Monday, February 6, 2012

Love is not love until love's vulnerable.


It is the worst good thing that ever happens to a body. You don't have to take my word for it. Literature is riff with examples. Shakespeare said it best: "For never was a story of more woe than this..." Or, to put it in a more modern way: "To love is to destroy, and to be loved is to be destroyed." Thanks Cassandra Clare.

Then there's poetry. T.S. Eliot: "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me." Or Auden: "I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong." Or John Donne: "My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore, but after one such love, can love no more."

Oh! I forgot the movies... Lloyd Dobler said it beautifully: "Maybe I want to get hurt!"

And then there's the music. I could go on and on about the music, but you get the point. Being in love means being vulnerable. It means being to willing to get hurt. And even when it goes well, trust me when I tell you it still sometimes hurts.

What makes me say these things in this holy sanctified Hallmark season of Love? Well for one, I finished reading Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's third book in the caster chronicles series, Beautiful Chaos, where upon I bawled my eyes out.

Also, David and I usually don't celebrate Valentine's Day. We usually celebrate Not-Valentine's, picking some other less commerically busy and more personally happy day to say, "I love you." But because lots of people do celebrate Valentine's Day, I thought I'd provide some shopping-related thoughts.

Envoyage Perfumes Carmel Bohême is a lovely Valentine's option. Inspired by the French novelist and poet Henri Murger: “Bohemia is a display of exuberance set against dark, silent edges; a glass house of exotic orchids”, this amber floral has notes of "Sweet Orange, Plum, Muguet, Enfleurages of Gardenia and Tuberose, French Jasmine, Honey, Patchouli, Frankincense, Labdanum, Amber, Sandalwood." It is described as "colorful, unpredictable, original, outrageous, edgy, tumultuous."

Personally, I find Carmel Bohême full of wildly delicious white flowers, a warm, lush, lovely scent. It is a wonderful blend of gardenias and tuberoses and jasmine, sweet and soapy and a little tart. Sure, you could buy your loved one a bouquet of real white florals, but trust me when I tell you this is just as beautiful and will last long after the buds are moldering in the bin. It has great longevity, and after four hours, it turns into a honey/amber/sandalwood sweetness that rides close to the skin. Truly lovely, and worth checking out even if you aren't in the market for a Valentine's scent.

Not super excited about white floral bouquets? No problem. Jo Malone is happy to supply you, not only with a bottle of beautiful Red Roses, but with a whole Red Roses Fragrance Chronicle for V-Day. You get a bottle of Red Roses, plus three accords to layer with it: "Sweet Lemon brings tantalising transparency; Scarlet Velvet Rose adds richness; and Honeycomb, a nectar-like warmth." I like the Jo Malone layering system, which in this case allows me to make seven different roses, plus several other scents that don't include the Red Roses center piece. In addition, there are always bonus gifts when it comes to Jo Malone, so when I ordered my set, I got a free 9ml of Grapefruit, which I don't own, to boot. That's a gift that stays beautiful for much longer than thorny reality of the flowers themselves. The collection is a limited edition offering, so if you like Red Roses, you may have to pretend some Valentine-y love to get it.

Not into flowers? Then go with food!  Ayala Moriel Natural Perfumes makes one of the all time best foodie scents in Immortelle l'Amour. Chocolate, vanilla, liquor, maple syrup, waffles all in one, it is a top grade, incredibly lickable scent that can bring happiness even to a wounded heart. She also makes teas and truffles, so it's a one-stop, deliciously aromatic shop to make all your edible love-themed purchases. Prefer jewelry?  You can get solids in compacts and poison rings, so your gift will be both visually and olfactorially beautiful.

Can't stand anything too edibly sweet? Well, here's a scent that you can love even when love itself turns sour. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's (The Maglignant Dreams of) Cthulhu in Love is "an amorphous mixture of incense, sea weed, sea salt, sticky dark ocean plants and chocolate." Dry chocolate and sweet dry herbs, it is a surprisingly love and high quality scent for the BPAL price point. It was a random-no-special-occasion-just-because-he-loved-me gift from David, and appears, now that I write this, to be sadly discontinued. Just like slumberhouse Ore which I also have a tiny, precious vial of. Chocolate scents are lovely, but apparently not all that long for this scented world...much like real chocolate is in my house. If you can find Cthulhu in Love, give is a whirl. It's delightful.

