Monday, September 15, 2014

Type Something!

Why is it that when I haven't posted in a while, it feels harder to post? I guess it's because I know that this happened and that happened and the other thing happened and I didn't post about them, so what makes it worth posting now?

It's been two weeks, that's what.

So.

Um.

I've been reading Women in Clothes, a newly released book that's the result of surveying hundreds of women about clothes and appearance and such. This seem to be the "munchy book" about fashion that I've been wanting. I like it a lot. But I'm less than a quarter of the way through it, so it seems a little premature to review it.

We also bought Crazy Enough by Storm Large, and Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel. And I'm in the middle of a murder mystery...whose name I can't remember. I'm reading stuff.

I'm not so much writing stuff. I have been doing a little bit of sewing prep--cutting pattern pieces apart, preshrinking fabric and pressing it, and so on. And the previously mentioned threading of the serger. But nothing's been cut out or sewn.

Um.

That seems to be all.



Monday, September 1, 2014

SOTD: Bacon. And rambling.

No, it didn't come out of a bottle. Which is a shame. Who wouldn't want a really good bacon perfume? I fried it in a pan, the traditional way. We had bacon and pancakes for Labor Day breakfast-for-dinner.

We ate whatever we darn well pleased this weekend, and last weekend, on the principle of making up for our lost vacation. We've resolved that we're going to cut that out and start eating some semblance of a decent diet next week. Though probably not Tuesday. You can't combine going back to work and going on a diet, right? Right.

I'm trying to get myself into a good slow-sewing habit, maybe half an hour every other day. This weekend my half hour was threading the serger with a new color. It's embarrassing that that takes half an hour, but there it is. As a bonus activity, I preshrunk the fabric for a pajama top, and found the pajama top pattern. Next I'll press the fabric. Tum te tum te tum. Bitty step by bitty step.

I just ordered Women in Clothes (Heti/Julavits/Shapton/associate editor Mann--I previously incorrectly attributed the whole thing to Mann), due out on Wednesday. I don't know much about it, but I really like the idea of what little I've read. I'll let you know how it is when I get it.

It occurs to me that it would be logical to add a page up there next to "new to perfume?" and "fume scout" and all that, for all these books about women and clothes that I keep reading. Maybe I will. Eventually. It could happen.

Um.

I guess that is all.

SOTD: Tauer Carillon Pour un Ange, and relinquishing the meh

(And this was really the SOTD on Wednesday. Me pre-writing posts? What's with that?)

I bought it too fast.

I loved the sample. Falling-down, won't risk it going away, love. Bought it. Didn't like the first wearing. Went into denial and put it away. A year later, I'm trying it again.

Nope.

Wearing it gives me the same feeling as a glass of iced tea with too much lemon and not enough sugar. I'm not saying that there's any actual lemon--just that there's a sharpness that could be lovely and refreshing if there were enough sugar.

Maybe it's my skin chemistry.

I think that for the next attempt, I'll decant a little into a splash bottle. I tested it unsprayed, after all, so maybe...

I doubt it. The next solution is to give or swap it away, maybe with a few more just-accept-reality bottles. Swapping or selling is, of course thwarted by my Postal Regulation Phobia, so unless I coordinate with a perfume freak to meet in Portland on one of our lately-not-infrequent trips there, it's not all that workable.

I eye the collection for more of those accept-reality bottles. I'm always worried that someday I'll fall in love with something that I've given away. But there's no logic in that; it's a hoarderesque mindset. For one thing I use perfume so lightly that a 5ml decant would last me years, even in the regular rotation.

And, really, it's unlikely that I'll ever fall in love with a perfume for which my reaction is "meh." The ones worth keeping an eye on are the "Oh, my God, does it smell that way on purpose?" bottles.  Those are usually blind buys, which a light sprinkling of classics threatened by reformulation or discontinuation. (My Mitsouko, for example, and No. 5 before I started to appreciate it a little.) The blind buys were either rock-bottom-price discounter products, or things from indie houses that I respect. If I panic and buy something on the verge of discontinuation from an indie house, I figure that even if I don't like it, my money went to someone worthwhile.

Today's additions to the Out box:

Creed's Original Vetiver: Perfectly Nice. A gateway vetiver. Friendly. Nonthreatening. Cuddly. I'm past it. I might have an occasional craving, but I have four (four) (FOUR) ounces in one of those big Creed bottles from a discounter. I'll take a 5ml decant and give the rest away.

