Tuesday, April 27, 2021

April Book Report, Jews Don't Count by David Baddiel


I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. In case you don’t know, that’s just on the edge of the Bible Belt. I’d guess that Southern Baptist was the dominant religion at the time of my youth in San Antonio. My parents were from St. Louis and had lived in New York before moving to Texas. My mom was a practicing Catholic. My dad… There’s this thing in Texas where if you go to a new church (not Catholic) and sign their guest book, they show up at your house with a pie. At least that was a thing in Texas. For a while, my dad shopped churches. For the pies. He would go with my mom to church as long as it wasn’t the “jingle bell choir” - guitars. Otherwise he’d often try a new one when he was in the mood for a pie.

Being raised Catholic is something which creates a lasting impression even if you don’t stick with it. Lots of guilt. Lots of believing without believing that there is a hell and you are probably going there. Lots of feeling watched and judged all the time, even at home alone.

Beside the lifetime of repressed Catholic thoughts, being a Catholic in Texas means you aren’t a Christian. You are something else. Not quite as bad as being a heathen, but to some people maybe you are?

I’m not sure that this applies just in Texas, either. Story time.

I make jewelry and my most popular YouTube jewelry tutorial is the tree-of-life pendant. I like to make them (tree-of-life pendants) and it sort of became my signature piece. I will make them out of copper wire and do what I can to keep the cost to me down under $5/ tree - excluding labor time. If I’m out in the world (in the before times) and someone compliments the tree-of-life pendant I’m wearing I’ve been known to pull one out of my purse and give it as a gift. When I went to Europe in 2014 I carried several extra to give to people who were kind to me, not knowing if I’d need them. I did, but you can read about that on my other posts about my trip to Europe.

I was in Ross one day and a woman complimented my tree-of-life pendant. I pulled one out of my purse and gave it to her. It was a copper tree with black beads. “Don’t you have another color?” Um, that doesn’t seem like an appropriate question when you’ve been given a spontaneous gift, but regardless of what I might have in my purse, the answer is no. “No.” “Oh, it’s just black… It’s the devil’s color.” I didn’t know that. I like black. I thought God made all the colors, including black. “Are you a Christian?” she asked me. “Well, I’m Catholic.” “Oh, so you’re not a Christian. Do you have some time for me to tell you the good news?” “No.”

Anyway, even in a Ross Dress-for-Less in Los Angeles, being Catholic does not make you a Christian. End of that story.

I knew a handful of Jews growing up. And by handful, I can distinctly remember two of them right now. Colin and Benji. One of my mom’s good friends from New York, Shelley, was Jewish. I think I just assumed it was a different religion and that even more than I didn’t get counted as a Christian in Texas, they didn’t get counted as Christians. At least for them it was because they weren’t.

Let me tell you another story. My next-door neighbors, until I was about 11, were Southern Baptist. During the summer, instead of going to summer camp (I’ve never been), I know at least one summer I went to vacation Bible school with the neighbors. It was a lot of fun. We sang a lot. We colored a lot. It was SO much better than CCD. I understood why, if there was a choice, you would choose Southern Baptist over Catholic.

I went to church with them one Sunday and I was presented with a huge Bible to take home. I was under 11 and given this super-fancy, expensive Bible. My parents weren’t convinced they had just given it to me, but I went with the neighbors and they brought me home with it. I could hardly hide the thing. They accepted that’s what happened. End of that story.

I moved to California in 1997, when I was 23. I got here in September, I think, and by December I was working at a small post production company in Hollywood. My boss ran the company with his wife. They were Jewish. I met an editor there named Gene. He was Jewish. Another employee at a company we did a ton of work with, Karl, was Jewish.

I had a huge crush on Karl, and probably still would if I saw him again. My boss knew this and said, “But he’s Jewish.” My boss thought I was very Catholic (I wasn’t). I thought my boss was telling me that because Karl was Jewish, he only dated Jewish women. I bought a book called What Does Being Jewish Mean and read it. It was for kids, but I think that’s also a good start for a Texan young woman. (I looked for it to take a picture of, but I don’t think I still have it. I’d read it and I’ve moved a few times since then. And my cat pees on lots of things and I have to throw them away.)

I remember part of a conversation I had not long after with Gene where I insisted that Judaism, being Jewish, was just another religion. “Like I’m Catholic, you’re Jewish.” That wasn’t how Gene saw it. He was an immigrant from Russia (at a young enough age you would never know). To him, being Jewish was his race.

For my April book report, I read Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel. I’m a little bit of an Anglophile, when it comes to things like entertainment and architecture (I think the monarchy is stupid), so I follow David Baddiel on Twitter and read a lot of reviews and comments about this book.  Although there are a lot of incidences talked about in the book which have not made the news here in the States, there is a lot which is universal in it. The part I struggle with, that being Jewish is not just a religion, but a race, is part of what the book confronts. I haven’t solved it within myself, but I’m doing what I can to understand.

There’s no way to say the next thing without sounding incredibly patronizing, but some of my best friends are Jewish. But they really are! My dearest friends, who I would do anything for and who I would rely on if I was in a jam, are Jewish. The friend who would took me to the hospital for surgery at 4 am. The friend who flew with me to Texas on 2-day notice to help me clean out some things from my mom’s house. (Katherine and Arrika, if you are wondering since I’ve provided other names.)

I don’t feel like I can write a standard book report for this book. It’s isn’t a story. It is a very long essay which asks the reader to be contemplative. I’ve been doing that. Part of what I contemplated was if I should even write that I read the book.

Why? Because I know that anti-Semitism is so prolific on the internet, that even just to write about this book I’m opening up the possibility I’ll be attacked. I have a choice to talk about it or not, so I should. The people who regularly get attacked, online and in the real world, don’t have a choice.

But that might be the extent to which I talk about it. You should read it. You should think about it. You should sit with it and consider if there are times in your life when you’ve been dismissive about anti-Semitism as not being as serious an offence as other forms of racism. I hope I haven’t, and I hope that if I do, my friends will feel comfortable enough to let me know.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Quest for the Perfect Honeysuckle Perfume

 Not that long ago, I bought some honeysuckle perfume on a whim. And I was a little disappointed by it. I didn’t dislike it as a perfume, but it was called Aerin Mediterranean Honeysuckle and it didn’t smell like honeysuckle. It is a light citrus floral perfume, but the floral does not evoke honeysuckle.

My general disappointment with that perfume started me on a quest. Is there actually a perfume that captures the smell of honeysuckle?

I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and we always had a honeysuckle bush in the yard. I remember going outside when the flowers were blooming and picking them to get the one little drop of nectar each flower yielded. You pick the flower and pull the style through the bottom. The stigma gets one little drop of liquid attached to it from the pull and you lick that. It tastes the way the flower smells, but in a sweet, sugary way.

