Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bad Backs and Strange Smells

Caught your attention with that heading, didn't I? It's not as bad as it sounds. Let's discuss bad backs first.

I'm not one of those paperthin women - heck, I'm not even one of those notebook thin women, so my back would probably appreciate it if I lost some pounds. BUT, I've also been in a bad car wreck in the past, not to mention all the extreme sporting adventures that sometimes resulted in crashes, so the back has had injury that was not related to my weight in any way. I've always been one of those people who liked a soft bed. My back likes a soft bed. I have one of those sleep by numbers systems at home and if I could get it to go negative, I swear I would.

So I'm doing a training in Tampa this week and I'm staying at a hotel with the hardest bed in North America. Seriously, I bet if I pulled back all those covers they have tucked over the top that there's a sheet of plywood under there. Now, this is nothing new, but what I find entertaining about this is my personal take on it. You see, this hotel has a spa on the third floor and I'm convinced that this is the way they get you to schedule a massage.

Clever, clever marketing - and much more profitable than buying decent mattresses.

So that's the back issue, now on to smells. So I land at the airport in Tampa on Sunday and of course, I have some silly directions from Mapquest that don't even mirror the actual things I need to do to get to the hotel because there is construction and the road I needed to take wasn't open. So I get on the highway going north even though I need to go south (but that's the entrance I could find) and I figure I'll take the first exit, turn around and head back the direction I actually need - no problem, right?

Yeah, except that the highway split into two other highways. So I took the split closest to me and found myself headed across a causeway that most likely crossed some inlet of the Gulf of Mexico. As I was crossing the water, my nose began to register this bad smell - sort of like sewage. I wrinkled my nose and thought to myself "what the hell is that?" But after another five seconds or so, my senses cleared and everything hit me in an instant. It wasn't sewage. It was the smell of the Gulf rolling over mud and dead fish and all the other smells that a body of water can bring. Since it was humid, the smell was pretty loud. As soon as it hit me what I was smelling, I was transported right back home to Louisiana and the smell was no longer bad, it was nice.

Interesting observation, huh? And it reminded me that smell is the one sense I am always forgetting to put into my writing. I don't know why since it's obviously very strongly linked with memory. Otherwise why would a perfectly sane woman go from thinking something smelled like sewage to thinking it smelled like home?

So do you have a smell memory?????


Kimber An said...

Oh, yes, I have a smell memory. I think it's very important to include smell in any scene which hearkens to basic human instincts. That includes mating as well as the result of mating - childbirth and breastfeeding. Reunions of mates and offspring. Recognizing one's family among the masses. Revulsion at death. Smell of burning/fear of being burnt. Communicating this in a way in which the reader can just 'feel' the story and not be jerked out of it by description is the challenge.

Diana Peterfreund said...

I have a smell memory, and I'm trying to figure out which road you took out of TPA. Man, I wish I were in town this week. We could totally hang!

Jana DeLeon said...

You're definitely right, kimber, smell is a great way to get the reader into the story and feel things so much deeper.

Oh man, I wish you were here too. Didn't even think about it with you being up north now. And I'm not sure what I was on but it went west????

Tori Lennox said...

Gentle *hugs* about your back. Not fun.

I hate to admit this, but I don't know that I have a smell memory. Sad but true.

Jana DeLeon said...

hmmmmm, tori, maybe you should visit any coast near a bayou.....

Kelly Parra said...

Smells always bring memories for me. Its just like during the holidays, right when I enter my aunt's house I smell all the wonderful comfort foods that I've been eating since I was kid. =D

Colleen Gleason said...

Smell memory? The smell of rotting potatoes. UGH.

Nasty. I think I found them in the depths of my pantry, forgotten and unused, and they reeked.

And...btw, I tagged you on my blog today, Jana.

Jana DeLeon said...

ah, kelly, I love the baking smells. I wish my grandma was still around. You hardly ever went into her house without smelling something baking. And between Thanksgiving and Christmas it was like the bonus round! :)

Hi Collen - I'll run over and check out the tag. Rotting potatoes - yuck. We're they trying to root?

Kim Stagliano said...

My MS opens with the smell of poop. Yup. A crapisode. I moved from Ohio to CT (New England is home) and the first whiff of the ocean I got (in a Staples parking lot!) swooshed me "home" in a heartbeat. Smell is the last sense to go when you are very very old. Interesting post. Thanks!

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi kim - a crapisode opening sounds very interesting - but then I've read your blog and no what you're referring to. :) I think the whole smell thing is very interesting too, especially as my allergies are usually so bad I can't smell much of anything. But in Floriday, I don't have any allergies. What's up with that?

Sassy Sistah said...

A smell memory...early summer morning in rural North Carolina. I am about ten years old.

There is a gentle but steady rain on the tin roof. The air is cool and I am rolled up in one of Mama's soft, homemade quilts, lying on the wide front porch of our house. I feel safe, warm, so very comfortable and happy.

I'm reading a new book, probably Trixie Belden or Donna Parker. The scent of a new book, rain, the freshly cut grass and the blooming crepe myrtle tree all begin to mingle together and I close my eyes. I can separate each scent and then recognize them.

But then, I let my mind drift in imagination and all of those scents become one. I can easily imagine I'm in something resembling heaven.

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