Expanding on my recent tweets about perfume

My Twitter page was getting kinda full of obsessing about perfume today, so I decided to come fill up my blog instead :).

So, you know, I’ve been enamored with perfume for ever.  I always wanted to have a “nice” bottle of perfume when I was in high school, because I never was into the Bath and Body Works fruity-watery body spray thing.  (My sister could open her own B&BW store, though, with all the body sprays she owns!)  There ARE a few scents at B&BW that I like, but they’re usually the ones that get discontinued…it figures :).

Anyway…

My first foray into “real” perfume was with a bottle of Marc Jacobs Daisy that I wanted for Christmas in 2007.  I did like it a lot, but I mainly chose it because I figured a lot of other people would like it.  It was kind of a safe bet for me to choose it, I guess.  Very soon after that, I was googling things to do with H.P. Lovecraft one day and came upon Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.  Being the obsessed HPL fan that I was (and am!), I picked out six samples: Al Azif, The Music of Erich Zann (they spell it “Zahn”), Arkham, Nyarlathotep, Miskatonic University, and Shub-Niggurath.  I was really excited about Arkham, but I thought it was a little too masculine the second time I tested it.  Al Azif, though, I loved.  It’s an incense scent that doesn’t smell head shop-y, and for me it’s a comfort scent.  Miskatonic University–I loved the old book and polished oak notes underneath the coffee.  Definitely see why it’s a best-seller.  Nyarlathotep was one of the first scents to get me interested fragrance as a concept.  It DID smell dark and bright at the same time.  Often, I associate a scent with a color, and Nyarlathotep seems like a charcoal black and a pale yellow scent to me.  Even though it wasn’t conventionally feminine or “pretty”, I liked it.  Rather, I was fascinated with it, with trying to figure it out.  Shub-Niggurath was a bit too gingery for me, but again I could see why a lot of BPAL fans like it.  (Now that it’s aged for 2+ years, it smells rounder, more buttery…better!)

But the biggest shock of them all was The Music of Erich Zann.  The first time I smelled it, I was completely puzzled and a bit repelled.  I thought it was very strange and couldn’t see anyone wearing it as actual perfume.  But, still, I was fascinated with figuring out the components of the scent, and so I wore it several times, especially when reading Lovecraft or listening to an audiobook of “The Music of Erich Zann”.  (Check out the link! I’m a fan of the work of the people at Voices in the Dark.  They’ve even got audio excerpts of the Kalevala!)

(The Music of Erich Zann has since been discontinued.  After sampling more than 150 BPAL scents, I realized that Erich Zann is nowhere near their strangest perfume.  I like it enough now that I bought a bottle off eBay a few months ago.)

After that, I started googling perfume reviews, and I think that’s how I got into niche perfumery.  The blog Now Smell This was a huge source of information for me and reeeally helped me navigate the huge world of perfume to pick out some samples.  Other blogs like Perfume Posse and Perfume-Smellin’ Things were also a great help to a newbie like me.  (I’m still a big fan of all three sites…they’re the main way I keep up with new perfume and I trust all three of them to give me good advice when I’m putting together a sample order.)  I don’t remember all the details of my first foray into niche scents, but I do remember that I was reluctant to make my first order because it was a little bit more expensive of a pastime than I was able to afford at the time.  When I found fishbone96’s decant site, she was closing up shop and had a lot of discounted items for sale.  I made probably four orders from her over as many months, and got a bit of an education on perfume as a result.

Now that I can afford my interest in perfume, I’ve expanded my collection a bit.  I’ve currently got a large wishlist on The Perfumed Court that I plan to order in the near future.  I made an order from them recently, and that order is the inspiration for this blog post.

The fragrance in my last order that captivated me immediately and completely was Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur.  From the first moment, I totally associated the scent with its inspiration, the circus.  It’s animalic and smells like well-worn leather, with tonka adding a vanillic sweetness.  To me, it’s a comforting scent…but it’s absolutely sexy.  My only concern (and it’s not as big of a concern as it once was) is that other people will think I smell like I rolled around with the circus animals, like I need to bathe, or something like that.  I think it stays somewhat close to the skin, though, so it hopefully doesn’t smell like I’m walking around wafting the smell of an animal in heat.  I love skanky, musky scents–as long as they’re done right.  Muscs Koublai Khan is one of my biggest perfume loves and has been ever since I first tested it.  Recently, Musc Ravageur was in the package with Dzing, but I haven’t tested it enough times to figure out what I think of it.  My second bottle of perfume was Coco Mademoiselle…and while it isn’t musky or anything, I love the way it makes my skin smell after drying down.  I’m a huge fan of skin scents, and that’s probably why I fell in love with Dzing immediately.

