This Stinks, Let Me Tell You Why

In the past month and a half, I’ve been unexpectedly laid off from my job, found out my employer hadn’t been contributing to unemployment, dodged bullets in a bowling alley shooting, was notified that my apartment lease is up, and was bitten by a tick. I sent that little vampire to a lab at Northern Arizona University for testing to see what kind of ticky diseases I was exposed to and it got lost in the mail.  My anxiety levels are pretty high so I won’t know if I have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever until I croak from it.  Like that tick adrift in a sea of mail, my future is uncertain.

I’m doing what people are supposed to do in times of transition: control what you can.  Doing things like applying for jobs, working on film projects, cleaning and organizing in good times. Reading news, watching The Leftovers, and ruminating on people and things that make me angry in the darker times.

In the spirit of balancing both good and bad times, I’m starting a productive purge with something pleasant and easy: the hoard of fragrance samples collected from online Sephora purchases and sample box subscriptions. I like writing and mental health professionals recommend it, so I plan to tell you all about it.

I’ve always thought of fragrance samples as the filler item in a subscription box and have even (in darker times) contacted Birchbox customer service about their overuse of fragrance samples.   Yeah, I kept the samples even though they are reminders of excess and consumerist filler and plants I will never take care of and yachts I won’t be on and sequin-gown-galas I will never attend.  I kept the samples because despite my best efforts to resist, I’m far too indoctrinated in our materialistic culture to be able to throw something away that has a fancy brand name. 

I really thought I’d find a use for them.

Some ideas I’ve had but never acted on:

  • Gift them to my sister. 
  • Use as stocking stuffers. These gifting ideas are great, right? Nothing says “I thought of you” like a tiny watered-down sample of perfume.
  • Use to spritz checks and paper bills. Imagine the delight of a billing rep at Methodist Hospital getting a Marc Jacobs Daisy-soaked payment! 
  • Hope one scent becomes so rare that .0001 ounces would sell on eBay for enough money to pay one of the above mentioned bills.
  • Create a stand near a carwash for “Hi-Class Air Freshnerz 4 Ur Ride”. 
  • Keep a few in my purse as ice-breakers for social gatherings and long elevator rides. 
  • Collect enough to trade in for a plane ticket or laptop. I haven’t checked on any exchange programs so that one might have been more of a dream than an idea.

My most recent idea:  use the samples on myself, one day at a time, and see what kind of magic they bring.

I’m not a fragrance connoisseur, but there is only one way to become one. You start with the closest teeny tiny spray bottle.  Maybe I’ll be able to, you know, pivot and find work in the fragrance game.  I do like roses and peonies. I wear perfume (usually Nest’s Citrine or Elizabeth&James Bourbon or White) and I’m scent sensitive: one time I had to ask a coworker to not wear her perfume to the office that we shared. She told me her scent was Shalimar.  I looked that up online and fell in love with the commercials.   You will too:


See you tomorrow for my first full report.


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