Stress and how to survive it

My body’s been telling me I’m stressed for oh, I don’t know, the past two years or so. I’m not a good listener. Pneumonia and pleurisy – sorry, what was that? Repeated chest infections – did someone say something? Alopecia in my beard zone – wha? whe? when? Mono followed by a post-viral tail that doesn’t seem to have an end – what the HELL are you going on about?

I’m not listing these things to get you to feel sorry for me (that’s just an added bonus) but to make a simple point – sometimes, even when part of us is shouting loudly, we can’t tune into what the message is until it sends it in a familiar code. And that code, for me, is lists.

I know, as soon as I start producing ‘to do’ lists, something’s going wrong with me. You see, I’m not really a lister. I’m more of a ‘hold it in your head’ type, at least with the dreary stuff. Call me mister Spontaneity, or call me mister Irritating, depending on your modus operandi. I can list perfumes, plants, seeds quite happily – that’s pleasure listing. But lists based on the dreary, the everyday, the quotidian stuff of life – generally, I’d rather not. And if I do, I’m not acting to type; I’m responding to a version of myself that only appears when I’m not coping. And sometimes, we all don’t cope as well as we could.

There’s a longer story to all this, but hell I’M STRESSED. YOU EXPECT ME TO FREAKING WRITE ABOT IT IN DETAIL NOW? YOU’VE GOT ANOTHER THINK COMING! I’ll shift to perfume instead.

One scent that any avid reader of this blog’ll know I’ve been after for some time, that’s topped my pleasure list, is the Different Company’s Sel de Vétiver. I finally got round to buying a bottle. I love everything about it. Normally, I’m not one to opine about bottle design, but there’s a simple beauty to the heft and shape of this one – it’s too heavy in the hand for some, but I find its very squareness and weight comforting. It’s substantial to hold – you know you’ve got something of value (either that or a brilliant cudgel). And the screw cap is a beautiful touch – gets the industrial-cum-ziggurat look perfectly right. L’Artisan Parfumeur could learn a lesson or two – their new cap makes their bottles top-heavy and ungainly. The Different Company’s one is in perfect proportion to its parts.

But, even so, without something of worth in it, a bottle holds no meaning for me – I’m not a glass collector. Sel de Vétiver is scented perfection – at least for spring and summer. Vetiver, patchouli, cardamom, grapefruit are the dominant notes. Some of you I guess will hate this with real passion – there’s a touch of hydrogen peroxide to the top notes that could make you feel like you’re in a bad hair salon. But, to me, it’s beautiful. I love how the grapefruit and cardamom work together – all of that astringent quality of the grapefruit with none of the potential body odour badness, and a hint of spice turned way, way down. It’s a dry, slightly acidic beachside cocktail – a version of a Margarita at the best resort you’ve ever been to. It takes me away from that quotidian crap. Hell, it may even restore my health.

So, if I start listing today, I’m going to spray me some and travel away from house sale shenanigans, workday woes, health irritations and the thousand other bits of crap of which life is made, to the land of the sublime.

If you’d like a little dib-dab of this beauty to try (if you’ve been kuh-razy enough not to do so yet – it’s been out almost a year), let me know in the usual way. And the ‘Doris Day award’ (i.e. the perfume samples I reviewed last time round) goes to Theresa. Check your mail, hon!

Thanks to for the photo.

  • ahtx says:

    I have been thinking about you and your illnesses and your Sel de Vetiver for a day, now. I love Sel de Vetiver, too — it’s one of my only full bottles — a weak moment on E-bay, but one I don’t regret.
    The salt combined with the bracing vetiver is just the perfect thing for those of us who need our pick-me-ups to be a little complicated, and not too happy-happy fresh…

    You know, my body always breaks down when I’m just barely on the other side of stress. Adrenaline always fuels me through the true crisis, and then the second I’m out of the woods — BAM. Which is to say, maybe your body is forecasting clear skies ahead? Crossing my fingers for you, and hoping to hear the end of your tale of two houses (that was you, wasn’t it?) someday…

  • Amarie says:

    Dear Lee,
    Just hang in there coz it is only for a little longer and then there will be a new place to make a new garden in, and to make beautiful in a way only you can. %%-
    So you list? I empathise.Stress also makes me clean. What more can I say.It is certainly a good indicator that all is not well with the inner self when lists become compulsive- maybe reflecting the need to feel in control of life when it seems anything but.
    And yes please put me in the draw.

