Smoke and frustration.

figure standing in a hazy dark, smoky field

Smoke. My house smells. My yard smells. EVERY fucking thing around me smells like smoke. I have the windows shut even though it’s a beautiful cool night, there’s an air filter running on medium-high, and still, the stench hovers.

I don’t know which bothers me most: this smell that leaves me feeling constant, low-key anxiety, or that the stench seems to be restricted to ONLY MY BLOCK.

Yeah, sure, we’re under an air quality alert, Canadian & Michigan wildfire smoke is causing particulate pollution, etcetera and so on. But when I take a walk, when I go a a quarter-mile in any direction except north on my block, the air smells like, oh, lilacs or privet, or basswood (blooming 3 weeks early, but whatever) or like, hey nothing at all.

Back home, in my backyard, the soot in the air is so thick I can feel its greasy kiss on my face.

So I don’t think the distant fires are causing my smoke bomb situation, or not only the distant fires.

No, this is hyperlocal.

If I figure out which of my block neighbors is doing open burns in fire pits–during an air quality alert and when we haven’t had rain in a month, FFS…well.

Imma be serious cranky.

I don’t give a good goddamn if they’re having a party or burning brush or sending signals to orbiting aliens. It needs to stop.

Look. I don’t hate smoke. I do hate this.

Smoke & I are old friends. I love a good campfire. I spent four summers teaching kids how to cook 3 meals a day six days a week for 15-30 people over fire pits. So why does merely smelling smoke leave me with such a bad case of grumpy, irritable fretfulness? Why can’t I ignore it and dive into the world of fiction, for example?

It’s taken me a few days of smoky frustration to figure it out. Days of inability to concentrate on writing, when that’s all I want to do. When I’ve set aside time to do it.


I can’t let go of my alertness because I associate smoke with an active fire on a deep, drilled, threat-response level. Smoke nearby means there’s a situation that needs immediate, constant, vigilant safety monitoring.

3 fires a day. 6 days a week. Thirty weeks. And that’s not counting all the other years of summer camp, or the countless other camping fires.

Smoke means fire, fire means be watchful, watchful means do nothing else, because ADHD you will get distracted if you do ANYthing else.

No amount of rational reminders can override that critical survival skill, and honestly, I don’t want to lose it.

I just want the smoke to go away.

Maybe I’m wrong about the source. Maybe it is only the plume from the Canadian fires. But I don’t see anyone else complaining about it online, I don’t see any articles about smokey smell, and it’s really gawdanged awful.

And I know, first world problems, other people have it works, blah blah blah. It’s making me miserable, Imma gripe here. As one does.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Behold, the advertising section.

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When getting older means gaining superpowers, life gets complicated for everyone.

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Amazon (ebook & print) (print)

a selection of non-Amazon ebook vendors

More info here on my website

The cover for Rough Passages: a Rollover Novel, with an image of a woman in flames dancing against a backdrop of an urban skyline at night.
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