Monday, December 01, 2008

Sounds like morning sickness

Christmas music is officially legal here at the Palmer house. There's just one problem: certain songs are making me feel physically ill.

Let me explain. For some reason, I've always formed strong associations between sounds and smells and certain potent memories. For example, the smell of strong petrol always reminds me of Russia. Listening to Guster takes me back to living in Utah. I even remember the smell of the cologne of one of the photographers when I modeled for Nike and thinking of it brings back all the nervousness and excitement of that day. And apparently, the sound of any Christmas music we bought last year reminds me of having pregnancy sickness and puking in the sink. Lovely.

At least I'm lucky the gross feeling doesn't extend to all our Christmas music. Unfortunately, though, it applies to some of the best. We bought a Sarah MacLachan Christmas album last year and listened to it extensively. This year, she hardly gets one verse into "The First Noel" and I'm already feeling queasy.

I think it will wear off eventually. At least I hope so. Do any of you have such strong associations between memories and your sense of taste, smell, or hearing? Here are a few more for me:

  • Banana-flavored popsicles remind me of childhood in general.
  • Root beer (well, Coke) floats remind me of the summer of 2007 in Jordan.
  • The smell of freshly cut grass reminds me of cross-country and track meets.
  • Lemon drops - or, more specifically, how sore they made my mouth after I ate a few dozen of them - remind me of checking out books from the library when I was a kid.
  • No matter how many times I've used it since, the smell of liquid Softsoap will always remind me of my freshman year of college.
  • The smell of jasmine reminds me of a lot of places in the Middle East, but especially Damascus, and especially the neighborhood of East Mezze.

How about you?


JackJen said...

I can't say I've ever had SOUND associations....

Joe has a cologne that he wore when we were dating.....but he doesn't wear it much any more at ALL. When he DOES, however, it brings me back to all of those FEELINGS of "are we or aren't we?" (getting married) and "does he really like me?" and "I'm going to park myself on a bench outside the Talmage Building so I don't miss out on a single minute of time with him!"

I don't have the softsoap association with freshman year...BUT, I tell you what. A whiff of Shower Power BRINGS IT ALL BACK. I'm sure you can relate.

Chris said...

I have a cologne that reminds me of walking down the big hill in Jordan to try and catch a taxi to church. I don't really like it because it stresses me out and reminds me of running out of water.
Charlie Brown movies remind me of living abroad with no english TV. We would just watch the same 4 VHS tapes over and over again.
The Standin' Tall series of tapes and workbooks. My Mom must have bought these when I was young and played them all the time because I can still sing along to the songs.

I hope you are all feeling better now.

Sharalea said...

I am completely fascinated with the principle of smell-memory association. Here are some of mine:

-Big Red gum reminds me of my Granddaddy.Seems like he always had some to give us as kids.

-Crayons/glue remind me of kindergarden

-honeysuckle reminds me of summers in Estill Springs, TN

-the smell of traffic in a rain storm (which I suppose is a combination of the exhaust + rain smell) reminds me of my mission--from walking along the streets in the rain

-the smell of lavender hand sanitizer reminds me of a new baby (it was the sanitizer in my hospital room when I had my baby this last June)

Bridget said...

Wow, those are great! And reading about your associations have reminded me of so many more. I will try not to bore you by sharing them all, but I also have-

-smell memories from dating Jeremy. I think it was cologne, too. Maybe.

-hand sanitizer/new baby association. Also: the smell of Pampers diapers always make me feel like I'm in a hospital.

-Shower Power! Yes, Jen, so true!!

-Traffic + rainstorm reminds me of going on runs in Portland.

I'm glad to know I'm not alone.

Kristen said...

These things are hard to think of off the top of my head. They are the kind of memories that don't usually surface until you are in the midst of such a smell/taste/sound. But the ones that come to mind are:

banana-flavored popsicles go one further for me: field day at Phil Lewis elementary schol

Butterscotch candies: my great-Uncle Web's house

Stetson cologne: the first boy I kissed, and how he left his hat at my house once and I kept smelling it obsessively because it smelled so good.

Green Day's "When I come Around": driving through puddles in Sunset HS parking lot in my cousin Em's little white car at night. We would also roll down the windows even though it was super cold and sing at the top of our lungs at the stoplights.

I actually have a LOT of memory associations with songs, this has got me thinking about them. FUN!

Marianne said...

I totally have that! Sounds, smells, movies, etc. You name it I've probably associated it with something. (okay, not everything, but a lot of things.) I think for me, even more than an exact memory it triggers the same emotional state as before...does that make sense?

Fun topic!

Anonymous said...

It's funny that you should have this post today because I was just thinking about the same thing Saturday at dinner. I was eating at a pizza place with Scott and his family in NY when they started playing "Everybody Hurts" by REM. I must have heard that song at least dozens of times in my life, but it always takes me back to a Halloween party I attended in 8th grade. I have lots of other similar associations, too, although none of them are coming to mind at the moment.


Britney said...

I suffered from terrible nausea and vomiting when I was pregnant with my 2nd baby. In fact, for the first few months, I had to spend most of my day in the bathroom, or lying on the couch. But I also had a 2-year-old to care for.

At the time, my son was really into a British cartoon called "Kipper". So, naturally, we checked out every Kipper DVD the library had and watched them countless times over the course of several weeks until my sickness subsided.

As you can guess, to this day I cannot watch that cartoon without feeling very queasy. However, I have noticed that my Kipper repulsion is weakening with time.
Perhaps there's hope for you and Christmas music next year. :)

Lark said...

What a fun post - I also associate smells and sounds with memories.
There are too many songs for me that I associate with different memories but here's a few:
-Radiohead "Ok Computer" reminds me of the summer Parker and I were "hanging out"
-"You're a grand old flag" reminds me of elementary school music programs.
-DMB "I'll back you up" reminds me of mine and parker's first date. (what is the correct english there btw?)

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I haven;t been able to eat smores since getting sick on them at Girl Scouts about 1966. More than food though, smells take me back to very specific moments. A certain brand of strawberry-scented hand cream puts me right back to when Craig & I were dating, including where we went & the clothes we wore, and that's one of hundreds of examples.

One thing that almost makes me crazy (& probably bugs other people as well), is that there is a song in my head for just about anything someone says. This includes advertising jingles as well as real songs. Some poor person might mention they were in Seattle for the weekend, & into my head comes, "The bluest skies you've ever seen, are in Seattle . . ." If I'm not thinking fast enough, I sing it out loud. Or perhaps they are eating chunky peanut butter, so I hear, "open wide for Chunky--toot-toot" (a 60s TV commercial). My brain is just too full of useless clutter.

sarah palmer cook said...

i also find this topic very interesting! I have a pretty good memory for music. I can tell you what movie a song is on if I hear it playing. Or I can tell you where i was, what i was doing, and who I was hanging out with when really liked a certain song.
Apple scented dish soap reminds me of byu-idaho and doing the dishes once they'd piled up in the sink.
Smoke and exhaust reminds me of my trip to the middle east, and while i dont enjoy those smells i do enjoy the memories.
Dominos hand tossed pepperoni pizza and nutri-grain apple cinnamon bars remind me of lunchtime in high school.
Schwans chocolate mint bars always remind me of Grandma Buehler and how she always made us take one of those on our way out.
The smell of perfumes I've worn in the past while dating people always reminds me of those times.
Cranberry bubble bath reminds me of when i was first married.
And those are just a few that i can think of right now. it is fun to think about!


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