  • Lavanya says:

    Hang in there!!(and hope you feel much better soooon)

    would love to try TDC Sel de Vetiver so please enter me in the draw too..

  • Theresa says:

    I hope the stress/sickness(es) pass soon! Thanks very much for the doris day samples:-) And please enter me in this draw. Thanks.

  • Steve H says:


    What’s you opinion of TDC’s Rose?
    I’m currently in a rose-phase and would like another’s view.

    Thanks for the great review and please enter me into the drawing.

    • Lee says:

      Rose is, in my mind not very rose-like. It’s intensely animalic – the cumin and other dirty stuff leave a deep and abiding impression of sex scented skin with the meerest hint of BO. Whether that’s your bag or not depends on how you like to carry yourself. I’ve never made my mind up on this one.

    • Lee says:

      ..and you’re in the draw.:d

  • minette says:

    lee, i hope you find a way to release your stress more permanently. let me recommend acupuncture – it’s been helping me deal with stress the past couple of weeks (took me a while to listen, too).

    i totally agree with you about L’Artisan’s new bottle tops. on the bigger bottles they’re okay, but on the smaller ones they look silly. i love my bottle of TDC jasmin de nuit – it does feel good! (and the contents smell heavenly.)

    have not yet tried sel de vetiver, but would love to, so please enter me in the drawing. thanks!

  • minette says:

    lee, i hope you find a way to release your stress more permanently. let me recommend acupuncture – it’been helping me deal with stress the past couple of weeks (took me a while to listen, too).

    i totally agree with you about L’Artisan’s new bottle tops. on the bigger bottles they’re okay, but on the smaller ones they look silly. i love my bottle of TDC jasmin de nuit – it does feel good! (and the contents smell heavenly.)

    have not yet tried sel de vetiver, but would love to, so please enter me in the drawing. thanks!

    • Lee says:

      My osteopath gave me a whole load of acupuncture last week (including some electrical charge stuff to my left ear). I don’t know whether I believe in it, but that’s irrelevant: I’ll try anything to see if it works.

      You’re in the draw.

  • Louise says:

    Lee-Sel’s not for me-but glad you love it. Mostly-hug and best wishes for all those sick-making stresses to fall away. Your vision for the next life stage is lovely!

    • Lee says:

      I’m just getting impatient for vision to become reality. And antsy. And other synonyms…:-w

  • Thomas says:

    I too feel under a lot of stress. These past two weeks have been a let-up because I had major surgery and haven’t had to deal with work. Already dreading going back on Monday. With time to reflect, the problem is I care too much about what I do. If only I could learn to be oblivious.

    My scent addiction has helped to keep me sane. I tried a sample of the vetiver when it first came out. I really liked it! Then the family walked in and said it smelled like someone was using perm solution. A quick hug later and “uwwww” it’s you and I haven’t tried it since. If only I could learn not to care.

    • Lee says:

      Thomas: be well. I do a LOT of relaxation stuff – vital to my sanity.

      And as for what others think (hydrogen peroside – phooey!) Ignore it. Are you hurting em? No. So what if they think you should be in rollers!

  • Maria B. says:

    Lee, I’m so glad you bought yourself that bottle of Sel de Vetiver! You needed to show yourself you cared. @};- As you know, your body has been screaming at you that you’re giving it more stress than it can handle. Hang in there. Your Job from Hell is almost done. Your house is beautiful, and it will sell.

