I was always that little girl who just… couldn’t… reach.
Never tall enough. Never cool enough. Never rich enough. Never… enough.

And it continued, as these things do. Man after man who claimed I loved “too much” but somehow never enough to hold their gaze, time after time of lying frozen in bed because I was uncertain how I’d be able to afford food for the day, moment after moment of watching new wings receive recognition while my tired old ones were forgetting how to fly…

Yes, that little girl is still alive inside.

But there comes a point of sinking into this perception, where you realise that that perception could be a lie. That limitations are sometimes self-imposed, and that sometimes, we are bound to the ground by shackles we created from echoes that we could’ve released.

These thoughts of limitation, are they truly yours? Or are they mum’s, or dad’s, or some other influential figure who chose to let their blindness to themselves deter you from your dreams?

I ask you now, one never-enough child to another, heart to heart:

Is it that you are not enough, or is that you can only be enough when you learn to say… “Enough”…?

The Paradox of We

The Paradox of We

And we speak of fire, in the context of having lost it. 
We speak of a spark that once was, and we mourn a force we once were.

But we repress anger, we cover up sadness, and we chase the stuff that we think we are aiming for.

We forget that sadness can shatter a heart in pieces, and anger can destroy lives, homes, and communities as a whole.

What if the very force we fear will destroy us, is the one that could be fuel for the things that remain so elusive?

What if anger wasn’t wrong? What if sadness, when channelled well, can become your very best friend?

What if the darkness is a better friend than the light that runs away?
What if the only loyal presence in your life is the very path you seek?

Unveiled 1:1 – Sh’anaa

Unveiled 1:1 – Sh’anaa

She shuddered.

The skies drooled on her hair with the spit of a long-dead dog; cold, unpleasant, and reeking of the omens to come. She pulled her elaborately jeweled necklace tighter around her neck. The sparkles at the bottom of its chain had become so entangled in her dress that the jerking motion pulled her garments tighter around her weary body, giving her a temporary illusion of added warmth. She muttered under her breath, wary of being too loud. Shadows were not supposed to talk.

A cough accompanied by flicker of light, where there should have been silence and darkness that would make a Rogue weep, evoked a split second of fear and panic in her. She reached one hand into her pocket in what felt like hours but was only an instant, and was about to grasp for the familiar cold metallic smoothness, until she realised she recognised the cough. Also, attackers usually didn’t make a habit of announcing their presence with an annoyingly polite sound.

“Oh,” she said, trying to sound as bored as she possibly could, “It’s you.”
The cougher’s throat appeared to be healed into silence by her emotionless voice, which seemed to linger in the hollow alleyway like the leech her tone accused him of being.

“Well, er, yes, I… I’m not sure who else you would be expecting in this… in this.”

His voice trailed off with the uncertainty at what “this” actually was.

The thunder made a welcome entrance in their awkward silence, and later, when the lightning lit up his face for a split second, she thought she noticed a look of relief. Grinning, despite herself, she started making her way along the alleyway wall, deeper into the gaping mouth that would lead her to where she had promised to go. She stopped breathing until she heard his dainty footsteps behind her; he had promised to join her, but a man can change his mind very easily in the dark. She thought it funny that he would be the one helping her now; years before she would have trusted in friends more than a beneficiary. Perhaps money was thicker than water.

They walked for what felt like hours, but she knew this tiny cobbled lane well. The darkness only served to amplify her memories; like a dark movie screen, she found herself projecting the moving images of a long-forgotten summer on the black canvas infront of her. Strawberries stolen from grumpy old Mister Hu’tan; their succulent flesh exploding into syrupy heaven in her mouth, while the memory of the old man’s wrinkled face and fist shaking at them simultaneously still burned on her mind. Undamaged hair flying in the warm wind, she remembered the joy she shared with her fellow strawberry thief, and how the grin in her eyes was echoed in another pair of young eyes.

