Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On Being an Ally at Home

I kept wanting to do something for the Carnival of Allies, but I couldn't think of something that hadn't been said better elsewhere. Then this came to me and it's a short little thing but I think it's important. It's also late, but better late than never. Maybe?

For those who don't normally read this blog, my domestic partner/girlfriend/significant other is Black and I'm white. This is usually not an issue for us; we live in a relatively liberal city and we got involved because we share a single culture--we're both fandom geeks. I like to think that the fact that I get just as pissed off about racism, particularly in our part of fandom, as she does, helps.

But, of course, I don't have the same experiences she does and there are days when she comes home and says "God, I really hate white people today."

And you know, what do you say to that?

Sure, set out like this in type, it would be easy enough for someone reading this to point and yell "zomg reverse racism!"* It would also be easy--and there was a time when I'd have done this--to get defensive and say "but I don't suck!"

But the thing is, there hasn't been a single instance when she's said it that I haven't listened to why she's upset and agreed that, wow, yeah, white people suck. And let me make it clear here: this isn't a case of me patting her on the head and indulging her rants because I love her--I save that for when she insists on loving the White Sox even though they're an AL team. It's always a case of white people being stupid and not getting it, or worse, being deliberately and maliciously racist.

And what can you say to that? How can you not look at white people being racist and not say, in that first flush of fury: "wow, white people suck, and I hate them?" After all, I'm a feminist and there are plenty of times when I see men acting like sexist pigs and assholes (OSBP anyone?), that I declare: "God, I hate men so much."

In the end, it's confidence that enables me to sit there and listen and agree. Confidence in myself--I may not be 100% enlightened, but I give it my all and I know that if I fuck it up, it's out of ignorance and growing up privileged, and that I can learn and do better next time. Confidence in our relationship--we're good and we love each other and that makes it a lot easier to keep from getting defensive.

And most of all, I have confidence in her--she's intelligent and knows that not every single white person everywhere is clueless idiot or a malicious racist. Furthermore, she's not passive-aggressive. If I've done something that pisses her off, she'll call me on it and not start bitching about white people in some attempt to get back at me because I didn't bother to make dinner or forgot to feed the cats.

Anger and hatred rarely solve anything, but I still think they have their place in the dialog. There will always be that moment when you can't do anything else but rage and not only does that moment act as a much needed pressure release, but it can give you strength to dive back into the fight one more goddamn time. So not only as an ally in a general sense, but as a partner in the individual sense, the best thing I can do to sit there and listen and remember that this isn't about me.

And in the end, there are so many situations where that's what being an ally is all about: remembering that it's not about you.

*And if you say that here? You'll be mocked soundly for the idiot you are. Just sayin'.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Custom Perfume Profile from Funkier Than Thou

Loreto of Funkier Than Thou has two custom perfume options. The cheaper of the two is a simple mix of up to five your favorite scents/notes from her very extensive list of essential oils and fragrance oils. For $12 you get 1/2 oz of perfume oil in a jojoba base, 1/2 oz eau de toilette in an alcohol base, or 2 oz of massage oil in a sweet almond oil base. People in the evil_enablers community who have gone for this option have been very happy with the results.

I went for the more complicated, second option, called the Custom Perfume Profile--$20 for the same three options listed above. After you purchase that option, Loreto sends you a personality test type questionnaire. It's relatively basic, asking you questions about your favorite and least favorite perfume notes as well as some lifestyle questions. It took me maybe 15 minutes or so to fill out and wasn't at all difficult. Based on some comments on evil_enablers, I was sure to be pretty specific about my perfume likes and dislikes, making sure to list the notes that my skin chemistry hates--which are, for the record: rose, jasmine, some synthetic vanillas, and anything that's supposed to smell like cream or milk--in addition to my more general dislikes. I did the same with my likes, saying, for example, that I like spicy notes and listing both cardamom and saffron as particular likes.

Less than a week later, I got my perfume oil and it is gorgeous. Loreto paid attention to my likes as well as the various types of perfume my profile said were right for me, and even included a couple of traditional Leo oils. The result was pretty damn complex.

Top Notes: Cardamom, Mandarin, Orange, Pomegranate and Clove
Middle Notes: Saffron, Cinnamon, Ylang Ylang, Almond and Black Poppy
Base Notes: Egyptian Red Musk, Amber, Balsam Peru and Sandalwood

There isn't a single note in there that I dislike and I love several of them. In my profile, I actually mentioned citrus, pomegranate, saffron, cardamom, almond and amber, and honestly, I'd have been happy with just those. *grins*

So, how's it smell? The first thing you notice when you open the bottle is sweet, slightly fruity spice with a very strong cardamom note. Once one me, I get more of the fruit and I can smell both the oranges and pomegranate, along with the cardamom.

The dry down brings out the almond and cinnamon, along with a faint hint of saffron. It goes to my beloved Middle Eastern place and I'd be perfectly satisfied if it stayed there.

Several minutes later, it smoothes out even more. I get a faint floral, and although ylang ylang is usually too heavy for me, it's faint enough here that it really works. I'm also getting the grounding base notes now, and though my skin usually amps sandalwood and dries out any blend it's in, that's not happening here. I can smell the amber a little, which is just fine for me; plain amber was my default perfume for years.

About 20 minutes in, it's just perfume and I mean that in the best possible way. All the notes have calmed down and blended into something that's sweetly spicy. *grins* One of my all time favorite BPAL scents is Scherezade, and this seems like a somewhat lighter, more fruity version of that, only without that "head-shoppy" note that some people don't like in BPAL's blends. I liken Scherezade to stepping into a spice stall in an Iranian bazaar; this blend is more like one of the small neighborhood shops that sells sweets, spices and fruit.

