Niche: Part II

Soo…I bought a bottle of J. F. Schwarzlose Rausch and a couple of samples. I wasn’t going to buy anything until 2019 but frankly my pregnancy is “getting to me.” I know I’ll buy my vintage Fleurissimo, Vol de Nuit and Liu for certain in 2019. And I bet I might buy vintage L’Heure Bleue too. But…as much as I don’t generally like niche I have been ready for something different lately and I really do like J. F. Schwarzlose. I bought another sample from them to try and we’ll see… I might buy more bottles eventually.

Actually, I might have purchased a bottle of J. F. Schwarzlose sooner but they didn’t sell them in the US until recently I don’t think? I recall looking for them over a year ago and I couldn’t find them being sold here. So, it’s lovely to be able to buy one now.

Anyway…I think I’ve found another niche house. Intriguingly, my two favorite niche houses are both German.

But…does Penhaligon’s count as niche? What about Creed? Or what about the current Houbigant fragrances? I have a decent collection of vintage Houbigant that I really enjoy but I wonder if their current scents are now considered niche? Hmm… I like those houses too!

I’m excited to add a touch more variety to my collection!

Madame Rochas (1960)

The aldehydes in vintage Madame Rochas remind me of those in vintage White Linen. They’re crisp, green, and a bit spicy. Very clean! (And they’re both floral aldehydes)

But, the orris root, vetiver, and oakmoss really stand out (to my nose) to a large degree in vintage Madame Rochas. The florals are tender and they do add a certain piquant, delicate beauty. And the aldehydes, again, are certainly present, but they do not dominant that spicy oakmoss. Not on my skin.

Even though I tend to “clean things up” on my skin, generally speaking, this is an exception. I think it’s the jasmine… Jasmine goes totally wild on my skin.

Indeed. While Madame Rochas is still polite, she is certainly a woman. And on my skin this fragrance is actually animalic. Indolic even. The jasmine and musk are not playing games…

Actually, I think I would have to be in just the right mood to wear this one. It’s truly that punchy, lusty and dirty… (Regardless of the aldehydes.) But it’s an absolutely necessary fragrance for my collection!

Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, lemon and neroli. Middle notes: jasmine, rose, tuberose, Lily-of-the-valley, orris root, ylang-ylang, violet and narcissus. Base notes: sandalwood, vetiver, musk, cedar, oakmoss and tonka beans. 

Nose: Guy Robert

Niche!

Oh man. I keep thinking I should find another niche I can love and buy to expand my horizons.

I’ve tried so many over the years. And there are many I like. There are even some I like a lot. But it’s rare that I find one I want to actually purchase.

The closest niche fragrance houses I’ve ever considered buying from other than Krigler (and maybe one of two others depending on what you consider niche) are Amouage, Papillon Artisan, Frederic Malle and J. F. Schwarzlose. And honestly, I might even buy something from J. F. Schwarzlose… But I also need to investigate a few other niche houses.

Still <sigh> I just can’t bring myself to buy and wear most of them. Most of them seem too sweet on me, too synthetic or they go sour. My husband actually smelled an Andy Tauer on me once and asked sincerely if it had “gone bad.”

It’s a shame but it’s true: My skin chemistry doesn’t do well with most contemporary niche fragrances.

<sigh>

It’s so odd too. I can almost imagine how the best or better niche fragrances (other than those I purchased) must smell on some other people because at times there’s a faint hint of something delicate, or opulent or playful and I can see how if that predominated it’d be very nice. But…it rarely does on my skin. I truly usually smell like an expensive air freshener and in the worst case I smell like a Glade plug-in (or not even that good).

I am going to keep searching though. And like I’ve said, I do really like Krigler and J.F. Schwarzlose… But until I find my other niche house (maybe Schwarzlose?), I’m going to love my vintages, the few contemporary designer houses I can enjoy and the few niche houses I also appreciate on my skin (as mentioned).

<sigh>

Hiring a Maid

When our son first was born we quickly discovered that one of his quirks was that he didn’t like sleeping all that much.  No.  He would sleep for a while but only the bare minimum required of his age and even then he’d often wake up at intervals for feedings. (I nursed him until he was two years old).  Naturally, we didn’t sleep much and definitely not well.

When he was awake he was a little tornado of curiosity and energy that roamed all around our apartment and unless something was too high for his reach or nailed to the wall it rarely stayed in one place for long.

As he started eating solid food things escalated quickly out of control.  It was not uncommon to be dashing in a state of almost total perpetual exhaustion down the hall with newly folded laundry to hide from him (and put away) while he proceeded to dissect and throw his dinner all over the sofa and living room carpet (for further experimentation). And of course, the moment you tried to clean up his scattered dinner after correcting him he would run down the hall into the bedroom with the newly folded laundry, unfold it and throw it around the room. But I should point out again that he wasn’t naughty so much as curious…

When our son turned two I recognized that we needed help. We couldn’t do it all alone.

For a while we hired someone to watch our son for a few hours a day.  I slept and started blogging, collecting perfumes more passionately (I started collecting more than my regular six or seven in 2014) and joined the online fragrance community.   However, when he’d return home things would still go to chaos and when he was gone it was a constant debate about whether to clean or sleep.  Sleep often won.

So, I researched the best local maid services in the area and found a company that paid their workers a real living wage and not just minimum wage, and that used earth friendly cleaning products.  They were slightly more expensive but I reasoned that if the employees were happier and didn’t have to use caustic, potentially health damaging products daily it would be ultimately worth it.

