I Did My Best

This is a perfume blog, right? So today´s post is about how I worked my fanny off smelling I don´t know how many things over the last week and I cannot find any fricking thing to blog on. (I actually went through and deleted five frustration-related obscenities in this part of the post; feel free to plug them in mentally.) I´m working on a post on the Yoshes, but it´s not ready yet. I´m working on some candy. I smell vial after vial and – nothing much happens. I can´t make something happen, even if it´s a great scent – I can´t rip the rose into bloom, you know? I think part of it is this weird 40-degree daily weather swing that makes everything seem wrong. Finally yesterday afternoon in a fit of desperation I grabbed something that´s been sitting there and said the hell with it, I´ll just blog on that. Only I can´t – because I hated it. I mean, it nauseated me, even the smell in the room made me sick. I had to go change my clothes because I´d gotten a little scent on it. But someone else blogged on it recently, and others really like it, and I feel uncomfortable blogging like that about something sent to me – a gift, in fact – that I hate, because I don´t want to hurt feelings, and who´ll ever send me anything again? What do you think about that? Should I just let it pass? If you sent me a sample of Parfumerie Generale Le Derriere du Pigeon, because you know I like skank, and I totally rag it, would you ever speak to me again?

Here, let´s test my theory. Elle generously sent me a sample of CdG Jaisalmer, along with some other goodies. I tried it on right away, looking forward to the riot of cinnamon and incense, and it went like this: YEEEESSSSSSSSSSssssssssssssscrruuubbbbber!! YECH. How can I do that to a fragrance? It´s criminal. It´s exactly that 0.00245 amount of Precisely The Wrong Cedar that turns Jaisalmer into the men´s locker room, smellwise, without the pleasant view. So, Elle … do I have to send the Yoshes back now? Are you going to send me a vial of Human Existence in an atomizer and thoughtfully label it “Spring Air EDC – apply generously”? Or can you make peace with the basic fact that I´m a cheerful idiot and we can still be fragrant friends?

I haven´t been totally worthless. I pinned on my badge, strapped on my sidearms, and found hausvonstone´s particular bottle of Bal a Versailles on eBay (she described it longingly and detail in her comment on a post awhile back) and sent her a sample. It turns out to be exactly the smell she remembered. In the meantime she´d bought a newer bottle, which, as she says, “smells like ASSSSSSS. I mean it is the skankiest thing I have ever allowed in my house. I had to wash it off my hand within 20 minutes today as I was trying to quickly compare them. Maybe it turned? Maybe they reformatted it??? I was thinking of sending it to you at some point since it’s the kind of thing I can’t allow in my house. And, remember, Musc Ravageur smells like creamsicle on me. And CB Musk is also quite pleasant. Weirdness abounds.” Guess what? We´re going to swap bottles.

I´ve been wallowing for three days in Christian Dior Jules. When my atomizer´s empty I´m going to cry, because I want some more of exactly the same juice Lee sent me. That´s the heartbreak of trying to recapture a smell you´ve fallen in love with, as hausvonstone´s experience demonstrates. I don´t want a different bottle; what if the scent is different, too? Has that ever happened to you when you´re hunting something down? Anyway, I did buy a bottle online from Retailer X (with a not-so-good rep on MUA). If I ever get the bottle, I´ll let you know.

Finally, I´d like to say thanks for the many, many book recommendations you all made last week. I was stunned. Seriously, who knew we had all these smart readers? I should have guessed; I think there´s a lot of overlap between perfume addiction and reading (no, don´t ask me why. I don´t know why.) Anyway, my plan is to type up that list in some sort of alphabetical order and post it, preferably as a permanent link on the left. I´ll let you know. In the meantime, I´m very much enjoying Temple Grandin´s Animals in Translation. She talks from the point of view of a high-functioning autistic person about all sorts of animal behaviors (particularly dogs and farm animals), and it´s a fascinating read. My perfume quests merged with the booklist and I have two gems to add in the Kicking and Screaming category: two books I was forced to read, at gunpoint, for a book club, knowing I´d hate them. I objected strenuously and lost. Turns out I was wrong. Here they are:

Jon Krakauer´s Into The Wild, a true-life tale of one callow, dreamy, unhappy youth who left behind his life of privilege and went to find himself in the Alaskan woods, discarding his map along the way so he could get back to the real gritty solitude he was searching for (SPOILER ALERT!) and ended up starving to death in his camp in the wilderness. My one-word summation going in: dummass. Reading the book, however, I found myself completely drawn into the story, and wound up being deeply moved and empathetic in spite of myself.

