Happy Heart

I actually figured out how to upload this image from my camera onto the laptop and into the Posse without reading the instructions. I’m thinking about writing a letter to Canon suggesting a new slogan for their PowerShot A540: “Technology for Morons.” The only problem is the individual .jpg files are so big they take forever to upload, so don’t be holding your breath for the photo album. I’ll figure out how to compress the files when my children leave for college. Yeah, that’s me a few days ago, sailing on Phang Nga bay, with Ko Phakak in the background. In case you’ve been wondering what I look like. Okay, usually I look a little less wind-burned, and my hair’s either curlier or straighter, and I’m wearing makeup, and not a yellow vest and Bushnells, and don’t have a wicked sunburn on that overlooked slice of unprotected skin below the bottom of my shirt and the top of my swim shorts. But that’s me, more or less. I am pensive. I am reflecting on the transitory nature of my life against the seeming permanence of my surroundings. Alternatively, I am watching the depth-finder closely (nothing like a lot of really shallow water to liven up a sail on someone else’s expensive toy!) and holding, just out of the camera range, a can of Singha beer. You choose.

I haven’t been reading the fragrance news or the other blogs. I’m a little worried. A lot could have happened in the last month. I’m going to feel foolish when I found out Guerlain’s been bought by Beatrice and their next boutique fragrance is for Lindsey Lohan, called … Commando? Je Suis Une Drunk? (Okay, I’ve been keeping up a little bit with the international newspapers. Shoot me. The Beckhams seem to be settling in nicely. So far as I can tell, that’s the only news.)

Anyway, here are random notes I made that I didn´t work into other posts. We´re leaving tomorrow and I won´t be posting Thursday, since I´ll be up to my ears in five weeks of backlog. I miss you, and perfume, and I´ll be back on it next week.

1) Want to be treated like royalty in Thailand? Bring your children! Experience the surprising, precise inverse of the response to kids in public in the U.S.! Turn your back on your tots – or even your sulky teen – for 30 seconds and random Thai people will be feeding them, handing them toys and chucking them under the chin. Simultaneously. Four kids gets you the best table in any restaurant.

2) The beach activities (loungers, etc.) are run by a cadre of lean, muscular, deeply tanned men with shaggy hair who could be anywhere in age from 15 to 45, I have no idea. Many of them have tattoos that cover their torsos, done in black ink that is only slightly lighter than their skin. I find their beauty compelling, although when I was young enough to have the freedom I’d never have had the confidence to approach them. Their relationship with me is … wary friendliness? I am the crazy white lady with red hair who walks by several times in the heat of the day with her iPod. (Walking is dangerous and for poor people.) Some of them are Burmese, and all of them look like they could kick you to death in two minutes without spilling their beer. Having witnessed a brief, violent ass-kicking of two foreigners over a soccer ball, I would not want to get on their bad side. These same men, however, will play like four-year-olds with my four-year-olds, building sand castles and kicking the mini soccer ball for 45 minutes straight. One group joshes me from a distance every day on my walks – Jet-ski? We all laugh. I´m pretty sure they´re all smoking dope. I finally talked to them about the tattoos, which they say (I wasn´t following the details very well) is made by burning bamboo. Maybe they use the ash under the skin? Or they use sharpened bamboo? I´m not sure which, although the one with the best English said it was different than needle tattoos. They call me something he says means “happy heart,” because I smile and wave at them when I walk by. He said it´s a Thai expression. Maybe he´s lying and they´re calling me Pink Ghost or something (honestly, I have never felt whiter – I wonder if my skin disgusts them?) But I´ve decided I´m going to believe him. Because it makes me happy.

3) I have developed a taste for the smell of durian. Having smelled it for a month, I´m going to miss it. It´s a completely distinct smell, like no other. Somebody definitely needs to try to work a smidge of it into a fragrance. On Dinazad’s advice I’ve tried three brands of durian chips, and they taste great! Unfortunately, all their stink seems to be missing. I was hoping for a touch of durian to carry home with me.

