Sunday, July 6, 2014

Top Ten Things I Learned from Freedom Day 2014

10. The Fourth of July is more fun when you call it Freedom Day.

Being able to yell, “Freedom!” and having people yell, “Freedom!” in return makes for a great party rallying cry. Frankly, it’s just really fun to do any kind of call and answer, holiday or no.

In all seriousness, though, it also makes you think about the difference between patriotism, nationalism, and jingoism, about performative patriotism in all forms, from say joining the armed services to attending protest rallies to wearing items sporting the flag. We’re a very performatively patriotic citizenry here in the U.S., and it’s good to stop and consider what that says and means about us as individuals and as a people, both internally and within the international community.

9. The best kind of birthday cake is one made for America.

I dunno why birthday cake tastes better when you keep shouting, “Happy Birthday America!” but it does. Just trust me.

8. Most of these best films for Fourth of July viewing are missing one of the very best options imaginable…as we discovered yesterday.

I looked at tons of recommended viewing/marathon lists and not one of them had the movie we finally settled on, Varsity Blues. The film actually starts with red white and blue and the first line is literally, “America has a lot of rules.” This film bleeds ‘Merica through and through, and I appreciate that – in the context of the film – this also means a kind of skepticism about following trends or people blindly, an independent spirit, and a willingness to stand up for others and/or what you believe in, even if it means losing something important to you personally. Also, Texas! And football. On the whole, a perfect Freedom Day choice.

7. YouTube has a kind of hilariously good ability to make mix tapes for your Freedom Day partying/aimless driving.

Seriously, you turn on the YouTube and BAM! Here’s a list of weird, strangely patriotic music….kind of? Putting David Byrne’s “America” next to 2LiveCrew “Banned in the U.S.A.,” Lana Del Rey’s “National Anthem,” and Cimorelli’s “Made in America,” you definitely get Americana with an edge. And if your car stereo is swank like mine, you can stream that playlist right through your speakers. Awwww, yeah.

6. There are a lot of Freedom-related smells I enjoy.

I like the smell of gunpowder. I like the smell of bonfires. I like the smell of smoking meat. I like the smell of sweat and salt and sunscreen, the perennial scents of summer. I like the smell of summer fruits – strawberries, watermelons, blackberries. And then there’s the leathers – they smell like new boots and worn saddle – and incenses and desert flowers.

Which is to say that, yes, to me Freedom Day smells a lot like home. I guess you can take the girl of Texas, but you’ll never take the Texas out of the girl. I wish I had Tauer Perfumes Lonestar Memories, but since I didn’t, I opted Tauer Perfumes L'Air du desert marocain, which is meant to capture the experience of “finding peace in a room, lying on the bed, exhausted from the heat of the day, with the window open, letting the cool air in which still is very dry and filled with the scents from the near desert and overlayed with the spicy scents of the streets below.” Portland may not be Houston hot, but hot is hot, and this is what I always think of in the high heat of summer, wherever I am.

5. I have become slightly more baller at fancy eye make-up than I realized.

I saw this awesome #MUA video of a blue gradient eye makeup and decided I really wanted to try it. I think I did a pretty good job (see the photo) annnnnd I got randomly complimented specifically on my eye makeup, so I am calling that a Freedom Day success story.

4. El Hubs has discovered his summer Glühwein beverage creation equivalent – Sangria!

For years now, David has been rocking the glühwein for our winter holiday gatherings. Summers, however, have been less party beverage defined. Thanks to our housemate coming home with five bottles of free white wine and some season fruit inspiration of David’s part, I think we’ve settled on our wine+booze+fruit drink for warmer days. The beverage was delicious, there was plenty of it, and we all enjoyed it, so I think the white wine sangria is definitely a hit!

3. I really like white wine sangria, but like it a lot less when I am wearing it.

I managed to dump a lot of sangria on me during a typical Diana-is-a-klutz disaster, but the nicest thing about a white sangria is that at least it didn’t stain my clothes. Was I sticky? Yes. But that was the extent of my unhappiness, and when it comes to me and my klutziness, that’s a success story. Again, we’re calling that a Freedom Day win.