The clear vision of her sister brought the sour taste of nostalgia to her tongue, and she swallowed to keep from losing her last meal to a memory she had buried with purpose.

“We are almost there. Er. Sh- My lady. Your Grace. Er.”

She grimaced. As much as she didn’t like his assumption that she had forgotten the way, what she appreciated even less was his apparent struggle with their role change over the years. Age was a devious thing, and she was not so sure she enjoyed the weight of adulthood. No, if the gossip was true, and he was to be her only ally, she knew better than to sever their ties with the expectations of society. As much as she would rather be with anyone else in this predicament, she knew that he would only remain an ally if they were on equal grounds.

“Things are different in the here and now. Remember me as I was, timekeeper.”

She thought she heard his breath shake at her recognising his old ways, and was about to smile at the idea of them rekindling the bond they once had as children, when she suddenly realised his reaction did not have anything to do with her request to drop the formalities. In front of them was a door both hidden by darkness and illuminated by its contents. Its wood seemed new to the touch, yet the aged abstract carvings told of secrets so ancient the skies would not remember it.

His voice choked a little, and she swallowed even harder now to stop herself from bursting into tears.

“We have arrived, my Lady…”

He hesitated for a moment, as though he was struggling to regurgitate a jagged piece of glass.

“We have arrived, Lady Sh’anaa.”

Review: Amouage Interlude (Man & Woman)

Review: Amouage Interlude (Man & Woman)

I’ll make this a super-short intro, since I am putting two reviews in one post:

Amouage is awesome. They make awesome perfumes. They are expensive, but ALWAYS (and I have tried every single one of their main perfumes) worth the price. Their art work (in my opinion) also ALWAYS matches the juice and its story whilst on skin. They just launched Interlude Man and Interlude Woman, and one description (from hauteliving.com) is as follows:

In the House of Amouage’s latest introspective creations for man and woman, ‘Interlude’ evokes an air of disorder while maintaining a sense of balance and tranquility through the inventive use of Frankincense and Myrrh. An orchestrated blend of technical skill and creative integrity, the fragrances take one moment in time for self reflection and personal discovery to compose internal harmony from external chaos.

“I interpret what I see and feel into scents,” says Christopher Chong. “All the social and natural chaos and disorder surrounding us today can be translated to a much more intimate level. The interlude moment is a reflection of all the trials and tribulations one overcomes to attain personal satisfaction and achievement.”

Interlude Man

Notes (stolen, with picture, from Fragrantica):

Interlude Man is a spicy — woody fragrance that opens with zesty bergamot, oregano and pimento berry oil, perpetuating intervals of conflict which are countered by aromatic notes of amber, frankincense, opoponax, cistus and myrrh. Eternal notes of leather, agarwood smoke, patchouli and sandalwood in the base add lasting layers of depth and texture. Perfumer: Pierre Negrin.

My experience:

Interlude man opens with a waft of burned salty woods. I am suddenly transported back to places where some sort of REAL incense is burning. I say “real” because lots of perfumes have a note similar to incense, but this note just transports me to memories of how it actually smells. I’m no longer in my living room, but in a temple — like really really there. Some sort of salty bacon note is coming through this because of the burning, I hope that goes away soon…

Closer to my skin, there are notes that I am anosmic to, clearly. What I can smell is something watery sweet and cool, but barely there. This is very sheer closer to my skin (at least in the opening notes). Some more wafting ensues: there is some tobacco that is being burned at this ceremony, which is in a damp place. Closer to skin it is clearly sage and herbs that are being burned, and it makes me glance at the sage smudge stick I have in a bowl infront of me.

This goes away to reveal a pure leather, which is what has probably kept it so cool. It starts getting stronger, and you can almost taste it. This scent is rugged yet blended so well it is sophisticated too. It really does scream MAN (unlike Jubilation XXV, which is also for men, and is slowly going to the top of my wishlist).

