Sunday, January 20, 2013

I had the strangest and most disturbing dream last night. I dreamed that I had failed to review an up-and-coming perfumer's perfume and because of it, he claimed I was the reason his perfume business went out of business. He was very angry, and I was very bothered by it, thinking, how can I have any influence on whether this person's business goes bust? Who am I to hold that much power and control? Now, don't get me wrong, I don't believe that I do hold any power or control over anything, within or without the perfumery realm, as demonstrated by the complete rearrangement of my personal life this past year, and my failure to create an acclaimed perfume in over three years.

I think the deeper issue hidden within this dream was about expectations. Mine and his. During the dream I felt his pain, remembering distinctly, especially during the early years, how it felt to send my creations off and wondering what they must think, that their approval means my success, that they could 'make or break' me with their public reviews. I still get a little jolt of anxiety when I hear someone's written something about one of my creations, I just don't let it dictate how I feel about myself, for one, and my future as an artist, for two. But back to that dream. I did accept some responsibility for this person feeling the way he did, I mean, I should have done the review, right? That would have been the conscientious thing to do. I mean, you don't request samples with the intent to review and then forget about it. But the sad truth is, I have. I have done so, and it's been done to me. It's not personal, but it can be damned aggravating, and it's certainly not cause for giving up one's dream.

The soap I made yesterday was cut this morning after a few pokes in the rib and some winking about the 'design' embedded on top. No, it wasn't entirely on purpose, and absolutely no, it doesn't contain any of the real stuff in it -- gross that you asked, though, thanks for that, I mean, really, that goes way beyond Fight Club disgusting, and since when is it green? Ew.

I've been reworking the damned course manual into something more public-user-friendly and it's not going so well. I don't feel confident enough in my writing skills to allow someone with real expertise on the subject to edit or go over the draft, and I wouldn't want to burden anyone with it, and I have to have this newest version done by mid-February or so. It's not a complete rewrite so the bones and some meat are already there, but it's adding and subtracting and streamlining, and the streamlining is kicking my ass. Is the history of perfume really important to a perfume apprentice? As interesting as the history of perfume is, the sheer volume of information regarding the subject is unmanageable for me. And who's perfume history to include? All of them, from Japan to the shores of Morocco, to the temples of the Maya? Or just condense it down to the biggies? Arabia, Rome, Greece, Egypt, early European? Then there are the discrepancies -- was it Elizabeth of Hungary who's perfumer 'invented' the first alcohol based perfume, or was it the court perfumer of King Charles of France? Or does anyone really freakin' know?! Does it matter to a perfume apprentice anyway?  Personally I think it's just a lot of words taking up space (in my book) that would be better served being written by someone else with much more access to information and resources than I. Though the bare bones of history might serve to pique the interest of a perfume apprentice -- see? This is what I'm talking about.

And another subject I've been bandying about is the restructuring of the course. Over the past four plus years since the Academy opened its cyber doors, we've had a string of promising perfume apprentices apply, study, and eventually complete the course -- we've also seen a number of them drop out and return later, quit halfway through, and even those who've paid their tuition and never bothered showing up to the classes -- ever. We began the course with a one-year, moved on to a 6-month, and are now toying with the idea of creating a 3-month super course, more in line with a workshop. It requires immersion from day one, which I think better matches the expectations of the students. Who wants to spend the first three months of a 6-month course reading? Certainly not me, and, unfortunately, it has taken me all these years to figure that out. I think the crucial question I had not asked myself when structuring the course is 'what would I want from a course like this?' What would be my expectations? What would make me feel that my time and money were well-spent? I thought it was bombardment of information, dazzle with the depth and breadth of information pertaining to the subject, keep 'em busy reading and pretend that's enough until reaching the meat and potatoes of the course. But it's not enough. Obviously. What would I want from a course like this? Immediate, impactful, unbalancing immersion. Like learning a new language, which in a sense creating perfuming is like learning a new language, the best way is to jump in with both feet, no hesitation, no time for second thoughts or insecurities, just get in there and get started.

So that's where I'm at. So much to do, so many distractions and interruptions, so little time, so many excuses.

Now I'm off to make bread. Yesterday's excursion to the Tower was fruitful -- I found a lovely Italian style (made in Taiwan) hand painted 5-quart stew pot with a lid and brass handles at the thrift store for the price of bus fare across town. I'm going to put it to good use today and make an onion rich potato soup to go with that bread I'm getting ready to put together.

Nice talking to you.

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