Words: from capsicum to témoignage

It’s soooo rainy but guess what?
I have a pair of waterproof shoes now. I’m retiring my 10+ year old riding boots (I feel like they should be ritually cremated or something). It’s the end of an era.

milquetoast- I forget if I’ve included this already, but it can’t hurt to do it again. Does it have to do with milk and toast? I don’t know. But literally refers to a ‘meek, submissive character’.
mobius- mobius strips=science magic
capsicum- bell pepper
chilly
execrable- it’s the same word in French!
platititude- almost a platypus but not quite
bellicose
harridan- basically a harpy. Rude words you shouldn’t call people
louche- ‘disreputable or sordid in a rakish/appealing sort of way’

esclavage- slavery
témoignage- testimony
origan- oregano
soigné- neat/well cared for

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Friday Links 1/19

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Happy Friday! I have the day off, which is many kinds of wonderful (not least because I get to go out and buy a pastry and check some travel guide out from the library and maybe find a waterproof pair of boots.)
(You know, the real problem is that I just want these ten year old riding boots to be new again, or to find a pair of Chelsea boots that are pretty similar. But the Vogue right now seems to be for combat boots or boots that are combat-adjacent so I’m having some trouble).

Anyway, links!

  • Collider (one of my favorite youtube channels on the film industry, frequently mentioned on the blog) doesn’t usually discuss anime, but Emma’s here to decode some common visual tropes and gags.
  • More things I’ve learned from my amazing and diverse ISIPCA classmates? Dan from Australia taught me about ‘Firehawk’ raptors, which spread bushfires to flush out their prey.
  • There’s a Star Wars-themed Creperie in Paris. The dishes are named after the planets by which they were inspired.  Not at all vegan-friendly, but I’m so amused.
  • I know I hate on GP’s goop, but this is actually a pretty good article about how our negativity is in many ways an adaptive strategy, a self-defense mechanism to protect us from past threats- and so a lot of negativity may no longer really be necessary (and may actually be counterproductive) to leading happy lives.  I know I sound super woo woo so I’ll stop, but it does resonate with a lot of what I’ve observed and thought re: my own negativity and cynicism.
    But yeah, no, I only skimmed the article.
  • What do I really want? Continuing to love Mari Andrew’s illustrations.
  • Also Poorly Drawn Lines’s send up of this classic Lion King scene.
  • Screen Junkies (another favorite youtube channel on the film industry) presents their annual Screens awards for the best and worst in movies and television.
  • Unforgettable movie style moments. Some (Keira Knightley’s green Atonement dress) would definitely be on my own list (which, hey, will maybe happen someday).
  • I hope you made it through Blue Monday (the most depressing day of the year, apparently) okay. If you’re still feeling a bit of residual down-ness, here are some lovely feel-good movie dance scenes. I still always listen to Dancing Queen when I need a boost. I have to say I think Moses Supposes from Singin’ in the Rain is actually more feel good than the title song, but whatever. Again, maybe this is a moment when a personal list is needed.
  • You’ve heard of the KonMari Method. Maybe you’ve even partaken in some Swedish death cleaning (I’m only 22 and I know I have. One needs to be prepared)- now t’s time for the hot decluttering trend of 2018: American Apocalypse Purging.
  • Another anticipated 2018 film (see earlier post): Love, Simon.
  • I watched I, Tonya and thought it was pretty good (Blades of Glory is still the best figure skating film), but you know what I’d love to see? A film about figure skating legend Surya Bonaly. Because a backflip is almost as difficult as the Iron Lotus.
  • The mindset of men and women re: sex and during sex itself, and how this influences the way women write about sex.  A really interesting read.
  • A very cogently written account of the issues with Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. It’s always brilliant when you find an article that explains your gut feelings. Beautiful film, serious problems.
  • There’s a Colette film coming! Keira Knightley’s going to star! I’m not sure those two go together! But I love both separately!
  • On Aziz Ansari and sexual assault vs sexual coercion: I don’t believe sexual coercion is sexual assault. But it’s not exactly enthusiastic consent either.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask men to interpret mixed signals, particularly when sexual violence against women is so common and fear of the consequences of refusal is so real.
  • If becoming a perfumer doesn’t work out, maybe I can go into gourmet ice cream.

