October 28th, 2006

good mris pic

Not my idiom (now, with no coconuts!).

It is a silly thing, but it frustrates me over and over again: I just don't know of socially acceptable modes to say what I'm actually perceiving. If you come across someone you haven't seen in a long time, and you are inquiring after their travel, and you say, "How are you? You look good," there is a way to intone that so that your impression of the other person's sexual attractiveness is not at issue. You can also intone it so that it is that kind of compliment, but there is a way to say it so it doesn't come out that way. You can also say to someone who has been sick, "Are you feeling better? Your color is better."

But that's not what I'm perceiving. What I mean is, "It's good to smell you again," and "How are you? You smell good," and, "Are you feeling better? Your sweat is better." Especially that last. Sweat is on the list of things we are Not To Notice, apparently.

And you can say, "Oh, it's good to finally match a name with a face!" But if you say, "Oh, it's good to finally match a name with a smell!", things will become very swiftly alarming from that point. Possibly for both of you.

And if you say to your friend, "It was nice to meet your sweetie in person, and I can kind of smell what you smell in him/her," that's not good either. Even though if you said, "I can see what you see in him/her," no one would assume that you meant, "I have noticed the visual appeal of your sweetheart but no other, non-visual traits." "I see why you want to go out with him/her," comes out very different from, "I smell why."

All the ways I can think of to say this in English end up sounding like they are comments either on attractiveness in more detail than people expect to hear it in non-romantic relationships or else on basic hygiene standards. Switching from "you smell good" to "you smell all right" makes people feel like a packet of lunchmeat or a gallon of milk: "Has so-and-so gone south?" "Give her here. Nope, smells all right to me."

It's a different data set, is the thing. One misses things the other catches, and vice versa. And I'm sure there are things my eyes are technically catching that my brain is not processing consciously, just as there are probably things many people smell that they're not processing consciously. But having some sense of which is which seems like it might be useful. Reporting in that I see something I don't see at all seems perilous.

It seems that as people get to know me better, I can say more of this kind of thing and they will be used to it more. So this is a good trend. I am less careful than I was about trying to hide smelling things. I have reassured a number of people that a fair amount of what I smell is neutral to me, that it's not a bad thing to smell a moderate amount of what someone had for dinner or that they are a little stressed. I am still somewhat careful when it comes to attractive members of the opposite sex, though, and as I am geek-oriented, this comes up a lot in the social settings I'm most likely to be in.

I'm pretty sure some of you are as sound-oriented as I am smell-oriented: do you have this trouble at all?

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good mris pic

Week of October 22-28

Five rejections, four of them in one day. In a way I'm really glad our mail got delayed for months when we were moving home from California, because after the nine-rejection day, nothing really looks daunting any more. At least nothing without expectations, which none of these submissions had established for me.

Ista got to go play with the neighbor pups for an hour and a half this afternoon, and then I took her for a walk. She is tired tonight. Also confused: markgritter is lying on the couch, and I was sitting in his chair. This is not the way of things. Pups know. Now she is being Nurse Poodle; she's had too much practice at that, I fear. markgritter may have had as many as seven Cheerios for dinner. Whee. Trying to take care of him, trying not to catch the ick myself. I'm not at all clear how everything that needs doing is going to get done, especially if some of the things that merely want doing are going to get done. But we will get there.

I had half an lj entry in my head, and all of a sudden it shifted under my feet and started underpinning a story I've been wanting to finish for awhile, whose characters weren't quite sure what their world was doing to them. And now they are. So no lj entry for you -- it'll be better as a few lines out of characters' mouths and mostly things that don't get said right out. Sometimes it's better that way. Better for me, anyway; can't speak to the rest of you. But the penny dropped, and there you have that. Or there you will have it. Or there I will.

I was feeling small and petty and clumsy and overwhelmed, and now I have more to do, not less, with this story asking to be written, but I feel more able to do it all, even stuff that has nothing to do with the story here under my hands. And I have been reliably instructed to stop belittling my own short stories, so I am trying very hard on that front. They matter, or they can if I don't undercut them. And this story deserves to be taken seriously on its own terms and not denigrated for not being ten times as long. This story -- will be good. I really do think.

That's a good thing to go about my night knowing. I don't always get to know until later.