Friday, January 24, 2014

Indole or not indole?

I have perhaps a dozen full bottles of fragrance. Samples? I have no idea. Over a hundred. Over two hundred? I don't know. I fear the entire collection looks like something happened to it. It has been moved too many times. Something spilled, perhaps. I have one large box of samples and a few small ones, and they all have a smell that makes me recoil. It is not inspiring to look upon these "collections." They look worn and unloved and I certainly do not love them. Now I think I know why that is true. Indole.

I bought a bottle of Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur (a flanker to Black Orchid, now discontinued) for ten or fifteen dollars some years back. Y'know, the price of an expensive sample - what's to lose? I do not like white florals and hoped this was some sort of dark impression of flowers (if that makes any sense). 

This is one of those times I wish I'd work at developing my vocabulary for scent, but alas, I digress. . .

When I'm trying a perfume in a spray bottle, I put the nozzle right up against my wrist and press it ever so gently. I know I don't like being fully sprayed with anything, even if it's my favorite scent. If there's a hint of florals within, I am as cautious as can be. Big heady white florals have varying amounts of indole, which many folks find unpleasant in varying degrees, from a bit much for one's taste to revolting, cloying, sickening, suffocating, and even literally headache inducing. 1980's scents to me were mostly all of these things. I didn't know about indole (silly me) until I read this very interesting (and bad) review of Voile de Fleurs at Kafaesque. For more, Perfume Shrine has this excellent article about indole.

Indole indeed. I put a dab of Voile de Fleurs on sometime this morning, as I am all of the following: In a unsettled mood, want to smell something new, want to be intoxicated by scent, and am, obviously, some sort of masochist. No, really, I don't know why I did it. Truth is, there's something in this mess of a smell that I like, but I think anything more than a few molecules will suffocate me. It reminds me of White Shoulders (from memory) times a million. I used to wear White Shoulders when I was in my mid-twenties and making an attempt to be feminine. I should go to a drugstore and buy a little bottle just to see what it's like.

Anyway, twenty minutes after putting this oh so small amount of horrible juice on my wrist, I was scrubbing with everything I had, and thought I'd removed the offending odor. Then I put on one of my favorite scents. I'm still feeling as if I'm choking. Oh, indole! I seriously hate you, and now I know I'm not alone.

Then again, it could just simply be bad perfume. Nothing more and nothing less.

Many hours later, I am moving into the disgust phase. I imagine the indole molecules combined with the perfume I am wearing to produce this fetid smell that I am horrified by, and dearly hoping that nobody but me can detect. My cat is kneading me wildly, purring with abandon. She clearly is not perturbed.

Image note:  Indole, of course.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bvlgari Black, revisited

Preface: It's been one day short of a year since I last blogged. I miss writing and I miss writing about scent. I doubt anyone's reading this any longer, but what the heck. . .back into the fray with a revisit:

It warmed up into the 40’s one day last week and my nose yearned for a scent more appropriate for Spring. Bvlgari Black. There’s nothing “black” about this scent (to my nose or mind). Yes, there’s that rubber note. Rubber equals tires equals black (I suppose). When I first sniffed the stuff I thought “latex and talcum powder!” and that might’ve been The Black Thing as in dungeons and fetish gear, but while those two smells remind me of the days when I would deign to go out in latex, still. . .nope. Bvlgari Black is altogether too bright a scent for the word “black.”

I forgot how much I love the stuff. Frankly, I can’t figure out what about it intoxicates me so. The day I was wearing it, I kept bringing my wrist up to my nose. I love the opening notes. When they quieted down, I applied more, which is something that is so not my usual modus operandi. I just could not get enough.

The next day, I could smell it on my turtleneck and thought, “mmm,” but isn’t a scent I want to wear two days in a row, and I haven’t been in a scent monogamous mood these days, but still, I am thinking it’s time for a new bottle. What if I run out??!!

What if indeed. Are there no new scents on the market?!

None that have intoxicated me as much as this. When all is said and done, I think it may be my favorite scent. I’m a bit shocked.