2. We’ve created a new holiday game!
On Saturday, El Hubs and I created a new 4th of July weekend competition/event/form of entertainment.

You and your friends select the non-alcoholic Americana beverage of your choice (we had unnameable custom-called giant Starbucks beverages, but would also accept things like a giant drink from Sonic, a 72oz Slurpee, etc.). Then you drive around various neighborhoods in your city, comparing their relative 'Freedom' and 'Merica' scores.

For every house/vehicle you pass with tasteful, moderate Independence Day decorations (a tasteful bit of bunting, tiny row of sidewalk flags), said neighborhood gets a 'Freedom' point. For every house/vehicle you pass that either looks like it had been hosed down in American regalia OR has some sort of obvious over the top spirit going on (I'm looking at you, guy with a giant American flag attached hastily to a 2x4 that is tied to the gate of your truck), said neighborhood earns one 'Merica' point. Bonus points are awarded for 'Permanent' installations in either category (e.g. someone with an obviously permanent flag pole and flag set up in their yard; something with a patriotic paint job on their vehicle).

This leads to both amazing conversations and photos. Why is wealthy neighborhood A so much freer than wealthy neighborhood B? Why did small municipality X feel so 'Merica-inspired they covered their street construction in flags? What demographics lead to overt expressions of various forms of patriotism? What do these expressions represent and how they differ? Why do some people with lots of money still have such terrible taste?

So many questions! Plus you get to drive around listening to patriotic music (Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Sr., etc.) while yelling "Freedom!" or "'Merica!" and pointing or taking the occasional photo.

1. I sort of love all this patrio-nationalistic nonsense all the same.

The thing is, I genuinely enjoyed the decorations. Like I was kind of sad I hadn't decorated our house by the time I got home. Hell, I even tear up whenever I hear "Proud to be an American," and I'm fine with that.  So I think the key is to recognize there's a little ingrained overt patrio-nationalistic in all of us and to smile and wish people a happy fourth if they look at you funny if you're playing our little as-yet-unnamed-game. 

And with that – I’ll take my leave. I hope you all had a great weekend, and I wish my American readers a happy Freedom Day to all.

"He says to 'be cool' but I don't know how yet.
Wind in my hair, hand on the back of my neck.
I said, "Can we party later on?"
He said, 'Yes, yes.' (Yes.)

Tell me I'm your National Anthem.
(Ooh, yeah, baby, bow down, making me so wow, wow.)
Tell me I'm your National Anthem.
(Sugar, sugar, how now, take your body down town.)
Red, white, blue is in the skies.

Summer's in the air and baby, heaven's in your eyes.
I'm your National Anthem."

~ "National Anthem," Lana Del Rey

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Being John Wesley: A Few Words On Art, Life, and the Unknown Impact of Others

This weekend marked the anniversary of my ten-year college reunion.  I was on my class committee, but unfortunately ended up extremely sick on Friday.  Consequently, I was stuck in bed most of the weekend and only rallied to make it to the retirement party of a beloved campus icon and staff member today because there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to celebrate a staff member who meant so much to me.

Unfortunately, being sick meant missing the opportunity to spend time with the one person I really wanted to see at reunion: my sweet friend Bonnie. Bonnie was a tremendously talented woman I had the good fortune, not only to meet in college, but to work closely with during our individual and joint quests to top each other as the bigger overachiever in the Lewis & Clark College History Department.  Bonnie was every bit as passionate as I was about studying history, learning the research and analytical skills to be a good historian in her own right, and ensuring the stories of those who were likely to be overlooked or lost to the sands of time be captured and retold, so that we might learn from all those who went before, not only those who were privileged in moment of their lives.

Bonnie made me a better student.  She was my partner when I faced the rare and dreaded group project (something I have never been a fan of); she was my reciprocal support system and study buddy when the nights of research went long; and she was someone I respected enough to want to compete with, to want to earn the respect of, and whom I desired to share my work with, so that it might be improved in the sharing.  When it came to history, Bonnie was my cheerleader, champion, critique partner, and friend. 

