Author: Bekah McNeel

Another blogger writes about racism and where it begins

So every blogger on in America is telling us how to respond to the shootings in Charleston. Everyone is trying to say the one profound thing that’s going to send an arrow straight to the heart of racism and explode it.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because, like many have said, we need to talk about it. We, the white folks (who seem to all have blogs), need to talk about it. We also need to listen to our black, brown, and everything else friends. To fall back on my grad school vocabulary: it’s time for everyone to interrogate whiteness.

So this blog post does not contain the one nugget that’s going to change racism. …

#ILiketoTravelBut

A friend of mine coined a hashtag that makes me laugh. #ILiketoTravelBut.

I like to travel but…I hate sitting in coach.

I like to travel but…I don’t like losing money to the exchange.

That kind of stuff. But lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about travel’s place in the soul, or at least my soul. About why they call it wanderlust.

I like to travel but…I hate pulling out of the driveway.

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Leaving home always strikes me with the deepest sense of regret. Even if I know I’m coming back. I know I’ll have an amazing adventure as soon as I get over it, but it always catches in my chest, just for a moment.

I like to travel but…it could kill me. …

Twig Book Challenge: Second Quarter

This year our local bookshop is conducting a reading challenge. Now that Moira goes to bed at 7:30pm, I thought, well, why not! Reading is quiet, portable, and doesn’t require me to get into a “mode” the way that writing does. As January revealed, I like a structured challenge, and I have been enjoying the Twig’s reading challenge since January 2. I’ll be reporting on my progress periodically. This quarter’s reads have reviews, last quarter’s reviews are on the previous Twig post.

AND I want your recommendations for the categories I still haven’t completed! …

Friday Night Rant: Social Media is not killing us

Sometimes there are socially vogue rants that make me want to move to Siberia. Hating on social media is one of them.

I’m just as annoyed as the next guy by the constant dinging of my phone (so I turned off my push notifications), the 19 Facebook notifications that have nothing to do with me, and the rivers of unfiltered troll vomit on Nextdoor.

HOWEVER, I find it more tiresome when people whine about social media, and talk about how stupid it is. How over it they are. Everytime I hear that I think, “it’s okay, old man, we know you’re overwhelmed by what the kids are up to these days.” Or “yes, I know, little girl, you’re cooler than God.”

Use it, don’t use it. I don’t really care. But if you use it, own it.

Part of owning social media is understanding how it works. So lets break it down: …

A book about living with Architects

I really like to be the resident expert. On pretty much any topic. Lewis maintains that my confidence in my expertise belies the depth of my actual expertise sometimes. This is 100% true. But it’s just so much more fun to be certain, facts or no facts.

So, in addition to being an expert new mom (ha), I am also an expert architect’s wife.

And I think there needs to be a manual written on how to live with architects. In my experience, it is the path of unending, highly specific bliss. I can, however, see how it might be frustrating for a novice. Which I never was, of course. So, to that end, I’m going to write another book. It’s either a how-to manual for living with an architect, or just a biography of the one I live with.

The architect I live with.
The architect I live with.

(The title and each chapter title comes from a statement spoken by my architect.)

Title: Everything I Want is Not on the Menu- the tortured life of the modern architect

Chapter One: Specific measurements are how I roll

We’re talking down to the centimeter people. There are no stray bolts or washers left at the end of projects, nothing creaks or rattles. And should a stiff breeze blow through, we will stop and recalibrate, lest we compromise the quality of the experience.

Chapter Two: People mess everything up

The Twig Book Challenge

This year our local bookshop is conducting a reading challenge. Now that Moira goes to bed at 7:30pm, I thought, well, why not! Reading is quiet, portable, and doesn’t require me to get into a “mode” the way that writing does. As January revealed, I like a structured challenge, and I have been enjoying the Twig’s reading challenge since January 2. I’ll be reporting on my progress periodically.

AND I want your recommendations for the categories I still haven’t completed! …

Florence’s So-Called Life, Season 2, Ep. 4

In which Florence gains weight.

(In a wistful voice)

Okay. I’ll be honest, I didn’t mind the Little Hairless Pup when she was actually little, and actually hairless. And actually not walking all over the place and pulling my fur and poking my eyes. Now, she kind of gets on my nerves sometimes. Like, sometimes, we’ll be just, like, playing, and it’s like, fine. But then out of nowhere she jams her finger in my eyeball.

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The one thing that makes it worth it….is the food. …

Golden Birthday Challenge: Days 26-30

Day 26: A new wine

Lewis was out of town. Moira went to bed at 7:15. Why not? I’m trying to become literate in wine. Okay, white wine, because I get red wine headaches. Okay, South American white wine, because a woman only has so much brain room for literacy.

