Monday, November 14, 2011

Rambling: The Moratorium, Shopping, and My Brain

In February, I started the Perfume Moratorium. I was worried that my perfume experience was being consumed by the shopping end of the hobby--pricing, budgeting, filling and clearing online shopping carts. Dithering over buy decisions--is Heeley Cardinal redundant with Serge Noire? If I buy Din Dan will I have too many citrus perfumes? Would buying Tihota be grounds for having me committed? And budgeting decisions; I made the "one bottle per quarter" rule and promptly "borrowed" up to... is it just 2012?

I wanted to take the buying option off the table. I imagined six months of happy nibbling at the collection. I would wear neglected scents for days on end, and really get to know them. Empty vials would pile up as I worked through the sample backlog, savoring each scent without worrying about remembering them for a buying decision. My reviews would be uncontaminated with purchase dithering or budget whining. It would be a commerce-free creative scentopia!

Yeah. Not so much. I slacked off on the SOTD posts. I stopped reviewing perfume. My sample box went unopened for weeks at a time. I abandoned Basenotes. I kept reading perfume blogs, but mostly just to keep up with the bloggers' lives, rather than their perfumes. I stopped regularly wearing perfume.

And I didn't just stop perfume blogging. I slacked off on garden blogging, too. The fiction vignettes petered out. The random babbling about chocolate and fried things slowed down. My film festival posts were less extensive enthusiastic than last year. For a while, I wasn't doing much reading. My plant breeding and selection plans came to nothing.

Now, you could argue that all of that suggests a general lapse of creativity, maybe a low-key depression. That would make sense. But I don't think it's true. It feels as if perfume purchasing, perfume interest, and then all aspects of creativity, fell one after another like a series of dominoes.

And then the moratorium ended--I didn't buy much perfume, but the option to buy returned. And I started reading more. And posting more. And my interested in the garden perked up. And I started wearing more perfume. And I can feel the reviews bubbling up. All the dominoes popped back up, like Weebles.

My creative enthusiasms have always waxed and waned in bursts, triggered by nothing identifiable. For a few weeks or months I'm interested in everything, and then for a few more I'm interested in nothing at all. I don't like it, not one bit; I hate the "off" periods.

I demand an explanation. Or at least a theory.

So I Googled.

I found more than one article that assured me that shopping produces dopamine--and (bonus!) endorphins. Seeing something new and novel, finding a bargain, anticipating hunting down some new possession and dragging it home to the cave, feeds your reward center. That may be how shopping addiction happens. It's probably also behind the acquisition side of hoarding. Sadly for the shopping addicts and the hoarders, it's the anticipation that gives you the high--actually getting the item back to the cave does you no good at all.

Have I mentioned that I think that I have ADHD? Have I mentioned that ADHD is said to be a defect in the brain's reward center? And I've definitely mentioned that I have hoarder genes. I think that it's not entirely whacky to theorize that my brain might be particularly sensitive to dopamine levels.

And, of course, dopamine and endorphins are also associated with creativity.

So... you see the puzzle pieces of the theory? By declaring the moratorium, did I cut myself off from a highly effective method of self-medication? When I browse through LuckyScent et al with at least the possibility of making a purchase, does that feed my brain things that it needs?

Wait. Wait a minute. I just said this. I just said this. Five posts ago, I said "I have a hoarder id, and sometimes I need to feed it..."

That post and this post are saying the same thing, aren't they? Sure, that one was about bribing my brain so that it doesn't turn me into a hoarder, and this one is about feeding it for creativity, but it's the same food, and the same howling brain, isn't it?


First Image: By Debbie Mc. Wikimedia Commons.
Second Image: By Quatar&Me. Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Feed me.

    Feeeeeed me.


    (pushing id away from the keyboard) Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

  2. Hello, prowled in to find out who you are - my favourite purr-fume is catnip of course! :-)

  3. I do the reverse of what you did. I do fantasy shopping but set specific times (like 30 mins each day and I SET A TIMER). It gives me that dopa-zing! without bringing anything new into the house. Then I assuage it big time when I go to town and spritz and sample and get a bag o' goodies and scurry back to the cave. Resistance is futile. Might as well figure out how to make it work for you.


  4. Mals! Hee. :) Now I've gone from zombies trying to eat brains, to brains trying to eat... well, I'm not sure what, but it's just scarey.

  5. Howdy, cat! Welcome!

    (Hmm; now what _does_ catnip smell like? It's in the mint family...)

  6. Hey, Musette! A time dose, huh? That sounds like it's worth trying. Luckily or unluckily, trips to a town with a decent perfume selection will be much rarer now that we've moved to Oregon full time. (I keep saying that Ashland is the perfect place for a perfume shop, but no one seems inclined to open one. Especially since, admittedly, the last two (three?) shops with a decent perfume selection shut down.)

    But I can still plot lots of sample orders.