Needless to say, I love sci-fi. Like, deeply. If it’s time travel or aliens or “exploring strange new worlds” (my fellow Trekkies recognize where that comes from), my interest is quickly captured. Reading it and watching it have always been pastimes. A few years ago, however, I wondered why I wasn’t writing science fiction. A natural question for me; challenging myself as a writer is always exciting. But I realized that a lot of the plot lines that pop up in my head have a sci-fi theme. It seemed a natural progression—if those ideas were coming, they needed to be written.

The Loftiest Thing has a sci-fi short story in the collection. I now plan on writing an entire collection related to the genre. One story you’ll find in that forthcoming new collection is provided for your reading pleasure below. Enjoy.

Tiny Pieces

Being in a time machine is less dramatic than you’d imagine. You stand in a medium-sized metal enclosure, quite similar to an elevator, the doors close, also like an elevator, and you move through the waves of time. Like moving up through floors. Yes: like an elevator. When the doors slowly open, however, you have not arrived in the plush, carpeted hallway that leads to your attorney’s office or for an appointment with your expensive dermatologist. You arrive outside your college dorm room in 1993 at 11:42AM. (Well, not specifically. It all depends on what time a person chooses to go back to. And you chose to visit your 19 year-old self. Someone else may choose to go to April 14, 1865, and convince Abe to avoid Ford’s Theatre. Really up to the person involved.)

You glance behind you at the metal doors that just closed and remember what they told you: the doors will disappear, disintegrate into the atmosphere, and will return when you come back to the exact spot where the machine dropped you off. Something about your DNA being linked to the machine. Science talk. You tuned out at the point. As promised, you watch the metal doors begin to shatter before your eyes, breaking apart in tiny, silver pieces until there is nothing before you. The process leaves you slightly breathless. But you get yourself together. With resolve, you turn around and knock on the dorm room’s door.

Nineteen-year old you (Teen You, officially) opens the door. You are momentarily dazed by familiarity, by a deep recognition. Thick curls in a bun on top of her head; big, brown eyes that communicate almost everything on her mind. Teen You is also thinner, of course, not yet a party to the mythical “eating for two” adage that you enthusiastically believed induring both of your pregnancies. Her baby face, with its unblemished dark brown skin, is not yet burdened by the pesky crow’s feet that appeared one morning and refused to bow before the cavalry of creams prescribed by your expensive dermatologist. She is the image in the mirror you stopped seeing so long ago.

And when she looks at you, her lips parting in a tiny “O” of shock, it’s quite clear that the deep recognition is mutual. No amount of crow’s feet and a thicker waistline could hide that. She doesn’t understand, but she knows.

But you also remember you at that age. A fighter of anything illogical, a doubter of whatever couldn’t be quickly explained. Just the Facts, Ma’am. Where did that woman go? you then wonder. Why did getting older make it easier to just say yes to everything, even the nonsensical? (Although, admittedly, no longer questioning the incongruous led you to an elevator that transported you back to the past.) Nevertheless, it’s hardly surprising when you observe a narrow-eyed frown slowly descend upon Teen You’s demeanor, replacing the shocked recognition. “Can I help you?” she asks you sharply.

You smile at her. “We need to talk.”

“Who are you?” she demands.

“I’m sure you know who I am.” With that, you place your hands on her shoulders and firmly guide her backwards into the dorm room. This moment, touching the woman you once were, is not lost on you. The sensation will linger long after this day. You close the door behind you. “I apologize for pushing you but we don’t have much time.”

She glares at you. “Get out of my room. You have no right to be in here, to put your hands on me.”

You gaze at her with admiration. “You’re so strong. I wish you had stayed that way.”

Momentarily, she cocks her head to the side, visibly intrigued by this statement.

“Anyway, you have Political Science at 12:15 and we need to chat before you go.”

“How—how do you know about my next class?” she questions.

“Since I’m sure you know who I am, it’s no surprise that I know which class you’re about to go to, is it?” Briefly, you peer around the dorm room. Teen You’s side of the room is neat, clean, the complete opposite of the unmade bed and various articles of clothing and things that crowd her roommate’s side of the room. Natasha Abulov was her name; an exchange student from Russia. You remember how excited she was to be in school in the United States, so excited that she was never around to clean her side of the room.