Speaking slumberhouse, I'll add Grev  to the mix, though I am probably the only person who will ever put this on a Valentine's list. But then, I'm not like anyone else in most other respects, so here it is. Grev is made of "copaiba, fir balsams, clove, birch, orris, and cedar" and is meant to be a marketed as a masculine, but I think it is a warm, sexy scent for a woman. It's unique, it's unusual, and it is decidedly unexpected. If you're the sort of person who gets married in a dress with blood red corset back and trim at a historic poor farm turned local brewery, then this might be your idea of sexy, too. It reminds me of waking up next with someone you love on one side and on the other, open windows of streaming sunshine and the wet, green smell of fir trees. It's a smell I associate with falling in love.

Which brings me around to my last thematic recommendation: take the ultra-realistic approach. If your love is associated with the smell of new fallen snow, try CB I Hate Perfume Walking in the Air. Working together in a garden? How about CB I Hate Perfume In the Summer Kitchen or Memory of Kindness? Find you love in a library? CB I Hate Perfume In the Library.

Alternately, you could go the Demeter Fragrance Library route, and buy a handful of large minis to create a unique perfume bouquet that hits the high notes of your romance: Vanilla Cake Batter for the birthday cake he made you, White Russian for the drink you shared on your first date, Beeswax for the homemade honey you bought on your first weekend away or the smell of the wax seal on the back of a handwritten love letter, Mistletoe for your first drunken kiss at the company Christmas party. Whatever your memory is, one of these companies probably has a scent that could represent it and give you a way to show that you remember, in a visceral way, the moment you knew you were in love.

And if all else fails, you could always go with the classic, old school approach: say it with love. S-Perfumes 100% Love or Creed Love in Black or Creed Love in White, or any of the By Kilian l'amour-themed scents (Love, Beyond Love, Taste of Heaven, Straight to Heaven, or for those of a more cynical, Amy Winehouse-bent, Back to Black and Love and Tears) are all beautiful scents, and nothing says love like L-O-V-E.

Yes, it's also a CD case!
What about you, dear reader?  Have I told you lately that I love you? Well, if you feel I haven't, then let me make it up to you with this awesome V-Day drawing. Included for one lucky winner will be the fabulously tacky fuzzy pink CD holder with a couple differently themed, love-related mix CDs made and decorated by your truly, PLUS some candy and some lovely samples that will include, but are not limited to S-Perfumes 100% Love, By Kilian Straight to Heaven, Cthulhu in Loveslumberhouse Grev and some other things not listed above.  But yes! At least five samples! Plus music! Candy! A giant pink fuzzy heart CD case! (Don't lie, you know you want its garish wonderfulness.)

POST A COMMENT BELOW talking about perfume!, love, romance, the death thereof, music, movies, perfume!, poetry, books, perfume!, whathaveyou on or before 11:59pm PST on Monday, February 13, 2012.  Will ship internationally. Winner to be announced on V-day.

So come on then: who wants to be my Valentine?

Like a wet log, I sang within a flame.
In that last while, eternity's confine,
I came to love, I came into my own.

~Theodore Roethke, from The Dream


Angela said...

Love is the immutable moment when the selfish becomes the giving.

I love it that you ended with a Roethke quote! In a bathroom stall at the UW I once read graffiti that said, "I wake to sleep and take my waking slow..." the line after that being, not written, "I learn by going where I have to go."

Elisa said...

Ooh ooh! I've been really wanting to try 100% Love lately. I'm always on the lookout for a good sweet rose, after Tocade failed me. I thought Rose Praline might be the one, but I'm not sure it's much of an improvement over the much cheaper Hanae Mori ...

Happy V-Day!

Diana said...


That is some hilarious literary graffiti. Three cheers for higher education! :)


Diana said...


