How a Random Library Find Taught Me about My Anosmia

Last week I was wandering through the library when I glanced at a book entitled Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way by Molly Birnbaum.  I immediately picked up the book because I had never meet anyone who admitted to not having a sense of smell.   That is, no one besides myself.

Yup, it’s true:  I don’t have a sense of smell (the clinical term is anosmia).  I’m not a congenital ansomic, someone who was born without a sense of smell (pg. 51).  I remember being able to smell manure, my maternal grandmother’s musty house,  and my paternal grandparents’ smokey home.  I even remember liking the smell of popcorn.  I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I no longer had the ability to smell; for years I claimed to have a cold whenever someone tried to get me to smell something (and I honestly thought I had a cold because no one had ever said that people could lost their sense of smell).  However, during a Girl Scout activity in sixth grade that required smelling flowers, I once again explained that I must have a cold because I couldn’t smell anything.  Then I realized, I felt fine.  I didn’t have a cold.  Likewise, I couldn’t remember the last time I had been able to smell anything.  I thought to myself, I don’t think I have a sense of smell!  Yet with the resiliency of a child and the self-consciousness of a pre-teen (again, I didn’t know of anyone else who didn’t have a sense of smell!), I quickly discarded my shock and continued about my normal activities.      

Since I lost my sense of smell in childhood, I don’t feel like my life is missing something.  There are some foods and drinks that I cannot enjoy as fully as someone with a sense of smell can–teas have no taste beyond the honey or sugar I mix in, Jelly Bellies don’t have variations in their flavors, and the nuances of flavor in something like a roasted chicken don’t exist.  Sometimes I worry about how my clothes smell or if there is a gas leak in the house.  Sometimes I even wish I could smell when babies have soiled their diapers so I know when to change them without having to guess and check (this became even more apparent the day I was caring for a newborn and I didn’t realize that he had poop coming out the side of his diaper until I had accidentally smeared it on myself.  Gross, right?).  But, as I just mentioned, I don’t feel like I have a void in my senses.  I still like food–teas provide me comfort through their warmth, I like the sugary taste of Jelly Bellies, and I can still find delight in a juicy piece of meat.  Febreeze helps with the clothing situation and I’m happy to have my husband live with me so he can detect any harmful smells.  And when I’m actually changing a baby’s poopy diaper–JACKPOT!

But still, nobody likes to feel completely unique, hence my excitement when I happened upon Season to Taste.  Here was someone else who knows what it was like to not have a sense of smell.  Even better, because Ms. Birnbaum decided to write a book about her experience, she presented a whole slew of people who can’t smell or are trying to learn more about those who don’t have a sense of smell.  From anosmic Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (pgs. 53-56), to Richard Doty, scientist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Taste and Smell Center (pgs. 51, 177-208), Ms. Birnbaum takes us on her journey to discover how to cope without a sense of smell* and how smells and tastes can enrich our lives.

Molly Birnbaum has been blessed to have her sense of smell return–she is one of the fortunate 10% to have their sense of smell return after losing it due to a head injury (pg. 184). 


My Amazing Thrift Store Find

For several years now my husband and I have been looking for a new-to-us computer desk.  However, we have a very specific set of criteria for any desk that we would purchase.  My husband is 6’3″, so the desk has to have enough space for his legs.  We know that we’re moving often, so the desk has to be sturdy.  I have a tendency to have my work explode across whatever surface I’m working at, so the desk has to be big enough for my mess.  Oh, and we’re not millionaires, so the desk has to be inexpensive.

Over the last three years we have come across many desks but there was always a reason not to buy it.  Sometimes it was too small, sometimes it was too wobbly, and sometimes we gasped and slowly backed away when we saw the price.  There was always something not quite right with any desk we came across, at least until I came across this in our local thrift store:

Sturdy, spacious, and only $45!  This one is just right!

After also finding some drinking glasses, a sweater, jeans, and a biography on Martin Luther on my shopping spree, I have decided that I will forgo my call wish of having a Kohl’s nearby as long as there is an amazing thrift shop in town.

And the Very Exciting Thing Is. . .

About a month ago I wrote about a Very Exciting Thing that I couldn’t share at that time.  However, with the release of the church’s February newsletter, I can finally make my announcement:  our vicarage congregation is switching to the Lutheran Service Book (LSB)!  After using LSB throughout college and the first two years at the seminary, coming to a church still using The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) was a bit like saying goodbye to another friend and trying to reconnect with an old acquaintance.  I used TLH at my home church but after 6 years of using LSB, I liked the new hymnal.  It’s easier to use, easier to read, and has a wide selection of services.

However, in two weeks I will not have to pine for LSB any longer.  The pastor here is excited for the change and he and my husband are trying to get the congregation excited as well–we’ll see how that goes, you know how Lutherans can be like with change.  🙂

Halfway Through

About six months ago, my husband and I moved to the north for his vicarage; in about six months, we will move back to Fort Wayne so he can complete his final year of schooling.  We’re halfway through his vicarage year.  We’ve already started to think about the next move while still trying to get settled from the last move.  To add to the unsettling feeling of living a topsy-turvey life, I realized that a year ago we were wondering where we would live this year and a year from now we will once again be wondering where we will live the following year.

Despite knowing the transitions we have to make in the coming year, I’m beginning to see the end of our seminary journey.  My husband now has completed more of his seminary education that he has left to finish and 18 months from now (give or take) we will hopefully complete our last “seminary move.”  I’m hoping that will bring an end to our topsy-turvey life.

