Our Family In Flux


Thank you to all of you who have been so kind and supportive throughout the last few posts. I have read all of your comments, and your feedback has been very meaningful and helpful to me- more than I can express to you (part of the reason that I’m not going to try; I don’t want to attempt to say something and botch it…).

As the summer drags on, our family will be going through a number of transitions, all of them good for the family as a whole, and all of them profoundly sad for me as a person.

Oldest son and his wife will have some changes that will be keeping them in the Midwest for the forseeable future. My next two daughters will be moving out to the Midwest at the end of the summer, and one of my sons will be going away to school in a place far from Seattle, most likely on the opposite coast. All of these moves are to their benefit, but for a mom who would ideally like her family to live in an old farm house with room for extended family and grandchildren to gather at the same dining table, this is kind of a bitter pill to swallow. I joke that I would be willing to build a guest cottage in our back yard for the married kids to take turns living in, but in truth it’s no joke; I would like nothing more than to have all my chickadees roost at home and I would have no problem funding that endeavor.

But for practical reasons, that can’t happen right now.

So, we are in Seattle and most of our family is flying the coop.

I think in most families there is an expectation that children will get to a certain age and move on from their families of origin. They go off to college and get jobs and live in whatever city they find jobs and it’s good-bye mom and dad, hello independence. But that has never been our vision and that has never been the goal we raised our children toward. We wanted all of the siblings to be the closest friends, and it was a greater hope that they would stay close geographically than that they would land high-power jobs or take over the world.

The places they are moving will allow them greater opportunities for growth, and for that I am grateful, but on a personal level, I am just so sad that they will be so far away from us. I am trying to focus on being happy for them, and trying to just not think about what it will be like here with them gone, but it’s rough. It’s one more thing about life in Seattle that’s just.. just… hard to put into words…

So, that’s about it. That’s the latest news from the Bass ranch. Happy summer.

If You Think You Can Or You Think You Can’t, You’re Always Right


Lately, I pretty much always think I can’t.

As someone who was raised on the belief that if you work hard enough, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to, my adult life has been filled with sobering lessons to the contrary. As much as I would like to believe I can fight my way through any obstacles that are put in my path, I see that this is colossally not true. At a certain point, I think it is worthwhile to stop raging against the windmills and just stop.

So I have stopped.

And I have become surprisingly good at inertia.

After years of being the most organized, the most goal-oriented, the most type-A girl around, I am now the least of everything. And I don’t really have the mental energy to even care.

Some people look at me now and say I am taking a break. I look at me now and say I am broken.

In truth, though, it’s a matter of semantics.

A few weeks ago I went outside to pull weeds from my empty garden beds. There wasn’t any real purpose to the activity, except that I was craving more emptiness and the weeds were interfering with my blank canvas. So for several hours I sat in the dirt and just destroyed one plant after another. I thought back to the garden in Michigan, and what a contrast it was to pull weeds to allow food to grow, versus ripping out stuff just for the sake of killing things. If I could’ve napalmed everything here, I might have done that too, but getting down to the dirt was pretty darn satisfying.

Last week, I went for a pedicure. I’ve never done that before, and I thought maybe if I did something that was about as unlike me as I could get, perhaps it would rattle my brains so much it would knock me into reset. I had a lovely chat with the lady there (who was touching my feet, which incidentally is icky to begin with…), but other than that, I left with the same me I went in with. I guess it will take more than $20 to snap me out of this mindset…

I took myself shopping, vowing to buy whatever caught my fancy, thinking maybe I just needed to treat myself to something or other. Like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography, I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, but I was thinking maybe I would know it when I saw it. I ended up buying some much-needed clothing for several of my kids, but didn’t really find anything for myself. And after a few hours of trying to channel my inner pampered lady (which apparently doesn’t exist), I went home exhausted and with a blaring migraine.

I’m still casting around trying to figure out what might light my fire again, but so far I haven’t been able to nail it down. I guess the good news is that I haven’t totally given up on the idea that the solution is out there somewhere. I’m wondering if maybe it’s simply a function of getting older that one just becomes more blah about things, but it seems like there are plenty of people out there who are much older than I am who still have plenty of passion in their lives.

There is a Shel Silverstein poem I remember (I think called Lazy Jane) about a girl who is so lazy that when she wants a drink of water she just lays there with her mouth open and waits for it to rain. That’s kind of how I feel lately. Like I’m just in a holding pattern in my own life, waiting for something to shift, but with no clear idea of how to bring that about. Meanwhile, even though I live in Seattle, there is no rain in the forecast any time in the forseeable future.