This was a Sauvignon Gris. Not sure what my wine-expert friends would think of that, but there you go.

It was lovely when paired with a bath and a good book.

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Day 27: Preparing and eating rutabaga.

Confession: I got the idea for this one from Moira’s favorite baby food. Ella’s Kitchen Apple, Spinach, Rutabaga is our best bet for getting nutrients into her when whatever solid food we’ve tried that mealtime is flat out fail.

As odd as it sounds, this was not a spur of the moment “oh-gosh-I-need-a-new-thing.” I’d been trying to get to this for weeks. Rutabaga is harder to come by than you would think.

Rutabaga as a vegetable, I found after trying a few different approaches, is, like most vegetables, best when covered in melted cheese.

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Day 28: Something.

I’m not going to tell the new thing I did this day. But it involved the courage to speak my mind in an intimidating situation in which I’ve been pretty passive. Well, not any more.

Day 29: Letting Moira have “quiet time” instead of nap time

She simply wasn’t sleepy enough to fall asleep on her own. Instead of growing desperate to the point of nursing her to sleep, I left Moira in her crib for an hour. She sat quietly and played with her doll (and the curtains…and the poorly placed iPod that she could reach…) for an hour. Aside from going in to rescue the iPod, I let her do it.

When I came in at the end of the hour, she was leaning back against her womb-sounds bear, holding her doll, one knee up, elbow resting on that knee, pacifier in mouth, looking at me like, “I’ve got your nap right here.”

The rest of the day…just fine. God is teaching me that he, not my daughter’s sleep schedule is my help and my strength.

Day 30: Posting an honest response to a blog entry that moved me. 

I’m not a big commenter on blogs. And by that I mean I just don’t do it. Maybe it’s because I feel like a groupie. Maybe it’s because I see the sort of things that people usually comment and think, “Dear Lord, don’t ever let that be me.”

But Sarah Bessey’s latest post about love at 2:07am hit home, and I just had to let her know.

Golden Birthday Challenge: Days 17-25

Day 17: New everything.

This was a biggie. Lewis and our friend Liz James successfully surprised me more thoroughly than I have ever been surprised. I opened the door to find Liz bearing gifts and baked goods, completely out of the blue (she lives in Oregon). We then all went to a new restaurant, Lewis bought me a new jacket, and we saw a new exhibit at SAMA. I also tried mead for the first time.

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Day 18: Day off

I needed a day off after all that new stuff!

Day 19: Attend the MLK March

I have lived on the East Side for 5 MLK days, and this was my first one to attend. To be fair, I was covering it for The Rivard Report, and I didn’t actually march, but I did get to feel the buzz of progress alongside national outcries for justice. And I biked further onto the east side than I have ever biked before.

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Day 20: Gave an interview on the nightly news

This was not planned. I took Moira to a public meeting for the Lone Star Rail District. I’ve gotten to be quite a pro at community meetings, and it is usually appropriate to show up with my shoeless baby and my hair in a messy bun…shoulda worn a coat and tie to this one. Or at least not a frazzly bun and no makeup. I think the new chose to interview me because I looked like the kind of person who usually protests such things.

Watch the video here.

Day 21: New machine at the gym

I used the machine that looks like a recumbent bike. That is the most luxurious workout my quads have ever gotten. Ample seat padding, comfortable recline. Didn’t have to change my position to change the channel on the machine’s cable tv. I felt like I should be sipping a protein shake with a little umbrella in it and wearing head-to-toe Lululemon.

Day 22: Assembled brand new dining room chairs

My final birthday present was an upgrade to our dining room chairs, which were being slowly de-caned by Moira. We chose the most comfortable coffee shop chairs we knew of, which happened to be lovely, mid-century Eames organic replicas. Fancy that.

The chairs arrive...
The chairs arrive…
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The chairs in place.

Day 23: Go to South Padre Island

In all my years in Texas, including the 18 month actually living ON Padre Island, I had never visited South Padre. So, when the opportunity arose to celebrate the end of the Disappearing Rio Grande Expedition, I jumped on it. And took my mom and Moira with me. Because what’s an adventure without three generations of intrepid women.

South Padre was like a newer, shinier version of the central Texas Gulf Coast, or a grittier, cheaper version of the Florida Gulf Coast. Whichever paints a more accurate picture for you. Concrete sharks, yummy seafood dives, tons of tower hotels and condos, 1990’s era shopping centers, and…authentic Mediterranean food.

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Day 24: Take my mom and Moira birding

In addition to putting my daughter’s hands in the Texas Gulf for the first time (which I’m not terribly nostalgic about, as I have said some pretty awful things about the Gulf, most of which does not apply to lovely South Padre), I also took my mom and Moira to the World Birding Center for two hours of coastal birding along a mile of boardwalk. My mom looked for the resident alligator the whole time, and kept portending that it would show up any moment to gobble up whatever Great Blue Heron we were watching.

