I still cannot get over it.

You know, I’ve analyzed it logically and it’s probably unlikely my family reads this. Although, I don’t know… I had a first cousin who used to years ago. It’s unclear if she still does. But if they don’t, maybe that’s good. Ha! I wouldn’t want to be or seem uselessly offensive or holier than thou (not my intent at all).

But…I really was gobsmacked by the family news about my cousin. I heard it from my mother who heard it from my cousin’s father (my mother’s brother). And…it all just sounds…awful.

My cousin and his wife were married around the same time as Mark and I…and frankly…I’d bet people thought my marriage would be the one that would die instead of their marriage (provided theirs even truly does).

Mark and I were the ones who got married in Vegas (Lake Mead). We were the ones who traveled around the world for over a year and “lived together before marriage” (no I’m not discussing that subject or making an insinuation about it but instead just stating the facts)…and we probably seemed more…wild (believe it or not), and irresponsible and…doomed.

But…I guess that’s not how it worked out. It even amazes me a little actually…

And, I’ve gotta be honest, it’s hard for me to know what to think about it all right now. It’s just really affecting me…

Being honest though, there are some things I’m not sharing that make the woman who married my cousin look…pretty bad. And yet, my cousin made his choice to marry her and seemingly still wants to be married to her so…maybe there’s something that’s not been said or fully explained? And I mean that all quite seriously; I really don’t know.

If she is rather…negative…then I’m not even sure what I should be hoping for. Should I be hoping they get back together? Should I be hoping they don’t? What if they really are a bad match?

*twists face into a confused pucker*

See, I’ve had very mixed experiences with my cousin’s wife. It really is impossible for me to be sure what sort of person she is. She could be a bit immature, insecure, overly competitive, manipulative, evil-hearted and selfish…or she could be deeply misunderstood, complex, confused, incredibly hurt, sensitive, daring, brave, and…maybe a bit sad? I don’t know her. I don’t bloody know her… And while I can see certain similarities and differences from what I’ve observed between her and my cousin, I wonder if I’m just imagining things. …Maybe they’re nothing alike and she’s just been using him for years and now that it’s not necessary to “keep him” or…what have you…she can drop him in what almost appears (again I don’t know) to be a self-aggrandizing, pseudo-spiritual and sickeningly pretentious way.

*shrugs with some anger*

But…either way, it’s tragic.

*sad sigh*

You go to someone’s wedding who you saw once, long ago, as a little boy playing with his siblings and their dog in their backyard, and you want to see that marriage last. You want the happiness you thought you saw between them to be…real. And while I had a bad feeling about things between them and sensed they might not stay together, I also recalled the smiles and the giddy loveliness they occasionally seemed to possess fairly recently, and certainly seemed to possess at first. I hoped they would be ok for the sake of them and their family.

I recall at their wedding hearing jubilant toasts about how beautiful they were as couple. I recall hearing about their heart warming, heartbreakingly amazing love. I recall…someone saying that just watching them as a couple brought profound encouragement to her; that…their happiness made others happy.

Well, what in hell happened? Huh?!

I have ideas, but I’m just a first cousin who gets senses and all that. I don’t truly know…

*sigh and shrug*

I just hope this awful sadness ends in this…season.

And since I’m likely just talking to my fragrant followers and myself, I’ll be done now. Sometimes things just genuinely shock you despite the possible warnings…

Our Love Life

I felt so bad yesterday after posting my last post about my cousin who is currently separated from his wife.  He writes a blog and so does she (I’ve read her blog fairly frequently over the years) and I reread his posts last night.  The posts broke my heart.  And the thing is, even if there was something honest or useful about what I wrote I feel bad because, truthfully, I have no idea what they need to hear right now, if they even read this blog.

It just affected me deeply when I heard the news.   First because I genuinely care about these people as cherished members of my family (even if we barely talk) and secondly I really did see their breakup coming.  And the latter is actually rather upsetting to me.

