Posts Tagged ‘Britney Spears’

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90s baby.

August 27, 2009

Okay, I confess, I was born in the 1980s.  But apart from a few songs, the majority of what I grew up with was 90s music.  As you know, Mariah Carey is a massive influence on me, and my mother bought her very first single, “Vision Of Love”, on vinyl back in 1990.  Right through “Dreamlover”, “Without You” and “Fantasy” to the  Butterfly and Rainbow albums which closed the 90s, she was an epic atom bomb dropped on my life.  But if you know me, or you’ve read certain previous entries, you already know that and I’m not going to delve into it further here.

As a preteen and young teenager bearing the combined musical influence of my mother and my school friends, I would listen to songs by the Honeyz, En Vogue, Shola Ama, Backstreet Boys, No Doubt, Solid Harmonie, Peter Andre, Blur *shudder*, Aqua *cringe*, Aaliyah, Monica, Brandy and Usher, to name but a very select few.  The magazines I read (Smash Hits, TVHits, Top Of The Pops) were aimed squarely at teenagers who were of a sunny pop disposition, and although I was much more aware of the charts then than I am now, I still felt a little bit like there had to be something more.  Beyond straightforward manufactured pop (however good a product it may be), I started to lean towards more urban music.  I discovered garage (2-step) music, R&B, rap and hip hop.  Ms. Dynamite, Shola Ama (and the remixes), Honeyz and Kele Le Roc represented British R&B to me, while the American singers such as Toni Braxton, Aaliyah, Brandy, Usher, Monica, TLC and Jennifer Lopez were an emblem of something smoother, sexier and edgier.  Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope opened my eyes to how well an album could be constructed, seguing effortlessly between different moods, concepts and tempos.  Missy Elliott’s Da Real World smacked me upside the head with a combination of weird bassy dark production and super-explicit lyrics that I wasn’t familiar with.  Jennifer Lopez’s video for “If You Had My Love” left me with the undeniable impression that a star was born, from her ridiculous beautiful looks to her insanely polished and expressive dancing.  Brandy & Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” ended up on my cd player before it dawned on me just how much of a classic that song was going to be.  TLC’s Fanmail sounded like the future.  Aaliyah’s One In A Million album sounded like effortless sexuality, and sounded like nothing and nobody else.

All the aforementioned artists, albums and songs still hold that exact same resonance for me.  Perhaps it’s just the fact that I was growing up and those singers played an integral part in my adolescence, but music just isn’t the same anymore.  Show me a singer as effortlessly sexy and sophisticated as Aaliyah.  Show me a group as fiercely cool as TLC.  Find me a singer with a voice, body and songwriting skills like Mariah’s.  A rapper as off the wall as Busta Rhymes, as influential as 2pac or Notorious BIG.  I mean no disrespect to all the musicians and artists in the game today, because they have a hard job living up to these stars, who to me represent the golden age of urban music.  Ciara, Beyoncé, The-Dream, Electrik Red, Robin Thicke, Pitbull, Lil’ Wayne, Black Eyed Peas all hold down the front line.  Perhaps it’s just that I’m older, but despite their best efforts, I can’t help reminiscing.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because I’ve found music in the last 3-4 years to be somewhat dry, I’ve discovered music from that golden age that passed me by the first time round.  Unbelievably, until 2 years ago, I had never listened to a Jodeci song.  Obviously I’d heard of them and their songs must have played very occasionally on the radio or tv, but I’d never really listened. Now I know where Dru Hill got their ideas from!  R. Kelly and his protégée Sparkle crafted some classic 90s R&B.  SWV and Total were some bad-ass girl groups!  Listening to the Notorious BIG’s albums and Puff Daddy’s older output allows me to see where Diddy, Lil’ Kim and Bad Boy Entertainment stand today and plot the journey and progress in between.  The joy of this has been that it is an entirely personal quest, because nobody else, in my past or present, is into the exact same music as me.  I’ve managed to convert some of my friends to some urban music, but I don’t really know anyone in person who’s into in the same depth.  The people who seem to understand most where I come from musically are on the internet, in forums and on urban music blogs.  Quite often, different posts educate me.

And that’s why I get so frustrated at the state of music today.  For one, every song seems to be a recycle of something else.  Beyoncé’s “Halo” = Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” = Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone” = Jordin Sparks’ “Battlefield”.  Lady GaGa’s “Poker Face” = Britney Spears’ “Gimme More” = Eva Simons’ “Silly Boy” = Rihanna’s “Shut Up And Drive” + “Umbrella” = a large part of The-Dream’s subsequent output = Electrik Red.  LeToya’s “Not Anymore” = Ciara’s “Never Ever” = Monica’s “Still Standing” = Nicole Scherzinger’s “Happily Never After” = Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” = Rihanna & Ne-Yo’s “Hate That I Love You” = Ne-Yo’s “Because Of You” = Ne-Yo’s “Sexy Love” = Ne-Yo’s “Mad”.  So damn formulaic.  And as Jay-Z has finally noticed, auto-tune is everywhere.