I still don’t understand Bvlgari Black. I can’t “read” it besides the citrusy black rubber and what I imagine of talc (for I’ve not seen anyone else write about the powder note - or have I?) I’m no nose. I have a good memory for scents that have emotional resonance, but I’ve not memorized much. I can say, “Oh yes, basil. . .” or any number of scents that are things one cooks with, but perfume? I have read that Black is supposed to smell of lapsang souchong tea, but I just don’t get that.* That makes some sense, because before I tasted pu-erh tea, I’d thought lapsang souchong was the one tea I did not like (and oh boy - now I have two!)**

I googled “Why do I love Bvlgari Black so very much?” when I was feeling particularly intoxicated (with the smell, not with drink). This scent has many admirers. Others dont’ get it. Some suggest a woman shouldn’t wear it, and I think, “Oh. Is it really offensive?” Then I remember what most folks wear for perfume and stop my thought nonsense.

*Afternoon update: Oh, what an idiot I've been. Why have I not stuck my nose in some lapsang souchong tea when I'm not drinking it? There was a large glass jar of some in my presence (or was I in its presence) about an hour ago, and I did just that. Heavenly. Transporting. I wanted to keep my nose in their. Al said, "Burning transformers, especially transformers in model trains." Doesn't sound good, but he liked it. I find it implausible when something that smells so good doesn't suit my taste buds. Now, I just sprayed some Black on me wrists and I'm finding it altogether too sweet. Don't get me wrong - I still love it - but I want something as dark and smoky as that tea. Is there such a thing? I shall look into it. Fresh pepper, lapsang souchong tea, and something light and ethereal. That's what I want to smell. . .

**New favorite tea: A teaspoon of Tippy Assam with a tiny pinch of cinnamon, two cardamon pods, a small bit of fresh pepper, steeped for six minutes and finished off with a half teaspoon of local honey and a splash of half & half. Yum!

Image note: Bvlgari Black (obviously). I don't really care what a perfume bottle looks like since I keep them inside the boxes and then within boxes or cupboards as well, but this one is lovely. I love the industrial elegance of it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

An instance of cyberbullying

There was a talk about cyberbullying at my local library this week. I learned of it after the fact and am sorry I missed it.

I've been a little too aware of cyberbullying recently in my own life. During the last month, I've thought and said on more than one occasion "I'm glad I'm not a kid!" I was bullied quite badly in elementary school and I know how harmful it is. This may make me "oversensitive" or "sensitive" to it in adult life.  I don't find it all that hurtful now, but I'm usually shocked by it. Why on earth do people think it's okay?

Yesterday I almost "liked" a public page on Facebook for a cause I thought was worthy. I was perusing the page and came upon a post that I found offensive and irrelevant to the cause, so I left a comment. My comment did not accuse, but only asked some questions. The important thing to understand, after the fact, is that I was offended and confused because I did not get a joke. This makes me an open target for bullying:

"LOL you know this is a joke right? . . .to be honest if you are this uptight and PC I dont want your crazy ass here thanks good bye.  . .your confused still aren't you LOL try switching your toothpaste to no floride"

I copied this exactly as it was with a reference to the "in joke"removed. There's no sense in complicating this.

This is bullying to those of us who are bullied.

Those who know me know I'm neither particularly uptight or politically correct. However, even if I was, should I be told that my crazy ass isn't wanted or that I should switch my toothpaste?

This is really sad because the page I wanted to like was one for a good cause. I don't want to get into a public dispute, so I'm not telling what it is though I really would like to. Maybe people who publicly mistreat and tease people who are confused, don't get their jokes, are sensitive or over-sensitive should be outed. I don't know. What I do know is that I have a number of other incidents of late that I'd like to write about, and I will.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I'm going to quote someone I don't know from Facebook. This person left a comment on a post for everyone to see and so I don't think it's wrong to repost it here:

"I was bullied all though school. . .but never once did I think of killing someone. Dad had guns and ammo around the house in easy access for me to get but never thought of it. Bottom line is the way kids ar raised these days where parents can't discipline their kids without fear of DHS stepping in."

So, you're saying that the fact that parents don't discipline their kids to the point of the Department of Human Services being called in is the reason a bullied kid might kill someone? Is that right?