But Bonnie helped me grow in a different and arguably more important way.  When I met Bonnie, she was far further along in her feminism than I was.  While I was trying to figure out what feminism meant to me and the kind of feminist I wanted to be, Bonnie was helping found the Womyn’s Center, organizing The Vagina Monologues, and single-handedly putting together a week of Take Back the Night events.  Most of the truly feminist programming that happened while I was a student at Lewis & Clark was run, in large part, by Bonnie.  I spent most of my time in college being a feminist academic, learning to parse thick texts and integrate my radical feminism into my already established philosophical framework and life experiences; meanwhile, Bonnie was busy being the hands-on activist and advocate it would take me years to become. 

When I met Bonnie, we both had the same dream: to become American historians and professors of history like our shared academic mentors. However, as way led to way, Bonnie stayed on the path to academia, while I stumbled into other interests and opportunities.  I don’t regret my choices, but I will say that my own inability to maintain the kind of passion and dedication we once shared deepened my respect and admiration for Bonnie as I watched her press on in the face of adversity where I would have turned back.

I discovered today, upon receiving a copy of Bonnie’s now completed doctoral dissertation, that my name appears in the acknowledgements.  Bonnie calls me her “first friend to love history.”  But if I am her first friend to love history, then Bonnie was my first true feminist friend.  Without her, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today; I am also fairly certain this blog would not exist. 

What stunned me about finding my name in Bonnie’s dissertation acknowledgements most was that  I had no idea I’d made such an impact on her life.  Similarly, I suspect she has no idea she had such a significant impact on mine.  At the time, we were just two young women who shared a passion for history, story-telling, and the secret untold stories of women and children.  We ate together, studied together, grew together, and never once did it occur to us at the time that we were shaping each other into the adults we’d later become.

The last thing shared by our outgoing Vice President of Campus Living at his retirement party today was this charge to all in attendance, borrowed from John Wesley: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”  I’ve been thinking about those words a lot, and about Bonnie’s dissertation note, and about those two girls pouring through the books in the reference section of the library over a decade ago.

You never know who is going to happen into your life and, though you don’t know it in the moment, change you in a subtle but fundamental way, like a rock thrown into the pond of your being, rippling out and out forever.  It may be the girl with the stripped stockings and spiky blonde hair with pink bangs who is willing to match you late night minute-for-sleep-deprived-minute on a research project, and in turn teaches you not just about history or feminism, but also of how much you are actually capable of when you are pushed to do your best.  It may be the lovely woman with the vintage dresses and classic sense of style who introduces you to your first beautiful perfumes, sparking a passion for olfactory art that changes forever the way you interact with the world.  It may be the kindly old vice president who encourages you to stand up for yourself when you’re fighting with the entire theatre department to bring new works of art and new collaboration to a college; it may by the young, passionate sound designing roommate whose work on a beautiful play inspires you to think about what art is and what it means to create something, then to pick up a pen and start writing again for the first time in weeks.

You never know who will change your life; you never know when you might change someone else’s. And since you don’t know, since you may never know, whose life you are changing in the moment, then perhaps that makes Wesley’s charge even more timely, and therefore appropriate:

Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can.
In all the ways you can.
In all the places you can.
At all the times you can.
To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can.

You just never know when you might be the person who makes all the difference.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a copy of The Student Body: A History of the Stewart Indian School, 1890-1940 to read.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

There is no home like the one you've got...

Updates from Rwanda, Part 3

You know that scene in Almost Famous, where William Miller is getting further and further into life with the band and farther away from his home and life before he got the gig with Rolling Stone Magazine?

 He's on the bus, and he's freaking out because he is sort of feeling the last of his normalcy slipping away, and he turns to Penny Lane and says, “I need to go home!”

 And then Penny smiles, slow and wide, holds up her empty palm and pretends to blow something out of it into his face, waggles her fingers, and says, “You are home!”

That is what the last few days have felt like.

The ex-pats here keep trying to get me to stay longer...or permanently. They keep proposing options, both ridiculous and realistic. They have offered to pass me around as a live-in counselor and cook. They have suggested I teach at one of the local tech schools, and even offered to get me a tour. One particularly alcohol-soaked night, it was suggested I learn to distill vodka from potatoes on the internet, and then start Kigali's first distillery. I even have a backing offer.

