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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

holoblomo day 9: smell-o-vision

note: “holoblomo” stands for Horribly Local Blogging Month, my response to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) that happens every November. The NaNoWriMo challenge asks writers to compose 50,000 words in a month; I chose 10,000 as my goal. Enjoy.

So here we are.
I used to love scented candles. When I was in my 20s, working for a few months on a kids’ show in Los Angeles, I discovered the gloriously fragrant wax creations peddled by the Bath and Body Works in the Glendale Galleria. They made the stale air in my corporate housing so much more palatable, and it was a peaceful way to slip into the evenings after a long day of puppetry... being hypnotized by the soft, flickering flame gently releasing raspberry or vanilla-lavender swirls of delight. Aromatherapy was still a new word in my vocabulary, but I believed. And seeing as I actually had some disposable income for the first time in the history of my existence, I was thrilled to be able to finally afford a little luxury. 
As time passed I came to use them less and less, after hearing about carbon wicks and such, but since they are quintessential gifts to both give and receive, I had no reason to remove them completely from my life.
Cut to a few evenings ago. 

I’d been coughing for days, and my throat was starting to get raw. Thanks to pharmaceuticals and saline spray, my nasal passages were clear, but starting to get dry as the humidity levels in the city plummeted. 
I was unloading the dishwasher when an odd smell wafted down my throat. It wasn’t the dishes. It wasn’t the detergent. I had no idea where it was coming from, until I looked up and noticed the kitchen vent. 
Someone in another apartment, next door or upstairs (or anywhere), was burning a scented candle. A scented candle that was sickeningly flowery, letting off one of those intense magazine-sample-esque fragrances that is subtle and palatable when the candle is cold and unlit, but wildly overpowering when melted into pools of perfume-y liquid goo. 
And this olfactory offense was now haunting the air vents, clouding my kitchen, making its way into my tender throat and burning my nostrils. Every inhalation aggravated my coughing. Since not breathing was not an option, I opened a window. When it got too cold, I closed it, hoping I’d chased the unfortunate air away.
But the temporarily dissipated fragrance regrouped and reattacked.
And again, I opened the window until it got too cold. 
Even though I prefer not to knock on my neighbors’ doors, I peered into the building hallway to see if the wafting was coming from someone on our floor. No trace of any disgusting passion-hyacinth-hibiscus-springtime-freesia-florals, which meant it could be coming from any unit in the line. 
As the evening turned to night and the scent’s strength became ridiculous, I began to become concerned that perhaps the candle’s owner had fallen asleep. It was bad enough that the sheer act of taking in air became unpleasant, but if a fire were to break out because of someone’s addiction to aromatherapy, I was going to be very, very miffed.

I could imagine the firefighters running horrified out of the blaze, choking on the fragrance. I could picture milling tourists miles away, looking around curiously and wondering where that bright light was coming from, and who among them was wearing that horrible eau de toilette. I had nightmarish visions of sifting through charred belongings that smelled like the fragrance department of Hell. 
Suffice it to say, we are alive and well and not a bit singed, thankfully. 
But I’ve been burned by a scented candle for the last time, sister.
And that’s 3890 words.
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.

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