Undina’s Looking Glass Turns Two


This day two years ago I dared to publish my first story on this blog – a story of my first and still lasting perfume love. Actually, it was my first story written in English ever. Those who had a similar experience with giving a public speech or writing in a foreign language know exactly how nerve-wrecking it felt (and those who hadn’t can imagine). Has it got much easier now? Ask me again in two years.

Since the beginning I published 164 posts – more than I thought I would. My most read post is Coco Noir… Light by Chanel (I won’t even link to it!) written just a half-year ago. This is both very symptomatic and sad. Is there a post I wished had more readers? I would probably want those of the readers who are my friends to read some of the more personal posts I wrote, but I do not want to list them today. As to the outside world that comes to my blog from search engines (most popular search was “las vegas strip map” but it fades if you add numbers for all variations of “coco”, “chanel” and “noir” that brough people to my blog), I’d want them to read the post that started Perfume Shopping around the World page (it has been recently updated here and on all participating sites) and to use information from those posts on different blogs.

Perfume Around TheGlobe


Why Undina? Why Looking Glass?

I’ve been asked that question more than once. So here’s how it went.

Are you familiar with FidoNet and BBSs? … Kidding, I’m not that old experienced. But long before forums, blogs and social networks, chat rooms were my online habitat. For the first chat room I frequented I chose a gender-neutral nickname and used to communicate in such a way that it was hard to tell if I was a man or a woman (which wasn’t easy with my native language specifics).

When one of my friends invited me to visit a new role-playing chat room that he found and liked, I got stuck on the registration page: I had no idea who I wanted to be. I was ready for a more feminine character but that was it. Ундина (transliterated into Roman alphabet Undina, in English – Undine) was my spur-of-the-moment choice. I don’t know why I decided to be a water nymph but it seemed a fitting choice for a community inhabited by vagabond knights, friendly ghosts and talking animals. The host of the chat was an incorporeal being Nechto (something/somebody unknown), so the chat room was called У Нечта (At Nechto’s).

UNechta Chatroom Entrance

I stayed in that chat room and became a regular. My character transformed into rather a mermaid than a nymph. If you’ve never belonged to a half-closed moderated chat room it’s hard to explain what people were doing there… We joked; we discussed books and philosophical dilemmas; we even staged improvised theatrical performances. We’d created our own mythology and even furnished the room. Of course everything was imaginary, so it lived in memory of participants and was re-iterated for newcomers gaining more details and becoming a little more real with every next tale.

One of the elements of the room was a magical looking glass on the wall. I (Undina) would swim into the room from it and dive into it to leave. I would conjure necessary things from there – a tea set or a box of chocolates for the imaginary tea party; I would threaten to get a paddle out of there and beat up whoever was misbehaving. It was a useful piece of the interior.

I enjoyed years spent in that community, and I have the fondest memories of that time. So when a decade later I was choosing an online identity for the Perfumeland I decided to go with Undina (though I had to add BA – stands for SF Bay Area where I live – since the exact one had been taken). And I resurrected my looking glass when I started this blog.


What’s coming?

For my birthday many years ago a friend gave me my own domain. It currently redirects traffic to this blog but since it’s done not through WordPress it’s done half-way. In a couple of days I plan to switch my blog from https://undinaba.wordpress.com/ to www.undina.com officially. It shouldn’t affect e-mail subscriptions or an RSS feed but if you do not hear from me in a week come back and check.


What stays the same?

Everything stated on my About page will stay true for Undina’s Looking Glass. Let’s keep building the better perfume community together.

And of course there still will be pictures of Rusty.

Rusty and perfume vials


90 thoughts on “Undina’s Looking Glass Turns Two

  1. What a great post to celebrate the blog’s second birthday!

    I was just thinking yesterday how funny Vanessa’s post was about the searches that led people to her blog (I think condom kiosk was one of them!). So it’s interesting and probably not surprising that your top one is about a strip map!

    I love your personal posts the most and I really enjoyed reading about the history of the name of the blog and your experience in that chat-room. Those creative fantasy worlds have always fascinated me. I love that concept you came up with for the mirror – swimming in and out.

    Starting off the around the world shopping guide is a lasting achievement. It is a resource that is going to help many people for years to come.
    Thank you taking the brave step to share your experiences in a second language. We are all the richer for it.


    • Thank you, Tara. Thank you for reading, support and kind words.

      I’m not surprised with that search term since I did make a map of Las Vegas Strip for my perfume shopping there post. But clearly more people are interested in it than in any perfume I wrote about (not counting Coco Noir ;) ).


  2. Oh dear Undina, one of my dearest online friends!
    Big congratulations for you and your blog for turning two years old! This is a lovely anniversary and at the very moment I just can’t think about how Chemist in the Bottle would look like when it turns two. I hope it will still be entertaining for at least one person.
    Thank you for introducing your backstory, now I feel like I know you a little better than yesterday. By the way – you say English is not your native language. So what is your native one? Russian?
    I know your pain of writing in foreign language. I’m Polish and Polish is my language, I started learning English at the age of 7 but I prefered to run my blog in English so that more people could read it. If I was writing in Polish my only audience would be Polish, writing in English allows people all over the world to read my opinions about fragrances.
    Also congratulations on moving onto your own domain. I wonder if I will move to my own someday.
    Hope you’ll celebrate in a lovely way today!