I've only been here about twelve days, but strangely, I could see it. Of all the things I thought I could imagine when I not only left home for the first time, but of all places, went to Africa, I did not imagine liking it enough to be able to imagine myself living here.

And yet...I could see it. I could imagine taking in generation after generation of Peace Corps. volunteers who wanted a safe place to live with hot running water. I could imagine working here, living here, even driving here, which has to be one of the scariest endeavors available. Kigali, for all its problems, is beautiful. It's decently well-organized. It's relatively safe.

There are things I would miss: easily accessible and wide varieties of cheese, for one. Any hope of decent internet. Western healthcare. American television. Obviously I would need to find a way to get my perfume collection here in one piece.

But there are so many things here I can already see myself missing when I go back: fresh and plentiful fruit juices, glass after glass. The beautiful countryside with its lakes and mountains, which I am only just starting to explore. The art, the music, the dancing, the textiles. The flowers that grow everywhere, in more kinds than I have seen outside botanical gardens, all fragrant and bright. And I'll tell you this: I eat a helluva lot better in Africa than I ever do in the U.S.

I knew that coming here was going to be an adventure. And that was good. I needed a little adventure in my life. A smidgen of upheaval. Some mild shakubuku. 2014, the year of doing things I never imagined I'd do.  It seemed like a theme worth embracing.

I did not expect to come here, look around, and think, “Yes, I could live here. I could be okay with getting my own electricity and water. I could adjust to the less than reliable internet. I could be happy here. I could learn French, and even a some Ikinyarwanda. I could live this life.”

I realize a huge part of my feelings about this have to do with the relative safety of Kigali, my high amounts of contact with other Americans, and the general high quality of life I'm experiencing here. Nonetheless, I did not expect to find myself thinking, “Yes, I could like and even love living in Africa.”

I miss my friends back home, but I don't miss home itself in the way I expected. It's an interesting, discovering new things about myself.  It's nice to know that even well into my thirties, I am not done growing, changing, becoming who I am supposed to be.  Any reports of my death have been exaggerated, even in my own mind;  I am still, very much, alive.

And this feeling of fitting, of being bigger than I thought I was, more capable of embracing newness, chaos, change -- it's wonderful. It reminds me again how often we live our lives small, thinking we are only capable of navigating a thimble worth of experience, when inside we are vast oceans of being. At the end of the day, our boundaries are defined more often by our fear than by our own capacity.

I would like, very much, to be less afraid.

Today I am wearing Lavanila Laboratories Vanilla Grapefruit. Available at Sephora, Vanilla Grapefruit is described as follows:
An uplifting citrus, this addictive blend of juicy pink grapefruit, fresh lime, crisp cedarwood, and warm Madagascar vanilla is fresh and inviting. Kissed by sunshine, this unique scent lifts the spirits.

Each fragrance starts with a warm base of Madagascar vanilla and layers on a unique blend of pure essential oils for an exquisite expression of nature that captures a mood, a memory, or a moment in time. Hailed as the world’s first healthy fragrance, natural technology infuses organic sugar cane alcohol with skin-saving botanicals and antioxidants for a modern twist on the classic art of perfumery.

Notes: Pink Grapefruit, Lime, Bergamot, Orange, Cedarwood, Madagascar Vanilla.
Sephora describes Vanilla Grapefruit's style as “Exotic. Sensual. Addictive.” Maybe that's why I keep respraying it. On application, the grapefruit note is strong, but fades quickly into a mixture of grapefruit, vanilla, and lime that smells more like those chewable fruit candies than actual fruit to me. That isn't a knock, by the way. I love those things. I just wouldn't reach for this one looking for a realistic fruit scent.

After about an hour, a lot of that candied smell burns off and Vanilla Grapefruit settles into a scent that is more woody and powdery than foodie or floral. The bergamot is very faint on me, but I get a nice balance of cedar and a vanilla that reminds me of the big tins of puff powder with giant pink powder puffs I used to get as holiday gifts when I was a little girl. Those things only ever smelled like one of two things: roses or vanilla. (Honestly, it's a wonder I love both notes so much. I guess I figure I'm spicy enough on my own that adding a little sweet certainly can't hurt.)

