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Please don’t shake my hand… if you’re sick

Did you know that more germs are spread from shaking hands than kissing? (Check out: http://www.science-facts.com/quick-facts/amazing-human-facts/ and http://www.independent.ie/health/health-news/dont-shake-hands-itll-be-safer-just-to-kiss-1710134.html!) Scientists say this is because our hands have contact with much more bacteria than our mouths.

That said, I am probably one of the most germ-conscientious people I know. In fact, I once took years off from shaking people’s hands. Ever since I started again, the last few years, I have gotten a very bad flu every six months or so (including the swine flu in 2009). I’m not implying that all these flus were from infected hands, but it’s just interesting.

Sunday, my current flu-with-bronchitis-mixed-in-just-for-fun turned three weeks old. I am ninety-nine percent sure I got it after a handshake-gone-awry. I touched my eye a moment later, then heard the handshaker let out one of the worst coughs I’ve heard in a long time. I was about to go wash my hands and eye, yet the guy insisted he was not sick. The line for the bathroom was very long, so I believed him. Silly me. Why couldn’t he have just kissed me instead?

More and more often in the last few months, I will be at an event and meet someone new and they’ll shake my hand, followed up by a few coughs and a variation of the line, “I’m trying to get over this cold.” Um, then you shouldn’t have shaken my hand or the other 101 in the room. I also think a lot of people mistake having a cold for allergies; but when in doubt, keep your hands to yourself. :)

When I’m sick and someone tries to shake my hand, I tell them I have a cold/flu/what have you and ninety-nine percent of the time, they thank me for letting them know and quickly retreat their arm (as well as take a few steps back). (Once in a great while, someone will say they need some sick days at work and beg me to shake their hand, but even then I refuse!)

If someone still wants to shake my sick hand, so to speak, like the nurse at the CVS Minute Clinic* last week, so be it. (She immediately washed her hands afterward.)

So I’m asking each of you for a favor. If you’re sick, don’t shake people’s hands (not even at church during the Peace be with You). You may feel rude for not doing so, but take it from me – it’s better than getting your friend sick. (And don’t forget about karma!)

Aside from taking medicines and trying to be patient (since there is no real cure for the flu, just things to alleviate the symptoms), I’ve been drinking a TON of homemade garlic or ginger tea. (Luckily, I am still cat-sitting, so don’t have to fear getting a couch host sick. Hopefully, the cats will be fine!)

What kinds of potions – drinks/foods – do you make when you’re sick?

Here’s more reading on why handshakes should stop: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2047048/Its-deal-lets-touch-elbows-Health-expert-urges-ban-shaking-hands-prevent-spread-flu.html and http://protectdontinfect.com/germ_facts.asp.

*By the way, this was my second time visiting the CVS Minute Clinic and I cannot say enough positive things about the experience (aside from the fact that I was there for the above). The nurse was friendly, knowledgeable, no lines to wait in, etc.

Money Monday: You & Debt

Welcome to Money Mondays!

I once saw a homeless man holding a sign that read: “Spare debt?” So clever — and apropos these days, I think.

We all know how much debt I have (you remember my Money, Money, Money post)… Do you have debt, too? (Don’t worry — you don’t have to tell me how much!)

What kinds of things are you doing to whittle it down? Or are you ignoring it?

New Year’s (Week’s) Resolutions – Week One

Last Sunday, I posted several of my New Year’s Resolutions – which are actually New Week’s Resolutions as I find that week-to-week is more manageable. (See my original post for more.)

Here’s Jan. 1-7th with my results in bold.

 

-Blog every day. – Missed two days, blogged twice in one day, so now one day behind.

-Work on a piece of writing (book, short story, essay, script) every day. Missed FIVE days. Ugh… Need to get out of this lack-of-writing funk! NO EXCUSES!! (Which is an excellent book, btw! Which I apparently need to reread!!)

-Continue to not text. (After three+ months of practice already, I am becoming an expert at this. Plus, I still won’t have a working phone until February, so…) Yep!

-See people in the flesh more (versus email or phone calls). Yep!

