Thursday, April 3, 2014

Perfume Throwdown: Fracas vs Truth or Dare

Until now, I have avoided Madonna's Truth or Dare like I avoid stair railings at our children's hospital.  Oh, come on, you just know there are boogers all over it.   Truth or Dare was so off my radar that I never even stalked it on Fragrantica, Make-up Alley or Google, and I stalk everything.  But then I see it marked down at TJ Maxx for $7.  Seven bucks... for 3.4 oz.  Kiss it, Inner Farm Girl!  Post stalking, when I saw Truth or Dare linked to Fracas, I had to do a side-by-side comparison straight away.  That's right, I said 'straight away' in honor of Madonna's phony British accent period. 

Here's the deal: they are just alike, except completely different.

Truth or Dare starts out all floral-sweet, like hard tack candy at Christmas. B-man said the top notes smell like the opening of Joop Homme (his 'let's go play' scent, which I absolutely love).  Fracas, on the other hand, starts out green and turn-up-my-nose sour, really.  Why so serious?  Next comes the Truth or Dare lemon and citrus phase.  Fracas, on the other hand, takes a totally different direction and smells just like Thumbelina, my childhood doll that peed her pants and landed face down in a cow pie after I dangled her out the backseat car window. She had a permanent 'birthmark' on her cheek after that, but I still loved her.  That's what I told my mom then and I can't think of a good reason to tell the truth now.  Except that she was Thumbelina Shitface after that.

Next comes the lemon and citrus phase of Truth or Dare.  Yeah, I know, I already said that.  Just consider it a repeat of the 'Like A Prayer' chorus.  Finally, Fracas gets to the dark, inky part that I love.  The tuberose here must be black and wilted because it has lost the sweetness that can make tuberose so...precious and squishy.  Fracas doesn't play straight tuberose on my skin and it has a decidedly naughty twist.

In the end, both perfumes are unique from each other, but not dramatically so.  Truth or Dare is more gardenia/benzoin/butterscotch and Fracas maintains a metallic smear of ink.  I wanted Fracas to kick Truth or Dare to the curb so I could tell everyone, 'I knew it ,they are nothing alike - ha ha!'  And Fracas had 'er in a headlock there in the heart notes, threatening to graffiti her ass with a fountain pen.  But in the final drydown, they are similar enough that I can't honestly say, 'ha ha!'  Just, 'huh, look at that.'

For me, there's no clear winner, mostly because it's not an apples to apples comparison.  Fracas is the mother of tuberose that commands respect and has a hair trigger bitch slap. Truth or Dare wants to party, and it's making me happy tonight with its sweetness and just enough jasmine to keep it from smelling like the oversize gardenia corsage that we gave Mom every Mother's Day until she worked up the courage to tell us she hated them.  We hated them, too, but thought she loved them.  I thought I hated Truth or Dare until it was cheap enough I worked up the courage to try it.  And guess what?  I kinda love it.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Changing Vibrations

My siblings and I are in the process of going through our parents' belongings, sorting as best we can right now (not having the heart yet to thoughtfully disperse), and putting their house on the market.  They moved from the farm into town long after I was grown and gone, so their home doesn't have the sentimental attachment of the one I grew up in.  But they loved that house and even called it the enchanted cottage.  Moving from a small town was a statement of freedom that kept their marriage intact and strengthened the easy friendship they shared in spite of their differences. 

Before my parents both died, their things vibrated with life and meaning.  Every item my mother collected was meticulously arranged and re-arranged to reflect her own unique aesthetics.  My dad's guns were at peace and poised for attention, calmly waiting for the next cleaning, hanging proudly on display with the knowledge they were loved.  Now all of their things sit frozen like children in time out, stunned by the sudden aloneness with no idea what to do. 

Once the people are gone, it's like their stuff stops vibrating. 

