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


What's In A Haircut?

Tomorrow I take myself to the salon ... with every woman's fond hope that a haircut will change my life.

Way too long -- the time between haircuts and the hair itself. I have a friend -- also a woman of a certain age -- who warns against the Yoko Ono syndrome. Also known as Country and Western hair. Too long for one's age.

Mine is about three inches below my shoulders and I'm at that critical stage where a terrible mistake could happen. A Mia Farrow mistake. A "cut it all off so that I look like a pixie" [a 54 year old pixie?] mistake. Horrible things can happen when you're sick of your hair.

So tomorrow I will forbear. I will say, "Please trim three inches off; I want a very blunt cut." A moderate approach. A reasonable woman making a reasoned request.

Then we can talk color. Are stripes back in?


On This Memorial Day: What I Know

I have often noted in this blog how little I knew of my father. He left my family of origin under a cloud of infidelity, domestic violence and alcoholism.

I loved my father. Adored him. Against all accusations thrown at him in absentia, and despite his apparent desertion, I was his sole defender.

I still am.

So, this Memorial Day weekend, I share the spare memories I have of his heroism during World War II.

Truth be told, I don't absolutely know that he was heroic. What I know is that he did what he was told to do, in ugly circumstances that involved tropical jungle, mud and blood.

I know, from reading his service record, that he was wounded and brave, according to parameters established by the military; I saw documentation of a Bronze star and a Purple Heart.

Long ago I saw yellowed photographs, grabbed away from me when he saw what I was looking at, of naked men, their heads at odd angles, hanging from makeshift gallows in a clearing surrounded by palms and coconut trees.

I saw pictures of his Air Force squad in jungle camouflage -- I think I remember they were wearing this -- with arms around each other, cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and rolled into their shirtsleeves.

I know he was in Burma. In Korea. Later on Guam. Wake. Midway.

The last three places I saw first hand as a five year old when we as a family made our way west to his post in the Phillipines, more than ten years after the yellowed snapshot had been taken.

I told you I don't know much.

This is what I know: that he, like many fathers, didn't talk about the things in his past of which he was ashamed.

But I know that he loved this country, and defended it as he was asked to do.

For that alone, I can be grateful. And I am.

Today's fragrance is a review redux dedicated to Kate:

Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue was introduced in 1912 (designed by third-generation perfumer Jacques Guerlain) and my inclination is to say it smells like it. Very old fashioned but very beautiful. I can imagine the scent wafting around a cloche-clad woman waving goodbye, sending Johnny off to fight the war to end all wars.

Literally, "The Blue Hour" -- which I suppose is twilight, or it could be the deep blue chill of dawn -- the scent is a bit sad, a bit plaintive -- wistful, poignant. Yes, romantic.Stated notes are anise seed, bergamot, carnation, violet, rose, neroli, tonka bean, iris, benzoin, balsam, vanilla. Some sources state tuberose is in there, too, as are heliotrope and musk.The florality is very much there -- I can detect carnation, violet and rose -- and the powdery drydown is weightily pleasant. Another serious fragrance. I like serious.

But my favorite reference to L'Heure Bleue is a quasi literary one: In Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, this is Claire Fraser's perfume. There's a wonderful scene in which she brushes her hair to a state of static cling and pours the fragrance on her hands, which she then uses to fragrantly smooth down her hair.Since I adore that character, it's a wonderful association of scent with a timeless woman, a woman independent yet ultimately feminine. A transcendent woman of substance.

L'Heure Bleue is perfect for her.


HA! 50!


The Boring Despair of the Self-Obsessed Navel Gazer

I feel like I am underwater and hoping to surface soon.

It has been a year of reassessment and training, a year in which I rediscovered I am competent at navigating the outside world ... but I am still afraid.

And I feel so indebted.

My thoughts are all over the place. The nature of love. What I owe others. Honor. Reciprocation. I am way behind in the human relations sector.