You know how sometimes you spray perfume or air freshener and you get it in your mouth? That isn’t what this is like. To really capture the honeysuckle scent, the perfume needs to smell like it would taste good, overcoming the natural instinct we have that tells us a perfume will taste terrible. Yes, it will taste terrible, but it should entice you to maybe try it, just to double check.

To my mind, there are three different notes that the honeysuckle fragrance needs to cover. First, it needs to have a white floral scent, because it is, after all, a flower. Second, it needs to have that sweetness to it that makes you want to taste it. And third, it should have a slightly herbal note to remind you of picking the flower right off of the stem.

I bought every perfume with honeysuckle in the name I could find with relative ease. I skipped the bottle of perfume that Anthropologie discontinued carrying because the price on eBay was triple the original price. And I didn’t buy anything where honeysuckle was just included as a note in the ingredients. Some of these are no longer being made, but I found them for decent prices on eBay. So, from worst to best, here are the honeysuckle perfumes I have tried and ranked.

11. Lollia Dream (White Tea and Honeysuckle) from Margot Elena. This was very powdery and reminded me of something my grandmother would have worn. I don’t know if she ever wore anything that wasn’t from the dime store. She used cornsilk powder and smelled like cornsilk powder. The teeny-tiny bottle I bought was $10, and did not include shipping. It smelled really cheap and I will never wear this. The honeysuckle fragrance does not come through.

10. Sparkling Honeysuckle from Mary Kay. It lists the scents as pear, mandarin, honeysuckle, freesia and iris. All of those things added together added up to gardenia to me. That’s all I could smell. The sprayer was good, though.

9. Sweet Honeysuckle by Perlier. This smelled very soapy and powdery to me. It had a bitter tinge, too. I didn’t get honeysuckle at all with this one.

8. Wild Honeysuckle by Bath & Body Works. The notes on this are jasmine, violet, honeydew and cassis. This had a very generic “perfume” smell to me. Not sure how better to describe it. None of the individual notes stand out. The overall effect is a sweet floral, without the sweetness of wanting to taste it.

7. Mediterranean Honeysuckle in Bloom by Aerin. The notes are honeysuckle, tuberose, honey and citrus. This smells pretty good when sprayed on a card, but when sprayed on myself, it didn’t smell good at all. It is the second perfume with tuberose in it that I’ve tried recently and I’m going to say that tuberose doesn’t work with my body chemistry. It smells sweet on the verge of rotten. Really unpleasant, and it also gives me a headache. Why did I rank it so high then? Because it smells good on paper and someone else might have better luck with it on their skin.

6. Green Tea & Honeysuckle by Elizabeth Arden. This is a very inexpensive perfume. The green tea is very strong and the honeysuckle not so much. But because it is cheap, it requires a big spray and it wears off very quickly. After like 30 minutes, I couldn’t smell it at all.

5. Honeysuckle by Caswell-Massey. This is from the New York Botanical Garden line. It smells very close to honeysuckle, but it is missing the note of nectar. It smells pretty, but you know it would taste terrible.

4. Fresh Honeysuckle by Fresh. The top note on this one is very fruity. Peach and black current. The fruitiness is juicy and delicious. That gives way to a honeysuckle and jasmine blend. The jasmine pushes it a little too far into the white floral category, but the top note is so delightful, I’ll put this on just for that.

3. Mediterranean Honeysuckle by Aerin. This is the perfume that started it all. It is a light citrus and I like it. But I do have to spray on a lot of it. And it makes me sneeze. I don’t know what in it makes me sneeze, but after ten minutes or so the sneezing stops. The honeysuckle is there, but very subtle.

2. Honeysuckle and Davana by Jo Malone of London. I don’t know what davana is, but here it gives the perfume an herbal quality. The davana helps provide the idea that the flowers grow on a green plant. The honeysuckle is subtle again. But I really like this perfume. It is not only a good daytime perfume, but something I like to put on at bedtime.

1. Honeysuckle by Demeter. This is amazing. It smells just like honeysuckle. No other way to say it. It delivers.


What I’m doing is wearing either my 2 or 3 pick perfume and adding the Demeter Honeysuckle to it. This pushes the honeysuckle to the front so I can really smell it, but adds dimension with the other notes from the perfumes. The blast of fresh honeysuckle makes me smile. It takes me back to my childhood, and I’m so glad I found the perfect scent to recreate the feeling.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Book Report - Foundation by Isaac Asimov

It is the future. People have spread out all across the universe and the Galactic Empire rules. No, this is not Star Wars. That’s set in the past.

 In the future, a science has developed which is akin to fortune telling. One man, Hari Seldon, is an expert in this science and he has seen the end of the Empire. He sets in motion an elaborate, century-spanning plan to build a better ruling outcome for the universe, hopefully sparing centuries of war and unrest in the process. The start of his plan it to be exiled to the farthest end of the universe with a group of intellectuals, under the pretense of writing the perfect, all-encompassing encyclopedia of everything ever. And to not tell them the rest of the plan. Hari Seldon has recorded holograms of himself which play at pre-determined times, when he has predicted a great conflict or crisis will have just been overcome. They provide the only clue if his vision of the future is happening as he predicted or not. (It is.)

 The whole book is like a game a chess. You know how in chess, before you make your move, you try to calculate all the other moves your opponent could make as a result? Yes. Boring and time consuming. And when done properly, not very surprising. (I’m not very good and chess and never really understood why it was fun. I have not watched the Queen’s Gambit yet.)

 Let me get this out of they way. I counted two female characters in the whole book. A secretary who got one or two lines of mention, and a Commdora. The Commdora got two whole scenes, maybe totaling four pages, but she was just there to be snippy. The rest of the time, any new character who gets introduced - no matter how unfamiliar their name - don’t worry! It’s a man.

 The story is told primarily through dialogue, which makes it not very interesting and difficult to follow at times. At the start of each chapter, a paragraph or two of set-up is presented and then the characters chat. And at the start of each section of the book (there are four), just go ahead and forget all the characters you were just getting to know. They are long dead and it is now dozens of years later. But don’t forget them completely. Their names might come up. But while you try to remember the names of characters who have disappeared and died, also learn the names of all the new characters in the new section of the novel. Names, names, names.

 None of the characters are fully developed. The action, predicted, but kept secret, by Hari Seldon, is not exciting. Things just work out. Wars don’t happen. And if it looks like a war is about to happen, turn the page and it is fifty years later and the first sentence makes it clear the war was, in fact, avoided. The story is all lining up dominoes, but the reader never gets the satisfaction of seeing them knocked down.

 It does have some interesting parallels to modern-day politics. Part of one successful war-avoiding tactic is to build a religion. They use missionaries to infiltrate surrounding worlds, or train priests on those worlds, and ultimately disable power supplies. It is hard to read how the religion is weaponized in Foundation and not see similarities to how Evangelical Christians and Republicans currently work together to push an agenda. It works until the missionaries and priests are no longer welcome on nearby worlds, because they have been revealed to be more loyal to their religion than anything else.

