Wednesday, March 25, 2009

nose(talgic)

After many long months of searching for just the right scent, and going through two bottles of 'doable' perfumes that I love (but can live without if I had to), I feel I've finally found the best very best fragrance (for me). Week after week, I have dragged different friends - a fresh set of nostrils, a new eau de parfum perspective - with me to go sniffing.

There, I line up three or four different options that I've been mulling over, and ask them to smell each one. I'll then encourage them to take a few things into account before making any calls:

1) Summer is within reach, so the scent mustn't be too heavy.

2) It must be unique. I don't want to be stopped on the street by "OH EM GEE! Are you wearing (*insert top categorical high-school sellers here*)!?"

3) And finally, it must be long lasting – both on my skin, and in your memory.

By the end, most of my shopping companions have a headache (from a combination of both too many smells, and too much pressure) and I leave again empty handed. Yesterday, after yet another unsuccessful trip to the store, I ate dinner with a friend. Despite some of the more serous things to discuss, like where I am going to live, and what I am going to do with my life (all hot questions this month), we began to talk toilettes.

"I don't understand why no one can help me make up my mind?"

"Like I've said to you about all choices in your life," she answered in her signature breathy voice, "you need to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, and do what makes you happy."

What makes me happy. If anyone knew what would make them happy, and I mean really and truly satisfied, then there would be no need to make decisions, no need to bring out the old moral compass, and advice, both given and received, would be a thing of the past. It sounds ridiculous, I know, to compare fragrance shopping to the ultimate arrangement and preparation of my future, present, and past, but it somehow inimitably applies.

"My family makes me happy. My dog. My friends. Uh, Michael Jackson... Seafood...This wine is good... I like to watch Jeopardy…" All of the answers came surprisingly quick, and although playing P.Y.T. at an ungodly decibel won't bring me answers to all of my problems, it's certainly a start.

So today, I went back to the store - alone - in search of a scent that not only smells good, but sparks something (greater than a compliment) within me. I lined up my select favourites and smelled each one again. The first one, Bvalgari Jasmin Noir, smells dark, and warm, and then minutes later, like baby powder and brandy. It reminded me of the types of thick, nearly syrupy scents my mother used to wear when I was young. The ones I used to absolutely hate. The ones I thought smelled like permanent white board markers. The ones that would linger in the house after she'd left with my dad on weekends, while I'd sit, arms crossed, and resent the babysitter.

Then, I smelled Prada Milano. It was light, and fresh and smelled like what you'd imagine a tall pine to smell like… after it took a shower. It reminded me of my summers at camp, and no matter how awful 'free swim' hour was, how the combination of best friendships and the smell of air and grass and trees (cheesy, I know) kept me coming back every single year, until I stopped. Until I grew out of camp, and all of its lightness and freshness (but luckily not friendships).

Finally, I smelled Perles De Lalique, a perfume that I had nearly written off a few weeks ago due to its distinctive, if not odd bouquet. I picked it up and sprayed it on my wrist. It smelled patently like something. It smelled so much like something, and yet I couldn't quite pin what it was. So I stood there, eyes closed, in the middle of Sephora, amidst young girls buying bronzer and liquid eyeliner at forty bucks a pop, and smelled it again.

A cedar closet. My bubbie's cedar closet; filled with her old furs and expensive silk dresses, and lined along the top with sombreros, and other tokens of her travels with my zaida. As a kid, I used to spend hours in there, falling into the side racks and wrapping myself in her aged treasures, fingering the details on every cuff, every hem, every single stitch, dreaming of a day when I'd be big enough to try them all on. I didn’t know then that I would far outgrow my grandmother's 5 foot tall stature, and never be able to dawn a single garment without substantial alterations.

That closet, although containing riches I will never be able to wear myself, was a place where I felt happy, unequivocally. Thinking on it, if I could live in that closet, next to her fragile, material mementos, collapsing in her buttery yellow wedding dress and bristly mink coats, and I would never be plagued with the question of what makes me happy again.

And so, $96.50 (and free gift with purchase) later, my decision had been made.

If only everything were this easy.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

the kids are our future

My kid sister (no relation to Melisa Young of Pro-Nail fame) fancies herself a social radical. Ironically, liking the song 'Pro Nails' is just one of the ways she attests to her rejection of common culture. Owning one American Apparel deep-v in every colour, and duplicate pairs of neon Nike high-tops, my tween-aged darling kin secretly believes herself to be God's gift to new rave.

She does get points, however, for denying the standard camel color Ugg boot, and in place choosing the newer, more palatable black leather variation on a confusing classic. But no matter her objectionable footwear, her all-together concept of 'cool' (right now) is as immature and undeveloped as her pimple-faced gym class cronies, dodging balls and hitting their inhalers like crackpipes. Soon, her tastes, like her bra size, will expand. But until then…

Her English teacher recently announced that their year-end assignment, making up the bulk of her grade, would be the production of a zine; an interesting and refreshing take on the customary 600-word ode to Anne Frank.

Each student was required to pick and submit their zine topic, which needed to be narrow and specific. Some of her friends have chosen Blair Waldorf, while others have selected Golden Retrievers. In her tireless quest to standout, Sonny, that's her name (as if that doesn't stand out enough), pitched perhaps one of the broadest topics in zine culture…ever.

Indie Music. And, it was unquestioningly accepted.

As she reported her news to me over the phone, I cringed at the thought of another pompous, indie-centric publication tangibly existing in my universe – even if it is just an assignment for Jew school. Then, she asked me if she could email me her her top ten list to look over. Of course, I agreed, but as I waited by my laptop I prepared myself for disappointment, while simultaneously practicing my "positive feedback".

It popped up in my inbox, and I opened the attachment. As I read my sister's little list, I felt a wash of pride and relief - and I even laughed a bit. It was so cute, and so clever that I just had to share it.

It may be clich├ęd, and dated in a 'Klosterman already made these jokes way back when people still read Klosterman' kinda way – but considering the fact that the only reading she's ever done is in Tigerbeat, I'd say this is a pretty nifty start to a pretty nifty zine. Don't you think?

How To Take Your Band and Make it "Indie"
'cause what does 'indie' really mean, anyway?

By: Sonny Rothman

1. Every band needs a name. Pick a word, any obscure word, and put “THE” in front of it.
(Eg: The Strokes, The Hives, The Blow)

2. Wear glasses? No? Buy some anyway, the thicker the frames the better.

3. Have a Facebook account? Delete it. Facebook is so yesterday, get a blog.

4. No matter who asks, your music style has been inspired by a mix of Joy Division meets Jeff Tweedy meets MJ (even though they sound nothing alike, and you have never really cared for them as artists).

5. Take all your Coldplay cd’s, and hide them. (Don't get rid of them though, Chris Martin is such an inspiration.)

6. No matter where you’re born, Winnipeg, Fargo, or PEI, adopt just the slightest British accent when you’re being interviewed. You'll sound more legit.

7. Smoke skinny cigarettes, even if you’re asthmatic. You don't need to inhale, they just help your image.

8. Never smile in pictures. 'Happy' is for Josh Groban.

9. Every time you release a single, send a copy to Steve Aoki and let him fully butcher it. Then, it can be played in American Apparel stores around the world. Cha-ching!

10. Under no circumstance do you EVER admit that you make you music for the fans. You’re an “Indie” artist; you make the music for you, and you only. (And then, charge your non-fans, who you don't care about at all, 4.99 per download on iTunes)