Saturday, April 24, 2010

Unscented Grief

Four days in a row without wearing perfume.  Not like me at all.

I spent Sunday through Thursday in Dallas, attending yet another conference.  At the last minute, trying to pack light, I decided to leave perfume altogether thinking I might have time to do some reconnaissance once I got there.  Never happened.

What I didn't see coming, having felt quite together lately, was how sad I would be in Dallas.  Usually, I love traveling alone, but this time, I was just lonely; for B-man, for my son and for our goofy pets. 

Most of all, I was lonely for my mother.  Two months out, the reality - and permanence - of her death is just beginning to sink in.  

Our family went through a traumatic time with Mom's surgery and attempted recovery over a six month period. We were all so full of optimism and hope at the front end.  As it turned out, we were tested beyond what we thought we could endure and circumstances became more difficult than any of us imagined.  Thank god we made it through.  

All of us except Mom.  This hits me sometimes as if I have just been informed of her death.  Her absence fills every space, and yet, she is nowhere.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Shopping for Inspiration

Perfume is the only thing I really enjoy shopping for.  Well, that and cheese. 

Stumbling upon Tea for Two several years ago, on a black and rainy day in Philadelphia, remains one of my favorite shopping memories.  Whenever perfume is involved, I feel inspired and shed the frugal, farm girl mindset that informs most other purchases.
Aside from perfume, however, shopping is a chore.  For me, the smallest decisions are the most difficult  (choosing the right mayonnaise is a 10-minute process, which is one reason B-man does the grocery shopping).  Mostly, I just avoid shopping altogether as I find the activity itself tedious and shallow. 

Yes, I am aware that I spend great chunks of time obsessing about perfume. 

Clothing is the worst.  Those rare times I am in the mood to shop for clothes, I beg B-man to go with me.  Otherwise, I get frustrated and come home because I can't make a decision.  Or, I buy stuff, then get home and it's like, what the hell was I thinking?  Back it goes. 

In spite of all that, I do occasionally end up with things I actually want.  Many are hanging in my closet with the tags still attached.  These items I will save for the perfect occasion because I love them so much.  In the meantime, I hate my other clothes and have nothing at all to wear.  Of course, I have to explain the whole "save it for a perfect day" thing to B-man each time he suggests that I might consider wearing one of the new items in my closet.  He so doesn't get it.

This week, however, I actually shopped for a dress all by myself.  How many people do you know that can go into a favorite store (I have two), try on 10 dresses, and be out the door in just over 30 minutes?   And, I bought one!  I didn't dither over whether or not it I should buy it, nor did I cheap out, which I almost always do. 

It just happened to be on sale. 

And I'm wearing it.  Tonight.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Men Who Smell

I work in a pediatric hospital where strong perfume is discouraged, which is understandable.  Still, since I don't do direct patient care, I wear perfume every day while using a light hand in application.

Mostly.  Bite me.

To date, there is only one man I've encountered in my organization who wears a scent.  In a sea of similarly groomed men, he stands out.

To men everywhere:  Smelling good matters!  It's that finishing touch to your morning routine, the thing that sets you apart from the boring masses. 

B-man, good sport that he is, has been forced into a life of perfume obsession for as long as we both shall live.  This actually works for his personality because he pays close attention to details (polished shoes, quality fabrics, perfectly knotted ties).  Plus, he is open minded enough to experiment with perfume whether it is marketed as male, female or unisex (idiotic labels, if you ask me). For instance, the jury is out on which one of us smells best in Yatagan.

Or Ambre Sultan.

Manly smells are tricky, though, and anyone can blow it by making a thoughtless choice.  I was in Las Vegas last week, attending a conference, and decided to join a friend for breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  I'm eating and chatting, having a perfectly lovely time, when a man sits down at the table next to us and I am assaulted by a cheap I'm up for a booty call at 8AM scent that stops me in mid-bite. Dude, really.

Nevertheless, if done right - sensitive to the occasion, setting, weather and wardrobe - few things are more pleasant than a man who smells really good.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Perfume Love Revealed

My Kelly Caleche is gone.

I used up the whole bottle.

Ran out.