Alfred Sung's Sung: This is in the difficult "aldehydic meh" category. Someday I may learn to love aldehydes, and until that day, it's hard to predict which ones I might love. But there are a lot of likelier candidates--No. 5, Climat...OK, my mind blocks memory of aldehydes, but I know there are others. I'm going to let this one go.

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie: Pretty. Also, pretty. Perfectly Nice. And pretty. If Lutens has to produce the occasional Perfectly Pretty Pretty Nice fragrance in order to make enough money needed to bottle the weird, fine. But I'm going to let someone else appreciate it.

Lancome Mille et Une Roses: I have this because I bought that little set of classics, including the aforementioned Climat. I don't like this one, and I have never yet learned to love a rose fragrance that I didn't like at first sniff. It's odd, because I love roses, but maybe that's what makes it not-odd. It's like fried chicken; I'm so attached to the "right" fried chicken that I have no tolerance for the "wrong", the kind with too much pepper or other transgressions.

There will be more.

That is all.

(I didn't bother to link the above perfume names to the posts with the Review Roundup for the perfume. This strikes me as evidence that I am less and less a perfume blog. Is this wrong?)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

SOTD: Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle. And many off-topic remarks.

(Actually, this was the scent of this past Monday, but I didn't get to the posting part of the post until today.)

Mmm, gasoline fumes.

OK, that doesn't sound good. Does "Mmm, mothballs" sound any better? At least mothballs aren't used as a mood-altering drug. I think.

This was my first Lutens bell jar. But I didn't go to Paris and buy a full bottle in a box. I ordered it from a decanter, with the last half ounce in it. The same for my second bell jar, half an ounce of Iris Silver Mist. That's the end of my bell jars.

What's my point? I don't have one. I'm just trying a SOTD post for old times' sake.

Of course, Tubereuse Criminelle is floral as well as petroleum. I seem to recall reading about oil-bearing grasses being raised for fuel. I imagine Tubereuse Criminelle being the scent of that grass's flowers.

Mmm.

Luckily, I'm not among those that get a rotting meat note from this. I love the weird, the chemical, the sweaty, the skunky, even a carefully tuned bit of the fecal. Rotting meat, not so much.

I've been thinking about starting a diary. See, on the one hand there are lots of things that are either too embarrassing or too boring to post here on the blog. And I often find myself wishing that I remembered certain things about my own past life. And sometimes I think that those memories might be useful for that theoretical book or books someday.

On the other hand, I struggle with the idea of all that writing never being read by any audience. Writing, to me, is communication, and how can you communicate when no one is ever going to listen? And, equal and opposite, I worry about the diary accidentally being accessed by someone and being read. It's a thicket.

Then again, it would be good for me to get over my addiction to being read. If I'm ever going to write a book, I'm going to need to write a whole lot of words that won't be read for a very long time. I should get used to that.

No, this isn't relevant to Tubereuse Criminelle. Probably. Except that the idea of resuming SOTD posts made me think of a diary.

Of course, a diary still would't be The Whole Truth. It would occupy some middle ground between what I'm willing to publish and what happens in my head. Does anyone really tell a diary everything that can be put into words?

I just deleted a paragraph in this post, because it felt off topic--the post seems to be about Tubereuse Criminelle and SOTDs and a dairy. So I deleted a spare paragraph about jewelry. Would I do that in a diary? Would I feel the need for coherent narrative flow?

Not that this is all that coherent.

Actually, I'm going back to jewelry. You've seen me thrashing around about clothes as my current phase of Being a Girl. But the problem with clothes is that a large part of the overall package is me. My shape. My posture. My movement and position. (Does it look OK when I sit down?) My shape. My maintenance. (Did I press it well enough? Are these shoes too scuffed?) My shape.

Yeah, that shape thing is an issue.

Perfume is less of a "me" performance. Especially for me, it's largely a consumption activity--usually, I apply so little that only I can smell it. And even when that's not true, I don't need to perform--I just make a choice in private, and the perfume performs independently.

Jewelry is a sort of middle ground. It's visible, so it's not all about personal consumption. But there's not much performance involved. Unless you have a pendant flirting with your cleavage or some such thing, the jewelry is mostly performing independently, like the perfume. My contribution, again, happens in private, when I make a choice.

