Thursday, 13 June 2013

Bonkers At 3.6 - Taking Stock And An Odd Giveaway

Post-move chaos! 
At the end of last October I failed to notice the third anniversary of Bonkers.  Or I probably noticed it and promptly forgot again.  I had a lot on my plate at the time, juggling house renovations and a major job that came out of nowhere.  Which was very welcome, mind, having only had five weeks' work in the whole of 2012.  Some seven months later I am still struggling a bit to keep all the balls in the air in my new single life, but I felt that I couldn't go all the way to the four year mark next October without stepping back for a moment and taking stock of where I am at in terms of the blog itself as well as my current stage in the 'perfumista life cycle'.

So, to mark the 3.6th anniversary of the blog (trust me, I've done the maths!), here are some off the cuff thoughts about the view from my small corner of Perfume Land.

The mania is past, but I still love perfume

When I started blogging, I wrote about how my love of fragrance came at me completely out of the blue, prompting me to dub it 'sudden onset perfume mania'.  Over five years on from that day in January 2008 when my obsession was first kindled, I am well and truly over my rampantly acquisitive phase, enjoying the scents I already own and sticking my head over the parapet now and again to explore a tiny subset of the new releases.  The lemming flock has dwindled drastically, in fact I am not sure there are more than a handful of the creatures left in their enclosure, making for much more comfortable living conditions, as you can imagine.  So am I still 'bonkers about perfume', you may well ask?  Well, 'bonkersness' implies madness, so by that strict definition I would have to say no.  As with any long term relationship the crazy honeymoon has morphed into a deep and comfortable attachment punctuated by occasional quests for novelty!  According to my friends, however, my enthusiasm for perfume - even at today's more moderate levels - is still pretty extreme compared to the average person, so by that yardstick I do remain bonkers as charged

My collection scares and delights me in equal measure

This is a funny one - I have days when I wake up and revel in the immense variety of my collection, savouring the pleasure of selecting a SOTD and counting myself so lucky to be surrounded by all this perfume.  I feel much the same about my wool collection.  Being 'with wool' or 'with perfume' is deeply comforting and feeds the soul, I'd go so far as to say.  On other days I wake up with crippling option anxiety and/or a sense of the enormity of my hoarding behaviour, and the inevitability that some of my bottles and decants must turn before too long - for I would need dozens of lifetimes to make a serious dent in my stash.  This realisation troubles me deeply, as I cannot bear waste.

Another woolly project!

My curation strategy may be flawed

Staying with this issue of shelf life, I am dogged by concerns that the elaborate lengths to which I have gone to preserve my perfumes (two beer fridges, set at 10C, just like the Osmotheque!), may not be as effective as I had at first thought.  For the trio of enemies of perfume are light, heat and moisture, and the fridge fails on Point 3.  It is positively sopping in my fridges - at the back especially, with ice build up and running condensation.  I do periodically defrost them and start again, but the moisture problem is endemic.  What would be handy to know would be which of these three enemies is the most likely to curtail a perfume's life.  Hmm, a sort of weighted average risk profile for all the different storage solutions would be just the ticket - cool dark dry wardrobe vs cold dark damp fridge etc.  Because if dampness is the No 1 killer of fragrance, my collection is stuffed, basically.

The people matter at least as much as the perfume, if not more so

As my interest in trying new scents plateaus, my curiosity about the various characters in the perfume community seems to be growing exponentially!  My work travels in particular have enabled me to hook up with a number of perfumistas in person all over the world, and I additionally feel a close connection to many of the people I have not met but with whom I interact regularly on the blog or Facebook.  If money were no object, I would take a year off and go on a round-the-world fly/drive trip, joining the dots between fumeheads in every continent. It's a wild pipe dream I know, and meanwhile I count myself lucky to have got to know as many people in Perfume Land as I have.  You could take away some of my perfume collection now and I wouldn't protest, but not my fumie friends, please!