Vanilla Grapefruit is decently long lasting. I can still smell it faintly over six hours along. In terms of sillage? Moderate. I wouldn't take a bath in it, but if you're a careful sprayer, you can wear it without giving anyone around you a toothache.

I'm sure all this sugar is going to make everyone who sniff this feel like Vanilla Grapefruit is the province of fifteen year old girls.  Well let me tell you, I am no teenager, and I get a lot of compliments on it, so don't right off it's light, fizzy fun as too youthful for you without trying it out first.

Vanilla Grapefruit is available from Sephora in a 75ml spray for $58. I feel like this is a pretty good price for what you're getting. As always, I recommend trying before you buy.

I could only find one other review from Musing of a Muse.  Too bad for you fumies out there.  Vanilla Grapefruit is a nice little scent and I will always remember it as part of my trip to Rwanda.

I have got so much to give.
I swear, I do.
I may not have nine lives,
but this one feels brand new.
Yes I've lived a good one.
I have tried to be true.
There are some things I never realized
'til I met you.
How the wind feels on my cheeks
When I'm barkin' at the moon!
There is no home like the one you've got
'cause that home belongs to you!

~ “Barking at the Moon,” Jenny Lewis

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fools Like Me.

Dear reader:

I've been working on a new book lately, and it's been interesting to think about what it means to have the power to destroy someone else's life. In my current work-in-progress, one of my characters has a significant advantage over the other, and has all the necessary information and evidence to put an end to the other, rather permanently. Some would even argue, in the context of the situation, that she should.

So I've been thinking a lot about love, and about trust, and about vulnerability. Because I feel like it must take either great trust or great stupidity to put yourself in that position. Some people would probably call it idiocy or naivety, but to me, it seems like something else.

Are you sure you've got the right number?
Is it me you wanna talk to tonight?
Everyone in town's got your number.
Everbody's got you pegged right.
Is that why you got in touch with me?
Oh I guess you must be, running out of fools.

It's a vulnerability and that, in itself, when the person is completely aware of what they're doing, of the kind of power they're handing the other person, requires a kind of faith. It's a form of trust. And to give someone everything they would ever need to turn your world upside and leave you with nothing more than the wasted, smoking ashy ruins of what you had before has to require a special kind of belief in that other person, a willingness to believe they won't simply nuke you from orbit just because they can.

Marni and I talk about this a lot, both in terms of our work and in terms of our lives. We debate whether it is worth it to take that chance. We both tend to be big-hearted people who are quick to embrace newcomers and make a home for them in our lives, in our hearts. We've both been pretty deeply screwed over in the past as a consequence.

One could presume that, as writers and therefore necessarily also students of human nature, we'd both be a little more cynical. Both personal experience and media would tend to teach us that this is, frankly, a stupid way to live a life. That we could be the kind of cool, level-headed, disaffected heroines we tend to like if we could just take a step back and see people for who they are, not for whom we hope they will be.

You left me there without a warning.
Your goodbye was even colder than ice.
Didn't bother you I was crying.
Now you wanna break my heart twice?
Is that why you got in touch with me?
Oh I guess you must be, running out of fools.

Instead, I think we are true romantics. We both, regardless of previous pain, are willing to remain open to the possibility of love, friendship, kinship, and closeness with new people as they come along. We both believe that it is simply better to take that risk than be closed off to any possibility whatsoever.

Sure, we can mentally play just about storyline all the way through to the end, arranging and rearranging the pieces of a person's life and their relationships like so many chess pieces on board.  You put enough pieces in play, and you can see what the ending will look like -- take you opponent's queen off the board and they're vulnerable, move a knight to intercept an unwanted encounter and shore up your player's current position, leaving them better off than before.

But just because you can see a potential ending coming doesn't mean you can avoid it. It doesn't even mean you shouldn't try playing out the line just to see, even if it reads very clearly, right there in your crisp new edition of Modern Relationship Opens, "slight advantage to opponent."  Sometimes the point of playing is the pain; sometimes that is how a person has to learn and grow.