“Excuse me, but what do you want?” Teen You presses, interrupting your thoughts.

You return your attention to her. “Be patient with Natasha,” you tell her. “Several years from now, she’ll become one of your closest confidantes.”

Teen You raises her eyebrows at you in disbelief. Chuckling softly at her expression, you now lead her toward the pristine bed and sit her down next to you. “Look, there’s no real preamble to this—”

“Did I become a lawyer?”

You hold your breath.

“It’s what I—what we wanted more than anything,” she says carefully. “Did it happen?”

This would be harder than you thought.

“I’ve been working so hard, loading up on my classes,” Teen You continued. “I just really hope that it ended up—”

“In this Political Science class, your professor will be very late. Sitting next to you will be William Lyons, a junior you’ve seen here and there, but never paid attention to. He’ll say hi and ask if you want to ditch class for some coffee. At first, you’ll say no. Time will continue to pass by. Other students will start leaving. You’ll glance at the clock. He’ll invite you again. Reluctantly, you’ll say yes and you’ll leave class with him.” You pause, caught up in the memory. “Three months after today, Billy will ask you to marry him. He’ll say, ‘You’re 19 and I’m 20. We’re not kids. We love each other. I have a trust fund. What are we waiting for?’ You’ll hesitate. You won’t be sure. He will repeat that he loves you more than anything or anyone in the world. Reluctantly, you’ll say yes. A few days later, you’ll elope.”

Those big eyes of hers grow wider and wider.

“School becomes a foregone conclusion after you get pregnant, which happens pretty soon after you’re married.”

“I have a baby?” she whispers.

“You have two. A boy and a girl. Langston and Angela. And they’re not babies anymore. They’re 22 and 21.” You smile, envisioning your children, these two souls that have prevented you from losing the few marbles you have left.

She begins to nibble on her pinkie nail, a nervous habit that never went away.

“Needless to say, no, you didn’t become a lawyer. You stayed home and took care of your children and your home. You supported your husband while he continued to go to school. He graduated at the top of his class.” This is when you are reminded of why you are here, why you paid an obscene amount of money to some kids who weren’t much older than your son for the chance to travel back in time. You grab Teen You’s hands, which now tremble violently. “Listen to me, Pamela. Listen to me. Don’t leave that class with Billy.”

Tears suddenly appear in her wide, brown eyes. For a moment, your own eyes moisten, but you push away those rising emotions, determined to stay the course.

“Do not go with him,” you say. “Stay in the class. Tell him some other time. But do not leave with him. Do you understand me?”

“But—but if I don’t go, what happens to Langston and Angela?” she asks breathlessly.

You didn’t expect that question. But becoming a mother was something you’d always wanted, wasn’t it? “Langston and Angela won’t go anywhere,” you tell her firmly.

“But their father—”

You imagine him now, this man you both love and despise, this man who has betrayed you in the worst way. The two of you have become shadows in your home, living miles apart in the same space. You must fix it, you must come back together, and that is why you are here today. Just a few weeks ago, you recognized that everything began when you left that class with him. Things happened too fast; you fell too fast.

Squeezing her hands gently, you smile reassuringly at her. “We were meant to be, Billy and me. He will pursue me, undoubtedly. And somewhere along the way, I will fall in love with him completely and without hesitation. But we need time, Pamela. Make him wait. We need more time.”

They had explained it all with their science talk, those boys with the metal doors, after you had begged them to help you. You didn’t tune out that part. You’re not changing much from the past, they told you, so the present, time itself, will eventually acclimate. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, ma’am. You’re just changing the scene, but the puzzle pieces, your life, will stay the same.

“Our relationship needs to happen differently, when we’re older and wiser. We made so many mistakes, Pamela. We blamed each other for so many things. If you stay in that class, it will happen another time. Langston and Angela will still come, I promise you that.”

She gazes at you for some time, tears spilling down her face, her wide eyes filled with surprise, confusion, and an array of other emotions. She is thinking, deliberating. Finally, Teen You nods.

You pull her into your arms, embracing her tightly. Later, much later, you will dream of this moment, when you held yourself in your arms like a child.

“Time for class,” you say softly. You stand her up and gently wipe her tears. You then pick up her backpack, hanging on the bedpost, and hand it to her. “Maybe the law career will come one day, maybe it won’t. We just need to save our family.”

