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My sister (a newly single mother) recently visited our house with her two incredibly amazing children. I’m not saying they’re amazing just to be a doting aunt. These kids truly are incredible. Perhaps it’s because as the years go by, we grow closer and closer in relationship. I absolutely adore my sister’s kids, & they adore me as well.

One time my nephew pulled me aside & told me point blank to my face that he thinks of me as his second mom. True story, bro. However, I’d like to believe that I’m the cooler “mom” because I discipline the kids without yelling at them or scolding them the way my sister does. Granted, she is their actual mother…but the kids & I are tight too.

This past week rushed by in such a blur. My sister brought her kids to our house on their one-week school break. It felt like they were only here for a few short days. We, as a family, took the two kids to explore the downtown of the big City by the Bay. The kids made their first trip to Chinatown to buy traditional-ish costumes for their school performance. Then we took them to eat organic ice cream after a quick lunch. The next few days after that became such a blur I can hardly remember all the events that happened. We took the kids up to the mountains (which were eerily lacking snow). Actually we were in the mountains for two reasons: 1. The kids have never been up in the mountains before & have never truly experienced snow, & 2. My sister had to take care of a real estate project involving our former family vacation home. My sister’s kids were so excited to be up in the mountains & touching snow for the first time…although it was only a small barren patch of icy snow. We stayed at a very comfortable hotel overnight & the kids got to run around in the beautiful lake town full of lush nature.

We celebrated my mom’s (a.k.a. Grandma) birthday up in the mountains, took the kids to play around the creek, & had a fun overnight road trip. The kids were so captivated by the snow & the nature all around us. We had such a great, memorable time renting a mini-van & having lots of good laughs along the way. Alas, the kids were sad to go home. They made their Grandma a cute birthday card, but also drew a sad face on the back of it. When asked why, my nephew replied, “…because we are sad to go home. We want to stay here longer.” My niece, who usually has an I-don’t-really-care attitude even asked, “Why do we have to go home?” as we dropped them off at the airport.

I am so drained, physically, from this past week…I had to force myself to write this week’s blog post. There’s more stuff that happened that I want to write about, but my mind is stuttering right now, so I better sign off before I get more incoherent. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

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No, I’m not saying that I used to look into crystal balls & cast wicked spells. I wasn’t that intense. I will say, however, that I was once into magic & Astrology.

It started after I went on a school trip to Boston, Massachusetts. A selected group of students from my class were chosen to go on this school trip to learn about Paul Revere, the Boston Tea Party, & other history that shaped our nation. One of the things we were also learning about was the Salem Witch Trials, which interested me as a young teenager.

I was really excited to visit the witch museum in Salem; there was a magic shop right around the corner from the museum. This shop claimed to be a legitimate magic shop complete with potions, authentic Wizard & Witch wardrobe, crystal balls, talismans, & all the herbal ingredients needed to cast actual spells. During our class break time, I spent all of my break browsing around the shop. I was just a kid back then, so I was a little scared to get into casting spells & using potions, but I was still into learning about witchcraft & all that shizz, so I ended up only buying a necklace with a bead on it that’s supposed to ward off negative energy.

After going on that memorable school trip, I started reading up on witchcraft & astrology. For a very short time I was interested in becoming a fortune teller & opening up a little store, but I quickly decided against it because I didn’t want customers constantly harassing me about the winning lottery numbers, or how to cast a love spell on the hot guy at work so they could have an office fling in the copy room after hours. I just wanted to tell people that they would live long, happy, fulfilling lives…not wade through their tales of woe. Look, I’m not some wand-wielding therapist. Anyway, that was my awkward introduction into witchcraft, the occult, & astrology.

Jumping into this mysterious world, I was highly reluctant in telling my friends about my newly found interest. I didn’t want them to think I was going to start wearing all-black clothes, chanting around a pit of fire & worshiping dangerous deities. I kept this side of me hidden for the entire length of time it held my interest. I only began showing my interest in this subject when my friends started asking about reading horoscopes & whether or not anybody believed in them. I chimed in & explained whatever I knew about the topic. They were quite impressed with my new-found knowledge & continued to ask me questions on the subject, which prompted me to reveal that I was self-learning how to read tarot cards & give basic tarot card readings. That quickly piqued my friends’ interest, & one-by-one they all asked me to perform a card reading on them.