Another thing: why does music being released right now sound like it is 20 years old?  Aaliyah’s self-titled album sounds like an edgy, modern masterclass nearly 10 years on.  TLC’s Fanmail sounds more futuristic than Keri Hilson’s In A Perfect World…despite the former being released in 1999 and the latter released in 2009.  Whitney Houston’s latest “greatest” “comeback” album I Look To You is an utter mess, because instead of a graceful attempt to keep up with the times as on My Love Is Your Love (a burnished masterpiece) and even Just Whitney (which has held up surprisingly well), she decides to go time-travelling.  The ballads fare well, with “Call You Tonight” a classy modern song, while “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” and “I Look To You” are classic ballads which are strong, even without the power of Whitney’s old voice.  “Salute” is the best song on the album for me, because it is pure timeless R&B.  But the uptempos…. oh no.  “Million Dollar Bill” revisits old-school R&B and falls asleep, “Nothin’ But Love” presses the 90s synth button repeatedly, “Like I Never Left” should be titled “Like I Never Left The 80s”.  The major disaster is “A Song For You”, which was performed sublimely by Herbie Hancock and Christina Aguilera a couple of years ago.  Here, the first half of the song is typically piano led, but Whitney seems to jump through the hoops a little bit.  No matter, it’s not a problem compared to what happens at 1:30.  Hex Hector and Peter Rauhofer must have cried a river when they heard this tepid 90s-dance mess. I listened to this and had to skip to the next track, because Whitney was done a pure disservice with this song.  Words fail me…

Whitney Houston is not the only victim of this dated-modern fad… even on Trey Songz’ fantastic third album Ready, the melodically lovely “Love Lost” boasts a musical backing that sounds like it was created in 1987.  And Monica’s latest leaked song “Betcha She Don’t Love You” sounds like Missy Elliott vomited up an old record and told Monica to sing over it.  (Aaliyah would never have stood for it, I’m sure.) I have no problem with being inspired by the past and appreciating heritage and history.  You can honour the classics in a tasteful way. But when it seems that it’s so difficult for artists to be forward thinking that they recycle old songs and pass them off as ‘new’ or ‘retro-cool’ when in reality they are just lazy, that really pisses me off and makes me rifle through my older CDs, listening to music that is forward thinking, doesn’t sound at all dated, but is timeless.  There’s a big difference between the two that a lot of today’s music industry (both A&R honchos and artists alike) would do very well to learn.

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i, love

August 25, 2009

I love… Trey Songz’ new album.  You already know that I am feeling LeToya’s Lady Love (read the review here), and you can add Trey Songz’ Ready to that list.  A step up from his previous Trey Day (which in turn was a step up from his debut), there are plenty of standout tracks such as the single “I Need A Girl”, the urgent “Black Roses”, the epic closer “Yo Side Of The Bed” (which really reminds me of Prince’s “Purple Rain” at the beginning and in certain places where the guitar kicks in) and the ridiculously silly and yet chirpily addictive “LOL 🙂 “.  I guess I am a slave to Soulja Boy – it is my ringtone already.  Listen to it and enchant yourself… (maybe that is the wrong word but you’ll see what I mean!)  But it’s a really impressive, solid album, with great vocals from Trey, nice production throughout.  Dude is the new R. Kelly, for sure.

I don’t love… being fooled.  By now I should know better, I really really should.  Basically, I was on the dating site and I noticed that R was online.  So I clicked on him out of curiosity, and his profile basically said “In Birmingham on the 25th, at such and such hotel, looking for a horny 18-25 yo guy for fun times.”  I was like “OKAAAAY… so do you have a boyfriend or not?  And if so, where the fuck is he?” (Certainly not in Birmingham.)  Either R is a liar or he is a cheat, and yet for a week I was spinning out thinking how wonderful he was.  Maybe I’m more naïve than I thought.  Maybe his profile got hacked… but that’s really unlikely, and I’m not that naïve.  So I was inspired to write a song called “Delete U”, which I finished the rough edit of today.  Needs a little polishing, but I took that feeling of disappointment and was spurred into creativity, so it can’t be all bad.  And I certainly don’t pine for him anymore, though in honesty I haven’t pined for him for a couple of weeks now.  It’s just surprising when you think you connect with somebody and then you find out that they are a whole other person.  Not good for my judgment of character. :S