When the representatives from the cleaning company came for an interview it was slightly embarrassing because our apartment was in its usual state of total disorder.  Yet, they were kind and we set up a plan for a maid to come once a week every week for at least six months with the first couple of appointments lasting longer to establish order.

In the following months our apartment went from an anxiety producing state of disaster to one of relative calm.  We slept better (when we could sleep) and our son seemed to also enjoy the new found status quo.  It was a heavenly change (especially coupled with hiring someone to take care of him for a few hours too).

Occasionally the maid would make requests or offer advice for various things to buy to organize a closet or declutter a counter here or a shelf there.  And when we stuck with that advice it always paid off.

Sadly though, we discontinued our maid when we moved to Seattle and since then we haven’t felt the need to hire one as our son grew older and slept better.  But there are times I’ve wondered if we might again in the future…

But either way, it was extremely worth it.  Every penny.

Now…I think something needs to be said at this point about the ideas some people have about hiring a maid service.  Oftentimes people have this idea that maids are too posh and expensive for most and it’s silly to hire them…  And while it wasn’t inexpensive per se, relatively speaking it wasn’t exactly terrifying either.  Imagine buying a couple of new “high end” bottles of perfume every month (bottles over $200) and then buying a couple more here or there for materials and tips.   While it was luxurious it never felt excessive…

We actually saved money in resources we would have used to deal with the stress of an apartment house that was impossible to tame.   So, where we would have spent money on Starbucks for me or take-out from a local restaurant for dinner (if we were too tired to cook but didn’t want to give in and eat fast food) we could direct those resources towards our maid.

Of course, I know some people who refuse to even consider hiring a maid even though they could easily afford one (a lot of people in my family).  And I know other people who have hired a maid, nanny, cook, and gardener all at once (people in Mark’s family).   What people are willing to spend and how they feel about it varies wildly…

But really, it was life changing for us in a very good way.  And if you are totally overwhelmed by your abode and want a lovely change perhaps consider cutting back on buying perfume, eating out and/or buying coffee and/or etc. and use that money for a maid.

Of course, I’d firmly suggest using a company that treats its employees with dignity, uses environmentally friendly cleaning products and I’d make sure to tip your maid every once and while just to show that you truly do appreciate their work.  Also, be prepared to keep your real valuables locked away.  And have standards that you expect to be met but be reasonable in your expectations too.

We had one experience that was unpleasant with some china and I think it could have been avoided if we had been more careful. But I have nothing bad to say about how well our maids cleaned. It always looked infinitely better, if not delightful after they cleaned.   It smelled better too…

Still, regardless of how lovely things look, how nice your maid is and what a part of the family they sometimes seem to be when they’re visiting your home, don’t try to become friends with your maid.  Be friendly and respectful but don’t think you’ll actually end up chatting over coffee someday or going shopping together.

One maid we had almost became a real friend (until we lost touch when we moved) but that’s not the norm and it shouldn’t be expected.   She was an exception and perhaps we just could have been friends in general so it wasn’t actually odd…   And of course, I knew intellectually at the time that I was probably talking too much while they cleaned and should shut up but it was way too easy to chat while they were there.  After we left for Seattle and I did some further thinking I started to feel a bit embarrassed when I looked back at it all.  Of course, again, it ended well with one person (the one who almost became like an actual, genuine friend) but it was perhaps a mistake with the other person.  Lesson learned.

Anyway…  Perhaps you already have a maid and could offer advice of your own.  But this is my two cents worth…

Who We Are and What We Deserve

Who am I?  Who are you?  Those are huge questions.

My relatives in both my maternal grandmother’s and maternal grandfather’s families have been researching our family trees for over 30 years.  They’ve gone to great lengths to do this in part to find out a bit more about who they are and, more importantly to them, who their family is.  But nowadays it’s quite popular to research your family history and with the DNA sites it’s amazing how much history is available.  People are uncovering little bits of their reality.

Sometimes though the question becomes less benign and more violent.  Like, when people don’t want to hear that someone is what they are – when people try to steal or denigrate identity pieces of others to suit some purpose.  (Or try to steal something in general.)

My mind wanders suddenly (and fairly randomly) to the Duchess of Sussex.  I feel so much sadness for her in regard to her family and identity.

Now, I doubt that dear, elegant and incredibly sexy Meghan (and I don’t mean that in a lesbian way because I’m not of that orientation for anyone, but instead I mean it as a truly objective observation)…is entirely innocent.  She likely has some baggage.  And I would be shocked if she isn’t at least a little shrewd and conniving…

But good golly.  The Duchess of Sussex is also obviously amazing…   Not just any young lady with a pretty face and talent could do what she’s done with her life.  It takes something different and unique combined with an unusual amount of energy, passion and brilliance to take that difference and wildly run with it to the far reaches of human experience in any direction.

So when her father’s family back in the US says, “That little dumbass…  She thinks she’s better than us and she isn’t.” (and etc.)  I feel so much anger and sadness.  Of course, I then question the authenticity of the entire thing (because, for one thing, how can people truly be so obtuse)…  But let’s just say that they really are silly people.  Let’s just say that they really are that...absurd. 

Although it’s totally uncool to say this nowadays, here we go: Umm…”Meghan family” she is better than you all.  And Meghan is just being real and brutally (perhaps a bit unkindly) honest if she’s ever intentionally made you feel that way.