Moira slept the entire time, until it was time to leave. She woke up for the visit to the gift shop. And my mom bought her half the inventory.

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My mom looking for alligators. Moira sleeping.

Day 25: Desert first

This is one of those things that people always talk about. I’ve never tried it. Until today.

Moira and I had been in the car all day. So when we got home, Lewis immediately sent me out on a 7-miler, and afterwards we all feasted on ice cream and vegetarian food, picnic style at the Pearl amphitheater. We got our ice cream first, from Lick, the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had. We even let Moira try our ice cream.

She then later accepted our offer of falafel in good faith and was gravely disappointed.

A big first. And last, for a while.
A big first. And last, for a while.

Golden Birthday Challenge: Days 10-16

Day 10: A new scent 

Two years ago we stayed at Hotel St. Cecilia in Austin, and I have been in love with Le Labo products ever since. Liz Lambert knows how to choose her products. I’ve toyed with the idea of switching to one of their frangrances, because I feel like they are more “me” than the straight up frou-frou I’ve been wearing for a while. Of course, before I could commit to the scent I knew I liked, Santal 33. I had to sample some others. They arrived on Day 10, and I began the trial process.

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Ylang 49 – this one smells like a classy woman over 50. I intend to be one of those some day. But I am not yet.

Fleur d’Oranger 27- yep, smells like orange blossoms. Which reminds me of Greece in the spring. Being that I’m trying to move away from the sweet stuff, I’ll probably wear the sample, but not advance this smell to the finals.

Patchouli- this is the one I decided to trial wear first. Remember when guys used to say, “If a girl wore perfume that smelled like a campfire, I’d marry her,” (and we all knew that wasn’t true, because they kept marrying girls who smelled like candy and pop songs)? Well, this comes pretty darn close. I think it is a degree too woodsy for me, but it is really really inviting. So its in the running.

Day 11: Breakfast and a movie

This actually began as not a new thing. It was dinner and a movie (The Interview on Amazon Instant video), on the night before. But, this being a pretty ordinary  idea, we were not the only ones streaming from Amazon that night, and thus the stream had to reload every 2-3 minutes. It was annoying, so we decided to try an hour when fewer people were likely to be watching movies.

9am on Sunday morning. If you aren’t at church, you’re sleeping or golfing. Perfecto. Great time to watch movies. For the first hour Moira ran around the house in her walker, and then she took a nap. We had breakfast take out and enjoyed us some satire.

So while we did get to watch the movie, Amazon still took note of the compromised viewing and refunded the rental. Which, if Big Brother is going to monitor your movie watching, it’s nice that he has the power to refund for poor quality.

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Day 12:  A new yoga pose (or two)

I tried astavakra. It was a dismal failure. So I mastered “legs up a wall.” For years instructors have been recommending this pose to counter act running. I never did it for some reason. Until Day 12. New pose. Mastered.

That green plane is the wall.
That green plane is the wall.

Day 13: Making my own BBQ sauce

Not much to say about this. It’s pretty easy and pretty fun. My recipe involved ketchup (the large bottle we inherited when a friend moved away), soy sauce, balsamic vinegar (also inherited, though we do usually keep some on hand…just not in such large quantities), Meyer lemon, raw sugar, Tabasco (just a dash), and garlic. It was delicious.

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Day 14: Essential Oils for sleeping

In my never ending attempt to avoid letting Moira cry it out, I tried lavendar oil mixed in with her lotion before bed. Not bad. The next night I would end up rubbing on the soles of her feet. I’m not really sure if its effective, but it delayed the draconian sleep measures by another few days, at least.

Day 15: Not taking on the anxiety of others

I like for everyone to feel valued and heard. I like to end each day with a happy team and network. It’s not always possible, and that is not always my fault. Nor can I do anything about it. Usually, that doesn’t stop me from worrying about the role I could have played in the events that led to hurt feelings or frustration. Today I had three work-related opportunities to allow myself to be sucked into the angst of others. Three interactions in which I was tangentially involved. And three times, I made the conscious choice to say, “They are going to have to work through this using their own emotional reserves. I don’t have enough for all of us.”

Day 16: Learning more about alcohol

I took a Pisco class at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference. It was me and bunch of professional mixologists and bartenders. You know how I know they were pros? I downed all 4 of my pre-lunch pisco based cocktails. It was not until I looked around and realized that they had each had a sip or two of theirs that I was in for a doozie of an afternoon. Fortunately, Pisco clears pretty quick.

I drank all that.
I drank all that.

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