I love… the new Prada L’eau Ambrée.  I came across it in Debenhams today (during a reasonably successful shopping trip, which involved worshipping at the altars of Britney Spears and Zara), smelled it and felt love.  Love for the utterly sophisticated black and gold bottle.  Love for the sexy blonde model in the ad copy.  And most of all, love for the soft amber-floral-cream fragrance.  I am going to return to Debenhams tomorrow for another smell.  All the while repeating to myself “I must not buy it, I must not buy it, I must not buy it…”

I don’t love… wishing I were constantly somewhere else.  I said in my previous post that I had travelled to various exotic locations in my dreams, but I really wish that I could just run away to Milan, to Marbella, to Brazil, to Hawaii, to New York… and start a new life.  I have goals that I want to achieve while I’m here in Bristol, such as: getting my Careers Guidance qualification, getting my driving licence, moving out, getting a sixpack, getting a hot boyfriend, dressing head-to-toe in Gucci.  But some of these are more likely than others, and I hope that by the age of 30 I will be set up in one of these countries.  I don’t know why, but I have never felt at home in England.  I don’t feel the slightest twinge of patriotism (though I do love my city, Bristol), and my brain tells me that land is land, and a home is what you make it, so I should be able to live anywhere because it’s all the same.  But my emotions and heart cry out for the various places I have listed (most of which I haven’t even visited!) because I can imagine being happy there, or finding certain elements which would fit me a lot more than the awkwardness that Bristol sometimes forces upon me.  Here, I have lots of friends and I know where and how to enjoy myself, but I don’t really fit into or click into a niche, and I would like to find a place where I can do that.  Just maybe.

I love… feeling loved.  My grandmother is off to Italy on Thursday, and even though she really upset me last week with some insensitive comments, this week it’s water under the bridge.  I’m really going to miss her for the 3 weeks that she is away!  My mother and I have been getting on really well lately, and I don’t feel closer to anyone than her, even though there are a lot of things that I don’t wish to tell her at times.  My closest friends are either living in other cities, travelling about the country / continent, or preparing for new faraway opportunities, but yet I am glad for each of them and hold them dear to me.  And even if it’s just in my dreams, the sweet kisses and loving embraces of Thore Schölermann / Rafael Verga / random indie DVD cashiers keep me warm and make me feel like maybe that could one day happen in reality, just like a fairytale. A really, really sexy fairytale. Who knows… we live in reality, but it doesn’t mean that dreams don’t come true.  If it’s rare, it means that it happens, and hopefully it’ll happen to me.  As always, when it does, you’re gonna be some of the first to know!  Thankyou for reading once again, take it easy 🙂

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10 things.

August 22, 2009

Since I don’t really know what to write, and I’ve had a pretty uneventful day (that’s what happens when you spend most of it on the sofa – I think my fatigue is nearly gone though 😀 ), I thought I would just make a quick list of 10 thoughts or things that I haven’t necessarily learned today, but that have returned to mind or made themselves evident today.

1.  Apparently, my mother standing on my laptop is appropriate recompense for my threatening to take a picture of her.

2.  My father has an intense and somewhat irrational dislike of Eminem and the Black Eyed Peas.

3.  Good films on dvd never go on sale quickly enough.

4.  Your hometown is the best, most comforting place when you’re somewhere else.  As soon as you’re back there, it’s claustrophobic and overly familiar, and you want to break out all over again.

5.  According to the return of X Factor and the continuation of Big Brother, reality tv makes the world go round.  Not only is it recession-friendly, but it somehow hypnotises 95% of the population and destroys their remaining brain cells.  Am I really the only one who finds those kinds of programmes irredeemably tacky???

6.  There are not enough sexy men in my life.

7.  Everyone must have come back from summer holidays because suddenly my blog is getting lots of views again like it used to! (There was a two-week lull.)  Thanks y’all 🙂

8.  As much as we chastise celebrity fragrances for being tacky, not realising that Armani, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and lots of other brands pay perfumers to manufacture perfumes for their brands in the exact same way and with the exact same lack of input, I still want to buy myself a new bottle of Britney Spears Curious.

9.  Beyoncé has the power to make my father’s voice (and his criticisms and jokes) inaudible to my ears.

10.  Fashions may change, the world may evolve and people may be born, live and die each day, but love will always remain one of the constant cruxes of the human race.

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disinterest.

