Those Ones

(Photo in our backyard)

A friend sighed deeply before saying with conviction, “Look!” as she pointed at a white, elegant, Co turtleneck sweater. I looked at it for a second before saying, “That reminds me of something Jackie O. would have worn.” in an admiring tone. “Exactly!” she replied.

Her point was that when you have an admirable style people are going to want to copy you in healthy and unhealthy ways, and occasionally they may want to rip you apart. She thinks I’m like that – I have “sexily good style”, as she describes it very kindly – and so I need to be more understanding towards some people. I need to empathize with their admiration. It was an exceedingly nice compliment and a fair point and I have a very hard time doing that.

Then I realized a few more rather meaningful things from Caroline Calloway’s art… Good golly. It’s a theme these days.

…We really do have a right to exist in God’s Universe, thank you…

I love her posts that encourage valuing your own essence due to its inherit worth. And it’s a worth due to our innate humanity and not due to some arrogant token we’ve earned through the current definition of perfect. Your feelings and perspective on your life experiences actually, really, genuinely, sincerely…matter. And while all of that seems like something that’s so much a given, in these days I think people commonly aren’t as healthy as they were or could be, and it’s good but unusual to read such sanity affirming material. Really, I think it’s depressingly rare. Although on a positive note, kuddos to her for actually being that rare voice…

I do wonder though why she gets so much flack for what she does. It’s odd to me. I mean, she truly reminds me of many of the wiser adults I knew growing up or saw somewhere on television maybe… Ha!

There were people as vibrantly confident in being themselves and lovingly progressive, who would have been hated today…apparently? (They’re probably in their 80’s or 70’s?) …I mean, occasionally Oprah even had that same vibe… And Caroline’s a very talented artist but…it’s not like she’s genuinely just recklessly crossing these terribly taboo and grim social boundaries (at least constantly). She’s just making deep art, mistakes, beauty in general and growing… ?

Maybe she’s also “hard to talk to”? as I apparently am? *puzzled face* But really, I wonder if it’s more that when people start being honest it brings the listener to a place of their own truth and some people don’t want to think about certain things. Maybe they don’t feel as “lucky” as they want to be (reference to message) or they just know that something they can’t handle is lurking… Loneliness? Their own narcissistic tendencies? Rejection? Pain? …Hmm. It’s hard to be around too much sincerity when you’re not ready for your own truths? Perhaps? It’s easier to attack it and/or try to silence it. Where a lot of people nowadays want to totally ignore the elephant in the room Caroline paints it, places a crown of roses on its head, dances with it and then gives it a proper name. The elephant develops a sense of self… She befriends it.

…But… Thank God for art.

Going Backwards

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I am not a mean person. That individual who I posted last night was correct. Anyone who has met me in person and actually knows me is highly unlikely to say I’m mean. As for the compliments they gave me, I appreciate it.

What concerns me is the rest of it. I don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable. I never have wanted that. I want to be respected like everyone else, but not feared or even “in charge” necessarily. Just because I’m not a pushover you can take advantage of or intimidate doesn’t mean I’m longing for control. I think some people have a hard time seeing that. They assume that if you’re not easily dominated or fooled you must want to be the one “calling the shots” or “taking other people in” *rolling eyes*. Although, I do tend to find myself in leadership positions and have most of my life. Truthfully, I think I’m just healthy in that way. I have real boundaries and enforce them.

But…I’m not entirely sure what was meant by, “be more humble”. Do they mean write less about the wealth of my family and my own affluence? Do they mean to just silently enjoy what I have without sharing as much? Maybe. But, you see, the problem is where to draw the line.

When I first started posting I rarely shared that much about myself. But I shared enough to garner passive-aggressive remarks clearly driven by jealousy just by posting my photo and sharing my perfume collection. Or people assumed we were a hell of a lot more alike than we are in terms of background and class and when they figured it out, eventually, they turned sour in their opinion of me and then started passive-aggressively attacking me.

Now, the thing is, if I had rarely posted a photo of myself and made my account more faceless, I think I would have made people happier. Sorry, I’m being honest. Besides how I look being a further source of envious angst for some people (being honest) it is obviously easier to imagine the person you want to have an account if you can’t see them and therefore have nicer feelings about them. If people don’t see you but you’re kind they’re not as likely to make judgments or compare themselves but instead to interact with your actual heart and personality. People prefer to have a face and an idea of “who you are” and it’ll get you more followers but it’s maybe better to be mysterious so you can actually enjoy things.

