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For I am Winterborn
18 September 2011 @ 06:56 pm
I've been reading today some about congenital anosmia, and thought I'd put down some of my own anecdotes about my experience with it.

One of the first things anyone learns about me is that I do not have a sense of smell, and haven't had one since birth. Growing up, I wasn't too concerned about entirely lacking one of the five senses, and only learned the technical term for it once I started college.

One of the most vivid memories I have from childhood is my mother, my little sister and I picking flowers from our garden, and my mom holding one under my nose for me to smell. "Doesn't that smell wonderful?" she asked. I took a deep whiff from the flower, and answered enthusiastically, "Yes!" I had smelled nothing, but felt like I needed to pretend otherwise. For several years as a child, I pretended to be able to smell but echoing statements made by others.

When I hit puberty, and hygiene began to become important, I had a hard time remembering to do things like put on deodorant, and failed to see the important of such a seemingly meaningless task. I showered, because otherwise my skin or hair felt gross, and brushed my teeth to get out the little bits of food stuck there.

Whenever I did laundry when I lived at home, I would have my parents "smell-test" my shirts and dresses to see what stank and needed to be washed, and what was fine to wear again. Now that I live in an apartment, I stick to a few simple rules 1) In summer, all shirts and dresses get washed after one wear (because it's likely I've sweated in them), and pants/skirts get washed if I've sweated enough to get them damp, or if they have gotten dirty or stained. 2) In winter, shirts/dresses get washed after two or three uses, or if I've sweated in them that day. Pants/skirts get washed when dirty.

The only part of not being able to smell I personally find as being even close to debilitating is that, as a writer, I will NEVER be able to creatively employ smell in my stories. I can either a) leave out any description of smell, and thus deprive my smelling readers from experiencing my book the way they would their own lives (maybe even having the consequence of breaking the spell of immersion novels should be able to cast) or b) parroting statements others have made. I know what certain things are supposed to smell like, and which smells are supposed to be good or bad, but that knowledge is only basic 'trash smells bad, flowers smell good' kind of description. It astounded me when, one day, one of my friends commented that 'today smells like winter.' I never knew abstract states, like weather or the seasons, had their own smells associated with them, that under the right conditions, could be experienced even if it wasn't that state.

Nowadays, I LOVE asked my friends what things smell like. Not just basic objects like flowers or bread or a book, but the larger, more complex experiences they subconsciously experience everyday. "What does rain smell like?" "What does a forest smell like?" "What does Ikea smell like?" One of the many reasons I love my boyfriend so much is that he is fascinated by my unique outlook on things, and enjoys answering my endless barrage of smell-related questions. He sees it as a fascinating intellectual exercise to try and describe smell to me, and I'm indebted to him for expanding my world the way he has.

I've had people react in three distinct ways when I tell them I lack a sense of smell. First of all, there's the near-universal "Oh, haha--wait, you're not kidding? Can you not smell, like, at all? How terrible! Do you taste food at all?"

There have also been some people who have flat-out refused to believe me, or think that I must be 'faking it' for some reason. I knew a girl at my last university who had a brother or cousin who had lost his sense of smell and didn't like any food, who told me I 'must either have some sense of smell or be lying about having [favorite foods].' I can understand that for someone who has been used to experiencing eating food with both smell and taste, losing the former must turn that experience into an unpleasant one, but I, having never had anything to compare it to, enjoy food just fine, despite lacking a sense of smell. Even my boyfriend, who knew I was telling the truth, couldn't quiet the part of his brain that felt irrational disbelief at my condition until (and I'm sorry this gets a little crude) he passed gas in the car while I was driving with the windows up, and the stench was enough to repulse him while I hadn't batted an eyelash.