August 21, 2009

In the dating game over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about men, and I’ve learned a lot about myself.  It has yet to really get me anywhere, but as much as dating should be about romance, about clicking with someone, about personalities coming together, sparks flying and the potential for love, it seems to be more of a transaction.  What am I to you?  Who am I to you?  What can I do for you?  What opportunities do I provide, what I can I get in return?  I’m not interested in relationships of convenience, and perhaps that is why I haven’t really had much dating success.  I either become blinded by my feelings, or jaded and clinical about the whole affair.  Here’s a brief examination of what people seem to what from me:

Sex : Most of the time, a promising exchange of ideas all seems to dissipate once you get me into your bed.  If they haven’t lost interest after the first night (I’m not that easy, and have only given it up once on the first date), then they suddenly disappear once they finally get some sexual interaction.  Not because I’m not any good (I am confident of this – I’m sure I’m not the best lover ever, but I know what I am doing well enough to elicit… the desired response), but just because I’ve fulfilled their need.  People tell me I am sexy, I am beautiful, I am this or that, but once we’ve done the deed, I apparently stop being those things and become “just another guy” or another conquest.  So silly me for thinking that there might have been something more, that I’m more than a mouth or a body to you.  I tell myself time and again that I should just use people for sex myself, but I can’t roll that way – I can’t do it.  Perhaps I’m not that jaded yet.

Trophy boyfriend : I am not bad-looking, I have some designer clothes and jewellery, I have plenty of friends and a couple of guys have enjoyed the fact that I seem to be reasonably popular and ‘cool’ (whatever that means).  Yes, I listen to music, I read books, I go to clubs, I am pretty sociable.  I also work hard, am educated and have thoughts in my head, but that seems to pass certain guys by.  They want to buy me things (far too soon, in one guy’s case – one meeting and he buys me something from the Britney concert he went to – I never found out what it was because I decided to end it once I found out; it was too intense for me! He was a bit of a stalker anyway…) and show me off, but I’m not going to be paraded as your ‘better half’ just to give you extra social clout.  Step your game up and take an interest in me for who I am, because I do the same for you.

Friendship : Obviously, a big part of a relationship is establishing a firm friendship between the two of you. But one of the things I find most difficult is when I date people who suddenly reveal they already have partners and just want to be friends.  By this time, I am the kind of person who might have fallen for them and am inventing scenarios in my head (of course, I keep that part to myself).  To have this shot down, when I reasonably assumed that because we were on a date, we were both single (!!!), means I need to majorly readjust my priorities and my attitude.  I manage to do it, but it bruises my heart somewhat because I get my hopes up (perhaps, again, I should know better by now) only to have them dashed.  Usually, it’s the perfect-seeming ones who already turn out to be attached – it figures, I guess.  Does that say anything about me being single though, that I am not that good a catch?  I like to think that of course it doesn’t, but sometimes it niggles away at me.

Emotional crutch : All too often, I find that guys quickly reveal that they have certain problems in their lives and they share what is going on.  More than once, I’ve dealt with guys with mental health problems, and I like to think I’m a pretty good listener and pretty compassionate.  I try to be there for them and understand as much as I can.  I give space when needed, I am ready to talk when they’re ready to talk.  But after a while, I begin to feel that “I’m depressed” is being used as an excuse to pick me up when they want me, and then drop me when they don’t.  I find myself wondering, “What about my needs?  There are two of us here… why are you waiting for me to text you?  Why does it take me asking you how you are?  Why can’t you pick up the phone, I have feelings too.  Just because you’re depressed doesn’t mean that I am happy 100% of the time.”  I apologise if it sounds slightly childish, but at the end of the day it is true.  It takes two to make a relationship work, and if there’s no room for me beyond being an agony uncle / sounding board for all your problems (however valid they might be), then I’m sorry but that just isn’t enough for me.

I’m still trying to figure out how to not let myself be sucked in by different guys, but it seems like every few months I learn a new trick – the hard way.  There are lots of ruses and games that people play in order to get what they want from you.  I have learned to lose interest more quickly and cut guys off if their play becomes too desperate / blatant, but is there any advice for being able to spot the bad ones more quickly?  It would save a lot of drama and some heartache too if everyone just wore a badge saying “Hi! I am looking for… I am interested in… I am not seeking…”  At least it would be honest.  But then, as they say, sometimes it’s all about the chase…

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besot.