But I didn’t think that through and I erred on the side of being open because I was in a place of being sick of dealing with petty people who wanted to diminish me. I wanted to be as lovely as I am (sorry being brutally honest) without feeling like I needed to cower under the narcissistic anxiety of another person. Sadly, while I did learn a lot I didn’t achieve my goal. I kept myself together until my life became too stressful and Instagram became more negative and then I started reacting to people without worrying about how much of a rope I was giving them to hang my account. And then I eventually overshared and it became genuinely unsafe. Of course now I share because the people who truly wish to cause genuine criminal harm are being watched and I am just sort of over it all.

And then there’s that line again. And again, no matter what, most of us in the fragrance community will have more than someone else. Do we just stop buying perfume and donate everything to those less fortunate? Because that’s where the argument goes. You can be truly generous and still have abundance if you’re abundant enough. But if that’s not good enough then none of us should have a collection and there would be no new perfume because nobody would or should be buying it. Right? Where do you draw the line? There’s a clear place where it becomes excessive and greedy but before that where is the line? And what matters? What’s best?

No, I think people saw and see their own insecurities when they observe me. They think they’re in an echo chamber or want one and then interact with the projection of themselves on me instead of me. I can be cold and too honest, but…I’m honest, not doggedly one-sided. If I see or saw your true faults I likely also noticed your genuine strengths. I didn’t have over 6,000 followers for no reason. I am a pretty decent critic and I tend to think I see at least a fair amount of things for what they are. Not everyone who doesn’t like or isn’t impressed with everything about us is insecure.

No, I understand that some people have negative feelings towards me still. Thankfully there are many who don’t and didn’t. Sadly some of them I’ll likely never see again online or elsewhere. I didn’t get to know all of the people who appreciated me and if they’re reading this too, please know that I miss you somehow, even if we never interacted. And thank you for all of the lovely time you gave me.

Haters Gonna Hate

I just received a very unusually brave and honestly moving message on Twitter. Apparently someone found me there and decided to write me a message from their anonymous account. They asked me to share this message and I think it’s a fair thing to do (even though I’m blocking their account for boundary reasons that I hope they’d understand) so here it is:

Hello dear. I am one of those heaters you like to write about. I just want you to know that I’m reading your blog every day. I don’t like you. You make me feel bad about myself. I also felt that way when I followed you on Instagram too.

I keep to you because you are smart, beautiful and I like your thoughts. You are not a bad or mean person and I think most honest haters would agree to that sentiment. Yet I still must hate you.

You are unaware of your affect. I think you should know. You are really not a mean type of lady. But you bother us and you should be more humble. Not most are as lucky as you or as you call it a background like you. You do not need to explain it but I see why you did. People did try to one up you with what they have out of their hurt pride and because the world is very unjust. Being more kind to know that they only felt inferior because they want to be you or lucky not because you don’t deserve good things or love.

It is impossible to be comfortable when I talk to you. Maybe you do not know that you make people feel uncomfortable and I do not think you can be different. Nobody can completely be different and we must all be strong.

Do not try to figure us out. People who hate you are not all evil or sick. We are only human. You said it right when you said that we know we are wrong and we don’t understand you too. Oh well, as you would say. *sigh*

Sorry if I scare you. Please don’t be angry. I am trying to give you wisdom. I would like it for you to share this with everyone on your blog. The haters who are smart need to be explained on your very lovely blog by one of them. You’re welcome.

Maisie

Did you ever watch the Merchant Ivory films of the 1980’s and 90’s? You know, the ones with Helena Bonham Carter?

Well, around the time I saw “Room With A View” for the first time I also recall spending the day with my parents and one of their friends. We all drove together to a path along the Mississippi River about an hour or so from the city and visited stores in Main Street buildings that had been preserved from the 1800’s. And we took in the view and went for walks along old trails. It was very nice.

But what I recall most from that day was something my parent’s friend, I’ll call her Maisie, said.

“I feel like I’m stuck in a rut.” Maisie was (unhappily) sitting in the back seat, next to me, when she said this. “Do you guys ever feel that way?”

Then, knowing my parents wouldn’t have any commentary, I responded. She got angry that I was responding to her comment instead of my parents (I was nine years old or so) and essentially scolded me and told me I was being rude. Then she questioned my parents again. Still, they had nothing to say.

