almost

Our landlords and ‘Japanese parents’ had their vaccinations yesterday at a specially designated centre in Kamakura. At 80+ they were prioritized, and ours are a long way off despite the encroaching Olympics, but our neighbour to the other side is about to get her shot too, and this opened a fissure of clarity and hope into the fog of suppressed hysteria that embodies everything here, conjecture crystallizing to reality. I am happy and relieved they are protected.

I have been quite tired recently from work and the amassing of everything in my veins : not especially creative or perfume minded, more in the mood to absorb passively. I watched the Halston miniseries and read a painful autobiography – a brilliant, if very bruising book called Once In A House On Fire by Andrea Ashworth that D handed over solemnly once he had finished it. The tears started flowing when I reached the end of it myself yesterday evening, and continued when I was cooking, listening to Side 3 of my record of Bjork’s Vulinicura Live, which I think is one of the most beautiful things I have ever bought. These tears felt cathartic, fresh, cleansing – there was buildup.

On Saturday morning I suddenly found myself craving something chypric, with patchouli, and sprayed on some Orion by Terenzi; sharply aromatic with a pineapple top note I rather enjoy, although the final note of oudish white musk on my skin left me dissatisfied. Not so on clothes ; the next morning I smelled what I had been wearing the day before and had that thrilled feeling when you know you really want to EMIT that precise smell when you go out.

I ended up reeking. When we walked to the shops to buy vegetables for dinner, bumping into the Mitomis on their way back from their injections, I was wearing some Rose De Siwa, sprayed on a sweater; on me it is flamboyant and a bit too pansyish perchance, but it formed an interesting contrast with Orion. I had a little Histoires De Parfums Noir Patchouli sprayed on my trousers, and some Spirit Of Dubai Majalis – a Turkish rose glinting aromatic, as well as another – Ajmal? – that was rich with dates, cinnamon and labdanum. If it was all a bit much, I didn’t think so, even if, as I teared up uncontrollably to Bjork’s ode to willing unravelling, Undo, it occurred to me that in the later stages of all these perfumes, though nice, enjoyable, and perfect for an unseasonably cold misty day( and D had complimented the assemblage as a whole), something wasn’t entirely right. Close —- but no cigar.


22 Comments

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22 responses to “almost

  1. The hysteria is not suppressed here in Nepal. We are still under full lockdown with no determined end in sight. We are allowed out to buy dairy and meat for 2 hours each evening. New cases of Covid are leveling off at a rather concerninglyhigh plateau, but deaths are rising as hospitals fill to capacity. The Kathmandu valley is getting the worst of it. Kathmandu patients requiring ICU beds are now being helicoptered in hourly to the few hospitals here in my tiny town of Pokhara. India has cut off oxygen & vaccine supplies so Nepal is dependent on China & WHO. 16 patients died in the neighboring province of Lumbini in one day when the oxygen ran out at the hospital. A team of climbers was evacuated from Everest as they all began falling ill with Covid. This will drag on for months if not years. Ugh.
    Anyway, the weather has been unseasonably cool, gray, and rainy here too Almost like the Monsoon that usually starts in July and ends in September. Puts me in the mood for something cozy and comforting to fight the gloom and angst. Cardamom always soothes me, so I layered Fragonard’s Santal Cardamome with the last dregs of my vial of Solstice Scents Cardamom Rose Sugar. That and a mug of milky chai made my day!

    • I was thinking of you when I read about the situation in Nepal in the New York Times on Saturday – I wanted to mention it directly but couldn’t quite find a way to sew it into the piece (which I just wrote quickly on the bus).

      We were in a Nepalese restaurant tonight too and we asked the staff how things were: not good they said.

      Cardamom is divine. Funnily enough, we just bought some more on the way back to the taxi. D likes Fauchon cardamom in his morning tea.

      Take no risks!