So, I’ve had Dzing for probably six days or so, and I’m planning to buy a bottle as soon as I can.  I’m also looking to get Muscs Koublai Khan while it’s still in the export line.  There goes $280 (plus S&H)!  I don’t mind, though.  I rarely think about dropping $100-200 on a bunch of random junk that I neither want nor need, but for some reason I have a hard time convincing myself to buy things that I actually want.  I waited years and years to get an iPod, and it was a Christmas present.  I even bought a bottle of Black Cashmere and returned it because I couldn’t justify randomly spending $50.  (But you’d know that if you read my old blog posts :D.)

I finally bought a decant of Jaisalmer, also.  It seems to be the bloggers’ least favorite scent in the Comme des Garcons Incense line, but it’s my #1 favorite.  (I can’t be too unfair to Kyoto and Zagorsk, though; I’ve only had them for the same six days as Dzing, and I’ve only tested them once each.)

So, there’s the story of my interest in perfume.  I don’t want to call it a “hobby”, because there’s a little more to it than that.  I had a few more things to say, but I don’t remember them at the moment, so I’ll save them for another day, okay?

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I can’t stand to be unhealthy any longer.

Well, look at that.  I’m writing a blog post!  I actually have something positive and substantial to write about, too :).

So, last Wednesday night, I was wearing a big ole red t-shirt.  Looked at myself in the mirror, and finally, honestly decided that I’m tired of being unhealthy and unattractive.  So a few hours later, I lugged the exercise bike into my room.  Can’t really ignore it there, can I?  I should post a picture of my new, under-construction room.  Next step is to paint the darn thing.  And convince someone to insulate the room on the other side of the wall!  I’m not joking when I say that my room is 55 degrees in the winter…I’ve got a thermometer in it :).

The cold is what keeps me from hopping out of bed in the morning.  It’s unpleasant when I first get on the bike.  But when I get going, 10 minutes in, it’s not cold at all.  In fact, it’s about right.

Really wanted to start out on Thursday because I was pumped and ready to go, but I had work piled on top of more homework, and to top it off, there was static on the phone lines causing the Internet to basically die for two hours.  Almost left to go to Laura’s to use her computer.  ANYway…

I put together an exercise playlist from a bunch of Josh Homme music.  The driving, relentless beats of Kyuss are good for endurance runs, when I crank up the resistance on the bike.  And I was listening to Kyuss when I made the decision to exercise in the first place.  “Green Machine”, I think.  Good music to exercise to if you’re trying to get out your anger!

Hey, I didn’t even think about that!  I should hop on the bike when I get angry…it’s better than what I do now to deal with anger (nothing).

Also, faster songs like Them Crooked Vultures’ “Dead End Friends” and “Mind Eraser” are good for pushing me to pedal faster.  Really, I don’t even notice that I’m working harder when a faster song comes on.  Lots of QOTSA’s stuff is good for moderate exercise.  Nothing gets you going like “Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol…c-c-c-cocaine!” :D.

But, seriously…I’m proud of myself for sticking with it for three days.  Yeah, that’s not much, I know, but I need to keep reassuring myself that I’m doing well.  Last time I tried to start exercising, it lasted for two days.  One day, I listened to some of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods audiobook.  (It’s really good, by the way–the narrator does a good Slavic accent.  I’m only up to the part where the main characters visit Czernobog and the three sisters…I’ve read farther in the book, but I decided to take it at a slower pace to enjoy it more.  [That’s what she said.]  Oh, shut up.)  The next day, I watched an episode of Farscape.  Now, that was an okay idea, because you can tell when the commercial breaks happen, and at the final break, it’s time for a cool-down while the last few minutes of the show happen.  But I think I work harder with music.