August 14, 2009

Apparently (according to my computer & my father, though the online dictionary says different) there is no such thing as the verb “to besot”.  You can have the adjective “besotted”, which means to be hopelessly and absolutely in love, and it originates from the old English noun “sot”, which means “drunkard” (intoxicated by alcohol, as opposed to love), and before that the French word “sot(te)” which means “foolish”.   Ultimately, it comes from the Latin “sottus”, but enough of that – you don’t come here to read a dictionary, and I didn’t create this blog to write one.  My point is, Nick & I were discussing fragrances and their names, and we came onto the subject of Katie Price’s ‘collection’.  Her perfumes are called “Stunning” and “Besotted”, and I began to ponder why perfume names seem to prefer adjectives (and of course, nouns).  “Curious”, “Spellbound”, “Pure”, “Notorious”, “Luscious Pink”, “Signature”, “Strictly Private”, “Vintage” as well as all of the colours in the rainbow are just the first ones which come to mind.  But how many perfumes go with imperatives?  I can think of “Believe” by Britney Spears, “Inspire” by Christina Aguilera, perhaps the new “Challenge” by Lacoste, and not much else. (Feel free to add others in the comments)  I like the idea of a perfume with a direct purpose manifest in its name: instead of “Stunning”, “Stun”; instead of “Besotted”, “Besot” (who cares if it exists).  It sounds more urgent, more fervent, more powerful.  I like that.

So Nick and I were making up fantasy names for fragrances (“Fascinate” was a joke idea of mine), and we also think that Britney Spears should release a male fragrance called “Womanizer” (certainly a wittier and sexier name than her forthcoming “Circus Fantasy”.  How much longer before “Fantastic Fantasy”, or even “Fantasy Fantasy” appears?).  What about “Seduce”?  “Captivate”?  I even like the sound of “Unravel”.  I think these sort of commands harness the power of the words and make them more immediate, more direct.  I suppose I am not a perfumer, nor a marketing exec, so I’m talking out of my depth.  But it sounds good to me.

As most people (I presume), I wear different perfumes depending on my mood and what essence I want to exude at a particular moment.  I don’t wear a fragrance just because it’s popular or because it’s a big seller, and I am no longer fooled (after working in fragrance for a year and a half) by which perfumes are male, female or unisex.  Gearing a perfume towards a specific demographic is a marketing tool to gain a target audience, and pretending that a perfume is gender specific is part of this marketing.  Scent is scent, it’s intangible, and if it suits you and you like it, wear it!  You’re wearing a fragrance and making it a part of who you are, whether it’s Chanel Pour Monsieur or Chanel No. 5.  You wear the fragrance, the fragrance and the name doesn’t (or shouldn’t) wear you.  I just want to briefly delve into my collection of 20-something bottles (it sounds bad to non-perfumistas; to avid fragrance addicts, it is a restrained collection) and list a couple of things I wear when I…

…am going to work.
If I’m off to work or going somewhere business-like, I don’t want something too intrusive or seductive, but something pleasant and slightly different from the norm.  After all, in a professional environment (especially when I was working in fragrance!), you don’t want to blend in and smell like everyone else, and you certainly don’t want to come off smelling cheap.  You have to make your mark and your uniqueness felt, all while not being so obvious about it that your fragrance screams for attention.  So I tend to plump for “Deseo for men” by Jennifer Lopez (because it’s a slight yet heady mix of mint, tonka bean and soft spices – and it’s also not available in the UK, so I have no fear of running into anyone else wearing it), “Guerlain Homme” because its refreshing mojito-esqueness refreshes me through the day and perks me up with daydreams of evening cocktails, and Escada’s “Sunset Heat” is perfect for after the gym, with its juicy watermelon supplying all the tart freshness I need to revitalise me after a hard workout.

…am going on a date.
I have always had luck pulling wearing “Gucci pour Homme II” for some reason, though it was a hard sell during my time working at the Perfume Shop.  It’s a sweet, sexy spicy concoction, with a prominent tea note that is hard for a lot of people to put their finger on.  It’s intriguing and unlike a lot of other fragrances out there, especially for the male market – it’s not aquatic, it’s not leathery, it’s not ultra-green pines and grasses.  Sadly, I hear that Gucci are discontinuing it, so I will have to stock up.  Otherwise, I find that I feel seductive wearing Emporio Armani’s “Diamonds For Men”, which is another sweet fragrance made up of bergamot, cocoa and cedarwood that has an artificial yet addictive spike to it (I’m aware that I use strange words to describe perfume such as “angular” and “dark”, because that is the most accurate way I can convey how a perfume makes me feel). Tom Ford’s “Black Orchid” smells expensive and intoxicating, with a dizzying mix of oriental florals, vanilla and patchouli, with a mysterious undercurrent of something both grimy and bizarrely exquisite (heady mystery = very good). And Lancome’s “Hypnôse” for men is a powdery amber than lingers closely to the skin and invites the object of my affections to come close and try to put their finger on the intangible scent I’m exuding.  They won’t be able to, but maybe they’ll end up touching me instead, and therein lies the art of seduction!