(As a side-note, yes I can taste food. I speculate that my ability to taste food is more muted than it is in people who can smell, because food gets has both elements of 'flavor' and 'basic taste'. Flavor, which comes from smell, I miss out on, but I have favorite foods and least favorite foods just like anyone else. I love spicy food especially, even as a baby, because I get the most vibrant taste from spice than from any other type of taste. Food with 'light' or 'subtle' flavors I often hate plain, because I get no taste. I eat all my meat and many starches covered in Heinz 57 BBQ sauce, because it adds the flavor to, say, chicken or steak, that I would not get otherwise. Texture also plays a larger part in my likes/dislikes of food than I believe it does for most people. While most people can tolerate food that may be a little over-/under-prepared as long as it still has the right 'flavor' (which is smell-driven), I often cannot each food that is too mushy/burnt/soggy/etc. because the unpleasant texture distracts from the taste. I love my hamburgers with bacon, pickles, and onion because the crunch is an enjoyable counter-note to the more chewy meat and bun.

Then there are a handful of people, like my boyfriend, who are fascinated by my unique view of the world. I only started appreciating how different my life-experience has been from that of most people thanks to talking with Andrew and others like him. Lacking a sense of smell, unlike a sense of sight or hearing, doesn't feel debilitating. But the subtle differences between me and those who can smell (everyone else in my life) are VERY present, and in some cases very basic. I hope this meandering blog has given you some idea of what it might be like to live a life without smell.
For I am Winterborn
06 April 2011 @ 06:50 pm
I'm not an artist, I can't draw well, because I never practice or try. I'm an extreme perfectionist, and if I can't do something well, or have a natural talent at it, I'd rather not do it at all. I hate coming up short of my expectations. So while I don't draw, I still have the urge to. Especially when I read webcomics or browse deviantArt. Especially the 'about my life' comics, where some funny anecdote about the artist's life or friends is depicted. I always wish I could draw that kind of thing about my friends, characterize the relationship between my boyfriend and I, or depict a funny event that happened on a night out. Sure, I could write out the story, but most of my ideas are visual in nature, and I feel like writing down the same story would lose all the charm of the original idea.

Also, in talking with my friends, and generally knowing more people in relationships lately, I've come to realize that my approach to romantic relationships might be classified as unusual. I never dated in high school. I got my first kiss the fall of my freshman year of college. I never had a boyfriend until this past fall. It wasn't exactly because I was uninterested in romance. All throughout high school I was waiting anxiously to fall in love. And that's where the unusual comes in. I wasn't bemoaning the lack of a guy to date. If I had just wanted someone attractive and nice who had some things in common with me to date, I could have had that. But I didn't. I was never looking for simply a boyfriend. I was, in essence, looking for 'the one,' or at least someone who might be 'the one.' I've had, to date, one crush before meeting Andrew. I've always subconsciously approached boys as friends, all the while knowing that when I saw the right one, I'd know it. It took 18 years to be kissed, and 20 to start dating, but it feels like the right approach for me.

Finally, I need to start writing again, but I'm not really sure how. I get vague ideas about characters or settings, but I can never find words to begin stories. If anyone has advice, that'd be great.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: "Angels in the Rain (Instrumental)" by Pinch
For I am Winterborn
15 March 2011 @ 07:21 pm
So, I had my spring break last week, and it ROCKED. Dragon Age II came out last Tuesday, and I've been playing the shit out of it. Every romance option is bisexual, which is amazing, (although now I doubt I'll ever play a dude) and even the non-romancable companions can be flirted with.

My first character, Kali Hawke, is a greatsword-wielding warrior with a soft spot for mages, due to her sister Bethany being one. She immediately took to Merrill, the dalish elf mage who had been exiled from her clan, and the two are now totally in love and living together. She adventures with Merrill, of course, and also Aveline, the widowed warrior woman who is kinda Eodra Cousland 2.0 (which BLOWS my mind. They even gave her a sequence in the Fade I had wished Eodra could have had were the Warden given another game), and Isabella the rogue pirate from Origins, now a party member.

Kali started off very aggressive and even mean (losing your brother and having to flee your home fighting through darkspawn will do that to you), but Merrill softened her up. She's a good person at heart, and prefers to befriend all her companions. She's also 100% gay, and it's refreshing (even in a Bioware game) to have that option to roleplay a character. Aside from being head over heels for Merrill, she flirted a little with Aveline, though it went over her head.

