Bass Ackward

My dad is fond of swearing without actually swearing. It’s the act of making a point without triggering censure. (Or at least that’s the idea. It doesn’t always turn out that way…) One of his favored approaches is to swap the first letters of words in a phrase that would otherwise be unfit for delicate ears. That’s how we end up with Bass Ackward. (I’ll give you a moment to untangle that and realize that, no, it isn’t just an embarrassing typo.)

It’s no secret that I started this blog at a point in my life when happiness was a theoretical concept, a faint memory. All I wanted was to be happier. I wanted to figure out how to build a life that brought me joy. A good goal, definitely. And I even made some progress. But then I hit a rut, and my half-hearted efforts to drag myself back out just created a wider, deeper track. One day I woke up and realized I was staring up at the sky from the bottom of my own emotional Grand Canyon. That might be a wee bit over-dramatic (and by “might” I mean “absolutely”). It’s not that things were so bad; they just weren’t particularly good, and I felt mired in it. What I wanted was there, but it seemed just out of reach.


And then, one random, magical day, my mind opened itself up and embraced one of those truths about the world that sounds simple in theory but is remarkably challenging to internalize.

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Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in

So. It’s been awhile. A long while. It’s possible (er, probable) that “awhile” isn’t the right term for this scenario. I’ve broken the covenant between blogger and reader. Bad llama. (Emperor’s New Groove, anyone? Also, it’s possible that this picture is an alpaca, not a llama. All I know is it always makes me laugh and imagine a crazy uncle…)


Here’s the thing. I enjoyed writing this here blog, but I realized that it fed right into some of my more vexing personality quirks, namely that setting myself a goal is the surest way to rob me of all motivation to do it. And blogging was crowding out other things. Important life things. I got lost in a big ball of stress, aaaaaand…here we are, almost two years later.

Let’s just call it a hiatus. And let’s also say that I’m back. Provisionally. On an as-yet-undetermined schedule. I feel like I need to re-introduce myself to this process, to this wee corner of the internet that I created and then abandoned. I have no idea what it will look like or how it will work, but I know that I’ve missed this. Missed the outlet. Missed you.

So, this is me peeking my head out, peering around, and deciding to slide back in. The good news? In terms of building a happier life? Lots of progress. Can’t wait to tell you about it.

Midweek Musings: Christmas Edition

This week 12.24Image sources: Snowy morning, Christmas tree, Christmas lights

Merry Christmas, everyone! (Or, if you’re in the UK, Happy Christmas!) This week, it’s been a good old nostalgia-fest, as I’ve been indulging all my favorite memories of Christmases past. Everything on this list fills me with warm-fuzzies, or exhilaration, or wonder, or peace, or, in one case, a sugar high you can’t even imagine. And so I thought I’d share with you, if you’re curious to learn more…

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‘Tis the Season

tis the seasonPhoto: John Minchillo/AP Images for Macy’s

Perhaps this is an unnecessary admission, but I love the holiday season. LOVE IT. Some might say I love it too much. And to that I would reply that how one celebrates the holiday season (including the questions of how much/from what point/when) is a personal decision. I’m a firm believer in “Live and Let Live” and I’ll go far as to extend that to the question of holiday celebrating: “Celebrate and Let Celebrate.”

The rule when I was growing up was that we weren’t allowed to start celebrating Christmas (our holiday of choice/happenstance) until December 9th, the day after MamaPen’s birthday. (Happy almost-birthday, Mom!)  As I got older (read: as I hit middle school and became a rebellious adolescent), I, um, bristled at this idea.

Eventually, MamaPen and I settled on a compromise: I could start celebrating the holidays whenever I wanted, but that celebration wasn’t allowed to leave my room until December 9th. The result? From early November that year (I think it was 1996), my room was positively festooned with garlands of silver tinsel and a voluminous red-and-green paper chain and there was a constant stream of Christmas music playing on my stereo.

I admit, that was a bit excessive.

But, that compromise really set the tone for how I think about holiday celebrating these days. The last thing I ever want to do is force my celebrating on someone else. I’m more than happy to have a Christmas movie marathon and/or bake a gingerbread house with a willing co-conspirator, but I’m not a celebration autocrat.

When I hit the phase I will refer to as “agressively demonstrative adulthood” (aka my mid-20’s, when I became gainfully employed for the first time and was very serious about “being an adult”), I tried to be more stoic about the whole thing. “Real adults” don’t start with the Christmas too early, and so I put it off and put it off, and you know what happened? Next thing I knew, it was the week before Christmas, and I was so busy with work, traveling, and family celebrations that I never got a chance to just relax and enjoy it. That made me really sad, like I’d missed something. (And it definitely led to an arguably pitiful scenario wherein I was listening to Christmas music on my iPod well into January.)

Then, as in my childhood, I realized a compromise was in order. So I set myself a starting date. But the starting date kept slipping earlier every year as the urge reared its bacchanalian head with no regard to the level of appropriateness. I’d feel guilty/ashamed, but give into it (because, hey, I’m only human). And then I realized, I was being silly. Not for starting my holiday season earlier than many people can stomach it, but for making myself feel bad about something that I enjoy precisely because it makes me feel happy.

Here’s the thing. Apart from being what I like to think of as a realistic optimist about a lot of things, I don’t think I have an unreasonable view of the world. But during the holiday season, that changes for me. There’s something in the air, the holiday spirit or what have you, that adds a bit of magic. It’s as though I shed the outer layer of whatever mental or emotional calluses have built up, and I see the world through different eyes. It’s a subtle alchemy that, for a handful of weeks each year, makes me believe in only the best side of humanity. I unabashedly revel in a sense of youthful enthusiasm.

The quote at the top, from the original version of Miracle on 34th Street, says it all for me. When I finally saw that movie for the first time last year (I know, I know), that line resonated deeply with me. And the photo, of the crowd outside the unveiling of the holiday windows at the Macy’s flagship store in New York this year, captures the spirit of it. That guy up front on the left? Yeah.

So, happy holidays, folks! Whatever your customary holiday(s), may you have a season full of childish wonder and good times with loved ones.

Today I am Thirty

Happy Birthday to me!

I’d like to send out a big fat thanks to MamaPen for not giving up 30 years ago when I wasn’t sure I wanted to come out. And another big fat thanks to MamaPen and PapaPen for teaching me what it means to live with integrity and for being supportive even when they don’t get it.

I started today with a run in my favorite place on earth.

I don’t ordinarily do much to to celebrate my birthday, but for some reason, it seemed very important to me to be running at the exact moment that marked 30 years since I was born. This year, in general, my impending birthday unearthed an unusually nostalgic part of me.

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I knew the way you know about a good melon

I know, I know.  I’ve been unforgivably crap at posting for the past mumble mumble months, cruelly teasing that something enormous was amiss when I bothered to post at all, and then fading back into oblivion with nary a peep.

It was a raw deal, and if I were on the other end of it, I would have been anxious, and then annoyed, and ultimately, I think I would have completely lost interest.

But I’m hoping that apathy has not found too firm a grasp…because I am (finally) able to tell you what’s going on. (Here’s a hint…)

It’s a house. More specifically, it’s my house. As in the-house-that-I-now-own. Whaaaaaaat?

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