Dionysus

Last night, after chatting with my husband over a (decaf) espresso from one of our favorite coffee shops, I told him again how much I love aquamarines. And he agreed that they are indeed very lovely…

I think he’s in shock that I no longer want a sapphire though. I’ve been planning on using that gemstone for over a year. And, he knows how much I valued the sapphire’s durability, whereas the aquamarine is comparatively softer.

But I really do love aquamarines… I have for many years.

And…that leads me to my next realization. You see, after perusing through photographs by Anita Colero (she’s the brilliant individual behind the photos that were taken of the aquamarines for Town & Country) I saw a Gucci photographed with its signature bamboo handles for my favorite department store, Neiman Marcus. It was tremendous, and in that moment I knew that a Gucci would be my “it” bag.

Now, I had thought that a Gucci was possible as my signature “forever bag” a couple of years ago. I’ve loved Gucci for a while and actually have a black ostrich Gucci Jackie that I bought for $900.00 (incredibly good price!) used, but good condition from either The Real Real or Fashionphile about a year and a half ago (I can’t remember which site it was). But, again, now I know. …And I think the black top-handle Dionysus is my it bag (other than the very usable and casual Noé).

I’m going to take a short trip to either Chicago or Seattle to buy it within the next year and a half as I want to buy it directly from a brick and mortar Gucci boutique and not at Nordstrom’s (where I live) or online.

Not the Hermès Kelly 28? Nope. I plan to buy one of those in the next few years, but it’ll just be for fun. Not a Chanel top-handle? No. I love the look of Chanel and Chanel fragrances and beauty products in general are very much one of my loves but the bags, as lovely as they are, are not my signature aesthetic.

So far my “luxury” handbag collection (I have a couple of Kate Spades, a Longchamp Le Pliage, a leather Coach from the 1960’s, a non designer alligator top-handle from the 60’s, and a few other vintages) consists of my Gucci Jackie, the monogram Noé I bought used from Fashionphile for about $750 and a monogram Speedy 25 I also bought used from Fashionphile for a little over $500.

…And on a side-note I have to say that I refuse to use the term “pre-loved”. Ha! It’s just a used bag… Now, that being said, there are benefits of a used bag besides the reduction in price. I just find the term “pre-loved” pretentious and gimmicky.

But truly, on the positive side: The vachetta on used Louis Vuitton bags already has a lovely patina. Also, you don’t have to deal with difficult salespeople and people don’t look at you carrying an old luxury handbag with the same disgust they do when it’s new. (There I said it) When you carry a new luxury bag there’s a stigma attached of over-indulgence whereas an old bag in very good condition just looks like a pretty, quality bag. It might have been somewhat expensive but it isn’t as much now. $540 for an old Speedy in very good shape is not cheap, but it’s not the same as paying $1,000. And people have visceral reactions to seeing things that they label obviously “expensive” so it’s emotionally less draining to just buy an older bag (and it saves money!).

However, new, pristine bags are nice and it can be fun to shop at a luxury boutique (unless you have an annoying SA). So, I do have a plan to buy a new Noé (two Noé bags is a good plan for me) and a new Alma from the local Louis Vuitton. Other than those and the Kelly that’s all I plan to buy other than the Dionysus though. *smile* As much as I love bags it feels icky to buy too many more. And by icky I mean genuinely overly self-indulgent. I might buy a luxury pouch or wallet but no more actual bags. …But isn’t the Dionysus lovely?!

(Photo from Bagatyou.com)

Aquamarines

My love for aquamarines started back in June of 1999.

Every year of my childhood and adolescence we took a trip as a family to visit my grandparents on both my mother and father’s sides. As a child I’d often buy coloring books for the journey and then magazines as I grew older.

One of my favorite choices back then was Town & Country. And in June of 1999 I discovered aquamarines in one of the most beautiful jewelry displays I’ve ever seen before or since (Anita Colero). I’ve even thought about buying that exact magazine again just for those photos.

