Years ago, I lived with a Febreze fanatic. The couch always smelled good, better than I ever expected couches to smell, as if it had been stuffed with fresh dryer sheets just before I sat down. I grew to like it, to expect it, to rely on it to mean that everything at home was in order and okay.

Later, I would find out that sometimes people spray Febreze on themselves because they can’t or don’t want to shower. While I am at work, its scent creates a different context; now Febreze is mild confusion or warning, sparks of sunshine gleaming off the head of a raised shovel.


I spotted a vintage Pelikan 100 in the wild – the reference desk, really – on Monday. It was burgundy with a bright gold “beak” clip and its owner let me write with it. It was filled with Private Reserve Chocolat, an excellent choice for this smooth writer. I let the patron write with my Lamy 2000, which is the new hotness of my collection and the Pelikan’s opposite in form and character; while the Pelikan reminded me of an antique Bentley, my Lamy is more of an Audi TT.

It was a random treat in the middle of a dull day.

Now I am flipping through Fountain Pens Past and Present and it smells just like my high school yearbooks used to smell. That combined with the smell of freshly-baking bread is making me homesick for Chicago, but only the Chicago of my teenaged self, all Wax Trax and CafΓ© Voltaire and living for that first burst of Friday afternoon air, half-past three and everything is possible as long as someone borrows a car.

one more smell

The dashboard widget said 8 minutes, so I power-walked. As I slid onto one of the last non-senior seats on the bus, I caught a whiff of rubber cement.

The last time I smelled rubber cement on the bus, I was sitting next to the same person.

The smell was not entirely unpleasant. It reminded me of when I used to decorate my Chandler’s assignment notebook in high school, cutting out strange pictures from magazines and pasting them on the pages.

And so I catalogued one more smell that will not make me give up my seat on the bus.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.