Sorry.

You’re not as intelligent as her.  You’re not as good looking or pretty as her.  You’re not as fascinating as her.  You’re not as cool as her.  You’re not as shrewd as her.  You’re not as gifted as her.  You’re not as educated, sophisticated or…clever as her, dear “Meghan family.”   Not by a long shot.

So…

Perhaps she could have handled her family better, but good grief.  Some of the jealous things they say are…unbelievable.  How can anyone be that delusional and dishonest?  Where’s the humility and self awareness in her paternal US family?

And besides all that egotistical silliness is another intriguing thing.  They also don’t seem to believe Meghan deserves what she has now with Harry.

Oh sure.  They likely seem to think they might deserve it…  Or?

Some people have called racism in respect to the Markle clan.  They claim that their antics are a part of some sort of Cinderella’s-step-sister-syndrome.  You know?  The little black one among them who was supposed to be a piece of nothing that did their bidding but instead turned out…well…to be the best one and married the prince?  Yeah…  Maybe that’s true of them.  I don’t know.

But regardless of what it is motivating them, her family struggles with the “she doesn’t deserve it parade” and a lot of the general public does too.   And on a related note, there are many who do the same thing to the Duchess of Cambridge.

Hmm…

You know, why is that?  Why do people look up and yell, “You don’t deserve it!“?

(This just ties in with my other post today, but I needed to write a bit more.  Sorry if it all seems redundant now.)

…It’s not just people of the dizzying height of the British Royal family who experience this, of course. It’s common.

I’m somewhere in the upper middle to lower part of the upper class in my current social standing (to be so blunt and open) – nowhere near the Duchess of Sussex.  But, even with what I have there are too many people who insinuate in tone, subtext or through direct words that I don’t deserve what I have.   Or they try to manage some way I have less than I do – less than what I “project.”   But either way, it’s a form of thievery and it’s at least hostile if not somewhat violent and don’t think it doesn’t affect me.  It does.

Now, again, I’m not actually comparing myself to Meghan, or trying to say I’m like her in general (so don’t try to jump me).   …I was just thinking about some of the animosity I’ve experienced over the years that has come to a boiling point as of late, online at least, and I think since she’s in the news so much I thought of her and how she too seems to encounter people who don’t think she deserves what she has. But, again, some people do that to anyone who happens to possess something they don’t have. – anyone “above them.”

And frankly, I also think the nicer you are the more likely they are to do it. If I was actually a really bad person a lot people who attack me would be nicer to me.  If I was greedy and lazy and a wanton, untouchable, cold piece of earth they would…respect me.  Because oddly, if you show vulnerability those people tend to feel worse.

They feel worse about themselves.  Worse about their fate.  Worse because they can’t hate you as easily…

And weirdly, people who go around feeling sorry for themselves, refusing to own their own mistakes honestly and who think they inherently “deserved better than what they have” and are “superior” to their social equals in some way that has little to do with reality want to be bullied.  They love being pushed around.  They look for it…  It attracts them.

It’s not that they might not be victims of something either or had some real misfortune that has held them back in various ways that are very true and sad (most of us have had a few of those sort of things in life), but instead it’s beyond that.   They aren’t truly content with what they have.  Ever. And as long as there is someone with more than them they must invent some tragedy that provides an absolution to their ego rather than dealing with their own personal lack or failings in a mature way.

But truly, if I was cold and acted genuinely superior a lot of insecure and hostile people would “believe me” and believe I deserve what I have…  Then I would fit some narrative that lets them be a total victim and not at all an instigator of their own fortunes.  And maybe they would think I’m just as indifferent to their actual pain and truth as they are.

By believing that we are all intrinsically valuable and equal, despite the cold fact that some people are more blessead or lucky than others, people apparently start to question things about you.   They can’t just let it be.  They can’t just let reality be.

Those folks have to have inequality (whether they know it or not)…  Someone has to be better than someone else or at least the inequalities that exist have to be beaten into our minds and meditated upon.

But the truth is, I think, a lot of what we have as adults is because we earned it one way or another.  Through good, wise choices and through bad ones we make our way beyond the helplessness of childhood.  There are some people who are inherently more disadvantaged, there are obstacles that are greater than others, and fortunes that are horrible, but most people have some moment when they can make a choice that will bring them something of real value.  Something beautiful.  Be it a relationship or something of less actual value most people have a choice to earn it or let it pass them by…    And while luck changes moment by moment what we earn stays with us in some form.

And if you’re so lacking in blessings that you can’t achieve what you want it still doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t deserve it if they have it.    Most of the time, they actually do deserve it…   Sadly or not.

This life is harsh.  Harsh.   And every day is a battle for everyone.   Everyone is in a battle… We are a species constantly trying to thrive…and constantly trying to survive.

And even if you aren’t the prettiest lady in the church choir or walking down the avenue why do YOU deserve to be alive in the first place?  I’m glad you are, but why do you deserve it?  Do you deserve it?  Why aren’t you laying on some battleground in a war torn country starving to death?  Why aren’t you crying at the hands of some abusive owner who beats you every night to oblivion?  Why are you able to read this?  Why aren’t you blind or illiterate?  Sound silly?  Well, think about it though…

Do you deserve what you have?!