You can't please everybody

As some readers may know, I can't put up links to my blog posts on Facebook, as about a year and a half ago somebody  took it upon themselves to report my blog to the site administrators as 'spammy or abusive'.  This is patently absurd, especially when you consider the ratio of my status updates filled with inconsequential  domestic trivia versus those announcing a new blog post.  If the person had accused me of spamming people with pictures of my pot plants or dining room furniture I would think they had some justification.  What this tells me though is that not everybody will like what you do, and you may inadvertently upset a few people along the way.  The inability to link to my posts on Facebook has hobbled my networking opportunities quite considerably, as would-be readers are used to just clicking through to an article or a video or whatever, and they don't want to have to go into Google and type in the name of the blog to fetch the post up.  But there it is.  Try telling the administrators of Facebook that there has been a miscarriage of justice.  You might as well chuck a message in a bottle in the sea.   I did actually write to their Customer Services department in Dublin - amazingly there is one! - but predictably never heard back.

I am ever so slightly - and selectively - affiliated

Just this week I finally got around to putting up a banner in my sidebar advertising Ormonde Jayne.  I have received a number of approaches from companies asking me to add links to their site - to do with a whole range of items, some of them completely random and off-topic, like hair scrunchies or men's clothing!  I decided to respond to the Ormonde Jayne inquiry because I am a big fan of theirs and have already written a number of favourable posts about the line.  The addition of this banner will in no way change my approach to blogging about Ormonde Jayne or any other perfume house though - no one has asked me to actively promote the brand, and I wouldn't agree to do so if they had.

I am still a bit hazy on matters of 'blogetiquette'

By this I mean both the etiquette associated with being a blogger and a reader of other people's blogs.  In my capacity as blogger there are a few things I am pretty clear on, namely that it is polite to reply to each and every comment a reader leaves in a timely manner.  The protocol is less clear when comments are left on a very old post, though by and large I answer them there too.  I think it is also considered good form to tell readers if you are about to go 'on hiatus', and I do occasionally do this, however, sometimes I find a window to blog shortly after announcing my break, and promptly feel foolish for having so publicly announced my absence!  There are numerous other points of etiquette where I am more unsure, for example whether it is polite to link to a blog post of your own in a comment left on someone else's blog - I tend not to, as it might be construed as self-promotion, which doesn't sit terribly well with me at the best of times, although I recognise its importance.  Let me know if you have any pointers for me here!

Slow blogging and striking a balance

I recently went on a walking holiday with two girlfriends, and it was an illuminating time in many ways.  I learnt that I could cover 30 miles without incurring a single blister, and that it is important to take time out from one's online activities.  This was brought poignantly to a head when my friends caught me trying to get on to Facebook on top of The Ridgeway trail, shortly after having stopped to post a photo of the scenery.  'Are you on the Internet again?' one of my friends asked, a faint note of irritation in her voice.  'I just want to see if I've had any comments from friends about that picture I put up' I replied sheepishly. 'But we are your friends too!' my friend expostulated.  'And we are here!  And if you talk to us we'll comment back to you!'  This pulled me up short and taught me that it is easy to get wholly sucked into a virtual world and more or less live your whole life online.  So at the weekend I took time out to create a herb garden on my patio, and that felt good.  I don't think my blogging frequency is part of the problem - if anything, I feel I am not posting enough! - and I have largely withdrawn from Twitter, but my addiction to the Internet overall may still need to be reined in. ;-)

When reviewing perfumes, there are many ways of skinning the cat

I used to think that because I couldn't readily deconstruct a perfume's development into its constituent notes that I wasn't qualified to review fragrance.  I have since learnt that conveying how a perfume makes you feel or likening a scent to others it resembles are also perfectly valid ways of describing perfume.  Note detection, humour, whimsy, metaphor, synaesthesia, poetry, allegory, what might be termed the 'Arabian Nights' school of perfume writing - bring it all on, if it helps us conjure up and relate to fragrance.

So, to mark this just over the mid-point of my fourth year of Bonkers, I am celebrating with a giveaway of about 3.5 samples, give or take.  These will be either a selection from my newly acquired vintage hoard, or from my regular collection.  I will tailor the prize to suit the winner's preferences when they are chosen.