 If putting plans in motion, politics, discussions and a universe where women are virtually nonexistent sounds good to you, then you might like Foundation. It didn’t work for me.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick - Book Report

 In the near future, which ironically already happened, January 3, 2021, the world is a different place thanks to World War Terminus. Not a lot of details are given about the war, but it becomes clear that most life, not just human life, has been wiped out on Earth. Most people have left Earth and live on one of the colony planets, where androids (which are nearly indistinguishable from people) are used as slaves.

If you remained on Earth, you would be lucky if you aren’t affected by the radiation which has poisoned everything. Most people start to deteriorate mentally after too much exposure, and then become ineligible to travel to a colony. But some people just don’t want to go. Like the hero of the story, Rick Deckard.

The androids from the colonies are sentient enough to realize they are slaves, and to want better lives. Because of this, many of them travel to Earth illegally and attempt to blend in with the people. Rick’s job is to hunt these androids and kill them.

When he gets an assignment to hunt down the most advanced version of androids yet, he jumps at the opportunity. An opportunity he only gets because the original (better) bounty hunter has been hospitalized from his encounter with one of these androids. Rick desperately wants the extra money because owning a pet on Earth is now a status symbol, since most animals are dead. And Rick and his wife, Iran, didn’t manage to keep their pet sheep alive and have replaced it with an electric one. If the neighbors found out they were keeping an electric sheep, they would be humiliated. With the extra income from these bounties, Rick hopes to buy an ostrich, despite the exorbitant cost of $30,000.00.

Meanwhile, a man named J. R. Isidore lives outside of the city in the wastelands. The suburbs of the city are filled with abandoned buildings from the mass exodus of people from Earth. Isidore’s brain has started to decay. He lives alone in a high-rise apartment building and doesn’t have a pet. He works undercover for an electronic pet repair shop which is disguised as veterinary services, picking up malfunctioning animals. Unfortunately, he does pick up a real cat and mistakes it for a fake one, hastening its death. He becomes a refuge for one of the escaped androids, Pris, who moves into his building and eventually brings two other androids along.

Rick’s hunt brings him out into the country, crossing paths with Isidore. They each also have weird religious experiences with the Christ-like figure Mercer. Mercer seems to have been created to provide humans with one of the things the androids are incapable of - empathy. But it isn’t entirely clear if Rick’s and Isadore’s experiences with Mercer are real or imagined. Is Mercer real? Is he an actor? Is he an android?

The writing is brisk to the point of feeling like details are missing. I’m so used to fight scenes (in movies) being drawn out, lasting far too long for the people fighting to still be standing, that it was jarring to read a fight scene which started and concluded in just a couple of sentences. I had to go back and read a few paragraphs a second time to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I wasn’t. There wasn’t more. Like if someone was shot in the head, they were shot in the head and dead and the story moved on to the next thing immediately.

For serious animal lovers, you might want to stay away from this one. There aren’t many animals in it, and yet most of them do not have pleasant ends. The androids embody all of humanity’s negative aspects (greed, jealousy, anger and hostility) but they don’t have any of humanity’s positive emotions (empathy, love), so they don’t value life, human or animal, the same way as the humans remaining on Earth do.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a short, easy read. If you are looking for Blade Runner, you don’t get much of it here. Although it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Blade Runner, I don’t remember many of the main elements of the novel in the film. Was Rick married? Did he have an electronic pet sheep? Did he want to buy an ostrich and eventually buy a goat? Did Pris look identical to the other android Rachael because they were the same model? Did Rachael fully know she was an android? I don’t think any of these things were included in the movie. And I don’t think the whole religious, Sisyphus and Christ-like Mercer was in the movie at all.

I wasn’t reading it expecting it to be Blade Runner. I was reading it to read it. But it is impossible to read it and not compare it to the movie as you go along. If you are looking for Blade Runner, or if you love lush prose, then you should skip this one. But if you are curious, then I would recommend reading it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts! Song

 Finally got around to recording another song.  Not my finest piano play, but a silly song I thoroughly enjoy! Thanks to Katherine for indulging me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Spirograph-Inspired Bead Pendant

I made a new crafting video!

If you have things you want me to make tutorials for, let me know. I'm pretty good and figuring out how to make things.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Taking My Perfume Obsession to the Next Level

 I broke down and bought one of the special edition House of Sillage fragrances. Not the limited edition like Mickey Mouse. No. The uber special edition ones. I got Passion de L'Amour because Cherry Garden, the bottle I liked the best, was sold out. I had to go with not my first choice (Emerald Reign) or second choice (Cherry Garden), but my third choice. It is beautiful. In the video I call it a chameleon, but looking at it again, it might be a gecko. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Kathleen Thien - Eulogy

Here's the eulogy I gave at my mom's funeral (my sister helped me with the talking to get through it). She died on December 25, 2018. Yes, Christmas Day. Today, March 9, is her birthday.

Mom grew up on Minnesota Ave. in St. Louis, Missouri in the house her grandparents moved to after immigrating to the US. It was where her mother and aunts and uncles grew up, a five-room flat on the second story of a rickety old building, up the most dangerous staircases anyone would ever encounter. Five rooms, not five bedrooms. A kitchen, bathroom, living room- where Uncle Richard slept- a master bedroom and Mom’s bedroom.

As a child in St. Louis, Mom met Judy Hutchinson, beginning a friendship which spanned seventy years. It is a common theme in Mom’s life that once you became her close friend, you were her friend for life. It was a priority to her to keep in contact with the people who were important to her.

Mom graduated high school at 16 and her father, Grandpa Rome, gave her a choice - she could either move out or start paying rent. Mom decided to pay rent and she got a job at the Federal Reserve. There, she met Rosemary Pechan, who would also become a lifelong friend to not only her, but also to her husband and children once we came into the picture.

After the Federal Reserve, Mom got a job working for a psychiatrist, Dr. Fink. When Dr. Fink moved his practice to New York City, Mom went with him. While living in New York, Mom came back to St. Louis to attend her cousin’s wedding where she met her cousin’s future bride’s brother, George. George was in the military and stationed near Washington, D.C., so they began a not-too-long-distance relationship which eventually led to their marriage.

Dad moved to New York after he was discharged, where he taught school. But a job offer in San Antonio led them here. They moved to Esplanade where Mom met more friends she would have for the rest of her life -- Juanita Mena and the Bushnell family.

Mom was able to be a stay-at-home mom for the first thirteen years or so of my life. I remember her spending time in the kitchen on her arts and crafts. She went through a ceramics phase, getting a kiln in the garage. She also did tole painting, macramé, wreath-making and other crafts. She enrolled us in dance and music lessons starting at the age of four.