You got back to my name in your little black book.
Tell you what – I bet you forgot how I even look.
Yes you did.

People are not like a national park.  You can't pack in and pack out of someone's life, changing little, doing no harm on your way.  Your life ends up scattered with the debris of someone else's passing regardless of their intent.  Nobody comes into your life and manages to avoid stepping on the moth; time is linear, and when they step on those details in your lives, it's like stepping on the butterfly -- it changes your future inexorable, permanently, and forever.

To quote the ever popular John Green, "You don't get to decide whether or not you get hurt in this life. But you do get to decide who hurts you."

If I have to choose between being trusting and taking a little pain in exchange, I'll do it. I'd rather have the good things you get in exchange than nothing at all.

So go ahead with all your sweet talking,
go ahead for all the good it can do.
Have yourself a dime for the talking,
then I'm gonna hang right up on you,
'cause this time, you're not getting through to me.
Oh I guess you must be, running out of fools,
even fools like me.
~ “Fools Like Me,” Neko Case

Monday, April 21, 2014

You better listen to the radio…

A Review of Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Dear Reader:

While I am here in Africa, I have a surprising amount of time on my hands. First, this is the longest vacation (roughly two weeks) I think I've taken since at least 2009. Second, my lovely host Ashley has to work some of the time I am here. While eventually I will figure out my way around enough to go out on my own a little, today was only day three of my adventures, so I stuck close to home.

One of the things I brought with me was a hard drive full of music for Ashley to keep. In point of fact, I brought what probably represents about eighty-five percent of my entire music collection. If you know me, you already realize this is a lot of music (close to 70,000 songs). I brought a second drive in my bag, copied the files, and the former is staying with Ashley, leaving her comfortably soundtracked for the next few years while she is in Kigali on her fellowship. Given that the only radio we can really get is the Armed Forces Network, Ashley was desperately in need of this particular gift. Now my job is to meet her demands to set up playlists for her before I go. Such is the life of the traveling mixed cd specialist. FN1.

Right now, I am playing one of my personal Top Five, All-time, Desert Island albums, The Very Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions. This album has remained on my top five list since I was nineteen, so I think it's safe to say it is never going away. FN2. If I were pressed to name the rest of the top five at this very moment, it would include: The Mountain Goats All Hail West Texas (though tomorrow I might say Tallahassee or The Sunset Tree); The Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs; Lana Del Rey's Born to Die; and Neko Case Middle Cyclone. FN3.

Other things I overpacked: I think I have twelve different lipsticks, which was probably two more than needed; six pairs of shoes, which I think was acceptable but others might not (honestly, I wish I'd brought a few more); and of course, perfume.

I brought mostly samples with me, reasoning that now was a perfect time to work through some of my overwhelming backlog and get to some reviews. I know, I know. Even when we are far apart, dear reader, I am always thinking of you.

Aren't you lucky?

Today, I am wearing Viktoria Minya Hedonist because it seemed strangely in keeping with my blog themes of late. Luckyscent describes Hedonist as follows:
Remember when Rossano Brazzi sang “Some Enchanted Evening,” how he fell in love across a crowded room on a tropical Island? If you’ve ever want to be that girl that stops the party, this bold debut from Victoria Minya is your next must-have. The hedonist who wears this intoxicatingly sweet floral, loaded with ripe peaches and rum extract, is unquestionable a pleasure-seeker, but she also a lady. She’s the center of attention without raising her voice. She enters and heads turn.

In this perfect orchestration, peach melds with vanilla, osmanthus, jasmine and soft tobacco in a classic example of feminine flirtation, a beguiling expression of skin that wants to be touched. In presentation as well, the fragrance captivates. The handmade wooden box opens to reveal a beautifully crafted bottle filled with hundreds of Bohemian crystals that sparkle in the champagne colored liquid. Strikingly sensuous, wearing this will make you feel gorgeous, confident, and undeniably enchanting.

