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.
Eleven hours after leaving my hotel in Naples, I arrived home hungry and slightly nauseous after a bumpy landing. My butt was sore from sitting too long and I felt annoyed by all aspects of flying. Waiting, standing in line, loading the plane like cattle and managing claustrophobia with far too many humans in one place. Could they jam a few more seats in there? With all the advances we have made in technology, our current method of flying people around the world feels more and more antiquated. Or maybe I'm just cranky. Probably that.
One of the hardest things about traveling is compromising my food routine. I wouldn't call myself a food snob (onion rings and a Cobb salad make me happy on the road), but I do want what I want, when I want it. 'Food brat' is more accurate. In Naples, we went to nice restaurants at night, which was mildly satisfying, but the food/drink pacing was all off. On the first night, for example, they took my drink order shortly after we were seated. Twenty minutes later, my Chardonnay arrived. Twenty minutes after that, they took my food order. Much later, my wine was almost gone. Then came my dinner. I asked for another glass of wine at the same time, because I knew my first glass would be gone in two more sips. I ate painfully slow, making conversation and trying to love my duck gnocchi as I waited for my wine (they didn't have onion rings). When I was nearly done with my meal, and others were already on dessert, my second glass of wine finally arrived. By then I was pouting and didn't want it anymore, so I left half a glass in protest.
Yup, definitely cranky. And lame.
Fortunately, B-man understands my love affair with food, and walking into the house after a long trip home was a visual and aromatic delight. Waiting for me was grilled salmon, tilapia and shrimp along with spaghetti and my favorite spicy sauce. Plus crusty bread with olive oil dip, steamed broccoli and roasted cabbage that was crispy on the edges and tender in the middle.
And wine whenever I wanted. Now that's what I call fine dining.
Tonight, I arrived in Naples, Florida to attend a meeting that includes a small, exclusive group of industry leaders that do the same thing I do. We meet twice a year at posh, fun locations (the last two were Park City and Napa Valley) and spend an intense 36 hours together sharing information during the day and drinking good wine and eating elegant food in the evenings.
This is my first time in Naples, so of course, I tried to bring perfumes that might represent Florida, and I'd like to buy a perfume that captures Naples while I'm here. After a long day of travel, however, both me and Daphne are tired, so even though I've been out wandering the streets tonight, I can't get a clear feel of the essence of Naples. Tomorrow morning, I'm heading to the beach - an easy stroll from my hotel.
Since my SOP (B-man taught me this military term, Standard Operating Procedure, and I use it every chance I get because it makes me feel important) requires that I take multiple decants/samples and small size perfumes, here's what I have with me:
Diptique L'eau des Hesperides Diptique 34 blvd Saint Germain Al Rehab Bakhour J-Lo Miami Glow Lancôme La vie est belle Jessica Simpson I Fancy You Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau so Fresh Versace Crystal Noir Bvlgari Voile de Jasmin Salvatore Ferragamo Tuscan Soul
And, btw, I'm no longer banning perfume on the airplane, although I try to keep it respectful and pleasant. Besides, this is another perfect way I can use up my B&BW products, as none of them are overwhelming in the universal scope of perfume strength. This morning, I wore Twilight Woods lotion, Warm Vanilla Sugar body spray and Twisted Peppermint hand cream. It was perfect. Oh - plus Sweet Peony shiny hair spray. I smelled divine in this unsophisticated, 'I'm so friendly and approachable' sort of way. I consider this a gracious response to the BO/dirty hair/fart sillage that permeates airplane travel. We all do what we need to do, right?
Any tips or inside scoop for perfume shopping in Naples?
Inner Farm Girl and Inner Critic have joined forces. Together, they have decided that if I'm going to buy like a mad woman at the Bath and Body Works semi-annual sale, I better figure out how to use it. It's the only way they will unfold their arms and stop glaring. God, they just wear you down.
Somehow, I ended up with a full dresser drawer of lotions, body sprays, travel size stuff and mini perfumes. I've learned that different items are offered at different times through the 3-week sale, so one trip just isn't going to cut it. On my last visit, I walked through the door and the SA said, 'Wow, you're back again.' Damn right I'm back.
Plus, I change my mind about stuff. For example, I ended up with tons of Midnight Path products: body lotion, body spray, eau de toilette, body oil and body butter. Later, I figured out that MP was best to sleep in. In fact, it's amazing sleep lotion. Not so much a day lotion. So I had to take some of it back and swap for other stuff. Some of which I also took back and swapped for other stuff. Hey, is 100% satisfaction guaranteed or not? Says so right on the receipt.
After realizing that I would have to up my consumption to use the lotions (at least!) before the next sale in June, I began a new morning ritual that's actually working quite well. Here's how it goes:
First, I work out early in the morning (starting at 4:45 - 5:00). Wait, let me define 'work out.' This consists of walking leisurely on the treadmill for up to 20 minutes while I drink a large glass of my water/juice blend. Then, I do a few stretches if I don't change my mind, and top off this vigorous session with a downward dog that is downright embarrassing. You can imagine the sweat.
After coming upstairs, I lotion my whole body with - say - Forever Sunshine lotion. Then I top that with Pink Chiffon body oil, after which I apply Honey Sweetheart sparkling body spray. I put on my favorite sweats and settle in on big red for coffee. Imagine those gloves you wear to bed after greasing up your hands. Same concept, but full body. Each day, I change up these combos but in the end, I always smell amazing. B-man will make some comment, like 'you always smell amazing!' See, that's how I know. By the time I shower and get ready for work, my skin is soft and Daphne, my nose, is ready to take on the world.
Inner Farm Girl is feeling comfortable enough to go about her business, but Inner Critic is hanging back, squinting at me like he doesn't quite trust this plan. Dude, relax and unfold your arms.
Like all good perfumistas, I have spring perfumes, summer perfumes, fall perfumes and winter perfumes. Sometimes I arrange them in my cabinet to reflect this so that my choices will be narrowed as I'm running late for work. It's a foolproof way to ensure that I wear the appropriate perfume during the appropriate season for as long as it's appropriate.
That's such crap.
Take today, for example. It's cold, not bitter cold, but barely warm enough for me to leave without a coat this morning. (In my defense, I keep a coat in the trunk of my car, a blue anorak number that goes with absolutely nothing I wear and would look hideous should I get stranded on the side of the road.) Still, I get full credit for having the damn coat.
Anyway, as I'm showering and mentally sorting through my perfumes - the winter perfumes, of course - I can think of nothing at all that lights me up. Yes, it is a perfect White Aoud day, but snore. Mauboussin is certainly a contender because its smokiness would mirror the lung destroying substance we call air in our city. Or maybe Queen by Queen Latifah, one of my favorite cheap chocolate and patchouli loves. Suddenly, they all seem too...I don't know, wintry.
Then it hits me - I want coconut. Yup, tropical and spicy, warm and summery coconut. So I slather on coconut body butter from the Body Shop and reach into the back of my middle shelf for Versace's Crystal Noir. All day, I catch whiffs of my loveliness until I go to a meeting at 3:00 and get out-sillaged by a colleague wearing Angel. What the hell? To make matters worse, it is beautiful on her and I spend the whole meeting wishing I had obeyed the rules and worn something January-ish that could trump all competing sillage in the board room.
The quest for airspace supremacy lives on, seasonal or otherwise.