-Reconsolidate all dozen or so of my student loans at a lower interest rate. In progress. (Takes more than a week to do!)

-Continue to make student loan payments each month like I did for most of 2011. Yep! (Unfortunately!) See my former Money, Money, Money blog post for more.

-Pay off remaining debts to friends. In progress…

-Go to storage at least four times a month to get rid of more things I will never use & have happily lived without for over two years now! Nope. :( (Will have to go twice another week.)

-Volunteer at least once a week. Nope. (Still choosing a new venue.)

-Go to church every week. (This is a Repeat Resolution from 2011. I was pretty good in 2011, but then lapsed a bit.) Yep!

-Get closer to being able to attain an apartment/housing of my own again. However, until the student loan debt mentioned above gets lower, this is not likely anytime soon. (See my Money, Money, Money entry for more details on this.) (Also, I cannot imagine a non-couch-surfing life anymore!) Ditto! (Stagnant for now.)

-Get at least one piece published by the end of the month. (Or get notification of publication by the end of the month. Knock on wood!) Still have a few weeks for this!

-Do my TSL column twice a month. In progress. First one of the year comes out mid-month! (I’ll post it when it does.)

-I think I am a pretty optimistic person almost all of the time… But when tempted not to be, to remember to focus on the positive in every situation/person/etc. instead of the negative. Yep!

 

How about you? How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming?

Happiness… or money?

Which would you choose? (Hypothetically, you can’t have both!)

If you could have any job…

If the economy were not an issue & you could have your ideal job RIGHT NOW, what would it be?

 

My favorite couch — which is also edible!

The way to my heart… the four-year-old daughter of a former couch host made me this out of flour and water — “so you will always have a couch!” BEST COUCH EVER!!! (Don’t you love the pillows?!)

(And, no, I did not eat it!!)

 

“A few of my favorite (little) things…”

As a couch-surfing pro (I think it’s fair to say that after over two years of experience now, right?), inhabiting someone’s space for 3-7 days at a time is all about the little things: that they do as well as what I do. Though this post is centered on them…

Each one makes sure I am comfortable, and many go above and beyond — not just supplying me with (usually!) clean towels and sheets (even though I have gotten accustomed to forgo them for my sleeping bag and towel I travel with), but doing sweet, unexpected, little things, too.

For instance, one squeezed fresh juice from Farmers’ Market oranges every morning, another left a chocolate on my pillow every night, someone else made me tea every afternoon when he got home from school (he was 12; it was adorable as we sipped and talked about the latest Wii games!)… the list goes on and on.

But my couch hosts are not just part of a list. They are amazing friends who have opened up their homes (and pull-out sofas) for me — without my even asking (they all know my predicament and offer before I have a chance to say anything).

In this new year, I am reminded of how grateful I am — for all those/that I have versus what I don’t.

What’s a little thing that you remember from when you were a guest in someone’s home?

Oops! Walking in on my couch host: couch-surfing & lack of privacy…

I spent all last week suffering from Shy/Bashful Bladder syndrome (paruresis), all due to my couch host’s four-year-old daughter opening the bathroom door sporadically (the door didn’t lock) — when I was in it. She’d always do so looking for her mother — and would get me, instead. (The toilet was right next to the door.)

This started making me so anxious when in the bathroom that I became attune to listening for her little feet running down the hallway, my hand automatically grasping the doorknob to prevent her from getting to it first, my foot creating a doorstop at the same time; I had become Pavlov’s best student.

The bathroom door had a frosted window, and the hallway was dark, so when you were inside, you could see blurs of people as they walked by. And several people – of all ages – often passed by. (Remember, there were almost two dozen people in the house for several days as the family that lived there kept having dinner parties with guests spending the night during the holidays. And only ONE bathroom.) However, I only sought out the haunting shadow that was under three feet tall.

The only plus of leaving that couch (the ten-year-old’s Justin Bieber-filled room, actually) was to no longer fear someone opening the lavatory door, no longer become the fastest bathroom user in the world… to quell my anxiety once and for all.