Of course, we are all given the right to life at least at birth (if not before).  And I believe our inherent human rights are based on that basic first of survival…   But I bet in some ways you do deserve through merit at least some of the blessings you have too…   Be honest.  Our choices matter.  You did a lot right.  Didn’t you?

But our life is also based on luck too.  It’s random.  It’s complicated and messy.

<shrugs>

Or at least if there’s some grand supernatural plan it’s extremely mysterious at times.  And, saying that, I actually do believe in God.  I tend to think that God is all powerful but that we are in some fallen state in this world and that evil (which can manifest as “bad luck”) has a necessary function.   And I believe that the less luck you have the better off you’ll be in the next life.  I also believe that our good choices are weighed equally to the moments of brave suffering.   They’re sometimes combined…   I think I’ll have to be accountable when I die (and to some degree before) for what I’ve been given and for the choices I’ve made…  Again, I believe we all will.

But…regardless of what you believe about God, there is something wise about refusing to be a permanent victim. There is a lot to say about valuing your choices as seen through the lens of empathy and self respect.

Anyway…I have no intention of becoming mean or unkind, but I do think I might be less…”nice.”  I’m learning that sadly politeness is of more value than friendliness in dealing with people who might hate you because of their own woes and insecurities (whether they are founded as in the “Meghan family” or unfounded).

Bitter

I keep reading news articles about the top 1% being evil. Today I read that the excesses of “the rich” are the same as those of the poor… So actually the middle class should what? Judge both as being morally unfit? Indulge both?

The other day there seemed to be some disagreement between a thinker for Slate who said that someone writing for The Atlantic was silly in trying to say that the 1% aren’t “the real problem” but that the top 10 to 20% are (and the writer at Slate believes that the top 1% are “the real problem.”) The writer for The Atlantic seemed to believe that the true middle had all but disappeared? They tended to think that the upper middle class has morphed into a permanent bigger chunk of upper class in recent decades and left everyone else behind. (Do I have that right? I only read the critique in Slate.) And the writer for The Atlantic also tended to think that income was not the best gauge for class… (I agree with them)

Hmm…

Having been exposed to a vast range of people in life from all social classes I feel impatient when I read almost all these articles. Very impatient.

First of all, it’s not a new idea that the excesses, vices and etc. of the rich mimic those of the poor. It’s ridiculous to miss that that point has been made for a long time… How long? Well probably since the term social class came into our minds as a conscious thought.

But…while the humanity of both the poor and genuinely wealthy (I refuse to use the confusing term “rich” without some hint of irony or sarcasm) are the same and humans all share the same basic emotional fundamentals the direct causes of the “silly behavior” of the wealthy and poor are very, very different. It’s a little absurd to compare them, even if well intentioned.

Where a poor person might not truly understand interest on a loan and accidentally borrow too much and go bankrupt, a wealthy person who doesn’t come from new money (this is where old versus new money discrepancies are important despite how scary they seem to a lot of contemporary thinkers) likely has at least heard or read about such things in a real life, non-abstract way… So when the poorer individual buys a house they can’t afford with a huge mortgage, leases a new Cadillac and takes out tons of student loans for a career that won’t cover the costs of that education they might actually be slightly innocent. They might not actually know any better… But when a wealthy person buys to excess, avoids responsibility and sweeps into a spiral of self destruction it’s not for lack of knowing. Not really… The wealthy individual most likely is a bit nihilistic. Plain and simple… While both are driven by a desire for material items that might give them some happiness they are not the same people and it’s not the same experience for them or those encountering them (unless those people experiencing them miss a few things).

I have a cousin who dated a man from a very wealthy old American family for decades. They even lived together. The family is part of old (actual) high society. And she describes his mother as demanding her children make appointments to meet with her and walking around their estate wearing a real tiara. (This was a bit more than a few decades ago now) The son was emotionally affected by this distance, naturally, and not in a good way.

But…that’s hardly, hardly the same thing as a mother who barely sees her kids because she works three jobs to make her rent and feed them. The kid who grows up being exposed to gang activity and uses drugs to cope with the pain of poverty is not the same kid as the one who uses drugs to fit in with his equally disenchanted peers. They are both in pain and they both are suffering but for different direct reasons…

The excesses of “the rich” are tolerated because they have money. The excesses of the poor are not as tolerated because they don’t have money. And while you can certainly say that the poor and rich are both acting foolishly the poor person’s behavior is probably keeping them from acquiring more… Whereas “the rich” person with bad behavior (I prefer saying wealthy because that’s what we’re really talking about) has money but is totally screwed up in a different way. The wealthy person is potentially trying to get rid of money because they can’t handle it with real wisdom and a meaningful, grounded perspective… Very different.

It’s not like all the morally “dumb people” are magically delivered by storks to those at the the top and bottom of society… <rolling eyes>

The poor person just wants a better, more stable life (whether they know it or not). The wild, eccentric “rich” (again, I hate that term) have had some of the trappings of stability but are likely struggling from some existential despair (whether they know it or not). AND AGAIN, those are sooo different. You can’t compare them beyond simply to note a shared longing for meaning, peace and happiness. I think it’s actually insulting to both groups to compare them…

But…I think a lot of the views in these articles are from people who are somehow, in some way, “in the middle.” Whether they have just internalized the middle class perspective and are actually higher, or use a middle class perspective as their writing persona depends on the person, but in a lot of cases these writers truly are just somewhere in the middle trying to make sense of people they are not.