Nodding again, she takes the bag and walks toward the door. Before leaving, she turns around and glances at you. “This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me,” she declares.

“Wait until childbirth,” you reply, smiling.

Her eyes widen again before she disappears around the corner.

With a deep breath, you look around the room again before walking out. Back in the hallway, you stand at the precise spot where you “landed.” Almost immediately, those tiny, silver pieces that fragmented into the atmosphere appear before your eyes, shimmering as they re-form. The process ends with the return of the two metal doors that brought you to this place in time. They stand before you, sturdy, as if they had always been there. It was impressive, to say the least. The doors open and you step inside.

As the “elevator” moves through time, you find your eyes growing heavy. Yes, you recall what the boys also told you: coming back would render you quite fatigued, almost unbearably so. They weren’t wrong.

As your legs give way and you descend toward the ground, you unexpectedly feel the stirrings of an emotion you haven’t experienced in a long time, something far more powerful than your overwhelming fatigue.

Hope.

The End. (An original work by This Square Peg.)

Blogtober #20: The Social Media Post.

Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com

If you follow me on @frowriter on IG, you may have noticed that my last post was dated November 2019. Yes, you read that right. Almost an entire year has passed since I last posted.

Why, you may ask? If anything, isn’t my blogger “brand” dependent on having an active social media presence? Let’s chat about it.

The “Brand”. You know what, dear reader? I started This Square Peg largely as an online journal. To just keep writing, especially when the loss of my father and the resulting grief in 2005 basically took my identity as a writer and as a creative away. Maintaining a blog helped me to keep this creative mind going, to share this very interesting life of mine, and to keep a sense of writing accountability. The whole branding thing has never really been a thing for me. Yes, I’d love to eventually monetize this space. Because, passive income, right? Your girl is a singleton and has to take care of herself; why not do that on the side via something she loves? But I’m not really racing towards that. Baby steps. For the most part, I consider this space my little corner of the blogosphere and folks are finding me through my words and not necessarily my social media posts. And I’m definitely okay with that right now. (And welcome/bienvenue to my new followers! Yay!)

Social Media Fatigue. I got tired, you guys. Of posting. Of updating. There are tons of articles that discuss social media fatigue and burnout and I reached that point late last year. Personally, last year was a rough one for me. That played a large part in no longer feeling the need to update my social media pages. I didn’t feel like it. Explains why @frowriter fell off the map around November of 2019. The time will come when I feel like posting again, I think. Until then, this has been a welcomed break.

At the end of the day, what brings you contentment and allows a peace of mind trumps anything that doesn’t incur those feelings. Find your happy place, grab a cushion, and enjoy.

Bon Tuesday.

Blogtober #12: Bookworming It.

(This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission for purchases made through these links.)

Welcome to Monday. Since this time of year–for me, anyway–breeds even more reading than usual, I wanted to share my top four favorite books of all time with y’all. (Fun fact: I declared that I would never combine you + all once moving to Texas. So, yeah. Y’all it is. Never say never.)

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. What can I even say about this inspiring book? You know it. You either read it and/or watched the film adaptation in your classroom growing up. You fell in love with Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. You were moved by this engrossing tale of lessons and race relations in the Deep South. You loved reading about Scout and Jem and Boo Radley and Dill. You were enraptured by the trial and case of Tom Robinson. This book was everything for me. As a budding writer and just as a person, I’ll never forget how this novel made me feel.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. Loooooookkkkk. Let me tell you. My 12th grade English teacher was the meanest lady this side of Planet Earth. I wish I were exaggerating. Nevertheless, I will forever thank her for inciting my enduring love for Jane Austen and her writing. Never have I loved fictional characters more (Elizabeth Bennet: personal hero; Mr. Darcy: husband), for one thing, and never have I adored the witty writing style and voice that an author created even more. It felt as if Jane was talking to me privately about these people she knew.

A Good Man is Hard to Find (and other stories), Flannery O’Connor. If Austen significantly influenced my writing style, then Ms. O’Connor majorly informed my desire to end a story with a bang. She knocked my literary socks off when I discovered her in college. Not only were her observations about human nature absolutely unrelenting, but so were the finales of her fascinating stories. (Seriously.) My love of writing short stories was also influenced by her; there’s nothing more enticing than fitting what could be a novel inside a short piece of work, which Flannery did over and over again.