Someone else chimed with this, "Old fashioned butt woopins never hurt nobody!"


Check this comment out: "I tore my kids butts anywhere and at anytime!"

That comments went on a bit, but was followed by a nice smiley face and an assurance that her kids, now adults, were just fine. Someone else had this to add:

"You can't even look at your kid cross-eyed without worrying about DHS being called. It should be a parent's right to discipline how they deem fit, but there those parents who take it to the extreme ruin it for all of us."

I don't know but "tore my kid's butts" sounds extreme to me, especially with a smiley face.

The thing that saddens me the most is that I see these kinds of posts regularly. Many of the people who post them have had a lot of struggles in their lives with mental health and addiction issues. Can't they see there is a connection? Sadly, the answer is "no." The fact that they survived, and may even be doing well, especially if they are aligned with a 12-step program that puts such a high premium on forgiveness of others and placing the burden of responsibility for addiction squarely on the shoulders of a blameless "disease" but also admonishes its members to turn their "wills and lives over to the care of God" and ask "him to remove our shortcomings. . ."

Well, I've lost my train of thought, but these same people now treat their children just as they were treated and post on Facebook just how grateful they are. Grateful to their parents who abused them.

Y'know, folks in 12-step meetings also say that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

For her

When I was young, my mother would correct me when I referred to her as "her." She thought this was impolite. Let me rewrite the last sentence to illustrate the point: "When I was young, my mother would correct me when I referred to my mother as "her." I'll try to finish this paragraph with my mother's preferred terms: I was going to write, "I thought her silly." Instead, I shall write, "I found my mother's desire for more formal language to be silly."

Yesterday, I read that someone's grandmother would correct her when referred to as "you;" "Would you please pass the potatoes?" though sounding polite to our 21st century ears, was not to her early 20th century ones. I struggled to think of how this woman would have preferred to be addressed. The image of the Lady Dowager from Downton Abbey comes to mind, as would a retort, "Not at all. Thank you very much." Ladies and gentlemen do not pass their own food at the table.

Never mind that. If addressed, one should say, "I would like some potatoes, Mother. Please."

I had always thought these things absurd and was glad to be done with them. But recently I thought about this again, more specifically about pronouns, and do wonder if we've lost more than we've thought.

Some people have suggested we use the pronoun "ze" instead of s/he. I think it's a fine idea, though I doubt it will catch on. Then again, people said that about "Ms." and it did. But, that was only one word. I did wonder what other pronouns would become. Is there a zir or zer for the possessive?

Please do not mistake my questions for intolerance. I've always disliked gender specific pronouns and have substituted "they" most of my life for the s/he binary.

So, while I was pondering, I remembered my mother. She was not a "she." She was My Mother, or Selma. My mind wandered into hospital scenes (of course, as mother died as a result of a car accident). There, she was reduced to a she. She was in a coma. She was on a ventilator. She died. Then, she could have been an it. She was reduced to a pronoun, as most of us are when in hospital. We become instantly objectified; not only are we simply he or she, but single white adult females and juvenile black males.

Without names, we are easily mistreated.

In this age of increasing anonymity, maybe we should all reclaim our names instead of  inventing new pronouns. Maybe we should stop addressing our doctors as Dr. So & So while we submit to be childishly addressed by our first names. Maybe we should correct a nurse when we overhear someone calling us "she" or "that woman."

I am neither a writer nor a serious thinker, so this will end abruptly with a long quote from Bertrand Russell about the demise of the English language. I do believe he was correct:

"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers." 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


These are random bits of facts, none of which are exact, and many of which are remembered, so if you want to bitch about this, don't pick on that. . .

Before his fall from grace, Tiger Woods made roughly the same amount of money endorsing some piece of clothing or sneaker or something as all the people who worked in the sweatshops making that product did in one year of their labor.

I can buy an 11" x 72" hand hemmed silk scarf for less than five dollars. That's retail. So, I'm buying it from a company that probably paid half that, say $2.50 who bought it from a wholesaler for half that, $1.25. How much do you think the person who hemmed that scarf was paid?