4) I really miss walking. New York, London, Paris, Vienna — these places and many others I have enjoyed extensively on foot. I love to walk. Walking by myself, in the city or countryside, is a great pleasure. Even in London, with traffic going the wrong way and drivers who’ll run you down, is delightful to walk in. These parts of Asia, cities and towns — not so much. There’s … a general lack of pedestrian concessions? Sidewalks are intermittent or nonexistent. Motobikes drive and park on them. Roadsides are parking lots, pitted, trash-strewn, muddy. Okay, you can walk — there’s no law against it — but it’s mostly such a risk (crossing any street without getting hit) you give up and get in a tuk-tuk or whatever. I wonder whether urban/suburban walking is a great unsung luxury?

Yesterday and today: Culture Shock! Back in Bangkok for the new Harry Potter movie at the Siam Paragon — at the IMAX Theatre in 3-D!!!!! Yeah, read that and weep. It was soooo great. Today a trip to the big Weekend Market — can’t remember the name but I think it means “how many people can you wedge into 8,000 stalls”? Got lotsa cool stuff. Hitting some more local sights tomorrow. But it’s weird what you miss. Right now all I want is something I can’t find — just a regular ol’ cheese sandwich. Made with English cheese. Maybe the one with the bits of Stilton in it (Double Gloucester?) or some Cheshire or something. Okay, gotta go — Diva’s waiting for me to conjure an alternative to Scary Noodle —

  • Elle says:

    What an absolutely beautiful, peaceful picture of you! I never did try durian chips. Maybe I should have. Can’t say I ever developed any fondness for the scent, though. And I’m with you on the walking. I adore exploring places on foot and long, daily, meditative walks are one of the great joys of my life. Hope you have a good flight back!

  • Divalano says:

    Never posted here before but HAD to replay re durian. I know you can find it all over Chinatown here in NYC & I swear I’ve seen durian candy. You can get durian milkshakes in Toronto & I know for a fact that you can buy durian ice cream in SF. And yes, it’s stanky, I know, we suprised a friend for his birthday. Long story, lol. So never fear, I bet you can get it in any city you can buy good perfume.

    BTW, I totally admire a woman with the guts to love durian & travel the world. You go!

    • March says:

      Hey, thanks for de-cloaking!

      I had some durian ice cream and :-& So I don’t think I’m woman enough for the real thing. There’s an entire CART of durian at the bottom of the skytrain stop here, they chop it up for snacks, I look forward to the big nasal blast. I am so serious — somebody really needs to work a little durian into a fragrance. Just a dab. I’d love it.

  • violetnoir says:

    March, you are a beautiful woman! Don’t you ever feel the need to make excuses for being too sunburned, or not having on makeup, or whatever else excuse us women always use. You don’t need any, because you are lovely!

    Have a safe trip back home with your family, and thank you for posting such a lovely photo.


    • March says:

      R, thanks — I’m supposed to be packing right now, but instead am hanging on the internet, drinking a frothy mango something. The fruit drinks here are so great. I will really miss all the fresh fruit.

      Back to perfumery next week!\:d/

  • Patty says:

    They got the nickname right, you are a Happy Heart! But, yoiks, you have color… on your skin! Such a shock. 🙂

    Have a safe trip back!

    • March says:

      I know, I know — check out those freckles, too, in spite of my SPF 50!!!! I tried, I really did. Sunhat too. But it was just too damn hot to wear my sunproof long-sleeve shirt. I’ll have to work on my Friendly Ghost glow when I get home.

      Miss you!

  • gina says:

    March, you are so pretty. Glowy and happy looking, the nickname given to you by the guys on the beach is perfect. It’s odd…I don’t know what I imagined you to look like, really…they way you look seems to suit the way you write, and that’s a great thing. Petite is a good thing, too. I have broad shoulders, and they’re ok…but I tell you, there’s certainly things I can’t wear. Slim, delicate shoulders look great in so many things.

    You’ve SO inspired me to go to Asia, especially Thailand. It’s one of those places I’ve always wanted to go. I’ve actually stopped buying perfume, though I’ll allow myself the occasional decant or sample from Patty. I want to pay down my credit cards and take an amazing trip. There’s nothing in the world that can replace traveling, and I though I love perfume, I have enough to last me a lonnnnnng time. I need to go smell other countries again. It makes me feel alive, and that’s what I see in your face in that great pic – you look alert, attentive, and alive. Not like the sleepwalkers we can all become in our daily routines. Thanks for your posts while you’ve been away. They’ve been great.

