Oh dear, I've been away for an awfully long time, haven't I? Or perhaps you hadn't noticed. Perhaps, like my cats, who simply continued as normal with their languid eat-sleep-eat routine after I slipped from the apartment last Friday night and worried about them all the way to the airport---and then for eighteen hours on the plane, from San Francisco to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to Singapore---you hadn't even realized I'd left.
But now I'm here, on the other side of the festivities for which I'd been preparing for weeks and months: all gifts given, all presents opened, all worries assuaged. How was your Christmas? And if you don't celebrate Christmas, well, I sure hope it was a nice Tuesday for you. Personally, I always enjoy a December holiday that includes a lazy mid-afternoon swim in the outdoor pool in ninety-degree weather. Floating on your back in the clear blue chlorine on Christmas Eve might not make you want to go a-wassailing with a plate of mince pies, but it sure is novel.
So what did we do this Christmas? We ate, we drank, we participated in the traditional family sing-along on the 24th that's always helped along by copious glasses of champagne and the reassurance that only your family will never call you a dork (at least not to your face) for adding actions to each verse of the Twelve Days Of Christmas. When we were younger, my brother Tom and I used to give impromptu "concerts" on Christmas Eve; over the years, thank goodness, these have morphed into Bob Dylan and Belle and Sebastian-fueled family singalongs, during which someone (well, alright, me) usually gets carried away and floats the idea of forming a traveling family band. I can't help it if I'm the only one who knows all the words to Piazza, New York Catcher. It goes to my head.
Since then, I have been doing little more than lounging on the back porch with a stack of books, laughing often with---it's the with that's critical---the five people whose DNA denotes that they share my exact same sense of humor, and working through the entire My So Called Life oeuvre with my younger sister, whose admission that she had never seen it guaranteed that I induct her into this six-DVD rite of passage a few episodes each evening. I'm mostly outside, I'm often barefoot. I'm sleeping like someone who's on vacation.