Monday 2 October 2023

My interview on Olfactoria's Travels revisited, ten years on...

2013 me

Another month has passed - I am taking the notion of slow blogging to the most leisurely extremes, I know, but I do feel I should only post when the muse moves me, and it seems to be on a bit of a go-slow these days, for the reasons I mentioned last time, topped off with another round of health investigations. Though as I can testify, a degree of slowing down is probably normal for most aging organisms! I certainly won't post more frequently simply to placate the cyberbots that measure that sort of thing. On a whim I put my URL into one of those Google page rank checker sites, and my ranking has in fact gone up a point to 4(!), so maybe less is more after all. I honestly don't mind if I slip all the way down the SEO snake to zero though, like the way I lost my Superhost status on Airbnb by taking time out with my neck last year.

The unexpected trigger for this post, which jump-started my mojo, was a recent Facebook message from a US friend (not a perfumista):

"Sooooo, I was looking you up thinking I was on my email and not general Google search and this came up. Fun read. Anytime you want to see the sea, come visit us in Ireland."

She had copied the link to an interview I did with Birgit of Olfactoria's Travels ten years ago today(!), so I decided to make this the subject of my current post, and to reflect on how far my answers would be the same now. I shan't reproduce B's interview in full, obviously, as that would infringe her copyright, so if you didn't see this first time round - or can't remember what I said (I only remembered fragments myself!) - may I trouble you to take a look so that what follows below makes sense?

People in Perfumeland - Vanessa Musson of Bonkers about Perfume

There are 20 questions (I never noticed that before), and I shall confine myself to commenting on whatever caught my eye, either because I am the same, or have changed in some way...

First up then...sleep. Ah dear, I am still that intermittently insomniac soldier, though my sleep difficulties tend to come in waves (like sadly elusive sleep itself!). I was thinking of writing a piece specifically on this topic in fact, as I have tried everything under the sun (and moon!) to address the issue, and am having some success with melatonin at the moment, especially the kind that is bundled in with soporific herbal ingredients like valerian, lemon balm, and Californian poppy. Do let me know in the comments if a post on sleep would be of interest - I even came up with a title already: "Chasing Morpheus". I could always shoehorn lavender into it somewhere to meet the "minimum perfume content threshold", hehe.

As for my morning cup of tea, it is exclusively decaffeinated now, following the advice of an A & E doctor two years ago, though I have no idea if that was really necessary for the organs he was trying to placate at the time. I figured that reducing my caffeine intake right down might at least help me sleep. I have no idea if that worked either, haha. But I persist with decaf tea. Having tried half a dozen brands, I can unequivocally recommend Yorkshire Tea (with the blue stripe on the box). Some of the rest taste like insipid dish water, with or without a disagreeable metal tang, giving the variant a bad rap.

Moving on, I still have key-related anxiety, which is if anything worse than ever. I must go back and lock my car three times if I lock it once. I am still in a committed relationship with kitchen towel, or "roll" if you prefer, and I still feel good when sitting in the sun, though the pleasure is more ambivalent these days: I didn't sunbathe once this year for the first time ever, and probably only once or twice in previous summers - as opposed to every time the sun came out when I was younger. ;) I am much more conscious of the harmful effects of UV rays, and can feel my skin getting drier and acquiring more and more brown spots and other examples of "hyperpigmentation". Recently, I have also come out in a startlingly scarlet smattering of cherry angiomas, though they are nothing to do with the weather. 

Then I do still love Germany, but haven't been there for years, and now I have a house in France I am going there instead every opportunity I get! I am mindful that while my French is coming on by leaps and bounds, notably  in terms of vocabulary to do with woodworm, roof repairs, and steel struts in masonry for hoiking up wisteria, my German is withering on the vine (or "Rebe", should that be?). I probably could still describe my dress style as "preppy grunge", and the French charity shop in the village where my house is is a treasure trove of quirky examples of the style...perhaps more grungy than preppy in the main.

As for my favourite perfume, I do still love Guerlain Plus Que Jamais, and wore it only the other day indeed, but as time goes by I find it more difficult to declare any perfume my absolute favourite. 

I still spend way too much time on social media, which I think is partly responsible for my fragmented attention span and sapping of creative juices - as well as being quite depressing after a while. On days when I notice my phone battery dipping below 50% I definitely feel more flat and listless than when I engage in low tech activities like going for walks - or even hoovering!

What else? I still do lots of research favours for people - most recently identifying companies specialising in bathroom renovations for an elderly (and increasingly immobile) friend; it has become a substitute for my old job, which I quit when I was 60. Well, it quit me, more like, as the work dried up, and by the time it appeared again post-Covid, I wasn't in the right headspace to carry on.

Then I still have tottering piles of books everywhere - the front room in particular is Tsundoku Central! 

Lastly, I drink much less than I did ten years ago - I only have one drink twice a week, or maybe three times (except when on holiday, of course). I can't say I feel any better for it, but my bones or other organs may tell a different story. I do still take to my bed in the afternoon if I am having a really bad day (or a migraine, which is grounds for a bad day in itself). 

Coincidentally, at a mindfulness class I now attend once a week, we were talking about the "continuity of the self" throughout one's life, and the same day I happened to spot this quote in a post by Maria Popova in The Marginalian, talking about the poet Mary Oliver:

'She identifies three primary selves that she inhabits, and that inhabit her, as they do all of us: the childhood self, which we spend our lives trying to weave into the continuity of our personal identity (“The child I was,” she writes, “is with me in the present hour. It will be with me in the grave.”); the social self, “fettered to a thousand notions of obligation”; and a third self, a sort of otherworldly awareness.'