Dave Eggers´ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Come on – doesn´t that title make you a little queasy? But no. A beautifully written story of Eggers´ decision (with his brother and sister) to raise their much-younger brother after their parents´ untimely death. The writing style that seemed much too clever and self-aware going in, with all sorts of gimmicky devices, just tore me up. His newest book, What Is the What, the semi-biographical as-told-to story of one of Sudan´s lost boys, is even more powerful. This guy can write.

So: any stories you´d like to share of The Fragrance You Loved And Lost (and maybe re-found?) Or books you started against your better judgment that turned out to be excellent?

PS An early report in on car scenting suggests that the Soap Solution (leaving a bar of scented soap in your car) works great, according to commenter tmp00 who just tried it with a soap freebie he had lying around. I´m planning on swinging by our local soap store today or tomorrow for some of my favorite Pacifica soaps to give it a whirl.

PPS Straight from the horse’s mouth: that hot bod on the Tauer Reverie bottle? Is Andy. Heh heh. Andy … hon, thanks for the reverie.

  • Tommasina says:

    Not sure where I should stick this comment – esp. as I’m so late – but basically:

    ACK -had forgotten about Jules but am now (re-) lemming it;

    and

    Temple Grandin rocks. Yeah.

    Going to google Jules now. You know it’s French slang for “boyfriend”, right? (OK, maybe someone else already posted that. Sorry.)

    • March says:

      I didn’t know that, until another commenter stuck it in there.

      1stperfume has a particular bottle marked down from $250 to $78. They’re sort of a mixed bag, service-wise, and I would rather not order from them. But I got my bottle quickly and am very pleased.

  • Cheezwiz says:

    March, if you manage to find the Wallace book, don’t be put off by the reams of footnotes in his essays. If you make the effort you’ll find they actually contain some of the funniest material in the book!

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Glass Castle – although it is a memoir, it’s simple and lovely and it reads like literary fiction.

  • Cheezwiz says:

    Greetings Perfumistas!

    Miss March, I’m personally amazed that you and Patty & Co. are able to produce new entries every day, so don’t feel bad if you’re feeling uninspired today.

    I also loved everyone’s book recommendations. I second the recommendation for Christopher Moore’s books – I think Lamb is the only one that actually deals with religion (and does so in a humorous and tender way). His writing is extremely warped and quirky.

    The latest thing I’ve read lately that blew me away was “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls, which is a memoir of her childhood growing up with artistic, erratic and often bizarre parents. She wound up being a successful columnist in New York, but despite her & her siblings best efforts, her parents became homeless street people. It’s absolutely mesmerizing and I couldn’t put it down.

    Some books to make everyone smile:

    Anything by David Sedaris – hilarious memoirs of his wacky family.

    Anything by Bill Bryson – funniest travel writer alive!

    David Foster Wallace – If you can manage to get through Dave Eggers I recommend giving “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” a try. Very densely written essays on misadventures on Carnival Cruise Lines, trips to the Illinois State Fair etc. Comes with copius footnotes, but worth it all for the laughs.

    Hey, if you can’t sniff, why not read?

