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September 23, 2008

Riddle Me This

Okay, so here's the chronology. There will be an opinion poll at the close of this entry. I look forward to your feedback. I'm stumped.

Saturday Night:
Our downstairs neighbor Bob gets carted off in an ambulance. (This happens more and more frequently lately. He's a really cool guy that still owns every newspaper he's ever touched--all stacked in his apartment catty-corner below ours--and he's been getting less and less stable with his health over the years. At first, he'd go in about twice a year on a gurney. Now, it's up to about once every six weeks and his grandson has been living with him for the past two years or so. He's on Meals on Wheels and he hangs out in his wheelchair with his mobile oxygen tank when he wants to visit with neighbors outside. Very cool guy. But his health is going.)

So, it's no big shock when fire/rescue comes and does the usual. Except that within 20 minutes of his departure, there's an overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke entering our apartment. I smell it (I have a VERY sensitive sense of smell, unfortunately) and even Keith smells it (he does NOT). "Hmm," I say. And I begin to wonder if it's Bob's grandson lighting up now that Bob and his oxygen tank are out of the apartment or if it's our new neighbor (also catty-corner below us, but farther into the center of the building) with her weekend guests over, sitting out on the patio enjoying smokes with cocktails (something we witnessed the past two weekends since she's moved in, although the smell never wafted into our digs before).

No biggie. It'll go away soon, I figure. Keep on workin'.

So then Keith and I go to the gym for a late swim. We come home and Bob's grandson is being brought home to drop off Bob's bag of belongings from when he was carted away and is going in to pick up an overnight bag while his friend waits in the driveway. They arrive right as we return from the gym. So, there's very low likelihood that the smoke was Bob's grandson's, since he has probably been with Bob all evening, not just during the window during which we worked out at the gym. Hmm. Okay. So it's probably the new neighbor girl. No biggie. It's not smelling now. Probably over with.

Sunday Night:
Keith is at gaming. I've gotten showcase work and my columns done and am now spending a little time on my new addiction (the Facebook), learning that Scramble is more like Boggle than Scrabble, but either way it's awesome and really fun.

The cigarette smoke smell starts up again. I light a candle to try and cut the smell. I do my Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution, but there's difficulty because of this tickle at the back of my throat when I breathe harder. I play Scramble on Facebook 'til all hours of the night. The smell never goes away. Even when I come to bed (after 4:30am), I can smell it. It's in our walls, I'm afraid. I am choking as I try to sleep. It's bad. Bleh.

Monday Morning:
Keith gets out of bed and I ask if he can smell it. "No." Of course not. He can't smell anything (even though he could the very first time it happened). It's actually distracting me from sleep. This is not good.

But when I get out of bed a couple of hours after Keith does and get to work on showcase stuff, I realize the smell is gone and think, "Okay, so it is Bob's grandson or it is the new neighbor girl or maybe it's even a new habit taken up by our super-healthy marathon next-door neighbor, although I highly doubt that. Maybe it's an across-the-way neighbor and it's just time to close the windows on the north side of the apartment," but since the smell is gone I'm not too worried about it. Maybe it's all over.

Keith says to let him know as soon as I smell it again and he'll check outside to see if he can tell where it's coming from. Not that we'll ask anyone to stop smoking in their own home, of course! But we'll be able to close a window or ask them to close theirs or something, if it's going to be obnoxious.

Monday Night:
We're home from the showcase meeting and the smell is still gone. I am very happy. I begin to check email and eat a little dinner when... yup. It starts up again.

Note: I am always sitting at my desk when the smell starts up. But once I smell it, seated there, it's something I can smell in the bedroom too (also against the same neighbor's wall of the building, if that makes a difference). But it ALWAYS starts when I'm at my desk. (Of course, I'm at my desk nearly 20 hours a day, so that's a safe bet, statistically, anyway.)

Keith heads outside to sniff it out. He returns moments later, "Honey, I'm not smelling it."

At this point, I'm sure I've had a stroke or something, because the smell is just overwhelming to me.

Keith lights a candle and I try to focus on Facebook for a minute. Finally, the smell is just so all over me that I decide to go to bed early and without my Wii Fit (FIRST TIME IN 70 DAYS I'VE MISSED A WII FIT WORKOUT!!!!!!!!). I'm pissed.

Tuesday Morning:
The smell of cigarette smoke remains. Keith gets out of bed. "Do you smell it?" I ask him. "No, honey, I don't. I'm sorry."

DAMMIT! Now I'm convinced I have a ghost following me around and smoking over my right shoulder, since it's always on my right that I smell it (seated at the desk or in bed--both would put that side of me at the same wall of the apartment, if that matters).

I am seriously OVER this.

So, now, as I type this and I am the only one who smells this, its source cannot be identified, and it's seriously driving me batty, I want to survey the masses. Please register your votes in the comments and if you have any suggestions (other than, "Leave the house more often,"--DUH!), I'd love to hear 'em.