So often I sense things about people or places and I just dismiss it because it seems at least slightly preposterous.  But then I, more often than not, find out I was right despite logically convincing appearances otherwise.  But I still have a hard time taking my intuitions seriously, for some reason.

Now, mind you, some people claim to get senses about things and don’t, but I really am being sincere.  And it’s very disconcerting actually.  Or, at least, it’s disconcerting for me.

It makes me wonder if I should have “said something” in situations like the one with my cousin.  But the thing is, what exactly was I supposed to say?   “Oh, your marriage is slowly becoming trash, isn’t it?  And one or both of you are going to totally lose patience with it all and get fed up and leave.  Right?”  No.  You can’t say things like that to people in your family who you barely see…    It’s a lot easier to say that to friends or people you don’t know, if you say it at all (for me, anyway).

But…I feel so terrible for them all.

Honestly, at risk of sounding too personal or rude I will say this though: For some people, taking on lots of responsibilities fairly young can be helpful.  They need that.  But for others it might be best to ease into it a bit more.

But oops…  There I go again.  Oh well.

…It’s just that they bought three houses (and sold two) in seven years and neither of them are even 30 years old yet.  That’s a lot of stress.  Truly.   My marriage has had some horribly difficult moments and I cannot imagine having the weight and trouble of a house to tend to and be responsible for on top of that in our worst moments.  It might not seem like a big deal, but everything counts and sometimes one thing can push you just over the edge enough.

No, we’ve avoided buying a house in the past for lots of reasons but, again, one reason was that we didn’t want to worry about that stress given the issues we were having in our relationship.   Of course we also weren’t sure where in the world (literally) we were going to live.  We thought we might be in Dublin or London for longer than six months, which would of course make buying a home in the US foolish (in our opinion).  We also lived in Saint Paul, then Seattle, moved back and then wondered if we would move to Boston.  And we weren’t sure which sort of house to buy and we needed to figure out which school our son was going to attend.  There have always been non-financial reasons that prevented us.

And, actually, even if you have the money to buy a nice house it’s still a financial strain.  Houses are great, but they’re not necessarily an investment so much as just a place to live that you own.   That’s how Mark and I look at it anyway.

If it’s an old house you have repairs or remodeling.   And new houses are nice but they’re often so far away from the best non public schools (at least where we live), so then unless you want your child to attend a public school there’s lots of driving in traffic, etc.    Some people like public schools a lot though…

Oh dear.  I’m probably just talking to myself at this point, aren’t I?   Haha.  Sure.

It’s just that when you see something very precious and valuable dying it’s instinctual to try to figure out what’s causing the death in order to put in perspective and possibly save it.  Or that’s my initial response, even as just an observing first cousin.  And I know it’s slightly absurd to think something I write in this, in the grand scheme of things, silly blog is going to be at all truly helpful, but I just feel so disturbed by it all.   They say that when you marry someone you marry their family too, and I think this is me grieving the possible loss of this beautiful young couple.   This beautiful young family.

Frankly, I might as well put it out there:  I think they should stay apart for a while but not with the intent to either divorce or not divorce so much as with the intent to figure things out.  I’ve been through that actually.   Mark and I have been separated twice.  And it can be very good if you try to keep an open mind and not treat it as something it doesn’t necessarily have to be.  Sometimes you just need to take a breath and get a better idea of what’s truly going on.

I went back the first time because I missed my husband.   I went back the second time because I decided my son needed an intact family, that my responsibility was to give that to him with his own father unless his father was truly harmful in some way (he’s a brilliant father) and also because I realized how ridiculous it was to think I could easily find more happiness outside of my marriage.   Some people do find their true love and a stable, loving, healthier relationship after they leave their spouse.  It happens.  But you can’t count on it working out that way.  And it’s dangerous to risk something stable and established for just a vague possibility.