To enter, just leave a comment by the end of next Friday, 21st June, about your own stage in the perfume 'journey' (oh no, I ended up saying that word!) or any thoughts on the type of posts you would like to see in future on Bonkers.

Post-post move calm!


Hazel said...

I may have reached the wayside bench stage of my journey. The bit where you sit and enjoy the scenery while other more energetic types stride on ahead. I have 6 or 7 perfumes on my dressing table (exposed m'fraid to heat, light and, if we do continue to do nothing about the roof seal, moisture) which are the current favourites. I see myself toddling in due course to another not dissimilar collection - I will be interested to see if there are common elements: atm, I can't see myself ever tiring of Dyptique 34.

LaDomna said...

I am about a year and a half into my "perfume journey" but the last half year has been the most intense months so far inb my obsession. Through blogging about perfume I have found like minded friends who have only stoked my flame! So far my economic situation has kept me away from the niche scene and I have always been rather disappointed with mainstream fragrances. So mainly I have hoarded indie perfume samples by the hundreds and swapped/gifted away those that didn't fit me. I am looking forward to trying a lot more niche when I get a job and a stable income!

Angie Cox said...

I'd love to see more about your knitting. I too have a Perfume stash that will outlive me.The size of my yarn stash has now been spread to ladies who knit booties for African babies .I love to think of the bright colours of the Colinette "Jitterbug" on tiny feet.

Meghan said...

I'm at the point where I'm a discerning and picky customer, with a few bottles on my wishlist but much less motivation to acquire than I had a few years ago - now that I've smelled some really tremendous fragrances, I'm more willing to wait for something I truly love. Also at the point where I'm less interested in getting new samples, and more interested in really scrutinizing what I already have. Also, I have run out of money.

As for commenting, readers understand that you are a busy person who cannot answer every comment. Often when I comment I have no expectation at all of being answered, and it is just a nice surprise if that happens.

Leaving a link to your blog in a comment can be considered superfluous, especially if the commenting system is designed such that your name in the comment is actually also a link to your blog. It is considered spammy if you do this all the time (and, indeed, you can get caught in spam filters), but if you link to a relevant post I think it is completely fine.

You might check out the book Blog Inc by Joy Cho, which has a lot of good pointers about practical issues like this.

Natalie said...

Hppy blogoversary! I think I'm in a similar spot to you, overall. And after my recent major clear out, far less anxious about the size of my collection.

No need to enter me in the draw, on that note. I've got enough! :)

Anonymous said...

Happy 3.6th Blog Anniversary!

There's a lot in this thoughtful post for me to think about, as always.

Congratulations on walking The Ridgeway: when I drove along that switchback bit on the A34, I used to think about walking it someday but that day never came for me, sadly. I bet it was great.

cheerio, and good luck with your herb garden,

Anna in Edinburgh

Vanessa said...

Hi Nadja,

I know those type of friends - perfume enablers - which I guess is a polite way of saying they stoke flames and nurture lemmings.

In a way, you may find your economic situation a blessing in disguise when it comes to buying full bottles, as you have built-in financial constraints. Come the day when you do have a more stable income, I bet you will make much more informed choices, and start out with a well-edited collection instead of (like me) trying furiously to cull it years down the line!

Vanessa said...

Hi Hazel,

I love your wayside bench analogy, and am encouraged to hear that another urge to collect may come upon you by and by.

The threat of moisture ingress made me smile too. Then I saw Diptyque 34 today and thought of you - that was a serendipitous find...!

Vanessa said...

Hi Angie,

I think knitting may well feature in some more posts, also spurred on by Bloody Frida's "habit". A friend gave me a book of tea cosy knitting patterns for my birthday, and I am excited to try some of those.

Good for you giving wool away for such worthwhile causes!

Vanessa said...

Hi Meghan,

Thanks for stopping by, and for your detailed comment on a number of the issues I raise in my post.