Speaking of Merrill, I adore her character. Besides being so pretty and cute (she has these gorgeous big green eyes), especially in white, her personality is amazing. I know a lot of people were afraid she would be the generic 'sweet and innocent' LI, but she isn't. Neither is she a Dragon Age version of Tali. Merrill is more than a little spacy, her mind often wandering and she's not always perfectly aware of her surroundings, and often innuendos and subtleties of personal interactions go over her head. She is definitely a sweet person, and has a good heart. But she isn't a hundred percent innocent, either. She knew the risks taking the path she chose, better than others give her credit for. She knows the pain of loss and loneliness, knows what she has had to give up, but she doesn't waver either. She is strong and smart, even if it isn't evident at first glance. And she wants to be worldly, evident in the way she attaches herself to Isabella as a mentor figure. She deserves more credit than 'generic sweet girl'.

Also over spring break, Andrew and I drove up to Baltimore to see Abney Park in concert at Mythic Faire, a convention for steampunks, fantasy fans, goths, and all manner of eccentrics. I got myself a couple nice pieces of clothing, a long gothic skirt and a leather underbust corset. We also met up with Andrew's best friend Mike and some of his friends, with whom we saw the concert and explored the harbor district of the city proper the next day. Andrew finally found a bowler hat that fit his head, and we only had to drive seven hours to find it. :P

But the concert itself was the best part of my entire week. Nay, my entire MONTH. Although it's been less than a year since I got into their music, Abney Park has become one of my favorite bands. Andrew likes them even more. He has a fan dog tag identifying him as a crew member of the HMS Ophelia, and I've never seen him take it off. I daresay he might shower in it. The point is, we were both excited beyond words to be seeing them live, and at a relatively intimate venue.

They ROCKED THE HOUSE, of course, and I got to hear all my favorite songs played live. I was jumping up and down like a maniac during Building Steam, the song that got me into them in the first place, and one of the best driving songs I've found.

But the absolute BEST PART of the concert? During their encore, they called two fans on stage to hold Nathan's violin ready for him (he switches from guitar to violin halfway through, and then back) during Airship Pirates. They picked one guy from the front, and then searched the back of the standing audience for someone else. It was at this point that Andrew decides to lift my bodily into the air by my knees. Of course, I was hard to miss, being several feet above the rest of the crowd. So I GOT TO GO ON STAGE WITH ABNEY PARK!! And got to sing along to my favorite song!! And of course I knew every word!! And Jody commented as such after the song ended!

I can't stop smiling whenever I think about that experience. That was seriously one of the coolest things that's ever happened to me. There's pics of me on stage floating around the net. Not to mention video footage of the song. And really, I have Andrew to thank for all of it. Best boyfriend ever. <3
Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic
Current Music: "Airship Pirates" by Abney Park
For I am Winterborn
20 February 2011 @ 11:59 am
Sooo, I'm not dead, just been doing a lot of non-LJ stuff. Still, I thought I'd post down some of the most notable things that have been happening since August here.

- I've been dating the most amazing guy since September. His name is Andrew. He's a history/education major with a religious studies minor. He's also a Steampunk, huge gamer, lover of fantasy and sci-fi, and runs his own D&D campaign every Tuesday. In between the regular couple-y stuff, we give each other book and game recommendations, and I play a character who loves to wreck stuff in his aforementioned game. He's really kinda perfect. <3

- I really slacked off on my schoolwork last semester. Not because I was depressed, or hated UNCC--on the contrary, I love it here and have so many new friends. I just didn't want to do any work, and had a couple shitty professors. Luckily, that has been turned around this semester, and I'm doing great in my classes.

- I'm learning Japanese!! I'm only in the elementary-level classes, but I'm really excited to finally be learning this language. Plus, I have some good friends in my Japanese class, and an awesome professor.

- DAII!! Dragon Age II is coming out in a couple weeks, and I couldn't be more excited. From the voiced protagonist, to the improved sleeker and more visceral combat, to the new party members and love interests, this game has grabbed me from the start. I think the coolest new feature, however, has to be the way the game tracks the type of responses you make (kind versus mean, sarcastic verses serious, etc) to give Hawke (the player character) a 'dominant personality' which he/she will react like at some times without player input. For someone as into the character-building aspect of RPGs as I am, this is amazing news.