And when they look up they feel bitter. And when they look down they feel bitter. Why? In large part because that’s the emotional climate of this era… This is not a time of hope and trying to actually better things but of doubt, rage, and self focus. But also, I think people have an innate tendency to be a bit suspicious of “the other(s).”

Still, I think we often are all “the real problem” in our own lovely ways… And frankly while some are perhaps more guilty than others it doesn’t fix anything to disgrace other humans. You can have judgment about a situation or a person without being judgmental. (Although it’s tough to do) Also, as long as there’s bitterness there will always be the poor and there will always be “the rich.” Although, I do agree with the writer for The Atlantic more and find it frightening how stark and cruel things are and are increasingly becoming in regard to class.

But we can choose to be open-minded and rational. We can choose to be calm and discerning. We can choose to slow down and examine things objectively…

I fail at it here and there, but I’m trying… And I should try more.

Really though, both the poor and the wealthy do have the similar awareness in common of the tragic side of life… The poor see its bleak, harassing, dangerous and life draining filth. The wealthy see its profound sadness, as they have met the wizard controlling Oz and they know he’s just a man. And, I think, if those “in the middle” could wrap their heads around the closeness of the poor and their accidental, or at times arrogant ignorance and the rational, sometimes strangely benevolent, and at times tragically hostile despair of the wealthy they would be less bitter.

Sometimes the boring, simple, difficult and occasionally genuinely deep things that force us to grow (like working towards more meaningful relationships in person, keeping a disciplined budget out of necessity, reading actual books, voting with knowledge in elections, being involved with our communities, etc.) are the best things. It’s the life some strive for.

There’s a reason we are worried about the shrinking middle. There is a good reason…

P.S. In case you read the article in Slate and are prone to insecurity, let me point out that my sharing of my family heritage is not the same thing as people saying they are descended from Egyptian Pharaohs. I shared that real part of my actual lineage (again, there are authentic, accessible historical documents, DNA tests, oral histories, etc. to back up what I’ve said) to point out a part of who I am, where I’ve come from and give context not because I’m trying to create a glamorous persona or promote a self-aggrandizing personal story. It’s not delusion on my part dears. The only delusion would be by those bitter, self loathing and rage filled folks who can’t let it be reality and have to find some way to make it a lie other than feel jealous and inadequate.

And I’m not Elizabeth Warren either… Ha! I don’t just have one distant ancestor who happens to be some exception to a very different lineage. God bless her for being proud of her Native American heritage though. She should be.

Tahitian Gardenia

Touting itself as a natural, micro-batch fragrance house, Pacifica can be, in my experience, hit or miss. Some Pacifica scents seem to carelessly deconstruct themselves quickly and waft away from you to the point that one wonders if you’re wearing perfume or if it’s just faint remnants of fabric softener lingering on your clothes mixed with the vague smell one’s shampoo. And that sounds better than it is… Basically they just smell overly synthetic, cheap and very weak.

But…on my skin…Tahitian Gardenia is the exception. And I would have given up on this house years ago based on my previous experiences if not for the fact that I tried Tahitian Gardenia soap once and I recalled that it was actually quite lovely. So, I bought a non-committal rollerball the other night and have been using it since. It really is nice…

It’s not a passionate or truly elegant gardenia, like the Gardenia in Chanel’s Les Exclusifs. Nor is it heady, subversive and almost too opulent as in the vintage cult classic Tuvaché Jungle Gardenia. No… It’s fruity, very cheerful and simply pleasant. It might even be too simple if not for the tea leaf that adds a cool nod to a casual charm, hidden depth and sophistication. It’s fun but not insipid.

I quite like it.

My only qualm is that it’s not very long lasting. But at the price it is, that’s not terribly concerning…

Notes: Gardenia, jasmine, sweet orange and tea leaf.

Last Journal Post For a While…Promise!

I really will be back to reviewing fragrances, while I might write more personal stuff later. But my nose has been out of service, so to speak, with a cold and I’ve had a lot on my mind…

Right now though, I’m awake in the middle of the night because my son got cold and needed more blankets and then I realized I was very hungry. But that’s a typical routine lately… Ha! I wake up for some reason and then find myself eating.

I thought I’d write this quickly because my mind is now at work and I need to do something to quiet it after I’m done eating so I can sleep. I hope this post works in that regard…

I reread a few recent posts and you know I really do have an awful time editing. I apologize! I swear I make the most ridiculous typos and then I miss them again or I add something weird. Basically, I’m just not good at editing my own writing. But, either way, I will get around to editing my posts more in coming weeks…

Also, I found a couple of possible points of confusion in my last few posts.

1. I did not attend that first university (where I was in the honors program) because I couldn’t get accepted at the school out in Pennsylvania I eventually attended. I was accepted to the private college in PA in high school but my father didn’t want to help me pay for it and wanted me to attend his alma mater instead. It was where he received his bachelors degree in sociology/anthropology (the Midwestern university). …And nobody in my more extended family decided to assist me either in securing the funds for my preferred school (it was tens of thousands of dollars more a year)… So, I went to the university. But, again, I did not attend the university to raise my grades to be accepted at the private college.

2. I think some criticism I’ve received on Instagram has been due to lack of good communication. I once told someone that I couldn’t smell the tuberose in Chanel No. 22 and I think that’s when some people started doubting me more… Well, that and I don’t like much niche. And I actually didn’t prefer Bois Des Îles to Jean Courtier Coriandre.