Everything written by Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Lois Lowry. You’ve likely heard it before, but most writers begin as voracious, devoted readers. Well, these three authors began the ball rolling for me. Memories of ensconcing myself in library stacks surrounded by their stories of intelligent, verbose heroines, annoying siblings, and the pain and discovery of girlhood are never far from mind. They began the blueprint for me. And yes, I’d read all those books over again now and still relate to them.

I have tons of booky favorites, needless to say, so another post with a new batch of favorites will come. Here’s where I’ll tell you that gone are the days when I had stacks and stacks of actual books that my mother threatened to get rid of if I didn’t arrange them with some semblance of order. These days, I enjoy maintaining a digital bookshelf and read everything on my Kindle app. (I’d love an actual library, but the living arrangements don’t presently have room for that. Maybe in the next place I find with more room.) I also have a Kindle Unlimited membership through Amazon and yes, it is awesome. A friend of mine knew how much I loved the whole library book borrowing system and recommended Kindle Unlimited–and I’m glad she did. With this membership, I can borrow books and discover an array of authors whenver I like. At present, I’m reading Mindy Kaling’s latest six series essay collection, Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes), and the convenience of borrowing the titles and simply returning them when I’m done is the best. Gift the membership to yourself and/or to other bookworms in your life here.

Happy Reading and bon Monday.

Blogtober #8: She Writes.

A bit of self-promotion this fine autumn.

Did you know that I’ve written and published three books? Yes, you say, it’s on the Writing tab on your blog, TSP. This is true. But we’re highlighting my work on the main page today. All my books can be purchased on Amazon right here. Note that this Amazon link is also my author page, so all the books are lined up for you in a pretty row.

Raincoat For Your Senses is a compilation of short fiction and poetry. If you’re in the mood for, well, moody poems and somewhat autobiographical short stories from a 20-something writer, then this is for you. This was my first foray into publishing my work so all firstborns are special. Available digitally.

Short stories abound in The Loftiest Thing. Entirely a collection of short fiction, this book remains my ‘lil baby that could. Whereas RFYS was extracting works I’d completed in the past, this book is full of original, real time fiction that I wrote. Stories about sacrifice, love, relationships, and so much more. It awaits your library, both digital or hard copy.

My latest work, Your Elephant, After All, is 100% poetry. I used to consider myself a fictionista primarily, and then a poet when no story ideas were coming to mind. But I am both a fiction writer and a poet, and working on/publishing this book cemented the latter for me. These poems are personal, are about life and love and everything in between, and I wrote it at a time when I was personally drowning. So, working on it became a life jacket. You’ll love it as much as I do, I guarantee. (Available in hard copy only.)

That’s all she wrote for now. I’m working on some things, so I hope to expand this bookshelf. Until then, support your neighborhood authors and writers and artists, if you can.

Blogtober #7: 14 Facts About Me. (that I haven’t already shared yet. I think.)

A mouthful of a title, no? But let’s go over fourteen facts about yours truly that I likely haven’t discussed on TSP. I should say that I don’t tell y’all everything, because the Internet, but these are fun and/or interesting factoids (to me, anyway) that I don’t mind sharing.

1. Naturalistas will know what this is referring to, but I don’t hair-type my strands. I have about three different textures on this head so I’d be three different hair types, for one, and two: I don’t see the point of categorizing my hair. Some say the hair types help determine what products to use but look: the hair journey is allll about finding the right products. Being 3A, 5Z, whatevs won’t change that. (And some folks assign a level of “difficulty” based on the hair type. I don’t care for that. All hair is good hair. Work with what ya got.)

2. Needles. But for why? The fear is real.

3. My kingdom for a bagel. I first experienced true bagels in New York City when I was a young TSP, and nothing will ever live up to NYC bagels, but there are close seconds. A longtime favorite.

4. She doesn’t know how to roller skate, ice skate, or ride a bike. Perhaps my parents knew that I would rally against the loss of being on solid ground. I love solid ground.

5. I speak in my characters’ voices when I’m writing a story. Helps craft them better. Plus it’s fun.

6. I will forever associate Harrison Ford with Han Solo and Indiana Jones, and for those reasons, I’m prepared to love him forever.

