Friday, November 13, 2015

Bios and Such

Things get blurry as you age, even your own life. I've written my own bios in the past, and had someone else write one for me after talking with them for a few hours, or after answering a handful of key questions, and usually the writer inserts a few things that aren't necessarily true, embellishments and personal impressions. When writing our own, we tend to focus on what we think the person requesting the bio wants to hear regarding the subject -- in most recent years, the 'subject' for me has been perfume -- and skip over all the other stuff, like the teen pregnancy or the horrible first marriage or the cause of a lifelong battle with anxiety. No one wants to hear about their favorite perfumer, author, sculptor, actor, etcetera, dealing with real issues -- well, more and more people do, thank you reality tv. So bios. I've written a few for myself and each one is slightly different than the last, as if I've rewritten my past. We cannot think of how we arrived at a specific place as a result of walking in a straight line from point A to point Z (where we are now), because life doesn't work that way. One bio will state I made my way to perfumery via my maternal grandmother's gardens, another that my entry into perfumery began at my maternal aunts' dressing tables, or in a discovered box of old perfumes in a closet, or the geraniums in the front walk, or time spent living in the back country (twice). They're all true. The story told that particular time is based on the audience that will hear it, and the limit on word count. Regardless of how stained our past, we all want to appear squeaky clean for 'the big day', whatever day that is. The truth is, we come to our present via many paths from the past. We come from despair and joy, we come from loss and bliss, we come from pain and happiness. I can remember times as a child when I felt fear in the scent of mums because mums meant death (always mums at the family funerals), and I can remember a time when I felt joy smelling the green, earthy scent of geraniums (geraniums meant I was home). Everywhere in our lives our memories are imprinted with scent, some good, some horrible, and when we recount our past, we tend to avoid making a big deal out of the horrible. Well, I do anyway. One thing I will say is that creating perfume, all the devil-in-the-detail work, all the frustration, all the patience necessary, has changed me. I was never very detail oriented in the past, and I scored about a -3 on a 1 to 10 scale for patience.

I've begun working out the recipes for the final chapter in the book. Thus far I have two of ten finished. Salted Yuzu Shortbread Cookies, and Moroccan Mint Tea. I've played with other recipes that I was thinking of using, but those didn't work out -- the flavors might have been off or I just couldn't pull it off. Subtlety is key here. No one wants to bite into a deliciously fragrant cookie and feel as if they'd just eaten a bar of soap.


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