But, Coriandre feels rebellious to me. It’s heady, and moody and a bit sad in the best way. And it evokes something in me that feels cathartic and comforting… And while I can see why Luca Turin and others think Bois Des Îles is superior to many others I don’t actually prefer it to Coriandre. It’s just personal preference. It doesn’t mean Bois Des Îles isn’t objectively necessarily “better.” But perfume is art and art can be better or worse objectively speaking but what it means to you personally…is indeed…personal. Subjective not objective.

And about tuberose: Every damn tuberose I had ever smelled, in my memory and perception, was vastly different than the one in Chanel No. 22 (up until then). Truly… And I don’t think it was lack of quality in previous tuberose incarnations so much as something else. And actually, ever since someone pointed out to me, years ago, that No. 22 is supposed to be a “tuberose fragrance” I’ve been stumped. I’ve been looking for that tuberose in other fragrances… I almost found it once in the last year but it wasn’t quite the same. Close though… But, regardless, despite what some say and claim is based on absolute, totally conclusive fact (are they really that sure though?), I swear skin chemistry and environment matter in how a fragrance manifests. And on me, at the very least, the tuberose in No. 22 somehow melds so seamlessly with the other notes that it’s very hard to individually pick it out. Well, I struggle with it anyway. And I doubt I’m just that incapable of smelling it (someone could pick it out so much better because I have a bad nose overall or I have anosmia to Chanel tuberose). Also, the person who basically thought I was an idiot for not smelling the tuberose often said No. 22 smelled sweet on them… It is not that sweet on me. Really. Really! Especially the vintage… It’s gorgeous, to be honest, but it’s not a sweet fragrance on me. It’s cleaner than that and in a lovely, effusive but warm way…

My skin makes fragrances cold. And clean. I can’t wear “clean fragrances” actually because of that (especially the actual Clean fragrances). Most clean scents smell like ugly bathroom sanitizers on my skin…

<shrugs>

So…No. 22, while perhaps sweet for some, is not that sweet on me. And again, the tuberose isn’t as clear.

<shrugs>

Now…about me being able to find good vintage perfumes. Damn it. I just do. Ok?! <rolls eyes> I’m an antique dealer after all. Remember?! And I’ve been collecting things of various sorts since I was a little girl. I’m good at searching for things… And right now it’s my actual career… I also have an eye for things. And it’s hard for me to say that sort of compliment about myself but it’s just the damn truth. I can tell what’s authentic and I know where to find it, and somehow I manage to often find bottles that have been well kept. Some can sometimes be better or worse than others but they’re often at least close to the original.

Also, America is a very wealthy and large country (and has been wealthy for a while)… There’s a hell of a lot of vintage perfume here. People had the funds to buy perfume and did so. And they often kept bottles and bottles of it… And in the Midwest we likely have some of the best considering our cooler climate… It’s all pretty simple.

But…do people really have total, flawless scientific evidence to prove that all bottles go bad anyway?! Surely they change and surely they aren’t as clear and bright as they once were but that “clearness” and “brightness” can be almost negligible in my opinion, at least. Am I just less picky about that sharpness when it comes to enjoying a fragrance? Because I can smell it but it doesn’t bother me… It doesn’t stink. It’s not offensive or off. They’re just looser less sharp notes…

If it’s a fairly well preserved bottle I find it to be like the difference between the first glass of champagne and the second. Or third. It’s not quite as good perhaps because it’s not as sparkling but it still does sparkle. And it’s still good. Really, there’s not that much of a difference from how it originally was… (And please don’t start claiming that there’s tons of time between the first and second glass to avoid my point)

At any rate, I think a fair number of people just found something wrong with me or my intelligence or my words or my so-called “stories” (I’m actually just sharing the reality of my life not some sort of fiction) or my photos…or my face…or my perfume (I could go on and on with the at times obsessive critiques of others) because I irritated them on a personal, emotional level. I think they were threatened, to be honest, and/or they were projecting their own issues on me, or they were mad at someone else who I reminded them of. But I’m not them, I’m not those other people and frankly if I seem threatening to you I have some harsh news you need to hear: There are LOTS of people in this world like me. Why haven’t you gotten over whatever it is that bothers you by now?

I mean, I am unique. I am an individual. But the things about me that likely bother you are not traits that are mine alone.

And there’s nothing “wrong with us” either (people like me). <shaking head> Perhaps something about us just makes you feel insecure? But why? Why is that my fault? Why take it out on me? And why haven’t you dealt with it already if it affects you so much? Why am I so shocking that you feel the need to deal directly with me on such a personal level? I just don’t get it.

I’m a nice person. Truly. I used to be even nicer… I do not deserve your animosity. At all! And I bet a lot of you know that. Just because I don’t put up with catty, passive aggressive, competitive, (and/or) rude bullshit doesn’t make me unkind. And just because I don’t appreciate being copied and (often at the same time) insulted by people who are desperate to find something wrong with me or be “as good” if not “better than me” even if they have to lie and make crap up or change themselves to mimic me to a potentially pathologically disturbing degree, doesn’t make me a bitch. And people have done that… Or they’ve searched their group of friends or family history looking for something to outdo me or be “as good. ” <look of sadness and disdain> And sometimes they’ve likely mixed fact with fiction when it comes to what they found. Or, of course, they just lied almost entirely… Or they delude themselves into thinking their lies are true or that their desperately contrived tokens of status are comparable. (Sorry, I’m being honest.) But of course they are not and I can always see through things.