    • pitbull friend says:

      Wow, Cheezwiz. I will be coming to you in the future for book recommendations — we have a lot in common. I too found “Glass Castle” to be one of the most incredible things I’ve ever read. Her lack of bitterness over the many difficulties & deprivations of her childhood should be an inspiration to us all. Sedaris initially turned me off with “Santaland Diaries,” which felt unrelentingly bleak to me, but I’m glad that people kept recommending him to me because his other stuff is much more to my taste. Agree on your others as well. Don’t know whether you’re my perfume twin, but you may be my reading twin!
      –Ellen

      • Shannon Blakeman says:

        Ellen, Sedaris is definitely not to everyone’s taste, but my humour leans towards the dark and slightly twisted. (I actually loved the Santaland Diaries!). Sharing books and perfumes with others is always fun! I will have to keep an eye on your scent preferences!
        P.S. give your pitbull pals smooches from me!:d

    • March says:

      Well, we have similar tastes — I think Sedaris is hilarious, although not everyone does — I have a couple friends who actively loathe his writing (and maybe him too.) Humor is a tricky thing. I liked a couple of Bryson books but was irritated (I can’t even remember why now!) by one of his more recent travel books. The Wallace book actually sounds like precisely the sort of thing I’d enjoy.

      I remember reading about the Glass Castle. It sounded fabulous, I’ll check it out.

  • Amarie says:

    Whatever you write is always great to read and yes what makes it great is your humour and your individual take. Maybe Jules just so filled up your enjoyment quotiont you had no room left (momentarily thank goodness) to be bothered with any other olfactory experience.:-?
    In saying that I completely agree with you on Jaisalmer, and yet I love the others in the incense series.There is definately something ‘precisely wrong’ for my chemistry in it so it is nice to know that you felt that way when so many people love it.(:|

    • March says:

      Amarie — thanks for the kind words. I swear we’ll have a real post on Monday! It’s almost finished! But it’s nice to know you had fun reading anyway … it’s also nice to know you share my feelings about the Jaisalmer. I wasthisclose to buying it unsniffed — the only reason I hadn’t is I have a pretty bad track record with unsniffed purchases. Glad I sampled it first — of course, it probably would have been on here as a giveaway, so somebody out there would have been happy. /:)

  • Patty says:

    I bailed on Eggers halfway through. Not sure why, I just got, um… bored? Too much self-indulgence for me. I don’t mind quirky writing, and maybe I should have stuck with it, but I’ve been know to set down books when I’m at the last 20 pages because I just couldn’t bring myself to care how it ends. Sad… and weird.

    Vancouver is beautiful!!!

    • March says:

      I have a friend who describes writing like that as “masturbatory,” which I find hilarious.

      I’m such a l-) I have never been to Vancouver.

  • Maria B. says:

    March, you can’t always feel moved to write something on a schedule. You did great. It’s more the Posse members’ charm and humor that some of us tune in for.

    As far as I’m concerned, if I ever send you a sample and you hate it, I’ll be fine with it. You are not blessed with skin like mine. ūüôā For example, I was reading some old Posse postings recently and ran across your description of Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe as “the devil’s armpit.” I know Patty hates it too. Marina loves it. On me Ambre Russe is a delightful, comforting rich amber concoction with no armpit factor whatsoever and has gone on my full-bottle wish list.

    So you could very safely describe a fragrance as “On me The Different Company’s Etang Boueux smells like bird poop wrapped in pond scum” without offending those who are enthralled with its scent of childhood days at the swimming hole. :d

    • March says:

      Actually, I’m pretty sure that was “Rasputin’s armpit.” Marina hasn’t quite forgiven me for that. Also for describing her beloved Marina de Bourbon as “rubber feet dipped in amber.”

      Hey, you can’t find those descriptions just anywhere online, no sirreee!/:)

      BTW I did a total reversal on Ambre Russe — yum. Patty still thinks it’s hell, though.

  • Christen says:

    I’ve been surreptitously reading the blog for weeks now, but have yet to post. However, as you’ve been providing me with a daily guilty pleasure, I felt compelled to post and share another guilty pleasure of mine: McSweeney’s Lists.

    It’s a fun giggle-du-jour, and has been the bigger reason why I’ve kept the Eggers book on my shelf. (I suppose I must give ‘A Heartbreaking Work…’ another go.)

