Sunday, October 09, 2005

Kind Of Blue

The hard click seemed to echo through my body, vibrating slightly in the pit of my stomach. It came suddenly, after my softly said goodbye, the responding good luck Molly and the cold weight of the phone to my ear suddenly surprised me with its heaviness. I sat broodingly on the couch, my braced left knee perched on a vibrantly pink pillow in front of me. I stared out the nearby window, watching the wind jostle the course of the darkening rain storm, the beginning of the holiday weekend’s bad weather. The familiar rhythm of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue enveloped the pattering rain with its lilting jazz, an unavoidable melding of sound that matched my loudly confused state of mind.

I was tossed from my mood of quiet thinking by the piercing whistle of the phone again. My Mom.

Well Mom, it’s official. I sighed overdramatically, feeling quite bad for myself.

What? she asked, the phone crackling in the background.

I am officially not going to culinary school in December. I almost shouted; saying it out loud made it final, a change that I knew was coming but never expected to be real. I’m just somehow surprised that this is all happening.

It’ll be ok, Molly. Of course she’s right; mothers are always right.

And later, as I continued my avid watch of the windy wet weather, a bulky copy of E.M. Forster’s Howards End balanced precariously on my knee, my thoughts leapt unavoidably around the CIA. It had taken me a few weeks to call them, so hesitant to admit the truth, that I would not be ready to go to culinary school by my official starting date in early December. I'm slowly mending from my physical injuries. My disturbing loss of smell (resulting in my frustratingly muffled sense of taste) is also reasserting itself in painstakingly lethargic dawdle. I can’t in all reality go to the CIA until I am myself again. I found myself surprised, stunned, that the call was so easy to make. I expected turmoil and trouble; I expected this call to reflect the past six weeks of difficultly and frustration. But I changed my entrance date in less than five minutes, listening half heartedly to the cheerful reassurances of the breathy voiced admissions officer.

Alright Molly, you are officially now going to begin your culinary associate’s degree in May, 2006. Thank you for calling.

As I cradled the phone on my shoulder, writing down my new information in thick black ink in my journal, I imagined the scene on the other end of the line. The efficient admissions secretary was perched on a thickly cushioned desk chair, a black phone headset angled over and around wildly frizzy blond hair, her mouth splayed into a wide friendly smile, the computer humming and the blinking red lights of her active phone subtly shining a reflection onto the window of her office. And nearby, close to that mystery woman who entered the data of a life change I was not ready to make, were knife-set bearing, white chef garbed culinary students going about their daily life.

Damn I’m sad, I thought, attempting to rearrange thoughts of my future, this year, in my head.

But as I sat, momentarily depressed on the long cushioned couch, I eventually had to let out the creeping urge to smile a bit. I am getting through this; I will be better; culinary school will come. A change of schedule, no matter how difficult or surprising, in this world is nothing to be permanently worked up about. And the sound of rain really is beautiful.

It is hard to admit, but there is a part of me that is relieved. I do very much want to begin my culinary education. But at the same time, this accident has scrambled up my thoughts on everything that I was so sure I ‘knew’ before. Right now, I am not ready to follow any kind of plan. I’m not ready to jump off of any sort of cliff of decision. I will take it slowly; I will write my way through it all. Despite the plans and urgings of many friends and family, I just have no idea what I’m going to do.

I stayed in my father’s house in New Hampshire after my surgery for a few weeks of recovery. He has never been a pronounced foodie, by any means. (He did, however, give me my genetic and profound love of mustard. I give him credit for that.) But he announced to me one day, a smile playing on his lips almost masked by his mustache and beard, a new ‘award winning’ idea.

Molly, you will be…The Tasteless Gourmet! Can you just see it now? You will bee looking at food in such a different way, totally original! No taste, no smell, but everything else! You will make it big! I rolled my eyes, not wanting to think about my lack of smell relating to any kind of life plan.

But Dad, my taste and smell are coming back. I don’t know how well that would work, really…

But he just smiled, excited by the prospect. And I laughed, thinking how strange it would be if that plan was a success, somewhere in a strangely mottled dream world.

And the other day – in one of my frequent long distance discussions with Becca (none of them ever having to do with celebrity gossip at all, of course) – we talked about my options.

Just start cooking, Molly. You can make up recipes according to your strange new taste buds. And then I’ll come visit and be your tasting judge.

I heartily accepted her offer, amused by the possibilities of my newfound food habits (lacking a strong sense of smell gives me a very new and surprising, albeit very muted, palette). Alright, I’ve got it - you know how I love salsa, Becca, now that one of the only things I can completely taste is spicy things. And of course I still love ice cream, no matter how much I can taste beyond the sugar. I think we’ll have to start this recipe creation session with some salsa ice cream. Giggling to myself at the prospect, knowing the horror on her face.

Oh, ok, fine. Fun. No problem. And I promise I’ll even smile after I taste it, no matter what I think or how much I want to throw up.

I have wonderful friends and family. That is what it all really comes down to.


s'kat said...

You've made it through 'The Call', and it sounds like you've got a great support system to make it though the next year, no matter what.

Hipsters like to say, "Think OUTSIDE of the box!". You're outside of the box for now, dear girl, so run with it. Play with it. Don't take it too seriously.

Your writing is amazing, and I have no doubt that you will discovery some extraordinary things in the coming year.

s'kat said...

...duh, I meant to say, "discover some extraordinary things."

Shauna said...


I had a horrible car accident almost two years ago. Searing pain, heightened sense of smell and hearing to the point of pain, terrible depression from my life being derailed, and more questions than I could ever write down. Looking back, it was one of the most profoundly moving and important parts of my life. I have never been the same. It has, and I swear this is true, been better and better ever since.

I completely empathize with everything you wrote. The only advice I can give you is: feel what you feel. "the only way out is through." --Camus

Your smell will come back. The pain will ease. And you'll be a better cook, a better writer, and a much more alive person once you have survived this. Time, my dear. Time.

Please feel free to write to me if you want to hear more from someone who has been where you are.

And thank you for continuing to write.

Robyn said...

I stumbled upon your blog by chance. I have read your story and my heart goes out to you. I cannot imagine the saddness of putting off school. I will continue to check back and hope the best for you. It's too bad they don't have a "smell" therapy you could do.

Robyn said...

I stumbled upon your blog by chance. I have read your story and my heart goes out to you. I cannot imagine the saddness of putting off school. I will continue to check back and hope the best for you. It's too bad they don't have a "smell" therapy you could do.

*fanny* said...

Hi Molly,
i discovered your blog few weks ago and had been so shocked with all that happened to you. Actually, all you were living before you got injured was my secret dream. I'm a 20 years old engineer student, but i know my way is in cooking. And it is too hard to get off the routine. So i was living what i've always wanted to live through you.
I deeply hope that you'll get better soon. We may meet sometimes in a culinary school in NYC. I'm sure we'll do.

Rikki said...


Do not know if you will see this comment or not since I am posting it to such an old post, but just wanted to let you know I will be following your blog from here on out.
I too suffer from a damaged smeller. Mine however is not a total lack of smell/taste. Everything to me has a smell and taste its just terribly distorted and gross.
I have considered having my olfactory bulb removed leaving me with no smell and taste but my husband does not want me to do that just yet.
I have done countless things in hopes of improving my condition and nothing has worked. I pray one day my body will work things out on their own, however now that I am a year out from my accident I do not think thats highly likely.
I pray you continue to have recovery!!

If you are at all curious about my story you can check out my family blog. My injury occured in May of 2008. I think my first post about it was actually in June of 2008.

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