    I enjoy Sel de Vetiver a lot. It’s a great scent to wear to the aquarium and other maritime pursuits. In general, I love salt in fragrances and wonder why it wasn’t used much till recently. CB Mr. Hulot’s Holiday has salt too. Everyone knows about the salt in Eau de Merveilles, but, although it isn’t listed as a note for Un Jardin en Mediterranee, I smell it in the base. This salt won’t raise our blood pressure, so why resist?

    Many destressing vibes to you from someone who has had to admit to herself that she needs a daily to-do list. /:)

  • tmp00 says:


    Sorry to read about the health troubles. Those suck, and not in the entertaining way. But I am sure that you will be happily planting bulbs in the new place very soon.

    It would be too piggish to put myself in a drawing for a sample of this when it’s most likely sitting at the ScentBar a mile and a half from my hovel, yes? :@) Well, color me pork.

    • Lee says:

      Oink oink buddy – you’re in. The personal touch is always nicer than a sample from a store, methinks.

  • donanicola says:

    Sympathies for your bout(s) of ill health Lee! Hopefully, once the house sale has recovered right way round tits, you will start to feel loads better – hope so. I had the last two weeks off work and what bad luck, I came down with a vicious cold. I only felt better 10 days in when I was went to Harrods to check on Diorling and Diorama and bumped into Roja Dove. I left smelling divine and feeling totally uplifted! The power of scent. So I would love to be in the drawing for SdV. I have tried the Jasmine one – and loved it – you’re right those bottles are close to perfect.

    • Lee says:

      Aren’t they just lovely? Shame about your horrid cold – nothing worse than precious time off and an inability to do what you want with it…

      The Roja Dove sounds great!

      You’re in the draw.

  • Patty says:

    Oh, I hope you feel better soon, and that your house sale goes forward with a better buyer!!!

    Sel de Vetiver is perfection, and you are a wise, wise man that recognizes how utterly beautiful it is.

    My buyer has been a much better one. They’ve hung in there with even a couple of problematic, but fixable, problems on inspection, and I made allowances, and they gave some, and they have been perfect. I hope you get one of those!:*

    • Lee says:

      Fingers crossed for a buyer like yours…

      And as for the health thing, here’s hopin’ and prayin’.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Kisses to my Serb and Pootietangman !
    So sorry my boychiks are unwell.
    Sending you both scented kisses and hugatherapy.

    I put off sniffing this, but just did this w/e.
    I love it, but it is really fleeting, no ?
    For ze price, especialement…

    Love to be in the draw.

    Hope all have gorgeous Easter and Pesach.
    SO nice when they come together- as they should…

    • Lee says:

      And kisses to the birthday girl. So what if I’m a little early…

      And you’re in the draw.

      Oh, and for me, it’s a tenacious scent. I think you smell-swamped it in your Sniffathon of orgiastic ecstasy…

      • chayaruchama says:

        Dear oh dear oh dear !
        The mailman came…

        God bless you, precious.
        What a surprise !
        No man I’ve known has EVER been so extravagant…
        I feel TRULY loved.
        Thank you !

    • Dusan says:

      What better medicine do I need than a warm hug of Ma Earth 🙂 Kisses to sweetie… love you!

  • Marie-Helene says:


    I’m going to indulge in some pop-psycho, but I think something is bugging you at a deeper level than the need for a new haircut, although it might help temporarily relieve your symptoms:) You are changing houses, but it sounds like you might be in need of an even more radical change than that.

    Once I read an article about prisoners that explained that the ones that fell ill in prison, b/c they couldn’t stand their situation, were the ones that were ultimately able to make things turn around, while the ones that endured the whole thing, not feeling so great, but OK, just went on the same path and didn’t feel a need for change. I wonder in which category you are.

    • Lee says:


      You’re bang on the money and BIG changes are in the offing, but they’re dependent on a house sale and, to put it crudely, that went temporarily tits up on Monday. Still, where there’s life, there’s hope.

      Imagine me in our new home, dogs for company, writing, gardening, a little teensy bit of teaching here and there. And no-one but those I love to answer to…. That’s my future. Simple but perfect.