    You might appreciate Sarah Vowell’s book, ‘Assasination Vacation.’ When I read it, I told my husband, “Hey, if you think this whole perfume obession is weird, just be grateful I’m not fascinated by assasinated US Presidents.” It’s a fun read…

    • March says:

      Hey, thanks for de-lurking!!! I know people are on here … reading … and it’s always nice when they decloak and comment.

      Okay. Gonna go check out that Mcsweeneys. Thanks for the book recommendation!

      PS I have several friends who lurk on here and are now furiously buying samples and sniffing them together. Their husbands are baffled — like they joined a cult.

    • pitbull friend says:

      Christen: Thanks for de-lurking. All of us can use more guilty pleasures!

      Teri: That sounds so interesting. Will have to look at the Moore books — not a practicing anything, but I frankly have a hard time with some of the things people say God wants them to do. So this should be interesting.

      March: Thank goodness this is a participatory format, eh? :d
      –Ellen

  • Robin says:

    I don’t think you ought to send fragrances if the recipient is honor-bound to like them, LOL — really, now I’m dying to know what the offending scent was!

    • March says:

      Robin — what the heck, I’ll probably just blog on it anyway. Actually it was from a retailer. I can talk about how nice the packaging was…;)

  • tmp00 says:

    I wouldn’t feel bad about not liking a scent that someone else loves. Skin chemistry is a wonderful thing, that which is divine on you might absolutely PONG on me. Besides, sometimes it’s fun to read a well-done diss (like Marina’s take on the puddy tats or yours on Blue Sugar), especially when it’s well deserved.

    I tried Blue Sugar. Oy. 8-x

    • March says:

      Oh, come on!!!! You can’t just leave me hanging like that!!!!:o

      DESCRIBE IT for me. Was it horrifying? Did you want to cut your arm off? Did your nosehairs get that singed feeling?

      • tmp00 says:

        Marina will be posting my impressions next week I believe.

        Let’s just say it isn’t hearts and flowers.:d

        Let’s also say that stuff simply does not wash off. :((

        • March says:

          Oh, goody!! Can’t wait to read it!

          You know, M’s going to do her feedback on whether the Niki I sent her was “her.” So I may be getting blasted out of the water any day now…:-“

          • tmp00 says:

            Oh, I’m sure you won’t get blasted. She might not care for it, but it’s not Blue Sugar. If there is a perfume hell, it will smell of that.

  • Teri says:

    I definitely have a books-I-did-a-180-on story for you. A work buddy with similar reading tastes recommended the books of Christopher Moore to me, most especially Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. He told me that if I objected to irreverent books about Christianity I might actually find this offensive, but if I were broad-minded, I’d enjoy the humor. As a practicing Catholic, I approached this book with considerable trepidation, but quickly found that it has a far larger purpose than to poke fun at Christianity. Although couched in humorous form, this book in fact celebrates the humanity of Christ. It speaks volumes to who we are as a country and to who we are as Christians. I wound up loving this book and have since read everything I could find by Moore.

    • March says:

      Teri — that actually sounds really interesting. I like your description of the book a lot. I’m always up for religious books with a new approach, and slightly irreverent sounds like a good fit.;)

  • Jennifer says:

    And one last thing, Egger’s totally ties into Yosh, her Pirate fragrances were created for a store to help fund the youth writing center that Egger’s is involved in.

    • March says:

      Okay, how weird a confluence is that? I didn’t know that. The stuff about Yosh online is pretty groovy, and I’m just snotty enough that it makes me roll my eyes a bit.8-|

  • Jennifer says:

    March, if you like Egger’s work, I highly suggest you go find some McSweeney’s stuff (independent publishing group that Egger’s helped create).

  • Ina says:

    March, I can so relate on not knowing what to blog about. It’s so nonsensical when you see literally piles and piles of samples on your dresser, smell 5-10 perfumes a day, on average, and have an absolutely empty mind. Makes me want to cry sometimes. :(( I just blame it on my cycle. Ha!