  2. It is a small glimmer of hope that your elderly landlords/Japanese parents have received the vaccine. Japan should be rolling this out so much faster, truly. I guess this country is even worse though. We have plenty of vaccines, yet 34-40% of the populace refuse to get vaccinated. Insanity!
    All those scents at once must have smelt so heady and intoxicating, dreamlike. What was missing from the mix?
    Cathartic tears are the best, and oh so necessary during these uncertain times. Times where the stupid in the world has seemed to reach an all-time high. Glad you could just let everything out.

    • Thanks. I am not much of a weeper, it must be said (and D is as dry as a bone in that regard unless something really pushes him into that sacred space); I have had so much pent fury, resentment, stress and panic, like so many other people, just……all the exasperation at how SLOW it has been here that I needed some art to puncture my defences; it is indeed a relief.

      • We all need some form of art to help draw out the pent up emotions within. It really helps to recalibrate things. Glad you are feeling better.

      • It’s a day to day thing, as I’m sure it is with everyone, but yes… my god, imagine just living on TV and social media and no real catharsis ?

        Kill me now

  3. OnWingsofSaffron

    Why is it that the ever efficient Japanese haven’t really begun to vaccinate its population, I wonder?!
    People are so angry and fed-up with the incompetence here in Germany. The results of the vaccination programme—too little, too late, too lethargic, too incoherent—is abysmal compared to other countries: I am sure and indeed most hopeful it will have an effect the results of the upcoming general elections in September. I pray voters will not forget and will sweep out the never-ending era of Christian Democrats! We need a fresh new start.

    • You see that’s interesting, because both Germany and Japan are famed for their efficiency, and yet, the organization of the vaccination programs has been crap.

      In Japan I think it is largely because there is a tendency to pass the buck; this is an entirely consensus based society; meetings take forever, everything must be done properly and smoothly and respectfully, there is a terror of being blamed for making a mistake – nobody wants to take responsibility in such a perilous situation. And there are echelons and echelons of labyrinthine redtape to cut through in getting these dusty old men to sign the requisite documents to get the vaccine approved.

      Personally, it makes my blood boil as it looks like some kind of ethnic exceptionalism to me: YOU might be ok with this vaccine, even if we were too inept to make our own in time, obviously, but WE need to have lengthier protocols to make sure that it is safe enough for us. It’s ridiculous.

      Caution flows deeply through the veins here; you see it in the classroom, where students admitted yesterday that they are afraid of being ‘shown up’ if they say the wrong thing, so this nightmareish slow as molasses roll out is par for the course. With the Olympics looming though, you would have thought that at least ONE politician with a pair of balls could have strongarmed someone in the pharmaceutical industry to hurry things up a bit but no.

      • OnWingsofSaffron

        Goodness! Sounds very difficult, like long-term psychoanalysis is needed!
        Here in Germany, I think—as I hinted at in my first comment—old fashioned shock therapy might just be the right remedy. Come 29th September, and give the politicians who have been sitting in their elevated positions for more or less 16 years straight a powerful jolt. And saying that, I mean a wake-up call which leads us to more awareness concerning climate change, diversity and all things good 🙂

      • I have been reading about the resurgence of the Greens. I wonder.

        This morning I saw that the vaccine program in Germany is speeding up a bit now, which is good to hear. I am DESPERATE to get mine.

  4. Robin

    Sounds like a gorgeous blend of fragrance. Wonder what addition might have taken it to perfection?

    My heavens, I am so heartened to hear of developments there, dear N., including a bit of a lift in mood and outlook, and a loosening perhaps — even release — of some pent-up feelings that have been playing on you for some time.