The least pleasant part of it all is the darn hard bike seat.  First day, it was uncomfortable.  Second, I felt kinda sore.  Today, I’m on fire.  Bleh.  I need to find a nice, squishy seat :).

As for a diet…well, it’s not a diet.  I’m planning to eat 1500 calories per day.  So far, I’ve gone way under and still been satisfied.  The key for me is to measure my portions.  Luckily, there’s a head-shop scale lying around that works perfectly.  And I can work a measuring spoon like nobody’s business :D.  For the past few months, I’ve been eating less as it is.  Hopefully the exercise will push me out of my 5-7 pound range and have me losing weight–no, body fat.

I don’t know what my percentage is, but I do know I’ve got some muscle on me from lugging this body around for 20 years.  I used to love weight training in high school, because I wrote down my progress and could see the results.  Started out with, like, 50 pounds on the hamstring machine.  At the end of the semester, I was up to 120.  So, I’ve taken a page from good ole Mr. Bradshaw’s book and am writing my progress down: food intake, weight, exercise, and notes on how I feel physically and mentally.  I even decided to use a fancy book.  I just hate to start writing in a book and leave it unfinished.  So there’s some more motivation for me :).

I’m feeling happier with myself already.  This time, I made the decision.  No well-intentioned but unpleasant “wow, put on a few pounds?” from Dad.  (And, no, Dad, I actually have been the same weight for at least 2 years.  Where have you been?)  I want this to be 100% my idea.  No barging in from Dad.  That’ll just make me want to not exercise.

Ooh, and I found out from here that playing the guitar gives a little workout.  200 calories an hour ain’t bad.  I could really stand to work on my rhythm.  Also, been playing Guitar Hero lately, and every time I play it, I can feel my forearms getting buffer.  For some reason, I love being strong.  My legs are weaker than they used to be, but I keep my guns loaded.  (That sounded kinda weird, don’t you think?)  When your dad secretly tries to make you a boy by having you haul really heavy stuff around the house, you build up a little muscle.

Yeah, I hate that.  Bo and I were talking the other day about how Dad tries to make me into a boy.  I hate it.  No amount of dragon t-shirts or men’s leather jackets are ever going to find their way onto my body.  Maybe if I’m coloring someone’s hair…but even when I exercise I don’t like to look like a total slob.  I feel better about myself when I make an effort.

And a huge motivation for me is the CLOTHING!  Ahhh…I see so many things I’d love to wear, but I’m just a bit too big for them.  Bo said something to me about how he knows people who are a lot bigger than me and dress way better than I do.  But when you’re too small for plus size clothes and too big for normal clothes, it’s hard to find things.

I can’t wait to be able to just walk into a store and buy an article of clothing that isn’t a scarf or a pair of shoes.  Accessories are my large self’s best friend…but I’d love to wear whatever I want.  I see how far Bo has come, and it’s really inspiring.  I honestly don’t think I’d be as driven to get in shape if he hadn’t done it first.  But he does pressure me to eat a pint of ice cream when all I want is half a cup…but I guess that comes down to your past and how much ice cream you ate in the past.  I’ve never been one to eat a lot of it.

So, to sum it up, the keys to my success are going to be: smaller plates and bowls, measuring out servings, lots of filling, low-cal vegetables, keeping my interest in exercise through music and diversity (hopefully we’ll be able to get the treadmill back from Grandma’s house), and the thought that I’ll be able to shop wherever I want and look good in it.

Geez, I sure wrote a lot.  I’m not really planning to keep blogging about my exercise progress, since I’ve already got a pen-and-paper log, as well as introplay.com and another calorie and exercise site.  But if I feel like it, I’ll update.  The whole idea feels right.  I’m ready and I know I can do it.

Collaboration!

My best friend Bo and I have been kicking around the idea of a music blog for a while.  I’m not exactly sure what it’s going to entail, but I expect we’ll post reviews, mp3s, news, rants, and more.  We both have very broad musical tastes that overlap in some areas and don’t in others, so the two of us should come up with a good variety of topics to talk about.  I think it’ll be fun :).