Faced with circumstances I don't believe I can control or adequately address, I get close to despair. Even when I intellectually know that what I feel is at odds with objective reality.

But jeez, who doesn't? Everybody goes through this. Don't they? So adolescent.

Think and feel and think and feel. Self-obsessive navel-gazing. And it bores other people.

Nothing worse than being boring.

I'd better snap out of this pretty quick.

Sidenote: I think being a parent cures this. I don't know many good parents who indulge themselves in the Theda Bara school of self-centered behavior. They're too involved in someone else's needs. It's a lesson, really.


Bad Mood Rehab

It's the kind of day in Seattle where it is a constant drizzle, not enough for windshield wipers, but enough to duck when you walk under water-laden lilacs ... or so I have been told by Jim, who ventured out to forage coffee for us from the neighborhood
Starbucks. (Btw, today is going to be a GOOD day for J.)

Bucky went out, saw what was happening, came back in and went back to bed. He's no fool.

CNN is on in the background, as Our Leader speaks to us of ethanol. He's so wise.

I am excited ... my new computer, a generous gesture from a dear friend, is on its way and I check UPS tracking every couple hours. I wish the trucker who has it on his semi would scan it more often. I like knowing where it is.

Last night I dreamt of ... now I can't remember. It's so often that way. All I can peel off my subconscious is "teal jumpsuit." What in hell does "teal jumpsuit" mean? Maybe it has something to do with "work wardrobe." Or prison. Do prisoners wear
any color but orange?

Another friend has been deathly ill but feels better and I'm relieved. Spent some time trying to convince her to go to the doctor. She won't. She is my earthy, honest, hates pretention friend. Every time I talk to her, I feel like I should give myself an honesty check. And her sense of humor is back as she tells me of the best vanilla scent: vanilla pods soaked in Everclear. Heh. Don't bogart that bottle, my friend.

Today I'm studying. Legal research. You only need to work in law a little bit to understand how very little you know, and how much more you need to learn. One of my instructors had asked me if I'd considered becoming a professional student. Wonder how that pays.

It's a good day for coffee and books. I'm going to enjoy them while I can.


The Knife-Sharp Edge of Irritability

What is UP with me? I seem to be carrying around this seething quality ... a chip-on-the-shoulderness that makes me REALLY hard to live with.

Jim suggests I'm coming down from a period of stress from my internship and somehow my chemistry is out of whack. I think that's probably it ... but I hope it regulates itself back into whack before I kill a small animal.

I am an attractive woman. But when I'm in this mood, my self-image changes. All of a sudden, I take on the persona of the hunchback of Notre Dame on one of his bad days. Lurching around here, looking for venomous rodents to snack on and wondering why no one loves me.

Well, heh, it's obvious, isn't it? I just haven't applied the right perfume yet.

And ANOTHER THING: last night on the fragrance board I occasionally frequent, my favorite question once again popped up. Every once in a while, late at night, the trollish adolescents (who I bet are in their thirties -- they come up with these stupid questions and yet are able to frame coherent sentences on other boards, utilizing words such as "placebo" and "prophylactic" ) start in on "what are old lady perfumes?"

One of my favorite responses last night was something like "those perfumes not worn by young idiots with an inability to appreciate art in scent."

You know, though, maybe I've got this "offended by 'old lady'" thing wrong.

Many old ladies have finally achieved dignity at this stage in their lives. They have a sense of themselves that long since transcended fashion; they now have style.

You never see an old lady in "muffin-top" jeans (you know, those jeans worn by twenties/thirties chicks who apparently don't look downward. If they did, they'd realize that bared midriff is not as sleek and lean as one might hope, and it is currently drifting over the edge of their jeans, generating that much sought after "beer belly overlap effect.")

Old ladies are kind. Much kinder than me, and much, much kinder than the twenties/thirties chicklets.

And these old women are smart. Smart enough not to take offense at idiocy. Smart enough to know how truly unimportant a question about "old lady perfume" is.