      • Marie-Helene says:

        It’s great that you have a clear idea of where you want to be. Hang in there then, be gentle to yourself, as you would be to others I’m sure.

        I wish you the best.

  • Style Spy says:

    I’d love to give this a sniff — cardamom & grapefruit are two things that make me very happy, in real life and in ‘fumes.

    List for Lee:
    1. Get more rest.
    2. Take your vitamins.
    3. Feel better soon.


    • Lee says:

      You’re in the draw. You should see how much I rest, check out my diet and look at my supplements. I hope they’re working – either that, or i’m producing very expensive urine.

  • Judith says:

    I love this scent. It’s perfect in warm weather, and I find it quite addictive (maybe it’s the salt):). It’s also a scent I have received repeated compliments on (and I very rarely get these) :). FEEL BETTER!!!!

  • Mary Beth says:

    I empathize with your bad health season, having had my own winter in hell. Wishes & prayers that things improve for you soon.

    I’m always on the lookout for ‘beach’ scents that don’t msell like coconut & Coppertone. Is it possible that this could be ‘the one’? Would love to be included in the sample draw.

    We will remember you in our prayers this week.

    • Lee says:

      It might be the one MB – you’re in the draw!

      I do hope you’re getting better!

  • Marina says:

    I hope you feel much better soon. I hope that everything that is bothering and worrying you disappears. Hugs.

    When I am really,really stressed…I start sewing :d

  • pitbull friend says:

    Lee, in this format I can see “mister Spontaneity” without the “mister Irritating” part. (Says the uncontrollable lister.) It’s lovely! You, Dusan, are also just about perfect!

    Will have to retry SdV, as I’m always looking for something that is really beachy without the fake ozone/marine notes. Speaking of which, what do you think of Profumi di Pantelleria’s Maestrale (my current love in the category)? Luckyscent’s description of it is priceless — I could think about the casually dressed “seadog/poet” man all day!:) Perfume porn of the best kind.

  • March says:

    This is one of those scents you and P love and I … don’t.

    Not gonna say any more.

    (runs away looking over her shoulder):-ss

    • Lee says:

      I know that’s the case, but I don’t know why… What the hell’s wrong with you?:-?

  • Elle says:

    Wow. Blue Roses. I’m truly sorry you’ve had so much to deal w/. I really hope you get your house of choice w/ no hassles – it’s about time you had a break.
    Everyone I like adores Sel de Vetiver. Something is clearly wrong w/ me, but it just doesn’t work on my skin. However, I have been known to change my mind radically on scents, so I will go find my sample this morning and try it again. And I do love those TDC bottles – as you said, great design and heft.

    • Lee says:

      Hell, Elle, it ain’t that bad. I’m loved, I’m reasonably well-off, I have great friends. Just my health has been below par for a while… Thanks for the roses, and let us know what you think of your respray.

      • Elle says:

        I’ve got it on now. Still not quite working for me, but I’m waiting for the dry down.
        I should have been clearer about the blue roses. 🙂 As usual, wrote that during my pre-caffeine fogged brain time. That’s what a character in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie mistakenly hears “pleurisy” as when it’s said to him. But actual blue roses would be lovely.

  • Anne says:

    Call me kuh-razy, lots of folks do. I had a sample when it first came out but gave it away before a proper test, so I would love a chance to experience a pairing of cardamom and grapefruit.
    As I age and my brain doesn’t hold the same number of working brain cells it used to, I too make lists. But as I write those lists I visualize freeing up space for learning and sensing new things.
    Dusan, I love your idea of making a list of life-improving changes. Mine will have to be written though, as I will certainly and conveniently forget otherwise.
    Lee and Dusan, my prayers will include you both, as I wish you health and restored well-being.


    • Dusan says:

      Anne, you’re a love, thank you! *sending vitamin-enhanced energy all around* 🙂
      I’d be truly happy to follow through at least the important items on the list – quitting smoking, (finally) finishing college and finding a proper job. Wish me luck! 😉
      Call me mushy, but has anyone seen the most adorable ad with the little girl and the baby llama on Animal Planet? Makes me go awww every single time – now that’s stress-relieving!

