i recently had a septoplasty.

i chose to undergo this because:

the surgery was fast but the recovery felt agonizingly slow. it is only the second surgery of my life and as someone who rarely gets sick recovering for 2 weeks was misery. it culminated in a panic attack and lots of star trek: the next generation (i only made it out thanks to my partner, A_______).

i'm doing much better now and on monday i had a normal work day. this included my usual commute by bus, during which i found it hard to concentrate on my book: what was that smell?

the bus has a stench. people criticized my city's public transit by referring to its numerous olfactory offenses. no, i argued. it's totally fine. you just need to ride it more. it turns out my very restricted nasal cavities had spared me the pain for the past year.

in one hearty whiff i could detect body odor, flatulence, someone's horrible bacon breakfast, bus exhaust, the very breathe of others. it was not pleasant. luckily i'm old-hat at not using my nose to breathe.

by the time i got off the bus my stomach was just a little upset. but, then began my walk to the office. in about .4mi i was subjected to car exhaust, cigarette smoke, the smell of at least four distinct varieties of flesh burning in restaurants, and more flatulence and body odor. by the time i got to the office my stomach was very upset.

this experience was very surreal. i have never had a sense suddenly revealed to me like that. it is as though i gained sight and the actual appearance of other humans not only failed to match my mental imaginations and expectations but were instead visions of pure horror. that what the sighted take for granted--teeth, hair, eyes--were obscene protrusions and objects glistening and yellowed. would i wish for blindness once again?

what makes this especially perverse, i think, is that what i am sensing now is air: invisible, omnipresent air. of course i rationally understood that the air around me is full of harmful things; on monday morning i viscerally felt and experienced those harmful things. i've since been told that i will "get used to it;" the question i'm facing now is, do i want to?

or do i want to purchase an industrial respirator now, and strap it on while i'm still reeling from the stench and rot of the air of our cities? why shouldn't i? visual taboos aside, it seems like a reasonable thing to do. we purify our water with a filter; we have organic food. why not purify our urban air?

why do we accept air that terrorizes? air within which lurk invisble behemoths of stink, titans of unhealth and decay, many-tendrilled predators of cancer and filth?