There were a few of my parent’s friends who sometimes seemed like they wanted me to disappear, as an (only) child, and she was one of them. One or two of them grew to like me, at least (Maisie was one of them) as I grew up, and some seemed to do the opposite. But, that day, I was told to shut up and listen and my parents only sort of protested. So I did.

She had troubles with men and troubles with not doing enough and experiencing enough and she felt that her career was going nowhere. My parents, who were a good ten to fifteen years older than her, were supposed to have the answers. I’m not sure that they did, sadly.

And, about twelve years later, she died.

Her death was unexpected. She had diabetes and after getting very ill her body was unable to function so she died in her sleep one day, alone in her downtown flat.

But at 46 she felt that, as a single woman without kids, she was unlikely to find happiness to the degree she wished in life. Some thought her death was even a blessing in disguise to her. Her pastor almost said as much at her funeral.

At her funeral, I just kept thinking of that day years earlier. There she sat, at 34, with her long dark hair, wearing her floral skirt, denim vest and hat. Very early 1990’s. And she was so alive, despite her protestations otherwise.

She actually had a lot of hope. If she could just…push things past that unknown barrier and unlock that hidden door, she thought she’d be happy. And the calm, cozy elegance of that decade must have been the perfect backdrop to her seeming misery. Like an emotive film score that highlights the tiny crevices of a protagonist’s heart.

I’m suddenly thinking of songs by Cobain and The Cranberries. The Cranberries in particular.

And time is a funny thing. As one gets older it makes less sense and seems much more deceptive. Because in some way that moment feels as if it’s still here somehow. That day in the car, along the river, hasn’t ended yet.

On another dark note, I think many of us are still waiting (Millennials), in our 30’s, to have “respect from the elders”. But what does that mean? When we’re in our 50’s and many of them leave or have left, what will we make of it all?

And those moments we’re told to let go of and move on from? Can we? Really? When the answers never came or something was amiss? Is it possible a part of us in some very tangible, real sense is actually still there? I wonder. There’s so much we don’t understand yet about the fabric of the universe.

So dear Maisie, I know I wasn’t supposed to speak, but…you were in a rut. And no, my parents were not. They just didn’t want to tell you that. And so, dear Maisie, you should have lived, as you must have been wondering about. You were, after all, very alive then indeed.

Grumps

So…a storm came through, dropped the temperature about 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) and I am currently drinking a glass of Merlot. And now…I’m falling a tiny bit for Parfums de Marly Athalia. It still smells like baby powder but the orange blossom note is more discernible this time (and fairly beautiful) and that saccharine quality has become more movie-theater-popcorn-fake-butter. It is indeed oddly growing on me… Although, I’m still unlikely to purchase a bottle. But, I do need to try it in the fall or winter.

And now for something disturbing. And all too familiar…

…The other day I was having a manicure and pedicure when the lady and I started talking. We got on the topic of bullying and she said that she still feels bullied as an adult sometimes.

Then things got weird.

We started talking about health and getting enough exercise. Then she said that she often goes swimming at the YMCA and gets a great workout. And, she went on to say that once when she was stopping at a coffee shop to buy a drink another patron randomly asked her why her hair was wet. So, she told them about how she had just come from the gym.

This other customer then decided to tell her all about their brand new exercise equipment for their own personal gym. The nail technician said that she stood there and cringed. And while I thought she was going to go on to tell me that she found them competitive and annoying she instead said, “I mean, these freaks spent like $25,000.00 on a stupid, trashy basement exercise room. Who does that?!”

I didn’t feel comfortable asking her what made it so “trashy” from her perspective. And that’s when I realized I was in trouble.

“Where do you live?” she asked. I told her. “Oh.” she made a weird facial expression and things grew quiet for a moment. “So is it like a big old house?” she asked in a strangely (in hindsight fake) dim sounding tone.

I replied.

“My boyfriend bought a house like that. It needed a ton of repairs.” she responded in a very sincere way. I felt trapped though because something really felt off. Having been in many almost identical conversations to this one on Instagram for years I thought I’d try something new so I just remained silent. But…she wouldn’t let go that easily.

“So, I’m not like you. I like new houses and I really love gardening!” and she went on to lecture me on all the finer points of gardening big gardens (like her supposed garden) concluding with, “I’m sure you’ll make your property nice eventually. Just hang in there.” (read patronizing tone) “And in the meantime, you’ll be saving a lot of money living in an old house because you can always make it nicer as the years go by and increase your property value. You know? We can’t all start out with what’s easiest.” Then she made a stuffy expression.

