What’s That Smell?

Nowadays, that’s the first question I ask myself whenever I go anywhere.  It’s like a little guessing game, where most of the odors that make my nose perk are pretty recognizable, only they’re about 47 trabillion times stronger than usual.

It came pretty early, within the first month. We’d drive around town, and the restaurants, the traffic, and Pleasant Grove would attack my nose. Most of the odors before pregnancy were relatively mild. I mean, driving past Pleasant Grove never disappoints if I crave the smell of sewage or rotten vegetables, but whenever we pass the unPleasant Gross exit now, it’s almost unbearable. No offense to anyone who lives there; you probably live away from the smell, which seems to lurk along the freeway.

There’s also some farmspace near the corner of 400 South and Geneva Road that smells like the land of fire and brimstone for about 5 seconds. Whenever we’re driving this corner, Reilly and I always accuse each other of farting.

When we drive closer to downtown Salt Lake City, around 500 South, along the freeway, it smells like nachos. Like nacho cheese. Not like sharp cheese, but definitely more mild and with jalapeno peppers. It’s not a smell I mind very much at all but look forward to whenever we get to that part of town.

I walk into church, and I can smell everyone. I can smell that woman’s lotion and that man’s aftershave and that baby’s spit-up. I can smell cooking oil on your skin and your greasy fast food breakfast from the other day.  I can smell somebody’s minty gum and that kid’s fruity shampoo and don’t even ask me what the speakers are even talking about because all the smells are speaking way more loudly and with more appeal (or repulsion) than the speakers. I mean, I do have to focus, because it’s church. And church is more important than my hypersensitive nose. We’ll just have to keep that in mind.

Not every smell bothers me. Lots of aromas are wonderful, and I’d love to spin around in fragrant air all day, but the fact is that there are also bad odors. And when they’re bad, they’re really bad.

There’s a women’s restroom in the Wilkinson Center on the second floor, close to the memorial room and ballroom. I’m sure you know which one I mean. The other day I went to campus to wait for Reilly to get out of class. I needed to go to the bathroom because that’s a pretty consistent condition these days, and when I opened the door, I felt my face scrunch and my eyes roll to the back of my head. I braced myself inside the door frame. Then I considered holding my pee to go to the bathroom downstairs by the bowling alley or to the other bathroom just down the hall. But I have more or less trained myself to go whenever I need to go, so I forged ahead into the fecal fog.

Undoubtedly, it’s a busy bathroom. The Wilkinson Center is a major campus hub, and I should have known that the bathroom would be stinky, but this complete ambush on my nosehairs convinced me that no one knows how to courtesy-flush or disinfect/deodorize. And this bathroom is a place where a lot of mothers change piles of poopy diapers. Because there are a lot of young mothers who go to BYU, y’all. There seems to be no ventilation, and when I entered that bathroom at 8:30 that one evening, all the quadrillions of microscopic, feculent particles had amassed during the day not only to form a humid, boggy marsh around the stalls, but something, somewhere that felt like another dimension. It felt like I had crossed over into an ethereal, methanous space of utter grossness, where I wasn’t stepping in it but walking through it. Think about it. (Or not.) And to think I’m growing another human that will soon contribute to the world’s sewage (who, technically, already is). I mean, there are sacrifices, and there are sacrifices. I mean, I have to do the noble thing.

Next time, I’ll just find a different bathroom.

And whatever that smell is, I probably know, but for the most part, I’d rather not.

Another Book I’m Reading

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach

I just started reading this, and asterisks twinkle sporadically throughout the text. Because the content is so interesting and the style is so quirky, it’s actually quite hard to not look toward the bottom of the page to see what the asterisks mean.

So far, the book is about eating. Later on, I’m sure the book will also be about pooping, because that’s a part of the “adventures” in the title. I’m currently in a chapter about how organs are very, very nutritious and American culture grimaces at the thought of eating narwhal skin, for example.

But, footnotes. Chapter 3–entitled “Liver and Opinions”–describes an experiment where scientists served children 16- to 29-months different things to taste, for “until kids are around two, you can get them to try pretty much anything.” Among the lowest-accepted items was human hair. An asterisk bedazzled the word hair, so I rushed to read the corresponding footnote and now I have to share it with you. If you’re squeamish, I suggest you ignore it, but if you can detach, here you go:

Compulsive hair-eaters wind up with trichobezoars–human hairballs. The biggest ones extend from stomach into intestine and look like otters or big hairy turds and require removal by stunned surgeons who run for their cameras and publish the pictures in medical journal articles about “Rapunzel Syndrome.” Bonus points for reading this footnote on April 27, National Hairball Awareness Day.

I read that last sentence and felt I’d missed out on serious bonus points. Still, I feel that I shouldn’t be giving myself so much credit for reading a book with so much  gross-out potential, because it’s actually a lot of fun to read. If you’re in the mood for some fun science writing and need a break from dense literature (like I do), check out this book.