I remember hating ballet lessons so much, primarily because I had to wear tights. I would run and hide and Mom would have to chase me, holding me down and forcing the tights only my legs. I don’t think I ever managed to make us late for the classes, though, despite my best efforts.

Because of her own limited options growing up, she made it a priority that her daughters would not have the same limitations. College was mandatory, but she left it up to us what we wanted to study.

At the age of eight, after I saw the Muppet Movie, I told Mom I was moving to California to work in the movie industry. She never questioned that that was my future. It was up to me what I wanted to do with my life, and whatever support I needed, she would provide.

I think it was while I was in middle school that Mom had to go back to work to help prepare for the upcoming college tuitions. She started working at Frost Bank, downtown. She loved the job and made more lifelong friends there, like Cynthia Zunker. She also would eventually reach out to a mother of one of my friends, Mrs. Limaye, and build a friendship which proved invaluable.

She continued to work until she was eligible for retirement, but at several different banks, continuing the career path started at the Federal Reserve in St. Louis. Once her girls were out of college and established in their new, adopted cities, Mom and Dad started cruising regularly.

They have taken a few memorable cruises, including a trip to Egypt where the ship nearly capsized and a trip to the Caribbean where two people fell overboard and were successfully rescued. Despite these upsetting events, she wouldn’t dream of not traveling and cruising. She even took the same Egypt cruise a second time because the events of the first trip prevented making it all the way to Egypt.

On one of the Egypt cruises, Mom met Vicki Tempongko who she would add to her arsenal of friends, visiting her each time she came to California.

After Dad died, Mom slowed down her traveling. She took up quilting and filled her days at the kitchen table, cutting up fabric and stitching it back together.

No matter how many people get up to share their stories here today, or who share their stories more intimately at the reception afterward, we know there will be a common thread. Mom was loving, kind and generous. She took on the role of mother for many of our friends and everyone in this room has had their lives improved for knowing her.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Music Reaction Videos and Great Songs

Last night, when I was having my semi-regular bout of insomnia, I went down the rabbit hole of watching music reaction videos on YouTube. Luckily, YouTube keeps a record of everything you watch, so I can now recreate the playlist for you.

The Killers - Mr. Brightside
Right Said Fred - I’m Too Sexy
Moulin Rouge Soundtrack - Lady Marmalade
Crowded House - Don’t Dream It’s Over (if I was forced to make a top 10 list of best songs ever, this would probably make the cut)
Midnight Oil - Beds are Burning
Tim Minchin - Prejudice
(Diversion to Tim Minchin "Thank You God" with no reaction.)
(Diversion to Crowded House "Pour le Monde," no reaction.)
Adele - Rolling in the Deep
Deee-Lite - Groove is in the Heart
The B-52’s - Love Shack
Sweet - Ballroom Blitz
Pink Floyd - Another Brick in the Wall
New Order - Blue Monday
Radiohead - Creep
Guns N’ Roses - Sweet Child O’ Mine
Aerosmith - Dream On
Aerosmith - Dream On (again, different reaction)

And then I stopped.

I don’t particularly enjoy reaction videos. The reactions always seem to be, “Ok. Ok. That wasn’t what I was expecting. Mm. Yeah.” There isn’t any deep analysis going on. And because the songs are usually taken from comments recommendations, there is a certain quality to them which would make it unusual for a song to be completely panned. The songs are either excellent classics or off-the-wall goofs. It’s never just, “Please listen and react to this perfectly mediocre song which made it to number 100 on the charts.” I mean, who would listen to Aerosmith “Dream On” and not think it was kind of an amazing song?

The first thing I though of, almost immediately, was that “Mr. Brightside,” released in 2004, sounds like it could have been released today. Pop/Rock music has really stagnated for the past 30 years or so. You can hear something from the 1980s, and you know it is from the 1980s. And growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, you could hear something from the 1960s or 1970s and you could tell which decade it was from.

This isn’t a complaint. I happen to like the way music has sounded for the last 30 years, but aside from lyrics evolving slightly as people have evolved, the actual basic music hasn’t had a huge shift in sound. (I understand that popular music goes through phases of what BPM is hot, or how much autotune is expected, but a lot of music from the late 1990s through today, without context, would be hard to pinpoint to a specific decade.)

The song “Anything, Anything” by Dramarama is a good example of this. It’s from 1985, but if you listen to it and are forced to give it a year, having never heard it before and without any visual clues like the music video or pictures of the band, I doubt anyone would peg it as a song from 1985. Hot Fuss by The Killers sounds like something which could have been released today.

This takes me back to a month or so ago when I posted on Facebook asking if “Birdhouse in Your Soul” by They Might Be Giants was a great song. Yes, it is, by the way. But what makes a great song?

 I’m working on my formula, and this is where I’m at. The lyrics and melody have to be at least interesting. So something like R.E.M.’s “The One I Love,” which is a good song, doesn’t quite make it to great because the lyrics are too repetitive.

 How to determine if the lyrics and melody pass this test? Sing the song acapella - for someone, if possible. If you find yourself doing something like, “and then that repeats,” forget it. That song fails. Or if you find yourself thinking, “I hope the person I’m singing this to isn’t getting bored,” then that song also fails. It needs to be interesting and compelling. Even if you have trouble keeping hold of the melody, which might be a difficult one, you can get a pretty fast idea if the song has potential to be great by attempting a small performance of it. My cats get to hear Billy Joel’s “My Life” in about 4 different keys each time I attempt to sing it. For some reason, I can’t hold that one in the right key when doing it acapella. (I also have trouble keeping the key straight on “Birdhouse in Your Soul.”)

I took voice lessons for a long time, and my teacher insisted all the lessons be acapella. It really drove home the idea that some songs just didn’t cut it. There is nothing as painful as starting a 3-minute song and realizing after the first couple of lines that the song, which you love, doesn’t go anywhere. It doesn’t say anything. It doesn’t stir anything.

If the song passes the lyric/melody test, then move on to the music. I would venture to say that a great song can suffer from a poor performance. So while the bones of the song would qualify, a particular version of it can fall way short of being great. I think The Killers “All These Things That I’ve Done” is a great song. And that Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a great song. But I doubt I’d feel the same way if different artists had presented those song originally. The Killers made that song great. Queen made that song great.

I love the music in Cats, but there is a reason why “Memories” is a hit and the other songs are only known by us fanatical fans of the show.

I’m not slighting good songs, I’m just saying that I need to recognize that even though I might love a song, doesn’t mean it is a great song. And I also don’t think there are a finite number of great songs. New great songs come out each year. We haven’t reached the end of the road with great songs.