A good sweet rose, you say? Have you tried Téo Cabanel Oha? It's one of the few I can think of might fit the bill for you...

I have some if you haven't tried it. Win or not, I can send you a sample if you email me. feminine(dot)things @


Ines said...

How can I refuse when you're offering a pink CD case?! :)
I've neither heard nor said I love you recently. My life is going through a gray phase and nothing particularly happiness inducing is happening these days.
So, I try and read romance as much as I can - I went through several novels in the last 2 or 3 weeks. I live vicariously through my romance heroines. :)

KathyT said...

Surprisingly I haven't tried any of these fragrances, but I am a bit behind in sampling. We don't do much here for Valentine's Day, but it has become a big thing at school for my children - candy grams, homemade boxes, etc. I'm usually sick of the whole thing by the time the day rolls around. I imagine I will put on some Vetiver Tonka from my small decant because my husband loves that one.

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

samberg said...

That Cthulhu in Love potion sounds utterly unique.

Don't know if you've gotten there, but Seattle men's store Blackbird opened an annes near Powells on Burnside that carries some niche perfumes. I finally tried the Blood Concepts there.

ccdouglass said...

Garish wonderfulness? Yes, please!

Thanks for the draw!

Diana said...


Boo to grey periods! I hear the vicarious living, though. Don't we all, at one point or another, savor the escape of fiction?

Hope your grey period ends soon.


Diana said...


I can imagine V-Day being harrowing when there are tiny people favors involved. Over here it's just me, David, and a lot of cats, so I have time for things like this giveaway!


Diana said...


Didn't know about the store, but did try the Blood Concepts. Review pending...

Thanks for the local tip!


Diana said...


Everyone needs a little garishness in their life. :)


Asali said...

Like Ines, I love the fluffy pink cd-case! And 'nothing says love like L-O-V-E', great:-)This year, well this month actually, I had an Epiphany that since I don't have to buy boyfriend pressies (Birthday or Valentines- or family in law pressies for that matter) all the money saved (and that's quite a lot I should think;-)) goes to perfume purchases for ME! Now that's a happy Valentine.

solace said...

i know i love me some Rebel&Mercury/Gabriel's Aunt!!

that's not very poetic is it?

i also love annoying my brother... who is bothering me to get a cd case.

that's a really horrible reason to want to win, huh?

well... i don't have a valentine... but i have a great love for natural botanical perfumes. it's an expression of art and beauty which sustains our higher selves and out physical selves by the support of agriculture and the whole web. so.. it's an act of love.

the cd case is an act of sarcasm ... and yet complete practicality.

thank you for the sharing of thought and juice!

Diana said...

solace -

I have a brother whom I also enjoy needling, so that's a great reason to enter! Thanks for reading.


Diana said...

Asali --

Way to treat yourself! I bought myself the Red Roses Chronicle from Jo Malone for V-Day, and I even sent myself a gift message, which was great because I'd forgotten it I'd written it. (It was a quote.)

Thanks for entering!


Asali said...

I LOVE that you wrote yourself a message, I must remember to do that the next time :-D

Tiff said...

I'm loving the perfume you gave me for Christmas and am looking for more! After shopping for a gift for my sister, I want to find some new scents for myself. This could be dangerous, but I'm looking for suggestions...

Sarah said...

Sometimes I feel like we are still in Sagemont writing bad poems in spiral notebooks...

We spent this gray oppressive afternoon lying in bed tangled in sheets and limbs feeling melancholy and infinitely sad and realized music was the only cure. Mumford and Sons also speaks to this sentiment, and as we listened to these lyrics, on repeat, we both cannot help but weep:

"But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again"

Love is so effing beautiful.

Diana said...


Okay...seriously trying to remember what I gave you at Christmas. Oh! Right. The Hawaiian Surf! I'm so glad you liked it.

And yes, happy to recommend more. Come over and we can go through my collection....


Diana said...


You are still a terrific writer. Would that we still had all those notebooks! We wold have hours of overwrought amusement, all worth reading because it came from our thin skinned newly minted bleeding hearts.

Love and misses,


I know my call
despite my faults
and despite my growing fears...