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February 11, 2006
It appears that my self-congratulation on not having caught a cold this year was premature: I had that old feeling in my chest and throat walking to the subway Wednesday, and again walking home. By last evening half my nose -- one nostril -- was red. It's an interesting look.

There was no point in eating supper, not being able to taste anything, and so I lay in bed, reading catalogues and listening to the radio until they began to play soundtracks from the old Godzilla movies and I decided it was time to go to sleep.

Just in case there's something to the persistent notion that massive doses of vitamin C shorten a cold, I'm taking it. But any cold medicine that does any good contains a drug that elevates blood pressure, so it's off limits for me. I don't drink alcohol. That leaves hot tea and whining as my only remaining comforts.

But I read in the brain book that my daughter gave me for Christmas that we can make ourselves feel happier just by smiling. Neurologically, it goes both ways, it says in the book: being happy makes you smile, but smiling also makes you happy. So I lay in the dark and practiced smiling. Certainly I felt no worse.

And this morning was another day. In honor of my cold, I wore a hat when I went outside in my bathrobe to get the paper and feed the birds, giving them a couple of big smiles as I dumped seed into their feeder. Now I am sitting in front of a warm computer, looking up things like how to store maple syrup and where would be the best place for me to study Greek. I am on my third cup of tea, and there's plenty more where that came from. Things could be much worse.

So today I will drink water and wash my hands a lot. I will rest when I need to. I will use lots of hand sanitizer before I celebrate the Eucharist, later on today and tomorrow morning, and I will not drink from the chalice. I will not shake anybody's hand at the Peace, or at the door after church -- I will just hug them, touching only the sleeves of their winter coats. I may even remember to wear my long black hooded cape at the church door: I look like a Druid in it, but it is heavy and warm.

They only last seven days, colds. Or maybe ten. Two of them are over already.

The brain book is A User's Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention and the Four Theaters of the Brain, by Jon J. Ratey, M.D.

Thanks to all who wrote in response to yesterday's eMo, reminding me that Baton Rouge is in Louisiana, not Mississippi. I knew that. I have a cold.
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