Back to reading before dinner.

Some More Things About Safety

dr. friend:  so i don’t think i’m particularly cool with this whole not being able to chat with you

me:  yeah, no kidding
i’m a jerk
 dr. friend:  you should really work on that
 me:  hell no
it’s your problem
 dr. friend:  lol
 me:  😉
 dr. friend:  i mean, no texting or anything
 me:  i know, right?
 dr. friend:  sheesh
[top secret stuff]
 dr. friend:  ahhhh
so when do you return?
 me:  [shh]
 dr. friend:  okay.
 me:  don’t worry, it’s before your birthday
 dr. friend:  brb…i gotta tell the dept of homeland sec “something”
;-)lol
 me:  haha
i’m going to bring a longform birth certificate from senegal
it was never kenya
 dr. friend:  hahaha
  me:  i bought some dramamine and pepto
 dr. friend:  imodium?
 me:  no
 dr. friend:  buy some
 me:  yeah?
 dr. friend:  if you get the traveler’s diarrhea, imodium plus the azithromycin
 me:  i like doctor friends
 dr. friend:  seriously.
lol
and you know not to brush your teeth with the water too, right?
 me:  yeah. keeping the mineral water by the sink
using that for washing hands before contact lens insertion, too
 dr. friend:  good
and i don’t know that i’d do much wading in streams barefoot
 me:  you can look at all my parasites when i come back
 dr. friend:  hahahahah
[a friend] showed me a pic of a dude’s parasites once.  dude had brought them to the office
 me:  what
 dr. friend:  yeah
people bring weird crap in
like their bedbugs in a jar
 me:  why?
 dr. friend:  so i can see them
mucus too.  it’s an awesome job
 me:  you love it!
 dr. friend:  lol
most of the time
 dr. friend:  hey, good news
the worm i was concerned about, the guinea worm has been eradicated from senegal
 me:  did they put it back in guinea?
 dr. friend:  lol
 me:  i’m glad i don’t have to worry about that
 dr. friend:  yeah
me too
it’s pretty gross
 me:  would you be okay signing for a crate with a monkey in it?
it would be for your birthday
 dr. friend:  oh sure
 me:  what color?
 dr. friend:  it would need to be trained as a butler first
we’ve always wanted a monkey butler, you know
any color, as long as it’s trained.  i’m no racist.
 me:  do you like cufflinks for the monkey tux?
 dr. friend:  it would be nice, not necessary though
i’d be happy to dress the monkey
 me:  okay, that works
 dr. friend:  so do you have to wear a head scarf or anything?
 me:  no, but i do think we have to dress special for when we visit a mosque
 dr. friend:  probably long skirt/covered arms/head
 me:  yes
i should pack those :)
 dr. friend:  lol
 me:  do you like mangoes?
 dr. friend:  omg yeah
you should send me a bunch
 me:  i’m afraid the monkey will be easier
 dr. friend:  lol
you could um, smuggle them in your clothing?  ;-)
 me:  i could risk growing a cup size or four
 dr. friend:  hee
 me:  [la la la]
 dr. friend:  [confirm la la la]
[husband] says you’re going to get lots of marriage proposals
 me:  SWEET
 dr. friend:  in senegal.  they seem to enjoy foreign women
 me:  yeah, i KNOW not here
 dr. friend:  lol, not what i meant
 me:  (i know 🙂 )
 dr. friend:  lol
of course, with the whole muslim thing, you might be looking at quite a different life for yourself
 me:  maybe i can find one who practices animalism
 dr. friend:  there ya go
 me:  or one of the 4% of the catholic population
 dr. friend:  see, now you’re thinking
 me:  haha
 dr. friend:  so you leave [cuckoo!]
 me:  true
 me:  did you turn down your invitation [to the royal wedding]?
 dr. friend:  yeah…decided on iceland instead
 me:  priorities
 dr. friend:  yup
 me:  do you play portal?
 dr. friend:  no
 me:  okay, just wondering
 dr. friend:  what is it?
oh crap, have i gotten old?
 me:  it’s a video/computer game
 dr. friend:  oh
 dr. friend:  so old
 me:  i hear ya
 dr. friend:  woops
 me:  ha. huh?
 dr. friend:  i accidentally got off this page
 me:  ah. okay
i’m so flattered that you’re going to miss me
 dr. friend:  totally
 me:  will you say hi to björk when you go to iceland?
 dr. friend:  lol of course
i’ll send you one of her outfits
 me:  i would LOVE that
i’d wear it every day until the eggs hatch
 dr. friend:  unless you’d prefer that fermented shark’s head thing
lol
 me:  haha. eww
are you going to try to buy iceland?
 dr. friend:  not right now.  we need a fence.
 me:  HAHAHA
priorities
 dr. friend:  yup
i heard a rumor that you designed kate’s dress
 me:  if it’s a cross between modest and yip-yip monster, then yes
 dr. friend:  that’s wild.  so you’re going to senegal to avoid the press, right
 me:  yes. and to find a royal husband of my own
 dr. friend:  okay, i’m lame so i’m off to bed
 me:  good night lamey
 dr. friend:  have a good night!  [dum dee dum dee dum]
me: thanks so much
 dr. friend:  get some imodium
 me:  yes’m
 dr. friend:  gnight!

