Author: Bekah McNeel

Wanderlists: night lights

I have a thing for lights at night. Maybe because I’m afraid of the dark, and I’m so thankful for any light that alleviates that. Maybe it’s because light seems more precious in the dark. More specific and intentional.

Best I can tell, I’m not alone in that. The world seems to have a love affair with all that twinkles, sparkles, and glows. All things that light does in the dark.

These are my top five encounters with light at night. (Note: I don’t have pictures for most of my favorites, and I’ve always been terrible at night time photography…so I have substituted in other pictures of light at night, which are not favorites, and not particularly good, but the post needs pictures…so….)

These famous lights at night are also nice.
These famous lights at night are also nice.

1) Chiang Rai Night Bazaar– coming from my conservative Christian college, on my first travel abroad, I stumbled into the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar in northern Thailand. A fine mist hung in the air and caught the yellow light from the merchant tents lining the walkways and the string lights over picnic tables where people were eating, among other things, fried grub worms.

Wanderlists: detours

Whenever I travel (or sometimes just in life), it’s fun to have a bizarre goal. A life non-sequitur. Something that I’ve found online, through a friend, or in a novel that makes no sense with the rest of the itinerary (or my life).

Nine times out of ten, they are my favorite part of the trip (and life). Like flying to New York City to see the New York Ballet dance to Sufjan Stevens’s The Year of the Rabbit.

And yes, that one time out of ten, they fail spectacularly. I’m looking at you, Tombstone AZ and Antarctica Exhibit at the Natural History Museum of London.

Tombston
Really, Tombstone?

These are my five greatest hits in Itinerary Detours

Wanderlists: My Top 10

Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t just make my blog a travel blog. I love to travel, I work in travel…

But my travel writing has always been pretty mundane. I’m not good at reflecting on places I’ve only been to once for a brief moment. On the other hand, keeping a diary of where we went and what we ate has just never appealed to me. Not to knock all the travel blogs out there (I consult them frequently for packing tips and restaurant suggestions), but I never get from writing the salty expansion of the soul I get from traveling. For me the world was meant to be seen.

That said, I love lists. Especially lists that inspire wanderlust.

So I’ve decided to list about travel, instead of writing about it. These are my wanderlists.

Wanderlist #1: The 10 Places I Love Most (besides home, of course)

It’s only fair to start out any series of list with the broadest, most general list. So here are my 10 favorite travel destinations. Anything goes: cities, states, parks, countries. There’s no real criteria; those lists will follow. This is just my love list.

1) London – I loved London even before grad school, though that’s definitely when I tucked it deep into my soul, never to be removed. And it’s a place I found I can go back to, with others. London definitely benefits from the good company I had while I was there on visits, but more so, it benefits from its own cosmopolitanism and love of order. London is orderly without forsaking charm, whimsy, and the element of surprise.

Mom Suit

Recently the internet has been all abuzz with post-baby mom bodies and how we need to celebrate them. I’m not that cool. I don’t have the moxie to flaunt it in my skivvies these days.

In fact, last weekend marked the first truly public debut of me wearing a mom swimsuit.

I’ve never had that rockin’ bikini hard-body that reeks of hours in the gym,or the effortless concave torso that reeks of good genes. But I have always been pretty comfortable in your standard tankini with traditional bottoms. Or a plunging halter.

So, while shopping (what was I thinking going swim suit shopping less than 3 months after giving birth???)  I grabbed some styles that have always worked for me in the past. I knew my stomach was still a little mushy, and my nursing breasts, well, they are ridiculously ginormous. So I told myself I wasn’t going to worry about the size.

But I was not prepared to see my thighs.

If I had known what that experience was going to be like I would have gone to one of those department stores where they will bring you alcoholic beverages in the dressing room.

Mom suit
The mom-suit. (Holding my little Dolphin Trainer…by far the cutest part of this picture)

Long story short, I walked out of there with a mom-suit. One of those tankinis with the ruffly bellies, and I found a basic black skirt bottom. I also got a more basic pink top with a built in bra, for times when I was willing to suck in my belly for the sake of fashion.

