Eau de Lockdown

Since this post isn’t a review, I didn’t want to add the author’s name to the title, but still I bring it to your attention that this post is written by Narth. (Undina)

* * *

I write to you in hard lockdown. My state of Victoria has declared both a State of Emergency and a State of Disaster. If you find the double declaration confusing don’t worry, so does everyone. Double states of badness are upon us! We have a curfew and cannot travel more than 5 km (3 miles) from our house. Everything is shut. The post office has called for volunteers. The children are completely glazed over and exhausted from doing schooling online for months and I’m sure it is even worse for the teachers. We’ve been in varying stages of this new normal for 6 months now. Mental health seems to be a tug of war between trying to throw ourselves into new interests and claim and reclaim who we were during the before times. “Don’t try this at home kids!” is an expression that no longer has any relevance to anyone.

My perfume love is just as battered and bewildered as the rest of me. I’ve always said, “I wear perfume for myself, not for other people”, but now that there literally are no other people (!!!) I’ve seen that this is only a half truth. I wear perfume as a tool for interacting with other people, for moving through public spaces, for deciding who I am that day. I always knew this, but I am suddenly painfully aware that my identity for a day, an evening, has been a core reason for my wearing perfume. It isn’t just that sillage is irrelevant, it’s that choosing who I will be today is irrelevant because every day is the same. A lifelong introvert, I never realized just how much time I spent with others until suddenly I am alone. All my whining in the before times that “I wish I could have just one day to myself” has come back to haunt me.

In the beginning of this lockdown I went a bit mad with the online purchasing. It was easy to rationalize a blind buy bottle, after all I wasn’t eating out anymore, and I was saving a fortune in train fares. A steady flow of books, perfume and wine in the post was surely good for me, I wanted something to look forward to! I was even buying “Mystery” wine because I felt like I needed a surprise to counter the tedium of sameness. Thank goodness there were no Mystery perfume offers, which would have been even worse than some of my blind buys I suspect. While waiting for the highly delayed post, I began hardcore going through my samples, I was going to catalog and take notes on them all, I was going to wear multiple samples a day for science! This kept me occupied for all of a week and then, suddenly, I was over it. I spent a month wearing only a handful of favourites, regretting blind buys and wondering if I could exist on Penhalgion’s Sartorial and one random rose scent for the rest of my life. In between these quite obsessive phases were long weeks when I forgot perfume existed despite my desk being covered in it.

This is a post with no conclusion. My current resolve is to sell some of my mistakes and to try and bring balance to the Force, not just in perfume but in my other interests. Reading ten hours a day or power watching K-dramas until 2am is also a little unbalanced. In the beginning we were all okay about that, these were strange times and we encouraged each other to just do that thing, that thing that felt good. But the strange times are now the new norm. Where to from here, fragrance my friend? I have plans to start matching my perfume to books and tv shows as a kind of substitute for happily overthinking what to wear to the pub for Trivia night. I’ve worn Mugler‘s Alien to every sci fi movie I’ve ever been to since it came out 15 years ago, so these plans are not without precedent but… perhaps without a (sillage) audience they feel a little forced. I need my perfume mojo back, friends!

Perfume Samples

Photo is of everything that was on my desk! Some of it was in a box and some of it was not…


41 thoughts on “Eau de Lockdown

  1. These have been strange times and I find that I haven’t worn perfume as often as per norm. I came to Adelaide back in January for our annual 3 month visit to my husband’s home. It has turned into almost 9 months and as I only came here with a few decants and samples to last me three months, I ran out of variety long ago. I eventually filled that by ordering some Australian perfumers sample sets to try, which I have enjoyed. Here in Adelaide we have been covid free for pretty much of the time, so it’s been pretty easy, but even so, the stores didn’t have perfume testers out for a long time, etc. I will finally be making my way back to the US this weekend, just as the weather is getting gorgeous here and my neighborhood is filled with the most beautiful smells from spring bloomings. Nevertheless I miss my kids and have responsibilities back home, and I am SO excited to see my perfume collection when I get there. You guys in Melbourne have had it tough. I feel for you. I will be going to one of the top corona virus states in the US, so it will all be a new experience for me, that I’ve managed to avoid til now. And I identify with your sampling experience. I had grand plans to clear through mine that I brought with me or ordered, but just couldn’t get into it for some reason.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Luckily the lockdown did not hit so hard in Germany and I also work on public health, so I still wore perfume daily. Because of the masks I even wore more and stronger scents, because nobody could complain… But I can relate to your feelings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I get frustrated I can barely smell anything through my mask. There’s also been some unfortunate incidents where the mask has ended up with fragrance on it and I can smell rather too much..

