Bekka first came to my attention as the author of "New York, New York: Start Spreading the News," an article in Ex-Pat Journal, one of two books green-lighted for publication from WEbook's second voting cycle. "New York, New York" tells the story of a Brit adjusting to life in the Big Apple, complete with amusing vocabulary mishaps.
A glance at Bekka's profile suggests that she has a lot of fascinating stories under her belt -- I, for one, would love to hear more about her evening with a member of Journey -- and according to her latest WEbook submission, she's part of the American story today. In "A Sigh of Relief," Bekka's contribution to WEbook's community-sourced history of the presidential inauguration, Jan 20 2009: True Stories, Real People, One Day, she writes of her pride in her adopted home on the day of Barack Obama's election -- and reveals that she and her husband will be attending the inauguration in Washington, D.C. today!
We'll have to wait a day or two to read about Bekka's inauguration experiences. In the meantime, I asked her a few questions about writing, the ex-pat life, presidential politics, and more.
the brief history of your life? When did you start writing, and what has that
journey been like so far?
A: I grew up in Birmingham, England in what could be deemed a very normal
middle-class family. As a kid, I often made up stories of grandeur, involving
quasi-aristocratic families with absurd names and extravagant lives. I
sometimes wonder whether this was a result of all the historical stately homes
and museums we used to visit. Through my teens I kept personal diaries and
notebooks filled with angst-ridden poems and my philosophical musings
(philosophical here is used in its loosest sense). Since then I've written in
fits and spurts, mainly in the first-person and often to record the ongoing
drama of my life. Whilst most of my scribblings remain private, it has been
fantastic to get positive feedback for the few pieces I've shared on WEbook.
Q: In your Ex-Pat Journal essay, you write about adapting to life as a Brit in New York City. How long
have you lived in New York now? Has anything changed since you wrote your
essay? What's the most important thing you've learned about yourself as a result of living abroad?
A: I've learned a great deal since I've lived here, but one of the things that
surprised me was how much more I am affected by the weather than I had ever
realized. This might seem trivial and also odd coming from a Brit. After all,
our mainstay of conversation is supposed to be the weather. However, it's a
much bigger deal that I would have anticipated. In Britain you can't plan a
summer barbecue or other outdoors event because you can never rely on the
weather to comply. Weddings can be interrupted by hail stones in June and rain
is the percussion accompaniment to most weeks. It is simply wonderful to live
in a place where sunshine is almost certain from May through to October. I love
eating al fresco on summer evenings and I adore the crisp coldness of winter
here. I truly believe that rubbish weather and lack of leisure time
options is why the Brits spend so much time in the pub!
Q: According to your Jan 20 essay, you and your husband will be in D.C. at the
inauguration and the ball. How did that come about,
and what are some of the practicalities involved?
A: My husband worked on the campaign throughout the 2008 primaries and the
presidential election. So, his staff connections have afforded us the
opportunity to be in DC for this historic event. We will fly down on Monday and
we're staying with a friend of my husband's who also worked on the campaign; the hotel option
is precluded by Washington having been booked out for weeks! The main
practicality has been finding something appropriate to wear to the ball. This ended up
being more stressful than buying an outfit for my wedding (although this really
says more about the low-key nature of our wedding). So, despite having an
Oscars-ready outfit and my husband resembling James Bond, we will be sleeping
on an air mattress that night!
Q: What impact, if any, do you think Barack Obama's presidency will have on the
part of the world where you come from?
A: Already, I sense that people back home in England and across Europe are once
again open to what America has to say. Bush and his politics created a sizable
divide which has begun to close since November. We live in a highly complex
world, but when you strip humans down to our most basic needs and drives we're
all essentially trying to create pleasant and easy lives for ourselves and our
loved ones. I think Obama's message helps us all remember that.
Q: If you could take anyone, living or dead, to the inauguration with you (in
addition to your husband, of course), who would you choose, and why?
A: There's an older black lady in my office with whom I share a daily interaction when I'm stopping by the cafeteria for lunch. We tend to chit-chat about all
sorts of topics, and during the election we talked a lot about Obama. She was a
staunch Hillary supporter and seemed unconvinced about Obama's abilities. She
even intimated that she might vote for McCain if Obama beat Hillary in the
Democratic nomination. In the end, she came around and voted for Obama in spite
of any misgivings.
She was truly overjoyed and proud when he won. When I told her we would be
attending the inauguration she was over the moon and her eyes turned misty with
a hint of tears. I would love for her to come to the ceremony -- she's a
wonderfully optimistic individual whose company I enjoy daily, and she's also
someone for whom this presidency carries much greater personal significance.
WEbook is accepting submissions of 250-500 words through midnight EST on January 21. Share your inauguration day experiences! The best essays will be published in a book which will be available for sale within weeks after the inauguration. Profits will benefit 826 National, a nonprofit tutoring and writing center. Be part of this community-sourced history!
have a line on the wonderfullest writer on WEbook?
The fantastickest feedbacker? Or anyone else who goes above and beyond to make WEbook the best writing, reading, and
publishing community on the internet? Drop me an email, or visit my profile and send me a
message with the title "WEbooker
of the WEek" to nominate your favorite WEbooker and he or she will
have a shot at joining the ranks of the immortals -- and getting a free WEbook T-shirt to boot.