Mustiness of the oudh is constantly there, but adds to the darkness of this fragrance. The “grassiness” that I noted in Memoir Man is slightly here too, but it has a wetness to it I suspect is caused by the oudh. The grass was fresh in Memoir — here, it is manly and rugged; stomped on by a lone vigilante in his journeys to save people. This smells like something I’d like to smell on my man when he’s been out in the desert for a few days without a shower, saving kittens and risking his life for little toddlers. Yes, that’s the kind of guy that wears this — the sophisticated and caring man who lives inside the body of a rugged cowboy.

The incense comes through 30 min later, and the sweetness I love so much (the kind that hits you at the back of your throat) is there, but without losing the ruggedness. Okay, maybe just a little. This is now my man who has had a shave and shower (after saving the world), and is now ready to have a picnic with me at night — on a flying carpet. It gets sweeter and sweeter in its wafts (the slightly bitter wetness still prominent closer to skin), but keeps the grassy leather, as if to say, “I may be cleaning myself up — but I’m still the man.”

I find that the tobacco and burned woods come through more later on in the dry down, but with a little added something, namely a not-too-dry sandalwood (one of my favourite notes). This note weaves in and out of the picture, and fills me with glee every time it shows it pretty face.

Bottom line: You’ll love this if you love a good leather/burned scent. Of course, it is an Amouage — you will feel like you are wearing a 1000 dollar jacket when smelling this — the quality is clear.

Interlude Woman

Notes (stolen, with picture, from Fragrantica):

Interlude Woman is a floral chypre fragrance that reveals an interlude moment of unity and serenity. The sweetness of bergamot and bitterness of grapefruit in the top notes (together with ginger and tagete) create turbulent tensions while rose, frankincense, jasmine, orange blossom, helichrysum, opoponax and sandalwood in the intricate heart are masqueraded with an unconventional combination of nut, coffee, kiwi, honey and agarwood. An opulent base of sumptuous vanilla, benzoin, amber, sandalwood, oakmoss, leather, tonka and musk inject warmth to the fragrance’s contradicting accords. Perfumer: Karine Vinchon Spehner.

My experience:

It opens with…. a burst of citrus?! In a woman’s scent?! Amouage, really? I am in for a surprising rollercoaster ride, I see. I was totally expecting either a spice or flower. This is definitely feminine, gosh, after the cool roundness I suddenly get this soft sweetness that totally makes me imagine a feminine petite princess, waiting to be rescued by the man I described in Interlude Man. There is a herbal quality to the lemons — this has been done before, so many times, but as usual Amouage finds a way to do things AMOUAGE STYLE (with capital letters, of course!), and doesn’t end up smelling like a copy-cat.

The grapefruit makes its way to the stage, and is now dancing with the herbs; what a light and gorgeous scent! After trying Parfum d’Empire Iskander, I am starting to appreciate citrus more, and this is one beautiful citrus I am currently smelling. I could see myself enjoying this one in the summer.

There is a musty note (probably patchouli or oudh — I sometimes confuse the mustiness of the two) which is slightly putting me off when mixed with the citrus. I’m not a grapefruit fan, and only love Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune because it reminds me of the Kenyan coast with its everlasting realistic juicy grapefruit note. When mixed with other things though, it’s not a favourite note of mine.

Although I know that a lot of gorgeous notes are blended well in this one, I find it less complex than Interlude Man, and the sillage/longevity is less too. I do really like this scent, and could see myself sharing a bottle with someone, especially for summer and spring (Who am I kidding — I live in Africa: it’s ALWAYS warm!). However, call me a purist — but I want my grapefruit pure or non-existent. That is why I’ll say this is a no for me (unless I’m given a bottle, which I would then wear more often than I should). For the royal price it is sold at, I demand dark heaviness and complex changes that make me feel like I am watching a story unfold on my skin.