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally agree with you on the perfume feelings of « who I want to be today ». I do wear perfume mostly for myself, but it is also part of my public persona, which is now almost non-existent. I find myself wearing less and less perfume, despite my enormous collection.

    After a lull of a couple of months we just went back into lockdown here in Montreal. In 17 days we are moving back to California for the winter, our normal snowbird migration. I doubt the pandemic situation there will be much different, but at least there will be sun, sea and a lovely garden waiting for me, unlike in Montreal where I spent the first confinement in a second floor flat looking out at a bleak, dead landscape of snow and mud.

    Last night I looked at all my bottles and resolved to start hosing myself down vigorously, to try and shake the torpor of the pandemic paralysis. More yoga, more reading, more perfume, more cooking. I am not going to let myself turn into a weakened zombie because of this thing. If I lie down and give up, I might as well be dead. This will pass eventually and life goes on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I feel like it’s rather a lot of work to keep making life go on sometimes, but really it’s the daily adjustment and trying to figure out what that life looks like. I am also trying to start hosing myself down again!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You have my sympathies for such a lockdown. I can’t imagine being like that for +6 months. Here in Poland it was the most strict for a month maybe 2 and then we gained more freedom again.

    Hope perfume can help you stay sane.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. We were in complete lockdown for around 5 months in the Yucatan Mexico. Everything was shut except for grocery stores which only allowed 1 person in per party. You couldn’t even have 2 people in the car together and liquor sales were halted altogether for months. Things are starting to open up a bit…restaurants with limited space are open again but with limited hours and only liquor sales on weekdays. I swear I haven’t seen someone under the age of 18 on the street since families have their kids sequestered away. As for perfume, I still wear it for me and have actually emptied around 4 bottles in the last few months. I even spritz myself every morning before I take my 5 mile walk. No one might be able to smell me with their mask on, but I know I smell fabulous. Hang in there everyone. We will get through this!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh wow, that is quite a lockdown! If you stopped liquor sales in Australia there would be riots I suspect. We are eventually having restaurants open but only for outdoor eating, and very limited spaces. I missed them a lot at first, eating out was one of my great joys. And then I just missed the pub, for the conviviality and drop in atmosphere. And now I just miss family.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I agree about the no booze. There would be riots in the US, too, if liquor stores had to close. Everyone I know who is working from home or retired is tending to drink too much and eat too much. I’ve had to dive into healthy cooking in a big way to keep myself away from the cookie eating pity party.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Hey Narth,
    Sorry to read it’s been so awful. It’s interesting to dip into other people’s experiences though.
    On top of all this you lost your internet for a while too, eh?
    Funny that you say you are basically an introvert but still crave human interaction. I think you’ll find many people who feel the same way. I’m the most unlikely of introverts yet still consider myself one.
    Hoping you all start to reemerge soon in Melbourne.
    Portia xx

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Narth, I’m so sorry you’re going through that. I follow a number of greyhound and whippet people in Victoria on Instagram and have been seeing their trials as they try to deal with their large greyhounds during the lockdown. Wasn’t there one month where people couldn’t even go outside their yards to walk their dogs? Very tough to deal with.

    I’m an introvert, too, and I used to long for more ‘me’ time myself. Now I just want to see other human beings! Thank goodness I live with my husband, This has brought us closer, but some days we do get tired of just seeing each other. I now look forward to a trip to the dentist just to see humans and talk to them! I got terribly depressed until my son and daughter-in-law came to spend a few days with us last month and that really lifted my spirits. We also busied ourselves with things like cleaning, painting, organizing kitchen cabinets and pantries to get ready for their visit. That helped a lot. I’m trying to come up with worthwhile projects for myself.

    I agree about the perfumes. I didn’t realize until the pandemic and until I retired how much perfume was part of my image, my public persona. I loved it when people commented on my perfume and I could talk about it. And since I no longer wear my nice work clothes it seems a waste to wear an expensive perfume with a pair of leggings and a tee. But I’ve put that behind me and I am spraying with wild abandon, no matter how much I paid for the perfume. YOLO and all that. I scented the entire house with La Fille de Berlin the other day and Purple Rain got blasted all over the bedroom the day before that. Ah, it made me and the hubs feel better..

    The good thing to come out of the pandemic is how good my skin looks. it hasn’t looked this good since my 40’s. I have time for masks and all the steps with the serums and various moisturizers. Too bad all the fabulousness is wasted on a few zoom meetings….But my husband does appreciate it.