But that’s my brutally honest opinion and of course it’s more popular nowadays to think that you should, “follow your heart” and leave with the small chance of a twin flame or soulmate looming as some sort of golden sun on the horizon, indefinitely.  But…in reality…every marriage is difficult.  In reality it’s rarer than rare to find your genuine twin flame or soulmate or whatever you want to call them, at just the right time.  In fact, you might never find them in this life.  You might have to wait until heaven.  Or maybe you will, but you can’t assume you will…  And really, it’s better to disturb your child’s youth for almost no reason just to meet a soulmate decades later when you’re sixty-five??  Or never, until you die? Again, this is just my opinion.  It’s a personal choice and you have to go with what you feel God is showing you, and for me it felt (in my spirit) very foolish when I stopped to examine it more thoroughly.

And ironically, after I went back the second time and found Mark to be both loving and open to hearing my heart I realized he was worth giving another chance at forever.  I realized that the kind of unconditional, determined and (again) stable love he offered was rare and extremely valuable.  And moment by moment I started (and still am) falling in love with him either all over again or that original love has been rekindled (probably both) and all the gestures he makes and has made to find a way to show me that he truly does love me mean more.  I have started to truly believe that despite his lack of a romantic nature, his sometimes dogged, cold and cutting personality (he’s laid back though too and his bluntness, not to be confused with cruelty, can catch you off guard sometimes), he really does care.  My husband is a bussinessman.  He’s a “math person.” He’s shrewd.  And he can be wise but almost ruthless at times when he genuinely needs to be.   Now, he has a heart too, and can be unbelievably gentle but he’s not someone who will write love poems with ease or intuitively know what to do in certain occasions.   I never even got a true marriage proposal from him.  He couldn’t calculate the right way to do it, so it never happened.   But he’s lovable just the way he is.  He’s unfathomably valuable just the way he is.  He’s a rare one.  And I’d like to hope we can stay together for life.

Now, it could be that that undercurrent of real, equal, mutual love is missing in my cousin’s marriage, to be so blunt.  Maybe they didn’t know each other well enough when they got married.  Maybe they didn’t know themselves well enough.  And it’s possible they needed more time before they took their vows.  It’s possible it’s just not going to work long-term for them, plain and simple.   I would feel very saddened for all of them, but life is life.  It’s messy, painful and incredibly ugly at times.

But…I just hope they don’t make another permanent decision before really taking time to sort it all out.  I hope they take time to look into their hearts and figure out who they love and what they love and what love even means to them.   It might take while.  Or it might not.   But either way, I hope they’re careful with themselves and with each other.

…Sorry to everyone reading this who finds it boring due to lack of obvious olfactory relevance.  But there’s always been a reason I never made this blog terribly “professional.”  (I wanted the freedom to write about whatever I wanted)

The Drama of Life

When I was little I fully anticipated that the members of my family who were around my age would all grow up and become…something.  Doctors, businesspeople, lawyers, teachers or actresses on stage or screen seemed possible to my ten year old mind.  I recall sitting alone in our living room on our blue velvety floral sofa after school listening to some vinyl record of Debussy or some Italian opera on my father’s record player.  I sat there, in the natural light from the large windows to my right, and drifted off into my mind to analyze them as individuals and explore the possibilities.

Sure enough, we did all grow up.  One of us had cancer when he was young but he survived it thankfully and now is married with three kids.

Oh yes.  I also knew (not just thought) we would all get married or find someone.  Eventually.

I had a much harder time picturing my own future though.  I wasn’t worried.  I was excited actually.  But I just couldn’t picture it for whatever reason.   And that might have been fair because I am certainly not living the life I would have put together in my mind had I tried to imagine it back then.

At times in the last few years I’ve wondered if any of my family reads this blog.  I have my suspicions but I won’t venture about them openly.

But I am one to intuit things.  Many things.

And in saying that, I feel I should preface it by saying that while I sometimes feel the need to say things that are positive about myself, like “I’m good at playing the viola” I do not believe in giving one’s self compliments.  Not unless it’s in self defense.  I think it’s rude, a form of false self-esteem, and arrogant at best.  Just an f.y.i.