    Cheers to Undina, Rusty and a Looking Glass!


    • Thank you, Lucas. You won’t notice – we’ll be celebrating your blog’s two year birthday.

      Having your own domain has just one downside: you have to pay for the registration every year. And if you want to use WP with your domain you’ll have to pay them as well.

      My native language is Russian, you’re correct. Since I know Ukrainian as well I can read Polish a little.


      • First comes my blog’s first birthday, which are quickly getting closer as it’s already more than half a year since I started blogging at wordpress.
        I know that your own domain is not for free.
        That surprised me that Russian is your native language! I was learning Russian for 3 years when I was in high school so I can read cyrlica and talk a little bit in this language.


  3. Happy Anniversary! Although I am new to your blog I am thoroughly enjoying all of it as I love stories connected to perfume (and I adore Rusty!). I have also wondered about your pen name…fantastic story! Now that you will have your own domain it will be easier for me to remember and I won’t have to link in from OT!
    Wishing you many more years! (and your English is outstanding!)


  4. Congratulations! I love the story behind the name too. Thanks for sharing that. Give Rusty a big cuddle. He looks so serious about his fragrance choice. Oh, and I agree that your English is better than people who speak it exclusively. I can’t wait to read your next 164 posts.


  5. Happy Anniversary! I have also wondered about the name and the looking glass, interesting to have it explained.Writing in a foregin language is a struggle,to visualize and describe in a way understandable for the readers.On the other hand it’s a pleasent way to maintain the english(swenglish) :-)


    • Thank you, Parfumista!

      I find some strange consolation in the fact that about perfumes I wouldn’t be able to write better than I do it in English in any language – native or not. Of course, all other communications and topics would have been much easier… Oh well :)


  6. Congratulations. Here’s to many more perfume-related post, that I know I will enjoy reading :)

    PS: What is your native language? *Sorrry for asking*


    • Thank you, Carol! I appreciate the stability of your “Like”s: there is something comforting in getting them from you when I publish something new.

      I meant to ask for a while: is the cat who looks really similar to Rusty still with you?


      • Well, I have/had two cats who are similar to Rusty. One (Jack) was more short-haired, and he is no longer with us. But our current longer-haired Rusty-twin is Charlemagne. So when I look at Rusty I’m reminded of Jack, and have to go find Charlemagne to give him a cuddle.


        • I was referring to Charlemagne: I saw his picture on your blog, showed to my vSO and he asked: What has happened to Rusty? (probably talking about an unfamiliar spot on the face.
          You should publish more of your cats’ pictures!


  7. Congratulations, and thank you for sharing the story of how Uninda’s Looking Glass came to be. I’ve often wondered about the name, even though the ooking Glass always made sense, of course, for your *reflections*.

    Sending you and Rusty virtual champagne and fishy treats. You two will have to decide how to divvy those up!

    Raising my morning coffee mug in a toast to you and to many more years of fragrant posts at Undina’s Looking Glass.


    • Thank you, Cheryl!

      Treats – virtual or not – should probably go to Rusty and I’ll go with champagne, even thogh I always thought his canned food smells good and he sniffs my glass whenever I drink something.


  8. Undina, it’s a real privilege to wish you a Very Happy Blogoversary! Being a fan of a very personal style of perfume writing, your blog is very much my cup of tea. Between your stories, photos and your highly entertaining statistics, I feel a little bit like Rusty: I come here and get a treat every time. (Including today, with this post that reveals another side of you I’d never have guessed at.)

    Btw, speaking of Rusty and treats … how is it that cat doesn’t get fat?

    xxoo <3


    • Dear Suzanne, it’s really a gift to have you both among my friends and my readers. And Rusty definitely appreciates your input (of treats).

      The answer to your question is simple: no opposable thumb and cruel, cruel owners ;) (and still he needs some diet time)


  9. I love chatrooms! I miss the prevalence of chat protocol and the coziness of a chatroom with regulars. I met my husband in a chatroom :) :)


  10. I will be updating my bookmarks to your brand new domain name. Very interesting story about why you use your username. I remember chatrooms. I was hanging out in them in the late 90s, it seemed like a simpler time then. :-)


  11. Happy Blog Birthday! Thank you for explaining how you chose your online identity and the name for this blog. I have enjoyed your many posts, especially the blind comparisons, facts and figures and the laughs, loves and lemmings. Here’s to many more rewarding and wonderful posts! I thank you for all the time, energy and effort you put into writing this blog.


  12. Happy Anniversary, sweet Undina! I loved reading the story behind the name. You know, I think “mermaid” seems like a perfect descriptor of you in my mind, especially with that water image at the top of your blog with the elegant, feminine hand. You are a personification of warmth, my dear, and I thank you for your many kindnesses, as well as for your wonderful goal of creating a friendly, cozy perfume community! I raise my glass to many more years of Undina!