Opinion Poll:
Bonnie's cigarette smoke experience is most likely due to:
A. Bob's grandson.
B. new neighbor girl.
C. across-the-way neighbor with an open window.
D. marathon next-door neighbor.
E. a mild stroke.
F. a ghost visiting.
G. other: __________ (please explain).

Thank you. My ghost, my stroke, and my neighbors all thank you.

Posted by bonnie at September 23, 2008 5:47 PM


new neighbor girl's boyfriend.

it never happened before she moved in. you only smell it early mornings and late nights.

keith can't smell (lucky bastard).

Posted by: babes at September 23, 2008 6:40 PM

Hey, now, that's not a bad guess. But from what I can tell, she doesn't have a boyfriend. (All of her weekends-only gatherings have been with chatty gal-pals and there's been lots of drinking, talking with windows open, sitting on the patio chatting about sex and different guys they've been with or are lusting after, etc. Not that that means she DOESN'T have a boy, but that plus not having seen one or being able to smell any smoke coming from her windows when Keith went to do the test adds to that.)

Of course, like you've said (and I've said), Keith isn't the best smeller. Hmmmmm.

Thanks, Babes.

I've just lit some incense. :)

Posted by: bon Author Profile Page at September 23, 2008 7:00 PM

Maybe its your desk lamp, something on the light bulb like dust or something that emits a smoky smell when it's lit???

Posted by: Lisa at September 23, 2008 7:19 PM

Maybe its your desk lamp, something on the light bulb like dust or something that emits a smoky smell when it's lit???

Posted by: Lisa at September 23, 2008 7:19 PM

Nah, it's definitely cigarette smoke. And it's definitely "not nearby" cigarette smoke. Like through walls... somewhere far away.

I did consider that it could be the lamp for a bit, because Keith did some rewiring on it a few days ago, but that lamp is on at times when there is NO smell, and the smell continues when that lamp is OFF and I'm in the other room too.

So weird!

But everyone, thank you for the suggestions! I'm gonna narrow/nail this thing down, I just know it! :)

Posted by: bon Author Profile Page at September 23, 2008 7:31 PM

That story reminds me of when *I* had a mysterious cigarette smoke smell in my house a few months ago. I never did figure out where it was coming from, but I also smelled it in my office! I think it was mostly at night. I thought maybe someone was smoking near my heat pump, but no. Didn't see anyone around smoking. I'm afraid I never got to the bottom of the mystery, but the good news is that it stopped. Hope yours goes away too, and soon. Darn our sensitive shnozzes!

Posted by: courtney at September 23, 2008 8:52 PM

Ooh, that's encouraging (that it will go away AND that sometimes it's just a mystery smell for sensitive noses).

Thank you, Courtney! I hope it goes away soon, too. :) Closed up a window and lit some incense and it immediately came back through as soon as that scent was over. :\

Posted by: bon Author Profile Page at September 23, 2008 8:57 PM

This reminded me of a sketch from the season opener SNL. How do you not smell that peppa?


Posted by: karyrogers at September 23, 2008 9:10 PM

Shoot! That's what I get for having tuned out after the Tina Fey/Palin bit. The answer was probably RIGHT THERE.

Thanks, Kary.

Posted by: bon Author Profile Page at September 23, 2008 9:19 PM

Smoking late at night and early morning . . . me thinks the new girl has a secret boyfriend!

Posted by: Laura at September 23, 2008 10:05 PM

You and Christy are on the same wavelength. LOL

Well, then I need a plan to break 'em up or something. This is STRONG. Still.


Posted by: bon Author Profile Page at September 23, 2008 10:26 PM

Um, DUH. It's the new neighbor girl's GIRLFRIEND.

Other options - it's psychosomatic, something you don't like about the new neighbor girl. Maybe the new neighbor girl has a ghost hanging around HER? I like the ghost idea, even if it is psychosomatic - you could try the "acknowledge the ghost and ask it nicely to leave 'cause you can't help it" tactic? :)

Posted by: Julie at September 23, 2008 10:34 PM

Hee! Girlfriend! Of course! :)

Oh, I don't dislike anything about the new neighbor girl. She seems really neat and she's not loud or rude or anything. NO issues!!!!

Certainly, I've decided it's psychosomatic at this point because I JUST KEEP SMELLING IT and it's driving me batty! I've checked everything everyone has suggested here, on my MySpace blog, and at Facebook and none of that is what it seems to be at all. There is NEVER anything smoky in our house, so it can't be that... and I've closed windows and it still persists. Bleh.

Yeah. Ghost of the new neighbor. How do I ask it to leave when I don't know why it's coming around ME in the first place? Ugh.