Side note: If you’re one of these people then please don’t bother me, especially if I’ve blocked you. Ha! I never wanted your attention in the first place. I thought I was getting attention from another sort of person… And I gave you attention because you approached me and I thought you were a potentially good person, and even maybe a potential real friend. Unfortunately, due to your jealous nonsense we can’t be acquainted. But our differences never bothered me.

I don’t compete. I just am myself and I evaluate people based on who they are not what they have, their status driven accomplishments, how they look or their overall social status. Your mimicry wasn’t/isn’t intimidating. It’s extremely, unbelievably annoying. And it’s insulting to my intelligence… It’s nearly impossible to truly fake certain things. Read the damn Great Gatsby… <rolling eyes> …You obviously are impressed with me, which is flattering, but get a grip. I truly am just one of millions who you would find equally or much, much more enviable. Go find someone else to emulate who you can’t personally annoy. Someone truly famous… But here’s a pro-tip: Don’t actually stalk them.

No, I’m honest, I’m tough, but I’m not a bitch. I’m not a “rich bitch” either little annoying dearies… Maybe other people are…(for better or worse) but I’m not. Go find a real asshole and bother them with your crazy crap. Okay?

Lastly… What I Did

Someone was wondering what exactly I have done with my life. And I think they mean, what have I done as far as achievements.

Let’s see… Well, I’ll start with college, I guess.

I went to a well established old Midwestern university as a part of their honors program for a year and did well. I took private viola lessons, participated in school government in a leadership position (I focused on recycling), and tried to start a historic preservation society on campus… (one of my many passions) My gpa was decent there (I took a full course load). But, it wasn’t my dream school and I longed to establish my independence so I went to a top-ranked private college in the Northeastern U.S. for four years (although it wasn’t as good as Vassar or Middlebury) and while there was the President of the College Democrats, a leader in an international human rights organization, worked part-time at the school library and took four years of full course loads. And I made lots of friends. BUT I was constantly exhausted and coffee helped but didn’t help enough… And nobody could figure out how to help me there, even though they tried. I grew more depressed and more exhausted and so I eventually was told to go home by the school administration without finishing my undergraduate degree. Very bad!

…I went home. Then I managed to be accepted at a university in the UK with the help of my college advisor and a lovely European acquaintance who knew a lot about how to apply to foreign institutions. Actually, she did that for a living…

(But I met Mark and didn’t go)

Anyway. I’ve also volunteered for a few political campaigns. I’ve done some canvassing… And I’ve organized non-political fundraisers, etc. etc.

I’m a decent violist. For a while I contemplated playing professionally and according to my private viola teacher at the time I had a chance (and she knew as she had played for prestigious, internationally acclaimed musical groups) But it wasn’t for me. I still do play though… And someday I’d like to be a part of a music ensemble again. I’ve been in several orchestras, etc.

I play the piano. I had lessons for six years starting at age 4. I’m not too bad at it…

Hmm… I’ve worked at coffee shops, libraries (including a law school library)… Umm…

I’m currently trying to slowly work towards establishing myself as an antique dealer. But my main focus is on raising two healthy and happy people and on developing better relationships with friends, my husband and family….

I’d like to finish a PhD someday. And as my kids grow I plan to. I also want to publish a novel (at least), even if I have to self publish.

I have many other hobbies, like collecting, researching, reading, this blog, painting, analyzing perfume and needlepoint. I love to knit sometimes too. I have lots of little hobbies… I enjoy gardening. Sewing. Attempting gourmet cooking… That’s all I can quickly think of.

<shrugging shoulders>

I suppose there are other accomplishments too but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. And frankly even if some of them are “impressive” what’s the big deal? Oh! I was interviewed by CNN once about a US Presidential debate because I was the President of the College Democrats. And I’ve been interviewed by local tv a few times too… And I’ve written letters to local newspaper editors on behalf of candidates (that were published). But it’s silly to make a big deal about stuff like that…

<shrugs again>

I’ve traveled. Internationally… I’ve been to almost every state in the US. I ski fairly well both downhill and cross country. I can figure skate (I took lessons growing up). I like golf and tennis, although I’m not great at them. I enjoy running although I’ve not done a marathon and likely never will…

I’ve tried rowing but sadly have never gone sailing… A friend in college was great at rowing and a friend in high school sailed.

…I fish! I can even clean fish.

I love the arts. Passionately…

One More Follow Up…

Umm… People never cease to amaze me lately with how little they read and research things. Or maybe it’s how bad they are at reading and researching things? I don’t know. Either way, I’ve still got a cold and I’m grumpy.

Ha!

Getting back to the little matter of Chicago being in the Midwest: Yes, Chicago is really, technically, a.k.a in reality, considered a Midwestern City. Now, there are some people who actually go so far as to say that Saint Paul (in Minnesota) is the “last East Coast City” when heading west… But that’s meant to be taken at least partially in a tongue-in-cheek way, because Chicago really is in the Midwest and that’s to the east of Saint Paul. Actually, Ohio is sort of where the Midwest begins according to a lot of people’s estimation. It’s sort of a middle ground between the Mid Atlantic states and the Midwest? And remember for those of you who don’t come from the US and who have spent little or no time here, this country is very, very big. Some of our states are like small countries in their size. Regions do matter in terms of culture, geography, etc.