As a perfume collector, one of the first things you make peace with is the fact that you will accumulate more perfume than you can possibly use in your lifetime. Because of this, going through an entire bottle of anything is unusual, but to realize you have used up a bottle of something that wouldn't automatically make your top five list is downright shocking.  Whether or not you have declared it before, there is no greater proof of smellie love than staring down an empty bottle.  

Kelly Caleche edt is a regular go-to choice for several reasons.  It's crowd friendly with moderate sillage and a ladylike demeanor, at least in the rosy-fruity top notes.  Moving through the heart notes, it maintains just enough freshness to carry the dirtier, iris-leather base notes (we thought she was a lady, but now we're not so sure...).  Finally, it is nichesque - I just made that up - and I haven't smelled it on anyone else in my world. 

Last fall, I sampled the later released Kelly Caleche edp, thinking I might like it more than the edt.  Nope. It's more girly-girl and fruity, with less of a 1950's flair. No leather at all to my nose.

Kelly Caleche edt is all about the leather.  And, apparently, I love it.  After all, the bottle's empty.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Layering Triumph

After announcing that I am the world's worst at layering perfume, I am pleased to present my second tested-on-skin-multiple-times layering success:

Tea Rose/Sur le Nil

Our local TJ Maxx has been carrying Tea Rose for several weeks, but it wasn't until I heard it described by Katie Puckrik - love her!- that I decided to make it part of my collection.

As it turns out, Tea Rose top notes are fantastic, but it dries down to something more...mundane.  The grapefruit opening of Sur le Nil provides just the right pop to the dewy rose, and SLN's development also rescues the Tea Rose base notes with a touch of woods and incense. 

Alone, they are both pleasant enough. Together, they smell like Easter Day.

The First Dream

Early this morning, I dreamed of my mother for the first time since she died in February.  To be honest, I expected her to visit others first according to the level of their grief or the intimacy of the relationship.  That seems appropriate, so this experience leaves me feeling both honored and a bit puzzled. 

In the dream, my dad and I are sitting on the top row of wooden bleachers located in a grassy, forest-like area.  No one else is there. We are trying to make a decision about something, the details of which are gone now. 

As we sit, silent in our thoughts, I see a woman at the bottom of the bleachers, walking from left to right.  She is dressed in light clothing and she moves very smoothly. Her appearance is completely out of context and, for a second, I don't know who it is.  Then it hits me, "oh, my god, it's Mom!"  

She stops and turns toward Dad and me, without looking directly at us, and says, "I just wanted to say hi to you guys and I'll be back in the morning."  It is her, 15 years ago, before her body began to falter.  Even though she wore glasses from the time she was a little girl, she is not wearing them in my dream.  She is beautiful as ever and somehow transformed.  But every bit my mother.

I wake up suddenly with a roller coaster whoosh buzzing throughout my entire body.  

It's all I can do to wait until 7:00 before I call Dad just to tell him that I saw her, hoping to provide some comfort in the desolation of his grief.  While this dream is a precious gift, I wonder why she visited me instead of him when he would give anything for a sign that she still exists?  And what does "I'll be back in the morning" mean?  I don't know, but I will wait - and hope - for an early morning call from my dad.

Friday, April 2, 2010

In Search of the Perfect Aoud

For months I have been searching for the perfect Aoud perfume.  Actually, I started by searching for the perfect rose - a dark, dirty rose - which somehow led me to Montale's aoud line. Then I got sidetracked.  Montale roses aren't exactly dirty, but they are different and dark-ish. The fact that they haven't exactly fit the bill has me a bit cranky.

For weeks - months! - I've gone back and forth between White Aoud, Aoud Queen Roses and Black Aoud until I am worn out. I loved White Aoud when I first tried it, but now it's just Band-Aids and vanilla.  Aoud Queen Roses is hovering somewhere between "oh, that's better than White or Black" and "Yeah... no."  Hated Black Aoud at first spray (too Lysol/Pinesol/Pledge), but that turned out to be the best of the lot.

Here's the thing: even when I like them in the beginning, I just get tired of them by day's end.  They last, but they seem a little needy, if you know what I mean, all medicinal and in-your-face.  Black Aoud gets a pass because it's more "clean" and less annoying.  But only slightly.

Still searching for the perfect, grimy rose.


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