The Stinky Entry


Once upon a time, I wore really cheap perfume.

I’m not proud of this, except sometimes I am.

As a little girl, I wore the Avon stuff my mom would get for me and my sister.  If I concentrate, I can bring up olfactory memories of barely-floral talcum powder, greasy “solid” perfume that came in novelty pins and smelled like birthday candles, and an eu de toilette that gave off a cheap shampoo scent and came in a hippo-shaped bottle.  Certainly nothing particularly sophisticated.

I’d visit my grandparents’ house in Helena, MT many summers.  My grandparents had separate bathrooms, which was absolutely astounding to me (until we became “two-toilet Irish” in 1980 or so, the five of us shared one bathroom).  My grandfather’s bathroom was austere, spare, and done up in shades of tan and brown.  There was a shower stall, and soap-on-a-rope that I seem to remember smelled like saddle leather.  It was a cowboy bathroom.  You went in, did what you had to do, and left.

But my grandmother’s bathroom was like visiting an English garden.  Everything was roses, right down to the crystal bowl of miniature rose-shaped “guest soaps” on the toilet tank.  It was more or less understood that you were not to actually use those.  She had a pink padded toilet seat, which sank softly and gratifyingly as you lowered yourself onto it.  And on the sink vanity was a Jean Naté gift set.

jean nate
My grandmother’s bathroom represented what it was to be a lady.  In fact, “Lady” was my grandfather’s nickname for her.  And the idea of taking a bath, splashing Jean Naté all over myself, THEN dusting my bod with the powder puff seemed like the height of ladylike sophistication.

When I was 13 I went out and bought a Jean Nate gift set of my very own, which I placed on my dresser, after shoving aside my Star Wars action figures and dirty dishes that I’d neglected to bring to the kitchen.  If I ignored the mess and focused on the cheery yellow powder puff container, I could almost believe I was on my way to elegance.

I figured out the hard way that I wasn’t supposed to smell like Jean Naté.  A girl in my 8th Grade English class wrinkled her nose and informed me that I smelled “like old lady.”  Apparently I was supposed to smell like “innocence,” in the form of Love’s Baby Soft, which gave off a bouquet of baby oil and deodorant tampons.  But every girl in my class had a little bottle in her Jordache purse.  I didn’t get it.  I wanted to bypass “innocence” and go straight into smelling like the type of person who had a padded toilet seat and guest soaps for decorative purposes only.


In high school, as has been said here before, my scent of choice was Giorgio.  Only I couldn’t afford Giorgio, so I went with Primo!, and walked around in a dizzying, metallic cloud of this shit until I was a senior, when I discovered the little roller ball vials of essential oils in the same stores where you could buy Indian print skirts 3 for $20.  In tandem with the clove cigarettes I learned I was supposed to be smoking, I then spent several years smelling like a spice rack.  With a base note of weed.

As a young adult entering the work force, I had two flimsy “suits” I probably bought at Express, and thought I was being extra fancy by “scent layering” with products purchased at Bath & Body Works (shower gel, lotion, and body spray).  So I basically walked around smelling like the syrup from a can of fruit salad.

Then there was the sad, sorry period towards the end of my drinking where I just smelled like despair.

In my thirties, I got serious about my scent.  It’s been that way ever since.  I have a tray of perfumes sitting on my bona fide dresser, where I also keep my cosmetics and accessories.  I switch them in and out by season.  When I shift them over to dust the top of the dresser, they make a deeply satisfying tinkling sound, like I am a possessor of delicate things.  Delicate, ladylike things.

You shouldn’t gauge where you are in this life based on THINGS, I know.  But I feel like I struggled long and hard to smell as good as I do.

Drugstore (Makeup) Cowboy


Long time no write, wot.

I’ve been struggling with how to “re-enter” the world of blogging.  When I originally started this in ‘99 (on Diaryland – remember THAT, oldsters?), I wrote about pop culture, and my drunken escapades.  When I got sober, I wrote about pop culture, and my Adventures In Recovery.

Then I became a caregiver, and I feel like everything got swallowed up in that.  I felt like I had a responsibility to tell this story, not only to preserve my dwindling sanity, but to let people know what a fucking godawful shitsucking disease Alzheimer’s is.  Because until you’re actually living that reality, you really have no idea.  You have a vague understanding that it involves losing your memory (hence the “jokes” I invariably hear from people when they misplace their keys or something stupid like that), but you really can’t grasp the day-to-day horror of what it actually does to someone.