Do I Have a Signature Scent? (No really, I’m asking)

Despite the best laid plans of mice and men I wasn’t able to post for the past few days (and by wasn’t able I mean I spent too much of my time reading blogs/cutting my own hair/studying for my upcoming tests for which I need to identify over 200 raw materials and some equally outrageous number of fine fragrances by scent). But I’m in France and I can recognize aldehyde chains of 7, 8, 9, and 10 carbons (by smelling, not counting) so really who’s not to say that I’m living my best life?

Maybe the fact that it’s a rainy week and I have no adequately waterproof shoes. But pretty close to my best life.

Switching gears now away from flawed footwear and toward the actual meat of this post which, I apologize, is not in a list form.  More just something i’ve been thinking about.

I remember reading an article sometime between 1 and 7 years ago about the desire for a signature fragrance.  One that really signifies you, reminds you and reassures you of your stable identity in distressing situations and, perhaps most importantly, that other people (significant others, friends, children) will associate with you.

I’m trying to find the article online but am being deluged with all of these guides on how to find your signature scent (I feel like the answer is pretty obvious: smell stuff).
But the article was more than about just desiring a signature fragrance. It was also about the conflict between wanting that one personal element and wanting to appreciate and express yourself with different/multiple fragrances.
Which is why I have kind of thought of signature fragrances for a long time as a perfumista pipe dream/something for the uninitiated and not very into fragrance.  It’s like the person who has one pair of earrings.  Maybe they have reached accessory nirvana but it’s more likely they’re just not that into earrings.

The last time I had a signature scent was early high school and it was some variation of Chanel Chance. I think Eau Tendre, but I also believe I wore the original before after a long and obsessive internal debate over the pros and cons of the original and the Eau Fraiche. Some things (and by some things I mean me) never change.
And then I realized how wide and amazing the world of perfume is, how varied and multifaceted and worth exploring.  The idea of a fragrance kind of went out the window, which I felt a bit regretful about, but also very excited given the way my horizons were expanding. Discovering a new world and removing limitations I had placed on myself.  Deciding to discover more facets of my ‘fragrance personality’- all of the things I loved, appreciated, was fascinated by, and with which I resonated- made more sense than hunting for The One Fragrance that would encapsulate everything that I wanted in a perfume (which would obviously be futile, especially as I became more exposed to all of the things perfume could be and all of the feelings it could give me).

Jump cut to now, maybe seven years later.  I don’t have a signature scent and I don’t have a very well-defined numbers of perfumes that I own (given a low number of full bottles but a pretty impressive number of small decants and samples that I would like to stay in possession of and wear semi-regularly).  The closest I have to a signature scent is Miller Harris’ L’Air de Rien (which I’ve mentioned before, ad infinitum), one of my rare full bottles and the first scent I bought as a perfume enthusiast, following reading reviews and the usage of a sample (the perfumista way (or at least my perfumista way)).  It smells like dust and horses and sweat and leather and cuddle musk and hay and vanilla and patchouli and soft spice.

But I still figured a signature scent was lost to me.  It’s true that in my years of testing literally thousands of fragrances I had reached a hazy understanding of what generally appealed to me and what would not, what I was excited to try and what I could pass on without a second thought.  My buying practices, sampling practices, and ‘wishlist’ practices have reached a kind of contented plateau.  There are a few things I want to own (most of which have been chilling on a want list for years) and want to test, but I feel pretty well sated.  There’s not much new under the sun, as they say.

And I had the feeling until quite recently that my preferences were all over the map.  And I tried not to read that as a sign of mental breakdown/multiple personalities/a not fully integrated personhood.