A great song spans generations. It spans genres. Someone who does reaction videos, even if they don’t love the genre, will be forced to admit that the song hasn’t something going for it. There is something inherently great about the music and lyrics and the way they work together. It’s why “White Christmas” is still popular, despite being written in 1942.

Since the reaction videos rely on suggestions, they are automatically biased toward listening to good, if not great, songs. And the reason I watched them for so long last night? It wasn’t for the reactions. It was because I was getting to revisit songs I hadn’t heard in a while. The playlist was varied. When I watch a regular music video on YouTube, the autoplay feature will then run through videos either by the same band or from the same era. I don’t want to hear “Hold Me Now” by the Thompson Twins after “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” And I may or may not be in the mood for “Better Be Home Soon” next. But the reaction videos gave me a playlist of good and great songs with no connection other than they were someone’s favorite (for the most part - “I’m Too Sexy” is no one’s favorite song). Almost like having my own iPod set to shuffle.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Book Report

 My New Year’s resolution this year is to read one book a month. I know for many of you this is easy and not worth a resolution. I read a lot of screenplays each year and work by writing, so more text isn’t actually that relaxing for me. So since I’m going through this hard work, I decided to do book reports. This is my February book. I'll go back and do January's report soon.  

Designed to be a prison camp, the colonies on the moon have evolved into something bigger. The tunnels of the moon are used for farming and because of favorable gravity, shipments of grain are sent from the moon to the earth to feed overpopulated cities. It isn’t only prisoners on the moon now, though. Spouses and children of prisoners were allowed to go with them. And after a hundred years of sending people to the moon, many of the residents were born free, but as citizens of the moon. Everything there is controlled by the prison guards and the company they work for, Lunar Authority, though.

One supercomputer controls almost all operations on the moon, on Luna. A Holmes computer, which because of regular expansion of its memory and processors, has become sentient. The only person who has noticed the computer is “alive” is a Luna-born computer technician named Mannie, or Man, who is sent to repair the computer whenever it malfunctions. Man has named the computer Mike, short for Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s older brother. The computer malfunctions are usually Mike trying to be funny and not actual errors.

Perhaps manipulated by Mike, Man is thrown into the world of Luna’s underground rebellion. The citizens of Luna want to be free. With the help of two revolutionaries, Wyoming Knott (Wyoh) and Professor de la Paz (Prof), Man and Mike join the fight and help sway the odds in favor of the Lunatics in the fight for their lives and livelihoods. Mike eventually develops many different personalities, but they are of little consequence. They can all be thought of as Mike.

It sounds great. But this is one difficult book to read. The story is told from Man’s point of view, maybe as many as 60 years after the fact. And because Man was raised by people exiled from Russia, he speaks in the way one imagines a stereotypical Russian to speak. Here’s a sample sentence from the book:

Was comfortable lounge with own bath and no water limit.

It would be easier to read with more words:

There was a comfortable lounge with its own bath and no limit to water use.

Maybe no the optimum example from the novel, but the first one I found opening it up. The whole thing benefits from having the voice in your head speak in a Russian accent. I don’t think I could have gotten through it without hearing the text in a Russian accent. And there are Russian words scattered around here and there, just to drive home the point.

The author also gets really hung up in explaining relatively unimportant ideas in relation to the overall plot. Because the population on Luna is 2:1 male to female, most people live in clans with polygamist beliefs. Man has many “wives” and “husbands,” who live together, raise children together, and work on their farm together. The explanation of how this all works out is tedious and I will admit, I don’t think I read every single word about it.

Similarly, I glazed over a bit when the description of how the information cells in the rebellion were structured. Mike on top, with a pseudonym starting with A (Adam Selene), Man, Wyoh and Prof below, with pseudonyms starting in B, each controlling a cell of 3 with pseudonyms starting in C and so on. I think this went on for pages! And look, I’ve covered the basics in one sentence. If you encountered someone whose pseudonym started in F, you would know he was in the sixth level, and exponentially you could figure out there would be 243 people on level F.

 Some things in the description didn’t match with how I pictured the story in my mind. The cities on the moon are all underground, but when they are first introduced my mind drew them as more enclosed in domes, built on multiple levels, not necessarily underground. And as some point I think Man is described as wearing tights and having a bare chest. The farmer and computer technician of Man (who has one artificial arm) looked more like a farmer or computer technician, in coveralls or a boiler suit, in my head. I had trouble picturing him as bare chested. I also had trouble picturing a 40-year-old man as 20, because aging on the moon is very kind. Lunatics live into their hundreds regularly, and because the colonization of the moon isn’t very old, no one is really sure what the average life-expectancy on the moon might be. I pictured Man as a one-armed Jason Statham in a boiler suit with a thick Russian accent. Wyoh? Gwendoline Christie. Prof? Antonio Banderas.

It was interesting that Luna had a strict code of ethics, which needed little to no police supervision. If you got out of line with someone, murder is extremely easy on the moon. And it is already a prison. As a result, people behave and are courteous. And because women are so outnumbered, they are treated with greater respect (although whistled at constantly and written to enjoy it). The kick-off of the revolution actually happening, after years of planning, is when the prison guards rape a woman, violating one of the most sacred codes on Luna.

Overall, I do think this would be a good adaptation for a mini-series. Too much going on for a movie. But I don’t recommend that anyone read the actual book.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, © 1966

Somehow I got a UK copy of the book, although I didn't notice any spelling issues aside from all the Russian.

And I should mention that TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch) is the slogan of the moon, and mentioned with some frequency in the book. But that's a different book report.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

I Had Surgery During the Plague

In November of 2017, I had a really horrible time. My period came and it decided it didn’t want to leave. After about 10 days of it, and by “it” I mean horrible bleeding and clotting to the point where I couldn’t go anywhere without bathroom access for more than 1 hour. After that 1 hour, I would have bled through both a tampon and a pad and needed to change them both, asap. I finally broke down and called a teledoc, because my period had always lasted about 7 days, with only 2 really horrible days in there. 

 This time, it was like a crime scene every time I moved. And there was no end in sight. The teledoc thought this sounded much more serious than I did, and told me I needed to go to the emergency room. It was Sunday night. I went to the emergency room. 

  For whatever reason, I didn’t go to my normal hospital and instead went to the closest one. I didn’t spend too long in the waiting room before they found me a room to wait in, where I was to get undressed and put on a hospital gown. My 1-hour time limit was nearly up, so I had to venture to the ER bathroom, which was disgusting with mystery fluids on the floor and poor lighting. Finally, I was seen by a person (I don’t know if it was a doctor or not) and got to have a vaginal ultrasound, wherein a wand is stuck up the vagina, rather than a normal ultrasound where a wand is rolled around on the stomach. 