Making My Husband’s Birthday Special. . .Or Not

My husband’s birthday is in a couple of weeks, so I was thinking about what we could do to celebrate.  Unfortunately, the youth group’s Sweetheart Dinner is on the same day as his birthday, so he has to spend the afternoon setting up and the evening attending the event.  No going out to eat that day.

I then had a brilliant idea–I would make my husband breakfast in bed!  We went to a B & B for our honeymoon and he talked for months about how great it was to have a hot breakfast delivered to our door.  He would be so excited if I made him a nice breakfast (for once) and brought it up to him.  Even better, his birthday is on a Saturday, a day of rest and relaxation.

I started to think about what I would make for his breakfast when suddenly I remembered a really important fact about my husband’s work schedule:  he works on Saturday mornings.  Not only does he work, he attends the men’s Bible study.  The men’s Bible study that starts at 7:00 a.m.  He gets up at 6:15 to go to the men’s Bible study.

Screw that, I’m not getting up that early to make him breakfast.*

*Don’t worry about my lack of motivation to make him breakfast on his birthday–he gets a good meal at the Bible study.

I’m Not the Only Crazy One!

I happened upon this post the other day–it actually made me laugh out loud in my empty house.

Book Review: Distracted

Last week I read Distracted:  The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson.  As a technophobe, I found this book entertaining and enlightening.  While the author sometimes makes some stretches with her arguments and at times becomes too philosophical for me, she does raise some valid points about how our culture’s desire for technology can be detrimental to our attention, as well as the functioning of society as a whole.  Likewise, I enjoyed the wide range of topics covered in her book, including topics of food (and our culture’s obsession with meals in one package), robots, and even literature.

Pride Cometh Before the Fall on Ice

After spending the last two winters thinking to myself I really should by some winter-appropriate church shoes, I finally broke down and bought a pair of dress boots.

I haven’t gotten a new pair of shoes in almost a year, so I immediately wanted to wear these when they arrived.  So the next day I put on a pair of jeans, pulled on a black sweater, and slipped on my spiffy new boots.  I have been clomping around in my sturdy but not quite stylin’ snow boots since November, so wearing my new dress boots made me feel grown up and sophisticated.

I managed to get around all morning without any issues, so I decided to wear them down to church when I went to practice piano.  As I started trekking up the hill behind our house, I realized that last week’s rain and temperature drop made the hill extremely icy.  I thought about going back inside and switching into my snow boots.  But I feel so cool in these boots!  I thought to myself.  Besides, I can manage.  

I reached the top of the hill and looked down–it would be even more slippery going down than it was going up.  I took a step forward and my foot immediately started sliding on ice.  I tried to steady myself with my other leg.  It did no good; now both feet were sliding and skidding on the ice.  Flailing my arms wildly, I tried to regain my balance.  Then I felt my body rushing toward the ground and my feet shooting up in the air. . .


Now I was sitting on the snowy, muddy ground, looking around trying to figure out what I should do next.  So I went through the I-Just-Fell-Down Processing Steps:

1.  Did anyone see me?  Whew, neighbor wasn’t out and nobody is in the church parking lot!
2.  What did I do to my clothes?  Pants are muddy but no holes!  I will have to go change now, bummer.
3.  Am I hurt?  Whoops, maybe that should come first.  My leg is a little tender, but no serious damage.

I carefully got up and tottered back to the house.  Once inside, I kicked off my spiffy (now slightly muddied) dress boots put on my sturdy but not quite stylin’ snow boots.  It will be a long time before I put style before practicality.

Oh trusty snow boots, I’m sorry that I tried to leave you!

How Influenza is Ruining My Limited Social Life

Influenza is currently rampaging through our vicarage church.  Last week the pastor cancelled the 55+ club’s monthly meeting because so many people were sick.  My husband only had half the normal number of kids attend Bible study on Wednesday night because so many were out with the flu.  On Sunday, there were two topics of conversation at church:  weather and influenza.  At this point it feels as though the question isn’t so much if we’ll get the flu but when will we get the flu.

Despite all of this, my husband and I have thus far remained healthy.  Life goes on as usual for us, including my husband’s new weekly schedule–youth group on Wednesday nights and confirmation on Thursday nights.  This leaves two very long and empty days for me to try to fill.

In a desperate attempt to ward off the inevitable loneliness such days bring (and because I’m supposed to be working on reaching out to people for social interaction), I called the pastor’s wife last week to see if she wanted to meet for coffee.  She happily agreed and we decided to meet at her house on Thursday afternoon.  However, she called me Thursday morning to explain that so many people in her office were sick with the flu that she had to go into work that day.  I was disappointed but understood these things happen, so we rescheduled our meet up for today.

Yesterday my husband got a phone call from the pastor; his wife now had the flu and consequently wouldn’t be able to meet for coffee.  I was disappointed but understood how these things happen (and I really didn’t want to go over if she had the flu).  However, I have to laugh at how easily influenza is ruining my very limited social life.  Now I’m just hoping that my husband and I stay healthy for our mini-vacation next week.

Poor Pastor’s Wife, she is quite ill.  It looks like it will be awhile before I can tease her about the claims she made on Sunday about never getting sick.  😦 

What Could Possibly Go Wrong With This Idea?

I had to take some medication at church today that makes me incredibly drowsy.  Every time I take it, I end up passing out on the couch for a couple of hours and spend the rest of the day in a groggy haze.  However, I decided I did not want to sleep away the day today.  I brilliantly decided to counteract the drowsiness side effect with caffeine via a cup of coffee (you know, the stuff I’m supposed to be drinking as much).

I kind of feel funny now.  Perhaps the drowsy feeling combined with the jitters isn’t really much better than falling asleep. . .