Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mental Masturbation

Earlier this year I was obsessed with opening lines of a novel. And since obsession, like misery, loves company, I dragged others into the abyss with the following email chain:


From: C-Belle
Subject: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

Because this topic has been on my mind lately, I brought up the
subject at every meeting I had today. Who knew that salon owners were
so well-read?

This is what I got:

"Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by
literature." (Anita Brookner)

"All children, except one, grow up." (Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie)

"All this happened, more or less." (The salon owner couldn't remember
the book, but I googled it right then and there - LOVE my new
blackberry: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut)

My personal favorite:

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-
ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate
to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." (Lolita, Nabokov)



From: SK
Subject: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were." (Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell)

"The beet is the most intense of vegetables." (Jitterbug Perfume - Tom Robbins)

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." (Neuromancer - William Gibson)


From: MM
Subject: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"I had a farm in Africa." (Out of Africa, Karen Blixen, aka Isaac Dinesen)

But I liked Lolita a lot, too.

Also "When you wet the bed, first it is warm, then it cold..." (Ulysses, James Joyce)

"I married for the first time at 37." (Sex and the Single Girl, Helen Gurley Brown)

It's a pain in the ass waiting around for someone to kill you." (Roger Zelazny, Sign of the Unicorn)

Not the most brilliant or literary sci-fi fantasy ever, but a great opening line.
Anyone for "Arma virumque cano...." ??????


From: Gorgeous Hunk O'Man (JF)
Subject: RE: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." (Stephen King, The Gunslinger).

Though typically not a fan of the writer of our nation's fast food version of horror, I find this book spare, compelling, and rather disturbing. Interestingly enough, he wrote it in his early days at the peak of his alcohol abuse, which may be another reason I like it so.


From: JR
Subject: RE: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"Call me Ishmael."

Given my company .... could it be another?


The email exchange then drifted to favorite closing lines, and novels with a "novel within a novel structure," etc. And since my every contribution involved Nabokov's Lolita in some way, MM finally asked me what my obsession with that book was.

I blame The Police and Mr. M, my 6th grade English teacher.

After crushing on Sting, and listening obsessively to "Don't Stand So Close To Me", I went up to Mr. M after class one day and asked him:

"that Police song has the lyric: 'just like that, old man in, that book by Nabokov.' What book?"

And Mr. M whipped out a copy of Lolita (he just happened to have one handy) and pressed it into my hands in a way that would have made me intensely uncomfortable had I already read it.

But it all makes sense now. No wonder I believe love affairs should be difficult, socially unacceptable, and result in someone dying.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Commercial Message

So I've been quiet on the blogging front of late.

IC and I have *finally* launched Luxe Now. Check it out to see what we have been toiling over the last many months. Also, if you are so inclined, go HERE, to our facebook page and become a fan! Do it for me. NOW. Oops, I meant, PLEASE. Rats, I always confuse those two words.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Occasional Ray of Perversity

Ergo and I were discussing our blogs this morning - a topic that we revisit on a fairly regular basis: do our blogs reveal the kind of people we are? Since we know each other both on and offline, we seemed to be the best people to answer this question for each other.

me: "Your REAL quirkiness comes out a bit, here and there..."

Ergo: with yours, "an occasional ray of perversity shines through. but you are very subtle. it's your spy geisha thing"

I suppose the big takeaway is that I see Ergo as quirky, and she sees me as perverse.

True enough.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I spoke to a friend tonight, one whom I haven't talked to in a very long time. But we were friends when we were young and absolutely fearless.

And my heart is breaking for her.

I can't write what happened.

What do you do when something happens to break you so thoroughly that you feel you can't even move, can't even breathe? That you don't even recognize yourself anymore?

She doesn't know how to put the pieces back together.

When I was living in Beijing, I was home one night, watching TV. I can't remember the name of the show...

One of the characters was a woman whose husband had left her. She was raging with anger and grief, and wondering why, with her heart broken, she was still alive. Don't you need a whole, functioning heart to live? And despite the betrayal and hate, she still wanted him. But not with her heart, which was broken. Not even with her mind, because she knew that there was no going back. She still wanted him with her legs, her arms, her breasts, her hips, her groin, her hands, her lips. As if her body parts were mindless animals which only knew need and desire and were completely outside her control.

And the worst part of it is, that only describes one part of what my friend is feeling. The other part is... worse.

She needed me to talk about certain things. She needed me to remember and to be back in that place, with her, now.

And so I did.

We all think we are strong. But we never really know, not unless we're tested.

I'm think I'm failing this test. Because while I did what she needed, I desperately wish that I had never answered my phone.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Scent Obsession

A few days ago, MM, who works with perfume, sent me an ad for a newish fragrance (released Autumn 2008) that she thought was "conceptually and olfactorily right up (my) alley."

MM has a great nose - she can identify most perfumes instantly (and understands both their composition and dry-down), she has great taste, and she is an insightful and generous reader of personality.