  A very frustrating part of having medical tests done is having technicians who are restricted from saying anything as they perform the test. I’ve had dozens of mammograms and breast ultrasounds, and I wish the technician could at least say they see something abnormal. I understand that they can’t diagnose the problem, but at least let me know they see something. Don’t just pretend everything is routine. So my vaginal ultrasound technician couldn’t say anything was weird, but from all of my breast ultrasounds, I know what it looks like when the ultrasound technician takes pictures of a problem and measures it. I knew there was something wrong, even though the technician wasn’t allowed to confirm this. 

  What was wrong turned out to be a uterine fibroid. In other words, a benign tumor, although the benign part still had to be confirmed by a biopsy. I didn’t have a regular gynecologist, but I needed one. The ER visit did nothing to stop the bleeding, just to get some tests done so I was armed for a visit with a gynecologist. The next morning, I went through my health insurance website and found the list of available gynecologists. I started calling them, looking for one thing specifically: who could see me that day.  

  The doctor who was available that day happened to work for that hospital and was in the same building as my GP. She looked at the test results from the night before and prescribed the birth control pill as my first option to get the bleeding under control. My other options for controlling the problem were a uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) or hysterectomy. I was a little overwhelmed with the sudden onset of this, so left with my prescription and options.  

  After I took the first birth control pill, the bleeding nearly stopped. But not quite. I ended up having to take two birth control pills a day for a while to get the bleeding to stop. Eventually I was able to drop it down to one pill a day. I did a lot of research on the two surgical options and decided to try the minimally invasive UFE. The gynecologist didn’t do that herself, and didn’t know who did. I was on my own to find a doctor to perform the operation. 

  Somewhere along the line, I also had my first MRI of the fibroid.  

  When you research the UFE surgery, you will no doubt find the website fibroids.com. It belongs to a doctor named Bruce McLucas, and that’s who I went to. This was almost a year later, but since I was told this wasn’t urgent, I didn’t treat it as urgent. The pill had stopped the bleeding, so my immediate troubles were controlled. Dr. McLucas read one of my MRIs and described the fibroid as the size of hands holding a baseball. It was big, over 7 centimeters. He though I was a good candidate for the UFE, so we scheduled it and in November of 2018, I had the procedure.  

  That year was crazy. My mom was really sick and I spent several weeks in Texas helping her. She wanted me to stay longer, but work, pets and surgery meant I had to come back to California. My sister flew out to California from Texas to help me while I recovered, and to drive me to the doctor. The surgery took place the day after Thanksgiving, so my sister had to travel on Thanksgiving day. It meant the trip to Beverly Hills was easy because there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the road. The surgery itself I don’t remember. I do remember waking up at the clinic in tremendous pain, mostly from the catheter. They tried several pain killers on me, including dilaudid, fentanyl and oxycodone, but none of them had any effect. After a short time, still in tremendous pain, they let me go home since I was able to pee. That was the only criteria for being released. 

  I went home with a prescription for narcotics which didn’t work and instructions to wear compression stockings for days while I recovered. I think the incision was in my upper leg, but I don’t even remember now. I know they used a Starclose™ titanium closure thing in my leg, so an x-ray would be able to confirm where exactly the surgery was. (I since then have another piece of titanium in my body, in my left breast as an ID marker for a fibroadenoma which was biopsied and is benign. Just for those keeping track of what percentage of my body is titanium.) 

  A UFE is when little particles are injected into the blood vessels which feed the fibroid, blocking off the blood supply. Ideally, after the procedure the fibroid is starved and will then shrivel and shrink. The smaller fibroid would either then no longer be a problem, or would be much easier to remove because it would be smaller. If only.  

  After the UFE surgery, I had to wait several months and then have another MRI to see if it had worked. It hadn’t. In fact, the fibroid was larger now. It was still growing and not shrinking, closing in on 8 cm. Hands holding a grapefruit was an abstract description, so I researched things that were close to 8 cm in diameter and round. A baseball is 7.3 to 7.5 cm diameter. My fibroid was bigger than a baseball. And, according to my GP, about the same size as a 5 to 6-month-old fetus. Dr. McLucas wasn’t convinced right away that the surgery had failed. We waited and I had another MRI after another six months. It wasn’t shrinking or improving. Also, I had never stopped taking the pill. I don’t know where the time went, but in around October of 2019, Dr. McLucas suggested I stop taking the pill to see if maybe the bleeding was better.  

  For the first few months after stopping the pill, nothing happened. But I had been taking the pill every day since the end of 2017. And then the bleeding started again. Just as bad as before. I started to take the pill again, but one pill a day didn’t help. I started taking 2 to 3 pills a day, still having some bleeding. I made up my mind that I would have the hysterectomy. Unfortunately for me, in 2019 I switched my insurance to an HMO and the doctor my GP recommended for the hysterectomy didn’t take that insurance, so I couldn’t even get an appointment. I spent 2019 getting a couple more MRIs and trying to work with my insurance company to schedule appointments, which was extremely frustrating after having been on a PPO plan for most of my life.  

  For 2020, I went back to the PPO, for an extra $300/month in premiums. I called the suggested doctor to make an appointment, planning on April for surgery. A friend had offered for me to stay with her while I recovered, and April was good for both of us. And then there was a pandemic. No elective surgeries allowed (how this is elective is another problem with our current system), so I had to wait.  

  Then came the struggle of getting enough birth control pills out of my insurance to keep my life from being all about blood. For the few months when I stopped bleeding, I kept picking up my prescription, so it took a while for not having enough pills to become a crisis. Eventually that all worked out, but it did lead to some anxiety. Once surgeries became allowed again, I scheduled an appointment with the surgeon, no longer wanting to live with the daily cloud hanging over my head and the extreme amount of hormone medication I was taking to control the problem.  

  The surgeon scheduled my operation for September 11. Easy to remember. I was just going to my uterus and fallopian tubes removed. The ovaries could stay. He thought he would be able to do the surgery vaginally and laparoscopically, which was what I wanted to hear. He also told me I’d be “pleasantly surprised” by how easy the recovery would be. The pandemic had changed my desire to stay with a friend while recovering and to have friends check in on my cats while I was away from my own house, so an easy recovery was what I needed.  

  On September 11, I had to be at the hospital at 5:30 am, for a surgery which was scheduled for 7:30 am. A friend picked me up in the wee hours of the morning and drove me to Burbank. The hospital wanted me to fill out an advanced directive, which I wanted the same friend to fill out, so she went inside with me while we searched for witnesses for the document. Unfortunately, hospital employees can’t witness it, so I texted my friend she could leave. No advanced directed for me for this surgery. I spoke with the anesthesiologist, and she decided the doses of opioids I was given at the last procedure were too low, because the antidepressant I take makes them less effective. I was very worried I wouldn’t have any pain management after the surgery.  