😍😍😍

7. Ocean life is so creepy to me. It just is. 😳

8. I watch reruns of Law and Order every single day. This is not an exaggeration. (The original, not SVU or CI.)

9. My obsession with ice cream sandwiches culminated when, in the 8th grade, my banker told me that I owed her $14 (14 shows up again) for borrowing the money to buy said sandwiches during lunch. I sadly informed her that my 13 year-old self had no money. What a moment. She dismissed the fee. *exhale*

10. Favorite superhero is Superman. I mean, can you blame me? (Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavill, in case you’re wondering.)

11. I once got locked in a restaurant bathroom. The door got stuck and I couldn’t get out. My sis and her friend had to jimmy the door. There may have been screaming.

12. Pinterest is literally serotonin for me, if you haven’t noticed. I adore pinning. I think the combination of bulletin boards and lovely inspo is what does it for me. Smiles galore.

13. I had to Google what “lol” meant when it became a popular abbreviation. I verbed (not a word) it at first. “Why are people lol-ing?”

14. Oxford comma? Yes, yes, and yes. (See what I did there?)

Thanks for stopping by Fun Fact-ville.

Blogtober #5: Autumn ‘Fits.

So, I mentioned the intent to de-bum during this pandemic. It’s become a bit easier these past few days because I’ve been forced to actually get dressed and look decent for video meetings at work. All that said, largely being comfortable while working from home hasn’t stopped me from perusing Pinterest and pinning outfit inspo. Pandemic or not, planning to look fly remains a thing, no? Here are seven outfits that slayed my eyes. Commentary will follow.

Signs of Outfit Slayage

1. Color! This time of year tends to elicit (from me, anyway, when I left the house) plenty of brown and black. These outfits shutter all of that. I absolutely love all the color and shades I see here, especially mustard. Big mustard lover.

2. Patterns Shmatterns. Do you see polka dot against polka dot there? I mean, come on. Full on adoration. These ensembles are just creative and not tied to so-called “rules” of styling and fashion. Super stylish and unique.

3. Basics but not basic. It’s me, so you know a pleated skirt had to be in there. My tried-and-true styling pieces and general aesthetic are evident with all of these ‘fits: feminine, chic, modern with a still vintage-y touch. That said, I recognize a change, even in these outfit choices. My sense of style (and you’ll see this via my Pinterest page, too) seems to be shifting toward a more modern feel than usual. I welcome this. It’s refreshing.

I’d love to find my versions of these ensembles and play around with them this autumn. But: pandemic life. Nevertheless, I’m not above online shopping and in-home fashion shoots. Let’s?

Blogtober #3: Fall in the Time of COVID.

So, real talk: pandemic life is going to be a bit harder for me this fall. When I think of this time of year, an indelible image is spending cool evenings out with my friends and traipsing around town. (Yep, it gets cool here in the Lone Star state, although comparatively, it’s still Texas.) And lest you say I can still do all those things with a mask on: no, thanks. Staying in. Here are some things I plan on doing to still capture that electric feeling I love around this time of year.

I. Love. Walking. As I mentioned in a past post, my morning walks have been invigorating and fabu. I plan on adding some early evening, twilight walks in there, too, just to capture the changing of the atmosphere and taking it all in.

A few days ago, I headed out to grab something from the store and took the long way home. The sun was close to setting and I drove at my leisure. It was glorious. It’s been a long pastime for me: just getting in the car and driving. I plan on enjoying this fall by doing that more than often; a bit of sightseeing in the car. No need to get out, just taking my sweet time down a few long and winding roads.

Can I tell you how much I miss bookstores?!?! Strolling along the stacks and inhaling the lovely scent of book spines and pages? Settling down in the store café and casually flipping through my finds over tea and a croissant? Le sigh. Since a bookstore isn’t currently essential in the list of places I choose to go (read: grocery store and that’s about it), the cure: more reading than usual. Bookworm life is year-round for me, yes, but this time of year has an intriguing hold on me: I crave reading. So, I plan on adding more books to the bookshelf and just hunkering down. 🙌🏾

We’ve all had to adjust to this weird year. I long for familiar, unmasked faces and being in the company of folks I love and adore. The time will come for that. Until that: here’s to adjusting and finding some contentedness amid this crazy.