And yes. I love geography. I was in a geography bee in middle school. That was before I became very depressed and stopped doing as well academically…

And while we’re on that topic, I actually took honors and AP classes throughout high school and my high school was an excellent school. It was the equivalent of some decent prep schools because many parents in my community insisted that their children go to Ivy League or semi Ivy League post secondary schools. They were very involved in our school and paid well for it. Mark Dayton (the Governor of Minnesota and a member of the Dayton family) once visited our school and talked with a few of us (not some large assembly) about his political ambitions (before he ran for governor). And he commented on how our hockey team was brilliant… His kids went to a school called Blake and he valued good hockey. Actually though, I met him that day… But he would never remember me.

Anyway, the point is, my school was what some people would call a “posh” school. Even though it wasn’t private. Actually, my friend’s sister went to the same school as Mark Dayton’s children… Her parents felt that their one daughter should attend that school but they wanted their younger daughter to go to the local school (where I went). And it wasn’t that they couldn’t “afford” to send both… (I’m sure some desperate person will think of that one) They just thought about it and felt the local school was best for their youngest.

Anyway!!

I had plans to attend Vassar, Middlebury and a few others but…I truly fell ill to clinical depression in high school and my grades were not good. I passed classes but…I went from being a top student who only occasionally got a b and found a c tragic (an A- was bad) to a student who stopped trying… I had horrible existential qualms about many things, my parent’s marriage was crumbling…and basically life just kicked me to the point that I doubted the point of anything but true love in all its forms. <smile> And it was hard to figure out how my desire to enter politics and be a lawyer had any real point. It seemed pathetically bourgeois. Very selfish and silly.

I only really recovered from that mindset when I met my husband Mark, although I think my actual depression improved before that. In college I truly think it was my unhealthy thyroid that was to blame for my lack of energy, etc.

….

But…yes. On my mother’s father’s side we were definitely a well off, old, English-origin southern family before the Civil War and after everything above but well off. And given the way they immigrated from England and how much money they came with it’s unlikely they were anything socially below landed gentry or something of some money and connection. But given our historical research it seems they likely did come from a titled family. And again, when they abandoned that to move to the US (possibly for somewhat noble reasons) they lost their titles if they had them. But…that’s nothing to be ashamed of… They fought in the Revolutionary War and were Americans. Again, recognizing noble ancestry that was perhaps romantically abandoned for something more idealistic is hardly an embarrassment. Duh. <rolls eyes emphatically>

I mean…when one of the family members in the 1800’s gave up his slaves because he was an abolitionist he was losing a lot of money in the process and the ability to make more money. But he did it on moral, courageous principle. That’s also hardly something to be ashamed of… Idealism asks big. The cross of Christ is heavy…. Doing the right thing sometimes involves true humility.

Again. DUH!!! <rolls eyes>

Most people wouldn’t have the guts to give up actual wealth and high prestige for a good cause or for moral reasons. Most people… Having people who would in your family history doesn’t take away from where they originally came from entirely nor is it something to be ashamed of. To the contrary.

And for those of you hateful people who will stubbornly insist that this must all be false or false in some way that soothes your fragile, wounded egos, let me say that I have decades of accurate, scientifically provable evidence to back up everything I’m saying about my family and my life can be proven to be what I say it is (not that I’d trust anyone to do so nowadays…given how ignorant, irrational, morally misguided, selfish and angry so many people are or seem to be). But it is my reality and it is reality. I’m sorry that breaks your hearts.

You know most of you are just grasping at straws… Right?

The real question is: Why is my life and family history so offensive? It’s a question I’ve tumbled around in my head for a long while now…

I mean sure, some people just covet perfume and I do have a sizable amount of lovely perfume. And their angst likely stems originally from perfume collection envy… And for a while I had more followers than a lot of people on Instagram. But then what was popular changed and the best way to gain followers was no longer the way I did things. And I still had a decent number but many people had more than me. And oddly or not, that’s when I noticed people getting meaner. So were they intimidated into silence before? Or did people stop following me as much because I became perceived as “offensive” in some way that was previously perceived as charming? A lot of people suddenly started questioning my integrity and intelligence as a reviewer around then too… But I won’t start defending myself on that front. It’s too sad to me… And pointless because people will doubt you for emotional reasons that have nothing to do with objective reality and it’s impossible to reason with those people. They’ll twist everything you do or say to fit you into some vision they cling to of you that comforts their egos or soothes their personal hidden anguish.

But again, what is that anguish?!!!

In 2014 people were more cheerful. In 2015 they were grumpy but they had hope… But by 2016 people started ripping things apart internally and looking for suspects. Someone was to blame and it wasn’t them. Most people were sure of that… Some ism or some social ill or some group of people were certainly at fault.

And even if you didn’t feel the need to find a criminal you felt the strain anyway… People grew more insecure. More prickly. Worldwide.

So here we are in the final stages of 2018… I’m now a private account. Losing followers daily… And I’ve almost entirely stopped caring about not being offensive. I seem to bother people regardless…

Of course, I could be more careful and only post perfume, but I look at Instagram as a way to express myself and that sort of careful curation is not for me. And I do try not to be mean… I just have given up on not upsetting people by being myself.

But I’m not a suspect dears. Go find someone else to blame. Or perhaps, grieve… Or…try to find a way to realize what’s actually bothering you. It likely doesn’t involve you hating something or someone so much as grieving…and then finding a way to truly improve things.