…am meeting friends for coffee / casual get-together.
If I’m just going about my day-to-day business in my free time, socialising and having fun, I want something light and carefree.  Again, I’m attracted by the sweet (though I have the kind of skin which turns everything to sweet anyway, even if it didn’t start out that way!) and although I wear what I want when I want and (despite these paragraph headings) have no hard and fast rules, I like: the strawberry citrus delight of Black XS, which attracted me with its sexy ad featuring model Will Chalker, and epitomises summer with every inhale; the giant sweet Barbie tuberose of Juicy Couture, which is supposed to be a girly perfume but I love it nonetheless because it accentuates when I am feeling carefree and fun-spirited; the orange-icing sugar delight of Ultrared Man (again by Paco Rabanne) that is just too good to be simply a summer “limited” edition (though it is widely available and therefore not really limited – another marketing ploy!); the lemon-almond light soufflé that is Dior’s “Escale à Portofino”, which sparkles on the skin and is another elegant summery delight.  I also enjoy the floral clean-ness of Prada “Infusion d’Homme” which I loved at first and found utterly intoxicating, but now has quietened down to be a resonant soapy wonder than makes me feel so fresh and so clean.

…am going to a club.
If you have ever been to a club, or in fact ever been in a confined space with other people for any length of time, you will know that a) you will sweat, and b) other people will sweat.  Therefore you need a fragrance that will really go the distance and last hours and hours, while smelling intoxicating and can pull attention towards you in the crowd.  This is the one situation where I really go all out for the “wow” factor (unless I’m in a perky/mischievous mood in the morning/daytime) and select my ultimate favourite fragrance of all, “Dior Homme”.  This fragrance is a sophisticated blend of iris, violet, patchouli and chocolate (as well as some heady alcoholic thing I can never quite put my finger on) and confidently resides in its own sophistication and element of class.  I love it, and I wear the original and the Intense, which of course amps up the scents and goes all night. 😉 It certainly does the trick!  A close runner-up is A*Men by Thierry Mugler, with its chocolate-coffee-sundae and hints of burnt rubber and blackened caramel roughing up the edges.  Spraying too much on is lethal to passers-by, but the right amount can last and last on the skin, and belies a gourmand sensuousness that has the power to satisfy hunger pangs with a single sniff.

…at home by myself in the evening.
It’s safe to say by this point that without wearing a scent, I feel naked.  All of the above fragrances are ones that I enjoy, and I’ve left plenty others out, but I’m quite a nocturnal person and on nights when I’m enjoying my own company, I want to wear something sensual and subtle.  Something that isn’t overpowering, that lingers close to my skin and that compels me to repeatedly sniff my wrists.  What comes to mind is “Deseo” by Jennifer Lopez, which is a sexy, subtle scent that has tinges of lush tropical greenery, hidden behind a layer of midnight rain.  It’s subtle, it is sexy and I feel very in touch with my emotions and my inner sensuality when I wear it.  Other sexy/sensual/ethereal fragrances that perform this same trick are Gucci “Rush” (floral musky fruit boom) and Mariah Carey’s “M” (tiare marshmallow vanilla whip).  This “trick” is exactly what I mean when I talk about making perfume a part of who you are; it is an emblem of your essence, and an olfactory summary of all that you are at that moment.

(ps. this site has been my perfumista bible and point of reference for a fair few months now: for all perfume news, reviews and articles, go to Now Smell This)

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why should i be sad?

July 28, 2009

I decided to name this post after my favourite track from Britney Spears’ album Blackout because it kinda sums up how I’ve been feeling.  I think at times we all get the temptation to feel sorry for ourselves, but in a way this self-pity is something we can rationalise and yet something we know we shouldn’t do (or don’t need to feel).  There’s a tension between appreciating the good things in your life, and then seeing how you could still improve your life and all the faults that exist within it.  I will explain with illustrations from my very own personal life. 😉