So I am happy to take her advice, scent unsmelled, and perhaps I'll finally get around to placing an order for the stuff one day soon. It doesn't hurt that a few months ago, when I wasn't obsessing about Chanel 19, I was obsessing about amber and vetiver and leather.

But, obsessions change. Especially perfume obsessions, especially according to the weather.

While it seems like Persephone is still with Hades, I am fairly confident that warm weather will eventually arrive. And with the prospect of summer, quite predictably, I turn back to Shiseido's White Rose. I don't particularly care for rose, as a scent. Or even as a flower. But I smelled it the last time I was in Tokyo, loved it, and in a fit of insanity, decided NOT to buy it.

To add insult to injury, it's pretty much impossible to find in the US. It will have to wait until I am back in Asia.

So until the day I find myself in the Ginza district of Tokyo, it's Chanel 19.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WARNING: Music Geekiness Ahead

Have been singing "Night And Day" - not just singing it, but really trying to figure it out. So I've been listening to it far more carefully that I normally would.

It's unusual for a song of that era. It's longer, for one. Instead of the typical four 8-bar sections, if is divided into 6 sections of 8 bars - with an ABABCB structure (instead of the more typical AABA).

This song has an unusual chord progression as well. And all sorts of lovely crunchy chords such as major sevenths built on the flattened sixth of the key, resolving to dominant sevenths. My favorite part starts with a chord built on the augmented fourth of the key, and descends by semitones before hitting the supertonic minor seventh. Gorgeous.

The only reason I can somewhat do justice to this song is that the vocal melody is a bit unusual - the melody is incredibly simple, with all the notes hovering around the SAME note for the most part, with all the lovely chords meandering about underneath.

After an early dinner with BM (during which we had the first celebrity sighting of 2009 - Dan Ackroyd), I came home and went directly to my piano. It was a lovely evening.

Of course, the most noteworthy part of it was that BM and I both choose to detox and NOT drink tonight.

While I am rather proud of that, I will admit that as I type this, I am sipping a bone dry white, and still humming.

A Bad Influence

I did yoga this morning after a long yoga-drought.

My mat seemed to mock me. Poses that were once effortless were grueling and there was a moment when I thought I would rest in child's pose. But I kept pushing through, and finally my head left the game. And when that happened, muscle memory kicked in... and something else. For the first time ever, with no expectations of success, and in possibly the worst shape of my life, I hit and held "crow" for a full 3 breaths.

Of course once I realized what I was doing, I started THINKING again, and immediately pitched forward and landed on the top of my head.

But that doesn't diminish the feeling of success.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Game Theory

Talking about relationships lately... triggered by the most common trigger for such conversations - the dissolution of one.

But amongst my group, the angle of that conversation that has been most consistent across the last many years is not "why didn't he love ME," but rather, "why didn't I love him? Am I too selfish or unrealistic or cold?"

During the most recent conversation on this topic, I expounded on my take on it - which revolves around relative power distribution.

But first, more background. This particular variation of the "relationship discussion" is about rejecting men who are decent and kind and trustworthy - GOOD men without commitment issues or heavy emotional baggage or other "major" flaws.

Of course, the answer might be as simple as "we didn't love them." But what lies beneath that rather facile explanation?

Since I only remember 40% of what people (including myself) say, it comes as no surprise that I need my friends to recount certain conversations to me. SK and IC have both independently reminded me that they once asked me if I loved my ex-husband. Apparently, I answered, "No, but I trust him."

Putting aside the possible explanation that we are a cold-hearted bunch incapable of loving, why did we not appreciate what we had or could have? Optimistically, I choose to believe that we just haven't yet met the "right" men - specifically, men whose opinions we care about, men for whom we will make the continued effort to make happy, men we respect. (At the end of the day, what we choose to respect, TRULY respect, is highly personal and sometimes inexplicable. )

But to drill deeper, it comes down to power, specifically in the inequality of it. With most of my past relationships, there was no equality vis-a-vis power. I held all of it. And that never held my interest for long. According to SK, witnessing my marriage was like "watching a mountain lion trying to date a stuffed animal."

So if a balance of power is important, desirable, even... that opens up another can of worms.

To quote SK again: "that's when relationships get scary."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Scientific Advancements

I had a revelation of sorts last night. But then, 3AM is the hour of revelatory moments.

The problem with revelations is that MANY are necessary before they "stick."

But I've had this particular revelation for years now. There's a time for velcro and a time for teflon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lost at Whole Foods

Exactly a year ago, giving into the traditions of the date, I wrote Breaking The Fast. Which was quickly followed by Gotcha! when people called, IM'd, and emailed me to express their opinions.

Apparently, the joke's on me, 'cause I found myself lost and confused at Whole Foods just the other day, saved only by WC who coached me over the phone on 1. how to identify a mango and 2. how to pick a ripe one.