Thursday, April 20, 2017

Loss and Discovery: perfume and music

Braining is hard work. Braining while feeling like you have no brain is sometimes almost impossible. Since last year, I have had a lot of blocks that I don't always feel capable of climbing past (not necessarily related to loss or grief, but sometimes it is).

Writing, something I have always done whether it was for pleasure or more serious, has felt alien--not just difficult, but outside of who I am. This was going to be the year that I submitted this and that, where I would be faithful to reviewing perfumes, where I would _________. The inability to do so (as always) has led to lack of creativity, which then has led to more inability, and that leads to existential crises.

So what does one do when setting alarms and timers and reminders and scolding oneself into paralysis doesn't work? One waits.

And waits. (And wonders if padded living quarters should at least be considered.)

I've been here before. Usually related to crisis of health, and sometimes a crisis of soul. I know this waiting. I hate it. I have read the books that say "Just do things anyway." I've tried. I tried again this time. But this wait was somehow different. My mind was not just waiting, it was quiet. Too quiet. I usually have what felt like 500 fluorescent lights buzzing up there all of the time. Then there was silence.

Then fear. "What if I never write again?" "What if I can't find words?" "What if I'm broken?"

I can force discipline (in limited stages), but I cannot force creativity. So all I could do is wait.

I read books on leadership. I read books on not being angry. I read books on hope. Books on vampires. Books on writing and blessings, and detectives, and how others got past their blocks. Nothing seemed to "spark" me, make that inside voice come alive.

One thing I have been doing is continuing my path of cleaning up my world. It may seem small, but I am working hard to surround myself with what gives me joy. I think that's where some of the silence has come from: how can you choose what gives joy when you realize you are in a rut? What do you discard? What do you keep? What do you look for?

As I looked at my seriously insane pile of perfume that needs to be reviewed (and re-reviewed so I can keep what I truly want and find new homes for the rest), I realized that I could at least do that. And then as I thought about reviewing perfume, I remembered that I had also been wanting to explore new music. So, last week I asked Facebook folks what music they liked, and I added all of their answers to my Spotify lists. The lists are long. A little intimidating. But I am more excited than I expected to be to have this path to explore.

This week, as I looked at my perfume pile again, I thought: why not combine the two?

This morning, I randomly picked a new artist to try (Blind Pilot, We Are the Tide album) and without looking grabbed a bottle from the perfume pile (Daring, by Possets), There it was. That comedic, brilliant, laugh-at-life moment. I often feel like a blind pilot as I navigate this life--sometimes not even knowing if I'm going up or seconds away from another crunch and crash of impact. The moments of loss, of momentary destruction are brutal. I tend to focus on those. What changed my life the way I didn't want. What I don't have. The people I miss who have died or gone away. Loss of health. But then, there's Daring to balance it out. What is life without some boldness? Some "I will go forward anyway!" Determination to seek altitude. We gain nothing by refusing to fly.

One of my favorite poems when I was young (and still remains dear) is High Flight by John Magee. Today, when I read the poem again, I was reminded that silence doesn't have to be dark. When we fling ourselves out into the unknown, sometimes what we find is what we've been looking for for too long among the known.

So, today, as Blind Pilot gives me their smooth Indie folk sound (reminds me, so far, of a little of what I like of Band of Horses and The Head and The Heart), I will review Daring and once again be amused at how life sometimes ties words and things and experiences together.

Daring was released in the Valentine's 2014 collection. Description: "A daring idea to pair jasmine and patchouli in the right balance so each bolsters the other and no one dominates, yet the two elements are in such a surprisingly perfect harmony that you wonder why this hasn't been done many times before. There is a tremendously woody aspect to this one, but that is more due to the ingredients being blended in the correct proportions. Somehow this one comes off like a woman with a formidable intellect."

At first sniff, in the bottle Daring comes across as almost medicinal. The patchouli is striking, making me think of vetiver in how bracing it is. Immediately under that I get a sense of more vetiver mixed with a brown sugar note (without the sweetness), a soft almost powdery floral, and a rough silk edge that verges on wood.

On my skin: this patchouli is not a headshop hippy one at all. It's more grassy, with a faint hint of pencil shavings. It immediately opens up into floral essence, roughed up and gritted over somewhat by the patchouli. This one is perfume with a P. It feels like a cool beauty wearing a little black dress, giving you an assessing look--wondering if you'll measure up to her standards. Which could be intimidating, but then you realize the little black dress is paired with Converse.

As this dries, it retains a classic edge and vibe, but continues to be a bit fun (and a touch flirty) underneath. I still get a sense of pencil shavings, mixed with perhaps some fizzy ginger ale. It's soft, but bracing. This would pair well with an Important Event (with a light hand, as this could go into Invasion of Personal Space territory if applied too liberally), but also would be equally at home with a t-shirt and errands.

I don't get a lot of jasmine out of this one, but there is a very lovely soft white floral note that winds through this one and plays with that woody/grassy perfume vibe of the patchouli (that seems to want to pretend to be vetiver today). This is utterly classic. Cool. Aloof. Polished and pampered. But it also has softness, warmth, charm, and a touch of fizz.

Edited to add that as the hours went by, this one became more soft dark cola mixed with wood floor (old, but carefully maintained), with that flower note weaving through. This is sweet without any sugar. Almost having some of that black musk vibe that is so lovely in Possets in that it can be warm, sweet, but not cloying, but this isn't black musk at all--if anything brown and gold and still retaining the hardness of hard wood.

The waft of this seems to pick up more of the wood, and at times comes across a little wood pulp-ish, but for the most part really remains what feels like an utterly classic perfume. I would wear this to France and walk into a shop or wear it out in the evening for social occasion, mixing it up between the two (casual and formal) without a qualm.

This one is definitely one of my keepers, probably more so for special occasions, when I want to feel decadent.

My previous review of Daring on the Possets forum says this (I didn't look at it until I finished this test): "This would be great for a dressy occasion. It has that classy classic opulent vibe. But, but, oh BUT! it would also be great for everyday wear, where you just want to feel like strolling out in something lovely because it's what you have and what you can do." It also worked well on my mother. We have very different tastes and skin, so it's fun to find one that we both like a lot.

Paired with Blind Pilots, Daring places me right on the edge of a big adventure, but is equally happy being at home thinking about the to-do list for the day.

Life is full of loss. Of silence. Of taking blind curves, and feeling our way through the dark with our hands outstretched in front of our faces. But, life is still to be lived. It is up to us to make the choice--to dare--to do so. I hope when you start your own flight check, that you smell as wonderful as Daring insists you can be. And that you fly past what your limitations have set for you. I wish that for us all.

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