I might hand dye and print and paint that scarf and sell it for anywhere from twenty to a bit less than fifty bucks. I might spend the day working on that scarf. Some people say they're too expensive.

Years ago, a museum in America had a show of uniquely American quilts. They sold a limited edition of these "uniquely American quilts" to a select bunch of folks who paid a good price for them. Where were those quilts made? China. The museum said that they could not have been able to sell a quilt anyone would buy if they used American workers. I'm sure that was (mostly) true.

A person who knits for a living gets paid by the yard. The going rate in Maine right now is ten cents a yard. Think about that next time you gasp at the price of a hand made sweater. Three hundred dollars for a sweater that was hand knit? The knitter got about a hundred bucks. This doesn't even include the price of the raising of the fiber animals or the spinning of the wool. . .

I have at least a dozen sweaters. I buy all of my clothes at the Goodwill, but they originally came from sweatshops. Some of my sweaters were hand made, by me, but all of those were made of wool that comes from. . .where? I didn't know when I made them. I do know where all my wool comes from now, but that's after a whole helluva lot of research.

I, by the way, make less than minimum wage designing and knitting sweaters and I'm glad to have the work.

I've been sure that people in third world countries are glad to have whatever work they have.

But. . .

I just want to point out that "we" fought for the abolition of sweatshops in America. Yet, we rely on the cheap labor of people in other countries. We've (mostly) become so poor ourselves that we must.

For those of you that can afford to buy true local products, I'd like you to think about exactly how local they are. Are all the raw materials in your local products actually local?

Local spinning mills generally do not use wool from animals that are raised in the United States. It's simply too costly to do so. But the consumer does not know that.

This post started out as being a rant about the concept of meritocracy, so let me end with a bit about that. In this country, we generally believe that those who work hard are rewarded. Do you think a person who works in a sweatshop works less hard than a person who works on Wall Street or a person who makes things by hand is worth less than people who do not? Do you think an elementary school teacher is worth less than a politician? That's a question that gets asked a lot but no one ever actually answers it!

Do you think a person who gets piece work wages is not working hard? I've heard people justify the insanely low wages of knitting and sewing from home that (mostly) women in America get by saying, "But they'd knit or sew for fun anyway" or "Well, they're doing that while they're watching TV and/or raising kids." So, if you're enjoying your work and/or doing other work while you are working, you should be paid less?

Does that really make sense?

With this kind of logic, a man who throws a ball shouldn't get paid a penny.

The logic of capitalism is simply this: profit. That's all.

Image note: Just 'cuz I like the image. It does make me think, however, about how women do a lot of things for charity, or for their families, or for "hobbies," and when men do the same things they are taken a lot more seriously. Yes, this is still true, in 2012, in the 21st century. More on that another time.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hello again

In spite of the fact that I haven't blogged for approximately a year, and the fact that no one was leaving comments, I'm returning to blogging. I suppose now I'll be simply screaming into the wind, but I need to scream somewhere in the virtual world. If I don't start expressing myself, I might start screaming into the wind here in the town I live in (aka The Real World), and that could lead to an arrest. Not a good idea.

Many topics continue to irk me, simply interest me, and/or obsess me. Here's a preview:

1. Believe it or not, the lack of decently fitting bras continues to be at the top of the list. Why on earth does one have to spend over sixty dollars for a decent bra? Why is my size so darned hard to find?! I have a lot of thoughts on this subject, believe it or not. I also have a fantasy of starting a bra company. Like other good ideas I've had in this lifetime, I won't do a thing about it.

2. Americans still think hitting children is a good idea. I've seen this odd sentiment on Facebook in the last week or so: "I'm afraid of a world run by adults who weren't spanked as children." Really? The fact that the world is run by people who were abused as children scares me more.

3. I've come to the conclusion that any rules-based ideology or theology is a truly lousy idea. This is a complex subject. I can't sum it up, even here, in a few lines of near wit.

4. The weather is horrible. The prospects for jobs, housing, making ends meet (etc.) for those of us who aren't wealthy are Not Good. Yet, people are still acting like nothing is wrong. Huh?