That’s when I lost my temper a little and decided that no matter what the hell she was up to, I needed to say something.

“Well, actually our house already is nice.”

She nodded blankly and then added in a dead voice, “So you have like a nice yard and kitchen?”

“Yes. And actually I have decent sized antique gardens.”

“Aww. So you’re in your dream house! Oh sweetie. That’s so cute.” She then paused and patted my arm.

I thought we were done with the very bizarre and unacknowledged tension so I breathed a sigh of relief. Little did I know that my toes looked terrible. When I got home I noticed that the paint was streaky on my left foot, one toenail hadn’t been trimmed and another toenail was trimmed crooked. I’d almost have wondered if she was drunk, high or just very bad at her profession except for the fact that the other foot was impeccable and the left foot was done after I had tried to politely correct her narrative about my own damn life.

I kinda think she knew the whole time, given our neighborhood, what sort of house we own. And, actually, given something else she had said earlier about having nothing to do on Friday nights and being close to her Chihuahua named Pete, I even question her story about having a boyfriend. No, I think that woman enjoys trolling people. And I gave her a good tip too. *rolling eyes* I usually do unless I can see something amiss and she was clever…

So… You know, I think as much as it’s easy to see the clear cases of evil deeds or words in our world right now, it’s not just a simple equation these days. People have gotten meaner in the last five years (it’s been documented and discussed in fairly scholarly sources). And it’s not just “angry white men” or “angry Muslims” or “angry Jews” or “angry blacks.” It’s not just, “Those stupid Americans.” Or, how about, “Those stupid rich people.” People just find excuse after excuse to demean and dehumanize anyone (literally) but themselves. It’s scary.

But…I have to think it’s going somewhere. And I think it’s off a metaphorical cliff. What that means, I don’t know, but it’ll be silencing. And I bet you that a lot of that vile energy will be extracted from us via some sort of pain or shock or…who knows. Maybe, if God smiles on us, we’ll just find ourselves happier in some undeserved way.

But in the meantime, I have to do my own nails and hair. Or find someone who is in a much better state of mind.

And gosh, Athalia is lovely after all.

Baccarat Rouge 540

I received those samples from Luckyscent today.

I’m not going to buy Lubin Gin Fizz. I had a sample before and loved it, but this time it didn’t wow me as much and I’m taking it off my to-buy list. It reminds me too much of Dior Pure Poison and I might just buy that…if I want a fragrance with that sort of vibe. I had planned to buy both this summer but…again, I’m not in the mood anymore.

Carthusia Mediterraneo is fantastic at first. I LOVE lemon. But it doesn’t last… *sad expression* Maybe you just have to keep reapplying it over and over and over. Ha! I would too…

Parfums de Marly Athalia is a HUGE disappointment. It’s…synthetic sugar (think olfactory Sweet & Low) and sickeningly cloying baby powder before turning into something pretty pleasant but not extraordinary. And I had soo wanted to like it too. I’ve heard extremely mixed reviews about this house though. Some people love it and others seem to find it depressing. *shrug*

Lubin Upper Ten For Her was really lovely for the first half an hour. I was close to considering a full bottle. But…the true drydown was a bit of a letdown after that, unfortunately.

And then I wore Baccarat Rouge 540 extrait. *silence*

I have to say that I have a very complex relationship with most niche perfume houses. I love that they exist, and appreciate them. But…*hesitating* I often find myself a tiny bit less than impressed and that saddens me. Because, Baccarat Rouge is good. It’s excellent actually. But…for whatever reason it reminds me of my J. F. Schwarzlose Rausch, except it’s cooler and a tinge more masculine.

I think, if I was a man, I might prefer it to Rausch, but being a lady who likes to smell feminine it…doesn’t convince me to buy it. It’s chic and crisp. For some reason, I can’t help but think of some of the nicer hotels with modern design that I’ve visited over the years, while traveling, when I smell it (especially in Chicago and Switzerland for some reason). It’s the marble floors, hint of leather, recessed lighting and plush white duvet in a perfectly chilled, beautifully fresh and clean room. Very nice. But…it’s just not my absolute thing and while I would gladly spend $425 for a bottle I love, I won’t for one I only really like that reminds me too much of others in my collection. *awkward face* If it suits you please, please wear it, because I’d love to smell this wafting from someone who it complements.