But, just like the article advertised, it was as if some tropical ocean on a lovely, cool day had found a way to drape itself about you and sparkle. It was instant love.

Here’s a screenshot from the magazine as it’s currently being sold on Amazon (I really might have to buy it.):

…So, even though I adore sapphires and they have a hardness that’s much more desirable for a frequently worn ring, I now want an aquamarine in the ring my husband is making me. Lately I’ve been wearing a pair of aquamarine earrings my mother gave me and it’s been so lovely that it’s not even up for questioning. Aquamarines are also somewhat traditional in marital jewelry anyway.

Here’s the hue I plan find:

Love!

Heritage (a long, rambling post)

It still grieves me to think of what happened with my blog and on Instagram. The way people tried to steal or imitate parts of my style and identity without giving me any credit for the inspiration was totally sickening. The way people twisted their truths and lives to resemble me so they could “compete” was gobsmacking. And while I never “fell for any of it”, it just really, really made me angry.

I had started sharing some things because people share things online in my generation. Then it started. And, at first, I ignored it all.

For years I ignored it…

But, at some point, I began lashing out. I think my life got a bit darker for a while and I lost patience and the perspective to deal with the constant nonsense from about 40 people… Yes. 40.

Some were admittedly more aggressive than others. They also become a lot worse towards the last two years.

I think the funny thing is, even though I’ll likely never receive an apology from any of these people despite their actions, I’m the one left feeling guilty. Guilty for having anything or being anything anyone could be intimidated, impressed or hurt enough by to feel the need to compete or be hateful. But, in part, that’s just the way it is nowadays. If you have real privilege people who aren’t as fortunate will either try to dismantle it or you with lies, they’ll start rewriting their own identity to compete to make it or you seem “equal to them” or beneath them OR they’ll act like you owe them something for your advantages.

Case in point: My ancestry. My ancestry on my mother’s father’s side (my grandfather) really is rare. Their level of wealth, the social connections they had, their English aristocratic roots dating back to the 12th Century (they were French before then), the way they influenced the American South and fought in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War (unfortunately, but heroically and honorably, on the wrong side) are extremely rare and frankly a bit “blue blooded”. Many people came to the US but few were quite like them… And my grandfather was a rare individual on his own merit.

I shared that all first because I was being open and then because I was angry… And, of course, the knighted Norwegian-American author on my father’s side is very rare too. It wasn’t just a meaningless honor he received in 1954.

Then there’s also the other things…

And all of these facets were not just some random connections or “cool things” that you find when you’re digging around on an ancestry site for kicks. They were and are much more authentic to who we still are as a family (ie My mother’s maiden and her siblings’ name was and is the actual name with the title from the 1100’s and that author, as a person, was closer in terms of family social dynamics than just some distant figure in our past.).

It was also just me. It was my current status and not just my background.

My life. My choices. My tastes. My style.

It was the fact that I was truly going to work in politics had I not gotten married. Actually, it was the fact that I DID work in politics for about ten years (without getting paid) and easily might do more in the future. You never entirely loose your fascination after all.

Those are all things to be proud of. Those are all things that are MINE. However, some people who are likely struggling with being mentally ill in some variation, sadly, couldn’t understand that.

I’m still angry and feeling guilty though. And I think the biggest reason is an odd one. It actually has nothing to do with the current climate of things in the world.

As an aspiring author who was planning meticulously for over 15 years to be a lawyer and who has a background in politics I’m never entirely…right. *clears throat* Right? Well, yes.

I rarely ever lie. And when I do it’s almost always for reasons of safety for myself or someone else. There are some things I cannot share about myself and never have online. (We all have some version of that) But…I do focus on things that remove the likelihood of certain conclusions being drawn. And no, that doesn’t mean I’m embellishing truths or glossing over things to make myself look better (as some might be hoping I mean). It means I hide.

And the thing that bothered me the most was that people were copying and competing with my persona. A persona that I created. Now, again, the persona was based on facts and it was “me” but…it was never a true portrait of me down to my actual soul. To truly know me takes time and I’ve come to suspect it can only be done in person.