I think I'll go dig through my samples and try to find my best old lady fragrance.

Here's to you, graceful old scented ones! I hope to be one of you!


An Uplifting Post

So I have a few days off before I throw myself into job hunting. And about what am I thinking, nay obsessed?

Foundation garments. Uplifting garmentage. Brassieres.

I believe I am missing vital information in determining the right bra for me and I take myself over to the Nordstrom website bra section, where I eye the espoused bra sizing method.

I whip out the old tapemeasure and carefully wrap it around me in all the ways they specify.

Heh. If you think I'm going to tell you numbers, think again. I mean, I have SOME sense of propriety. Not much, admittedly, but some.

Then there's the type. Wired. Unwired. Underwired. Banquette. (Could that be right? Like a ledge you rest them on?) Bandeau. (The ace bandage approach.) Demi. (For your inner Lady of the Night.) Contour. (Oh, please. How many shapes do they come in?) Minimizer. (You wish.) Maximizer. (For you socks-stuffing underachievers.)

Let's move on to brand: Chantelle. Wacoal. La Perla. The Playtex 18-Hour Marathon Suspension Bridge Model (Look Ma, no visible means of support!) Bali. Olga.

Of all the things you should not buy online, bras must rank right up there. Talk about blindfolded shopping. I mean, you're not going try it on until you own it. And then, what?

But have you ever been in a dressing room with a matronly-slash-dominatrix sales associate who insists on remaining in the room through the whole process? And then, with all the gentleness and finesse of a mammography technician, tugs, snaps, pulls and pushes things around until you want to scream, "Leave me -- AND THEM -- alone!"

I'll take my chances online.


You Go, Girls

You can listen to, purchase or download the Dixie Chicks' anthem to free speech, Not Ready to Make Nice on their latest album, Taking the Long Way.

I hope you do.

Pooches Gracias, Mama

Today was also a good Dog Mom's day ... Bucky gave me a wonderful card (see above) this morning ... he protected me from the intrusive advances of a German shepherd at the dog park this afternoon ... we shared some pizza this evening (he likes the crusts the best) ... altogether, a very good day.

Today's fragrance: thanks to clearing-who-is-a-generous-sharer, Paul Smith Extreme with notes of cassie, freesia and heliotrope, cedar, sandalwood, and musk. Zingy! A nice, nice summer fragrance.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone!


Ode to Marta

There once was a writer in Detroit
Whose reviews didn't reveal her own exploit
The novel is coming
The literary world will be humming
Thrilled by her and Redwing's adventures adroit.

And I don't care how much I had to torture that rhyme, it was going to happen.

Today's fragrance: Sarasotagirl's Tabac Blond. Swiped from the site: "In 1918, Europe stared with eyes wide open: freshly arrived in France to find their husbands, American women proudly showed the old, astounded continent that cigarettes were no longer the privilege of men, and that the difference between smoking room and boudoir had been erased…Negligently to place those long ivory and mother-of-pearl cigarette-holders to their lips and swathing their femininity in a typically masculine veil, became the height of Parisian elegance... To mark the dawn of female liberation, in 1919 CARON dared to dedicate the deliberately provocative Tabac Blond to these beautiful androgynes."

It's a lovely rich tea-and-tobacco scent ... kind of K. Hepburnesque to me. Takes a strong woman.


This Post is Rated R for Rude

Too rude for me. (It was a cartoon showing a little girl deciding that learning to read was too tough; she just said, "'Heck' (or something like that), I'll be a stripper."


An Explanation. Maybe.

A couple of months ago when I deleted comments, I gave as one of my reasons a desire to not write for an audience.

Fraudulent thinking at its finest.

I can't get the reader out of my writing ... and so I provide these few sentences of explanation about different tones you may now be finding in the blog.

I'm interspersing fiction vignettes between Life of Bucky anecdotes, perfume reviews and social commentary.