    • Lee says:

      Thanks Anne. You’re in the draw.

  • carlene says:

    Oh, please include me in your drawing! Lately I’ve been craving a grapefruity scent. Actually, I’ve been craving grapefruit, where you get your grapefruit and grapefruit scent All In One! But seriously, with vetiver, patchouli and cardamom? Sounds wonderful. And, did you know

    “In the presence of the smell of pink grapefruit, women appear to be six years younger than their real age,” says Alan B. Hirsch, neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago” (from somewhere on the internet)

    Thus, all men should wear a grapefruity scent!


    • Lee says:

      You’re included.

      Y’know, I did wonder why all the women around me have been looking particularly foxy recently…;)

  • Solander says:

    Oh I love Sel de Vetiver! I don’t like aquatics. I don’t like “fresh” scents (tea and some other green notes are ok, but not ozone/aquatics and most citrus). I don’t like “salty” scents (e g Eau des Merveilles, Luctor et Emergo…) But Sel de Vetiver is just beautiful. To me, it smells just like a lake or a brackish bay, a true scent of water on a summer’s day, but not quite ozeanic, not that salty and not with a lot of kelp adding that half-rotten, seafoody smell I’m not so fond of. It’s the sweetish scent of sunwarmed, sweet or brackish, water. Add to that wet skin drying in the sun, some driftwood and a hefty dose of green vegetation growing on the lakeside and voila, perfection.

  • Dusan says:

    Oh, I sympathize with you, my friend, having stringed half a dozen colds, sinusites (?) and flus in the last three or four months. And to top it all off, I’m now recovering from a painful case of shingles. Seems my immune system reacts to stress like I do to V&R’s Antidote – involuntary sickness. 😉
    Let’s just hope we both get better real soon. Please take better care of yourself!
    I’m not a lister either unless these lists are perfume-related (‘to try’, ‘to buy’) and I generally suck at organization. I pretend to have the mental capacity to keep it all up in this thick head of mine, but lately, I discover, corking the leakage has become a veritable feat. So what do I do? I make a mental list of life-improving changes. The first has been crossed out: yesterday I had my longish hair cropped to jarhead style. Small steps…
    Sel de Vetiver sure sounds lovely! 😀

    • Lee says:

      Nothing like a super-short haicut to make you feel spring-new. I might do the same.

    • Maria B. says:

      Dusan, my immune system is like yours: I get sick when too stressed. Take care of yourself. Quitting smoking will feel more stressful at first, but in the long run you’ll feel so much better.

      • Dusan says:

        Thanks for the advice, M! Although, I must admit to having a history of quitting and then relapsing. l-) The first time I gave up smokes was not as scary as the second (both times with healthy, fag-free three-year breaks), when I ate everything I could find in the house. The result – 20 pounds of fat that took months to get rid of :@) But I *did* feel much better afterwards.

        • pitbull friend says:

          Hey, Dusan: My sympathies. I quit about 19 months ago(I get a congratulations email from a quit program on the 14th of every month) and have gained about 30 lb, just when I am getting to the age where it is nearly impossible for women to lose weight!

          Every time I think about re-starting, I say to myself, “This is hell. I have xx months invested in this hell, and if I start again, I’m going to have to go through the worst part all over again. Also, spending my cigarette money on perfume helps!:d

          Good luck,

          • Dusan says:

            Ellen, thanks, and hang in there! I know what hell you must be going through, thinking perhaps that one smoke won’t make a difference. Take a carrot instead! 🙂 And yes, what better incentive than using the cigarette money on perfume!
            Hugs and good luck to you, too! 🙂

    • Lee says:

      Yep, time to quit those nasty dirty fags, our kid!

  • Masha says:

    This one sounds unusual, and I love vetiver. I’ll seek it out, and include me in the sample drawing. Thanks!