Fourteen-and-a-half ways to improve your spirits (A note to myself)

There has been sadness this year. Thankfully, these sadnesses are the light kind, no deaths, no major sicknesses. But sometimes they seem to pile up, and they threaten to overwhelm me. I thought I'd write a helpful list for myself to mull over on a day like today, when it seems like I'm followed by a sadness cloud, tied to me.

1. Definitely, definitely, riding a scooter will do the trick. For a short while, anyways. My superstar husband recently had a birthday, and one of the things I plotted was a scooter ride through San Francisco with him. It wasn't too hard to figure out, either. We were already going to the City for a meeting, we have an amazing friend named Amy who watched our kids and lent us her scooter, and she had helmets for both of us.

In my black leather jacket and big, visored helmet, I looked like a superhero from the seventies. My Chinua was wearing one of those little helmets that don't cover your face, and because the helmet was made for a small woman, and he is a large man with plentiful hair, it was perched on the top of his head like a shiny hard Kippah. He was our black, Jewish scooter driver.

We zipped down Market in twilight and then over to North Beach, which is where we fell in love way back when. We had seedy urban pizza and then zipped back over to the Mission in the dark to pick up our kids. It was amazing, everything I had hoped, and even the fact that the idle was too low on the scooter, and Chinua had to restart everytime we were at a stoplight, even that was perfect. He was perfect in his shiny Kippah, and I held him around his waist and his shoulders and laughed at the dark.

2. Listen to Radiohead's Hail to the Thief album. Sometimes it will lift your spirits just to be really really melancholy and angsty.

3. Talk to the Leaf Baby for awhile. He'll make a combination of faces and sounds that make you laugh until you've shaken all that sadness right out. He'll make dolphin sounds, raspberry sounds, squinch his eyes up, and wrinkle his nose. You'll want to hold him forever.

4. Read Harold and the Purple Crayon. Especially the line about the "very hungry moose and the deserving porcupine". That line makes you laugh everytime.

5. On that note, read One Fish Two Fish, by Dr Seuss. Go play a game called Ring the Gack. This makes you laugh too.

6. Listen to your silly husband in the car, people watching. He'll say, "Where are you going?" to a woman walking by in a big rush, not so that she can hear him, of course. Or, "You got some foooood?" to a woman carrying a casserole dish down Market St. Or, "What's in your little green bag?" to a business man carrying a tiny green bag with handles alongside his briefcase. All of this is only loud enough for you to hear, sitting in your van in traffic, and cracks you up to no end.

7. Laugh at Kai, surreptitiously, when he manages to say the oddest things you've ever heard. For instance, when he yells out, HEY! and you turn to look, only to see that he's talking to his pita and hummus. Or when he calls out from the back of the car, "I burped, and it tasted like my yummy bubbly juice, and now I'm sad that it's all gone."

8. Buy yourself a new book.

9. Make plans for an upcoming trip to Canada. (Okay, so this might actually stress you out quite a bit, but focus on the positive: you'll be in CANADA. Your home and native land. You'll be able to hang out with your parents. And Becca. And Matty. And go to your brother's wedding. Okay, still stressed out, but just focus on the road trip. You LOVE traveling. No, DON'T think about the packing or that the heater core is still broken on your van. Think of the Coffee Crisps. (In this link I especially like the part that says that "Canadian expatriates to the United States have long lamented the bar's relative unavailability outside of Canada.") And that air that smells so different.)

10. You would normally eat some chocolate or ice cream but now you are finding out that SUGAR HAS A VERY BAD EFFECT ON YOU, and that it gives you a FALSE HIGH, that brings you right back into the pit later. Too bad. Eat healthy things and feel happy about it. Think about cells being regenerated and your brain cells being replenished. (That's the second time this week that I've used the word replenished, once speaking and once writing. I should work writing hair commercials.)

11. Mull over that scooter ride again and think about the time that you and your superstar husband rode scooters on tropical Havelock Island in India. Okay, maybe don't think about this too hard. Especially not with that grey sky looming.

12. Listen to Kenya laugh. Get a kiss from Kenya, or a hug, or a touch of any kind, because this will give you great happiness.

13. Clean your house. This is calming and methodic.

14. Sing really loud at a gas station. This makes people look, but spreads joy around. Maybe. Depending what you're singing and how well.

And a half: Drink half of a forbidden cup of coffee, just because.