You sound in a very similar place to me perfumewise - I am definitely more picky these days, and have zero urge to buy bottles any more. If I did, they would morph into instant albatrosses because of my storage concerns in relation to the size of my collection, as I explained.

Am interested by that book you recommend. Regarding adding links to comments, I suppose I think it is a bit cheeky / off-topic to just say: "Hello, I have a new blog too, do check it out!", but linking to relevant posts is fine. That said, I would hesitate to do so if it was *my own* relevant post - I guess I just feel awkward about self-promoting on other people's sites.

You raise a good point about some people using their blog name as a screen name, which is an inherent link. I invariably default to Vanessa or occasionally flittersniffer, as those are the names by which I am known in person. Though I guess I could add Bonkers, for some friends call me that! ;-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Natalie,

I think I need to have another big purge - I am a long way off feeling comfortable. I did give a shoebox full of samples to a women's refuge once - at the very least I should do that again, for I am sure they have piled up since! I tried selling some bottles, and managed to lose about five that way. And I gave one to my cousin. I'll get there...

Vanessa said...

Hi Anna,

Sorry you never got to walk The Ridgeway - if you are lucky with the weather, as we were, it is a very scenic and easy trail, mostly on the flat. Well, it is unless you get lost, as we did occasionally thanks to my slightly sketchy navigating.

I hope to take good care of my herb garden, having made a major investment in pots now! ;-)

karen! said...

I loved reading your thoughts on where you stand at the moment on blogging and the perfume hobby.

Personally I'm still very young in the perfume hobby (less so with the yarn collecting). I'm still learning about what I like and which components make me like it.

leathermountain said...

Fantastic post made me laugh a lot. I'm a newbie, participated in my first gifts and swaps just a couple of weeks ago. And now I 'get' the internet.

Ines said...

That was a lovely recap of your 3.6 years of blogging. :)
and I agree with you, I'd rather part with my perfumes than with my lovely (virtual) perfumista friends.

As for being bonkers about perfume, I also feel my initial enthusiasm has morphed into a pleasurable activity but to my friends I still seem crazy when it comes to perfumes. ;)

Tara said...

Happy 3.6 year Anniverssary to Bonkers! Time flies in the blogosphere.I thoroughly enjoyed this thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

I have slowed down considerably but you spot-on when you say that what seems to us to be calming down is still mad by "normal" perfume consumers. I don't generally pay for samples anymore and really have to love a perfume to buy a full bottle. I bought 12 full bottles last year but only a travel bottle (Osmanthe Yunnan) so far this year.

BTW I thought the third enemy of perfume was oxygen rather than moisture so maybe the condensation isn't a problem?

Tora said...

I loved your thoughtful examination of how your perfume love has moved through stages similar to a relationship. I feel that I am still in the 'crazily obsessed' phase. I actually had a dream this morning that I missed my nieces wedding because I was chatting up the girls at the perfume counter of some department store. I woke up shaking my head, thinking "not good, not good". I am slowly learning the skill of restraint. My new mantra is "no more full bottles!!!!" I just love the exploration though, the morning ritual of testing a new sample and either living with it for the day or running to the sink to scrub. I love the escapist nature of living within a scent that is new to me. So my purchase of new perfumes has not slowed down, but I stick to decants mostly. My last full bottle was Jovoy's Psychedelique, and it is wonderful!

Carol said...

Howdie Bonks! Glad to share a few of your 'obsessions' and happy 3.6! (oh and no need to enter me in the draw)


Vanessa said...

Hi Karen,

Nice to hear from you and do enjoy this phase! I would love to see pictures of your yarn collection - you really can't have too much wool, I don't think.


Vanessa said...

Hi leathermountain,

Thanks for stopping by and it's great to have more newbies on the scene. Your newfound enthusiasm helps make up for those of us whose hobby is a little long in the tooth, and who are more in a plateau phase, assessing whether we might have overdone the perfume acquiring bit!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

Glad you agree that it would be tough to give up our fumie friends now - virtual or otherwise. :-)

And yes, I do think that most of our friends would consider us and our habit a little bit crazy!