    • March says:

      Ina — yes, I know — you too!!! It was the most frustrating thing. I bet I could knock 20 samps off the floor from where I’m standing, and I just couldn’t make anything happen between my head, my nose and my heart.:-?

  • sybil says:

    Hmmmm…I think you should give yourself a break. Scent associations are personal, and chemistry is strange sometimes. Don’t most reasonable people chalk it up to “one of those things” and move on? It’s not like you threw up the cookies from my sainted grandmother’s recipe. Or maybe it is, and I’m such a novice I don’t know better….

    • March says:

      S — point well taken. I tried to think about it from someone else’s perspective — if I sent something I loved to Patty, and she hated it, so what?! But somehow thinking about doing that… okay, I do promise to blog correctly on Monday.<:-p

      • sybil says:

        I hope I didn’t sound like a snark…It just seems that of all the stuff I smell, it winds up in a big bell curve. To find something that makes me swoon, I have to go through big heaps of stuff that leave me quite warm to very, very cold. I get a real scrubber with about the same frequency I get something awesome. I can’t tell you how many classic fragrances (Habanita, anyone?) have made me choke, and how many (not as many as I would like!) weird little scents have charmed me, even briefly. So, I can’t imagine the difficulty of actually having to come up with something fun and positive every day. Trashing, I could do all week! I always enjoy this blog, no matter what you all write about. (and PS,I loved the Theorema, which Vetiver (the dear son) characterized as “really gross, like powder that makes my nose itch.”)

  • pitbull friend says:

    Hey, y’all: I’m back from vac in southern Mexico (couldn’t afford Florida!). While I was there, I read The Know-it-All (sorry no italics here) by A.J. Jacobs. He read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica because of his own incredible self-absorbed jerkiness and competitiveness with his accomplished father. I wouldn’t want to spend 5 minutes with him, but was forced to put that aside because the book was, in places, howlingly funny & quite interesting. I tried to read the Eggers book a while back, couldn’t get past the author’s jerkiness, etc. But now that I’ve warmed up my “hate the sinner, love the deed” muscles on such a book, I should give it another try!

    March, I don’t see why anyone would be offended at you not liking their fave scent. Everyone on here goes out of their way to point out that our noses differ, our associations differ, & our body chemistries differ. “This doesn’t work for me,” is not at all the same thing as “You’re an idiot for liking this,” no?

    Personally, I feel relieved lately when I don’t like a sample. I’m have at least 75 samples which I haven’t completely tested (to me, that’s 2-3 wearings plus taking notes), and it’s a pleasure to narrow the field of my perfume lust.

    Patty, saw the “Let Us Spray” logo. GORGEOUS! Thanks for getting that done!
    –Ellen

    • March says:

      Hey, welcome back!!!! That’s funny about the Know-it All book. He does sound like a total jerk.

      I need to find that sweet spot that’s a little gentler than “this juice SUCKS.” I will admit it’s fun to rag on them occasionally, but not if someone gave it to me./:)

    • Maria B. says:

      Ellen, welcome back! I’m sorry you couldn’t make it to Florida. I don’t see how you could have had vegan meals in southern Mexico though, unless they consisted entirely of fruit. ūüėē

  • Judith says:

    Well, if it’s any comfort, Jaisalmer doesn’t work on me either (the only one of the CdG Incense series that doesn’t). In my case, it’s not the cedar (I don’t think–I love Kyoto), but the cinnamon and other spices: they are just too much, too busy, and, well, not good on me.

    I was going to ask you where you were getting your Jules, but I’m pretty sure I know which e-tailer you are talking about, and I would rather not buy from them, even if they come through. And I hope they do for you. . . . . .

    • March says:

      Okay, it’s 1stPerfume — I don’t know why I’m acting all Agent X about it. They had one bottle that was a good deal, however nothing’s a good deal unless you get the bottle…:-” I’m feeling lucky. As Elle said (she bought from the same outfit) it’s our form of skydiving!;)

      • Maria B. says:

        Oh, I ordered with 1stperfume once. They had the extrait of Fendi Theorema. My bottle was shipped securely and promptly. I didn’t know they had a bad record.