So I think I may go ahead and write some posts, but I’m going to wait until Bo and I get together before an official launch.  Working together with someone else on a project might be just the thing to get it off the ground and have it actually thrive.  If it’s getting a little success, we may even do podcasts…who knows!

My affair with the gentleman of Providence

My interest in the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft goes back to my childhood, if only vaguely.  I remember that my dad picked up a book, most likely from Goodwill, which was a collection of Lovecraft’s, and possibly others’, stories.  It was a red, hardbound book with gold lettering on the spine and lacked a dust jacket.  I recall looking through the table of contents and spying the curious word “Cthulhu”.  I was probably about ten at the time, and I pretty much forgot about Lovecraft soon after.

Later on, in high school, I began to wonder about the book.  I’d read a little about Lovecraft online and was interested to read some of his work.  Not long after this newfound interest, I encountered a book at Goodwill called Best Supernatural Stories of H. P. Lovecraft.  It had a ragged purple dust jacket and some adequately pulpy cover art.  The book was published in 1945 (a first edition, if I remember correctly), and had brittle yellow-brown pages that smelled as old as they looked.  I still look back on that day at Goodwill as a very serendipitous event and am thankful my eye didn’t pass right over the book.

I devoured that old book’s contents, starting with The Call of Cthulhu.  Every day as I sat in the back of my Genetics/Criminology class, I was swept up into another world of cosmic wonder and terror.  The crowning moment in reading the delicate old book was with the story “The Colour Out of Space”.  (It was, and still is, my favorite Lovecraft story.)

After finishing the book, I soon discovered that the Osgood Library had a very nice copy of the Library of America’s Lovecraft publication Tales, and I checked the book out as many times as I could possibly manage to persuade the librarians to let me.  (This wasn’t too difficult, because my mom worked there and could check it in and back out for me.)

Today, I have read enough Lovecraft to have a pretty solid opinion about which were his best and worst works.  I would like to start a blog series about some of his tales…which will have the added benefits of getting me to read more again and to read more Lovecraft.  I can’t see why I shouldn’t enjoy my favorite author’s writings, and so I’m off to look through my catalog of stories (I have a written system–it’s pretty funny to look at, but it lets me know which of my books contain which stories at a glance) and choose which one to read and write about.

(I just finished “The Whisperer in Darkness” today, and it’s made me even more excited to see how the HPLHS adapts it into a film!  We’ve been teased and it’s been talked about since 2007.)

We’re finally about to leave the stone age!

Well, we’re finally getting high speed internet.  Unfortunately, Mom thinks we have to stick with our normal phone company (we might, but I don’t know for sure), and it’s all the way in Sunman.  So our connection will probably be kinda slow, but in comparison to the 45.2 kbps that we usually get, anything faster is definitely welcome.

So I’ve been cleaning up my room today to make room for the spare computer.  It’s never been hooked up to the internet because it doesn’t have a modem, so it’s pretty dang speedy and not weighed down with spyware and junk at all.  I’m going to transfer my music collection to my own computer now, so the main one will speed up some too.  And maybe I’ll actually use my 500 MB external hard drive I got on Black Friday!

I’m pretty excited. 

I’m the only one around the house who knows how to hook things up properly.  You should see me and Dad try to collaborate on hooking up a VCR.  I absolutely hate it now.  I hate having to explain what’s going in and what’s going out.  I know what I’m doing, but apparently he doesn’t think so.  How many times have I swapped out things in my room without problems?  So I just hope I can hook up DSL just as easily.

I just realized last night that we have a router/modem already.  We bought it from Goodwill for 5 bucks, and it came with three extra line filters.  It came from Cincinnati Bell, and it’s a lot crappier than the one we got from ETC.  You can only hook one computer up to it, but ours has four ethernet jacks.  So I guess it goes to show that big companies skimp on their customers sometimes.

We don’t have ethernet cards in any of our computers, so I bought two USB network adapters last night.  I picked USB, not because I’m afraid to open up a computer, but because I may be getting a laptop, and laptops don’t really have a place to stick a desktop ethernet card.

So anyway, I’m looking forward to being able to actually use the internet like normal people.  And having my own computer will be flippin’ sweet.

The other day at Goodwill I spotted a 1/4″ guitar plug with a USB plug on the other end, and Dad bought it for me.  Now I can record on my computer without all the noise I used to have from the adapter into the microphone jack.