Yesterday, a Jewish colleague randomly shared the story of her father's death and told me about how members of her faith observe a period of mourning.  According to her, a full 12 months are allowed for grieving the loss of a loved one, and within those 12 months, there are distinct periods of different activities and restrictions.  I don't pretend to fully understand the practice, but just hearing about it was soothing, and I knew - without saying anything - that she understood my sadness.  She could see it on me. 

Part of me doesn't want to go through my parents' things...ever.  I don't want to drive by their house and see, just like their farm, that the people are gone and the surroundings have lost their animation.
And like their belongings, I, too, am vibrating differently without them in the world.  My cells aren't responding quite the same, and I no longer have their energy to bump against to remind me where I came from.  November 19th will mark one year to the day that Dad died, which is my newly adopted mourning period.  Until then, to honor my parents and myself, I will quietly wear the vibration of loss.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Perfume Rituals

Making up perfume rituals is one of my favorite things to do.  We've already established that I'm easy to entertain. 

Arabian oils seem like they were invented to create rituals.  Think about it: far away lands with unique foods and spices, plus a natural atmosphere that conjures up all sorts of images and hidden, guilty pleasures. Arabian oils are sweaty and delicious. One doesn't just wear them, or apply them mindlessly.  No, Arabian oils provide mental transport to another time and place with flying carpets and body jewelry.  If you can't create rituals around that, check your pulse.

Here's the great thing about being easy to entertain.  My oil doesn't even have to be Arabian, it just needs to say Arabian on the bottle.  See how that works?  Both Al Rehab and Kuumba oils are tweaking me right now, and I keep several at work to refresh what I'm wearing or to add new life to the totally unrelated perfume I put on after my shower that morning. 

My mid-afternoon-at-the-office ritual:

1) Apply hand lotion (I like the combo of B&BW Twilight Woods and Orange Sapphire )
2) Spritz my room fragrance, Citrus Cilantro, so it lands on my lamp bulbs to last longer
3) Apply Arabian oil to my wrists only and rub together

This ritual rests my mind and shifts my focus - for just a minute - so I can take a 2-3 minute walk and return to my work refreshed as if I had taken a 30-minute break.  Of course, I have to be careful because I work in a 'fragrance sensitive' environment. Maybe my colleagues are practicing Thumper's Rule (if you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all), but it seems to be working for all of us.

Arabian Rose by Kuumba is my current go-to oil.  It's a bright, green rose that blends magically with almost anything I'm already wearing from deep ouds to citrusy florals.  And it's strong, so just touching the roller on my wrists and rubbing them together is enough.  This ritual is for my own enjoyment, although many people comment positively on the way I smell afterward.  When asked what I'm wearing, I usually report my scent of the day, because it's just too geeky to list everything I've applied since then.  Besides, I prefer to keep the ritual to myself.

What are your perfume rituals?

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Perfume Rx for Cranky: Wear One and Call Me In the Morning

I'm restless and cranky today, even though the sun is shining and it's 60 degrees on our deck, which is where I am sitting right now.  I should be blissfully happy and relaxed, looking forward to cooking, conversation and Champagne with B-man later.  I should delight in the new buds on our trees and Paige lying on her back in the sun.  My peppy rating should be off the charts because spring was invented to make you peppy, right?  Renewal, redemption and resurrection...what could be wrong with that?  And I should take great care to chose the right perfume to match this storybook setting, one that perfectly captures my unbridled joy as I twirl in the sunshine. 

Yeah, sure, whatever.

Believe me, I tried to choose a perfume earlier, sniffing one bottle after the other, wondering why they all smell so harsh and nasty. Honestly, I don't know why I bought any of them.  Daphne, my nose, is super sensitive today, and a little bitchy if you want to know the truth.

Life transition?
Identity crisis?