It's another attempt at desensitization as I try to write more honestly. Please bear with me.

And thank you for reading.

A Shade. A Shadow. Ruah.

Let me see if I can convey this.

Sometimes, as I'm desultorily wafting the Web, I come across photos of little girls.

Today, for instance, I saw a photo of a -- oh, maybe she was a two year old -- little girl.

And my throat locks.

I look at the photo very carefully, looking for something. I don't know what. But I notice the pale see-through quality of her skin. The milky-blue quality of skin so thin that her circulatory system is visible, if not defined, through her skin.

Then, a couple of days ago, it was the silky, shiny, thin-fabric curtain of hair partially masking the face of a little girl. Actually she was playing peek-a-boo through it. Not that she knew how beautiful she was, only that she wanted to play.

And my eyes mist.

This is what happens when an interruption of life occurs -- but the death isn't complete. In some moods, on some days, everywhere I look, my daughter is there.

But even if I reached out, I couldn't touch her. That's punishment enough, don't you think?


Thoughts of Death, and a Paul Simon Song

People dear and near to me hate it when I allow in one of my Emily Dickinson moods. "Because I could not stop for Death/He kindly stopped for me/ the carriage held but just ourselves/ and all Eternity." Truth be told, I'm tiresome. But I see it as pale but interesting.

It's not like middle age ushered in this fascination with death. I have always given a lot of thought to it.

I read something recently that defined death as the thing we spend so much of our life pushing away and trying not to think about. We all do it. Just some of us admit it.

What will it be like not to be? As someone who appreciates watching shades of green through the seasons, I can get really sad thinking about never seeing green again.

But maybe one does again. Without knowing one has. Unless one has the strange inkling that "I have done this before."

One thing that's different about having had a stress test or two is that you start watching your body and its operations in a different way: "ok, what does this mean?" Sitting on the bus, traveling to work, your chest tightens. "Hm. Is this it?"

The pain goes away and you walk the rest of the way to the office.

Time, time, time
See what's become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities

I was so hard to please

But look around
Leaves are brown
And the sky
is a hazy shade of winter

Hear the Salvation Army band
Down by the riverside
It's bound to be a better ride
Than what you've got planned

Carry your cup in your hand

And look around
Leaves are brown
And the sky
is a hazy shade of winter

Hang onto your hopes, my friend
That's an easy thing to say
But if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend

That you can build them again

Look around
The grass is high
The fields are ripe
It's the springtime of my life

Seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won't you stop and remember me?
At any convenient time.

Funny how my memory skips
While looking over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme
Drinking my vodka and lime

I look around
Leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Look around Leaves are brown

There's a patch of snow on the ground


Self-Destruction as Spectator Sport

I admit to a morbid fascination with the meteoric rise and Hindenberg fall of Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan’s literary career.

The young woman had landed a comparatively lucrative contract for her first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life ... which was published and distributed to bookstores ... only to be quickly accused of (the number varies) up to forty instances of plagiarism of another writer, Megan McCafferty, and other lifted phrases (including, supposedly, something from Salman Rushdie. Not your usual chick lit author).

Things now get rough for an individual who had seemingly been handed the keys to the "I'm A Novelist" kingdom.

Her campus, abuzz with the schadenfreude that can only be generated by mega-achieving little egotists who were somewhat happy about their classmate's achievement but even happier about her failure, can't be a comfortable place for her right now.

One imagines her mother and father as literary stageparents who thought they had pushed her to the pinnacle only to see her topple, and probably aren't really happy with her.

Her publisher has yanked the books and any subsequent contract.

How much failure and shame can one young soul contain? She's so young. And it's all so visible.

She will either allow this incredibly unfortunate event to destroy her. Or -- and this is what I hope -- she will recede, take a deep look at the direction in which she had been headed, rebuild ... and years from now publish a truly great work that is entirely her own.

You can do it, Kaavya.