Not sure what to do about that…



Betrayal never feels good. It doesn’t matter where it comes from or who does it, the results are pretty much always the same: a sense of devastation that can profoundly shatter the sense of self so deeply that the results can last a lifetime. There is nobody who hasn’t been betrayed on some level at some point in their lives, but some people seem to bounce back whereas others just crumble and shatter. Repeated betrayals are obviously harder to tolerate than a one-time deal, and people who start out strong and intact are in a better position to weather this storm than those who start out with a more emotionally precarious foundation.

So why do some people betray and others seem destined to be taken advantage of? A few years ago, I read the ultra-famous book by Byron Katie. What I remember of her premise (other than that I DETESTED her book) is that everything that happens to you is really your fault and to your benefit. Really she is not that cold about it, and she tries to be very loving about everything she says, but- and again I am saying what I remember through the filter of me really not liking her book, so I may be somewhat off here- is that whenever you are having a thought that, “So-and-so did X”, you should turn that around and say instead, “I did X”. So, for example, instead of holding the idea that, “John hurt my feelings.” You should try out, “I hurt my feelings,” and see where that takes you. Perhaps you did things that contributed to your own hurt. Perhaps you drew a toxic person into your life or stayed in a bad relationship or didn’t speak up for yourself when you should have. What I can get on board with is the idea that in some cases you have some responsibility for parts of your own situation. What I couldn’t get to, though, was her insistence that you are always completely responsible for what happens to you and it seemed to me that it let everyone else off the hook for their bad behavior. Truthfully sometimes people mess you over. And it is bad. It is really bad.

Betrayal seems to me unique in the world of travesties in the way it strips its victims of their dignity. It is the one component of any crime that grinds its victims into the dust and doesn’t let them stand back up. People can be hit or stolen from or cursed into oblivion, but once betrayal enters the picture everything changes. Once a person feels they have been betrayed they become attached to such a sense of shame; they become their victimhood in a searing flash of pain. The filth of betrayal is the stain that is the most difficult to soak off. It is the stink that stings your eyes and taints every other thing you try to smell, no matter how pleasant it should be. It ruins perfectly good interactions and steals happiness from endless futures. Betrayal burns like no other acid.

So what is the antidote to betrayal? There isn’t one.

Isn’t that cheery? Time blunts the sharpness of betrayal, and distance helps. As with most things, truth is a great healer, and the more truth heaped on the head of a betrayal, the better and easier it will be to keep it buried. Perspective is always good, and anything you can learn from the experience will be of benefit to you, however hard won the knowledge. I think the best thing to do will be to leave you with a song. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Enjoy:

Score One For Homeschoolers


One of my daughters has just completed a year abroad program post high school. When she first applied to this school, they had never had a homeschooled student apply before, and they were quite hesitant to accept her. They were somewhat cagey with us at first about what their objections might be to accepting her into the program, but after much persistence on our part, we finally got them to be open with us about their concerns. Not surprisingly, they had many of the same stereotypes as other people do regarding homeschooled kids, ranging from poor socialization to inability to integrate into a traditional academic setting, to not knowing how to “fit in” with more mainstream kids. We were able to get lots of personal references who spoke very highly of our daughter, and who assured them that in each of the areas of concern that our daughter was certainly able to function well, and that they would be making a big mistake not to accept her. In the end, they agreed to accept her conditionally, and off she went.

A few days ago was the end-of-the-year banquet at the school, and each of the administrators spoke about one of the students. The head of the school chose to speak about our daughter, and he started out by saying, “If I could be sure that every homeschooled student would turn out like _____________ Bass, then I would pull all of my kids out of school tomorrow!” Then he went on to enumerate her many great qualities and her long list of accomplishments over this past year. Obviously we are thrilled that she has done so well (truthfully, we knew she would!), and we have a tremendous amount of pride as parents that the people in charge of this program were able to see her for the fine person she is, rather than the image of who they assumed she might be.

What I am also very pleased about, though, is that I feel like our daughter has done a tremendous service for all homeschoolers. As the number of homeschoolers grows in our community, more and more of them will be entering similar programs, and then going on to apply to college (This is something she did also, and she faced similar challenges. Luckily, she has been admitted to her first choice, and I’m sure she will be similarly successful there. But it’s always like reinventing the wheel when you need to get a homeschooled child into a mainstream program…We are now facing the same issue with my next son…). One might think that by now homeschooling would be a common enough practice that most institutions would have some protocols in place for dealing with integrating them, but the stereotypes persist, and it is simply not the case that their paths are smooth. So any time a homeschooler can go somewhere and make a positive impact and be successful, that will leave an impression behind and make it that much easier for the next homeschooled kid who comes along.

So, I am super proud of my daughter for what she has accomplished for herself, and I am super proud of her for the trail she has blazed for others who will come after her. She will be home soon, and all of us can’t wait to have her back again- it can’t come soon enough!