    • March says:

      Thanks for your thoughts … maybe you’ve read me say this before, but a few years ago (after losing various parents/relatives) the Cheese and I took stock and decided that, in spite of having four kids, what we really wanted to spend money on while we could still do it was TRAVEL. We take a lot of separate trips, and then this big one together…. you are right, travel makes us both feel so alive. When I am on my deathbed, I will not be sorry I didn’t have more things. So I applaud your choice — I have met many, many single women on the road who are doing just that. BTW if you’re worried about totally solo, I have done two Rick Steves tours and they were GREAT! Excellent value for the money, freedom from the hassles, not your typical tour. Ricksteves.com No, not affiliated in any way, just a satisfied customer.

      Asia I will be back to. Next time: northern Thailand, Vietnam, maybe back to Cambodia, stop in Japan on the way.:-?

      • Gina says:

        Thanks for the info on Ricksteves.com – I will look into that. It would be nice to go with a friend, or a boyfriend, but I don’t mind going by myself.

  • Arhianrad says:


    First off, you are a very lovely woman. Like a pre-Raphaelite redhead in strange climes. And second, have a wonderful trip back. And third, I’m sure you can get durian around wherever you live.

    But finally, I just want to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your ‘away’ posts. It’s been great. 🙂

    • March says:

      Thanks — I really did mean to write about perfume. But it’s hard here, there aren’t a bunch of new things to smell like Paris. And my sample stash wasn’t doing it for me. So we’ve had the temporary travel blog, but I’m looking forward to saying hello to my perfume closet.:x

  • Tina says:

    what a beautiful and serene photo of a beautiful and serene lady :x. gosh, if I looked like that on trips, without my concealer & mascara and with natural hair, I’d put my up-close photo on the web too ;).

    • March says:

      Thanks! I’ve only been fiddling with eye makeup since I ditched the glasses. Eye makeup is so much fun! Patty really got me going with that one.

      I did freckle up quite a bit over here, in spite of the SPF50. But it was worth it.

  • Christine says:

    March you’re gorgeous! And I am jealous, jealous, jealous of your trip.

    I do hope that whatever they call you does mean “Happy Heart” because I cannot think of a sweeter nickname.

    As for the durian…don’t you have any Asian supermarkets around you? I have a couple here in Philadelphia and I’m sure there must be one in D.C. Talk about interesting smells, it’s like all of any city’s Chinatown without the benefit of open air.

    • March says:

      The Thais talk a lot about “heart,” so it’s plausible. Cool heart is supposed to be good. Hot heart, not so good. I’m trying to catch up with Noy tomorrow to pass on some samples and ask my remaining 90 questions, so I’ll ask her.

      They don’t have durian at the Thai store closest to us, but you’re right — in all of D.C., probably. Also, come to think of it, maybe the Thai store near us only carries it in season — May to July or whatever.

      I have THE MOST FABULOUS photo of Ronald McDonald doing the wai (traditional Thai greeting) — maybe I’ll stick it up next week.

      I am so peculiar.:”>

  • Judith says:

    Oh, yay! I love seeing pictures of people! You are really lovely–and, strangely, not THAT different from what I expected. We need to have a blog party where everyone can unveil!:d

    • March says:

      I hope, one of these years, to make it to a Sniffa. I would love to meet the whole motley, sweet-smelling crew.:x

      :d I’ll take “lovely,” too. Infinitely preferable to “cute.”

  • Marina says:

    you are beautiful! And gosh I’d love to be on that boat too…

    • March says:

      Honey, I miss you and your blog. Hey, didja notice up there I said I “met” you? What I meant is, I saw your picture. I was SURE you were a sultry brunette — turns out you’re a sultry blonde instead (plenty of tipoffs on your website, though…);)

  • Gaia says:

    March, so lovely- you and the posts. You make me want to travel, which rarely happens (I need a certain level of NYC pollution in my blood at any given moment).