With the last person I officially dated, L, I knew all along that I wasn’t really into the relationship.  And it was all too clear just how into me he was.  On the surface, he was kind, attentive, considerate and charming, if a little bit childlike (despite being 3 years my senior).  But I knew, deep down, that I didn’t feel for him how he obviously felt for me, and my failing was not putting a stop to it and nipping it in the bud.  Instead, I kept going hoping that my feelings would grow to match his, and perhaps accepting my caution at first as a defence mechanism after previous bad experiences.  But finally, it became clear to me that I had to break up with him, though I ended up doing it by accident… I sent him a text message I meant to send to my friend, saying that I couldn’t take the situation anymore and that I had to break up with L, as it was making me ill.  So L received this and went insane, and we had a breakup-via-text that I never meant to initiate.  I apologised and explained that it was all a mistake, and sending a text message to the wrong person happens all the time.  It’s an easy mistake to make, and all my friends have done it just as I now have.  And yet, be it out of hurt or out of anger, my apology was rejected because L and “his friends” (whom I never met and who never met me) decided that I had decided to send the text on purpose.  I had nothing more to say, because I had attempted to apologise, and I wasn’t going to pursue L when I’d wanted us to be apart anyway.  I will always regret the way that it happened, but I suppose I got what I wanted.  And yet, despite it being an accident, for weeks afterwards I felt like a bad person, like the guilty one because I had caused pain to someone else.  Perhaps because I knew I should have broken things off before that point.  I was angry because my friends, whom L had met, had been nothing but nice to him, whereas I’d never met his friends and yet they were perfectly ready to pass judgment on me and analyse non-existent reasons for my text message, rather than take my apology at face value.  So I was irritated, and I was relieved, but mostly I felt guilty for hurting someone.  And yet, it was an escape from a face-to-face scenario (which I was planning that week, but considering L’s reaction over text messages, perhaps breaking up in person would have meant that he’d caused a scene in the café – lucky escape?) and I never had to see him or hear from him again.  Is that really what I wanted?  I guess so.  So why should I be sad?

For anyone who read my detective blog yesterday, J did come back on msn.  Although he didn’t really change his monosyllabic style of talking, he did seem a little bit more open.  He maintained that his msn was crashing (I don’t believe this for a second) but that he wasn’t annoyed or embarrassed or anything, so fine.  And this is the funny thing: even though he was the one perpetrating a sort of deception, I once again felt guilty (I obviously inherited the Catholic guilt from my mother’s family, despite not being Catholic myself) because I’d unceremoniously uncovered his secret – however shabbily-kept – and confronted him with it.  I felt like I’d embarrassed him, because there is nothing wrong with being direct and asking for sex online if you so wish; there are plenty who are only too happy to oblige.  So I tried to keep things light and smooth things over.  Why did I feel the need to do this? I wasn’t the one who had tried to hide my identity, who had effectively advertised for people to come into my house and rape me, who had pretended that I didn’t want people to see my body.  All I’d done was uncover that J had done these things, and yet in a way I felt like I had robbed him of a tiny piece of dignity.  Perhaps that was a part of his façade, and I guess I felt like I’d ripped it away.  But why so guilty?  If it had been me, the person wouldn’t have given it a second thought… So why should I feel sad?

I decided to return B’s text, and he replied after a while wishing me luck, and saying he had work all week also.  I thought I might as well bite the bullet, since I’ve all but lost interest, and asked him whether he had received my invite to the cinema and how come he was never on msn anymore (we used to have really long, intimate conversations on there at first).  Again, no reply as of yet, and I don’t even expect one.  I don’t think that B is a malicious person, and I like him, but I’m not under any delusions – he’s a little bit crazy.  He doesn’t think anything of only replying to people when he chooses, and one minute he can’t leave me alone, the next he disappears off the face of the earth.  It makes no sense; and yet I anticipated that something like this would happen.  I’m not surprised, because my paranoia once again was proved right.  I’m not going to waste my time pursuing somebody who can’t communicate, and I’m not going to expect a high level of friendship from someone until they show they can be more consistent and reliable.  And yet, I feel guilty once again: what did I do to drive him away? Am I ugly to him? Am I boring? Does he just not want to go on a date?  My heart hurts and the guilt fades all too slowly, despite the fact that I know in my head that I should aim higher and not get strung out on people who already irritate me with their fluctuating attention spans.  So why should I be sad?

I know that in this blog I’ve focused a fair amount of the fact that I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life, having graduated from Oxford University with a good degree.  As a child and a teenager, I always seemed to do the right things, and despite never being the richest or the most popular at school, I was someone who seemed to have everything going for me.  And I can’t complain; I’ve lived in Spain, I’ve studied at a prestigious university, I’ve paid off my overdraft and credit cards, I’ve been a retail manager, I have a close family and close friends, I write, sing and produce my own music, I’m starting a new university course in September which will hopefully give me the extra kick I need to get a job at Connexions that I will enjoy.  It’s hard to believe in myself when life takes me on a different course to what I intended, but despite this year being a bit less exciting than what I’d intended, I suppose I shouldn’t waste my time feeling down.  Half of me feels like I’m stuck in a rut, but I know it won’t last for long.  I try to keep in mind all of the achievements I’ve made and the positive things, and compared to others, I guess I’m pretty lucky (though I won’t complain to be luckier!).  So why should I be sad?

h1

secrets and lies.

