Olfactory Cartography #1

I’ve created an inventory of daily scents, a smell map. By no means a complete list, but these stood out. This occurred on a Friday.


1. My Own B.O.

I’m not sure why our own smell is pleasing. It’s not pleasing really, but reassuring. Do not worry, you are awake, and you are alive. Good morning.

2. Old Bananas

I bought too many bananas. A couple went bad. See previous post.

3. Soap

Another reassuring smell. It reminds me that I have to do something today, and I shouldn’t smell bad. It degauss’ my brain. Unfortunately I purchased some strange green Zest-like soap, that doesn’t really smell that great, but it fulfills the purpose (albeit minimally.) I should’ve stocked up on my preferred soap from home, a subtly masculine yet lightly floral scent. It, like my current soap, didn’t linger, but it made shower time smell better.

4. Bacon

I’m on a real bacon kick lately, spurred mostly by the fact that I have bacon that will go bad if I do not eat it. It’s a real burden.

5. Lucky Strikes

A bad habit, true, but they smell and taste the same as they did when I was nineteen. Before I quit smoking, I had to switch brands because they stopped selling these in the United States. When I started, I chose this brand based purely on the simplicity of the logo. It’s really a lovely design, that they’ve unfortunately updated apparently. It’s not much different, but they’ve chased modernity and added the illusion of depth, to a product that very clearly has none.

6. Green Tea

I recently purchased some tea, as an attempt to change my coffee/water/Coke/beer routine. I unwrapped it to put it away and it smelled wonderful. It should’ve reminded me of tea, or maybe a situation that involved tea, of which I’ve had many, but what it reminded me of was mochi, and situations which involved mochi, of which I’ve had tragically few. This simple fact though, made the nostalgia much clearer, and more specific.

7. Coffee

Black. I enjoy making coffee. I don’t generally chase money, but if I ever happen to have a surplus of it, and a permanent residence, a professional La Marzocco or its equivalent is almost certainly a priority.

8. Something Vaguely Chemical

Like varnish and bleach? Whatever they use to clean the floors. It’s potent, usually. Fortunately today I emerged to open hallway windows and less toxic residuals.

9. Faint Wood

From a distant alley, I’d guess pine, but my penchant for identifying wood by smell has faded in the last fifteen years or so. I’d love to practice that again. Unfortunately I probably won’t be able to get back in the habit for a while.

10. Heavy Exhaust

Standard moment of unpleasantness.

11.  Light Flowers

Just a brief scent. Maybe small flowers, but very sweet. It smelled like early spring time. A nice palate cleanser after the exhaust.

12. Stale Familiar Smoke

A daily smell now, surrounded by no smoking signs. It’s tied to the stairwell, it resides there, like a friendly but malicious ghost.

13. Red Bull

I’m amazed at how potent this smell is. Twenty feet away, a small can is palpable. I don’t drink it, but I’ve tried it in the past. It tastes like Zots.

14. Thai Food

Not the best Thai I’ve ever had, but it was a nice change of pace. Familiar scents, peanuts, basil, onion, peppers, etc, combined perfectly. Thai food is the olfactory equivalent of a collage for me.

17. Cheap Beer

Familiar and constantly bad, but refreshing. I love beer that smells “hoppy,” or beers with a heavy and rich scent, but the overly sweet smell of shitty beer is comforting, unchallenging, and relaxing.

18. Air Conditioner

Old and new, dusting off and warming up. It’s musty still, since I haven’t run it, but in trying to keep the sickly dust out and a pleasant temperature in, it’ll have to do for now. The biggest disappointment of every summer, is the violent switch from the thick sticky outdoors to the thin cold indoors, and vice versa. Somehow though, this is also one of the biggest pleasures.

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