5. Last but not least, I continue to marvel over how romantic and optimistic I can be in spite of all sorts of terrible things. This might be an answer to the #4 question, but since I also have some of the most seriously negative world and personal views, I suspect something else is at play.*

Image note: Cool bottle, Lady Gaga. Sad to note (but no surprise) that your perfume is yet another pallid celebrity scent. Wouldn't it have been edgy if she had teamed up with Lutens or something? I mean, SL has a gold plated toilet, so he gets the over-the-top thang. Read more here.

*Believe me, there are way more than 5 things that I'd like to rant write about after one year. . .this is but the tip of the iceberg.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Everything's amazing

I don't think I'd ever seen Louis C.K.

The last clip was not comedic. Well, this is, and I figured both you, my imaginary friend, and me, who's spent the entire day self reflecting on some serious shit (oh my - three curses in one day! I'm going to hell!). . .well, it's time for some comic relief. This could almost be Andy Rooney oh-that-unappreciative-younger generation material, but I think not:


Instead of describing, I'll simply post this:

Seems I can't get away from certain themes lately. I'd break it down, but it comes to one thing: courage.

I have quoted someone a number of times here on this blog and to people I've written to. I had forgotten who had written this - "Live as if you father was dead" - and, in fact, I had thought it was "write as if your family was dead." Never mind. It's simply about being unafraid; unafraid of consequences, unafraid of yourself, of your feelings, of others' judgments, all of it. You know when you're coming from a place of no fear (at first) because you are, indeed, terrified. Louis C.K. said he "felt it in his balls."

I don't have any balls, but I know what he means.

It's about being authentic. For some, this matters little, but for whatever reason, to me, it seems to be everything. I've heard the expression, "living life on life's terms," and I thought, eh, it's just a cliche, pay it no mind. I quibble with things like this; what inherent meaning does the word "life" have? None, However, this cliche has come to mean a lot to me. It's about meeting life's challenges openly, and not backing down from them.

I've given a lot of thought to the concept of depression, and I think, at heart, depression is the place we habitually go when we're feeling so much pain that we collapse. I also think it's a choice. There. I've said it. It's a choice. It's not about feeling happy or unhappy. It's about feeling painful feelings. Depression is an attempt to feel less. One can be grieving, hurt, sad, angry, filled with shame, in physical pain (just stick your own so-called negative emotion in here) and not be depressed. Depression is the attempt to run away and give up. All the outward appearances of depression show this: sleeping, lethargy, the attempt to stuff one's feelings with food, television, or whatever one's medication of choice is. The depressed doesn't say "I'm sad," but instead, "I feel like a piece of shit." As an aside, those silly multiple choice tests are just plain ridiculous: "Have you felt pervasive sadness for a duration longer than 14 days?" Why not simply ask, "Do you feel like a piece of shit?"

It takes courage not to be depressed if one is prone to it. I do think there's a propensity for it, and maybe (just maybe) the depression piece is the complete opposite of the disease model..I can see a good argument for that. Depression seems like an almost appropriate reaction - a non-maladaptive coping mechanism when one has an accurate understanding of one's complete powerlessness in the face of overwhelming circumstances. When I think of my childhood, it makes total sense to have developed depressive tendencies. Children have no rights, and in essence, their situation is the same as an inmate's. Now, your childhood may have been wonderful, so this analogy may seem absurd, but give it some thought: You are told where to live, who to live with, and you have no choice. You go to a school where everything you do is regimented, and you're tested and measured and analyzed and forced to socialize in groups, whether or not that's the right learning setting for you. There are bullies and cliques and all sorts of crazy power dynamics. You might have an abusive parent or teacher or be tormented by your peers, and you can't do a damned thing about it unless it's so bad that the law has to step in. Isn't this a pretty fair description of prison life?

Some people are fine. In prison, if they are, we call them "institutionalized." Truth is, a child who navigates the American school system with ease is already institutionalized, and if they are not complying, these days they are given drugs. Is this crazy or what?

People who can't conform to institutional setting either become angry or collapse in on themselves with depression, and some people can feel both at the same time.