So you might get to hear some music in the future…I’ll actually be able to upload it ^_^.

I can’t wait to get our adapters in the mail so we can flippin’ surf the internet!

My Christmas Haul

This year we had a pretty plentiful Christmas, gifts-wise.  I helped Dad pick out a few sweaters, a pair of slippers and a few pairs of socks for Mom, as well as some super cute Mutts PJ pants for Laura.   Laura and I bought Mom a 3-in-1 Hamilton Beach slow cooker (because her old one is totally wonky, one leg is broken off and the knob will burn your fingers if you’re not careful) and an iris folding kit (it’s kind of like origami…in fact, it came with origami paper).  Got Dad a beard/hair/everything else trimmer (the exact one he picked out…he was excited) and a gift set of British Sterling (bleh…he asked for it, so I got it).  I got Laura a Bluetooth headset and some t-shirts from Charlotte Russe.  Everyone was pretty happy with the presents I got them, so that was nice.

So, what did I get?  From Mom and Dad, I got three pairs of pants from Old Navy: one pair of brown ones and two pairs of jeans.  They don’t quite fit, so I’m gonna take them back and probably get twice the jeans, if I can find some on sale.  I got a pair of driving gloves from Mom and Dad, which is nice because I never heat my car up and I end up driving with one or two fingers until the car gets warm.  Got a pair of PJ pants and a travel nail kit from Mom and Dad also.  From Laura, I got a nice makeup kit from Sephora with different shades of purple, gray, and brown eyeshadow and nine different lip glosses.  The eyeshadow blends really well and all the colors are ones I’ll definitely use.  She also got me a pair of blue plaid Levis low-top chucks.  I picked them out at Shoe Show a few weeks ago, but she said she wanted to give them to me for Christmas, so I let her cop out of buying me another present and just get the shoes for me.  My big present was a bottle of Coco Mademoiselle eau de parfum, which I picked out from Macy’s.  If I got the eau de toilette, I could have gotten a gift set, but I’ve been wearing the edp for months in a mini purse spray and I love the drydown.  Plus, I didn’t really use the Daisy lotion I got last year and I don’t see myself using shower gel all that often either.  I also got $50 from Mom and $100 from Dad.  Haven’t gone to Grandma’s yet, so I’ll update after I find out what I get.  I’m pretty sure I’m getting $50 from her, but she probably got us some other stuff too.  Every year it seems like I get the fewest presents, but it’s because mine are more expensive than everyone else’s.

I’m happy that everyone is happy, and hopefully next year will be great too.  Sometimes the presents Mom buys Dad aren’t too fantastic, but this year she got him some pretty good stuff.   He said he got everything he wanted, so that’s great.

Hope all y’all had a rootin’-tootin’ Christmas too!

In which the last week of school does not go according to plan

My last week of school for the semester was December 12-14.  Monday was okay, although the essay portion of my Philosophy exam took me an hour and a half (mainly because I like to talk).  I really liked Philosophy, and if it’ll fit in my course schedule, I’d like to take Philosophy of Religion also.

Tuesday I had to give a special occasion speech.  I spent Monday night writing the speech, procrastinator that I am.  My topic was the commemoration of a monument in H.P. Lovecraft’s honor.  I wasn’t too awful excited to give my speech because I knew it wouldn’t be something the audience would be super interested in.  But, heck, I had enough books of his lying around that I had the material to write it.  I wrote and rewrote my note cards at least three times.  That’s the way I learn my speech: rehashing my notes several times.  So I went to bed fairly confident that I could give my speech, although I wasn’t so sure it would be interesting.

The next morning started out fine.  There was snow in the forecast, and as soon as I was about to pull out of the driveway, the truck with the black stuff went by.  Our road was actually ready ahead of time for once.

During the drive down to school, it started snowing.  It wasn’t sticking to the road, but there was a lot of it getting blown around.  I was rocking out to Pavement and things were going alright.

