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Cuddles Make the World Go Round

I have a niece who's seven, Anna, and though I may be slightly biased, I consider her the coolest little kid in the world, if not the universe.While I adore her curiosity, sense of humor, her absolute lack of fear, and her little giggle, probably my favorite thing is her talent in the cuddling department.

She is, to put it lightly, gifted in the art of snuggling.

As we curled up today on the couch, after a day of adventure, I realized how much I miss being a little kid and the ability to cuddle with absolutely everybody. I remember how nice it was to trust a near stranger enough to curl up their lap and relax. When exactly in my life did I lose that?
Was it when I, like a Great Dane puppy that has just grown too big to be a lap dog, grew big enough that I was no longer a lap sized child, adorable in my crusade for the cuddle?

I was known for liking "cold skin." Many people have memories of me as a little person going as far as sticking my hands up their sleeves so as to feel "cold skin." I equate this somewhat with the cold pillow syndrome. You know, it even has a fan page on Facebook. That soothing feeling of flipping your pillow over and feeling that cool fabric against your cheek, there's nothing quite like it, except for, apparently, cold skin. I've found this has proved to be a problem with me sharing a bed with anybody, especially if they're not covered up by multitudes of clothes. The heat one human body radiates will blast me out of the bed, and should, gasp, any skin to skin touch, I will have to evacuate the covers immediately. Contrasted with my solo sleeping style of bundle upon bundle upon comforter upon quilt, there's quite a difference.

You, empty void, may be wondering where I'm going with this. Well, one of my new year's resolutions, along with writing therapeutically in this little blog every day, is cuddling more. In this world moved by computers and trains and fast paced taxi drivers honking, sometimes all we need is a little more humanity, a little more compassion, and a little more touch. So there we have it folks, should you come near me, there's a very large chance I'm going to give you a hug. Cuddling may be reserved for those very close, but consider it a compliment.

On the subject of tea

You know those days where everything that could possibly go wrong seems to rush to do exactly that? Today's one of them. It's as if the Universe woke up this morning and decided it hates me.

Well, what up Universe? What did I ever do to you?

But, empty void that I feel compelled to converse with, I'm not here to complain. I'm going to spare you the agony of detailing each and every little or big thing that went wrong today.

I am here to discuss the positive effect that tea can have on any situation.

My mom was always guilty of that whole British sensibility of, "there's no problem a cuppa tea can't solve." Now in the skeptical days of my youth, I sincerely doubted that, and regarded the steaming beverage to hold no power over the quandaries of the world. But in the context of dealing, or attempting to, with my own problems and stresses today, I have decided that there really is nothing like a good cup of chamomile to soothe things away.

The whole act of holding a steaming mug of tea, (yes, I said it, mug... I am, in actuality an American and therefore don't require fine bone china) cradling it between your two hands and inhaling the steam. It's really aromatherapy. Be it English Breakfast with more milk and sugar than tea, or one of the cups of Green Matcha I get in Japantown, it's something that soothes me, and makes me a little more human, a little more alive.

Did you know green tea helps with PMS? Or actually, in a chemical reaction, reduces stress in our bodies? It even increases mental alertness, so that you can deal with your problems in a better way.

So maybe there was something to my mom's idea. Even if there are some problems that tea can't solve, I don't think there are any that tea can't lend a helping hand.

Maple Leaf Rag

In My Momma Had a Dancing Heart, which just happened to be my favorite book as a child, the passing seasons are described each in a mother-daughter dance, animated, charming, and followed up with the perfect homey activities, like drinking cold lemonade after the beach or hot cocoa with marshmallows floating, while clipping snowflakes out of tissue paper. My favorite of all these seasons though, was always Autumn, and the two pages dedicated to this would enrapture me enough that they would have to be read twice, sometimes three times, before we could move on with the rest of the story.

"And when the cool autumn winds
would come puff-puffing
through the clouds,
and the hold-on-tight leaves would finally let go and float-flutter
to the ground,
out we'd go into the eye-blinking blue air,
with Mama leading in a leaf-kicking
hello autumn ballet.

And afterward
we'd wax paper-press leaves
red and gold
and drink hot tea spiced."

Today, as I kicked at the noisy leaves that littered the sidewalk near my apartment in North Berkeley, I was hit with the desire to do a leaf-kicking ballet. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the crispness to the air, the desire to buy new school supplies and to bundle up in light wool coats. Autumn is just so cozy. It reminds me of the wonderful fall foods: apple pies and roasted squash, stews and soups, the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg, and all that wonderful comforting Americana food I love so much. For most, January 1st is the time when they resolve to be a better person, to reform their lives, but for me, it always happens some time in the middle of October. Just as the maple leaves turn from green to red, I am so, (I apologize for this), turning over a new leaf, changing my colors, and making myself a better person. My years in Mendocino were happily spent, but something I ached for every year was a true fall. In the land of redwoods and ferns, and a misty-cool mono-season, I missed this crisp feeling that somehow makes everything so much better. Hello autumn ballet, welcome.

City Lights

I walked across San Francisco last night.

Really. I did. As in I started at Ocean Beach and went all the way to Civic Center. After a jam packed day of LoveFest, sorry, LovElution, as well as the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, freezing in the cold wind, and giggling like nobody's business with my new friend of 4 hours who I met on the MUNI on the way to Golden Gate Park, I walked the city after the sun had set. And it may just have changed my life.

I've always been a firm believer in the fact that when you walk you see so much more than any other form of transportation. For particularly this reason, I love getting lost on foot in whatever foreign city I venture to. What I learned last night is that somehow walking, the rhythm of your feet slapping the ground, is a way to learn more about yourself than almost anything else. When walking with a friend, new or old, watching the city light up, admiring each new view as you crest a hill, you know yourself.

You know, I don't quite know what we talked about. It's all kind of melted together like the whip cream in that hot chocolate we picked up somewhere between point A and point B. Whatever we said, I feel much more comfortable in my skin now.

I think I'm going to have to do that again.