Iím so glad Iím no longer a germaphobe.

Iíve been working on painting my bathroom and resealing around the tub. As one might expect, I got my hands dirty. Some of the stuff isnít immediately coming off with soap/makeup remover/nail polish remover. I know there are no germs in the stuff on my hands, but five or six years ago, Iíd have been soaking my hands in bleach and scrubbing my fingerprints off.

Can you believe that I actually was an art major? My hands used to always be painfully cracked and dry.

Most stuff that leaves a mark on you is not ridden with parasites, but itís a chemical of some kind. I didnít like that, either.

The few people who knew me well enough would tell me that I was an obsessive compulsive hand washer. I figured, thereís nothing wrong with wanting to be clean, right?

Probably not, I donít know. I do know that now I am capable of letting things that wonít come off immediately wear off over time, and thatís a lot more comfortable than scraping off your skin.

Previously, I donít think Iíd have ever been able to make a habit of setting foot in NJ. If I went there, Iím sure I wouldnít have touched anything. Thereís something about that state that makes me feel like thereís more germs there.

As a matter of fact, I think moving to the east coast has been a big help with getting over my germaphobia, in general.

The thing that really did it, though, was Neil taking me out into the woods for a few days. I wasnít sure that I would be able to handle it, and I underestimated how dirty the outdoors really is.

Miles from any running water, I had no choice but to drink lake water (boiled, in Canada, where the water was declared safe to drink. Iím not insane). So, I went out there and got really, really dirty, and had no choice but to live with the fact that I was really, really dirty. I didnít die. The cooties didnít take over and carry me away.

I didnít get sick. As a matter of fact, I came back feeling better.

Now, whenever someone touches me or my things, I donít frantically worry about the last time that person washed their hands.

I can go to a movie theatre and diner in NJ and not even bring a bottle of purell. The hand soap in their washrooms is good enough now.

Thank God, because one redeeming quality of NJ is the diners. Last night, Tony and I decided to meet halfway between NYC and Philly and see a movie. We went to see The Simpsons, which I found surprisingly good. Thatís a show I used to watch, many years ago, when I watched TV.

Afterwards, we went to the nearest diner, which was only about ľ of a mile away, but because itís NJ, it took me 30 minutes to get there.

Twenty minutes to get out of the parking lot (at midnight in the pouring rain) and then two U-turns to get where I needed to be (this isnít my mistake, this is what they call city planning).

I havenít totally figured out NJ, but Iím improving. Sometimes I actually find my destination on the first try now.

Anyway, Iíve grown a real appreciation for the diners. They arenít even like what the rest of the country calls a diner. Theyíre a species of their own.

I donít often go, but when I do, I love going. Typically, I study the menu, marveling at the number of options and noting the interesting items.

My naÔve commentaries are things like, ďIn what kind of restaurant can you actually see JELL-O on the menu?Ē and ďWho knew feta cheese was a side dish? If I order that, will I get a pile of feta on a plate?Ē

Tonyís deadpan responses were, ďIn any diner between New York and PhillyĒ and ďYes, Iím sure thatís exactly what youíd get.Ē

Of course, it was 1AM by this point. I think thatís probably the best time to go to a diner, sometime after 1AM.

I had the NY style veggie burger with coleslaw and a pickle, and then I had some green tea and part of a giant cookie.

Iím going back to NJ tomorrow, so I can go surfing. This means I have to get up too early tomorrow, drag out my 3MM wetsuit, hope it escaped being chewed to bits by Dylan, eat, coat myself in waterproof sunblock, pack my stuff and go.

I may end up missing meditation tomorrow night, but I hope not. This week, I think someone may need to chain me to my laptop to force me to stop slacking off and get my work done.

I didnít get to bed until after 4 last night, and I woke up early today. That might be why I sound so funny now.

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Saturday, Jul. 28, 2007 at 10:06 PM