        • March says:

          Funny you wrote that … I went back and looked, couldn’t find the record, I think MY bottle of Theorema came from them too. So here’s hoping all is well.

  • Marina says:

    I know just what you mean, March. And speaking of Yoshes…I am hesitant to blog about them, because I don’t have anything remotely nice to say, and two perfume-maniacs, whom I love, and who most probably sent them to me, love them.

    Jules, on the other hand, rocks my world. :d

    • March says:

      Hah! I knew it! You feel my pain … this was the first time I came up to my day with *nothing* and I had REALLY tried. :-w It was weird. But I know it’s happened to you. All those endless things to choose from, and no bells ringing.

      Jules. I had no idea. I am praying the bottle I ordered from the crappy e-tailer actually arrives.

    • Gail S says:

      Hmm…I don’t know exactly what your feelings are about the Yoshes but I have to agree about not liking them. I’ve sampled all but the most recent one and they all smell sort of pretty, but kind of shallow. On every one, I keep thinking “is that it?”. There’s just no depth, no development, no….nothing? I wouldn’t be inspired to blog about them either :d

      • March says:

        I’m still deciding. One unexpected problem I’m having with them is my skin just eats them up. Weird.

        • Louise says:

          March-

          You with skin-eating skin???Haha!

          Actually, I do find that my now-you-smell-it-now-you-don’t malady runs through brands-and Yosh is one. Others are Creed, CdG, Ava Luxe, Sonoma Scents, even Caron EDTs.

          Glad you’re liking the Grandin book.

  • Elle says:

    LMAO. My own personal first rule as a perfumista is that people I love do not have to *remotely* like scents I love – any of them. If that weren’t the case, I’d be divorced and friendless since, more often than not, they don’t. And I believe in sharing scents just so people can experiment w/ different things to have a point of reference – not because I think they’ll love them. Personally, I’m often almost happier w/ a bag of samples I hate, but got the chance to test, than a bottle I love. Besides, you made me laugh and that always trumps everything (DH can attest to that).
    Oh, and I’ve ordered from that retailer before and, knocking on multiple types of wood, have actually had success and always received my orders. I do know many others who haven’t, but, since I don’t skydive or go heli-skiing, this is my way of living dangerously.
    And, Andy…who knew??? A whole new appreciation. ūüôā

    • March says:

      Thank goodness. You, BTW, are not the owner of the scent I hated. Way more than Jaisalmer. Still contemplating that one.

      Yay!!! Do you think we might actually get our bottles?!? I decided not to put it up on the blog so nobody could hate me later… if I get a bottle, I will. I’ll let you know if mine shows up; please do the same!

      I promise there will be an *actual* perfume post on Monday.

  • Lee says:

    Andy IS a smutmuffin!:d

    I’m also scent jaded. Sorry about the Jules thing – fingers crossed for you on the bottle front.

    I’ve avoided Dave Eggers. I know of him through a best friend out west and, well, a lot of anecdotal stuff put me off. But I should get over that really.

    Actually, what I should be doing is my own writing, rather than reading all these other people who are younger, godammit, than me.

    • March says:

      Well, I totally owe you for the Jules. ūüė°

      Eggers — I know nothing about him. Zip. Maybe he’s a complete tool, but he’s a good writer. The part I never understood (as a mother) reading about his family was: where were the other people? Aunts/uncles/cousins? It seemed like he and his sibs made their decisions in a vacuum, although maybe this is addressed in the book/on a blog somewhere and I missed it.

      One of these days you’ll get inspired to write your magnum opus.

    • Maria B. says:

      Hello, Lee. Yes, write your own stuff (when you’re done with the house thing) and don’t read young writers. It will torment you. Think of Penelope Fitzgerald. She wsa well into middle age (her fifties?) when she published her first novel, “The Golden Child.” That’s who I look to for encouragement.

      • March says:

        Maria — my guess is there’s probably a list of writers somewhere online who didn’t even get started until much later in life…:)>-