    Since you’re all caught up on Lohan and Posh, you’re not missing much. Makeup collecions for fall, a little sale on some L’Artisans (for real. I bought Figuier Extreme). And not a word about Britney.

    Have a safe trip home and an easy time settling back.

    • March says:

      L’Artisans on sale?!?!? 😕

      When I get home I need to email Ina… thanks for the tip.

  • rosarita says:

    March, have a safe trip (I’m such a worrier! And agree w/Chaya on maternal instincts, altho I think we’re close to the same age :))

    I have enjoyed your travelogue posts SO MUCH, your excellent writing providing such vivid mental pictures…..but looking forward to your return, too. I have to go back to work next week and I’ll miss my leisurely morning blog-reading, but I look forward to reading all of you at the end of the day, too…nice to see your face, too 🙂

    • rosarita says:

      Hmmm, I was trying for a straight smiley @ the “close to the same age” part, not this laughing little dude – the forties are not all that hilarious, altho better than the alternative…

      • March says:

        I dunno — I think the 40s are kind of hilarious — I’m rocking them way more than the 30s, to use an expression that just makes the girls criiinnngge. That’s what I’m here for.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Hello, lovely one.
    Fey, winsome, and vulnerable / inner resources of strength untapped…
    That’s my take.
    [Christ, you bring out every sororal / maternal impulse I’ve got !]

    I sincerely doubt that tiny butt has altered much.
    Besides, WHY do you think the Divine created us thusly, baby ?
    The BACK end is for OTHERS to look at.
    That way, we don’t have to worry about everything…

    Thank you for sharing that photo.

    • March says:

      Winsome — that’s a description I’ll sign on for. Inner resources being tapped right now, though — just gotta get the troops to the airport tomorrow for our 1a.m. flight Weds. — ugh, whose bright idea was that?

      The cheese thinks my booty looks just fine.;)

      • chayaruchama says:

        Goood goin’, Big Cheese !
        THAT man know’s on which side his bread is ‘buttered’ [all puns intended !]

  • Louise says:

    March-I beleived that I had been seeing you in your natural element-at an upscale perfume shop, nose in bottle. I thought you were very beautiful then. But this pic-truly your natural element. You look so peaceful and truly lovely.

    I hope your trip home is safe and somehow quicker than expected, and that you can re-adapt to home, without losing a bit of the sights and smells (durian!) you’ve made your own now.

    • March says:

      What are you doing up at this hour, young lady?!?! Oh, wait — it’s 6:15. I suppose that’s all right, then.

      I was at peace. For big, extraordinary chunks of time, by my standards. I am trying (is this getting too heavy?) to figure out, when I get home, how to hold onto some of that. I was … more “myself,” the person I want to be, quite a bit over here. Yes, obviously, partly just vacation. But partly … oh, I dunno. Grist for our next coffee, yes???

      If only I could find some sort of transporter that would just beam me home. Anyway, I’ll see you soon. Hugs.

      • Louise says:

        Aw, I’m afraid we may cross paths-I leave on Friday for England (hi Lee!) and France. But we’ll have even more stories to share when I get back (your will be far more interesting, if only for the Tatoo’ed Thai beach hotties!)

  • Lee says:

    Twinkly – March *is* twinkly….:x

    As for driving the wrong way… pfah! Us Brits, the Japanese, Ozzies and Kiwis have it the RIGHT way round.

    Big kiss.

    • March says:

      Lee, what I wouldn’t do for a Hobnob and a cuppa right now. And did I mention how very MUCH I appreciate all the signs at our feet in London that say LOOK LEFT or LOOK RIGHT? Must have cut waaay down on the fatalities. I notice we haven’t returned the courtesy… maybe Brits are just brighter walking around, though.;)

      Twinkly. Ack. I’m hoping I age into sort of a serene, attractive petiteness, and not some total collapse. I’m also planning on completely wack clothing to amuse my children. Oh, WAIT — I already have that clothing…

      • Amy says:

        On my trip to London, I actually took pictures of the crosswalks with giant “LOOK LEFT” instructions to prove to people that traffic in London is so complicated that even the natives need directions. Kah-razy.