So yes, although ten years is not a big time difference to chart one's own changes, I can see a strong thread of continuity between the 64-year old me and the 54-year old one, and confidently predict that the child I was will be with me in the grave, wrapped like a mummy in kitchen towel.

Editor's note: I'd also like to say a big thank you to Birgit for including me in her Perfumeland series. It was a rare treat for me to be on the other side of the interviewing process...;)


Portia said...

YAY MORE BONKERS!! I drop by every day to see if there is a new post Vanessa while on my blog cycle.
10 years! It seems such a long time and yet that interview seems like yesterday.
I may take a moment and look for mine later today.

I remember thinking things while reading the post but now that I've gone to the comment page the piece is unseeable.

Well, I'll settle for saying how enjoyable it was to read.
Portia xx

Vanessa said...

Hi Portia,

You would probably be safe taking a look for new posts about once a month, I'd say! That seems to be the rhythm I am operating at (10 so far this year), though obviously that is not a commitment on my part "going forward", haha.

Yes, you will enjoy looking back at your interview, I am sure. I will take a look too.

Did you mean you can't comment and scroll up to refer back to the post at the same time? Typical unuser-friendly Blogger if so...

Portia said...

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. It takes us to another page entirely for commenting.

Oh, I know it's monthly-ish but live in hope.
Portia xx

Hamamelis said...

Hi Vanessa, I always read and enjoy your posts, thank you and your Muse!
Concerning sleep. What could help is to add some l-theanine to the melatonin you are already taking. Also, but you may have to do some looking into it for yourself, is to start with progesterone cream. Not progestin, but so called natural progesterone cream (which should be available without a prescription). As far as I know you can (re)start with that long into menopause, that doesn't matter. It would be good to 'cycle' i.e. 3 weeks on/ 1 week off. As a bonus it may protect against (increase of) osteoporosis. One of my best friends, who is a GP, is using/prescribing natural hormones, especially progesterone, a lot for pre/post menopausal women. She also uses/prescribing Utrogestan, oral progesterone.

Vanessa said...

Hi Portia,

Aww, funny! I live in hope that Blogger will fit its glitches one day, but I am probably misguided.

Vanessa said...

Hi Hamamelis,

I have tried L-theanine - I meant it when I said I have tried everything under the sun, hehe - ditto 5-HTP, GABA, L-glutamine, and glycine. Also hawthorn extract and Chinese skull cap(!). Several of those, including the L-theanine, made me more wakeful unfortunately. I think tea-derived things can be stimulating, maybe? Anyway, I gave my bottle of the L-theanine away to my osteopath, who does find it helpful.

Progesterone cream I used for a while when I turned 50 - I ordered a clinical grade from the States. Problem with that was that I couldn't control the dose very well and ended up with the stuff accumulating in my body fat (of which I didn't have as much as I would like, hence the problem!) and I had to come off it, as it was starting to have the opposite effect of what is supposed to. Instead, I am on a thing called Tibolone for my osteoporosis, and it prompts the body to make its own oestrogen, progesterone and even testosterone(!) again, like turning back the biological clock in hormonal terms. So I do have that covered, though I can't say it helped me with sleep except in the very beginning. I think with a lot of drugs the most beneficial effects are at the start. I appreciate the suggestion though, for natural hormones are "good gear"!

Hamamelis said...

Indeed everything under the sun! Theanine really helped me sleep, but taken together with melatonin. I suppose many of these supplements can have an opposite effect for some...I have used the other ones as well (Gaba etc, even Chinese Skull cap) but more for general calm then as sleeping aids. When I used progesterone in my 50s it also accumulated! So far so good now.Tibolone sounds like the fountain of youth and hopefully helps with your osteoporosis. I hope its effect will not wear off for you as they indeed tend to do (resistant receptors?)...all the best!

Vanessa said...

Hi Hamamelis,

Well, it looks like we have both been on parallel paths, giving everything and anything a go. ;) I think it was you who recommended a passionflower tincture once, and I did get that, but I am not sure it helped on its own - sometimes you need to combine things with other things to get a synergistic boost, as with the melatonin and L-theanine indeed. I must admit I have never tried that particular combo - my reading suggests you need to have the correct dose of each for best results.

Funny too about your issues with accumulating progesterone! I just had a bone scan, two years in, and the Tibolone is doing a good job of reversing the osteoporosis. They initially wanted to put me on the classic treatment of bisphosphonates, but I pushed back and lobbied for this and am very glad I did. The "acid" test will be in another two years. ;)

Undina said...

Portia, the next time look at the inconspicuous link on the top of the page with comments that offers to show the original post (or something to that effect) - it will expand the top part of the comments page to show a poorly formatted but still full text.

Undina said...

It was nostalgic to re-read that interview. I’ll take a look at mine later - also to see if anything has changed.

Not sleeping well is a bummer! I think Mother Nature hadn’t thought something through!

In our household, the angst about towels coming to a sudden end had subsided. I think, Covid with the shortage of toilet paper has changed something in us :)

Speaking of towels. Have you tried Swedish dish clothes? I just recently learned about it and haven’t tried yet, but my friend’s daughter swears by it.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

That is a clever tip you gave Portia about the "Show original post" - I had never spotted that!

Oh yes, it would be interesting to see how much has changed since your interview with Birgit - we were all "done" by her around that time.

Mother Nature has a lot to answer for, but then of course years ago people didn't tend to live much into their 50s, so never had a chance to experience these various design faults. ;)

Hmm, I have not heard of Swedish dish cloths. I am assuming there is something distinctive about them, and that they are not the usual kind we might have over here.