Nosy Girl Interview


I first came across Elizabeth Ames Staudt’s inimitable Nosy Girl blog when she interviewed writer Emma Straub. I was so charmed by what I found there that I immediately wrote her a fan letter.


I love all of Elizabeth’s posts, but my favorites are her Nosy Interviews. The concept is simple but powerful. Drawing from a pool of people that includes writers, artists, teachers, social workers and more, Elizabeth asks two questions: What do you smell like? What do you like to smell? The answers are sensuous, funny, poignant and often startlingly intimate. I always learn something. Browsing through the archives today, I discovered the heads of babies smell like potato chips, what it’s like to discover one has synaesthesia, and (with some trepidation) what the pleasures of an “extra, extra scent-free” space are for someone with severe allergies. This summer, when Nosy Girl interviewed Arielle Weinberg (who makes me laugh every single time she posts over on The Scents of Self) I learned about the scent of man rays. As if all that weren’t enough, Elizabeth asks her interviewees to submit a photo of themselves, preferably in profile (she wants to see your nose, people) so she can put them up in the stars.


I’m very excited to report that today it’s my turn. I’m up in the Cygnus Clouds with my favorite raspberry lipstick on, talking about the scent of scrumptiousness, midnight shadows, ferry boats and the beautiful cacophony of smells on a New York street, among other things. I hope you’ll drop by, tell me what you think, and take a look at Elizabeth’s archives while you’re there.


Image: Photo of me, by me. Collage created by Elizabeth Ames Staudt. Full credit for photo of star clouds on Elizabeth’s blog and at the Cygnus Clouds link.

Everyday Magic


I sort of fell off a cliff after that last post. Or, more truthfully, I began pacing back and forth at the edge of a cliff, taking measurements, biting my nails and making guesses about what will happen if I jump, trying to decide if I need more courage or more common sense–all the usual push-pull that happens when I’m thinking about a new project but not quite committed yet. It’s an absorbing, nerve-wracking process. I forget things. I lose time. I lost a whole day this week. It was only when my husband showed no signs of leaving for work that I realized, to my dismay, that it was Saturday, not Friday. And since I’m thinking all the time about something I can’t talk about yet, I have a tendency to get quiet.


But I can say this: among the many, many things that no one told me about writing is that every time you stretch toward a new beginning you have to change a little–sometimes a lot. You have to become the person who can do the work. You write the story, but it writes you, too.  If that sounds spooky and a little magical, well, it is. But it’s an everyday kind of magic, like planting a garden, cooking a meal, or collecting stones and shells from a beach. Read the rest of this entry »

Perfume is Not an Object Postscript


I’ve been amazed and overwhelmed by the response to my post on the perfume and art debate. The comments–including those that never made it on to the blog–were so rich and thoughtful it took me an extra day just to read and respond. Thank you all. My main aim was to broaden the conversation and I think we’ve made an excellent start. A few thoughts about our exchanges before we move on (for now): Read the rest of this entry »

Perfume is Not an Object: A Few Thoughts about Perfume and Art

Note: If you are commenting on the blog for the first time your comment will be held for moderation. It is not lost, just in purgatory. After first approval you can comment freely.


Is perfume art? Could it be? Or is it something else: a craft, a commercial product, an ornament, a luxury, a prosthetic, an aphrodisiac, a love letter, a prayer, a con? Why does it matter?


Until recently, these kinds of questions rarely made it out of the perfume world. The exceptions–stories about professional provocateurs, like Sissel Tolaas, who captured the scent of fear, or Christophe Laudamiel, who created scents for the world economic forum at Davos and put on a scent opera–suggested perfume is considered art only when it escapes the beauty counter and begins to look and smell like something barely recognizable as perfume.


But, as many of you already know, thanks to “The Art of Scent 1889-2012″ now on exhibit through February at New York’s Museum of Art and Design, the is-perfume-art discussion is having a mainstream moment. Today I’m using this space (A lot of it. I apologize in advance for the un-bloggish length of this post.) to outline a few broad points that I think have been missing from that conversation. I’m aware that this level of perfume geekery may not be of general interest. Do come back on Monday for those long-promised cocktails if it’s not. Read the rest of this entry »

Sweet Nothings and Thanks: Meringues Violette


I’m feeling thankful for so much this season. High up on that long list are all the kind, intelligent readers out there who’ve sent me emails, tweets, Facebook messages and actual real-life letters or just dropped by the blog to hang out for awhile, and all the other readers I haven’t heard from and never will but who I know are out there anyway. I never thought my life would look like it does right now, and it wouldn’t without you. Thank you.


So, I wanted to make you a couple of drinks tonight–two creme de violette cocktails, sparkles and velvet. I had it all planned. I would get up early in the morning and work on my Friday post about the Art of Scent exhibit and the surrounding “Is perfume art?” brouhaha, and then I would take a break and make the drinks. I already knew what was in them, I just needed to figure out the exact measurements so I’m not giving you directions like “a third a glass of bourbon and the same of black tea” (what kind of glass?) or “a skoche of gin–just enough to make it a bit drier” (what exactly is a skoche anyway?). Read the rest of this entry »