So as of yesterday, I’m at a new couch (no guest room and no Justin Bieber posters). Late last night, I saw the bathroom light on, though everyone had already gone to bed. I thought it strange, as no one seemed to ever leave extra lights on. I opened the door to turn it off… and there was one of my couch hosts, the GUY of the couple I am staying with, taking a bath! Oops! (Again, no locks!)

I quickly mumbled sorry as I shut the door. (And hope my next couch has bathroom doors with deadbolts!)

Suffice it to say, privacy is NOT something one can expect while couch-surfing, whether you are couch host or surfer. (I guess most couch hosts can always retreat to their rooms, though.)

What’s something memorable/embarrassing/etc. that’s happened to you while couch-surfing or traveling — either as host or guest?

One resolution at a time…

So far, I am behind on my New Year’s Resolutions. Are you?

On Facebook today, I saw that many people made a resolution to not make any resolutions. Why?

Are they afraid to? (Fear of failure? Fear of commitment?) Think it’s silly? Or have tried in the past with no luck, so why bother again? Or perhaps they are already meeting all their goals, so no need to reaffirm them or create new ones?

I am of the “afraid to” ilk – though, every year, I make them anyway. Although I have found greater success in calling them goals vs. resolutions, of making them monthly versus annually. Because, eventually, whether we like it or not, the months add up to a year. And who knows – by the end of it, perhaps we have met a lot of our ambitions. (Or maybe we just have to be more dedicated the next year.)

Even though I am trailing so far this year, I don’t think it’s too late to catch up.

I also believe, like anything requiring discipline, putting these goals down in writing helps – instead of tracking my daily caloric intake as though I were on a diet, I created a notebook to chart my daily progress of meeting (or not meeting) my aspirations. My New Year’s Diet. Even though I am not eliminating things so much as adding them. So we can say it’s My New Year’s Lifestyle? I plan to review it every night before bed.

Next to 01/01/12, “church” is the only mini-goal accomplished so far… I can surely reach the others though, right? And so can you!

Here are some of this month’s goals:

-Blog every day.

-Work on a piece of writing (book, short story, essay, script) every day.

-Continue to not text. (After three+ months of practice already, I am becoming an expert at this. Plus, I still won’t have a working phone until February, so…)

-See people in the flesh more (versus email or phone calls).

-Reconsolidate all dozen or so of my student loans at a lower interest rate.

-Continue to make student loan payments each month like I did for most of 2011.

-Pay off remaining debts to friends.

-Go to storage at least four times a month to get rid of more things I will never use & have happily lived without for over two years now!

-Volunteer at least once a week.

-Go to church every week. (This is a Repeat Resolution from 2011. I was pretty good in 2011, but then lapsed a bit.)

-Get closer to being able to attain an apartment/housing of my own again. However, until the student loan debt mentioned above gets lower, this is not likely anytime soon. (See my Money, Money, Money entry for more details on this.) (Also, I cannot imagine a non-couch-surfing life anymore!)

-Get at least one piece published by the end of the month. (Or get notification of publication by the end of the month. Knock on wood!)

-Do my TSL column twice a month.

-I think I am a pretty optimistic person almost all of the time… But when tempted not to be, to remember to focus on the positive in every situation/person/etc. instead of the negative.

So these are the goals for January… so far. Hopefully, they will be the same for February…

What are some of yours?

And if you don’t believe in making New Year’s Resolutions, why not?

Rats…!

I woke up to this, just a few feet from my current couch:

Yes… rats!!

Luckily, the indoor kind. Much better than the New York kind who liked to run over my open-toed shoes a few summers ago.

Here is one such example:

And here’s a common NY subway one:

A few different friends of mine own rats and say they make very good pets. (One girl I know says her rat loves Rice Krispies.)

The couch I am on now happens to house two. Once I got over my initial how-did-they-get-out-of-their-cage fear, I touched one today and was surprised its fur was so coarse – more like a horse’s than a hamster’s.

Here they are again, my current roommates.

Let’s hope the cage is locked more securely tonight!!

Would you ever own a pet rat or do you know someone who does?