Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nosy Interview: Christine Hebl

Pika and Christine in Aurora Over Norway, © Ole Christian Salomonsen

Christine and I met through our mutual friend Tina, and I've gotten to know Christine (now a Minneapolitan once again!) better in recent years by reading (and gazing at the lovely photos on) her blog, Pinyon Pines.

What do you smell like? 
I would love to answer this question by saying I smell of a most exquisite and unique eau de toilette, but I cannot. Truthfully, I cannot say I smell of something even arguably delightful. Odiferous compounds make my husband's left elbow hurt. Even a stranger drizzled sparingly with Chanel No. 5 has the potential to set off my partner's left arm joint, if she is within a very vague vicinity of him.  Perfume is not an option for me.

If not a classy aroma, what do I smell like?  I am quite sure my skin and cotton apparel always smell like sweat. I live in Texas, and most of the time the heat index is worse than intolerable. On top of that, I spend considerable portions of weekdays outside with young students. I like the robust smell of sweat, though; it makes me feel like I could actually possess some kind of prized American work ethic.  In addition to perspiration and hard work, there is no doubt that I smell of coffee. I drink lots of it. My breath and my fingers smell like high-quality, snobbish, expensive fair-trade deliciousness. Then, there's my hair, which is plentiful and straw-like and has a tendency to pick up random odors from the day's activities. "What is that smell emanating from me?" I ask myself. I grab a wad of my medium-brown strands for answers and take a big sniff. "Ohhh yeah, I live in Texas, so it's that massive chunk of beef that my neighbor was barbequing in the courtyard adjacent to my apartment door." Or, "that's right, it's the whiteboard markers used by the kiddos in class today." Or, "uh-huh, it's the pickup truck exhaust from that obscenely long red light on my bike commute home from work."

Hmmm, I'm starting to think that I don't smell of anything close to exquisite or delightful.  I have a mate and an acceptable amount of friends, though, so I guess my smell is nominally tolerable.

What do you like to smell?
My dog and I like to smell things. Often, my dog likes to smell different things than I, but it's clear we both rely on and enjoy using the olfactory sense. I respect the fact that my dog smells stinky things impartially; bad smells do not make her gag, but they do make me gag. Even though overzealous smelling of my environs can lead to the occasional, rogue, repulsive odor and a subsequent gagging reflex, I love my sense of smell.  I feel that I have a good smell memory.  The best smells are the sentimental ones. For instance, a whiff of a chlorinated pool has the potential to conjure up good memories involving underwater handstand contests, neon swimsuits, and Ace of Base tunes.

My forever favorite smells: freshly cut watermelon, dandelions, the ocean, cardamom, dusty LP sleeves, thyme, library books, my husband's face, ginger, rain, lemon zest, my husband's cooking, and the multifarious array of smells associated with hiking around a place like Mount Rainier.


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