Where Am I?


This is a question that has been plaguing me for the last few months (if I am honest and reflective, it has been longer), but even more acutely for the last few weeks. At a friend’s house a few days ago a woman was talking about her farm, where she has sheep that she uses for educational programs, as well as other animals. As she spoke, I sat quietly, and the hosts remarked that it was very unlike me not to have any comments. Indeed it was.

My feeling in that moment was that I was so far away from myself (if I was still in high school, or perhaps feeling more literal, I would have written that as “my Self”) that I just felt distant and kind of dead inside.

A friend recently wrote a blog post about the joy of being known for who you truly are, and I didn’t even open it to read it for weeks after she posted it. The pain I am experiencing right now from living a life that is so not reflective of who I am- in so many ways and on so many levels- is so acute that I couldn’t even bear to read her words.

But my problem goes deeper that my estrangement from myself. The chasm between me and Me has grown so profound that I don’t even know how to reconnect with who I am meant to be any more. I don’t know where to look to find myself, or how to light a spark that will take hold of me and shake off the cobwebs. I am not sure how to reverse the spell that has come over me, so I sit in this torpor and just kind of pass the time like a condemned man waiting to expire.

I have been unable to write, unable to blog, and over the course of the last few days, I haven’t even been able to figure out how to continue this post, or how to pull it together enough to finish it. So I’m just gonna post it as it is and see what you guys have to say about it. Maybe you will be able to offer me a road map out of this place…

My Hero, Pranav Kodali


Please watch. You’ll be a better person for it.

Just Because Race Is Involved Doesn’t Mean Racism Is Involved


A poignant experiment was done with turkeys. Researchers observed a curious phenomenon, whereby turkey babies would follow their mothers, even into dangerous situations, and even to their deaths. They wondered what made this bond so strong, that while other animals in similar circumstances showed a self-preservation instinct, turkeys would march happily to their own demise as long as their mothers led the way.

As good researchers do, they played around with different variables, trying to figure out which one was responsible for such strong turkey loyalty. What they found out was that turkey moms emit a specific noise, and that was the key. Anything the researchers would hook up with that noise- even inanimate objects- would suddenly find itself the focus of a turkey baby parade. Researchers could put an obvious predator in clear view, and a turkey-mother-noise-emitter in a tin can and drag it past the predator, and sure enough, those little turkeys would just march to their deaths. Publishers of the study referred to this as a “click-whir” response. The brain is programmed to respond to a certain stimulus in a certain way, and gosh darn if it won’t respond that way come high water or predators or zombie apocalypse.

I feel like we have “evolved” as a society to where racial sensitivity has now resulted in us seeing racism everywhere. We clearly have some racial baggage that needed cleaning up. To do that, we needed to be aware of issues of past racism, and how to address them and redress them- but that history has cost us dearly in that now we cannot see race without seeing racism. If police have to give the following description of a suspect, “A 6 foot, 4 inch man, driving a white Honda Accord and wearing a brown jacket…” because to say that he was a certain race- the most obvious descriptor of a person you are looking at!- may be viewed as racist, then we have gone backward instead of forward. If in 2015 we are so eager to show how not racist we are that we are penalizing white people in order to promote less qualified minorities, then we are spitting on the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream that people would be judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

And when there is an incident between law enforcement and citizens and before the facts are even clear people are shouting, “Black lives matter!” my response is, “Yes, and…?” Of course black lives matter- as do the lives of every person. But yelling this as if this is somehow insightful information is like me yelling, “I think Mexican people are kind of neat!” Perhaps interesting, but it doesn’t really add anything relevant to the discourse.

It reminds me of the time I was leaving a local cafe and someone asked me to sign a petition against LGBT murder. So I asked, “Um, who is in favor of LGBT murder?” The woman went off on a whole shpiel about how “those on the right” (ha!) support policies that cause the murder of LGBT-Q people, etc etc etc… and then after about ten pages of anti-right-wing stuff was the actual petition which was in fact a pro-gay-marriage petition.

Whether the recent incident in Baltimore will turn out to be police abuse or something completely not that remains to be seen. Clearly there are many on the streets and in the media who would like to frame this conversation for us. The last time folks wanted to helpfully sloganize (Remember “Hands up, don’t shoot”?), before the facts were in, the voice of the street was shown to be a conspiracy of shameful lies.

The internet has done so many great things as far as bringing information to people. But when people irresponsibly use social media to spread an agenda before the facts are in, the immediacy of the information age can work against us. For some reason folks almost always see the wrong information, yet almost never see the corrected information later on.

Let’s just hope we can be smarter than a bunch of turkeys.

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