Kafka said...

Happy 3.6 year anniversary, Vanessa!! That's an impressive achievement, my dear.

As for the stupid, obnoxious Facebook situation, have you thought about setting up a Facebook page for Bonkers? That way, you could post your new things to the page and then, you could also share *that* site's link on your own personal page? Since you're linking to a new URL and a FB one at that, it would circumvent the situation created by whomever so obnoxiously tagged you as Spam or whatever. It's not hard to set up, but just make sure that you choose yourself as the official representative of the brand, company, site, etc. That way, you can get "insights" and other things that may help in your marketing analysis. :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

You and I are quite similar in the way our bottle purchasing rate has slowed down - I only bought two bottles all last year, and both were of discontinued scents.

If oxygen is an enemy of perfumes too maybe there are four in fact, not three!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tora,

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your story with us - your dream cracked me up! A timely warning indeed. ;-). Though actually you seem pretty in control of your fledgling habit if you are keeping your new bottle purchases under control so well. Enjoy your sampling! You are in the draw - well, everyone is in fact who doesn't ask to opt out.

Vanessa said...

Howdy Carol!

Thanks! It's good to know another bonkers perfumista and to have swapped perfume and wool over the years - and occasionally perfume masquerading as wool...;-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Kafka,

Thanks for your good wishes and helpful suggestion about circumventing the blog blocking bother. Not sure I quite follow though, because I thought that my blogspot url would still stay the same even if I created another page on Facebook?

I could port the whole thing to Wordpress to gain a new address but that would be a pretty extreme solution (albeit with other spin off benefits perhaps).

Let me know if I have missed the point here, which is quite possible!

Olfactoria's Travels said...

Sorry, a bit late: Happy anniversary! Without you my personal blog world would be unimagineable!
I'm in a similar slowing down phase, I bought hardly any perfume this year, which is most unusual, but I'm no longer worried about this, it seems to be quite normal (in our world at least ;) )

Vanessa said...

Hi Olfactoria,

Not late at all - we have a 'slow commenting' policy here to match the slow blogging pace! ;-) ;-)

That is such a sweet thing to say about my being part of your blog world - the feeling is mutual, I might add.

And I think for a number of us, the pace of acquisition is definitely on a go-slow too!

Anonymous said...

I am about 5 years into my perfume obsession and am definitely slowing down.Because of both financial constraints and interest I haven't bought a full bottle yet this year. I have purchased some samples and one or two of them might be FBW at some point. I love the idea of knitted tea cosies,both useful and fast to make. Please share pictures.

Vanessa said...

Hi there,

I am five years in too - how interesting. Maybe there's a perfume equivalent of the 'seven year itch'...'the five year plateau'. It was also a mix of lack of interest and finances that has held me back so far this year from buying a full bottle, so we are similar there too. You are in the draw so you never know - some more samples may come your way shortly. ;-)

Undina said...

Happpy Blogoversary!

I've just tried to posta link to your blog on FB and, unlike before when the post appeared but then was removed, this time they gave me a form to report if I think it's a mistake. I don't think I will be more successful than you but I decided to try.

Usually I have the same doubts about posting links to my posts but I can promise that on my blog not only I do not mind links - I encourage them!

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina!

Thanks so much for filling in that form - I wonder if my snail mail letter to their Customer Services department has made them start to wonder if they have made the right decision after all... I doubt it somehow, but I can always hope!

Yes, I know you encourage links on your blog - you are very inclusive and welcoming there. I guess I am most awkward about linking to my own blog on other people's sites or about random acts of self-promotion on mine. ;-)

The Smelly Vagabond said...

I've had a few years of "perfume experience" under my belt and (as you know) recently started my own blog to document my own journey, and I've thoroughly enjoyed this hobby that I have. Here's wishing that you continue to enjoy your passion and that you'll experience many wow fragrance moments! :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Joshua,

I am glad you are getting such pleasure from your hobby, to the point that it prompted you to start your own blog. Wishing you many more years of fragrant exploration, and no imminent plateau phase!