That’s one of the (relatively minor) things that being in this program has made me reevaluate.  Wannabe-perfumer conversation is obviously a bit different than the conversation of any other group of people. You could say that about any group with a shared and strong passion.  We play games where we pick a raw material to encompass a classmate’s personality.  We talk about our favorite scents. Things that we would like to mix.  We analyze one another’s personal scents.  Victor smells like frankincense and weed (which would have made for a really different but potentially more interesting nativity scene, when you think about it).  We read into each other in some kind of eerie but often quite eye-opening ways.

And so basically when I was told that I’m a vanilla-amber-patchouli-animalic girl it was kind of self-revelatory.  I’ve joked before about the disproportionate real estate amber perfumes hold in my fragrance library.  And I’ve personally avowed before that all I really want is to smell like small furry animals.

When Luis smells Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle (amber, musk, patchouli, clovey-spice) and tells me it reminds him of me, I smile and say “Yeah, I love that and I wear Meharees by L’Erbolario, which is pretty similar”.

So I guess that takeaway here is that having a signature fragrance doesn’t necessarily have to mean one scent from one brand that you stick to for all the years of your life. Maybe it can be something a bit more fluid- shared patterns, shared notes, shared architecture in the fragrance construction. Maybe some brands do better for you than others.  Maybe some perfumers are your go to guys/girls.
Maybe your perfume collection can be more like a tapestry woven by the shared threads of your favorites.

That said.

The animal-musky-vanillic-amber family is really best suited to the colder months and climes.  I may need a reevaluation come summer.

 

Le Monde des Mondegreens

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Apologies for the punny title (which translates as ‘The World of Mondegreens’)- you know I can’t resist a punny title, especially when it gives me a chance to show off my remedial French.

So for those who don’t know, a mondegreen is essentially a misheard lyric.  Here are some I’ve got going on recently.

Havana by Camila Cabello: In which the word ‘Havana’ is replaced by ‘Banana’.
Original: Havana, ooh na-na (ay)
Half of my heart is in Havana, ooh-na-na (ay, ay)
He took me back to East Atlanta, na-na-na
Oh, but my heart is in Havana (ay)
There’s somethin’ ’bout his manners (uh huh)
Havana, ooh na-na (uh)

(Thanks for the lyrics, google).

Translation: Banana, ooh na-na (ay)
Half of my heart is in Banana, ooh-na-na (ay, ay)
He took me back to East Banana, na-na-na
Oh, but my heart is in Banana (ay)
There’s somethin’ ’bout Bananas (uh huh)
Banana, ooh na-na (uh)

Les Etoiles by Melody Gardot: Being already a pretty big MG fan (Shout out to the soignee yet depressive ‘Burying My Troubles’) I was primed.  And then I got to Paris.
That’s right, Les Etoiles became Les Epaules, or ‘the shoulders’.  But not in a sexy way, but in a ‘the French eat shoulders’ kind of way.

Cocaine by Eric Clapton: PLANTAINS!

Someone get me a lobotomy…

Saturday Links (and an aside on pastry)

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I am indeed more sane today! It’s amazing what a Chipotle burrito can do to pull back together the resolute American spirit.

And as goes my stress- I had my favorite pastry and a beautiful pear for breakfast today, went to the pastel exhibit at Petit Palais that I was looking forward to, bought a few things that I’ve been searching for (for years), and have a classic financier tucked in my desk for breakfast tomorrow (with a persimmon and maybe some chocolate (?).
So what is a classic financier I hear you ask? The almond one. My bakery had a pistachio-chocolate one (half and half), the almond, and a cherry one.  How does one choose?
Well, I like fruit in pastry, but I usually have fresh fruit with my breakfast (I stole an excellent pear from my landlords today) and didn’t want to be outfruitied.  And then I was considering pistachio, but when I got there realized I wasn’t feeling chocolate.  It’s always best to start with the classic anyway.

So life is good.