And so I wrote about caregiving and Alzheimer’s, and not a lot much else.  Now my mother-in-law is gone, and I feel stripped of my identity.  I feel like I’ve lost my voice.  I’m exhausted, even now.  Marcia passed away before my very eyes a little less than two months ago.  I hadn’t been an active, daily caregiver for her for a year-and-a-half before that.  But I’m still so tired.  I’m trying to undo the physical damage that the depression and anxiety wrought, and that’s been tough.  The TMJ symptoms have abated somewhat.  But I’m 45 now, and the weight I gained during those years just isn’t going to come off so easily.   A lot of mornings I look at myself in the mirror and the mental beatings immediately take place.  Things I wouldn’t say to my dearest friends and loved ones are perfectly okay to say to myself.

I’m trying.  I’m getting up at Stupid O’Clock some mornings and dragging my ass to the gym.  I’m wearing clothes that I enjoy.  And I’m buying crap tons of makeup.

This is my new thing.  Makeup.  I’ve always worn it before, but now I’m going out and buying brushes and palettes and primer like my face is a blank canvas, or a weather-worn beach house.  I’m mainly hitting places like Sephora, but sometimes I feel the siren call of the CVS.

I “came of age” in the Eighties.  I began trying to make informed beauty purchases (beyond the tinny/fruity fragrances that my mom would get me from Avon) in ’83 or so, when I was junior high.

Lipgloss was the gateway drug.  I was learning the very complicated rules for budding womanhood via studying the more popular girls in my class.  We all had to carry an itty-bitty Jordache purse.  I had this one:


These flimsy-ass things could accommodate a comb, a pen that wrote in at least three different colors, a pack of Now & Laters, and not much else.  But we crammed them full of crap anyway, to the point where the strap would fray and break.  And then you had to be the loser with a safety pin keeping the strap on.  I digress.  You of course also had to have lipgloss in this bag.  Maybe several.  Kissing Potion, which gobbed up in a shiny, sticky mess and made you look like you were fellating a jar of rubber cement.  Lip Smackers, which went on much smoother and tasted pretty good.  And if you were really fancy, you got that shit in the olde-tyme-looking tin.  I had them all, although I wouldn’t actually be kissed by a boy until after I graduated high school.  But HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL, OKAY.

I’d peruse the cosmetic aisle of the local drugstore, and purchase things that would make me a little more “adult,” when really what I looked like was a gobby-lipped clown with orange streaked hair (from all the Sun-In I’d pour on my head and then fry into infinity with the blowdryer).


And then, to top it all off, you had to drown yourself in perfume.  The obvious choice, for me, would have been Love’s Baby Soft (“because innocence is sexier than you think”) but I sought a more sophisticated signature scent.  Giorgio seemed fancy, but who could afford Giorgio on an infrequent babysitter’s salary?  PROBLEM SOLVED.

designer primo
THEY STILL MAKE THIS SHIT.  My perfume tastes are considerably more refined these days (although I will admit a fondness for J.Lo’s Glow), but every time I go to CVS now, I feel like I should revisit my young-teen-self and blast this all over my naked person, and go around smelling like an aluminum-tinged fruit salad.  SAVOR ME.

So what’s to be had at the drugstore these days?  The usual brands (Revlon still makes “Cherries In The Snow” and “Toast Of New York”), the usual cheap stuff.  But I must now sing the praises of the ELIXIR OF LIFE that is micellar water.


I want to have a bottle of this in every room in my house.  I want to always have it within arm’s reach.  It is that miraculous.  My makeup just SLIDES OFF MY FACE every night when I use this GIFT FROM THE GODS.  Bow to the micellar water.  ALL HAIL.

I’ve also become fascinated with the NYX brand, which is not quite Maybelline, but not quite Wet-n-Wild.  Their “Butter” lipstick is really good.

I’ve been getting an odd sense of comfort just wandering that cosmetic aisle these days.  It’s taking me back to a more innocent version of myself.  Am I “filling a hole” with stuff?  Possibly.  I won’t lie and say that buying a little tube of something doesn’t give me a little stab of pleasure.  Having something small and shiny that promises to make me prettier.  But it’s helping me somehow.  Having a morning ritual in which I’m highlighting and primping makes me feel a little more part of the world again.  I won’t apologize for that.