my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


I Don't Want To Talk About It

My mother was an exceptionally undemonstrative woman. Oh, there was the kiss goodbye and goodnight -- but if Mother truly felt something, she buried it deep.

I resented her tightfisted approach to affection ... and I turned into the kind of woman who touches, who hugs, who kisses, who smiles, who wears her heart on her sleeve. I like that about me.

But there is one emotional arena in which I absolutely understand my mother.

Illness. Death. Grief.

I don't much like discussing my own, or others' ... unless I can make a joke of it.

When there actually is serious illness or death or grief in my life, the last thing I want to do is share it -- open it up for discussion, or invite others to participate. It's too raw, I'm too vulnerable, those feelings are too naked.

There is an instance now where I know of an individual -- at a great distance, to whom I've never spoken, but for whom I feel a great deal of sympathy -- who is approaching her last days. She's very young, has a toddler and she is painfully riddled with cancer.

Among the group of people with whom I communicate -- some dear and close friends -- a couple of individuals have stepped up and breached the distance between themselves and this young woman. They've called, they've visited, they've arranged gifts. And I laud these women. They are acting true to their natures and it speaks well of them.

But I could not bring myself to participate. I even said I would -- but I can't. The young woman is in my mind, in my thoughts -- but I have the strongest feeling this is a time for acquaintances to recede, not to move forward into her life.

The very lack of demonstration that angered me about my mother has surfaced in me. Only because I feel that if I am in extremis, I want to be left alone, I project that onto this young woman. At a certain point, I believe that you want only those who know you truly and deeply to be near you.

So long now after my mother's death, this episode has explained more to me about the distance she encouraged between herself and others.

And it makes me even more grateful -- it is of even more value to me -- that she allowed me to be the only one at her bedside when she died.


Jonesing the Internet. Bad.

I have undergone five days of the most horrific withdrawal possible ... so horrific that it made my two-years ago "they say this is as bad as childbirth" gallbladder attack and resulting organ removal (no, it did not play music) look like a walk in the park.

So bad that I nearly ruptured my primary relationship, hurling accusations and counteraccusations that made me look like a marine-mouthed harridan.

So bad that it felt like I was losing my dog.

So bad.

And what was so bad? My hard drive crashed. IT CRASHED. I lost a month's worth of writing, the ability to contact friends and enemies, access to the internet, my fragrance friends and instant messaging. FOR FIVE DAYS.

Today, I am fortunate to be able to tell you I have interim internet, email and the ability to cobble a sentence together on notepad. Yes, gone are my WindowsXP days, at least for a while.

But I am back in communication and, thank God, they can now begin to wean me off the morphine.

Those little VAIO laptops are kind of cute, aren't they?


The Off-Center Perfection of Bandit

Bandit by Robert Piguet

For someone who has an asthma attack if I even think I'm around cigarette smoke, Bandit by Robert Piguet is a perverse pleasure.

Its initial ashtray ambience -- not kidding: for me, there is an initial blast of "this must smell like a well-used cocktail lounge in the '50s" -- ripens into a leather and flowers scent that continues to evoke the '50s, if there were biker chicks in the '50s.

This sounds like I'm dissing the frag; I'm not. I LOVE Bandit, it's so bad. And I mean that in a good way.

It's a fragrance that thumbs its nose at conventionality. As if to say, "Don't get too comfortable."

I read in Jan Moran's review that Piguet introduced Bandit in 1944, as the war was ending, by having the models go down the runway in masks and carrying toy guns. (A bit reminiscent of Viktor and Rolf's Flowerbomb intro, with its grenade-shaped bottle.)

The original Bandit fragrance was reintroduced in 1999. And while we, in our too-used-to-violence mindsets might find toy guns laughable, the point is well taken. Keep your hands up ... and your wrists coated in the stuff.

Notes are neroli, orange, ylang-ylang, galbanum, jasmine, rose, tuberose, leather, patchouli, mousse de chene ("oakfoam" or oakmoss, a fungus), vetiver, musk.

Bandit is unsettling, a bit off center, not what one expects of a perfume. It's its own kind of perfection.



One of the first Freudian terms I ever learned -- (I was the kind of teenager who read psychoanalytic tomes in an effort to figure out why I didn't have a boyfriend ... kind of self-explanatory, wasn't it?) -- was sublimation.

If I remember correctly, sublimation is the submersion of sexual desire into another activity ... in other words, getting your mind off it.

Well, Sublime by Jean Patou isn't going to help. This is a beyond flirtation scent. This is a knock them down and drag them out scent of seduction.

As previously discussed: I like Jasmine. I like Rose. I love the Jasmine and Rose in Sublime. PLUS the scent has amber and musk.

Really, this is not going to help me get my mind off it. However, I will smell good in the midst of it. Heh.

In Memory of Easters Past

After my mother married my wicked stepfather-the-refrocked-minister, Easter was no longer a time of hunting for colored eggs in the bushes and biting ears off chocolate bunnies ... Easter became a time to sit in hard wooden pews, deliberating on the cruelty of nailing a man to a cross and the terrible sadness of the two Marys.