Here are my links

Listen to Why I’m Stressed

It occurred to me that today is a links day but guess what? I don’t have many links and I’m feeling stressed and over-stimulated, and I felt like writing a links post would be not an excellent thing for my brain.

So I want to do what I often do when I’m stressed and make a list of what’s bothering me.  It kind of helps.  Especially because when it comes down to it I’m kind of living my best life.  There’s nothing seriously wrong in any way whatsoever.

There are a few too many focuses and that’s a hard thing for me to handle because of who I am as a person.

So in the order in which they occur to me:

  • We have three tests coming up in the next two weeks. For one I have to memorize approximately 100 synthetic molecules, their names, and the families they’re classified in. And recognize them by scent.  And review the 130 natural materials that will be trickily sprinkled in… For another I need to recognize something like 50 or 60 fine fragrances, with names and brands, and scent families.  I don’t even know what the other one is at this point. Maybe chemistry?
  • There’s a French one coming up. Do I even have to take the French test? (My French is good enough that I’ve been told I don’t have to come to class).
  • I finished my green beans but didn’t eat the broccoli I bought this week and I’m worried it will go bad.
  • I need to go grocery shopping on Sunday and I’m slightly stressed about what recipes to shop for.
  • In three weeks we have a field trip to Grasse for a few days to study the mimosa harvest. And most people (including me) are staying the extra weekend days. But that means I have some trip planning to do, and my last trip planning experience didn’t give me a huge amount of faith in my abilities.
  • Speaking of trip planning, a week later is the start of our two week February break. I have no idea what is happening there.
  • It’s hard to go back to working all day. I hate sitting so much and feeling so exhausted after. Smelling for 8 hours is actually really exhausting. I need more physical activity and stretching.
  • I want to try a financier pastry but I don’t know what kind to buy. It looks like they come in almond, pistachio, and chocolate varieties.
  • Speaking of which, what kind of bread should I get this week?
  • Lol I need to find a summer internship.
  • I discovered that Chipotles exist in Paris and I REALLY miss Mexican food so I’ve asked some friends to go with me tomorrow, which is kind of a worry for me. Just the planning and timing.
  • Speaking of my plans tomorrow, there’s an exhibit at the Petit Palais that I have to get to (it closes Sunday) on the pastel art of Degas and Redon. Must make that happen.
  • I left my favorite necklace and my iPod at home. I miss them.
  • My grocery shopping? I need to get a jam but I’m torn between four types. (Figs or mirabelle or Reines Claudes or fruits rouges?)

I think that’s it! Stay posted for links (and hopefully sanity) tomorrow!

La Vie En Rose: Fun France Sights

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When you think of a country you haven’t visited or spent much time in, your view is kind of one-dimensional, featuring mostly the big sights, tourist destinations, and maybe the big food exports. Or at least this is what I’ve noticed for myself.

When I thought of France, I thought of Paris. And I thought of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, maybe macaroons. And if I had a spare minute, maybe music and the fragrance industry in Grasse.  And Vincent Van Gogh’s mental deterioration in the south of the country.

But when you get beyond that, like when you live somewhere (or even when you make an effort to go off the beaten path on holiday) you get a much deeper idea of a place.

Here are a few fun sightings that always make me smile:

  • Kids on scooters, usually going to or from school. Especially if said kids seem to be trying to run you down. (I’m convinced at this point that this is how I’m going to go).
  • People carrying baguettes on the street. People carrying baguettes anywhere. One baguette, two baguette, more baguette.  Sometimes you’ll see the very disheartening sight of a baguette that has accidentally been dropped and left to languish.
  • People carrying straw market bags. So many people carry them, even in the winter. You can even see elderly men carrying around baskets that remind me of nothing so much as Easter Egg hunts. Sometimes they have baguettes in said baskets.
  • Huge lines in front of boulangeries and patisseries.
  • The general populace pulling market hampers/carriages/trollies. Especially on market Sundays.
  • Advertisements for books. Like you know how you see subway ads and street ads for films and perfume? Same here, but you also see them for tea and books.