Why would that bother me so much? I don’t know.

Maybe it was just the sheer stupidity of it all. Maybe it was how depressing it was to think that people would be so heartless or messed-up as to take my persona so damn seriously or misunderstand it and then ultimately “go wild” in their response. Or it could have been that people would have such a lack of appreciation for or understanding of themselves and their actual reality that they would need to steal things from someone else to feel safe or worthwhile.

…Then some people used my emotional months of too-open blog posts to threaten me. And that’s all I should say about that.

But really, only today has it hit me why I truly was so affected by it.

1. I think I really just wanted people to be happy being whoever the heck they are and not find me so upsetting that they had to mentally and emotionally attack me, imitate me or in some cases try to actually become me. You have to be proud of who you really are and not try to “fix” it all like plastic surgery to be something you’re not and never will be in this lifetime.

Of course, again, in the worst case some people may have even partially lost track of their own identity and reality to an unhealthy degree. And that’s just one of the dangers of social media, I suppose. It can become like a drug for some – like an LSD trip that resembles a cross between “Single White Female” and “The Shining”.

But, at any rate, I think we long to be known. And so, 2. I felt incredibly alone.

Imagine being a woman going to a favorite coffee shop every morning right after your husband dies. You put yourself together every morning just to get out of bed for that coffee. It’s your only thing to look forward to. You probably over-compensate and look a little more polished than usual. You wear a perky smile so as to keep others at a distance. Indeed, there’s almost nothing worse than false, patronizing empathy when you’re really in pain. Also, you’re hiding something.

It’s 1986 and your husband was bi-sexual. (No that particular part is not me or anyone in my family. And I’m not lying for safety reasons or otherwise.) Your marriage had hit a snag, as they sometimes do, and you both cheated. Only you cheated with your male, straight, golf buddy from your parent’s country club and he cheated with your also bi next door neighbor, Richard. …And Richard partied a lot. A lot. So, bubbly, lovable and engaging Richard your neighbor (and your husband’s secret lover) got AIDS.

Besides watching Richard die, worrying about his wife Linda and how it would affect her because she didn’t even know her husband Richard was bi, and trying to save your marriage…you had to worry about your own health, the health of your golf buddy AND you suspected your husband would die soon too. But, of course, you couldn’t openly discuss any of it.

Your husband, of course, also got AIDS. And in a confusing twist of fate, you discovered, after asking for dates and details, that your very broken marriage and the fact that you had ceased to share a room seven months ago, saved your life.

But, again, you can’t discuss it. You just can’t.

And then you start getting to know people at the coffee shop by name. It’s fun! …But, alas, some of the regulars start to assume you’re some pretentious jerk for various reasons.

But they don’t know you. Not really.

I mean sure, you tell them some things – the things you think are relevant to various conversations like where your son is going to college or that your great great grandfather started the town when he moved there back in 1827. Or you share things like how you can’t stand dark roasted coffee or putting raisins in potato salad. BUT…you always filter it all through your…”coffee shop persona”.

Again, they don’t really know you.

So, when you start being attacked in many subversive ways and some random woman comes up to you and tells you that she “too” (eye roll) has a friend with an uncle who was friends someone who was once friends with someone who started a town nearby…it amuses you and disturbs you for obvious reasons but also, and mostly, it makes you feel cold in a weird sort of way. You don’t really care that much about that social status on your part. It’s just a piece of who you are. But to her it was cause for really desperate competition and animosity and that’s upsetting. …She just randomly came up to you and started a conversation to tell you about the utter nonsense above…

Or when someone suddenly buys ten Hermès scarves (you often wear Hermès scarves) and feels the need to come up to you as you’re reading F. Scott Fitzgerald and drinking your coffee one Saturday, to tell you that they “bought some scarves” and that they did so with money they also tell you they had to get by selling their plasma…you feel…concerned for their financial state. It’s deeply upsetting.

It’s all weird. Very, very, very weird. Sooo…weird. And a little scary.