Notes: Rum, bergamot, peach, osmanthus absolute, jasmine absolute, orange flower absolute, tobacco, vanilla, cedarwood, vetiver
Tobacco, rum, vanilla, and osmanthus all run high in the opening. I get no bergamot, which I would definitely notice because it's one of those notes that rarely works for me. The peach is there, but not in a ripe fruit way. On me it's more like a flowering peach tree before the fruit begins to form.

In the dry down, I start to get more of a fruity peach element. I also get plenty of vetiver and some cedarwood, giving Hedonist a dry clean base that reminds me of the smell of a new suede jacket. It has that sort of texture to it, soft and smooth under your skin. This base still resides under the sweet top, though, which is neither entirely foodie or floral on me, but a sort of melded sugary scent. Later I get a tobacco that is more like raw news leaves than aged sweet ones, which adds an interesting dynamic to the middle. The end becomes gently sweet on me, more floral than food now, and resides close enough that I can only smell it when I press my nose to my skin, but that's after a full day's wear.

A lot of reviews of Hedonist commented on the complexity of this fragrance and I have to agree. There's a lot to be had in Hedonist, and it changes again and again as it wears. It's pretty, it's interesting, and it's a challenging scent. You have to be willing to engage and reengage to truly experience it. It's one of those I'd recommend a newer nose get a sample of, try, and then set aside for six months or a year to try again.

As purple as the prose of the scent description is, I will agree with Luckyscent on at least one point – it is definitely a presentation of skin that wants to be touched. This is a pretty sexy perfume. Hedonist, as presented, is decidedly feminine. I doubt there are a lot of men who want to smell this starkly sweet because Americans just don't think of sugary as being particularly male. That said, on the right man, it might be completely beautiful. This is, once again, one of those times when I want to wait until David falls asleep and test things on him unawares. FN4.

Since I'm using a wand sample I can't give you a good sense of sillage, but I'd bet it would be on the higher side. In terms of longevity, it was still hanging around close to the skin almost twelve hours in, so that's a big plus if you want to wear something for the whole day. When I woke up, a good eighteen hours after application, there was still a tiny hint of it on my skin. That's some seriously high quality perfume.

Hedonist is available in a 45ml for a whooping $210. Now let's be frank: that is steep. That is By Kilian levels of steep. There is very little I am going to pony up for at that price point, and this would not be at the top of my list (again, see By Kilian or some of Ayala Moriel's more expensive parfum). That said, it's a complicated lovely scent and if you find it to be your Holy Grail of some category or another, it might be worth shelling out the big bucks for this one. My recommendation is to try a sample to make sure you love it before you buy.

Want more? Try:
~ a review from The Non-Blonde
~ a review from Kafkaesque
~ a review from The Candy Perfume Boy
~ a review from Perfume Shrine
~ a review from Epiphany
~ a review from Ca Fleure Bon

Some of my friends sit around every evening
and they worry about the times ahead,
while everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
and the promise of an early bed.
You either shut up or get cut out
they don't wanna hear about it –
so many inches on the reel to reel.
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
trying to anesthetize the way that you feel.

~ “Radio,” Elvis Costello and the Attractions
FN1. I would like to also note, as a tiny ego stroke to myself, that Ashley carted the mixed CDs I have made her over the years all the way to Africa! Yep. That's right. My mix cds are not to be trifled with. FN2. Breese, if you're reading this, I will thank you again for your excellent taste in music. I doubt any other single person has added as substantively to my musical preferences as you have. And yes, Talking Heads' Sand in the Vaseline would have been my sixth choice, and often makes the top five even to this day. <grin>
FN3. For those of you long time readers who cannot believe that Tori Amos, Aimee Mann, Ani DiFranco, or any other number of women (Lucinda Williams, Brandi Carlile, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, The Pretenders, Joan Jett, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, I really could go on and on) have all been bumped from this list – sorry. These are the albums that I can't imagine living without right now. It is entirely like I will wake up feeling differently tomorrow. The truth is, Elvis Costello is probably the artist I have been most loyal to over the years. It's just a fact. That Very Best Of album never fails to make the list.
FN4. For the record, I have never done this, but I always want to. The fact that he wears a lot of sandalwood makes me always want to try super sweet scents like this on him when he's not looking.