I need a vacation. Badly. :)


Posted by: bon Author Profile Page at September 23, 2008 10:55 PM

Okay -- there are a few ideas.
1. Do you have an UPstairs neighbor? You've only mentioned downstairs. Smoke is "heavy" and can drop. If the Upstairs neighbor is not new, s/he may have a guest. I say this because you mention how it seems to be oozing through the walls or something rather than really wafting on the air.
2. Neighbors on the sides? Could be the same thing as a neighbor above (new or with temporary guest).
3. Why morning and night? Someone who is out all day -- quite a long time -- at his/her job or whatever.
4. Have you ever had ANYone close to you -- a dear friend, a relative, whomever, who smoked, and with whom you associate that smell in the morning and evening and who, perhaps, passed away from something associated with the cigarettes -- especially when you were VERY young? If so, you could be having a smell-memory (I really didn't want to say scents-memory, heh-heh) reaction to your downstairs neighbor being carted away. This ties in with the *ghost* idea.
5. Maybe its all those idea "cooking" in your brain? Heeeeeeee~!

Posted by: DebC at September 24, 2008 1:04 AM

Clearly, it's a nosey ghost. You've been working on a lot of writing lately. Who would have been interested in your work that smoked?

And sorry, I just can't help myself:

Who you gonna call?

Posted by: Maria at September 24, 2008 5:20 PM

I'd say it has to be related to Bob. I don't think its his grandson, but someone living next to Bob has taken up smoking near you now that they know he is gone. Somebody with a full time job, and that's why only in mornings and nights, somebody that has a big time addiction.
Just a guess.

Posted by: CJC at September 25, 2008 2:01 AM

Or maybe Bob's got a ghost looking after him since his health's not so great?

I thought you didn't have to know why they're there, just acknowledge their presence and ask nicely? I mean, I thought all that mystery-solving stuff like on Ghost Whisperer or whatever was just fiction.... ;)

Posted by: Julie at September 25, 2008 6:45 PM

G. Other: A sinus infection can cause phantom smells. Do you have recurrent sinus infections?

Posted by: alex at September 26, 2008 1:08 AM

Re: Deb

1. No upstairs. We're the top. ;)

2. Yes, the side neighbor (only one; we're also the west-est) is the marathon athlete I mentioned in my post. Still no evidence that it's him or a visitor of his. He watches TV with his screen door latched and we walk by every night when we leave to work out and there's nothing but the smell of roasted veggies and Ben Gay. This guy is totally healthy.

3. It's actually more like 4pm 'til 9am. So, someone at work from 9am 'til 4pm, basically.

4. My aunt Heddy smoked pretty much every day (only one or two ciggies, though) for like 50 years. I guess we were somewhat close. My grandfather was a very heavy smoker for over 50 years, but I only ever saw him a dozen times in my life before he died. Everyone else in my life who is dead stopped smoking before I was born, I believe.

5. Absolutely possible... but wouldn't that smell more like GEARS burning than ciggies? ;)

Thank you for weighing in!!!!!

Re: Maria

Heeeee! YES! Who's nosing into my brilliance??? ;) Heeeeeeeee!

Re: James

The only person who lives next to Bob is the new neighbor lady, so she wouldn't have been here long enough to know NOT to smoke around him and now feel she could. It almost has to be his grandson, if that's the case... but I'm leaning more and more to believing it's someone in a totally different direction than where I'm smelling the smell (see Jennie's comment).

Re: Julie

Now that's interesting! And not entirely out of the question. He's been living in the building since it was built (holy rent control, batman), so he could have lots of "stuff" lurking around.

Yeah, I've tried the whole, "Hey, thanks for visiting. I'm sure I'll get whatever you're sending me. Now go and take your smell with you," thing. Nada. Still comes. Daily.

Re: Alex

No! I haven't had regular sinus infections in years. Like many years. Even silly colds haven't hit me in almost all of 2008, frankly. I've changed my eating and my health just rocks this year. I haven't been sick since February, and that was just a cold. I used to get sick about four times per year (like the average bear, I'd say), and now, I'm just totally healthy. And even when I did get hit with something, it wasn't ever really a sinus infection. Just the Hollywood Crud or whatever everyone was passing around.

Thanks everyone!

Keith has since advised me (after reading this post) that he actually DOES smell the ciggy smoke once per day, but then he doesn't take it around with him, mentally, like I do. ;) So it's not all in my head, but it's also definitely someone somewhere in our 'hood smoking (and we'll probably do better once we close all the windows and play "winter" over here). It really doesn't seem to be coming from any of our closest neighbors and is probably from the building down the street a tick. And we're just in a different wind pattern than we're used to.

I'll post a "resolution" entry if there ever is one. :)

Thanks, everyone, for weighing in!!!!! :)

Posted by: Bon at September 27, 2008 3:11 AM

Colonel Mustard in the Drawing Room. Duh.

Posted by: Jenn S. at September 27, 2008 9:32 AM

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