Losing my last parent makes me feel ancient and more urgent than ever about moving my life forward in some meaningful way.  Actually, meaning is optional - I'd just settle for moving forward. Except I forgot what I'm moving toward and the pursuit of 'what's next' that has fueled my life for the last...pretty much always, is gone. Like what's next decided to stop playing and go in the house to watch TV.  Now I'm stuck living in the stupid moment.  Whoever started that concept can kiss my butt.  You live in the moment, dumbass, I want to know what's next.  You go meditate and do yoga and grab a therapeutic massage on your way home.  Namaste. 

Just lemme know what's next.

If I wanted to wear a perfume that smells as cranky as I feel, there are plenty to choose from.  Paloma Picasso, Amouage Lyric Woman, Bandit or Rumba jump to mind. They were made for one purpose and one purpose only: to piss people off.  Or Angel, which sparks low grade irritation at first, then builds over time, getting stronger and stronger with face-slapping patchouli until I have to bite my tongue so I don't blurt out, 'stop wearing that shit' in the middle of a meeting.

But wait, what if annoying perfumes can actually counteract crankiness the same way stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall treat hyperactive kids?  No one's proven it can't work as far as I know, and it's certainly worth a try.  Rumba, don't fail me now.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Bakhour by Al Rehab

For the life of me, I can't remember how I discovered Al Rehab perfume oils.  They must have popped up when I was researching something else on Fragrantica, my diversion-from-reality drug of choice.  However it happened, I'm glad I found them, and now I own six, which is all good because they are cheap.  Like, $3.95 cheap.  Inner Farm Girl hasn't even noticed.

Of course, cheap doesn't matter - even to me - unless the perfume smells good.  So far, several of the Al Rehab oils smell very good, but I seem to be stuck on one in particular: Bakhour.  Not exactly what I expected from an Arabian perfume oil, Bakhour is bright and floral-citrus, woody and vanilla-musky.  Some have compared it to Angel or Alien, but I don't get that.  Jasmine is definitely involved, but no more so than any other member of the ensemble.  What's most interesting about Bakhour is the drydown, which has the mustiness of a greenhouse.  Just the right touch to 'Arabize' the scent.

Bakhour lasts for 3-4 hours and has good sillage for a perfume oil. Al Rehab oils come in roll-on bottles, but they develop best when they are also rubbed into my skin rather than simply left alone to sit on the surface. Then I run my fingers through my hair to share the love a little more.  I'm wearing Bakhour today over Capri Seaside Citrus lotion by Bath and Body Works...the perfect combo on Spring's second day.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Ode to Nomaoud by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

Jet Engine
Pizza Delivery Box
Hot Road Tar
Damp Straw
Smoked Paprika

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Grief Makes You Weird

As much as I want to feel like my normal self, I don't.  My dad died and I'm sad about it.  February has been a month full of painful anniversaries: Dad's birthday, Mom's death and their wedding. 

Grief is hard work.
Grief makes you weird. 
Grief makes you fat. 
Grief makes you smile to hide the fact that you don't care about anything. 
Grief makes you not care that you don't care. 

One day in the future, I will care again.  One day, I'll be able to walk on the treadmill for more than 10 minutes at a time and stay up at night later than 8:30.  I'll be able to look at myself in the mirror and think, 'maybe you're not that hideous, after all.'  I will stop forgetting my name badge in the morning and having to turn around and get it, making me late for a conference call that I don't care about.

Some days, I think I'm fine until realizing I've spent the whole day feeling anxious.  I'm afraid of losing someone else that I love or of dropping dead myself because, hey, I read the obituaries and lots of 54-year old women are dropping dead.  Or getting fired because everyone figures out that I can't remember my name badge.  Then they feel sorry for me just like I feel sorry for myself. 

And I miss Dad so very much. 

Perfume is my relief.  I pile it on constantly, layering one on top of the other until I get it right.  Or until I stop piling.  For the first time, I have a stash of decants and samples at work, and sometimes - like today - I remember it when I am exhausted and just cannot fake it for another minute.  As soon as the aroma meets my nose, I can relax, give my sadness a rest and catch a whiff of the good life that I know is coming.  That, I care about.

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