Monday, May 26, 2008

What Was I Thinking?!

Well maybe the problem is that I wasn't really thinking when I bought the smiley eau de toilette from Rustan's Essenses last week.  I went to there supposedly to catch the last day of the sale but instead of going to the department store where the real bargains were, I wandered into Essenses at Gateway and found myself surrounded by the products I had only read about.

I remembered all those products I had wanted to purchase - from Burt's Bees lip balm to Bite be Gone - and was on my way to the counter when I spotted that yellow smiling face that beckoned to me.  I received a text message on my cellphone and I read that my friends were already waiting for me at Cafe Bola.  I made a quick decision - to grab the smiley perfume and dash out before Becky Bloomwood took over me again.  (Who's Becky Bloomwood?  Please see previous post somewhere in my Lessons on Waiting blog).

After I had paid, the cashier said, "That perfume smells nice.  It's unisex.  A lot of people buy it."

I froze for a millisecond.  Whoever bought perfume (technically, EDT) without smelling it first?  I convinced myself it would smell nice, after all, the makers claimed that it was the world's first antidepressant perfume.  It allegedly was a "psycho-tonic perfume [normal dose] with micro-nutrients to activate happiness".  Sounds grand?  Here's the rest of the write-up from the official website:

Prescription free happiness, now available?! Smiley offers a unisex and universal range of products with micro-nutrients to activate happiness! Its secret: the formula is based on natural bio-chemistry combining theobromine with phenylethylamine derived from pure cocoa extract. This psycho stimulant cocktail is available in a whole range of preparations using galenical pharmacology. A 100% medical look for a unique therapy, the range is revealed out of the confined box of the luxury perfume industry! This antidepressant remedy is to be consumed without any moderation: in the shower, in the bath, for specific use anytime you wish! The formulae are preserved in exclusive perfume bottles developed by the prestigious glassmaking techniques of Saint-Gobain and desinged by Ora-Ito, the most sought after designer of his generation. Nothing like it to contain the happy therapy!

I've been wearing it for almost a week now and I feel fine, however, I'm not sure if my happiness is brought about by the perfume, or by my much-awaited return to the gym, or by a repaired relationship with someone I cared deeply about.  I'm inclined to credit it to the latter, actually.  (I have an entry brewing about my personal trainer and her Instruments of Torture, but will save it for another day.)

I should know better than to buy into marketing strategies, but I had wanted to try smiley for the longest time.  I'm not sure if I'm smiling more now, just as I'm not sure if in the past, I was truly Beautiful courtesy of Estee Lauder, In Love Again due to YSL,  Sporty courtesy of Polo Sport, Romantic courtesy of Romance by Ralph Lauren, or Happy courtesy of Clinique.  Honestly!  

Smiley doesn't blend well with me as much as Ralph by Ralph Lauren or Light Blue by Dolce and Gabbana do, but I have to justify my purchase, since I rarely buy perfume for myself.  This is the last perfume I will buy this year, as I have many siblings who provide for my scent supply.  

I will, however, continue to seek happiness from within.  

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Blast from the Past

I came across this poem again after several decades.  It used to be a favorite among my friends in high school.  Life is a drama, even for teenagers.  Or maybe especially for teenagers.

It turns out we memorized the wrong version.  The author, Charles Finn, a former Jesuit seminarian, did not write his name on the copies of the poem that he gave away to friends.  The poem spread across the globe, appropriated by some to be their own, and even abbreviated.  Through the website she put up, Charles' wife decided to document the poem's journey and also to let us, readers, plagiarists, and pilgrims, know the poet behind such words that mirrored our thoughts so clearly.  

I am happier with the original version, which is new to me.  It fits me where I am now, just as the old poem fit me when I was 15.

Please visit the website of Charles C. Finn 

Please Hear What I'm Not Saying

               Don't be fooled by me.
               Don't be fooled by the face I wear
               for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
               masks that I'm afraid to take off,
               and none of them is me.

               Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
               but don't be fooled,
               for God's sake don't be fooled.
               I give you the impression that I'm secure,
               that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well
                    as without,
               that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
               that the water's calm and I'm in command
               and that I need no one,
               but don't believe me.
               My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
               ever-varying and ever-concealing.
               Beneath lies no complacence.
               Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
               But I hide this.  I don't want anybody to know it.
               I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
               That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
               a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
               to help me pretend,
               to shield me from the glance that knows.

               But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
               and I know it.
               That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
               if it's followed by love.
               It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
               from my own self-built prison walls,
               from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
               It's the only thing that will assure me
               of what I can't assure myself,
               that I'm really worth something.
               But I don't tell you this.  I don't dare to, I'm afraid to.
               I'm afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
               will not be followed by love.
               I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
               that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
               I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
               and that you will see this and reject me.

               So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
               with a facade of assurance without
               and a trembling child within.
               So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
               and my life becomes a front.
                     I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
               I tell you everything that's really nothing,
               and nothing of what's everything,
               of what's crying within me.
               So when I'm going through my routine
               do not be fooled by what I'm saying.
               Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying,
               what I'd like to be able to say,
               what for survival I need to say,
               but what I can't say.

               I don't like hiding.
               I don't like playing superficial phony games.
               I want to stop playing them.
               I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
               but you've got to help me.
               You've got to hold out your hand
               even when that's the last thing I seem to want.
               Only you can wipe away from my eyes
               the blank stare of the breathing dead.
               Only you can call me into aliveness.
               Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
               each time you try to understand because you really care,
               my heart begins to grow wings--
               very small wings,
               very feeble wings,
               but wings!

               With your power to touch me into feeling
               you can breathe life into me.
               I want you to know that.
               I want you to know how important you are to me,
               how you can be a creator--an honest-to-God creator--
               of the person that is me
               if you choose to.
               You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
               you alone can remove my mask,
               you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
               from my lonely prison,
               if you choose to.
               Please choose to.

               Do not pass me by.
               It will not be easy for you.
               A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
               The nearer you approach to me
               the blinder I may strike back.
               It's irrational, but despite what the books say about man
               often I am irrational.
               I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
               But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
               and in this lies my hope.
               Please try to beat down those walls
               with firm hands but with gentle hands
               for a child is very sensitive.

               Who am I, you may wonder?
               I am someone you know very well.
               For I am every man you meet
               and I am every woman you meet.

                                                                     Charles C. Finn
                                                                          September 1966

P.S.  Arvin, Mhel, I'm sure you remember this.