The throw is pretty good, particularly since I tend to put a little in my hair as well as using a fair amount in the more classic places. It's got pretty good staying power as well.

Like I said, it's utterly gorgeous and I love it to pieces. I'm really hoping she keeps her blends on file because I suspect I'll be wanting more of this so I can blend it into some lotion and probably some of the dry oil spray I use to tame my hair.

At some point, I will probably try to come up with a couple of blends on my own to have her mix up. For now, however, I'm completely thrilled with my blend and highly recommend the process to anyone who loves perfume.

Please note: Loreto is currently on vacation and so customized perfume profiles won't be available until May 21.

Update: Loreto's change the name of her shop to Loreto Aromatica and her prices have gone up a little. I'd say that at $16 for a five note custom blend and $24 for a custom profile blend, you're still getting a great deal.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Perfume/Bath & Body Product Reviews -- Blooddrop & Lush

Blooddrop Clothing & Fineries -- Astrid is a corset maker and perfumer who looks to be very talented at both. I can't actually afford to pick up a corset from her, but I've purchased perfume and bath products from her and I will certainly purchase more.

Gel Moussant and Lotion de Soja in Delicieuse -- Thick and sultry honey and vanilla with a sassy kiss of peppermint.

I tired the Gel Moussant and it's lovely. It lathered up nicely on the bath pouf and smelled heavenly, like a candy cane dipped in honey. I'd picked that scent because I figured I could layer it with the lotion and then with either BPAL's Lick It or Possets' The Girls Love Vanilla.

Sadly, the lotion was a problem. I liked the lightness of it; my skin isn't really all that dry and so lighter lotions work perfectly well on me. This one sank in and left me feeling smooth but not greasy, unlike some of the butters I've tried. The problem was the scent and it's a me thing: sometimes vanillas smell like burned plastic on me and sometimes they don't. It's a little strange that this works in the bath gel and not in the lotion, but body chemistry is a weird thing.

Perfume Oil Blends

The (un)Poisoned Tea Cup -- Spring 08 LE -- Fortunately for the drinker, this cup of pomegranate black tea was left unscathed. This one is exactly as advertised, down to the faint tannin/bitter note of the black tea. The pomegranate is just the way it would be in a tea blend; it's not like sweetened juice or pomegranate syrup has been added to the tea. It does sweeten up a tad but never gets really sweet the way BPAL's Swank and Fruit of Paradise get. Sadly the tea eventually fades, as all tea notes do on me, but since it hung in there for about a half hour, I'm actually pretty impressed. I'm ordering more of this and some of the bath gel and maybe some lotion in the same scent.

L’Shana Tova -- General Catalog -- May you have a sweet new year! Apples and honey. At first something went really plastic on me with this one and I almost went and scrubbed it off. But then, someone was being wrong on the internet and after about ten minutes spent informing them of how wrong they were, I sniffed my wrist again and it smelled lovely, all sweet and appley (appleish? apple-like?). I'm learning that I really do like honey scents and this one is a lovely addition to the collection.

Lush -- The current champ in the innovative, handmade bath and body products market, Lush's stuff comes with a pretty hefty price tag for what you get. Fortunately, you can also shop through their storefront and I had a gift certificate.

Sexy Peel Bar Soap -- No time for a nap? Take a shower with this glorious handmade soap replete with lemon, lime and grapefruit to invigoratingly rejuvenate your senses. ZOMG citrus! There's an odd undernote that's almost chemical smelling, but mostly this is a nice blast of citrus in a pretty yellow bar. I found it left my skin a little dryer than it is when I used my normal oatmeal and almond bar, but that's only to be expected with that much citrus oil mixed in.

Ocean Salt -- Generous portions of fine and coarse sea salt line the rim of an enriching facial scrub to wash away everyday grime. Ocean Salt refreshes, nourishes, and tones, all while smelling deliciously of violet and lime. Butters of the avocado and coconut variety take the edge off, moisturizing and softening your face to reveal a brighter you. The scent on this one really doesn't wow me at all, in fact I rather dislike it. On the other hand, I utterly love the way my face felt after just one use, all smooth and soft and clean. It's far better than I usually feel after my normal exfoliant, but I need to wait and see if I can use it daily or if it will be too harsh.

Thank you, Mildred, and may you rest in peace.

Mildred Loving dies at 68.

All she and her husband wanted was to have their marriage legally recognized in the state they lived in. Only problem? She was Black and he was white and that didn't play well too well in Virginia in 1958; in fact, their marriage was illegal. In 1967 the Supreme Court unanimously upheld their right to be married, a ruling that affected the law in 17 states.

In June of 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the ruling of Loving vs. Virginia, Mrs. Loving released a statement in which she said:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

I was four in 1967 and I can't help but wonder how old I'll be when we queers have our own Loving vs. Virigina*, if that will happen in my lifetime as well.

For Mrs. Loving, it wasn't political, but for me, it is. Thanks to complicated tax laws and the difference between the State of California, which recognizes our registered domestic partnership, and the US Federal Government, which does not, Nancy is financially penalized for the fact that she's gay and has the nerve to want her partner to have health insurance.

That's the difference between our piece of paper and the piece of paper issued by Sacramento County when my ex-husband and I got married. And that's why I can say that yes, in the United States, there honestly is such a thing as straight privilege.

The law should not be different for me because I'm gay anymore than it should have been different for Mildred and Richard Loving because she wasn't white or he wasn't Black. And that's why, in addition to being an emotional thing, it's political for me.

*According to Wikipedia, at least one court has decided that Loving vs. Virginia doesn't apply to same-sex marriage. The law...go figure.