    Finally, I’m very grateful for these perfume chats. It’s great to be able to connect with other fragrance loving humans, even if we can’t be together in person.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh yes I think there was a time when we couldn’t walk dogs, but I’m not sure if that was amended quickly or not. I know a couple greyhounds and whippets in my neighbourhood I always say hi to, or used to.. I miss that as well as no one has the same schedules these days so a lot of people and their pets I saw regularly out and about I no longer see at all. Good for you scenting the house!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I stopped following at what stage of lockdown we are. We were always allowed to go outside to walk and exercise, and grocery stores stayed open. Out of the things we were missing were barberias/beauty salons, so my vSO at some point had a hair I don’t remember seeing on him for several decades (if ever :) ). But now they are back to be open. I will see my hairdresser in a month, meanwhile I am mastering DIY root touching.

    Other than that in the day-to-day life I barely notice the difference: my company is busier than ever, and with a lot of other work-related things going on, I have enough distractions not to think about the pandemic.

    The worst issues for us were/are wild fires: recently we spent almost 10 days inside without being able to go for a walk because our air was “Unhealthy for sensitive groups,” at best, and down to plain “Hazardous.” It just got better recently – and 2 days ago a new bound of fires started.

    The only area that hasn’t suffered much was perfumes (bad days with air quality were an exception). I’m testing a lot, going through the samples I accumulated over years and buying new ones. I also try to wear at least one of my favorites daily (though, sometimes testing interferes with it).

    Take care of yourself! Perfumes is a nice hobby to use as a distraction: you can rearrange those that you have, retest older samples, run some weekly themes and throw-downs, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The fires are terrible. My sympathies to everyone in California. It’s such a beautiful state and so sad that such huge areas are burned. I’ve been through awful hurricanes in Florida, but at least you have a lot of advance notice that the hurricanes are coming and you can breathe the air after the storms are over.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Undina, having lived through fires and this pandemic I have to say I’ll take the pandemic. Fires, the smoke, the fears, the constant monitoring of news.. it’s extremely awful. We had so much smoke last summer for so long, it was terrible. Just too unhealthy, I remember I feeling like I was doing myself damage walking uphill in it. All the best to you, I hope they are soon all out and don’t return!

      Liked by 2 people

    • “I’m testing a lot, going through the samples I accumulated over years and buying new ones. I also try to wear at least one of my favorites daily (though, sometimes testing interferes with it).” – too funny. Despite my 8 sprays, the “testing” I do uses a different set of olfactory nerves…just like there’s always room for ice cream even if you are full :-)

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I consider myself lucky for not being much affected by the pandemic. Yes, we do need to wear masks in stores and the whole workforce spends half the week in home office. But it could be worse and reading all your posts reminds me that it is a very very difficult time for a lot of us.
    My perfume habits have not really changed although I find myself reaching more for woody perfumes (unusual for me). I didn’t think about it before but they make me feel rooted, less spinning around.
    Stay strong everyone, apply your favourite perfume and know that there will be better times in the future!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Feeling more rooted is good for sure. I think the sameness of days has been my worst enemy, but at least it’s Spring now and the changing weather might give me a perfume boost.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Confession: I bought a decant of Chanel Le Lion and I have not worn it because I wanted to be wearing it and have someone say, oooh what is that you’re wearing and to be able to say the beautiful words Chanel, Le Lion. I am so silly!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can relate to much of what you say, especially lately, as I have been in strict lockdown after having travelled to a particular country. No shopping or daily walks allowed. I did end up tidying my perfume collection in quite a radical way, but I have other days which drift by with not much achieved. I think being single in a pandemic is much harder than for couples – at least it is if the couples get on, I mean. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

      • There are apparently almost no dogs left in Melbourne! Especially if you want something smaller. And a huge rush on cats as well. All the people who didn’t have time for training a dog have gotten one, which is so lovely.


  12. The word ennui has come to mind upon reading this. I’m sorry you are or had gone through this. Hopefully, as you’ve said, with spring in the air, things will be better. My initial trepidation for working from home with days on end of no physical human interaction was concerning, but I quickly adapted. Also, I resolved to wear at least 8 sprays of my SOTD and I know that has kept me going. I was originally part of a Rosary Brigade with the main reason being prayers for relief from Covid; however, I actually ended up cutting ties with the leader of the group due to what I consider her bigoted (not racial but political) view of the world; besides, I am not even Roman Catholic so I probably should never have joined to begin with.

    After not seeing each other as a family since early March, my sisters and I met up 2 weeks ago. Tomorrow, we’re meeting up again to celebrate a sister’s birthday and I’m meeting up with a friend for a trail walk on Sunday. It still won’t be normal as we have to wear masks and also social distance as much as we can, but at least we’re more comfortable socializing as a group.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That must have been so wonderful to see your sisters. I have now seen two family members and it’s very exciting and wonderful but also sad since we normally get together in big groups with lots of food etc.. all of which is gone now :(

      I struggle with guilt over not being more productive or doing new things, like you tried to do.


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