Maybe that's why I'm moving on to jewelry--to challenge myself with choices. I'm no longer nervous about going out in public smelling like gasoline or mushrooms or a garage floor. But I am nervous about wearing those rhinestones with that Oxford shirt. Does it work? What do you think? It's a decision. It's a mild expression of taste. But still one that keeps me at a comfortable distance.

It occurs to me that I was more comfortable with "performance" decisions--clothes--in winter. Hmm. I guess wool tends to make one's shape feel less exposed.

Anyway. With perfume, I love the whacky. Now I'm trying to edge toward the whacky with jewelry. And someday I hope to get there with clothes.

Now, "the whacky" doesn't mean "Oh, my God, what is that thing crossing the street? Is it human?" It just means a step or two away from the completely safe standard. Ideally, the kind of thing that makes you turn your head and say, "Hmm. That's an idea."

That is all.

First Image: By Christine Matthews. Wikimedia Commons.
Second Image: Mine

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Beauty: Fragility versus Strength

So a while ago I wrote this post, about a single standard of feminine beauty.

I also wrote a post on a sewing forum that I may migrate over here, about a discussion on yet another forum in which a man expressed how appealing he found to see a woman clopping around in high heels, because she looked so vulnerable.  And I read a post about body image on The Beheld, in which the line that struck me most was about the men who kept complimenting the writer for being "tiny".

All if which made me realize that our current feminine beauty ideal seems to be about delicacy, fragility, vulnerability, tininess--anything but strength.

And so when I recently caught a video clip of the Orphan Black character Alison Hendrix doing a workout routine, I was struck with her appearance of strength and power, and how rare it is, compared to the countless images of the fragile and tiny.

I guess that is all.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Whine: Whine.

We went away on a long-planned week's vacation.

He got sick.

I got maybe-sick.

We went home. Days early.

He got sicker.

I got definitely sick.

We're in the living room watching home improvement shows.

At least the cold medicine is working.

Kinda.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rambling: Rambling

Well, it's been a while. So I randomly ramble.

About something. 

Something or other.

Um.

I've been trying to write fiction more, whether I'm inspired or not and whether it's good or not. 

I also sent off for a magazine of short stories and essays, to see what they publish, on the theory that maybe perhaps possibly I might start submitting pieces. Eventually. Before the next ice age. 

It's a magazine well out of my league, but I figure I may as well start the submitting with a publication well out of my league, and then work my way down the ladder. Maybe. The flaw with that plan is that if I make a fool of myself, I'll actually care if anyone remembers.

It's a thicket.

Inspiration is also a thicket. I've always preached against the concept of writer's block, preached that you can always write. But while you can always write, there's still a big difference between writing while inspired and writing while not. 

I think.

I'm uncertain about all my conclusions in this post, aren't I?

The reason I say "I think" is that sometimes I write something in the uninspired way, laboriously carving all the words and sticking them together with chewing-gum, and then when I read it again it feels as if I was kinda inspired. And sometimes I have that inspired feeling, with the words bubbling up and arranging themselves effortlessly, and the result looks like junk.

So maybe inspiration is just about how much fun it is, and not how good it is.

That's actually rather depressing. Because I was hoping that I'd eventually find a way to get inspiration to come...well, not on call, but at least more often than once in a blue moon, and that writing fiction would be more fun at those times. Maybe it's going to always be about chewing-gum.

Um.

That seems to be all.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rambling: Thump. Thump. Thump.

Sometimes my brain is just busy. Like a washer on spin cycle. It's not really happy, but it's not all that unhappy either. It just spins, madly.

Sometimes my brain spins like a washer on spin cycle that's been loaded with just one really big heavy beach towel and starts to make that THUMP THUMP THUMP sound that makes you leap out of your chair from across the house and rush in to adjust the load before the washer sprouts legs and crashes through a wall and gets into a battle with King Kong.

Today is one of those times. So was yesterday. I don't have big hopes for  tomorrow either. During those times I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not qualified to think. Well, that is, I'm not qualified to evaluate worries. Or risks. Or probabilities. I need to establish a mindset that can eat buttered popcorn while the world ends, because I can't make the world stop looking like it's ending.

Mmm, butter.

And naps.