July 8, 2009

Last Saturday I was sat in Starbucks reading my book, and a woman (maybe 5-10 years older than me?) asked if she could sit in the seat opposite me (because I had claimed the comfy chairs hehe).  I said “yes” and she sat herself down, with 2 piles of books.  There must have been 8 altogether, and between pages of my own book, I surreptitiously looked at what she was reading.  I don’t know if she was a book reviewer for some newspaper or magazine (I was tempted to ask, but I already sparked up a conversation in the very same cafe the previous week, with a guy who was reading Ayn Rand and piqued my curiosity) but she would take one book, leaf through the first few pages, jot something down on a pink piece of paper, then put the book down and repeat the process with the next one.  Anyways, I noticed that the titles of these books (from the pink, floral covers and bouncy fonts, I’m guessing chick-lit) had a running theme: they involved the word “secret”, or otherwise “private diary of someone-or-other”.  And it got me thinking about something that I have noticed for a while now…

In the music world, a couple of years ago there was a running theme of the idea of confessions.  Madonna had Confessions On A Dance Floor and her Confessions Tour.  Usher had his mega-successful Confessions album and accompanying single.  Lindsay Lohan had a stellar but underappreciated album called A Little More Personal (Raw), which is the most mature and heartbreaking (and thus depressing – you have been warned! but I thoroughly recommend picking up the album) exploration of disillusionment with love, fame and her father in particular. The lead-off single from that collection was “Confessions Of A Broken Heart (Daughter To Father)”, and had an uncomfortable video which all too closely reflects the parental rows of my childhood.  Anyways, the theme of confessions and having secrets and wanting to reveal all of that through your music or your art or whatever form of self-expression is your forte was kinda slapping me around the face during that period, and I even wrote my own album called Secrets, which was the first one that I completed (Quiet Storm is due to be my third).  Ironic that for somebody interested in the idea of secrets, I’d like nothing more than to be a legitimately famous person…

I was, and still am, intrigued by the facet of human nature not to keep secrets (that seems pretty natural to me; privacy is a luxury and being able to keep something for yourself makes that extremely special, whatever it may be), but to want to reveal them and confess.  I think that the Catholic idea of confessing your sins in the booth to the priest is a good one in practice, and has some sense because a sin is something that can weigh heavily on your conscience, though I doubt whether anonymity was really preserved because the priest would blatantly know 99% of the voices in his booth.  What makes less sense to me is the culture of the self-exposé, where you reveal more about yourself to get people to be more interested in you and feel closer to you.  Obviously that is the logic behind the idea, but how much of yourself are you willing to give away before you draw the line?  In programmes such as Big Brother, the contestants willingly surrender all privacy in pursuit of 15 minutes of fame, except in its 9th series, barely anyone watches because we’ve seen it all before.  And because we’ve seen it all before, the tasks that the housemates have to do now are beyond ridiculous, e.g. two of them changing their names by deed poll to Dogface and Halfwit.  It lacks class, and this may be the root of my issue with revealing too much of yourself – it just looks desperate.

There is a need the majority of human beings have, I believe, to draw others closer to them.  But I don’t know, in the media-obsessed climate of today (which is a climate I have been brought up in and totally subscribe to, because that is natural to me), where the line is drawn because I don’t need to see pictures of Britney Spears’ vagina to believe that she has one; I don’t need to know absolutely everything about Michael Jackson’s funeral and what may or may not have been the cause of his death to make me a fan or a supporter of him (I always preferred Janet and that hasn’t changed).  Our curiosity has becoming something crass and invasive, and the media and paparazzi feed it to us so that every time we become a little less shocked and a little more blasé, thus causing them to try and go one step further to keep us interested.  Before the Michael Jackson memorial (which I didn’t watch) started yesterday evening, a newsreader said more than once “The show is about to start”.  To me (and my mother), this was pretty sick – it’s not a show, it’s a funeral.  Mariah Carey was in the trending topics on Twitter not because of her new single, but because she sang at the memorial and her voice may or may not have cracked (I thought she sounded fine) and her dress was not fitting for a funeral (it was black, it was floor-length, her breasts were covered and her hair covered her shoulders – she looked totally appropriate).  For an industry I have always wanted to be a part of, I am now finally wondering whether I really want to subject myself to that much scrutiny and take part in such tasteless events in order to “make it” – maybe I am really happier just making my music and sharing it with friends who care to listen.  Maybe not… there will always be that dream.  We’ll see…

But back to the sentiment of “It’s not a show, it’s a funeral.” …Or is it?  Is everything for show these days?  I don’t know what is real and what is fake, and we blur the lines in the realm of the rich and famous, but increasingly more so in our own personal lives.  Who are we, what do we have to keep to ourselves that keeps us human, and how much do we give away to the public domain?  And once we give it away, can we ever reclaim it for ourselves and get it back?