In a way you could say that this fragrance (to me) is very much like those 10,000 dollar cocktail dresses — if I’m spending 10,000, I demand a wedding gown with elves made out of chocolate and hand embroidered ladybirds! Even though this one does dry down beautifully (incense and oudh, but very sheer), I am disturbed by the constant grapefruit. Others have been luckier, and report immortelle and incense alone. I guess this just is not my Amouage… Honestly speaking, I suspect I shall give this one another try on its own and then report my notes in an edit below. I think this one may need to grow on me.

In this sense, it matches the strong character portrayed in my men’s review — yet also contrasts through its own femininity and softness. It reminds me of those couples who are such obvious opposites — yet so interesting to watch! I don’t know if this is what Christopher Chong meant by “tension”, but the artistic intention comes through loud and clear if this is what he did mean. I have to also let you know as a reader, that this is my individual experience — mostly everyone else has got a complex scent from Interlude Woman, so perhaps my skin just is being silly. I will put this in my “try again” folder…

Bottom line: This is gorgeous for warmer days, or cooler days when you need a brightness in your life that doesn’t scream like Amouage Honour does, but softly sings and serenades you throughout the day. I don’t know how they managed to put in citrus fruits without making it masculine, but they’re Amouage and can do everything, so…

Review: 1000 Flowers Reglisse Noir

Review: 1000 Flowers Reglisse Noir

Reglisse Noire is the first perfume from the house “1000 Flowers”. I had heard a lot about this fragrance due to my love for licorice, but ignored it due to EdT snobbery. I felt that if it wasn’t an EdP, it was not worth my time. I eventually gave in to my curiosity and ordered a sample.

The description (stolen from Fragrantica) is as follows:

Réglisse Noire is the scent of black licorice candy, as its French name says itself. This is the first fragrance from the Canadian niche house 1000 Flowers founded by the perfumer Jessica Buchanan in order to explore the creation of perfume driven by the ideal of beauty in balance. The formula was created in Grasse France, where Jessica learned the art of perfumery working at Mane and Robertet. Réglisse Noire opens with notes of white pepper, ozone, mint and shiso leaf. The heart is composed of black licorice and star anise and ginger and cocoa. The base consists of musk, patchouli, vanilla and vetiver.

After dabbing my sample, this opens with a beautiful licorice note that is watery and not too thick. Closer to skin I can smell a medicinal version of this, but not medicinal enough to put me off. It then starts wafting a very realistic scent that reminds me of my favourite Dutch candy called “Taai-taai”, which uses similar spices to the famous Speculaas and ontbijtkoek (“Breakfast cake, gently spiced sticky-crusted cake pictured at the bottom).

The lovely licorice leaves just when it starts to get a bit too much, which is nice as it makes me appreciate it more. I smell a white floral, and the spot on my inner elbow has a dance of flowers with licorice. It’s a very light white floral, perfect for summer and really blended so well that a white-floral hater like myself can love it. It is interesting to note that there are no white florals detected by anyone else, but I do smell something flowery that is soft and pleasant, but still present. Just like with Cartier’s Baiser Vole, I smell something green here too. There is nothing “Noire” here, except for the licorice, which is the most realistic and inoffensive I’ve ever smelt in a scent. It is scents like this that remind me why I love that note so much.

Someone described this as a “shy gourmand” on Fragrantica, and I have to agree. It is a gorgeous scent, and although it does smell like my favourite treats, the sheer florals seem to keep it in balance. I feel very pretty in this, and would go so far as to say that I would probably wear this when I’m feeling down — just for its effects. It dries down to a cool licorice/anise that seems to have mint without putting me off (well done; I hate mint!). I’m really really impressed by this fragrance, and as I so often do with fragrances I love — I shall stop describing it now, as I feel inadequate.

Bottom Line: This is a love for me, as it truly is a well-balanced beauty. I shall definitely be putting a full bottle on my wish list. It makes me feel so inadequate with my lousy writing 🙁 Longevity isn’t great, but it is an EdT so I cannot expect Amouage-like longevity.