Thump.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Short: Missed the Briefing

(My response to a short story prompt about the Bechdel Test. Partly inspired by the Hathor Legacy post Why film schools teach screenwriters not to pass the Bechdel Test

“Professor West?”

The professor looked up from her desk. “Jane! Good morning. How is your boyfriend?”

Jane blinked. “Um. I’m not actually in a relationship right now.”

“Oh, dear. Your father, then?”

Another blink. “He's...fine. I didn't realize that you and he had met?"

"We haven't."

A cautious nod, and then Jane asked, "Do you think we could talk about what you explained in class about friction and chatter? I’ve been reading about phonon modes and…well, I’m lost.”

“Ah. I spoke to James about that just last week—James Simpson, he’s in the other lab section. Perhaps you could ask him."

Jane said, “Well, but you're the professor--I mean, if you’re too busy, I could talk to one of the TAs.”

Professor West shook her head. “I’m afraid that Henry is out of town this week--a death in the family."

“Right, but I just saw Mary down the hall--I can ask her.”

“Jane.” The syllable was firm, flat, and disapproving.

Jane waited. Then waited some more. Finally, "Yes?"

"You know the rules."

Jane shook her head, "What rules? Why would--"

"That's quite enough." The stern tone gave way to a bright chirp as she continued, "By the way, did you see my husband's new car?"

Blink. Blink. And yet another blink. Jane moved toward the door. "Excuse me. Nice to talk to you."

"Do remember me to your father."

---

"So I was just trying to ask Professor West about friction and chatter, and she was...I guess really busy, but she didn't seem to think I should talk to you. Are you really busy?"

Mary shook her head. "No, it's fine. She just has a little trouble working around the rules--the older generation, you know. I was just telling my boyfriend that. Keith, I mean."

Jane frowned. "Yeah, she was--what rules?"

"He got home really late last night, and had the worst hangover this morning. Keith, I mean. So what were you trying to ask her about?"

"The whole controversy about phonon modes and...well, I can't even remember the other theory. Chatter, slip-stick, coefficient of friction. I understand how to use the formulas, but the actual mechanism--"

Mary interrupted. "Yes, it's messy. I'll email you some articles, and a picture of Keith."

Jane blinked some more, and nodded. Slowly. "Thank you. Um. I mean, for the articles. But why the picture?"

Mary took a breath. Voice lowered, "Jane. Look. If you won't follow the spirit, at least follow the letter. You may not care about being written out, but I do." Louder, "Oh, and he just got a haircut. Keith, I mean. My boyfriend."

"Written...what?"

Mary turned back to her computer and brought a browser window forward. In louder, cheerful tones, "So what did you think of Obama's speech?"

"Um...I didn't see it. There was a thing about Michelle--"

"Jane, I think that it's best if you speak to Henry next time."

"What the--"

"Goodbye."

---

Jane pointed to a plastic-wrapped hunk of banana bread. Loudly, over the cafeteria din, "Is it gluten free?"

The cashier picked up the package and peered at the label over her glasses, "It's my husband's favorite thing, banana bread."

"Um. That's nice, but is it gluten free?"

"My son always likes it, too."

Jane nodded. "Good. I'm glad. And your daughter?"

The cashier dropped the banana bread. "Excuse me. This register is closed. David will check you out."

---

"Oh, that's great--you got the spot out. You really are the best cleaners. What's your secret?"

The clerk pushed her glasses up. "I bet your boyfriend likes you in this shirt."

Jane extended a twenty, then slowly pulled the hand back. A pause. Then, "Did you launder it or dry clean it?"

The clerk asked, "Are you going out with him tonight?"

Jane folded her arms, money still clutched in one hand. "Do you have different techniques for different kinds of spots?"

The clerk smiled. Stiffly. "What does he do for a living?"

Jane smiled back, even less convincingly. "What would you do for a grease spot?"

And still more smiling from the clerk. "You go to the university, huh? How does your father feel about that?"

Again, "What would you do for a grease spot?"

"Do you take after him? Your father, I mean?"

"What would you do for a grease spot?"

The clerk extended the shirt toward Jane. "On the house. I hope your boyfriend likes you in it."

"What. Would. You. Do. For a grease spot?"

"Please go."

Jane stared, brows furrowed, and finally put the bill down on the counter. She shouldered her purse, took the shirt, and muttered, "Keep the change," as she headed for the door.

The clerk's smile remained ever so bright. Loudly, "That's very generous of you. Your husband must make a good living!"

