Junk

Small glass pot of purple solid perfume with black lid.

Oh, Junk, how I love you–one part Tiger Balm, one part black currant cough drops–you heal my soul with comforting ’70s vibes of beaded doorway curtains and rusty VW micro-buses, JOB rolling papers and Aquarian tarot decks.

The solid is much preferable to the spray, so it can be rubbed into the skin like a curative salve. Apply every four hours or as needed.

My little pot expires next year. I cannot wait until someone asks me what I’m wearing, so I can nonchalantly say, “Just some old Junk I had.”

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Rose Incense

Sample spray and promo card, with desiccated roses and incense in a green ceramic holder.

Amouage’s take on Citizen Kane opens with sharp resins with melancholy undertones, then shifts to burning dried rosebuds (see what they did there?) and more aged frankincense.

Sadly, these heart notes leave one wanting more–the myrrh plot twist is so well known that there’s no surprise of cleverness to the sandalwood at the end–and the fleeting sweetness of vanilla at the bottom gives only the sense that love was never found.

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The Union Forever” is The White Stripes’ take on the same movie, but “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known” is my favorite song on that album at the moment. Here’s a live version-

Bubblegum

Large bottle of Demeter Bubblegum with silver tall top in a red vending machine filled with rainbow layers of gumballs.

Demeter Fragrance Library’s Bubblegum is the best pure pop out there–exactly what it says it is, the way it should be–cheap, sweet and fun.

Yes, Fracas‘s smutty fabulousness is amazing, and several niche brands have a highbrow interpretation (Bubblegum Chic by Heeley and Bel Rebel’s Bubble Gum are nice) but for a moment of uncomplicated selfish joy, go with this one.

Sugar, spun with cloves and wintergreen, and a tiny hit of synthetic musk just to keep it soft, and that’s all.
For anyone of any age.
Lasts a loud hour or two on skin with a bit of sticky residue, and hard to get out of clothes.

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I got Covid again this summer.
The flu symptoms lasted only a week or so, but the sinus fuckery is still ongoing–sometimes plain tapwater can smell like garlic mush, and milk will smell like fuzzy marmalade, and I lose all confidence in my nose–but then I have days where everything is crystal sharp and exactly as it should be.

Today has been lovely–crisp cool autumn with no allergens or humidity–so I’m sniffing all the things.

At Last

Mini bottle with white lacy floral motif, and metal tube of lotion with the same design on yellow.

Overly friendly envelope glue and laundry starch.

And the “handcreme”, though nice and rich, smells even more deliberately boring.
I’m not one for lotions, but I’ve been gardening today–my neighbor (who probably wore some slinky Chanel back in the day, but doesn’t bother with all that silliness now) gave me a Dior sized heap of lily-of-the-valley bulbs–so my knuckles are thirstier than a pumice stone.

I have no idea why Margot Elena thought anyone would want to smell like this.
Lollia This Moment is a much better choice–not weird or fusty at all–and the bottle is cuter.

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Also not frumpy:

Lavender & Thyme

Cut crystal flask with a purple and gold label, and blooming lemon thyme from my garden. (My herbs did really well this spring!)

A nice clean herbal, but almost too soapy to wear on the skin–I feel itchy in it, like I haven’t rinsed enough.
This one stays in the laundry room, to spritz on wet towels before they go into the dryer. (Did you know fabric softener sheets make your towels less absorbent?)
Doesn’t last long, even on cotton, but the folding is more fun.

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Insolence

Small frosted Guerlain bee bottle with purple label and pink eau, with strawberries.

Scintillating strawberry baby powder.
Brilliant, with a delicate dissonance that shifts between sparkling floral dust and sweet berry syrup, for hours and hours.
Chaotic, with the lure of a candy shaped bar of soap, and easily worn by anyone from age 9 to 90–

–unless if you happened to be in elementary school in 1980.
Because this smells exactly like Strawberry Shortcake doll hair.

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Here’s another dissonant Insolence that works well:

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Sole 149

Squat jar of perfume with domed lid in a yellow Pucci line design, and a tomato plant.

This one has stayed true to memory–or maybe I’m finally spiraling upward from this latest mini relapse–with sun after rain on a vegetable garden, green and fresh and perfect.

Sole 149 is as green as Envy, with the same jasmine on rosy wood stems, but wet tomato leaf takes the place of the fruity celery, turning the bitterness more herbal than citrus.

I love the vibrancy of the top notes–the verdant piquant strangeness of the tomato plant is so unexpected yet immediately recognizable–and the shower clean drydown is soft and nice.
The jasmine in the middle is a little thin, but perfectly suits the translucency of a Pucci silk scarf.

Wear on summer evenings.

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A garden song–a cover of one of my favorite by Joni, here turned shadowy.

Poe’s Tobacco

A white cat sniffs an apple on a green leather bound collection of Edgar Allan Poe, with a TokyoMilk bottle featuring a raven.

“Long Covid” is a thing.
I’m getting better, just more slowly than I thought. It’s been 10 months, now.
(The guy hasn’t got his taste back properly, and says the sky looks pinker than it should.)
The waves of exhaustion come and go, with joint pain popping up in odd places–a ghost in the machine–and shrouding sensations that make me doubt my nose and my playlists.

Sometimes my most beloved songs seem flat, the blues going gray.

I took a break from the sniff tests for a few months, nervous that my receptors were too scarred to function properly.
I’ve found comfort in my old favorites–Tank Battle has been a constant through this two-steps-forward-one-step-back recovery–spraying more, pressing my nose deeper into my skin, rejoicing at the familiar notes in the muted performance.
Not all have stayed the same, though.

Poe’s Tobacco–which used to be an autumn go-to, with apples and amber and tea–now seems more summery, orchard blossoms and sun in trees, and maybe some jasmine I wasn’t aware of before.
The tobac still gives it depth, but the woods lean more floral now, and less toward books in shadowy corners. I’m sad about it, that the niche-but-accessible cleverness has worn off.

A nice, easy to find vintage–but not quite as offbeat and fun as I remember.
I hope it’s just me.

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A haunting rendition that still rings true.

Sunflowers

Amber eau mini capped with white, with a yellow flower crest, sitting on a pile of salted seeds, against a flag blue background.

“Take these seeds and put them in your pocket, so sunflowers will grow when you die here.” -Ukrainian curse

Elizabeth Arden’s iconic 90’s soapy melon salad smells of Scooby-Doo fruit snacks, Beanie Baby pellets, and Bill Clinton’s saxophone spit, and nothing like sunflowers, or war.

I’m a bit sideways today. The world seems unreal, sometimes.

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The Ukranian Armed Forces asked a soldier–Taros Borovok–to write them a fight song, the day Putin invaded. He praises the Turkish combat drones that slowed the Russian forces that day.

Brune Melancolia

Black and white solid perfume canister, with orange and yellow rose.

Sad rose yogurt.

The citrus opens too tart–soured by the sandalwood, maybe–but then berries and a bit of spice get stirred in, sweetened with floral syrup.
The moody violet/cassis finish on the skin is nice, after the first disappointing hour–the start seems like something you’d taste in the dairy aisle at the happy-hippy food co-op, rather than a fragrance.

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The most melancholy song ever–