Received my first ever artisan perfume sampler today from Olfactive Studio. Sniffing, studying the concepts behind each one, and making notes… I am such a perfume geek. I love it. When I received this pack, all I wanted to do was find a quiet time to myself (which means after I’ve tucked my kids in bed for the night) and then retreat to my room and sit there smelling and studying these perfumes. Absolute bliss. Some people love Class A drugs. Not me. Perfume is the ultimate indulgence for me. The ultimate “drug” for me if you like. There is nothing I’d wish more than to be transported through time deep into my imagination, with just a whiff of a well-crafted scent that evokes memories and emotions from far away in time. Sometimes a perfume can transport me back to places and times I will always look back upon. Bittersweet memories. My late grandmother whom I loved dearly and who was an inspiration to me more than my parents ever will… … All things irreversible, momentarily reversed with the whiff of a scent.

I only tested one of the perfumes tonight as I didn’t want to overwhelm my senses. A spicy, woody and slightly floral perfume called Lumière Blanche. I really love it. I was surprised to find out it had quite a spicy tone. I really like it. I think I’ve discovered a new perfume category I like – the spicy Oriental fragrance.

I got into artisan perfumes as I grew dissatisfied with most of the perfumes sold in shops. They are almost always of the floral/fruity category and it can get boring after a while. I was first introduced to the idea of real perfume – made with pure natural essential oils – in the mid 1990s – from my first visit to a newly-opened Aveda shop in Suntec City  when I was 17. There was this display case where all these different essential oils such as Sandalwood, Jasmine, Patchouli, Neroli, etc. can be found. I would go there during my lunch break (as I worked in the offices upstairs of the shopping mall) to sniff all the different oils and I’d become quite chummy with the lady who owned the shop there as a result. I also spent a good half of my monthly salary on essential oils too. I’d go home and burn them in my vaporiser. Always a few drops of my preferred oils, in a small dish of water, with a lit candle underneath to burn them and disperse the fragrance.  I used to drive my Design course classmates crazy with my essential oil burning… Some of them hated particular scents. I love every single one of them.

I’ve always had the dream of becoming a perfumer, but I never thought it would be worth my while saving up a lot of money to go to ISIPCA. *The* place to go to for anyone who has the ambition to become a master perfumer. The art of perfumery a bit like art isn’t it? It’s the sort of thing where there are far more graduates than there are jobs. It’s an expensive interest and hobby. The materials too aren’t cheap. I mean… just Google the price of a vial of 100% Tuberose absolute.

Sometimes I hate this pragmatism that I’ve somehow gained by osmosis from my upbringing in Singapore. I haven’t done badly in my life so far because I have a survival instinct – the Asian survival instinct – etched into my psyche. But I can’t say that I’m the happiest now because I chose pragmatism over chasing my dreams. Yet I’d always wonder what if I’d chased my dreams? Would I be flat broke, like many artist friends of mine have become?

I recently took up an Archaeology course on Coursera and I love it so much. I’d almost forgotten how as a little girl from the age of 8 to 12, I would borrow all the books on ancient Egypt and the Mayans and Aztecs that I could find from the library, and finish a book in a day because I didn’t want to put the book down. I was the odd one out. The geek. But somehow not really. I lack the requisite glasses and I have always been interested in fashion and music. In a way I didn’t care because I felt a great deal of joy every time I picked up a favourite book to read.

Anyhoo, I kind of forgotten about this once I grew into my teens. And now thanks to Coursera, I can pursue my closet interests again. I took a Songwriting course a few months back and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love music, I love lyrics… Music is my life and I cannot live without it. I know friends who just don’t listen to music daily, who don’t really care even if they don’t hear a single song in the course of a week or two. Well I could never live like that.

So last night, I finished watching all of the videos for Unit 1 of the Archaeology course in Coursera in like 2 hours flat, back to back. And I wanted more. Now the assignments are another thing. I just don’t think they are very interesting. I guess my idea of a great assignment is like going on a dig to Machu Picchu or the great pyramids of Egypt. Not trying to find out from the general public what they think archaeologists do… but I guess the scope of which the assignments can cover must be quite limited given that this is just an introductory course of sorts. I will be popping in to the student forums now to see if there are any interesting discussions to be had.