  13. Happy blogoversary dear Undina. Great to finally get the story behind the mermaid:-) I can’t wait to see you new site, I expect it will be fantastic. I love coming here for you amazing statistics and your very personal and individual style- cheers to many many more years chez Undinas


  14. Happy anniversary, Undina! Even though I have only been following your blog for a short time, I have enjoyed reading every post that has since appeared in my inbox. Thank you for sharing your world through the looking glass with us! I look forward to many more years!


  15. Happy Anniversary on your blog…Keep publishing/writing. I enjoy the stories you tell from your past growing up, as well as present life. It’s always great to get the cultural perspecive.


  16. Happy blog birthday! I’m so grateful and happy that you decided to take the plunge and start Undina’s Looking Glass. I’m looking forward to many more years to come of great stories here on your blog. Hugs!


  17. Congratulations on the new site, on the birthday of your blog and on your upcoming birthday! I’ve been reading your blog from the very first post, and I got used to it like people get used to the New Yorker or an afternoon cup of tea. You built a friendly, charming and involved community – this is an achievement for you and a pleasure for us. I don’t know much about perfumes, but inadvertently, I learned quite a bit in these two years. As your friend, I was reading YOUR blog. You made my world better, really and virtually. Thank you and see you on undina.com!


    • Awww… It’s very nice of you to compare me to New Yorker (we did get used to it ;) ). I’m sure in the next two years we’ll be able to find you more perfumes to like (or share with somebody in your household? ;) )


  18. (смахнула непрошенную слезу)

    Не забывается, ведь, не забывается… Эх! Поздравляю с блого-юбилеем! Пусть тебе пишется легко и с удовольствием! На любом языке! Я совершенно не проводила параллели с нечтовским зеркалом и считала, что looking glass — это что-то типа гигантской волшебной лупы. Ну да ладно, главное, чтобы в нем находилось все, что ты хочешь найти!

    (И. в SC, без машины, сегодня последний день кажется… Зеленый помидор как-нибудь не получится?)

    твои навечно,


    • Я поражена! Ты, (ты!) не распознала Зеркало… Я не хотела использовать “mirror” и решила пойти с более архаичным “looking glass” (как в Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass).
      Спасибо за поздравление!

      (насчет И. знаю, мы с А. вроде как планируем совместный ужин, так что будет и помидор, и две новогодние игрушки, которые тебе не достались в прошлом году, а в этом съездили со мной в О. и вернулись в сумке обратно! :) )


      • Я в помидорной коже и мне очень-очень-очень нравится! Это моя кожа! Спасибо тебе огромное, дружище! Я в восторге. Мы с И. сейчас играли в когнитивную угадайку и он угадал на 98%. С нетерпением жду завтрашнего дня, чтобы попробовать теплую морковь. :)


  19. Happy second birthday, Undina! I never would’ve known that English is your second language if you hadn’t told us, as your writing is wonderful. I thoroughly enjoy your unique combo of storytelling and statistics, it appeals to my own right-brain/left-brain divide.


    • Thank you, Dionne! Now you can imagine how good I am in my native language ;)

      If to be serious, I see my limitations and I’m working on improving my writing skills but I realize that I will never be as good as some of the bloggers for whom English is a mother tongue or whose abilities to learn are better than mine. But I came to accept that and when my readers understand what I’m trying to say or laugh at my jokes I feel that I accomplished something.


  20. Undina, congratulations on your 2 year blogging anniversary. I enjoy reading your blog immensely. I do wish I had the ability to compile statistics like yourself. You are a very welcoming presence in the perfume blogosphere and one of my favourite personalities. :)


  21. Congratulations on your second anniversary, and on the move to your own domain! I also enjoyed hearing more about the precise origins of your blog’s name and your previous online persona / forum interests.

    I share your frustration about your most read post not necessarily being one of the ones that means the most to you, but such are the vagaries of the googling public. I think it is great that you plough your own furrow with your more personal take on the world of perfume. If you wanted readers at any price, I guess you’d review more of the Coco Noirs of this world!

    I also enjoy your vivid imagery (where being a non-native speaker is a distinct advantage, as you come at the English language with a fresh eye), the directness of your tone of voice, and – of course – no surprises there – the amazingly biddable and photogenic Rusty!


    • Thank you, Vanessa!

      My frustration is related more to the state of the affairs in the perfume consuming field: people are more interested in Chanel’s perfumes or those worn by royalties than in quality ones. I’m not surprised – just a little sad. I’m completely satisfied though with the number of real readers (and, frankly speaking, Rusty’s health would have been in geopardy had I had more admirers of His Furriness ;) ).


  22. Happy Anniversary, Undina, my first wordpress friend, you certainly are a stats queen! Thanks for sharing that wonderful back story, so imaginative, and now we see the Looking Glass in a whole new light.
    I have a thing for mermaids, I designed a prototype puppet of a mermaid called Lady Aquamarina :)
    Congrats on this milestone and your own domain. Here’s to the next two years and onward, ho!


    • Thank you, dear Renee! Your blog is one of a few not completely perfume-related that I read.
      Is there a chance you have a picture of Lady Acquamarina?
      From the past experience, barring some serious problems in the real life, I do have those two years of blogging in me. So stay tuned! :)


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