That's really all I think of now that's new. See you guys the next time I remember this journal. :P
Current Mood: happyhappy
For I am Winterborn
30 August 2010 @ 03:38 pm
I'm doing science and I'm--

Wait, that's not right. xD Anyway, I'm back! My summer was fun and low key, hanging out with friends every once in a while, but mostly gaming/reading/writing. I got together with Ross, Stacey, Jared, etc. We usually hung out one-on-one, but we hung out as a group every once in a while.

I played Mass Effect 1 last spring, and Mass Effect 2 over the beginning of summer. I am turning into a total Bioware fangirl. xDD So far I've finished two games of Dragon Age, and two of Mass Effect.

Cut for MAJOR Mass Effect/Dragon Age spoilersCollapse )

I'm back at University, but a new University, UNCC, which I LOVE. I've met so many cool new people, have great classes (I'm finally learning Japanese!), and all in all, things are wonderful.

Also, I watched Repo! the Genetic Opera over the summer and am OBSESSED with it, but that's a story for another post. ;P
Current Location: My UNCC apartment
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: "Witch Hunt" by Jack Off Jill
For I am Winterborn
23 February 2010 @ 12:09 am
Well, this is turning into an interesting semester. I've kinda settled into a rhythm that works--managing to balance my all-afternoon classes, homework, and free time without losing too much sleep.

Even though I expected this to be a rough semester, what with my best friend having transferred schools and much busier, 3 out of my 5 classes at the 300-level, and having a dorm to myself in the boonies on campus, things have turned out pretty okay.

I managed to keep up okay in my classes, and even landed the Poetry editor position at my school's literary magazine, beating out some talented upperclassman.

I've been deep into playing Dragon Age (which is absolutely wonderful, and I recommend it to everyone), re-watching old Joss Whedon TV shows, and reading a number of books from the family library. I'm saturated with stories right now, and that's exactly what I need.

But most importantly, I've finally turned my years-long creative dry spell around. I've been unhappy with my writing for a long while, as far back as high school, and it turned into a vicious cycle. Everything I wrote seemed like crap, so I talked myself down about it, so in turn I wrote more crap...I think I was close to losing my love of writing forever.

In the end, a number of things all coincided that caused me to feel better. Playing DA, I started to get inspired to write out bits of the story that weren't touched on in-game. Going to lectures and Q&As with professional writers rid me of the notion I must be a fully-polished genius by the time I graduated. I simply lightened up, told myself to just try to get back to where I used to be, to write for fun, to shut down my inner critic. All of these together (and more) worked, and now I've written a full-length short story that has improved my weakest elements (dialogue and level of tension among them).

Sure, I still have problems. The ongoing issues with sleep that could be penned by Jhonen Vasquez and the overwhelming fatigue about still being in school the most prominent. Still, I'm just taking it one day at a time, and I always catch myself before I slip too far.

Goodbye for now, then.
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: "Tear You Apart" by She Wants Revenge
For I am Winterborn
12 January 2010 @ 02:06 am
So my father got Dragon Age: Origins for Christmas. When I'm home, I often like to watch him play computer games, but this one caught my interest and I decided to try it out for myself.

Now, normally I don't play RPGs, especially party-based ones (fighters or visual novels are my favorites), but Dragon Age is basically a spiritual successor to Baulder's Gate, and I loved that game, even if I didn't get very far.

Cut for video game ramblingCollapse )
Current Location: Playing Dragon Age
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Current Music: "Every Breath You Take" by The Police
For I am Winterborn
11 January 2010 @ 05:04 pm
Last semester was hell. In more ways than one. Best not to talk about it. But I survived, and this semester is looking to be much better, so I hope to start blogging again.

First of all, I've got three classes for my Creative Writing major, which I'm really looking forward to: Advanced Poetry Workshop, Writing of Fiction, and Literary Publishing & Editing. The first two are really self-explanatory, but in the latter I'll be compiling the school literary magazine, Signet, and learning about editing and publishing professionally, which is definitely relevant to my interests.