        You, by the way, are a beautiful woman. Redheads rock!

        • March says:

          To really get my full hair experience you need to see it in the bright son. It’s bright, ruby red. What I think of as “French hair.” My natural color is dark brown, but I started going gray in college and have been coloring it ever since.

          Redheads do rock! I feel like it suits my personality.

  • Tigs says:

    Awww, March, you are so cute (but pensive, also pensive!) I love to see pics of bloggers, as they never look as I expected (I’m not suggesting I thought that you looked deranged or like a character from a Dicken’s novel – I was just not expecting, oh I don’t know, kind of pixie-ish. I mean that in a good way. You look… twinkly. Okay, I will shut up now.) The time has passed so quickly – must get your package in the mail. Thanks for this last post from faraway lands.

    • March says:

      That’s very funny. I’ve met Marina, Ina, Patty and Robin, and NONE of them looked like what I expected. Isn’t it wild how you get an idea of how you think someone would look from their writing?

      Pixie-ish is fair. But you’ve undoubtedly vibed on my alter-ego. I have always longed to be one of those 6-feet-tall Amazon women with big, athletic bones and broad shoulders, naturally. What did you think I looked like, anyway? (No, you won’t hurt my feelings.)

      • Tigs says:

        Well, I knew you were pale and had red hair, but I think I thought of you with wider, sort of cheekbone-oriented features, and severe, geometric hair. “Funky” being the key word, I guess. I know you claim to be more natural than usual here, but that is what struck me, the very fresh-faced, glowy quality. Please ignore “cute” and “twinkly” if they bother you. I can see now that such adjectives might conjure up somebody’s tiny, good-spirited great aunt or something, but honestly, I didn’t mean it that way! I meant magically pretty! I have always wanted pixie-ish features myself. I’m short (five foot), but nobody ever calls me petite, partially because I’m a little heavier than I used to be (130 lbs or so), but partially because I have broader facial features. And I too have always yearned to have the shoulders and frame to match my head. As I have said before, I love those tall, planed Amazons like Sigourney Weaver and Angela Bassett and Anjelica Huston.

        • March says:

          Cheekbones!!! What I wouldn’t give for some serious bones in my face and a real nose. I remember a friend of mine planning a nose job to get rid of her big Roman nose, and how sad I was. But it’s not my nose … MY nose, as you can see, is a button nose. Shudder….

          I HAVE, in fact, worked the serious geometric hair, many times. It is often in a gamine crop; the way it is now is longer than usual, an experiment. When I was younger and had the blow-out patience I wore it in a jet-black Louise Brooks bob, which is actually a good look for me, but it’s hard in the D.C. humidity. Probably one I’ll go back to though. Alternatively, if my hair would just finish graying up in a better fashion (I’m probably 75% gray) I’ll let the silver-white streak in the front where my widows peak is shine through and quit coloring it.

  • Maria says:

    March, you are lovely, in a different league from your cartoon representative. I’ve been seething with envy ever since you revealed a few posts back that you have a size-small butt. :-s

    I’m glad the muscular guys gave you such a nice (and fitting?) nickname. I was wondering when I read the title if you were going to be writing about a Clinique fragrance.

    You didn’t miss any news to speak of. Just that little special half-price sale on Guerlain limited editions, including Bois d’Armenie. Naw! Just yanking your chain. ;)) Have a safe trip home?

    • March says:

      The half-price Guerlain sale! Woman, you are cruel! Seriously, though — I’m such a weirdo I’ve been kicking my next post around, after I smelled something on somebody this morning.

      Nope. Not saying whut. Wasn’t Happy Heart, though!

      I think my size-small butt got bigger on this trip. Who GAINS weight in Asia? But I’ve been eating a lot, and beer is the same price as water…

  • tmp00 says:


    Lovely picture- you are such a little flower!

    I’ll be glad to have you back, but I will miss these missives- such a passport to another world for us. I really think your kids will look back on this as one of the coolest vacations ever.

    • March says:

      Tom — thanks. I’m dreading the flight but looking forward to getting home. I already stunned myself by using the phrase “next time…” I wasn’t planning on a next time. I guess you never know, do you?