Jane looked back, nodding vaguely, and shook her head as she started to cross the street. She never even saw the car.

---

The cop tucked her notebook away, shaking her head as she studied Jane's body. "Hit and run. Her poor father."

The medical examiner nodded as she packed away her instruments. "So what are you and Joe doing this weekend?"

Image: By Stylianos Karavias. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vignette: Fourth wall? There was a fourth wall?

Emily threaded her way through the diner, and stopped at the corner booth. "So."

Henry looked up from his phone. "So?"

"So she wants to start writing scenes, instead of just the dialogue things. You know how that silly picnic thing didn't have any action or setting or dialogue tags and we didn't even know who was saying what? She's realized that she can't write a whole novel that way. So we're in a place this time. You know, a visible one. With walls."

Henry said, "We were in a place that time. With grass. Possibly with a picnic table. I didn't really think it was all that silly. I was just annoyed that we didn't get to eat the tuna salad."

"Burger."

Henry gestured at the bench on the other side of the booth. "Sit. Sit. If we've got props, let's use 'em. It was a burger at the end. It was tuna salad in the first draft."

"That thing had drafts?"

He shrugged.

Emily settled into the bench and rummaged through her purse. "Are you sure about the tuna salad? She doesn't even like tuna. I mean, not the canned stuff. She likes it raw."

"She doesn't. I do."

"Eew. Did she decide that or are you just being contrary?" She found her own phone and extracted it from the purse.

Henry said, "If I were being contrary, I'd hate fried chicken."

"No. That's like matter-antimatter. The whole fictional world would explode."

Henry tilted his head, eyebrows rising.

"No." Firmly. Emily shook her head, as she extracted a menu from between the napkin holder and the ketchup. "That is not a valid strategy for your break-into-the-real-world plan." She studied the menu, and then the plate in front of Henry. "Tuna melt?"

He picked up one of the triangular halves. "Yep."

"Eew. Was that here before I got here or did it just appear?"

Mouth full, Henry answered, "Just appeared. I think. Nice and hot."

"That's just creepy."

"It's dinner. Don't knock it." He took another bite.

"What if I just imagined something?"

"Try it."

She looked firmly at the table in front of her. "Caviar and blini, please."

They both waited, Henry munching his way down the other side of the sandwich half. Finally he concluded, "Nope. Maybe it has to be something you'd be able to get in a diner."

"Or something she thinks is funny."

"Don't think about pies. Whatever you do, don't think about cream pies."

Emily picked up one of her chicken wings. "I don't want dessert... dammit!"

"What? You like chicken wings."

"No, I don't. Chicken wings have to be torn apart, and they try to shoot greasy bits on your clothes. I like chicken fingers. She likes chicken wings. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that they weren't here, and now they are. I didn't even see them appear. They're just a fact."

Henry shrugged. "Chicken's chicken."

She put the wing down and reached across for the second half of his sandwich.

He unsuccessfuly tried to grab it back. "Hey!"

"Oh, stop it. It's not as if you paid for it."

He asked, "How do you know? The money might have disappeared from my wallet at the same time it appeared."

"How much did you tip?"

"Very funny."

Emily took a bite from the sandwich, then wrinkled her nose and put the remains back on his plate. "I was sort of hoping it'd be chicken salad when I grabbed it."

"Hot chicken salad?"

"Better than hot tuna."

"You know, it's not as if she's never written scenes. That first thing where you destroyed the marzipan dog, that was a scene. And the spanikopita thing."

"Yeah, but it's been a while. You better grab a dialogue tag there."

Henry shrugged. "Or a beat. So why do we both have phones, if we're not going to do anything with 'em?"

Emily stood, phone in one hand, purse in another. "Don't know. Don't care. I'm going offscreen to find some decent food. You coming with me?"

"Sure." Henry rummaged for his wallet, then pulled the menu over. He ran his finger down the entries.

"Are you seriously going to pay for this?"

"Yep. Yours, too. And tip."

She tucked her phone into her purse and set the purse down, the better to fold her arms disapprovingly. "Why? You don't even believe this universe exists."

He stood, put down a twenty, then put down another one. "The curse for undertipping transcends all universes."

Emily picked up her purse with one hand and grabbed his arm with the other. And pulled him toward the door. "Just don't think about the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man, OK?"