When I got to the hill by South Dearborn on 350, there was a Jeep facing up the hill parked on the other side of the road.  I thought it was kind of odd that they would pull across traffic to stop on a shoulder.  The people ahead of me on the road were going really slow and riding their brakes down the hill.  When I got on the brakes to keep a safe distance, my car lost traction and I started to slide to the right.  I tried to get it under control, but the car ended up making a big arc to the left.  I was going at a 45 degree angle to the road and doubted I could get the car under control, so I tried to let the car go off the road as safely as possible.

The sound a car makes when it’s sliding freely on ice makes my adrenaline rush now.  Going down the hill, it was silent except for the white noise of the tires on slick road, and it felt like someone other than me had taken over my body.  The way I was steering felt like it was a dream.  I felt calm and frightened at the same time.  As soon as I came to a stop, pointing down the hill on the opposite side of the road about ten feet away from the shoulder, it seemed that my senses came back to me.  “Speak, See, Remember” was playing on my stereo and the heater was blowing loudly.  I looked at myself in the rearview mirror and saw fear in my eyes.

Nobody was answering when I called 911.  I contacted Mom and Dad, trying to get the Aurora police department’s phone number, but the battery died right before Mom could tell me it.  (My phone says its battery is low when I’m on the phone for only two or three minutes, then it shuts off.  It comes right back on, though.)

A man stopped and called the police for me.  He waited there until they came.  When I thanked him, it was like the most genuine “thank you” I had ever said.  The police came a while later and said they’d bring a tow truck.

After the officer left, I waited for probably ten minutes, and then a housewife-looking woman with a Bluetooth headset and a pink headband came to my window.  She seemed super eager to help me, but I expected the police back any minute, so I told her help was coming.

A minute or so after she left, I realized that my battery was almost dead.  I had forgotten to turn off my headlights.  No police came after many minutes, and it was starting to get cold.  Thankfully, Dad put a coat in my car for emergencies, and I didn’t give a crap how unfashionable it was at this point.

Up until this time, I remained calm.  But when twenty minutes went by without anyone stopping and with me sitting there with a dead battery (although I had jumper cables in the trunk, thanks to Dad again), I started to worry.   Ten minutes or more went by and nobody came to help me.

A blue truck stopped, and an older man and a forty-something man in a Carhartt one-piece and an orange toboggan got out.  I explained my situation, and they thought they could pull me out.  I didn’t think that my jumper cables would reach their car, but they had one of those portable battery chargers and I was back in business in no time.  The younger man hooked my front end up to their truck.  The older man pulled me out while the younger walked alongside me as I steered back up the hill.  I was so thankful for their help, but I didn’t get a chance to say thank you because Mom and Dad called right when they were leaving.

I sat on the shoulder for a few minutes, trying to figure out why my seat belt wasn’t working properly, when a police SUV and a tow truck pulled up.  I told the cop how I got out of the hill and that I didn’t need to be towed.  He seemed kind of put off, but if it wasn’t for those two men in the truck I would have been so happy to see the police car.

I got back on the road, which by this time was slushy and ten times worse than before.  (The hill totally caught me off guard because I didn’t skid at all on the way there.  I went slow down the hill, but apparently not slow enough.)  It took me half an hour to drive from the hill to school.  Everyone was going so slow that I pretty much coasted or was on the brakes the whole time.

When I got to school, almost everyone had given their speeches.  Only three people (I think) were left, and the teacher forgot that I hadn’t even given mine yet.  I was shaking and had a knot in my throat, not because I was nervous to give my speech, but because of what had just happened.  I gave my worst speech all year and watched myself do everything wrong but felt unable to stop myself.  I didn’t expect my teacher to cut me any slack because of what happened, though.

Class was over at 1:30.  (I got there at 1:00.)  If I had had to wait for the tow truck, I would have missed class.  I decided to skip English (which didn’t start until 3:00) and just go home.  I called Dad to let him know I was coming home, and toward the end of the conversation, my phone ran out of minutes.  I went straight to CVS and bought more, in case something happened on the way home.  I had to drive between 25 and 45 mph all the way home, so it took me almost an hour to get there.  When I finally did, I realized that I had been so tense on the drive home that the muscles in my palms were aching and my shoulders were extremely tense.  I was just so glad to have made it home safely.

The next evening I had Finite Math.  I think I got an A+.  The road was a whole lot better and I was so glad to be done.