    • For too goddamn long. Like the rest of the world. But I admit I have been frazzled – publically – maybe that is part of it. All the RANTS I have had…. It will be interesting to see what it is all like ‘on the other side’ if and when this pandemic finally subsides and we get back to the ‘new normal’ etc – I can hardly imagine it though. I felt a rush of happiness that my Japanese family are inoculated as I was scared for them. They were out maskless in the street looking immediately more vibrant and less fearful and I think just seeing it unlocked something in me (at the same time I just felt even MORE strongly that I wanted the vaccine, even if I know people who have been laid really low by it, both by the Astrazeneca in the UK and the Pfizer one here). What percentage of people have been vaccinated in Canada? Is there a vast shift in psychological well being when people know they have some inner biological protection?

      • Robin

        I know that my mood was unexpectedly euphoric when I heard I was going to get my first AstraZeneca shot the very next day. WHAT??!! It was quite overwhelming. And when I got it, the overarching feeling was equal parts relief and gratitude, and both of those intensely.

        I had zero aftereffects. Ric got Moderna and felt nothing over the next few days. Nada. We both had a bit of soreness in the arm for a day, less than our annual flu shot. I was a teensy bit worried about AstraZeneca because of the very rare chance of blood clotting, but UK studies have shown that the 2nd shot is essentially risk-free if the first was cool so I’m feeling in the clear. Second shot within 16 weeks of the first for both of us. Canada decided to make first shots the priority, which I think was wise.

        Canada is doing pretty well: over half of us have had our first shot and the vaccination rate is accelerating. Here on the Sunshine Coast all of us old folks had our first vaccinations by mid-April. People in care got them early on in the game and we’ve never had an institutional outbreak here. I found your explanation for the painfully slow rollout in Japan enlightening. Interesting. Makes complete sense. I would be infuriated! In normal circumstances that tendency wouldn’t be enormously problematic, but now? GAAAAA. Good for the UK to get the job done as well as it has.

      • Yes. Delighted you are both done and everyone I know back home as well.

        I HATE this feeling of slow exasperation. It has taken a real toll on my health. I mean how hard is it to actually ‘administer’ a vaccine ? Couldn’t an orangutan do it? Now they are ‘considering’ ‘letting’ pharmacists give the injections here; there aren’t enough doctors and nurses so the defense forces medical staff will be doing it instead at mass vaccination centres which are being set up.

        I want your feeling of relief !

    • As for the scent combo, I was quite happy with the Orion: it has that modern chypre dryness that can be quite appealing in certain moods and I really do like how it lingers on clothes. The Dubai rich perfumes, while great at the beginning and in the middle, unfortunately all morphed to the expected oud amber clingy thing we hate, which destroyed my initial pleasure; the Rose De Siwa – I know we disagree on this point – is MEGA on me, like a mixture of Eternity and Paris, and it just gets stronger and stronger on me during the day, especially sprayed on a jumper. I like it though and will prize the vial. I think while I was getting teary in the kitchen the scents were overwhelming me. But also by their incompleteness.

      • Robin

        That’s so strange about Rose de Siwa. I wish it was huge on me. I don’t get any Paris/Eternity vibe. I wonder if they changed the formula and we’re smelling different versions? Strange to be that far apart when we’re usually in sync. Orion sounds like something pretty appealing for Ric; I like that you say it’s dry, since sweet fruity things are not my fave on that dear man. Or on me, for that matter. He does like Adventus, but I haven’t gotten him a bottle because, well, you know.

      • I quite dig Orion actually and will be wearing it on clothes as a chic outer layer.

      • Robin

        Sorry, duh, Aventus. Finger slipped.

  5. emmawoolf

    I had my second vaccine at the weekend. (I know, I know. Talk about rubbing it in). I’m incredibly lucky. But I can’t shake the feeling of unease and wonder if I ever will. Things still aren’t right. A friend asked me if I wanted to go out for dinner. But it feels all wrong, so I can’t and won’t do it. That sort of thing feels as if it belongs in a film only. Things aren’t right. But I guess they never will be. x

    • This rings very true.

      Presumably there will be vast psychological documentation about all of this in the years to come, but my instincts tell me, E, that your instincts are right.

      Things are moving too swiftly. At least there.

      There will be a long lasting persistent foulness.

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