On a sadder note, my very close friend Ross withdrew from Queens last semester. He's taking spring and summer classes to raise his GPA, and then will be applying for SCAD in the fall as an Industrial Design major. I'm sad to be farther away from him, but Queens was stifling him, and I'm glad he got out of it to do something he'd enjoy better.

I'm going to try and start writing again, both because I need to (as a writer, as a lover of stories) and because I want to take full advantage of my writing classes this semester. I've already got a couple poems in my head, and a bit of an idea for a short story.

I guess that's all for now. Wish me luck, I hope to make this a great semester! ^^
Current Location: In ma dorm
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
Current Music: "Strawberry Passion" by Chandeen
For I am Winterborn
16 August 2009 @ 05:59 pm
Well, in exactly one week I'll be back at college. I'm very, very excited--the summer has just been so long, not being able to see my friends from Queens more than a handful of times total. I never even got to hang out with my roommate. T^T But all that will change next week!

Classes should be interesting. I've got two Literature classes for my major, and I'm taking Abnormal Psych, which should be fun. >'D Sadly, I also have my required Math class...god, do I suck at Math...And I'm also taking a computer class, as I'm really interested in computers and tech on an intellectual level. Plus I'm in Chorale again.

I've got a single room this year, in the International dorm. One of the floors is reserved for single rooms at no extra charge, so that's a plus. And my best friend Ross is right down the hall from me. We hung out all the time last year, sometimes all night, so it'll be great to be that close and not have to worry about disturbing roommates with our crazy sleep schedules, lol. xD

Thankfully, I don't need ti do much shopping. Some new paper and various small personal care items are all I need to buy. I still need to redye my hair--it's gone from black to a really dark brown. I also got new glasses! No one has seen them yet, so I'm excited to see what everyone'll think about them.

I'm taking my road test for the second time next week. The first time I was so nervous I kinda epic failed. This time I'm hoping to do much better! ^^

And I think that's about it. I can't wait to head back!
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Current Music: My sister watching Matilda
For I am Winterborn
21 July 2009 @ 08:45 pm
Well, it has been almost a full month since I last posted on this thing. Most of the time, I've just had a very relaxed summer, although there have been peaks of interest now and then.

I guess the first of those would be the 4th of July. I got invited to hang out with Ross and his group of close friends. We bought some fireworks to set off at one of his friend's houses. I got dropped off at his house around 4 pm, as his friends weren't ready yet/were still visiting with family. We did some shopping for his dad and helped a little bit with the cooking before Ross drove us over to his best friend Alex's house around six.

Once the whole group (plus the other girl Jordan's Xbox 360) had been assembled, and it was dark enough, we set the fireworks off, and had a blast doing it. By that time it was around midnight, and we played a bunch of video games, board games, strategy games until about three in the morning. Then, Alex got the bright idea of walking to Walmart and back, which must have taken a good long while, as we got back at 5:30 in the morning! Then, thankfully, Ross drove me back home. It was wonderfully fun. <3

The next point of interest was when Heather finally came over from Arizona, which was actually only a few days later. We met her at baggage claim in the airport, my sister and I were hugging her like mad and all three of us were crying. That started the week she stayed over at our house; we stayed up late each night talking, managed to finish up watching Babylon 5 with her, took a ton of nice photographs for my devArt, and much more. Both my sister and I were glad to be able to see her in person again, as we were very sad that she had to move.

The Monday after that, she went to stay at her other close friend's house. She, my sister, and their friend went out a bunch of places by themselves, so that week was a lot more chill...until that Saturday, when both Heather and the friend slept over at our place. We made an epic mini-movie, had a blast dancing at a mini-rave, and then all crashed after watching Moulin Rouge for the billionth time. xD The next day we went to the local elementary school's playground, where I got an absolutely BRUTAL wound from an epic game of tag. Thank goodness at least that it doesn't hurt too much.

I'm ready for school to start up again by this point. I want to be back in Charlotte, hanging out with my friends all the time and enjoying going to the interesting classes. If nothing else, I want July to be over; this month has been equal parts totally exhausting and incredibly boring. xD

Until next time, then. I'll try to update more once school starts.
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: "Half Jack" by The Dresden Dolls