I stumbled through learning how to read tarot cards. The pack of cards I bought…from the airport bookstore no less…came with a very confusing yet summarized booklet of instructions. So, I bought a paperback instruction book. I read that book from cover-to-cover & relied on it heavily. It was essentially my “Wikipedia” on the subject. I was successfully able to perform a few casual readings. I didn’t dive into heavy topics like finance, health (i.e. when are you going to die), or legal issues. However, I once was able to read that a friend of mine had 2 sides to himself, like two personalities, to which he revealed reluctantly that he was hiding his clinically diagnosed bi-polar disorder. I think that was about as far as I could go as far as depth & detail. Most of my other readings involved revealing quarrels between two lovers, & other small-time items. I don’t think I was able to part dark clouds in the sky or anything like that.

I eventually turned my attention to magic & casting spells. I went to my local public library & checked out books on the subject. I quickly decided that that subject was not for me. First of all, in order to cast a spell (or make a potion), one would have to procure quite a list of hard to find ingredients, which I found out could become very expensive. I was still only a student with limited monetary means, so that became one obstacle I couldn’t overcome. Secondly, I also researched the negative side of spell casting, & the results freaked me out. A lot. Let’s just say that I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of “an eye for an eye”, or I didn’t want a spell to go wrong & then face the consequences. Hey, I’ve seen the 90s movie “The Craft” (starring Neve Campbell & Skeet Ulrich) a few times, & that movie provided a cautionary tale into what could happen if one became too greedy with power or messed with the wrong spirits.

After all that, I started losing interest in the whole world of the occult & even Astrology. I packed up my tarot cards & books, stored them away in the back of the closet & haven’t thought of them since…well, except for now, since I am writing about it. I recently found my tarot cards after cleaning out the storage closet. I was about to throw them away but have decided to keep them for old times sake. It remains a reminder of an unusual, explorative time in my life. I can’t say that I will dive back into the subject & take up card reading again, but it would be fun to open up the box of cards & look at them again…perhaps with fond memories. We will just have to wait & see. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

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Baths aren’t just for little kids, ladies who want to unwind with a glass of Chardonnay & aromatherapy candles, or newlyweds making Le Sexy Time in the honeymoon suite with a heart-shaped tub. They’re not just for old timers in need of a sponge bath either. Baths are for everyone.

I like to take baths every now & again. About once a week I will swap one of my showers with taking a bath. I think baths are great, even though sometimes they can be a chore to set up (i.e. pre & post tub clean up, adding bubbles, oils or scents (optional), putting on music (also optional), adjusting the desired water temperature). Even at my age, I do not find anything childish or cheesy about taking baths. I am part Japanese, & taking baths is a huge part of Japanese culture. I also grew up taking lots of baths as a child. My grandmother always told me that when I was born, I was so tiny she would often give me baths in the bathroom sink. I didn’t believe it until I saw photo evidence in an old photo album.

I thoroughly enjoy baths. I find taking baths to be quite relaxing. Sometimes I will listen to music while taking a bath, but mostly I will play games on my smartphone or read an e-book on my tablet. I used to enjoy adding aromatherapy bubble bath solution to my bath water, but it always made a residue ring in my tub at the end of my baths, & I would have to scrub the tub afterwards, which was a hassle after I’ve just spent time trying to relax. Also, the brand of bubble solution I liked (which had a eucalyptus scent) was quite pricey, so I stopped buying it to save money.

Between my teenage years & my twenties, I used to think baths were cheesy; taken by sexy single ladies & housewives who like to put an ungodly amount of candles around the tub, turn the lights down low, suds up the bubbles & pour themselves a glass of wine, all while reading romance novels with hunky, beefcake heroes who sweep them off their feet. Now that that silly idea has been scrubbed from my mind, I have become an advocate of taking a bath from time-to-time.

It actually is relaxing. I like to keep the bathroom lights off, letting only the light from the small window illuminate the space. It’s not quite dark, but not very sunny & bright. If I’m in the mood, I will put on some music from my iPod. I usually like to read a magazine or a book, maybe even play a puzzle game on my smartphone. However, I mostly like to close my eyes, shut off my mind, clear all of my thoughts, & just let myself float in the water. Of course I will eventually get to the actual washing part, but I like to let my tired muscles soak in the hot water. I’d like to add that I like my bath water really, really hot. Ok, maybe not scalding hot…I don’t want to come out looking like a boiled lobster, but I like it hot enough that I have to dip my feet in a couple of times before I lower my derrière straight into the tub.

If you ever get a chance to take a bath, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, I’d say do it. It is like a little slice of privacy & a small escape from everything going on outside the bathroom. Hey, you can even imagine that you’re a kid again & pretend you’re a captain of your own pirate ship. Or perhaps you’re an explorer in a submarine. Either way, enjoy yourself…in the bath. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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