*sigh*

I might highly consider a candle of it though…

Nonsense

Don’t cut your hair when you’re under 30 unless you’re absolutely certain you want it short. Don’t take everyone seriously but be respectful of everyone’s humanity none-the-less. If you have a real choice always choose the best. You’ll never regret reading the books you’ve read so read as many as you can while you have optimum youth and time. …Those are just a few of the pieces of advice I’d give to people younger than myself or my actual younger self.

I regret almost every haircut I had before age 25. For whatever reason I always wanted to cut my hair. I think I thought it complemented my face. But now, as I get older and have postpartum hair for the second time, I’m mourning my then very youthful lack of understanding.

…There are many people I was friends with when I was younger who I don’t know if I’d be able to become friends with as easily now. For my part of the Millennials, at least, our younger days were more optimistic and open-minded. Just think: Obama and “The Office” and “Garden State” were our 20’s. It wasn’t awesome but we really had some naïve sense that things were maybe better than they were. And we followed suit with our relationships. But, looking back, I’m less rose-tinted.

There are many young men I’d be nice to (obviously) but certainly not be as smitten by. I don’t think they were nearly as clever as they seemed to me (or others) at the time. Poor guys… I wonder if they ever realized how much they hurt people here and there with their immaturity and lack of a necessary sensitivity. AND there were a few female friends I wish I’d been less…trusting of but also maybe kinder to. They just needed a happy person to listen in our friendship and not someone who was hoping to be really close. Some people truly aren’t in a place to accept close relationships, sadly, or some people just can’t be that close to some people.

And then there are the things. Yes material items. *smile*

Yes! I know… People are more valuable and love is what matters. And I’m not a materialistic person. Truly. But…it’s nice to be able to enjoy sensual experiences and facing aging (a little) has taught me to not only value the deeper things but to truly value more transient matters too. I always liked beauty and nice things, but now I recognize that the vividness of (any) youth shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to being able to appreciate goodness. And, it’s wonderful for both us and the environment not to waste. So, always choose what’s genuinely best. If you have $200 this month to spend, you’ll have another $300 next month and another $300 the next and you want a cashmere sweater for the coming colder months but it’s only late August: Wait. Wait and buy the one for $800.00 that’s more ethically made and much nicer too (and take care of it). Wear what you have until then to keep warm. You’ll be glad you did.

AND *sigh* read!! Read! Read! Read!!!! There is literally not a single book I regret reading. At the time it might have felt like a waste, but we use that knowledge more than we think we will. It gives us perspective and sometimes even health. Read!

The Gucci Jackie And Other Enigmas

So, I’ve written that I’m going to sell or give away my black ostrich Gucci Jackie. And until today, I was sure of it. But then I wore it because it was a hot day and it felt cooler than plastic canvas next to my skin, but more fun than my leather Kate Spade. I paired it with a very casual cotton red tank, a denim skirt (I found one!), my pearl studs and my Sam Edelman calf hair sandals. My fragrance was my Kabarett Krigler 216 (a slightly cool but full, bright and buoyant floral that works best on my skin in humid heat). It was very enjoyable.

…And people seem to like when I wear the Gucci Jackie. I get pleasant glances directed at my outfit. But, in my part of the Midwest, even though monogram Louis Vuitton is actually less expensive than most Gucci, people have a dislike for it that I always sense when I wear it (I like it anyway). Actually, they might have similar attitudes about Bimmers…

But anyway, I’m not getting rid of the Jackie. It’s nice and pleasant to wear on occasion. So…never mind to that one.

And that’s my final decision on that.

(Here I am holding my daughter’s bottle with my Gucci Jackie.)

Also, what the heck is happening in New York City?! I feel like it’s almost gone back in time to the 1970’s or early 80’s again. So depressing. …I wonder if it’ll get worse or if we’ve reached the bottom.

But actually, it’s been a peculiar summer overall. What do you think?

Mackenzie Childs

At more than one of the upscale kitchenware or tabletop stores in the area I have seen Mackenzie Childs. Do you know it? It’s the storybook-like, very cheerful, brightly patterned teapot you saw at William-Sonoma.

But what do you think of it?

Personally, I’m not a fan. It reminds me of the late 90’s and while I actually mean that in a good way, I wonder. Is it a classic now? Or is it just waiting, clinging by a hair, to topple off the truck into the trash pile of outdated things?

I honestly can’t decide.

Part of me wants it to be a classic though. I think I might even buy the teapot (slightly embarrassed to admit it?) to use in the dead of winter when I want to feel aesthetic sunshine.

Hmm… If you love it, don’t be ashamed. I might too…

*confused expression*