But I do sense things.

And I bet my family would be shocked to learn all the things I’ve suspected would happen to them over the years.  Yes, I do analyze all of you, if you’re reading this.

Of course, I love them.  And of course they’re terribly fascinating people, just as we all are, but they also are my family so I take even more notice of them than the average person.

Truly, people fascinate me though. They always have.  It’s one of the reasons I would love to finish my novels.  I feel so moved by everyone’s unique wonder that I need a way to let it out and share what I see.

Recently I found out that one of my first cousins is separated from his wife of nearly a decade.  And I hesitate to say this, but I am not surprised.  Despite the lovely image they created I could tell something deep was fundamentally tearing them away from each other moment by moment.   And I could sense that it was something neither of them had yet named but that it was tragic in its power to destroy.    It was as if they were fighting the wars of life side by side but some force was between them, pushing them in different directions.  And now, they are two souls yelling across the waters of a grand lake, on opposite sides.  They are trying desperately to get each other’s attention and communicate but how does one have a decent conversation from across a big, enveloping, cold and muddy lake?  It’s practically impossible.

How did it happen?  Well, I’d bet it started with the simple fact that they were too much and too little alike.  They had very different family cultures growing up, I surmise, and along with that very different expectations about life in general.  They saw every little thing from different perspectives to start with.  And while they likely saw the exact same thing in reality, their words and ways to describe it were not the same and they had equally unique reactions based on the part of it they focused on.

That’s certainly not their fault.  That’s love sometimes.  You find someone who sparks your curiousity and sends your heart into deep bouts of passion and desire based on their intrinsic beauty and the way they take everyday life and make it look and feel new with their view that they so graciously and wonderfully share with you one way or another.   It’s like seeing a little bit of earth from heaven.

But then comes the gritty realities of living life together.  And if you’re too different in your perspectives it can make the prospect of understanding each other seem like a painfully overwhelming demon to be conquered.

But I think my cousin and his wife are very similar too.  They have some of the same inherent strengths and some of the same flaws.   And they seem to actually both be longing to go in the same direction in life, but just on far apart parallel paths.  Of course, where one of them might like making sushi and be quite good at it the other might try but be better at playing water polo.  We all have different gifts.  That’s human.  Your significant other is likely to be better at something than you.  But…the ways they experience struggle when they do and the way they thrive when they do looks pretty similar, at least to me.   Their hearts are similar.   They just manifest everything so differently and they didn’t come from the same place.

Now, that being said, I have no idea if they’ll divorce or not.  I wouldn’t be shocked if they did.  Some lakes are so deep and frightening that they can kill you if you’re not a good swimmer, or kill you even if you are.  But who knows, one of them, both of them, or God might get a boat so they can sail towards each other.  Some people may be just meant to be together.

We all have choices.  Or do we?  I think the answer is sometimes resoundingly yes and sometimes yes, but also no.

In marriage and other serious romantic relationships it often seems that one has to decide what’s worth it.  You have to decide what’s really important.   And you have to decide if the love you feel and felt for the other person is enough to make it worth it to stay.  You have to do emotional math.  You have to add all the good things, which all have their own weight and merit, and then measure them against the bad.

And hopefully, you’ll find that that person is home for your soul.  In the best scenario you’ll find that despite your flaws and their flaws that there is some invisible thread of goodness, beauty and hope that holds you together and makes permanent departure or even too long a departure futile.

But if you let go and sense the end being inevitably near, I suppose it’s time to move on and do so as wisely and kindly as possible.  There’s no need to hurt someone more who you were never really intended to be with in the first place.

There’s always a right answer too.  There’s always the good answer.  But finding it can be incredibly difficult.  It can take years.  It can take decades.  It can take five minutes if you’re really fortunate.  But it exists.

I hope they find it and I hope if you’re reading this and it speaks to you, that you do too.

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!

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.

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…