Let’s Not Make this Any Harder than it Needs to Be

I am convinced that if rearing children were easy, the internet would crumble for lack of wholesome content.

And thank goodness, because at the first whimper from Moira “World’s Easiest Baby” McNeel, and I am sprinting to my laptop, or whatever screen I can get to, to figure out what’s wrong, how to fix it, and how to keep it from EVER happening again.

 

So, expert first time mom that I am, I think the world needs to benefit from my profound wisdom, gleaned mostly from the internet and hearsay.

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Here’s the table of contents for my new book on parenting in the age of celebrity pediatricians, Web MD, media obsessions with obesity, internet mom-forums dedicated to gas and sleeping habits, and Amazon consumer reviews:

Title: Let’s Not Make this Harder than it Needs to Be

Chapter One: You are either pregnant, miscarrying, or you have cancer- why you should avoid the internet in your first trimester. …

Florence’s So-Called Life, Season 2, Ep 1

In which Florence regales what happened during the break

(read in the voice of Florence, which sounds uncannily like a 14-year-old Claire Danes)

Wow. Having this Little Hairless Pup around has changed…well, not much really.

I’m still not allowed to sleep on the furniture.

I’m still not allowed to eat off the table.

Wiley’s still scared of storms.

And Bekah still makes me “sit” before I get to do an-y-thing.

flo & moi 2

Moira Brings the News: Veterans Affairs

Anyone who watches Jon Stewart knows that the Veterans Affairs department is deeply mired in a beurocratic malaise that is only getting deeper.

Now they’ve fired Eric Shinseki, but analysts and law makers seem to agree that the long wait times covered up by lying and cheating is likely to continue. Our veterans are no closer to getting the kind of timely and thorough health care they deserve.

For astute analysis of this complex issue, we turn to Moira Sage, who brings a fresh set of eyes to the matter.

Moira, tell us what legislation and policy you would put in place to ensure that our veterans are taken care of when they return from defending our country overseas?

Veterans affairs

Mommy’s Little Helper

God gave us a laid back kid. I take no credit for the fact that my baby will patiently endure community meetings, board planning retreats, grocery shopping, baby yoga, dining out, and watching me work while she has tummy time. She’s just a good kid that way.

Mommy's little helper
Mommy’s little helper

Moira Brings the News: Secretary Castro

San Antonio’s Mayor Julián Castro is moving on up. We’re sad to see him go, as he has been a voice for progress in the city, ushering in the decade of downtown, SA202o, and other forward-thinking initiatives like Pre-K4SA.

Castro has been tapped for a position on President Obama’s cabinet as Housing and Urban Development Secretary. We’ll know he’ll do a fantastic job, and we hope to see him on another ballot someday so that we can, again cast our vote for him.

In the meantime, over to our junior correspondent, Moira Sage, who has some thoughts for the Mayor, as he joins Obama’s cabinet:

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Urban Baby: What we see on our walks

People told me that when I had a baby I would throw in the towel on the inner city, and head for the shady streets of suburbia. Good school districts. Safe strolling. Quiet nights.

I’m not going to lie, when my neighbor’s five pitbulls bark ALL NIGHT LONG, I do think about how nice it would be to have an HOA to tattle to, instead of just SAPD, which always feels extreme.

And yes, I have to stroll underneath 281 to get to our favorite walking path…but that walking path is the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River, and I can get there in 5 minutes on foot. We take this walk almost every day.

Plus, for my first Mother’s Day, Lewis bought me a membership to the San Antonio Museum of Art, where Moira and I can stroll and take in all the air-conditioning and art we want.

Along the way we have epic adventures passing animals, vagrants, fancy parties, kickball games, and running into friends.

Right now Moira sleeps through most of the walk, but when she looks around, she sees…

A bridge overlooking downtown, smattered with cyclists, yogi’s, and, soon, brewery-goers.

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