Then, finally, some man in line for coffee tells you that you’re evil. He tells you that he’d like to strangle you but he can’t. He says he doesn’t even have enough respect for you to bother hating you. And why? Well, because you’re a straight, rich woman and he’s a gay man who just lost his lover of ten years to AIDS. And he knows you’re a Christian and that your husband died and…he suspects…that your husband had so much more respect given to him at his funeral than his dead lover because your husband died of (what this man in line believes) is cancer…and what’s more to the point: He was straight. (Of course he wasn’t) …This man goes on and says that even though your husband was likely an alcoholic (he assumes you’re lying about this) who he thinks died of liver cancer (because he says he saw him all the time at bars with Richard), that everyone ignored your husband’s blemishes because he was (this man believes) what men are supposed to be.

You try to keep a cool head and tell him that you know his pain and feel real sadness for him. You say that you had a bad marriage and that you wish he’d learn that everyone has problems. But he says he doesn’t believe you. And that any woman who would discuss their bad marriage right after their husband dies is an evil bitch anyway.

…You confess that your marriage went bad in part because of your husband’s sexuality and other unrelated problems. You share that you met someone again, recently, who is a friend of your golf buddy (who you also share was your lover) and that you worry your relationship with him won’t work either because you worry that he too might be bi-sexual because he reminds you so much of your ex husband. You overshare. In public.

The man in line doesn’t believe you and says your version of sympathy is demented. He says you’re insane for making up a story just to make him think you can relate. And even if it is all true it all just makes him feel worse anyway so why would you be so heartless as to share it?

On your way out to your car you worry that the guy who is still filled with rage behind you will truly be a problem. Then, you find yourself being punched in the face by a random, big, bigoted, angry man who claims he, “hates fags” and calls you a “whore”.

You get in your car, miraculously, and drive away. You go to the police. You live in fear.

…That’s what this has been like for me…

More later.

Favorites

I do love beautiful things.

Currently, my signature “pretty things” have been the Louis Vuitton Noé, Chanel No. 22, Houbigant Orangers En Fleurs (recommended to me this spring by a stunning soul and a real friend who is sadly now deceased), pink lipsticks, and aquamarines. Now, I’m also strongly considering adding one more top-handle handbag and well tailored shifts and sheaths to my list, but those are “in the works.”

I’m also in the process of reworking an “antique garden”. There are peonies that belonged to the original owners of my house that are over 100 years old and the last owner was a master gardener. It’s an extremely established property garden-wise and so it’s a daunting task. BUT, I intend to tap into the flow established by the individuals in my family who have been presidents of gardening clubs and verified green thumbs. *big forced smile* I’ll summon my courage and dig in! Literally. The next time a neighbor goes on about how excellent the previous owners of my house were at gardening I’ll just keep telling myself that, “I can do it!”

That being said, I’m not sure what my favorite things to plant are…

I do plan to add Queen Anne’s Lace and lavender. I’d really like to plant roses but in my zone it’s a true challenge to grow roses so that’ll have to at least wait…

Starting Over

I’ve been advised to start this blog over. Instead of dissecting perfume as my primary focus I’ll muse about whatever comes to mind. Occasionally I may discuss fragrance but mostly I’ll just write about my random thoughts.

First, did you know I adore the English? Ha! I bet, if you’ve read this blog before or take the hint from my title, that that doesn’t surprise you. And, I actually am part English in origin.

For years I’ve been trying to live there.

In college, more than once, I had plans to study abroad in London that were interrupted by something like a change of school or a romantic relationship. Then I was accepted by a university in Wales and had plans to attend when I met my husband and put that plan off…

Thankfully, my husband and I did travel in the UK for a month, but I was heartbroken when we left. Genuinely. And so my quest to cross the pond became more passionate.

Now, with two kids and our own home to tend to it’s even more challenging, but I’m still determined to make it happen. Whether it be another month spent in Europe including the UK every couple of years, six months at a time in London or Dublin or a few years somewhere in that general location, I don’t know. But, regardless, I’m hopeful.

And, I plan to blog here along the way.