Bruce Levine writes a lot about how people say they are depressed when, in fact, they are demoralized. He has a good article on Counterpunch in which he says,

"Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them?"

For the answer, go here.  It's a good question. I have always marveled at how there are general strikes in European countries, but when similar circumstances arise in the U.S., no one bats an eye. I think there's other reasons besides demoralization (such as the promise of the American Dream), but as I've just written about that recently, I'll leave it be.

Oh yes. I have written about depression before. It's the gift that keeps on taking.

Ah well. I know I started this post with some other point to make, but digressions get me (almost) every time. Truth is, if I was being terse (most unlike me) I'd simply say this: I feel overwhelmingly sad, and it's a bit harder than usual to stay on topic. This too shall pass.

Cliches are pretty useful.


Some things need practice. Lots of practice, and you get better at it. I've never heard or read anyone say this, but I think serial monogamy is a bad idea. It's not something you get better at by doing over and over again. Think of this: how would you wind up if you thought you could master car accidents by driving yourself over a cliff's edge time and time again? And no, the boxing analogy does not apply, 'cause even though one may get better with practice, you wind with less brain function, and the retirement age is early. Maybe it's the same thing with failing at relationships.

If you don't heal your woundedness before you get into a relationship, it's likely you'll attract someone who will wound you in exactly the same places you've been wounded before, or if you don't, you feel as if something is wrong when it isn't. Does one learn from this? I've got to say, emphatically: No

All that winds up happening is the re-injuring becomes a scar, or an open wound that can not heal, and then everyone feels like a potential injurer. I seriously doubt I could recognize a truly good potential "partner" if they were standing nose-to-nose with me at this point. Everyone reminds me of something or someone terrible (and that includes me).

I didn't get it that I felt this way. I thought I'd gotten over most of this stuff, but all I've done is become numb. Then, something came along and exploded that mistaken notion. As an aside, as much as I love Zen, I think sometimes the at-one-with-the-world-and-everyone-in-it that a person can feel on that black cushion in an empty room is pretty darned empty (but, of course, I'm oversimplifying. . .)

At some point, a person just gives up. I thought I had, and was oh-so cool about it. Yeah. That's fine. I have no more wants, needs, or desires (another black cushion myth and mistake). I thought about living as a monk, thought about it a lot, and have wondered, "Why am I still living in the world?" Well, I don't have a good answer to that one. Or perhaps I do: I know I've used meditation like a drug instead of a tool a good amount of the time. Anything not to feel deeply, please! Yogic practice is another story. Done correctly, the aim is to become more in touch with one's body and emotions, to embrace them. Yes, Zen can do the same thing, but the bulk of the literature and practice was written and designed for men living a monastic existence, so it's pretty easy to fall in love with the coolness of living in no-mind/no-body. 

For the most part, those of us who haven't been brought up in deeply religious households just aren't given any clear map of how to live this emotional relational life. If we're lucky, and we have good role models, stuff pretty much takes care of itself, but sadly, a great many people don't have great or even good role models. Not only do we re-injure ourselves, but we injure others, even if our intentions are good.

If only we treated each other with the tenderness we all deserve. Yes, every person is a precious gift, and yep, I sound soppy and new-agey, but I stand by it. Why I continue to apologize for having nice thoughts is another mystery. Well, maybe not. I've been trained to act that a tough guy, and that doesn't work for the girl who lives inside of me screaming to be allowed to finally have a say in things. 

And no, I haven't yet learned how to live by it, and I'm starting to realize I'm too scarred by this life to do so. Whoever you are, if you're reading this, and you aren't, be kind and gentle with yourself and others. Do it fearlessly and honestly. Life goes by in a flash, and it's worth it. 

Addendum: I wonder sometimes why I over-share in the public sphere. It's one part compulsivity (I just can't help myself), and three parts a desire to yell out warnings to the world, to those who haven't made the mistakes I have in this life. . .it's not so different than yelling, "Hey! Don't walk down that road. There's a huge chasm of venomous snakes down there." Well, yeah, maybe you want to see for yourself. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Image note: Head of Medusa, Peter Paul Rubens, 1616.