In particular, I remember 3 pm on Good Friday as usually being a stormy March or April afternoon, befitting thoughts of a desolate hill with three crosses and the certainty that humans had certainly made the biggest mistake possible that time (how young I was).

And I remember the weight lifting on that Sunday morning, my new dress, lacy white anklets and mary janes ... and the joy of standing with everyone else in the middle of the service to belt out this (still) favorite Methodist hymn by Charles Wesley.

The absolute best line? Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!

To all who celebrate it, Happy Easter!

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!


Fragrance According to Ambrose

My friend Doug of Waking Ambrose provides this great definition:

"Perfume, n. The feminine alternative to the crowbar, suitable for coercion or abuse."

heh. So true, so true.

No Regrets

In the middle of a hormonally challenged day, I read my horoscope -- as usual urging someone, not me, to go ahead and take the leap, assume the risk, close your eyes and jump. Or else you'll regret it.

It is with some surprise -- after a tough, tough, tough decade -- that I realize at this moment that I could die tomorrow and it would be without regret. Not that the dying part is integral to my plans, but you get my meaning.

I have changed everything in my existence from what it was ten years ago.

Different love, different work, different self. Or maybe now the real self.

Not to say I don't have moments of concentrated terror, and moments in which I feel sulkily and unrealistically undervalued ... but even these bad mood moments are vastly different from what I experienced at the beginning of my midlife crisis.

Oh, was that what it was?


I just know now that I understand Edith Piaf: je ne regrette rien.


Bucky: A Day In the Life

(cartoon of dog lying on side, with bowls in front for "food," "water," "tips.")


The Psychic Told Me I Was Once An African Queen

Could it be Hatshepsut?
Interestingly (to me), this Queen who would be King was known as an ace propagandist, a major force in architecture and construction and one of the few Egyptian royals to have been "disappeared" by her successor.

To her benefit, when they attempted to obliterate her honoraria, they threw them down a pit where they have recently been discovered in very good condition. So, now her existence can be reconstructed ... in that fictional way that we like to call history.

So, I'll borrow a part of her fiction, and just assume that she was, indeed, one of my previous lives.

I think she's cute. *preen*

Seated statue of Hatshepsut, ca. 1473–1458 B.C.E; reign of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Clearing's Girls

(drawing of Little Women)

Here's a picture of my dear friend clearing and her three daughters. I'm on the far left, singing along. We like to do this after we've finished our embroidery and had a taffy pull. *c, explain to the girls what a taffy pull is, will you?*


Thin Lines and the High Cost

I want to write about two things. The narrow line between us and those less fortunate than us. And the high cost of love.

Yesterday, I heard Bucky bark sharply and I went to investigate.

When I got to the door, there was a girl -- maybe 24 or 25 years old, close-shorn -- think Sinead O'Connor -- with a backpack and the tell tale marks of meth on her face.

She seemed disoriented and started telling me about how she used to live where we now live, she was looking for someone, a lot of disjointed information ... and, as I shouted for Jim, I told her I wanted her to leave.

As she walked away, she mumbled something about how she'd like me to leave ... but she did go quietly.

I spent the rest of the day feeling horrible about the episode. She had made me feel endangered, threatened ... and ashamed.

She was an addict wandering our neighborhood, looking for something, someone. What should I have done? Should I have been more kind, should I have tried to help her?

My mother's phrase would have been "There but for the grace of God ...," the phrase that reminds you how connected you are to every other human, no matter how you try to distance yourself.

I just wanted her away from me. I don't want to be reminded of that thin line between the homeless person on the street and the well-fed, well-clothed individual encased in their car, driving down that street.

So I engaged in rationalization. That, however it plays out, we each have a role to play in this life ... that my role is my role, hers is hers. If I had allowed her to enter any more of my space than she had, she would have attempted manipulation. That I couldn't have truly helped her unless she wanted to be helped ... that she wasn't specifically asking for help, and that I'm not trained for that sort of intervention.

All excuses that came back to me when I was trying to go to sleep last night, after feeling unsettled and unhappy since the episode happened.

As I lie there, replaying all of it in my head again, I thought, too, of how much Jim and others I love in this life mean to me. What if I didn't have them? What if I lost them? And I will lose them. Because life is a series of loss.

This is not my ordinary frame of mind. It is only when I've been jarred off balance, as I was with the girl's appearance on my doorstep, and my gut reaction to her and her situation. Which she made my situation.

You see someone who has lost everything and it reminds you of what it could be to lose everything you love. The thin line between who you are now and who you could be, if love left your life.

That is the high cost of love. Because it resides in humans, who are fragile and transient by nature, love is fragile and transient. So much easier to lose than you realize, if you have never lost.

This is what I felt last night.


Guest Slapper of the Month III

She-Who-Really-Knows-How-To-Slap honored me with a guestship today.

If you have time, please stop by Slap of the Day!

also: Happy April Fool's Day!