  I may have been wheeled into the OR and asked to move from the gurney from the check-in room onto the operating table. Or not. Hard to remember. I wear glasses and had to take them off before leaving the check-in room, so I couldn’t see much of what was happening. I do remember when I was wheeled through the hospital corridor it reminded me of movies when the overhead lights are seen moving past in the point of view of the patient on the gurney.  

  When I woke up, I don’t think I was in my hospital room yet. I just remember a woman standing beside my bed saying something like, “There were complications. We had to cut you open.” Just what I didn’t want. I think I fell back asleep after that. I woke up again in my hospital room, which I was pleased to see was private, and a nurse asked me if I remembered that lady giving me the bad news. Yes. I remembered.  

  My plan was to go home the same afternoon after the surgery, but being cut open meant that was out of the question. I had two main areas of pain. One from the catheter, which they insisted on leaving in for the whole day, and one from the IV line in my arm, which was absolutely killing me. They gave me dilauded, and this time it worked. It felt great. But I think it almost killed me.  

  Late in the day, I lay in the bed, calming down and not feeling much of anything (the IV in my arm hurt no matter what), and being just between awake and asleep. I would snore with each exhale, even though I thought snores happened on inhales. And then after several breaths, I would stop breathing. I had to deliberately make myself breath again. I noted that even though I had the IV, with saline and antibiotics going into my left arm, there was no pulse monitor or anything monitoring my vital signs. If I did stop breathing, no one would know for hours. I wasn’t being checked up on very regularly.  

  But I didn’t die. At 10 pm, the nurse came in and got me up for a walk. We did one lap of the floor and I got back into bed. At 5 am, the catheter was removed and I went for another lap of the floor.  

  I got to go home that next day, after my surgeon saw me on another lap of the floor, that I was walking ok and alert. I really wanted to get out of the hospital. I was discharged around 11 am.  

  My friend picked me up and still offered her guest room to me, but I wanted to go home.  

  The pain moving around was terrible. I stayed in bed, but because of all of the saline in my system coming out, for the first day home I had to get out of bed and go pee often, about once an hour. I had to teach myself a new way to sit up, since just sitting up wasn’t working. Roll only my side, push myself up with my arms and grab the headboard to also pull myself up.  

  Five or six days of this, and I was finally able to just sit up. I moved out of the bed, onto the sofa. I was pretty mobile, but still had pain when I would bend down, like to pick something up from the floor.  

  I was given a prescription for some kind of opioid pain reliever, but I just used Advil. It only hurt when I moved, and I am not someone who enjoys feeling out of it. I spent several days in bed, just watching TV and movies. I had stocked up on frozen meals before the surgery, so I lived off of microwaved food.  

  It’s now a few months later and I’m moving around fine. No more pain. I did have hot flashes for a couple of months afterwards, but that has stopped. My doctor said it was a common symptom for people in recovery. As a cruel trick, I have the wounds from the laparoscopic attempt in addition to the big cut, so I have a direct comparison to what was and what could have been.  

  But it was the right choice. I feel so much better, and not just because I don’t have to worry about having an out-of-control period again. I have had migraine headaches for most of my like, sometimes as many as five a month. But I didn’t recall having many headaches since the surgery. So I marked February first and am happy to say I haven’t had a single headache, much less migraine, since then. I also have a lot more energy than before. The feeling that I need to go back to bed at 10am despite having just woken up at 8am is gone. If I have a nap now, I blame it more on pandemic conditions than on my physical state.  

  Ultimately, a lot of my health problems seem to have cleared up. They were all connected to my uterus. I wish I had skipped the UFE and gone straight for the hysterectomy, but how could I have known the UFE wouldn’t work? I couldn’t. I did the best I could with the available information. Hopefully by sharing this I’ll help someone else out there make a more informed decision about what will work best for them.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

It's All About Perception

 Not all tape measures are created equal. Unless you buy a calibrated or certified measuring tape, it is legal for the measuring tape to be off of accuracy by 1/32 of an inch for every six feet. I would imagine if you pick up a cheap measuring tape at the dollar store, the accuracy could be off by more than that. Same goes for rulers. And scales. Unless you are using an expensive scale at the doctor, there will be some margin of error.

 Imagine, these things which we assume are fact, like how long an inch is, have some wiggle room. It depends on your tools and how accurate they are. Aside from this being good to know and a reason to always use the same measuring tape when working on a project, it makes you wonder about how differently things can be perceived.

 I have tinnitus, and have for as long as I can remember. A constant buzzing/ringing in my ears. The closest thing I can think of to describe it to someone who doesn’t have tinnitus is, you know the noise crickets and cicadas make? Now imagine that a little bit higher in pitch and never-ending. Every once in a while it will end, for a second or two. Like all of the sound suddenly sucked down a drain. But it quickly returns and there it stays. Putting my hands over my ears just means I can hear it better. I’m used to it, but it is part of my perception of the world. The world buzzes. All the time.

 Think back on that infamous blue/black dress. To me, it always and only looked blue and black. But my perception doesn’t match the perception of a lot of people. We all have different experiences, so different that something which we think should be a “fact,” like the color of something or what “quiet” is, don’t match up from person to person.

 I bet about now you’re wondering how I’m going to bring this back around to perfume, which seems to be all I can talk about lately. Here we go!

I’ve been trying out various perfume samples the last few weeks. I always start the same way, spraying them on a piece of paper, or a tissue, or a napkin, and smelling them on the paper. One of the ones I got, as soon as I smelled it on the paper I said, “No!” and moved the paper away. But I know that things smell differently once you put them on, so I tried that one on, and…I like it. I like it when it is actually on me. The ginger which repelled me from the paper doesn’t stand out when I wear the perfume. In fact, the perfume in question, Whispers of Time, is so light and subtle, I can’t smell it on my skin after a couple of hours.

I debate with myself if a perfume which last such a short time is good or bad. And actually, it’s both. It’s good because it gives you the opportunity to put on something else after a few hours, but bad if you wind up just putting the same thing on, since the bottle won’t last as long. It is also good if the perfume you tried on turns out to be a stinky mistake. It doesn’t linger and make you regret the spray.

Similarly, the Mickey & Minnie perfume smelled overpoweringly like vanilla on the paper. But I tried it on and found it much nicer once I was wearing it. I get a lot more of the coconut on my skin, and the fragrance is lighter on my skin than on the paper, so I don’t feel like I’m drowning in vanilla and coconut.

 I broke down and got the big bottle of Mickey & Minnie. Here it is: 

Look at that! Such a nice bottle. And it came in a black and gold fancy box. I was going to buy Whispers of Time, but it was out of stock when I made my purchase.

Why now? you may be asking yourself. I mean, I’m not done collecting the Trend purse sprays yet. Why would I move on to the large bottles? Two reasons. Mickey & Minnie is limited edition and might not be available by the time I really figure out if I am committed to it. And they were giving away some items with purchase. So I purchased. For Whispers of Time and Mickey & Minnie, my perception changed when the delivery method of the scent changed. From paper to skin. It made a difference.