Arachnid Florida

Florida has bugs. Lots of them.

So, people. Be glad I’m not dead. I headed out the door this morning for a run, and my eye caught some spiderwebs glistening in the sunlight. I made a note to try to take some photos when I got back.

I risked my life taking these pictures. I had to put the camera lens up against the webs. The webs billowed when the wind blew and the silky strands stuck to the camera. I was terrified the web would wrap around me, then the spider would finish cocooning me and finish me off for dinner.

I’m not sure what kind of spider it is. As you can see, it’s pretty ugly, but it didn’t seem to mind posing for the photos. It spun some beautiful webs, too. Maybe if I sit underneath them, the spider will spin lovely adjectives about me.

Heebie-jeebies. I still have them.

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Something to Reade

What I’ll miss: Duane Reade
They’re everywhere in the city! It’s a pharmacy! It’s a convenience store! They give you $5 for every $100 you spend! It’s where some friends and I saw the wonderful, adorable Elijah Wood!

What I won’t miss: Garbage day
Sometimes they stack the bags six or more feet high! And it takes up half the sidewalk! And I fear the piles toppling and burying me alive! What a shameful, putrescent death!

Public Performance

What I’ll miss: Street performers
The good ones. I’ve seen some acts that would blow away much of what I’ve seen on television. I know that’s still not saying much because a lot of television is crap these days, but the musicians and dancers I’ve seen on the street? They should be on television or in grand concert halls or other jam-packed venues. That aren’t subway platforms. And they should be getting paid a whole lot more. The other day at the Delancey-Essex stop on the F line, I only had 50 cents, and I made eye contact with the guy as I dropped the change in his guitar case. He was good. Inconsequentially cute, and quite talented.

What I won’t miss: Exhibitionists
The entire range, from public displays of affection to other stuff. Now I totally want to gag.

Sick Ramble

My body decided to stick to a seminary schedule instead of switching to a sick schedule. I woke up at 4:00 this morning, and it was just as well, because I couldn’t breathe. I used the bathroom and got a drink of water and ate another cough drop. I’ve discovered that sitting up or being upright helps my breathing quite a bit. The exudate from my respiratory tract is thick and viscous, and when I’m lying down, it probably accumulates in the passages and near the openings and blocks the breathways. When I tried blowing my nose, it wasn’t … productive. It’s probably so sticky and so  dense it clings to the walls of my nose and throat. 

Did I even mention the drool? Since I couldn’t breathe out of my nose, I slept with my mouth open, and when I woke up at 4:00 the hair by my face was wet; my left cheek was slimy. I swallowed, and maybe a full teaspoon of saliva descended my burning throat. It was out of control. My body is not mine when I’m sick.

But, I did go back to bed. My body was probably a little ticked that I tried forcing a sick schedule on it (I set my alarm for 8:45, because that seemed to be a reasonable time to get up and that would have given me 9 hours of much desired and needed rest)  because I woke up at 7:00 this morning with the gut feeling I wouldn’t be going back to sleep. My breathing felt a little halted, so I decided to take a shower, hoping the steam would loosen up the gunk. It was somewhat helpful. I’ll spare describing the loogies, except to say they were like little mucus manatees, traveling to the drain at their own pace, paying no mind to the water’s swift stream to the same drain.

And now, I’m typing in my living room. One of my roommates is sick, too, and she seems to be doing a dandy job sleeping like she’s on a sick schedule. My lower back aches; my thorax feels like one of those Dante ovens in one of the inner circles; the fronts of my shins are throbbing, not in a shin splint way, but like my pulse is trying to dig an escape route through my shins. It’s weird. And, my throat. Somebody, please extinguish my throat.

I made some cream of wheat, and it was perfect. I took some cold medicine, and I drank some more water. The need to blow my nose is constant, but whenever I try, hardly anything comes. If I ever get back to sleep, I’ll try it sitting up or at least at a decent incline. It’s nice to breathe.

Today is going to be full of reading and writing. And maybe even just staring at the television. I’m going to keep encouraging a sick schedule on my body. I’ll be in my pajamas all day. If any of you want to risk the trek to north Manhattan for a visit, that would be great, but I’ll understand if you don’t. This ramble might have grossed you out enough to keep you as far away from me as possible.

It looks beautiful outside. Enjoy it. Have a great weekend.