The gift with purchase was a full-sized perfume called Whispers of Innocence and a matching lipstick holder bow, with a tube of lipstick. I also got a sample of Whispers of Innocence, which seemed a little thoughtless to me. Hey, if you like the big bottle you just got, why not try it in a small bottle to consider buying a big bottle!

I don’t understand why the bow lipstick holder doesn’t come with a lipstick as standard. It should. But that is a complaint for another day.

 Whispers of Innocence has a lot of jasmine in it. But to me, when sprayed on paper, it smells like gardenias. I researched if jasmine and gardenia are thought to smell the same. The answer is no. But to me, in this perfume, they do. I have jasmine growing in my yard, so I think I know what it smells like. And I’ve smelled gardenias before. But this perfume, meant to smell of jasmine smells of something else to me.

I love the little queen bee on the lid. I haven’t decided yet to take the plunge and graduate it from paper to skin. I think it will have to happen very close to shower time the first time, so I can go wash it off if it doesn’t settle on me. I took a chance on a gift with purchase, and it might not have worked out. Anyway, the bottle is really cute.

I also expanded my collection of the Trend sprays with the Trend#4, United We Stand. Wow. It STINKS! I have to classify this as the worst of that collection, so far. Very strong, very lingering. So… I don’t think I can even get past the smell enough to try it on my skin. And just because I think it stinks, doesn’t mean everyone will think it stinks. It’s supposed to be comprised of frangipani (which is another word for plumeria) and parijata (which is another word for jasmine). 

Similar to when I make jewelry, I understand that not everyone shares my taste. I will always remember being commissioned to make a blue, black and purple necklace. Left to my own whims, this never would have happened. And even though I didn’t like the result, my client was happy.

 Not only do we all perceive things differently, we can’t take for granted that the things we think we all perceive the same, are the same. Or accurate. Or the same across different locations. If you want to smell like flowers vomited on you, go for it. I’ll pass.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

I Can't Stop Buying Perfume


Ahhh! All right. Here’s how my latest obsession, House of Sillage, is going.

Two new fragrances have arrived. The Trend 1.0 and the Trend #6. The Trend #4 United We Stand is on the way.

I though the Trend 1.0 for men was going to arrive in the same type of container as the Trend purse sprays for women, but it is larger. I got this gift set with lotion and bath gel. I really like the way it smells. I haven’t tried it on me yet, but I’ve sprayed it around and it is good. I’ve actually been using it as a kind of air freshener for the past few days.

It got me thinking about how I would buy cologne for my dad when he was alive. He was normally an Old Spice man, which I never bought for him. I would try at Father’s Day, birthday or Christmas to try and get him to use something a little fancier.

I distinctly remember buying him Drakkar Noir at least once. Looking at the composition of Drakkar Noir today, it is a very complex scent. I don’t think the Trend 1.0 is as complicated. I don’t even know if they smell anything alike, but I would have bought this for my dad. Or for a boyfriend, if I had one.

That got me wondering if it was weird I was able to flip the idea so easily. Dad. Boyfriend. Whatever man happened to be nearby, I’d squirt this on him. One of my friends thinks that’s ok. Another thinks it would be creepy.

But my inquiry revealed Old Spice is a common scent for a man. The all-purpose utility scent. Got a man? He should smell like Old Spice. I’m going to go buy a bottle of Old Spice at Target this week, just to see what it smells like. To see if I recognize the scent from my dad.

Anyway, I really like the way the Trend 1.0 smells and I like the bottle. You twist the bottle and the atomizer button pops up from the top. The container of perfume inside the bottle is replaceable, but I don’t think they actually sell the replacements, so… that’s weird. And the bottle is my colors: blue and silver. I debated keeping the little lotion and bath gel or giving them to someone. Then I thought, why would I give them away? I like the way it smells. Very clean. I’m thinking almost like Irish Spring? I’ve got to get some of that at Target also, to see if my association with it and the Trend 1.0 is valid. But a clean smell, even if a little manly, works for bath gel. So I broke into the bath gel. I haven’t made a move on the lotion yet.

Then I got another purse spray in the Trend line, the Trend #6, Bow Peep. The scent story is listed as black current, blue iris and vanilla bean. It really smells like vanilla. For a while, when I was in graduate school, I wore a lot of vanilla perfume. So I’m ok with vanilla. But I don’t think it would be a good every single day kind of scent.

Of the Trend line of perfumes I’ve bought so far, #10 is still my favorite.

I usually get a sample or two when I buy these things, so here’s what I got that’s new:

Whispers of Time

I also still had my sample of the Trend #9 City Dreams from my last purchase, which I don’t think I’ve fully explored yet. And I got another sample of Mickey & Minnie.

I liked City Dreams, but, here’s the thing, they don’t actually have it for sale on their website! They even sell a “complete” set of Trend perfumes, which doesn’t include City Dreams or the Trend 1.0 for men. Not so complete then, is it??? City Dreams is described as jasmine, praline and musk. I like the way it smells. I haven’t tried it enough to know if it is better for me than #10. Even though it isn’t listed as having vanilla, it also has a very strong vanilla vibe.

I sprayed both of the samples onto napkins that were laying around. When I smelled Whispers of Time, I think I actually said out loud, “No!” As if the cats really wanted to know my initial thoughts on it. I think the ginger in it was what game me that reaction. I will try it on, to see if I react differently, but probably it is not a winner.

And I’m looking for a winner.

Here's my collection so far:

I’m a little obsessive about some things. Like how the Trend comes in varieties 1-10 for women and 1.0 for men. I will eventually own all of them, even if I have to buy City Dreams from eBay for way more than it would cost to buy it directly from the House of Sillage website. Because it is on eBay, which means it existed once upon a time. Maybe House of Sillage will get it back in stock? I’m not in a hurry.

And once I’ve gotten all of the Trend, which only comes in purse sprays, I’ll move on to the cupcakes, assuming I’ve found a scent I like. They call their big perfume bottles cupcakes because they are shaped like, well, cupcakes. They are really cute.

If I can’t find a scent I like, I’ll be better off. The cupcakes are a little pricey. And my obsessive personality would probably compel me to buy a complete set of cupcakes, not settling for just one… or two.

I guess perfume has become my newest pandemic obsession/hobby. I wore Versace Bright Crystal today, from a sample. Love it! A full bottle of that might be in my future. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last very long. It might be a good “bedtime perfume.” Ha! I had never heard of such a thing until recently. I’ve never put on perfume for bed, but Versace Bright Crystal might be perfect for it.

I’ve got two more perfumes on the way! It’s an expensive hobby, but getting little boxes in the mail each week is making being stranded at home a little bit more exciting. And it gives me something to smell besides my cats.